I can’t make sense of anything. I’m struggling to open my eyes, but even a tiny movement like that is too much. Pain shoots down my limbs and up my spine. My skin feels like it’s on wrong, too tight, too loose. Someone says something, but my senses garble it.
I try to remember.
No, that’s not quite right, is it?
My hand gripping the steering wheel hard, knuckles pale, breath short. Looking over at the huddled lump, my heart lurches. We’re running out of time. The vet said I needed to let go. I won’t let go.
That can’t be correct either. I know the reassurances. I spoke them, didn’t I?
A hand on my head. The voice that comforted me all my life, barely breaking through the rushing sound of my own feverish blood in my ears. Reassurances I don’t understand. But it’s time for me to go. It’s the end.
But I didn’t understand the words. I didn’t understand what I heard, only what I spoke. How can that be? My head is so—another surge of wracking pain disrupts my memory.
“They say the alchemist can do anything,” I’m saying, to myself or to her, I’m not sure. “I’ll pay any price. I’ll do anything. I’ll be their servant if I have to.”
He’s still speaking to me, and I open my eyes enough to see him. Probably for the last time, I look at his face as he says the nonsense words. Then I see something that he doesn’t, and by the time I open my mouth to make a noise,
I can’t remember. It hurts too much. I open my mouth and wail.
“That won’t do.” I don’t recognize the gruff voice, but there’s a hand on my arm and a little pinprick and a spreading coolness that quiets the blinding pain. The cool feeling spreads, I whimper, and finally this not-quite-right body goes limp. Everything fades.
When I wake up again, I find myself in a strange, sterile room. The antique wallpaper and hardwood floor suggest that this isn’t a hospital, but the IV in my arm and the height of my bed suggests that it’s something close. I gingerly touch the IV port, then try tugging at it. I wince at the stab of pain and resolve to leave it alone.
“Hello?” I call, and my voice is so unfamiliar I gasp. “What…?” High and reedy, but human. I didn’t sound anything like this, as far as I can remember.
I take a closer look at my paws. They’re hands. But they’re not my hands, they’re… smaller. With wicked hard nails and a dusting of fur on the back that goes all the way up my arm. And they’re not paws, which is weird, because I definitely had paws.
Or I had hands, but they were different hands.
I’m so confused. These aren’t my clothes, either; I appear to be wearing a thin housecoat that folds and ties in front.
I catch sight of an elevation control for the bed and use it, elevating my head so I’m more or less sitting up. At that point, I notice a strange shift in my torso’s weight, look down, and gasp. I have breasts. Heavy and soft breasts sag down against my the folded chub of my belly and create a very distracting tableau out of my robe’s v-shaped opening. I definitely didn’t have these before; for all of my conflicting memories, I know that fact. I need answers.
“Hello?” I try again. My voice is so strange, unfamiliar in two directions at once.
“Ah!” a low, feminine voice calls from another room. “You are up. I will be right there. Do not try to remove the IV!”
“I won’t,” I call back, pulling the sheet over my irritated IV port.
When I see the tall, wiry woman sweep into the room, when she sweeps a critical gaze over me, looming overhead, when she holds my gaze with her gimlet hazel eyes, I realize immediately why people talk about the Alchemist in hushed tones.
“Oh,” I murmur.
“I assume your pain has subsided.” she asked. “Is your new body responding to your commands?”
“My new body…” I look at my hand again. I suppose that explains it, though I had no idea that the Alchemist was capable of such things. “Why do I have a new body?”
“Answer my question first,” she commands, raising a single thin brow.
I feel my heart lurch. “I… yes, it’s responding to my commands. Ma’am.”
“Good.” The Alchemist gives me a firm nod. “And to answer your question, it is not technically a new body. You would not be likely to understand the specifics of the magiscientific process. Have you looked in a mirror yet?”
Struck silent, I just shake my head.
“Well! I suppose you’ll want to do that, then.” She turns in place and strides away on long legs.
Left alone with my bewilderment, my thoughts swirl. She told me that this isn’t technically a new body, but practically speaking, it certainly is. What does ‘not technically new’ even mean, especially in terms of a body?
My host returns, carrying a large standing mirror with both hands. She sets it down in front of the bed. “Here.”
The thin-pupiled eyes of the catgirl in the mirror go wide. That’s... me?
“This…” I reach up to touch my lightly-furred face, drawing the curve of a rounded chin I never had before. I brush back an errant lock of black hair and feel the soft skin and fur of the ear poking out. “This is…”
“A good result, no?” The Alchemist steps out from behind the mirror. “Healthy and very cute to boot. Do you like it?”
“I… I don’t understand,” I murmur, looking down at my lap. I adjust my weight and realize that some of the lingering discomfort is a tail, currently trapped under me. I roll onto my side and see the edge of the tail peek out of the sheet. “What happened? Why am I like this?”
“Oh, hmm, you truly do not remember,” muses the Alchemist. “You were in a terrible car accident not a mile from my house. I saved your lives.”
“Lives?” I have to fight the urge to hyperventilate.
The Alchemist shakes her head, chuckling. “I see. Square one.” Pushing the mirror aside, she rolls an office chair to my bedside and arrays herself in it like a renaissance noble. “Yesterday evening, there was a terrible car accident on my extended property. I went to survey the damage and found a badly injured young man and a dying cat. I could perhaps have saved the young man without such invasive magiscience, if I moved very quickly, but he begged me to save the cat.”
“O-oh…” a terrible realization dawns in my heart.
“I told this young man, this cat is terribly sick and cannot survive on her own. He was insistent, and rapidly losing blood. He said he would do absolutely anything to save the cat. So. Both patients running out of time, I rushed them here and began the melding process immediately. As you can see, the process was more than successful.”
“Melding?” My heart is going a mile a minute. “You melded… us? You melded me and… me and…”
“You and you,” she confirms with a nod. “The cat and the young man are now a single healthy entity. The alternative was death for both.”
“This is a lot,” I whisper.
“Yes, well, I’m afraid you’ll need to sort it out on your own; I am not a physician and have no bedside manner to speak of.” With a surge of wiry muscle, she stands, letting the chair roll back into place from the momentum of her push.
“I will bring you eggs and toast, and coffee. Is that adequate?”
“Y-yes, thank you.”
The Alchemist exits the room, leaving me alone with my jumbled thoughts.
I don’t know whether the time alone has helped or hurt. The mixed-up memories make more sense now, at least: I was remembering the same scene from two minds. Thinking back further, I found two sets of memories, two lenses to the world. I was a single person now, an amalgam. That made me feel weird.
But knowing that I'm a girl now? And a cat, but not a cat-cat, a girl cat. That’s weird in an entirely different way. I let my head drop against the pillow and watch the tip of my tail twitch. Now I have a little time to think, but my thoughts are so daunting. I resolve to start simple. I think about the creatures I used to be.
The young man: Thomas.
The cat: Asha.
In our previous lives, we’d been all but inseparable. Now we’re more than inseparable, but also we kind of don’t exist? I take a moment to ponder the notion of being plural, two minds in one brain, but quickly dismiss it. There’s only one personality in this head, and it doesn’t belong to Thomas any more than it belongs to Asha. It’s both of us and neither of us. My head threatens to start pounding again as I mull over what it means to be this brand new person.
I’m no closer to a revelation than when I started, but the Alchemist sweeps into the room with a plate of food and a mug of coffee, interrupting my thoughts.
“Breakfast is served,” she declares, setting the tray and mug down on a raised table next to the bed. “Don’t get too comfortable; once I confirm that you are healthy and we have arranged payment, I will send you back to your own life and I shall go back to mine.”
“What life?” I blurt, louder than I meant to. Her eyes lock onto me, and I can feel heat rising to my cheeks. “He was my life! She was my life!”
“What—” Even as startled as she is, the Alchemist’s poise is undisturbed; she merely rears back like a snake in response to my outburst.
“Don’t you get it? You took my best friend and made h-sh-them… me! Now I have no one, and I’m like this, and you want me to just go back to my life?”
“It’s hardly my fault that you have no friends,” the Alchemist growled. “I’m certain you can sort it out well enough.”
“Oh, sure, I’ll just go to work tomorrow and be like ‘hey mom, how many houses are we doing today? Where’s the windex? By the way, I’m a catgirl now.’ Go back to my life, are you kidding me? You ruined my life!”
By the time I realize what I’ve said, I’ve already said it. I didn’t mean it. It’s not even accurate. But it’s out there, now, and I see it sinking in through the Alchemist’s eyes, swirling into a rage that shows in the set of her angular jaw, a tensing below her sharp cheekbones.
She stands. “How dare you.”
“I, I, didn’t,” I stammer. I can’t get the words out.
“I saved your life.” Her words feel like they’re burning my eyes. I squeeze them shut, but the verbal acid still hurts. “I saved both of your lives! No one else could have done what I did, and I did it for your sake!”
“This is why I sequester myself.” She’s pacing now. I can hear the tap of her shoes against the floor. “This is why I eschew so-called ‘civilization’. Humans clamor for progress, but show them a future further out than their nose and suddenly you’re a monster who ruins lives.”
“No, Miss Alchemist, I’m sorry!” I plead, reaching up to grab at the loose sleeve of her coat. “I don’t know why I said that! I didn’t mean it. I swear. Please don’t make me leave.”
She turns just enough to aim that gimlet eye down at me, but I seize her gaze and return it. “Please. You’re the only one who can understand it. I don’t want to go home. Not yet. Please.”
She stiffens for a moment, then her posture softens. “Eat your food. We’ll talk more later.”
Then she's gone.
I eat. The Alchemist returns, checks my vitals, removes my IV, and tells me where to find a bathroom at the end of the hall. I thank her. These are the only words we speak.
I sleep, then. Not much, and not well, but I sleep. I have terrible dreams: disjointed, mismatched glimpses from the accident. Fire. Pain. Crushing terror. Fear, never for myself, but for him. For her. Thomas, Asha, my companion, me.
Eventually I surrender to wakefulness, choosing this bizarre reality over my bizarre dreams. I open my eyes, and in almost the same moment I become bored. Human intellect combined with a cat’s roving attention has already begun to make my life intolerable.
My desperate eyes sweep the room. They slide over a bookshelf full of magitechnical manuals. They shy away from a desktop covered in clutter. They linger on a row of mysterious bottles with labels like ‘Aqua Fortis (unactivated)’ and ‘Mutagen Theta’.
I’m about to give up and plead with the Alchemist for some kind of entertainment when my gaze suddenly lights upon a digital picture frame resting on a nearby shelf. I stretch out toward it, using my tail for balance, and manage to grab the frame. Its picture swaps from a pastoral landscape to another pastoral landscape, and I worry for a moment that I’ve found nothing better than a lonely woman’s nostalgia for the New Zealand countryside.
I’m relieved to see people in the next shot: a young man and an older woman wave from the crest of a hill, both with the chiseled features that identify them as the Alchemist’s family. I feel a twinge of voyeuristic guilt, but brush it aside: this photo frame was already cycling through these pictures. I press a button on the side of the frame to advance it.
An image appears that stops me in my tracks. I gasp aloud, surprised by the sudden prickling thrill that runs through my body. Something about this photo...
It’s a magazine cover for Magitech Monthly Magazine, littered with clickbait headlines advertising rotating features that I suspect serve mainly to fill space. The real focus of the cover is a professional photo of the Alchemist. The shot is angled upward, emphasizing her prodigious height and giving the impression that she is looming out of the screen. The lighting highlights the white streaks in her dark salt-and-pepper hair, her flawless, razor-sharp eyebrows, her high cheekbones. Her robe of office stands open, and the shirt underneath clings to the slight curves of her slender form. In one hand she cradles a flask that glows from the liquid within, but she’s not looking at that. She’s looking at me.
In the light of the photo, the yellow-green of the Alchemist’s eyes seems so bright, so stark. They are eyes that demand attention and obedience, eyes with high expectations and a nonexistent tolerance for bullshit.
A thin whine resonates in my throat, and in that moment I realize that my free hand is already starting to move across my body, under the sheet, under my robe.
Before the meld, I remember self-pleasure as a kind of chore that Thomas did for himself. Some nice feelings and a rush of endorphins were enough to make it worth the time, even if the experience never proved particularly fulfilling. As a cat, I didn’t have the drive or anatomy for onanistic pursuits. Looking back on who I used to be, nothing about either body stirs desire in me now.
