Click on image to enlarge.
by Inara Lavey
Category: Erotica/Paranormal Erotica
Description: There's something different about the new jaguar... Maya is a seasoned expert on big cats, but when a prime new specimen arrives from the jungles of Belize, even she falls under its spell. She soon finds herself pulled deep into a mystery involving psychic forces and a sorceress who holds the key to the the end of the world itself. Maya must use her own psychic powers and strength of will to survive ... even as her heart and body are taken captive by a handsome stranger who is determined to possess her. When a jaguar fixates, it will go through whatever is in its way to get what it wants...
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: March 2012
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [231 KB]
Reading time: 143-200 min.
"Quick, agile, and powerful enough to take down the largest prey in the jungle, the jaguar is the largest of the big cats in the Americas, and one of the most efficient and aggressive predators."
My fellow docent Beth held forth to the group of first-graders crowded in front of Dandy's enclosure. Tall and gangly in a droopy Olive Oyl way, Beth wore her frizzy red curls clipped in a poof that bubbled out of the back of her baseball cap. While she droned on in front, I covered the rear to ensure none of the kids wandered off where they shouldn't.
Dandy, a melanistic jaguar sometimes referred to (incorrectly) as a black panther, sprawled at the edge of his cage and watched the kids. They were all small enough to count as prospective prey to a jaguar, although toddlers would be even better. At the Feline Preservation Center, the docents and keepers refer to babies in strollers as "meals on wheels." Dandy, although raised by hand instead of mother-raised, had all the instincts of his wild brethren and was no doubt sizing up which rug rat to cull from the pack, should the opportunity arise.
"Endowed with a spotted coat and well adapted for the jungle, hunting either in the trees or water--as one of the few felines tolerant of water--the jaguar was, and remains, revered among the indigenous Americans who reside closely with the jaguar."
The kids weren't quite slack-jawed with boredom, but Beth's auto-spiel, delivered in her nasal drone, was so far over their heads, she might as well be flying above in a jet plane. Beth was very knowledgeable when it came to all things exotic feline, but she wasn't exactly a people person, especially when said people are under eighteen.
Mind you, I wasn't a huge fan of school tours. If I wanted kids, I'd have found a guy and spawned a few. I loved animals, especially cats large and small, and would have preferred to spend my time doing cat rescue and volunteering FPC than dealing with either children or men. Unfortunately, working with the exotic felines wasn't all picking up leopard shit, chopping up frozen horsemeat, and scouring sinks free of congealed chicken fat. It also meant patrolling the "zoo" portion of the compound during the hours we were open to the public, making sure none of the visitors ran, screamed, tossed things into the cage, tried to pet the animals, or otherwise harassed our feline residents. And it also included docent duties, i.e. answering questions and giving tours to groups ranging from geriatric motorcycle clubs to Scout troops to classroom tours of all ages. Usually one docent was enough to handle any one tour, but when there were twenty-plus hyperactive first-graders on the loose, we worked in pairs.
Speaking of tours, the little natives were getting restless. Beth was focused on Dandy and spouting off dry statistics about the jaguar populations in South and Central America, while the teacher was too busy talking on her iPhone to notice one curly-haired blond, blue-eyed tot in the rear trying to climb the iron safety fence so she could "pet the kitty." I scooped her up just as she reached the top of the fence and plunked her back down on the sidewalk. Her face began that inevitable just-bit-into-a-lemon collapse that all kids got when they were about to let loose the mother of all tantrums. And me without my earplugs.
I squatted down in front of Miss Curly Locks just as her mouth opened to begin squalling. "Can I show you something really neat?" Without waiting for an answer-- which would have been an ear-piercing screech anyway--I pulled a battered, chipped, and scarred blue sphere from what was originally a cement ashtray. "Do you know what this is?" I held the ball up in front of her.
Shirley Temple circa 2010 shook her head, so I rolled the ball over in my hand to expose three holes in the other side.
"Well, it was a bowling ball. Then it became a toy for baby jaguars. Feel how hard this is." The other kids in the back crowded around, anxious to not be left out of the fun. I held the ball out so they could touch it, feel the cracks and gouges in the hard resin with their little pudgy fingers. "Baby jaguars did this with their claws and teeth. So if a baby jaguar can do this to something as hard as a bowling ball, imagine what a grown up jaguar could do to your skin." I looked Miss Curly Locks straight in the eye. "This is why you don't pet the kitties here, okay?"
