January 2019 Newsletter
THE MANE ATTRACTION
Mitch was halfway through the unbelievably delicious zebra stew Sissy had made him for lunch when he realized that she kept staring at him. Anyone else, he’d assumed they had a little crush on him. But Sissy was the kind of gal who didn’t get crushes, and when she wanted someone she really went for it. No doubts, no obsessing. In a way, she was kind of like a guy. So then why the hell did she keep staring at him?
“What?” he asked when he’d finished his food. Now that he had his appetite back, it would take a hell of a lot more than curiosity to distract him from his meal.
“Yeah. I’m done. Now why do you keep staring at me?”
“Let’s talk in the other room.”
Mitch watched her get up. She was being really nice, which automatically made him wary. He followed her into the family room and sat down on the couch. She paced in front of him for several minutes before he couldn’t stand it anymore.
“They want me to go, right?”
“Don’t sweat it. I should go back to Philly anyway and I don’t want you to get into trouble because of me.”
“Wait. Let me finish.” She twisted her hands in front of her as she continued to pace back and forth. “I found a way for you to stay—for a price.” She stopped twisting her hands together so she could rub her temples. The pacing continued. “Lord, this is so embarrassing.”
Mitch winced. “You don’t have to marry your cousin or something, do you?”
Sissy abruptly stopped pacing and turned to him with a lethal scowl. “Think we can put aside the cultural stereotypes until we’re done with this conversation?”
Hands on her hips, Sissy let out a deep breath. “You can stay, but…you’ll have to…do something.”
“I’ll have to marry your cousin?”
He chuckled. “Sorry. I couldn’t help myself. Now could you spit it out already?”
“You see…it’s the bears. Of Collinstown.”
Since he had no idea where Collinstown was located all of that was meaningless. “Okay.”
“Well, we’ve had this rivalry with them for years and…well, you see…” Sissy started to pace again and again abruptly stopped. “The bottom line is they want you to play.”
“Play?” Mitch had no idea what she was talking about. “Play what?”
Sissy suddenly found the cracks in the floor fascinating and Mitch had to admit he was entertained. He’d never seen her so obviously uncomfortable before.
“Football? The game?”
“Of course the game.”
“Hey, excuse me if I find it surprising my life or death situation hinges on my ability to be Joe Namath.”
“Look,” she sat on the couch beside him, “I know this is a strange request. But I had to think of something. Without my parents here I am at the will of that asshole Travis and if I go ahead and kill him like I tried when I was eight, Daddy will have my ass.”
“But why football? I mean, let’s face it, we could always ask Bren for money or—”
“I can say with all honesty, Travis doesn’t care about money. He cares about two things…being Alpha Male—”
“And football,” she confirmed.
“So he needs me to play a little game of pickup against some bears?”
“It’s not really that simple.” She turned to face him, pulling her legs up on the couch and resting back on her heels. “As you know, each town of shifters is different from every other. And each region is different. But the one thing the Southern and Mid-western shifters have is our love of football. We have official teams that travel and some of the richer towns have actual stadiums that’s for these games specifically.”
“Not even a little. Since I was a kid, I’ve had football shoved down my throat. My daddy and his brothers played when they were young and their fathers played when they were still using those leather helmets and very little padding. They simply love the game.”
“Of course they do. It’s like an elaborate game of fetch—ow!”
Mitch rubbed his head where she’d yanked out actual hair.
“If you think this is easy for me, it’s not! And you making canine jokes just pisses me off. And, for your information every breed in the Southern states plays.”
“But the bears are unbeatable.”
“Basically. I mean, their guys can reach eight feet tall and almost four hundred pounds. Lord knows they could never legally play in the NFL. It would be lethal.”
“And you think I can help?”
“Remember what I told you the other night? Brendon brags about you constantly, especially about how amazing you were in football.”
He was, too, but he’d had to “tragically” end his career his senior year of college before he could be recruited by a pro team. Between those blood tests that seemed to get more intensive every year and his not being able to pull back as much if he wanted to win in the pros, it simply had been too big a risk for him and his kind. Broke his heart, too.
Mitch still caught a few pick-up games with friends from his old neighborhood now and again, but again he always had to hold back because they were full-humans. The thought of being able to really play the way he’d always wanted to nearly had him wiggling.
Sissy touched his leg. “I know I’m asking a lot of you and of course we’ll wait until you’re fully recovered, but hopefully that will be before next Saturday since that’s the day of the big game, but really I’d understand if you say no and I’ll fight for you to stay anyway. Travis is such an asshole, but for you, Mitch, I’ll fight him. I swear.”
She sounded so sincere, so upset, so traumatized that Mitch could do nothing but torture her.
“What do you think you’re doing?” He pushed her hand off his leg and Sissy reared back in surprise.
“You heard me. Don’t you think I know what you’re doing?”
“What I’m doing?”
“Trying to use me. To entice me to play on your team.”
“Mitch, of course I’m not—”
“I’m not a whore!”
Sissy rolled her eyes. “Mitchell…”
“I see how this works.”
“How what works?”
He moved farther away, giving her his best ingénue stare. “First you sit next to me—a little too close—wearing those sexy tight shorts and that begging-to-be-torn-off tank top. Then a few innocent touches in all my favorite naughty areas of which I have many.”
Sissy slapped her hands against her thighs. “Mitchell Shaw!
“And before I know it, I’m on my back and you’re having your dirty disgusting way with me. Just so I’ll play for your team.”
She looked up at the ceiling as if asking it for guidance. “Why do our conversations get so strange?”
“And because I’m weak…and your breasts are so large and full—”
“—I’ll succumb to your She-wolf wiles and agree to play your damn game.”
“Or you could just cut the bullshit and agree to play.”
“I could. But I figured this was a better way of getting you to agree to let me look down your shirt.”
Laughing, he held his hands up. “Okay. Okay. I’ll play.”
“Only if you want to. Only if—”
“On one condition.”
“I’m not letting you see down my top.”
“We both know you will eventually, sweet cheeks.”
“Stop calling me that.”
“But before I put on a pad or pick up a ball…”
“I wanna know who the hell Clyde is.”
Sissy fell back on the couch, her knees raised, her bare feet digging into the cushions. She always looked so sexy like that. “You can’t be serious.”
“Tell me or I go play for the bears.”
She shrugged. Sighed. “I’m not sure you’re ready for this. Clyde…means a lot to me. He knows how to touch all my favorite—what did you call them?—naughty places.”
“Bears,” he growled.
“Fine,” she replied stoically. “If you insist.”
“Come on then. We have some time before today’s practice that I’m sure Travis wants you at. But I really hope you’re ready for this.”
He did not like the sound of that.