But in this moment, there’s something about the topography of my body that makes me want to explore it. There’s something about this shape that beckons me to go places that always felt claustrophobic and hostile before. I feel a nervous excitement about myself, a giddy sense of is-this-really-happening that I remember from Thomas’s experiences with girls. That aspirational wonder, realized. In this moment, so taken by the sensation, my anxiety is gone.
I cradle the weight of one of my breasts, feeling the soft fur and the soft flesh beneath dimple under my paw’s pressure. The pads of my fingers brush over a nipple and I feel a mewling noise squeeze itself from my throat as my body tenses.
I keep going, stroking down the fur of my soft belly. I gasp twice more as my hand grazes two more nipples on the not-quite-breasts that blend in with the rest of my chubby midsection. They’re not quite as sensitive as my larger breasts, but then, my whole body feels like an erogenous zone now.
I can feel my fur growing thicker and longer as I trail my exploring fingers down the curve of my hips, the crease of my pelvis, the very top of my sex. I hear myself whine with need at the sensation, and the Alchemist’s hard eyes taunt me from the screen’s still image. I imagine myself kneeling at her feet, looking up.
“Please,” I mewl to my own fantasy, pleading for something formless from something stuck in time. “Please.”
I brush my clit for the first time and am immediately struck with a short, sharp peak, a more compact orgasm than I thought possible. My twitching finger slips between the folds of my pussy, and even that contact is enough that I climax again, crying “oh, fuck, please, please.”
Eventually I fall still, unsure if I’m spent but trembling from the lingering sensation. My heart still hammers in my chest, and my breaths come quick and gasping. I’d never in my lives felt like the way I just felt.
“Is everything all right?” The Alchemist asks, appearing in the doorway, and every muscle in my body goes completely taut. It’s a wonder that I didn’t leap onto the ceiling and cling there with my claws, but the sheet remains in place, covering my indulgence.
“Ah, no,” I pant, trying to calm down. I have plausible deniability. It’s fine. “I just had a nightmare and yelled, sorry.”
“Is that right?” The Alchemist walks to my bedside. I tense, keenly aware of the fingers still resting between my labia. She reaches down and takes the picture frame from me, and to my relief her reaction is a slight smile. “Ah. I remember this shoot. It went well, once I made the director leave the room.”
“O-oh?” I try to remove my fingers, but even the slightest movement stimulates my clit and gives my voice a dangerous waver. I try to hold still.
“He wanted me to appear less threatening,” she says. Her eyes turn from the photo frame to my face. As her eyes lock with mine I hear a gasp, and a moment later I realize it’s mine. I see a kind of recognition in the Alchemist’s eyes, and her grin takes on a sharkish edge before she speaks again. “I didn’t want to appear less threatening. That wouldn’t be me, would it?”
She sets the frame down on my lap. As she pulls her hand away, her knuckles brush up the fold of my thigh and my hip, and I come in an instant.
I shiver. I shake. My muscles spasm. My finger curls to press hard against my G-spot, intensifying the orgasm already in progress. Any hope of subterfuge is gone as I squirm and mewl under the Alchemist’s intense stare.
The orgasm subsides, but my heart keeps racing. I feel dizzy and strange, a mix of euphoria and fear pumping through my chest. The sound of blood rushing through my ears is louder than anything else in the room. Long moments pass.
The Alchemist finally speaks, reaching up to my head to stroke my hair and ears. “I knew you’d learn to appreciate your new body.” She pets me again. I melt into the touch this time, finally starting to relax. I feel safe, like I used to with Thomas. I realize that I’ve started to purr, a low rumble that radiates out from my chest.
When she finally takes her hand away, it’s all I can do to keep from yowling an objection. Instead I ask, “are we okay?” in a tiny voice.
“We are okay,” she replies with a very small nod. She clears her throat. “There will need to be conversations. But we will have them later. For now, I have an errand that I risk being late to, so I have to leave you alone. If you are hungry, there is a tupperware of mushroom barley soup in the fridge. Please forgive the mess; I’ve been very busy.”
I blink. “Oh. Um. Okay.”
“See you in a few hours,” she says. She walks to the door and pauses, turning back. “Please think of a name I can call you before I return.”
“Yes, Miss Alchemist!”
“It’s Greta,” she replies, then disappears from the doorframe.
Walking on digitigrade legs isn’t as difficult as I feared it was going to be. Yes, my first few steps probably look very silly, but I’m not too mortified because there’s no one else here. After just a few minutes of practice, I learn how to let my tail serve as an articulated counterweight to let me walk without trouble.
Once I’m certain I can walk well enough, I pad into the hallway. The claws of my feet, substantially bigger than those on my hands, click against the hardwood as I marvel at the manor in which I am a guest. The floors and moulding are all made of real wood, though the varnish is thin here and there. Of the four candelabra-styled lamps along the wall, only two are lit, and neither one has working bulbs in all three candles. I run my hand along the ancient wallpaper and instantly catch a peeling edge on my fingernail.
The Alchemist warned me about the mess.
Greta. Greta warned me about the mess. Even with that warning, I have to assume by this level of neglect that she’s been ‘too busy’ to fix it for at least a few years. I hope to Bast that it doesn’t get much worse than this.
When I arrive at the kitchen, however, my hopes are dashed immediately. From the sink looms a formidable mountain of flatware, plates, mugs, and glasses, waiting for a turn in a dishwasher that will no doubt serve as a clean dish museum until its contents are picked up and used by necessity.
I take a moment to relax a familiar tension in my jaw. Memories of a roommate who loved to cook for himself but never cleaned up. It was an infuriating experience for Thomas, who ultimately couldn’t stand the mess and started cleaning up for the roommate instead. A prickle of remembered resemblance clenches my hand into a fist, but I hiss at the unexpected pain of my claws digging into my palm.
I shake both hands vigorously and flex them. That’s not what this is. It’s not my mess, it’s not my kitchen, and it’s not in my way. It’s not like the domineering, cold-eyed Alchemist is going to come loom over me and demand that I clean all of her dishes until they sparkle.
It’s not like Greta said to me, “Tasha, you had better make this kitchen cleaner than it’s ever been before, or I’ll punish you.”
Trying to catch my breath, I sag against the wall. Why does it make my knees weak to think about Greta pushing me around? Being pushed around sucks. I hated being pushed around in high school and college. I hated being forced to clean up after a shitty roommate who played Filth Chicken knowing that I’d crack first. I hate thinking about the way I’ll get pushed around if I tell mom about this. I hate being pushed into being someone I don’t want to be.
I hate being pushed… into being someone I don’t want to be. That’s it, isn’t it? I can feel my ears fold back and my mouth fall open. I’m struggling to cope with the realization that maybe it’s not that I just want to be pushed; I want to be pushed in the right direction.
I’m starting to know who I want to be.
I find the cabinet with the cleaning supplies on my third try.
Two hours later, I discover the hard way that in spite of my mostly-human physiology, I do not sweat from most of most of my body. Since ‘most’ doesn’t cover the pads of my feet, I leave wet footprints in a trail away from the professionally-immaculate kitchen. Those footprints trail in a mostly straight line, and I grimace as I feel the dust caking on my damp paw pads.
Disgusted, I forgo the turn into my room and head to the end of the hallway. Through a short search, I discover the guest bathroom, which disgusts me far more than the dust on my feet. Dust and mildew coat every surface, and there’s a ring of crud around the bathtub. It’s a palatial bathroom, but Greta hasn’t had guests here in a decade or more, if my housecleaner intuition is right.
Analyzing the filth with a clinical eye, I growl out a long noise of irritation. I shut my eyes and think about what she might say…
I cut the fantasy short as I realize that I have exceeded the necessary amount of motivation and now my thigh fur is sopping wet. All the more reason to get to work.
The Alchemist slammed her palm against the wall, blocking the catgirl’s exit. “Where do you think you’re going, little Tasha?” She closed the distance, pinning the catgirl against the wall with her hips. “Do you think you’re getting any of this? Not while you’re shirking your duties. Don’t you want to be a good girl?”
The catgirl yowled at the feeling of the Alchemist’s growing hardness (the alchemist has a dick in this story! cis!Alchemist headcanoners don’t interact --Tasha231) pressing against her clothed pussy, urging her to roll her own hips forward as she gasped for breath—
“Hey! Cat Girl! Are you in there?” I startle awake to the sound of knocking on the door and a voice that I immediately recognize as the Alchemist. The bathwater sloshes over the edge of the tub and through the shining-clean drain below.
“Uh, yeah! Sorry, I think I fell asleep in the tub.” My tail swirls in the water as I right myself. It’s still warm.
After a pause, Greta asks, “did you clean both the kitchen and the bathroom?”
“I, um, yes.” I shrink. “Is that okay?”
“I… don’t know,” she replies with the least conviction I’ve ever heard in her voice. “I think it is okay, but I am currently fielding an... unusual volume of thoughts and emotions.”
“You too, huh?” I reach down and pull the plug on the tub. “Can I help? Do you just need a little space?”
I hear Greta’s head thump against the door. “I need… to figure out dinner. I don’t want to mess up your cleaning job.”
“Kitchens are meant to be used, Greta.” I slowly rise to a stand and step out of the tub one careful paw at a time. “I didn’t clean it to stop you from using it, I promise.”
“I want to let it stay clean one day at least, I’ve never got it looking that good. Do you like sushi?”
“Yes!” I shout, as memories of Asha and Thomas sharing sushi flood my heart. They didn’t get to do it often, but it’s so important to both of them. “Yes, I’d really love sushi.”
“Great, I’ll get a lot of sushi. I left some of my casual t-shirts in your room, and I think they ought to be long enough to serve as dresses, at least if they can handle your bust. I’ve also left a tablet with an internet connection.” Beat. “Hey.”
“Have you got a name yet?”
My cheeks feel suddenly hot. “It’s… Tasha. Tasha Pembroke.” I hadn’t even realized that I had decided on a name until this moment.
“Well, Miss Tasha Pembroke, shall I fetch you when dinner arrives?”
I speak once my breath returns. “I’d… I’d love that, Doctor Greta Hoff Weber. Please do.”
As she says “until then,” I think I can hear a smile in her voice, but then she moves away and my hammering heart drowns out her receding footsteps.
Even if I never experience another moment this beautiful, it will still have been worth it.
I’m going to need to buy bras.
I stare at myself in the standing mirror that Greta left in the room. There’s no denying that I look extremely good in this stretchy oversized tee, but it leaves so little to the imagination, and… my tail keeps pushing it up in the back. Given the way it lifts when I’m feeling cheerful, there’s a strong risk of showing Greta my entire ass the next time I see her.
I catch sight of a pair of scissors, then look over at the door. Will she be mad if I cut a slit in the back of one of these?
No, she’ll probably be too distracted by the way the shirt squishes my boobs together, the way that my nipples poke through the fabric every time they get even a tiny bit hard. Bast knows it’s distracting me.
I find a t-shirt that’s already seen some wear. The print on the front, a simple yellow iconographic logo with the words ‘BOARDS OF CANADA’, is legible but quite faded. Chemical stains dot the surface, and the serger stitch on one of the sleeves has come undone. One small slit in the back won’t make the shirt much more beat up than it already is, so soon the deed is done. My tail slips through the opening in the back of the shirt. I inspect my emerging tail and conclude to my satisfaction that my modesty is at least slightly more improved.
Fuck, I’m hot though. My eyes linger on the curve of my ass, the soft rolls of my belly, the imprint of all six of my nipples against taut fabric and the full breasts that strain the top of the shirt and stretch the logo to an unrecognizable shape.
“Is it really okay for Greta to see me like this?” I ask the empty room, backing up to the bed and leaning against it. My tail lashes, an external signal of my nerves.
She knows I’m attracted to her, right? She has to. She more or less caught me masturbating to a photo of her. She made me cum by touching my hip. She has to know.
But now what? She said that there would need to be ‘conversations’. Are we going to have one of those tonight? Is the sushi to cushion the blow when she rejects me?
I jump at the sound of a soft knock on the door. “Tasha, the sushi is here,” Greta calls.
“Okay, thank you!” I reply, smoothing down the puffed fur of my tail with both hands. “I’m all dressed, so I’ll come with you.”
I brace myself, walk to the door, and open it.
No longer wearing her robe or an overcoat, Greta is dressed in skinny jeans and a turtleneck, emitting the most powerful butch vibes I have ever borne witness to. I pray she doesn’t notice me leaning heavily against the doorway, victim to my weak knees once again.