She nodded, eyes round.
"Well, I could ... I could beat up the jaguar before it bit me!" This came from a pugnacious little ginger-haired boy who'd been reprimanded more than once for running, yelling at the cats, and wandering off. I also happened to know he had a rock in his back jeans pocket and had been waiting for the chance to throw it at one of the cats without getting caught.
"Really?" I turned my attention his way and locked gazes with him. I had a great hypno-stare.
"Jaguars fixate," I said. "Do you know what fixate means?"
I looked at the kids gathered around me and got mostly silence punctuated by a few shy giggles. One little boy picked his nose with a single-mindedness that rivaled a jaguar's.
"When a jaguar fixates, it means if it decides it wants something--anything--it will go through whatever is in its way to get what it wants. If it wants your shoe, you'd better take it off, 'cause a jaguar will take your foot off so it can play with the shoelaces. The jaguar is the only cat in the world known to fight to its own death before admitting defeat. Its jaws are strong enough to crush your head in one bite--" I gripped the little brat across his skull with my free hand to emphasize my point. "Trying to beat up a jaguar would be a very bad thing."
He gave me a sullen stare. "You're stupid."
I dropped my voice so no one else but the kid could hear me. "I'm sure your parents would miss you when the jaguar ate you up, starting with your head. Crunch! Just like a piece of popcorn. Except with blood sauce instead of butter."
Just for added effect, I sent an image into his head of just that.
His eyes went wide and he took two staggering steps backwards before falling on his butt on the grass next to the walkway. He was quiet the rest of the tour.
I thought about this a few hours later in the staff trailer as I gathered my things for the drive home, and couldn't help but smile at the memory of the little snot monster's expression when I'd zapped him.
See, once I hit puberty I discovered I had this weird ability to project my thoughts to other people in the form of imagery. I could also read their thoughts and emotions if they were strong enough. Reading also usually took the form of images.
Okay, yes, I realized that when one possessed certain abilities they should use them for good and not for evil, but this kid had needed a lesson and I didn't even pretend to be a nice person when I'm cranky. Besides, FPC was all about the cats and if scaring the kid stopped him from doing something potentially harmful, I was technically using my psychic ability for good, not evil.
Shut up. I know I'm rationalizing.
Walking across the hard-packed dirt towards the employee parking lot, I was almost to the gate when someone shouted my name across the open space between assorted office, staff, and supply trailers. "Hey, Maya!"
I turned to see Jeri Callahan, the founder of FPC, waving at me from her office door. Jeri possessed a slightly weathered beauty, with the sun-streaked blond hair and tanned skin of someone who'd spent most of her life outdoors. I liked Jeri. She was tough but fair when it came to training the largely volunteer staff. There was no room for ego when you were working with potentially lethal animals and Jeri didn't put up with any shit or stupidity from her crew.
For example, one idiot gal, Kiki, was caught texting when she was supposed to be holding the pulley bar to a leopard's den box while another docent pulled dirty dishes from the enclosure. The leopard had managed to paw the den box door open three inches before someone noticed. Jeri threw Kiki's iPhone in a Dumpster filled with bags of cat shit and told Kiki she could dig for it if she wanted. I'm not sure if Kiki retrieved her phone, but she never came back to FPC.
I retraced my steps and met Jeri at the foot of the office trailer steps. "What's up?"
"Any chance you can stick around a little longer tonight? We just got word this afternoon the jaguar's coming in a week early. Patrick's gone to pick up him up from LAX that day."
Patrick, an ex-movie exec turned conservationist (I know, it's crazy, but true), was Jeri's right-hand man. If a movie were made about his life, he'd be played by Fred Ward. He still had the personality and drive that earned him the nickname "The Tiger" back in his Industry days, but I understood he'd mellowed a bit. I got along fine with Patrick 'cause I could always tell a mile off if he was in a temper and I knew how to stay out of his way. Those without hereditary empathetic psychic ability, however, were shit out of luck on Patrick's bad days.