Cali purred and stretched, the sun warming his fur, the rock beneath him toasty as well. There was nothing quite like being able to lie outside and relax. Ever since he’d built the privacy fence around his land—and that had cost a pretty penny-- he’d been learning to let himself enjoy being in his lion form again.
It’d taken years to get to the point where he could afford to retire and have Southern Sun, his den and what he considered his own personal fortress, built. At forty-two, Cali knew he was lucky to be able to have accomplished as much as he had. Even so, he wasn’t done. His eleven hundred acres would serve another purpose besides giving him a place to shift. It was his personal Garden of Eden, but he intended to share it with other feline shifters-- lions and jaguars, ocelots and leopards—they were all shrinking in numbers and needed a safe place.
Guilt pricked at him. Okay. All shifters. I’ll share it with all shifters, and I won’t even eat any of the prey-type ones.
With hunting, pesticides, global warming, and all the other man-made and natural catastrophes that had been occurring in the last century, shifter species were going extinct far too often. The fact that they couldn’t reproduce with humans didn’t help. If shifters and humans could have children together, children that could in turn shift, who knew what the world would be like?
Then again, if humans knew about shifters, they’d kill all of them, or shifters would have to take over.
Cali grumbled. Humans would nuke the entire planet before they let that happen. There was, to Cali’s way of thinking, a reason shifters and humans couldn’t reproduce together. Exposure to humans would result in the annihilation of one or both species.
Hell, look at what they’ve done to us without knowing we exist!
He stretched again, then yawned. As good as it felt to laze about, he did need to eat, and while he loved being in his lion form, hunting down prey was something he wasn’t going to get started on.
Despite the acreage he owned, if he shipped in deer and other such meals to be hunted, people would begin to talk. It was better to shift and eat as a man rather than risk anymore suspicion than he’d already garnered when he’d put the fence all the way around his property.
Besides, there was that whole not hunting other shifters. Cali had a pretty good handle on his lion, but he wasn’t going to test his cat by tempting it with any kind of prey.
Eventually, he might apply to have the land designated a wildlife reserve. Cali hadn’t decided whether that would be wise or not. It would depend on how many shifters found Southern Sun.
To that end, he could only hope the scent markers he’d left behind would be effective. A shifter would be able to tell what species he was, what gender, age— all the most pertinent information-- and could track Cali to Southern Sun. Then, he’d begin building his pride, and offering refuge to those who needed it.
It was a good plan, a workable plan. The other shifters would come. He purred as he imagined other species of felines sunning with him. It’d be shifter nirvana.
Okay, maybe I’m going too far there. It’ll be damned nice, though.
He couldn’t wait.
He had to wait.
Cali licked at his paw as he told himself to be patient.
He hated being patient.
He’d waited a long time to have his sanctuary, though. And he’d been waiting for his mate since he’d learned that there was, hopefully, one out there in the world, waiting for him.
Sometimes, the statistics depressed him. How were he and his mate to ever find each other? Maybe if he’d been born in a shifter-populated area, he and his mate would have encountered each other long ago.
He knew very few mated pairs. His parents had been mates, and they’d died together under circumstances Cali couldn’t bear to think about. Still, they were the extent of his experience with mated pairs.
Now he was depressing himself. The warm sunlight wasn’t doing its job of making him into a contented puddle of fur. He was supposed to be relaxing, not stressing out over…life. Things. The looming and statistically likely chance of spending his life without his mate.
Well, at least he wasn’t hungry anymore.
His stomach growled, startling him into opening his eyes. Okay, he was still hungry.
Cali sat up and shifted. He stood and stretched all over again, working out the kinks that came with transforming from one thing into another. He idly scratched at his chest. It always itched after he shifted, and he didn’t know why. He had chest hair, but that didn’t explain it since he had hair other places, too.
Okay, his balls itched, too. He gave them a rub. Better. Cali took his time walking inside. He hated leaving the sunlight, but his stomach rumbled again and there were a couple of slabs of raw beef waiting for him inside. He’d left them to warm on the butcher block he’d had installed just for raw meats. Cali liked his warm, though he could eat it cold. Or cooked. His preference was for raw meat, however. Now he could indulge himself.
At least he’d cut it up and not just tear into it. He was in his human form, after all, and he tried to act the part at all times lest he screw up out in public and give himself away.
Cali glanced at his reflection in the mirrored hallway. He looked good for his age—shifter genetics, yaaassss!— with thick, golden blond hair that just reached his shoulders, and rather leonine features. Thank the gods his eyes were just dark enough to pass for a shade of brown rather than gold like his Dad’s had been. Gold irises were difficult to conceal.
No. Not going there. Cali winked at himself then wrinkled his nose. He hated to admit it, but he was a little lonely.
“Well, I must be if I’m flirting with myself.” He shook his head. He just had to be patient. Damn it.
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