“Ah, it looks like—” She halts mid-sentence, her eyes running up and down my body. “Oh. Well, it ...does fit, I suppose.”
“I had to cut a hole in the back. Sorry.” I duck my head, ears flattening.
She laughs and places a hand on my head. “It’s fine. I’m into Emancipator these days, anyway.” Long fingers push down through my hair and scritch at my scalp. “You look, ah, very good.”
Greta’s scritches draw forth a long, pleased whine, and I push my head against her hand without thinking. “Thank youuu,” I manage to meow.
“Before we go.” Greta removes her hand and I stifle my inevitable whine. “Thank you for your hard work today. I’ve been too embarrassed to hire a cleaner, but seeing the kitchen this way is…” a sigh. “It’s a relief, if I’m honest.”
“Oh, I’m really glad,” I reply, “because I was worried that it’d be an invasion of your privacy.”
“It could have been, I suppose. But you’re a bit special, aren’t you?” Casting one last heart-skipping smile at me, she turns and walks down the hallway. “Come along.”
I follow at her heels the moment I’m able to walk again.
“You’re a bit special, aren’t you?” I let Greta’s words echo through my head over and over. Had she meant it? Was she just teasing? She made it sound like she trusts me more than she trusts other people, but why? We’ve only known each other one day. But Bast, I want it to be true. Need it to be true. The scant time I’ve known Greta, the hours I’ve been Tasha, they’ve been beyond special to me.
I want it to be special for her, too.
“You must really be looking forward to sushi.” Greta smirks back at me. “You’re humming like an engine.”
I realize how loud my purring has gotten. “Oh. Uh. Yes. Sushi.” I really need to practice making the purring stop, because right now I don’t seem to be able to do it. “Are we gonna eat in the dining room?”
“What, at the banquet table?” She laughs. “No, I always feel ridiculous eating there without at least eight more people. I’ve set the sushi up on the island counter. It matches your cleaning work very well, actually.”
I soon find out that she isn’t kidding. The generous sushi order arrayed across the counter could be a formal event spread, as immaculate as the surface and surroundings are. I allow myself a proud smile. “Yeah, I guess I did a pretty good job!”
“You did.” Greta pulls out a stool from under the island and leans onto it, eyeing me intently. “Now, Tasha, would you like to eat some sushi?”
“—OR,” she interrupted, raising a silencing finger. “Would you like me to feed sushi to you?”
My whole face starts to burn. “What?”
The Alchemist teases a sharp-edged smile. “Do you want to take your sushi from a plate? Or from my hand?”
“Th-th-that’s,” I stammer. I’m shaking all over. Is she being serious. “I-I-I mean.”
“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to,” Greta murmurs, and for a moment I can’t breathe. “Was this rude? I can apologize.”
“I want it,” I blurt, “I want you. To feed me. Please.”
Greta flashes me a smug grin as she gestures to the open stool next to her. I climb onto it, doing my level best to ignore the slippery feeling down below as I arrange my thighs and tug the improvised dress down. She pulls a tray of nigiri forward and tugs off the plastic top. “I had a feeling,” she says as she picks up a piece of maguro and holds it above my face. “But just to be sure… what do you want? Say the whole sentence.”
I swallow. I fidget. “I… I want you to feed me, ma’am. Please.”
“Good girl,” purrs Greta, lowering the sushi to my mouth. The combination of her words and the taste and feel of biting down and the way I have to crane my neck to reach—it all swirls inside me, it runs flush in my veins, it exits my body as a moan. I can already feel the wetness spreading across the butt of my shirt-dress. I’m too aroused to be mortified.
The Alchemist watches me as I chew and swallow, then offers the other half. As I eat that too, she selects the next piece from the nigiri tray. “What am I to do with you, little cat,” she asks in a rhetorical tone as I bite the piece of sake in half. “You crash into my life and I can’t chase you out. Now you’re awakening things in me I thought years dead.”
As I open my mouth to finish the sushi, she draws me forward and takes my face in her hand, depositing the sushi in my mouth along with her fingers, hooking one behind a long, sharp fang. She presses another fingertip to the roof of my mouth, and I mewl around her fingers, shivering at the sudden loss of control. “I just might have to keep you,” she growls.
Greta releases me, and briefly turns her eyes away to look at her spit-covered fingers. Then she smiles, reaches forward, and wipes her hand dry against my chest. “Finish your sushi, pet,” she says, and watches as I chew and swallow. Greta strokes my head and ears, praising me. “Good girl.”
I mewl as the words wash over me, but then something in my chest goes tight. My vision blurs. I sob. Greta rears back. “Tasha? Are you all right?”
“I want this to be real,” I whimper. I curl around my center and squeeze my eyes shut. “I don’t want this to end.”
“It…” Greta is thrown by my outburst, but places a gentle hand on my head, petting it down to my cheek. “It is real, Tasha. This body is yours for the rest of your life.”
“But I want this to be real too,” I reply, pressing my cheek against her hand, tears staining darkened tracks down my cheek fur. “I want to be yours. I want to clean your filthy house and be treated to nice things and be your pet catgirl. I want that to be real.”
“I…” She removes her hand and looks at the tears on her palm. “That really is… a lot. This time yesterday, I had only just melded you.”
“I know. I’m sorry.” I uncurl enough to paw for a napkin, into which I blow my nose. It’s a surprisingly dainty sound. “Maybe this isn’t even me talking. I’m so overwhelmed by everything.”
“Well then.” Greta leans forward to wipe my face down with another napkin. “Why don’t you take a turn feeding yourself sushi, and we’ll just talk for a spell? The fact of the matter is that you are a bit special, even as melded creatures go.”
I submit to the tidying. “Oh?”
Greta finally releases me, then removes the lid from a maki tray and slides it in front of me. I pick up a spicy tuna roll and pop it into my mouth. “When you meld two consciousnesses, you get a kind of average of their personalities, their beliefs, their, ah, their identities.”
“Mmm?” I am delighted to find that the spicy tuna is extremely good.
“Now, sometimes this comes out as in-betweens, but in the case of strong identities, one may override the other if the latter doesn’t have much conviction about the trait in question. I were to meld a male human with a female cat, the most likely outcome is a boy with catlike traits. Humans have a strong conception of gender that animals tend to lack.”
“Huh?” I mull that over for a few moments, and then I get it. “Oh. Oh.”
“Did Thomas ever have feelings of gender dysphoria, Tasha?” Greta leans against the counter, picking up a piece of tako nigiri, admiring the spray of color along its tentacle. “Had he ever considered the possibility that he might be a woman?”
“I, I, I, didn’t think so, I was just, I was just depressed,” I whisper, “but he was my sister, I always saw Thomas as my sister. And I wished I could be her, wondered if being a cat would end my pain.”
I blow my nose on another napkin. “Thomas spent so much time in pain. The world was too much for him. I’m afraid that it might be too much for me too.”
Greta’s hand rests on my head, and I start to purr immediately, a sense of safety sliding warm over my skin like a clean sheet fresh from the dryer. She commands me: “Stay the night tonight. The world can wait.”
“Thank you,” I whisper.
That night, I masturbate to Greta’s picture again. I hear the sound of a door elsewhere in the manor, but I don’t stop masturbating.
I hear her shoes on the floor of the hall outside. I don’t stop.
I hear her hesitate with her hand on the doorknob. She heard me. I don’t stop.
I hear her remove her hand, and then I don’t hear anything as she goes still.
I cum. But I don’t stop.
I’m asleep and satisfied before she walks back to her room.
“Today,” I tell the ceiling, “is the first day of the rest of my life.”
As useless as ever, the ceiling does not reply.
I’ve had a lot of nerdy friends online who have no patience for tautological truisms. I’ve seen people refer to them as hollow, meaningless platitudes with no actual substance or point. I get it, but I don’t entirely agree.
See, nature abhors a vacuum, but not as much as meaning. Meaning hates vacuums and will instantly occupy any blank linguistic space the moment that blank space is observed. Even the most stodgy linguistic literalist can’t hear the phrase “it is what it is” without ascribing meaning to it. It is in the nature of sentient beings to observe, understand, and infer.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life. For a meaningless phrase, there’s a lot to unpack.
I roll over in bed and fumble for the tablet that Greta lent me. I wake it and immediately notice a message in my priority inbox.
It’s from mom. The pit of my stomach drops out as I tap the icon to read it.
“Greta!!!” I stalk through the hallway.
“Mm?” She looks up, startled, as I emerge into the kitchen.
“I need you to explain this,” I say, brandishing the tablet, but my attention is immediately diverted. “Oh wow that smells good.”
“It’s cinnamon-anise french toast,” Greta says as she reaches out to take the tablet. She reads for a moment and sets it down on the counter. “Ah, good, your mother filled you in.”
“No she didn’t, and neither did you!” Some of my alarm returns as I try to focus on the topic at hand. “Why are you hiring her? Is this to force us together? Did you out me? Am I your servant now?”
“Enough!” She holds up a hand and I lapse silent. “You misunderstand, and I don’t care for this vehemence while I am making breakfast. Come here at once, quietly.”
Tail tucked and ears folded, I slink around the island counter. Greta wraps her hand around my head, works her fingers into my hair, and scritches just under my ear. I start to purr immediately, demolishing any further indignation I might have hoped to use.
“Be calm, pet,” Greta reassures me as her nail scratches the spot where my ear meets my scalp. Her long fingers to dip a thick piece of challah bread in a rich egg batter before dropping it onto the griddle, where it sizzles and emits even more delicious smell. “I have no intention of suborning your freedom without your say-so.”
“That’s good, because—” I begin, but she interrupts me.
“—I intend for you to suborn your freedom to me willingly.”
The rest of the sentence fades away as my brain melts and my knees start to buckle. Greta removes the hand from my head and wraps it around my waist, supporting my weight easily with one arm. “Little kitten. I’ve certainly decided that you belong to me, but I don’t need trickery or legal pressure or your mother to ensure it.”
I let out a little meow that I swear I had intended to be words.
“No, you’re going to give yourself to me because you need to,” Greta says, a satisfied little smile curling the edges of her thin lips. “The commission I sent to your mother was to cover the cost of the work you’ve already done, and to ensure that she feels no need to investigate or worry.”
“Oh,” I murmur. “Oh. Does that mean… I can stay?”
“You can stay. You should stay,” she adds. “I’ve never had a housepet before, and I’m growing fond of having one.”
I can only squeak. She smiles. “Let’s try this out, and see if it works for the two of us.”
“Would you like to kiss me, Tasha?” she asks, and my heart starts trying to set a record immediately.
“Yes ma’am! Please!”
“Oh, I think you can ask a little better than that.” Greta turns toward me fully and takes my face in her free hand, cradling my chin with her long, strong fingers. “How will I know that you really want it.”
“Ohh please, ma’am, please,” I mewl, straining toward her lips with mine. “Please let me kiss you.”
“Good girl,” she says in that low, low purr, and brings her lips down to meet mine in a full, hard kiss.
I’ve never melted upward into a kiss before.
I like it.
I like it a lot.
Breakfast is even better than I expect it to be. The anise-cinnamon adds a distinct flavor to the toast, and the challah bread is soft and absorbent. I use it to sop up (real!) maple syrup from the bottom of my plate. “Greta, this is soooo good.”
Greta seems amused at my outsized reaction to the delicious breakfast, stroking my hair as I yowl my satisfaction. “I adore the way you appreciate things, pet. I’m going to have to keep doing things you like.”
“Mmnnggmmnnrr,” I whine, flattening my ears in embarrassment. I stuff another piece of french toast into my mouth to keep from saying anything too foolish.
“How would you feel about meeting someone new today, Tasha?” Greta asks, setting down her fork and knife.
“My tailor, Raym, has free time today. They can take your measurements and consult with you, if you’re feeling up to it, but their presence is occasionally overwhelming if you aren’t feeling up for it.”
I swallow. “Sorry, your tailor? Measurements?”
“Yes, to make you some clothes.”
I gape. How does Greta manage to surprise me over and over again. “I was… just going to buy some clothes online, you don’t have to … have a-a tailor…”
“I am aware of my lack of obligation, kitten, but I do have an image to maintain.” Greta quirks a brow. “If you’re to be a part of my household, you must have tailored clothes. Besides, they’ll be more comfortable than something off the rack.”
“Isn’t that e-expensive? I don’t want to put you out—”
Greta cuts me off with a laugh. She braces an arm against the counter and leans forward. “Tasha, I am the Alchemist. I know arcane chemistry that can pierce the veil between life and death, between reality and elsewhere. I know where to push the laws of nature until they bend and snap under my will.”
She pets my hair again, then leans down and kisses my forehead. “Money is not an issue.”
“Oh,” I mumble, no longer merely embarrassed but also intimidated. “Okay. Um. When would this… be?”
“Whenever you’re ready, pet.” Greta strokes my ear once and leans back. “Raym said they were free all day, and that they are looking forward to meeting you.”
My eyes go wide. “Me? Why? What did you say?”
“I didn’t have to say much,” she says with a laugh. “Raym hasn’t heard me talk about another person at all in years. All it took was a mention and they were enthralled.”
“Um.” I look down at my empty plate. “Then maybe let’s… let’s do it now? I think I’m gonna have anxiety about it until it happens.”
“I was hoping you’d say that! Come with me.”
Greta leads me through the halls of her manor, which proves to be even larger than I expected it to be. I make note of the places that most need care, adding them to my mental list of cleaning tasks. This house is going to be a big project, and now that it sounds like Greta will let me continue it I’m starting to look forward to cleaning this massive place.
We stop in front of an old-looking door with a decorative knob of brass and crystal, and the Alchemist turns to face me. “Under no circumstances are you to clean this room, Tasha,” she warns me, “and try to avoid touching things.”
“Okay,” I reply, meek.
“Good girl.” She opens the door to a room filled with clutter yet bereft of dust or dirt or filth. Shelves line every wall, packing the room end-to-end with bottles and gems and curios and books.
Greta walks into the room and beckons me to follow, so I do. Looming from the back of the room, a sturdy standing mirror waits on a gigantic frame. Curious, I step toward it a little bit before halting to wait for my host, who stands before a nearby shelf. She picks up a spray bottle bearing a masking tape label and words in a strange alphabet that I don’t recognize.
“I thought we were going to meet your tailor. Are they in here?”
“Not yet, they aren’t,” she replies. She spritzes several jets of liquid onto the surface of the mirror, then reaches up to prick her finger on a nail sticking out from the mirror frame. She wipes a single drop of blood onto the mirror, and its surface suddenly ripples. Greta covers the tiny wound with an adhesive bandage as she walks back to me, scooping me up.
“Don’t be afraid,” she says.
“Why?” I ask. “What—”
The walls start to fade. The light in the room dims even as a mottled red light shines through the bubbling surface of the mirror. I cling to Greta as a voice booms from a source I can’t locate.
“Thief of Kings. Destroyer of Conspiracies. Once Governor of Thirty Legions.”
The wobbling surface of the mirror shatters into a cloud of black feathers, and a crow the size of a rottweiler bursts through it, blowing my bangs back with a flap of its huge wings. The crow circles the room and strikes the floor in front of us, drawing all of the feathers into a whirling column.
When the feathers scatter, a human shape steps from them. The stranger is dressed in pressed black slacks and a matching vest with coattails. Their fiery red hair, which matches their ascot perfectly, is coiffed into a perfect pompadour. The stranger smiles directly at me with eyes the color of vantablack, from sclera to pupil, and bares a full set of sharp-looking triangular teeth.
In a booming voice, the demon announces themself:
“Great Earl of Hell: Raym!”
Raym moves before the feathers can even clear. I’m barely able to squeak a reaction, but I certainly do so when the dapper demon leans down to observe my face from mere inches away.
“This is your new pet, then, Greta? Oh, I do approve,” says Raym.
“Well thank goodness for that,” Greta replies dryly.
“Oh, I can do a great deal with this.” Raym disappears in a cloud of feathers, only to appear again at my side, looking over my shoulder to appraise my butt. They smile even wider and clap both hands together. “Greta, a tail! It’s been so long since I got to design an outfit for someone with a tail. You’re too kind.”
“I’ve always said so,” she agrees. “It’s certainly my biggest flaw, kindness.”
“Your tailor is a… a Prince of Hell?” I squeal. My eyes have been widened so long that they’re starting to dry out.
“Earl,” Raym replies, teleporting to my other side in another cloud of feathers. I half expect to see the floor covered by them each time, but it’s not. “Or President, if you like. But really, Raym is fine. Any friend of Greta’s is a friend of mine.”
“Tasha.” I offer a weak handshake to go with my weak reply. Raym takes the opportunity to inspect my arm.
“Well, Tasha, I am going to have a great deal of fun with you, yes I am,” Raym says, caressing my arm with surprisingly soft hands.
“Careful,” Greta warns.
“Oh?” Raym lets my arm go and peers over at Greta. “Are you monogamous now? Are we ending our little arrangement”
“No. Yes. I don’t know.” Greta actually seems a bit flustered at that. “It doesn’t matter right now. Just… be respectful.”
“Hm hm hm hmmm.” Visibly amused, Raym sidles up to Greta and looks up into her face. “Oh my, I see. Yes, of course. Nothing but the utmost respect.”
I’m already wet and I don’t know why.
“All right, little cat.” Raym finally turns back to me, and opens their hand like a blooming flower. “Let’s make you beautiful.”
“So, you’re, um.” I clear my throat as Raym jots down my waist measurement. They’ve already measured my inseam, outer seam, and hips, and I’ve never once felt violated, but their mere presence sets me on edge. “You’re a demon, then?”
“The grand entrance didn’t establish my credibility?” Raym taps my arms. “Lift your arms.”
I do, and the demon cinches the tape measure loosely around my bust. I chew my lip. “And you’re the Earl of Hell? The place where humans go when they die?”
“Well, you’re half right.” The demon releases the tape and jots something in a little notebook hanging from their side. “I am one of many Earls of Hell. But Hell isn’t where humans go when they die, hon.”
Greta goes stiff, but Raym just keeps on talking. “It’s never been that. Earth just… caught us at a bad eon. We were at war and your plane was right between us and Heaven. We’ve got a ceasefire now—”
“Raym! She’s melded.” Greta rubs her temples with both hands. “She won’t forget that talk like an inert human would.”
“Oh, whoops!” Raym cackles, and I feel a bit faint as they wrap the tape carefully around my neck. “You’ll forget I told you any metaphysical secrets of the universe, won’t you, Tasha?” They release the tape. It hadn’t been pulled tight at all, but I’m having trouble breathing all the same.
“That kind of knowledge could put her in danger!” Greta declares, taking a step forward. “What is wrong with you? You’re not this sloppy. You’re pushing boundaries, and it’s making me very upset.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” There’s tension in Raym’s voice, now, and the measurement around the crown of my head is just a tiny bit too tight. “Surely you’re not accusing me of purposefully endangering your new pet. She’ll be absolutely fine. She has you.” They finish the measurement and open the notebook to write it down.
“Stop it.” Greta steps up to face Raym head-on. “What is this? Are you jealous?”
I hear Raym’s pencil lead break. They throw the implement aside, and it has turned into a feather before it hits the ground. Pure black eyes suddenly blaze a hot red from within, and a pair of huge corvid wings burst from the demon’s back. “Why no, Greta, I have no objections whatsoever to being used and dropped like a piece of trash! Why would you imply such a ridiculous thing?” Their broad, sharp teeth glinted as they snarled. They were still smiling, but it was mirthless. “I have no emotional reaction whatsoever to you going exclusive with a girl you’ve known for two days!”
“That’s—it’s not that I’m—” Greta huffed and ran fingers through her hair. “You don’t understand.”
“I understand perfectly!” Raym barks. They stretch the tape out along my arm. Their touch is gentle once again, as if the verbal outburst allowed them to direct their bitterness somewhere safe. I notice a black ichor starting to gather at the corner of their eyes. “Do you understand? B-because, I don’t think you do. You’ve learned everything except how to get outside your own head.”
“You said we were casual.” Greta’s voice is quiet. “I believed you.”
“Well, Greta,” replies the demon as they take the final measurement across my shoulders, “I believed that there was a difference between ‘casual’ and ‘disposable’. Now I know otherwise.”
As Raym moves to turn away, I lift my hand and take hold of their wrist.
I hear myself say “wait,” which is ridiculous because I would never decide to say ‘wait’ to an angry demon who thinks I stole their ex, but someone definitely says the word ‘wait’ in what sounds like my voice. Raym turns back, fire in their eyes and ichor on their cheeks.
“I’m sorry,” I say.
“What…” Raym’s eyes go wide, but the glow within them fades a bit.
“I’m sorry that I’m a source of your hurt,” I elaborate, “and I want to make it clear that Greta and I haven’t agreed to anything. We really clicked, yes, but there’s been no time to hash anything out. It’s not that Greta wasn’t thinking of you, okay? I’m sure she was. But even we don’t know what she and I are yet. Okay?”
Raym stares at me, then stares at the hand wrapped around their wrist. I let go. They sniffle, and another bead of ichor runs down their cheek.
“I uh.” They sniffle again. “Thank you. Tasha. Greta, I... apologize for my behavior. We… we should talk.”
“We will,” Greta agrees with a firm nod.
“I will still be providing your wardrobe, little cat,” says Raym with a wobbly smile, poking my shoulder. “Don’t think you’re rid of me. I have your measurements and I know where you live.”
Greta smiles. “Thank you, Raym.”
“Don’t you dare make me cry, potion jockey.” Raym walks back to the mirror. “I’m leaving before I manage to make myself look even less cool.” Blowing me a kiss, the demon disappears in a flurry of feathers, all of which vanish mysteriously before they hit the floor.
I let all of the air in my lungs rush out in one heavy, long breath and immediately start shaking. “That was…”
“A lot, yes,” Greta agrees, sinking down onto a chair. “I am… very impressed with how you handled that.”
“I can’t tell you how close I was to just losing my entire shit, Greta,” I reply. “I’ve never met a demon before. For all I knew, I was going to get incinerated if I said the wrong thing.”
“I know. I’m sorry about that, pet.” She stands again. “Rest assured that Raym would not harm you.”
“Yeah, I think I believe that.” I shake my head. “I need time to process all this.”
Greta opens the door to the room. “Would you like me to leave you to yourself while I make lunch and prep dinner?”
“No!” I yip. “I-I want to stay with you. I can help you cook?”
“Mm, no guarantees that I can work with a sous chef,” Greta says with a little grin, “but let’s try it.”
We eat leftover sushi for lunch. It’s still good, because Greta wrapped each leftover piece in plastic when she put it away last night. Once we’ve eaten, we get to work.
Greta makes sure that I stay busy in my role as sous-chef. She runs me through a test to make sure I can chop the vegetables finely enough. I pass the test, so she gives me a pile of bell pepper, onion, and celery and says to dice it all as fine as I can, because I’m making the holy trinity mirepoix for her jambalaya.
I dice the ingredients while she watches me with an appraising eye. My lingering anxiety dissipates as I feel her authority settle onto me like a mantle. My work is fine, fast, and flawless. I never learned to cook, but a childhood spent playing video games and an adolescence spent cleaning houses from floor to ceiling gives me an edge based purely on dexterity.
Watching Greta cook is mesmerizing. She measures everything precisely, deploys pans and tools with precision, and somehow manages to keep an eye on everything at once. When I finish dicing the vegetables, I watch keenly as she discards a tiny bit of each to make them even before placing them in a pan with butter on very low heat.
“Now we sweat the vegetables for a while. Too much heat and we will cause a maillard reaction, which we expressly do not want in this case,” she informs me.
I hop up onto the counter next to the sink while Greta washes her hands. “You really are a font of knowledge, Greta. I’ve lived here my whole life and I only just learned how to make mirepoix.”
“Should you be admitting that?” she asks with a quirked brow. “Also, I do not recall giving you permission to sit on my counter, even if our work is at a lull.”
I freeze. “Oh. I’m... sorry.”
“Well. I suppose it’s okay.” She walks over to where I sit and leans forward, placing a hand. “But I might consider punishing you for your impertinence.”
Oh, there go all of my bones. They’re jelly now. “Wh-what are you gonna do?”
She dips in close. I feel her breath on my neck, then my cheek. She speaks directly into my ear. “Maybe I’ll bite you.”
Prickles run across my skin, puffing out my fur. She notices. I stammer, trying to sound chill. “Oh y-yeah?”
“Well, your fur and skin are so soft,” she says, and I feel the warmth of her hand on my thigh. “I imagine your flesh must taste very good.”
“Nnnyaaoo,” I yowl, clutching the back of her neck with one paw while I support myself with the other. “I’m a scary predator. All stringy muscle.”
“You smell like prey to me,” she purrs, and gives my other ear a light nip. I gasp, and gasp again as I feel her hand crawling its way up my thigh.
“Mmmrrrww,” I keen, rocking my hips, beckoning those exploring fingers. “Gretaaa, ahhh…”
“But I won’t devour you, because you’ve been so very good,” she reassures me as her fingers snake through the dampening fur of my inner thigh. “So resourceful and courteous. You’ve been such a good pet. I’ve decided that I’m going to reward you.”
“Nnyyyeah?” I wriggle my hips, trying to speed up the agonizingly slow crawl of greta’s hand. “Please, ma’am. Please.”
“That’s such lovely begging. Good girl. You get a reward.”
I gasp, then cry out as Greta’s thumb finds my clit, and her first two fingers slip inside of me. “Yes!” I wail. “Yes, oh fuck!”
“But you still get the punishment,” she whispers into my ear.
Before I can even say “what?” I feel her jaws clamp down on my shoulder, and my yowling begins anew as I cum all over Greta’s fingers. She holds herself still like a frame around my twitching body, keeping me still and safe until I come back to my senses.
Panting, I shift my weight so that Greta no longer has to hold me. She disengages enough to pull her fingers out of me, which draws another long whimper from me. She licks her lips as she rubs her fingers together and pulls them apart, watching as my juices stretch in a ribbon between the digits. My cheeks burn hot.
“Well, I shouldn’t handle food with my hand like this,” she muses, and holds her hand in front of my face. “You’d better lick it clean.”
My heart skips a beat. “Yes, ma’am.”
I open my mouth and pant a bit before reaching out my tongue and giving Greta’s finger a lick. She laughs, grips my jaw with her other hand, and deliberately inserts her fingers into my mouth. “Suck them, pet.”
I yowl around her fingers as a shiver runs down my spine, and I suckle at her fingers like a kitten. My juices taste musky and peppery on her skin, a savory complement to the smell of mirepoix in the air.
She draws her fingers out of my mouth slowly, and I have to fight to keep from straining to reclaim them. The hand that held my jaw in place now caresses my cheek, runs through my hair. Greta looks at me, and she sighs, and she gives me a smile that I might almost describe as vulnerable.
“You know, Tasha,” she says, “I want this to be real too.”
“Yeah?” I ask in a tiny voice.
“Yeah. Let’s aim for that, yeah?”
The next morning, Greta stops by my room to check in, stretching up against the doorframe with languid grace. “Sadly, I can’t spend the day with you, pet,” she says. “I have a bit of a queue built up. Will you be alright left to your own devices?”
“Yes!” I smile. “I was planning to spend the day cleaning the dining room and halls.”
“Well, I suppose I’ll have to send your mother another transfer,” Greta replies with a slight but wide grin.
“You know you don’t have to do that!” I laugh. “Mom’s business was already doing okay.”
“Your mother was involved in your creation,” says Greta, “so as it is I owe her an immeasurable debt.”
The only reason my knees do not buckle is the fact that I’m already sitting down. “You’re too much,” I mewl. “I love it.”
“You’re one to talk.” She gives me a little wave and walks back into the hallway. “Come knock on the door to the workshop if you need anything. If I don’t reply, come back a bit later.”
Once she’s gone, I slip into an altered shirtdress and amble over to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face. I find a pack of underwear in my size and faintly remember Greta saying she’d put in an order for basics. I’m glad to find that both the panties and sports bras she ordered me fit just fine, so I get changed into those. I rummage through the bag that we recovered from my wrecked car and locate a bandana, which I fold and tie around my forehead to keep my bangs back and my hair in place.
“I’m ready,” I tell the empty bathroom in a less-than-convincing Action Hero voice. “But first… brunch.”
Alone, I heat myself some leftover jambalaya from the fridge. It’s almost as delicious as it was last night, though last night’s food was seasoned with post-coital afterglow and it’s awfully hard to compete with that. I’m almost done with my food when I wake my tablet and see that there’s a priority message.
I read it and my blood freezes in my veins.
No no no, not him. Please.
Where are you boy.
I focus on taking deep breaths. I archive the message and put the tablet to sleep. I don’t have to answer him. He can’t get me here.
Who’s house are you at. Call me.
The monsters in my head roar with triumph, reminding me that there’s no escape from the woes of the dead. My anxiety creeps in from my fingers and toes, up my arms and legs. There’s terrible electricity running through my veins, causing my limbs to tremble and my breath to come short. Do I tell mom that he’s trying to contact me? Does that mean I have to tell her what happened? Do I tell Greta about him, ask her to fix it somehow?
“No,” I say aloud, shoving the tablet away. “No. No. It’s fine. It’s cleaning day. I’m, I’m going to clean.”
I clean. My cleaning is exhaustive, cathartic, intense.
I discover that the tablet’s speakers are surprisingly good, so I look up a musical artist that I remember Greta saying she likes. The music keeps me company while I clean, helps keep the monsters in my head away.
As I lose myself in hard work and song, I conjure a fantasy of myself dancing with the Alchemist. I picture a fancy ball, resplendent in a beautiful ballroom dress, a bright emerald affair with long skirts and a flattering bodice.
I purr, turning pirouettes in the empty room, pretending that I’m turning in Greta’s arms, letting her take my weight as we spin. I can see how beautiful we would be together. I can feel the imaginary attention on me, and I drink it in like cool water on a hot day.
Thomas never felt anything like this. He thought it was normal to think of himself as unremarkable, incapable of beauty or desirability. Now, I’m not so sure about that normality. What would Thomas have thought of this? Would he have seen himself in me?
Asha knew she was beautiful, of course. She was a cat.
Still the fantasy hangs on the edge of my consciousness, and rather than question it further I simply dive in. I return to that ballroom, I behold myself in my dress, I feel myself lean against the frame of Greta’s arms. I feel the glare of the lights, of cameras.
There’s a crowd, of course. It’s a ball. Perhaps a charity gala? Yes, a charity gala where the Alchemist is the guest of honor, celebrated for her humanitarian feats. Everyone is jealous of me, because I’m dancing with the Alchemist, but they’re jealous of Greta, too, because her date is so beautiful and strange and graceful. They whisper, “who is she?” and “I wish my date were that pretty,” and “I wouldn’t mind taking that home.”
But none of them can have me, because I belong to Greta.
That is, until the fantasy takes on a life of its own. So caught up in the scenario, I don’t notice what my subconscious is doing until I imagine the hand on my shoulder, the handsome stranger asking for a dance. Greta seems uncertain at the interruption, but I rise to kiss her and she releases my body.
I turn to face my new partner and feel their hands wrap around my back, not as strong as Greta but twice as graceful. Deep black eyes find mine, and a boyish face gives me a grin full of jagged teeth as I am swept into a dance with a demon.
I gasp, steadying myself against the table. What was that? Why did I just put Raym into my fantasy? I shake my head and look up at the dining room, admiring the handiwork that I was too deep in my head to notice. I find no fault in my work, so I gather up my supplies and take them elsewhere.
The clock on the wall of my room reads 5:03 when I hear the sound of the kitchen sink running. I hop off the bed, unwrap my damp hair, stretch my sore muscles, and tug on a fresh shirtdress.
“Ah, there’s my industrious pet,” Greta says with a smile as I emerge from the hallway. “I’m making beef burgundy for dinner.”
“That sounds really good!” I bound over to the counter. “It smells really good too! You’re so good at cooking, Greta.”
“Of course I am.” She feigns a prim air. “Cooking is just alchemy, but easier and with less magic on average. The wonder is that I enjoy it. My mother certainly did not.”
“Lucky me,” I say, and crawl up onto the kitchen island, relishing Greta’s surprised face as I come face-to-face with her over a sizzling pan of onions. “You know, Mistress, I was very, very good today.”
“You were,” she agrees, smirking, “until you climbed on my counter.”
I tilt my head and close the distance, planting a small kiss at the edge of her lips. “You don’t want me up here?”
“I didn’t say that.” She takes my face in one hand and gives me a deep kiss. She slides her hand down my cheek and lingers on my throat, feeling it vibrate with my purr. We break the kiss, finally, but she keeps me close. “Do you have plans after our meal, kitten?”
“You know I don’t,” I murmur against her lips.
She kisses me again, then pushes me away with one finger against my chin. “Well. I’ll have to oversee your cleanup of dinner. If it’s very good, perhaps I’ll think up a reward for you.”
“I have an idea too.” I say, sitting back on my haunches and letting my arms squeeze my breasts together, aiming the full effect of my cleavage at her. “I’m going to do an amazing cleaning job, and then you can scoop me up and take me to my room and have your way with me.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Well. We’ll see, won’t we?”
The clock in my room reads 11:05. The lights are out. I’m receiving the best head of my life.
My voice squeezes out in a yowling trill as I cum again, throwing my head back into the pillow. I struggle to keep from digging my claws into Greta’s scalp, instead running my fingers through her beautiful two-toned hair. Her finger releases the pressure on my g-spot as I come down, but her tongue is still moving, laying soothing strokes across my inner lips.
“Greta please,” I plead. “Please let me touch you.”
“Hmmn,” she says, wiping her face on the fur of my thigh. “But it’s terribly nice down here.”
“It can be nice up here too,” I mew. “Come kiss me. Please.”
She crawls up my body and we kiss. I can taste a hint of myself on her tongue, smell the arousal on her breath. I slide my hand down her body and find a hard shape pushing against the fabric of her slacks.
I have a moment of hesitation. I’ve never been with anyone who had this kind of equipment before, and Thomas hadn’t either. But then, he had equipment like this, and got familiar enough with it as his disgust with the thing would allow. Will that be enough?
I run my fingers over Greta’s hardness, and she sucks a breath in through her teeth.
“Is it okay?” I ask. “Can I?”
“It’s more than okay,” she murmurs, rolling her weight to the side. I push her onto her back and crawl down to the fly of her pants. It smells nice down here. I nuzzle the hardness with my cheek, and Greta groans, “you can.”
I unwrap my gift slowly. This feels so different from the disgust that Thomas had for his own junk. When I free Greta’s long, slender erection from her clothing, I gasp at the sight of how beautiful it is, how lovely it smells. I realize, in that moment, that my arousal is just like how Thomas used to feel with his cis female partners. The problem was never cock for Thomas… just his cock.
Personal revelations can wait until later. I wrap my fingers around the shaft and pump my hand up, then down, feeling the texture of the skin against my palm, the heat of the blood within.
“Don’t worry about bringing me to orgasm.” I hear a self-consciousness in Greta’s voice. “I don’t tend to cum from oral sex.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I murmur, and drag my rough tongue up her shaft.
“Ah! That’s… intense,” she murmurs.
I grin, take her in my mouth, and begin my work. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but I quickly learn how to open up my throat to take her further down. I figure out where my gag reflex is and carefully work around it, wrapping both hands around the base of the shaft while I suck in order to cover more length.
She doesn’t even last five minutes. My purring intensifies as I feel Greta’s cock pulse in my throat and I swallow it all down eagerly. When she falls still, I finally take her out of my mouth and loosen my hands. As she fights to catch her breath, I crawl up to the top of the bed and fumble for the glass of water I left there. I drink half, and hand the other half to Greta.
“Thank you,” pant, “pet.”
“Did I please my mistress?” I ask playfully.
“More than I can say,” she murmurs back.
I fall asleep in her arms, my belly and heart both full of love.
I stand in the center of Greta’s laboratory, tugging down the hem of my shirtdress.
“All right, little mog.” Raym flashes me that sawtooth smile and folds one leg over the other, leaning back against the desk. On the opposite side of the room, Greta pulls a rolling clothing rack through the mirror, awkwardly trying to steer it straight. “Let’s talk fashion. I’ve already made your first six outfits, the boilerplates. I’ve also designed a specialized bustier for your figure that I’d like to test out.”
“Six outfits?” I reel with shock. “It’s been four days.”
“I know, I know, dreadfully slow,” they lament, “but I’ve been distracted by my boundless angst. You know how it is.”
Raym snaps, and a dress hanger appears in their hand with a spray of black feathers. Hanging from it is a simple black dress. They gesture toward the raiment. “The V-Neck A-Line is the sports sedan of your wardrobe. Simple. Striking. Flattering as hell.”
They snap again, and I gasp as I feel a rush of air pressure around my body. As the feathers fall away, I look down to see the black, smooth fabric clinging to my curves. I look at the small standing mirror next to me and admire the way the dress accentuates my figure, displays my cleavage. I look really hot.
Raym kisses the tips of their fingers like a chef. “Sei bella gattino,” they declare, hopping off the desk. “Let me get a good look at that fit. I did well but there’s always room for improvement.” They skip over to me and immediately inspect the places where the dress wrinkles or stretches. “Hmm hmm hm. Not bad. Hold out your arms.”
I do so, peering over at Raym’s pitch-black eyes. “Raym, I feel like you’re a good person.”
“Everyone’s wrong about something, kitten,” they quip.
“I’m serious.” I frown and keep going. “I grew up being told that demons were evil itself, that evil was in their nature.”
“I’m serious too! Lower your arm. Reach across? Good.” Raym scribbles in their notebook. “Demons are absolutely evil by nature. We kill, we torture, we lie, we manipulate. We are hostile to things we don’t understand.”
They tap my shoulder. “All right, sit in the chair please?” I do as asked. “Lovely, thank you. Demons are just as evil as you’ve heard. We’re almost as bad as humans.”
Greta cackles from the corner of the room, and Raym shares a smiling nod with her.
“Well, I don’t think you’re evil,” I repeat, folding my arms. Raym taps my arms, so I let them go again. They gesture for me to stand, and I do. “I think you’re good and kind.”
“I do try to be,” they say with a wan smile, “so thank you. Sorry, I wasn’t trying to reject your show of good faith. Thank you, honestly.”
Mollified, I nod and say “you’re welcome.”
“So. As I suspected.” Another whoosh, another gasp, and I’m standing in my skirtdress again. Raym hangs the a-line on the hanger before teleporting the ensemble back onto the garment rack. “You are unbelievably, unfairly hot in that. Frankly, I’m livid.”
I giggle. “So sorry. Maybe the next one will make me look bad.”
“How dare you even suggest that,” they reply, deadpan, “we’re fighting now, you and I. Deadly rivals.”
“It’s what I deserve.”
Another flurry of feathers and force and I’m standing in… a gothic lolita maid outfit. The crinoline of the underskirts tickle my tail as it waves. I lift one stockinged foot as I look into the standing mirror and conclude that I am in fact rocking it.
“Excuse me, what am I looking at?” Greta demands. “What have you done to my pet?”
“I heard that you were the heiress to a prestigious cleaning dynasty,” says Raym, “so it’s only right that you should have the ultimate in cleaning fashion.”
“I have to tell mom about that turn of phrase,” I muse.
The next outfit is a sharp pantsuit. It fits, but I don’t particularly like it. It feels too masculine, even with its feminine design. Raym nods their understanding and teleports the outfit away.
We go through two more clothing designs that pass muster quite well. The first is a skirtsuit in beige and white that I expect to clash with my fur tone and somehow doesn’t. The second is a glittery romper that makes me want to go out dancing the moment I see myself in it.
Raym shakes their head with a baleful sigh. “I am going to cry myself to sleep with jealousy tonight thinking about how good you look in these clothes.”
“Oh my gosh stop,” I squeak, raising both hands to my cheeks. “You’re gonna make me blush.”
“I will not stop, for we are enemies now, sworn and deadly. And anyway I’ve got one more piece to show you.” Raym claps their hands twice, and the feathers swirl and the air buffets me and I am enveloped in the softest cloth. I look down at the shining swath of emerald fabric wrapped around my body.
I take a sharp breath and look in the mirror. My eyes go wide as I see that I’m wearing an emerald-green ball gown of flawless satin.
“I…” I try to speak, but can’t get the words out until I tear my eyes away from its beauty. I turn toward Raym, who looks as surprised as I do. “Raym, I… I know this dress.”
“I dreamed about this dress.”
Raym stifles a gasp with both hands, their eyes going wide. “No,” they whisper.
“Oh dear. Let’s just see.” Greta appears at my side with a chunk of crystal. She holds it up and moves it toward my chest. The closer the crystal gets to the fabric, the brighter it glows from within. She stands up straight and gives Raym an apologetic smile. “I take it you didn’t intend to create a soul-bonded artifact dress for my pet.”
“Noooooo,” Raym groans, “I refuse to explore any of the implications of this.”
“Really?” asks Greta. “Because there are a lot of implications.”
“I refuse! This was supposed to be a fashion show!” They complain. “This was supposed to give me leverage, not take it away! No implication-exploring! Proibito!”
“Can someone explain to me what’s going on, please?” I whine. “In simple terms?”
“When a demon is crafting material items, their emotions affect the magical potential of the item,” Greta explains. “Most demoncrafts have no more magic than something a human or machine makes. But a demon experiencing strong emotions about a non-demon may forge the conceptual bond between them into the item, making it what we call an artifact.”
Raym rolls face down onto the desk, pushing a stack of papers onto the floor.
“Stop that,” Greta barks.
“Make me,” Raym retorts.
“Shall I ask Tasha?”
Greta turns to me. “Another advantage of a demon artifact is that you gain a small measure of control over the demon who made it while the artifact is near you. In the case of some demons, that control is extreme, but it’s much more common to be able to ‘tug’ on the will of your soul-bonded demon. Try calling Raym over without your voice.”
“Okay.” I look over at Raym, and imagine giving a little mental tug—
The faceful of feathers clears to reveal Raym’s face, very close to mine. “H-hi,” I whisper.
“Are we having fun?” they drone.
I giggle. “Kinda, yeah.”
“Since it’s an artifact, I can probably bind it in a piece of jewelry,” Greta says, tapping her cheek. “So you can carry it with you.”
“Do I get a say in this?” Raym demands.
“Of course you do.” I take their hands. “I won’t use the dress to compel you to do things, okay? And I’ll try to avoid calling you through it unless it’s urgent.”
“Well,” they say, fingers slowly curling over mine, “thanks. But, um, if I’m honest, I don’t, um. I don’t actually mind you having it, really? Because I think you’re a good person too.”
“I do try to be,” I reply, “so thank you.”
“Tasha having a soul-bonded artifact is actually quite convenient for me. I can weave boons into an artifact garment.” Greta is still tapping her cheek. “Finding charm, certainly. Armorlight? I’d have to examine it.”
Raym grumbles, “we can finish it together, Greta, all right? But I’m charging extra because it’s a magic dress.”
“I should hope so. Perhaps a brooch. No, too archaic.” Greta walks to a flat glass display case full of gemstones, poring over its contents while talking to herself.
“Raym?” Hearing my call, they turn to face me. I meet their eyes and say, “thank you.” I lean in and up on my toes and plant a kiss on their cheek.
Raym chuckles. “You are a bit special, Tasha, aren’t you?”
I grin. “Rumor has it.”
“More clothes from Raym,” Greta says, patting a pile on the counter island.
“Already?” I stifle a yawn, padding over to her. I pick up the garment on top, a button-down blouse. I pick up another blouse, and set them aside. Next are two mock turtlenecks. Two pleated skirts, two pencil skirts, two a-lines. Four pairs of fleece lined leggings and four sets of stretch leggings. Yoga pants and a tank top. Everything custom-made for my body specifically, with tail accommodations and everything. “This is so much…”
“They said they’re working on a few shoe designs,” says Greta, “and I don’t mind telling you that they’re making more than I commissioned, and they’re not charging me for it.”
“Why is Raym being so nice to me?” I give her a bemused look, head tilted. “I thought they saw me as the Other Woman here. Shouldn’t they hate my guts?”
Greta laughs. “It’s not obvious?”
I tilt my head even further. “What’s not obvious?”
“They like you, pet,” Greta leans over to brush aside my bangs and kiss my forehead. “In fact, I feel very confident that they like-like you.”
“What?” I squeak, looking up at her with wide eyes. “Are you messing with me? Stop messing with me.”
“Why is that so implausible? They created a soul-bonded artifact for you, which is not something that happens from incidental emotions. You inspired those feelings in Raym.” She kisses me again, then removes her hand from my head. “Well, now that you have your own wardrobe, we should be thinking about moving you to something that can be your permanent room. Thankfully, I have several good options.”
My breath catches. “Permanent…?”
“Tasha, you’ve been living in what passes for an examination room.” She chuckles, and starts to rearrange the clothing that I had tossed into a pile on the counter. “That won’t do, will it?”
I stand, balling up my fists. “Greta, we’ve gotta talk about relationship stuff.”
“Mmm.” She sighs. “Yes. I know.”
“You’re moving me into your house,” I say, gesturing with both hands to indicate the enormity of the statement. “You’ve commissioned me hundreds of dollars of custom-tailored clothing, one of which is literally a magical item.”
“Thousands of dollars,” she amends, avoiding my gaze, “but, yes, go on.”
I cannot keyboard smash in real life, so I make a few choking noises instead. “That’s exactly what I’m talking about, Greta! You’ve made all of these, these nonverbal commitments to me, these grand actions of intent that fall short of being statements.”
She frowns, finally looking up to meet my eyes, and the hazel of her irises seems so soft. “Are you upset with me?”
“No, you weirdo.” I close the distance and take her by the lapels of her jacket. “I’m in love with you.”
We kiss, letting the moment stretch out long and slow. I savor the moment that Greta returns the kiss, her lips moving against mine and her mouth falling open. I brush my rough tongue against her lips and her smooth tongue brushes against mine. I feel her fingers in my hair, her arm around my waist. I feel myself start to melt in her embrace, and break the kiss in a desperate bid for control.
“Nooo,” I yowl, “you’re too sexy and I have to hold you accountable.”
“Little kitten,” Greta murmurs, her lips and breath hot on my lips, on my cheek, “you have utterly captured my heart.”
She lifts me and I go ragdoll-limp in her arms, unable to resist my overwhelming desire to submit to her strength.
“You are everything I have ever wanted,” she continues, carrying me out of the kitchen and through the halls, “and I love you as I have never loved any sentient being before.”
“What about Raym?” I ask, reaching up to trace the lines of her high cheekbones, her sharp jawline. Her beautiful chiseled features. “They love you too. Do you love them back?”
Greta looks down at me with an amused smile. She carries me into my temporary room and gently sets me on the edge of the bed. “What a strange question to ask about your relationship to me,” she says, “to ask whether I love someone else.”
“You do, right?” I ask. My fingers tighten around Greta’s neck as she tries to disengage and straighten up, and she places her hands on either side of me to keep her stable as she leans over the bed. “You love them. Neither of you meant to fall for each other, but you did.”
“I… yes, pet, I do have love for Raym,” she admits, breaking our eye contact. “But it’s not like the love I have for you. I would give up a dozen Rayms for you.”
“That seems sad,” I murr, cinching the fingers of both paws together around Greta’s neck. “I don’t want you to have to give up loving Raym. And I’m not better than them, you can’t value people like money.”
“If I didn’t know better, Tasha,” she tells me, “I would think you are suggesting that I should be with you and Raym both.” Greta gives up on trying to escape my clutches and climbs onto the bed with me. I lean back until I’m laying flat with her over me.
“I dunno what I’m suggesting,” I sigh, “I’m just talking about feelings. This past week and change have been a lot.”
“They have been a lot,” Greta agrees. She maneuvers so she’s lying next to me on the bed. “I’m not used to talking about these things out loud, but, ah. What I know for certain: I love you, and this is real. As long as you want to belong to me, you’re mine.”
I am a catgirl-shaped puddle. I feel tears welling at the corners of my eyes. “Greta,” I mewl.
“I will take care of you and you will take care of me,” she continues, “and this will be your home. You belong here.”
“Greta,” I sob.
“Everything else, we will figure out in time.”
Greta brushes back my hair and kisses my forehead, and I burst into tears. She draws me into her arms and holds me tight while I cry. Time becomes immeasurable as I float in her arms, protected and warm. I mewl her name and she coos reassurances into my folded ears.
I cry until I’m done, until the catharsis is over. I feel clean. Pure.
As I uncurl, Greta does too. I wipe my face on her sleeve and look up into her eyes. “Hey um Greta,” I murmur between snuffles, “can I ask you a maybe awkward question?”
“Of course, pet.”
“How, um, functional is your equipment?” Snuffle. “Down there. Like, could it go inside a catgirl?”
She laughs. “Well. My ‘down there’ doesn’t function quite like it used to on its own, but just the other day, I happened to brew a potion that can temporarily restore that function.”
I feel the purr start up in my chest before I hear it. “What a nice coincidence.”
She smirks, and I feel something twitch against my thigh. “Yes, I wonder what led me to believe I might need it?”
“It’s almost like you were getting ready to explore a catgirl.”
“Catgirl interiors have been of great interest to me of late,” Greta agrees.
“No more witty talking!” I whine. “I need you. Take me.”
Greta hardens against my thigh. “Have I mentioned lately,” she growls, her breath heavy with the scent of arousal, “that I really do enjoy your directness.”
“Thank Asha. Thomas spent his whole life afraid to ask for what he needed. Tasha won’t make that mistake.” I reach my head up and graze my fangs against Greta’s cheek to whisper in her ear. “Please fuck me, Mistress.”
Her entire body tenses. When she speaks, her breath is low and hoarse.
“Meet me in my room in ten minutes.”
“Fuck!” I yelp. “Oh, Bast, Greta, I—”
It’s so deep, the deepest feeling I’ve ever known. The sensation is overwhelming, but it’s the full tableau of my situation that grips my body, lifts my heart, changes my life. The strong arc of Greta’s body over me. That spot where we fit together, the gravitational well that pulls us back to one another to collide over and over, the way my breasts ripple in the wake of that impact. The smell of her skin, her sweat, her hair.
“Mine,” she growls, and I cum again.
I pull myself against her, tightening my legs around her hips as I sing my pleasure out. “Yours, oh, fuck,” I wail. “Yours!!” My claws dig light furrows down her back, testing my restraint to its limits.
“Mine,” she hisses, and I cum again.
“Mine,” she whispers, and I cum again.
“Tasha, there’s been an incident at the Hellgate in Florida. I have to leave you alone for a few days.”
Greta kisses my cheek and I feel the bed bounce as she clambers out. I pry open my eyes and crawl across her side of the bed, which feels even larger than usual. I mlem a few times to get my mouth working properly and say, “nooooo….”
“I know, it’s the worst,” she teases in a dramatic voice. “I’m simply terrible.”
“Noooo!” I whine louder.
“The very worst mistress that ever there was,” she agrees.
“Noo—wait, Florida has a Hellgate?” I think about it for a moment. “Of course Florida has a Hellgate. Has anyone told Mike Schur? He’ll be so happy.”
“Have we gotten all of the whining out of our system, then?” Greta asks.
“Nooooooo!” I wail. “But really though it sucks! Don’t leave me alone, if you leave me alone I’ll be lonely and that’s the worst possible outcome of any timeline, ever.”
“I’m sorry, pet.” She sighs, tugging on a pair of slacks. “I’m the only qualified magiscientist available to be rushed in.”
“Okaaaaay.” I huff, planting my cheek against the bed. “But you’re gonna owe me all the sex we won’t have been having when you get back.”
“I’ll make some stamina tonics. Perhaps you could ask Raym if they would fill in for me?”
I gasp and cover my face with both hands, feeling heat rush to my cheeks. “You’re shameless! Stop teasing!”
“I couldn’t possibly be teasing. I’m too respected and dignified. Oh, and don’t forget, your artifact dress is bound to the emerald pendant in my workshop. I’ll teach you how to unbind it when I come back.” Hauling a bag over her shoulder, Greta takes my chin in her hand, leans forward, and presses a soft kiss to my lips. “I’ll run back home as soon as I’m able. I promise, pet.”
“Okay. I love you, Greta.”
“I love you too, Tasha.”
For the first day or so, I manage to keep my mind settled through work. I put away the last of the belongings delivered from Thomas’s apartment. I cobble together a passable gumbo from what I’ve learned watching Greta cook. Then, of course, I put away my leftovers and clean the kitchen from top to bottom.
Then I’m done. The house is clean, my things are sorted, I’m fed. Everything’s done and I can’t think of anything else to do. My Mistress is a ten-hour drive away and I’m sitting in her chair in her den and I can’t think about anything except how much I miss her.
I walk to the laboratory. My eyes run over the clutter. I see possible homes for every stray item, but know better than to tidy here; the last thing Greta needs is to come home to find her work completely disrupted.
Besides, I could hurt myself if I handle something the wrong way.
A glint of green light catches my attention on the enchanting workbench. I walk to it, and feel a surge of happiness as my eyes catch the emerald pendant that contains my enchanted dress. I recall Greta mentioning that she finished binding it a day or two ago, and that Raym had some magical alterations that could only occur after the binding. Something about additions. Perhaps they added the elbow-length gloves that I asked for.
I gently lift up the jewel in its basket, observing the fine metalwork.
I wonder if they had time to make the changes. Greta made it sound as though they were done, but I can’t assume. Besides, I don’t know how to unbind the dress, so it’s not like I’ll find out until Greta gets back. I yowl to myself, stomping an ineffectual foot. Thomas was better at waiting, but then, Thomas never belonged to someone. I breathe out a frustrated breath and
At the very edge of my perception, I hear the distant ‘ping’ of my tablet’s priority notification alert. Something in my chest twinges. I frown. Who’s messaging me? Mom? It wouldn’t be Greta; she prefers using the house phone.
I walk to the kitchen. The lights are off, so the tablet casts the sole light in the room, an icy cone stretching from counter to ceiling.
I approach on hesitant paws. I lift the tablet. I read the incoming message.
I drop the tablet, which makes a shockingly loud bang as it hits the surface of the counter. I don’t even notice. All I hear is the terse message, spoken in a voice from passing memory.
My keen ears pick up the sound of breaking glass.
I know where you are boy.
I won’t let the devil have you.
I’m taking you out of there by any means necesary.
With my claws sheathed and my stance low, I creep through the halls of my home on careful footsteps. The moon shines so brightly through the windows that I can see the shape of the crack in the window projected onto the hardwood floor and glinting off the shards of broken glass.
I don’t see him, but I hear him. Heavy, booted footsteps on hardwood and labored breath that brings up a horrible sense memory of bourbon and halitosis. I feel my hackles raise and my tail puff at the rising fury I feel. Thomas had lived his life unable to stand up to his father, whether through love or fear or obligation. No matter the verbal or physical abuse, fighting back was never an option.
But back then, Thomas was alone.
I’m not Thomas. I am me, and the fire of Asha’s hatred burns in my heart. Hatred for the man who hurt her companion, hatred for the boots that kicked her, hatred for the society that gave this terrible man dominion over us both.
“Devils!” His voice is even hoarser than I remember. “I know you have my boy! You will return him to me or I will cleanse this whole accursed house!”
I catch a faint whiff of a nauseatingly familiar stench: gasoline. That complicates things a great deal. I can’t just lock the old man in a room. I have no leverage in a confrontation. Even speaking to him from a distance is risky.
I need to get to the laboratory.
I carry myself on silent paws through the hallway, taking a careful, long step over the broken glass. Stopping at the end of the hall, I cock my head and focus my heightened sense of hearing. I hear his footsteps stop, and the sound of his labored breaths changes as he turns his head toward my direction, then away.
I hear the door handle to my old room ‘click’. My mind races. I moved out of there, so there won’t be anything to see, right?
“I knew it,” he rasps.
Oh no. Thomas’s hoodie. I spring into movement, still careful to keep my footsteps light and quiet I slip through the hallways, taking a long route around to avoid the intruder. The fuse, as it were, is lit.
“I knew you took my boy!” the old man yells, “and I know you’re here! Give him back to me right now or I will burn this place to the ground, I swear to God!”
“Mister Pembroke, please stop!” I tilt my head upwards, hoping it might diffuse the direction of the sound. “Thomas is gone. There was a car accident. I’m sorry.”
He breaks into a boot-pounding run, and I slip away. I don’t slow down until I hear him stop running. I stifle my breaths, leaning against the wall, trying to keep my heaving breaths inaudible.
“I know about your staged ‘accident’, devil!” he roars, “and I know that there weren’t no cadaver at the morgue!”
I tremble at the familiar sound. Pa Pembroke is working himself up a head of steam. When he’s hyped up enough, there will be violence.
There always was.
“All right, Mr. Pembroke, you win,” I call out, using the sound of my voice to mask it as I open the laboratory door. “Thomas is in the laboratory. He’ll talk to you, just please, don’t hurt anyone.”
I rush into the lab, beeline across the room for my pendant. I pick up the stone and shake it. Nothing happens.
“Ohh, no, this is not the time for me to not know how to unbind my dress. Raym, can you hear me? Raym?” I fasten the amulet’s chain around my neck. Nothing happens. I put it under my shirt, but nothing further happens. I fish it out and squeeze it. Nothing. I try to reach out with my mind, but it’s like I’ve forgotten how to do it. “Please answer. Please help me!” My whole body shakes.
The door slams against the wall, and I turn to see a hulking silhouette standing in the door. We are both still for several terrible seconds. I can’t convince my eyes to look at his face, so they rest on the magnum revolver in his right hand.
“You ain’t the alchemist,” he rumbles. I can smell his vile breath from across the room. I clutch the amulet to my chest as he stalks toward me, casting his half-full jerrycan of gas aside. “You’re just some freak. Tell me where Thomas is.”
Forcing myself to take a breath, I murmur, “Thomas doesn’t want to talk to you.”
After a dreadful pause, he speaks. “What did you say?” He starts to raise the pistol. I think about the times he got violent with Thomas and mom, how sometimes she would take the brunt of it to spare Thomas, even when he was at fault.
If I let him slake his thirst for violence on me, will he leave the house alone?
“I said.” Straightening, I raise my voice. “Thomas doesn’t want to talk to you.”
Pa takes two steps forward, looming over me. “And who the fuck’re you to tell me what my boy wants?”
“What he wanted was to become me,” I fire back, forcing myself to look up into Pa Pembroke’s sneering face, pointing a claw at mine. “You can still see him in my face. You can hear him in my voice. Can’t you? Do you get it?”
“How…” he gapes in horror. “How do you have his… what are you?”
Something between a laugh and a sob forces its way out of my chest. “I’m… I’m happy, daddy.” Tears gather in my eyes. “Didn’t you useta want that?”
I feel the impact before I even see him move. The jarring force against my elbow is the first sign I have that I’ve fallen, and the impact against the rest of my body forces the air from my lungs. I struggle to my hands and knees, still clutching my pendant.
“Y’never pistol-whipped Thomas,” I say, spitting blood on the floor. “I must be special.”
I can hear the hammer of his revolver click as he raises it to my face. “Tell me who you are,” he demands. “I want to know what monster stole my son’s face before I kill it.”
“My name… is Tasha,” I say, as something ignites within me. I look up at him, shifting my weight. “And I’m Thomas’s second chance.”
“Don’t you move,” he demands with a performative wave of the pistol, leaving himself open for a fraction of a second. Thomas’s attention to detail and quick reflex taps Asha’s instincts, and my body is moving before Pa finishes his sentence. My hand tightens around the hilt of a sabre that did not exist until a moment ago and I draw the weapon in a long, smooth motion. Lunging out and up as I stand to my feet, the emerald skirts of my ball gown swirling around my legs, my magical blade shears through the pistol, tidily bisecting the chamber and every bullet inside as I raise the sword high.
Pa Pembroke staggers backward, aiming his half-a-pistol my way and pulling the useless trigger. “What in the hell!” he screams. “What manner of devil!”
I return the luminous green blade of my sabre to its scabbard. “Stop,” I tell him. “It’s over. None of this will bring Thomas back.”
With a harried stagger, Pa runs to the jerrycan of gasoline. “Alright, hellspawn,” he rasps, “have it your way. We’ll all burn together.” He yanks open the cap and tosses a splash of petrol at me, which I leap aside to keep from touching my skirts.
“Pa, stop!” I implore. He laughs, splashing gas on the floor, a shelf of unknown substances, himself. I start forward as he reaches for his lighter, but hesitate as he threatens to splash me with the gasoline canister in his free hand. “Daddy, please don’t do this!”
“We’ll all go down to hell together,” he says, fixing his bloodshot stare at me. The ping of his lighter opening feels like it echoes in my mind for an eternity. He places his thumb on the striker wheel.
He drags his thumb down the smooth surface of a black feather.
“What?” Pa Pembroke turns to stare at the feather in his hand where he could have sworn that there’d been a windproof lighter.
“Guns Girls and God. Class of ‘98.” The black-winged demon reads aloud, observing the open lighter suspended gingerly from their pointer finger and thumb. “Very classy. This is your dad?”
“He’s my half-dad,” I reply, trying to coax my heart down from my throat. “Raym, I cannot overstate how happy I am to see you.”
“It’s me, so that’s understandable.” Raym flashes me a sharktooth smile. They flip the lighter in their hand and snap the lid closed as they catch it again. “You mind if I keep this, Mister Pembroke?”
“You… the Earl of Crows!” The old man points an accusing finger at the demon. “Destroyer of Cities! President Raum!” He grabs a flask at random from the nearest shelf and hurls it at Raym, who teleports it back onto the shelf, where it wobbles and falls still. Pa tries again, with the same result, but on the third try, Raym’s patience has been pushed too far.
“Enough.” The flying bottle disappears into the bubbling shadow that replaces Raym’s body. Dark black tendrils lash out, wrapping around Pa’s limbs, and drag him bodily into the darkness. It swallows him easily, and the bubbling black forms Raym’s shape once again.
“I put him in time-out,” Raym explains as their features settle into place once again. “It’s not a fun place to be, but he’ll be alive and unharmed when Greta returns.”
“Raym!” I run to them and wrap both arms around their torso. “Thank you so much.”
“Hm? Why kitten, you clearly had everything in hand,” says Raym, placing a tentative hand on my back. “I’m just pleased that I got a guest appearance.”
“Are you kidding me?” I squeeze them tighter, pressing my cheek into the crook of their shoulder. “He was about to set the whole building on fire! There was gasoline everywhere, he could have… could have…”
“Oh, kitten.” Raym laughs. They trace a hand down my jaw and tip my head up, looking into my eyes. There’s so much life to those impenetrable black eyes. “Do you imagine this is the first time someone has tried to set Greta’s home ablaze? She has countermeasures for that sort of thing. No, you did all the work, dear, I just showed up at the end steal your glory.”
I wrap my arms around Raym’s neck and bury my face in their shoulder. “I don’t want glory, I just want to be safe. With Greta. And you.”
“Well, I think we can make that work,” Raym says, scratching at the base of my ear. “Did you like your sword, then?”
“I love the sword,” I reply immediately.
“Because if you don’t want glory perhaps we shouldn’t have given you a sword.”
“Ugh, you and Greta just want to be witty all the time.” I pull back to look Raym in the eyes again. “Wouldn’t you rather be kissing me?”
They blink. “I beg your pardon?”
I bump my nose against their chin. “I said,” I rub my whiskers up their cheek. “Wouldn’t you rather…” I stop with my lips hovering inches from theirs. “Be kissing me?”
“Very much,” Raym breathes.
“Good.” I reach up and press my lips to theirs.
After a few moments, Raym folds their wings around me.
That night, I fall asleep cuddling a blackbird the size of a housecat.
I run from the lab, my paws skidding on the floor for a moment. Once I have traction again, I bolt down the hallway, toward the sound of the opening door. I see her in the doorway, and she cries my name, dropping her suitcase and striding to me on long legs. She scoops me up quicker than I can react, pulling me tight against her chest and embracing me with strong arms.
“My pet, my love,” she murmurs into my ear, voice wobbling, “I’m so glad you’re safe, and I’m so sorry. I should never have left you alone without a means of self-defense.”
“Good thing you didn’t,” I reply, reaching up to kiss her cheek, “it’s not like you know my asshole half-dad was gonna barge in. I maybe could have used some instructions, but it worked out.”
“That’s true. I simply... I’m just so relieved that you’re unharmed.” She leans down and gives me a deep kiss. I close my eyes and let it be the center of my world. There is nothing but her thin lips on my full ones, her smooth tongue on my rough one. We surface gently, only when we’ve savored our content. I hum and smile and nestle against Greta’s chest in the cradle of her arms.
“Doesn’t that just melt the heart,” says the black-winged demon, leaning against the hallway corner.
Greta looks up and smiles. “Raym.”
“Hi Greta,” says Raym, fighting to keep a grin from taking over their face as they walk up to us. “Your pet was amazing.”
“So I hear,” she says, giving them a smile followed by a smirk, “but I also hear that your presence was invaluable. What’s more, I hear that you shared a bed last night.”
“Oh! I-I can explain!” Raym’s voice is suddenly a nervous stammer. “We didn’t have sex! That was a weird thing to say.”
“Raym,” Greta gestures them forward with a toss of her head. “Come here.”
They trudge a reluctant approach, still making excuses. “It was totally innocent! Mostly. We did kiss. In a bed. For several hours. Other than that? Innocent.”
“Raym! Get over here faster.” Greta gestured more emphatically. “I’m trying to shut you up with a kiss and you’re making it very difficult.”
I take charge, leaning out of Greta’s arms just enough to grab Raym’s jacket with both hands and pull them forward. Raym’s bafflement dissipates as their lips press against Greta’s, and they close their eyes and make a pleased little noise as they give in to the kiss. Sandwiched between them, I giggle.
When their kiss breaks, both turn to look down at me.
“Hi,” I mewl.
“I’m glad I don’t own a canary, or I’d be suspecting that you had eaten it,” Greta says. “Are you very pleased with yourself?”
“Shouldn’t I be?” I place one hand flat on Raym’s chest, and the other on Greta’s. “Consider my position.”
“She makes an extremely good point,” Raym says, nodding thoughtfully. “I propose we discuss this further in someone’s bedroom.”
“You’re getting ahead of yourself, Mx. President.” Greta takes a step back and sets me on the ground. “We need to discharge our intruder in the hands of the local authorities, and we also have to be on good behavior for our very important guest.”
“Oh, yeah, the very important guest,” Raym echoes, shiny black eyes wide. “That’s soon, isn’t it?”
“It is.” I take a long breath in and let it out a quick huff. “I’m really nervous.”
“Will you be alright, pet?” Greta asks, stroking her hand over my head and ears and starting my purr going.
“Yes. It’s important. I’m just nervous.”
“She’ll love you, kitten,” Raym assures me, wrapping a wing around my back. “I’ve got a good feeling.”
“Ah! I should prepare hors d’oeuvres!” Greta removes her hand from my head as she rushes toward the kitchen.
I call after her. “Love, you don’t have to—”
“Let her bustle, kitten,” Raym says, scooting me in close with their wing. “You know how she gets when she’s nervous.”
“Yeah.” I giggle. “I do know.”
Two hours later, the doorbell rings.
My shoed feet skid to a halt in front of the door.
I smooth out the hem of my pleated skirt. I tug the lapels of my cardigan. I briefly press my fingers against the emerald amulet through the fabric of my blouse, feeling its cool surface press against my bare skin.
Breathing in… and out. I open the door.
“Hello, mama.” I smile up into the astonished face of Adele Pembroke, in whose eyes I see immediate recognition. “It’s me.”
“Is that my beautiful boy?” she asks, reaching forward with one hand. I take the hand and lead her inside. “Thomas, that’s really you, now, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s me. In part.” I sigh, smiling. “I’m Tasha now. It’s all hard to explain but—”
“Thomas. Tasha? You look… alive,” Adele tells me, reaching up with her other hand to touch the light fur on my cheek, “like I haven’t seen since you was in grade school. There’s a light in your eyes that I thought your father put out years ago.”
I laugh, already fighting tears. “Yes. Yes, that’s absolutely right, mama. I found the light in my eyes.”
“Well, I don’t think I ever would have thought to suggest becoming some kind of cat warrior from one of your animes. But if that’s what it took to make you happy…” She opens her arms and I throw myself into them, hugging her fiercely. “... well, then, I ain’t inclined to take issue with it.”
“Thank you mama,” I murmur into her shoulder, voice wobbling.
“Don’t you go crying. If you cry, then I’ll cry, and embarrass myself in front of the Alchemist.”
“Okay, mama,” I snuffle.
I escort my mother to the dining room, where she immediately balks at the size of the table. We all congregate at one end of it and eat Greta’s improvised but sumptuous hors d’oeuvres. Mama gets to telling stories that bring Raym to tears of laughter, and of course she eats the attention right up. Adele asks Greta a lot of questions about what is and isn’t true about alchemy. She excuses herself to use the restroom, and everyone gets to relax for a moment. I thank Raym for disguising their eyes and teeth, and they flash me an undisguised sharkish grin before letting the illusion settle back into place.
My mother returns and holds forth immediately. It feels like childhood again, to hang onto my mother’s skirts while she charms my friends. Then she looks up, sees dust on a wall sconce, and starts grilling me about whether the Alchemist is getting an adequate cleaning job considering how much she pays.
Then I find out how much she pays. Somehow, I do not faint.
Greta and Adele enter into fierce negotiation while I reel nearby. Greta grudgingly accepts Adele’s offer to assign an actual team to clean the house, but insists on raising the cleaning fee. Everyone walks away frustrated but happy.
The police arrive from the next town over. They examine the damage and take statements. Raym disgorges Pa Pembroke from their pocket dimension, and the old man does not look terribly well and seems relieved to be taken into custody and away from the demon.
Mom says goodbye. We hug. I send her off. I cry with relief while Greta and Raym hold me.
Then, I’m done. I drink a glass of water. Raym asks what I’d most like to do with the rest of my evening.
I propose we discuss it further in someone’s bedroom. Greta volunteers hers. We unanimously agree.
I wake up as the sun hits my face through the window, nestled in a tangle of my lovers’ limbs. My arm drapes across Greta’s chest, and both of my legs are hooked with Raym’s.
Letting out a luxurious sigh, I let my mind drift back to last night. I find less memory than I expected there, so I try to specifically remember the sex I must have had last night. When that search turns up nothing too, I frown and open my eyes.
Oh. We’re all still in our clothes.
I giggle, and Greta’s eyes flutter open. “Mm?” She yawns. “What’s so funny?”
“Oh, I was confused about why I couldn’t remember our threesome from last night,” I say, and giggle again.
“Ah yes, the threesome that we had,” she replies with a chuckle, “not to be confused with collapsing on the bed in our clothes and falling asleep, an embarrassing thing that we did not do.”
“I will not play this game with you two. I was ready to have sex!” Raym declares, throwing the pillow off of their face. “But evidently that didn’t have the appeal of falling unconscious. I see how it is. Iiiiii see how it is.”
“So sorry, Your Grace,” teases Greta, “but perhaps we can make it up to you in the baths.”
“You can’t fool me.” Raym crosses their arms, pouting. “I’ve seen this estate’s baths. They’re as disgusting as they are majestic.”
“They were,” Greta says, smirking, “before they were seen to by the heir of a… what was it? A ‘cleaning service dynasty’?”
“You cleaned the baths?” They goggle at me. “By yourself?”
I pretend to buff my nails on my boob. “It was nothing.”
“Braver than any marine,” Raym whispers.
“So!” Greta sits up in the huge bed, bouncing the rest of us a bit. “Who wants to get clean?”
“Rather get dirty,” Raym quips.
“Porque no los dos?” I ask.
Naked as the day I was born (if I had been born with a thin coating of fur), I scamper across the tile. There’s nothing dignified about it; my breasts and chub wobble as I try to keep from slipping while still keeping up my speed. At the end of my awkward run I throw myself into the central bath, a rectangular pool cut directly into the floor’s stone. Glowing steam rises from the bath’s surface, lit by the colorful blue lights below, and my body parts that steam and then dissipates me as I splash into the water.
“Aren’t cats supposed to loathe the water?” Greta asks, gliding her slender frame to the pool on sure steps. She lowers herself into the water and picks me up, setting me on her lap.
“Asha never did.” I lean upward to kiss Greta’s perfect jawline. “She and Thomas both loved baths.”
Raym’s gait is the slowest of all of us. Their black-marble eyes flicker from wall to statue to one pool to another pool to my face. “Tasha, this is amazing. This room hasn’t been this clean in over a hundred years. I barely remember it.”
They start talking about their memories of the house, but I can’t think about anything other than the fact that this is the first time I’ve seen Raym’s body naked, and I love it. I don’t know what I expected—more muscle, perhaps, or thinner hips. As it is, the gentle curves of their body lend Raym an aura of softness that their wardrobe belies.
“Tasha!” Raym raises their voice a little, resting a fist on each hip. “Did you just look at my vagina and then lick your lips?”
“Oh, that’s a rude pet,” Greta chides. “They do look delicious, though, don’t they?”
“Uh-huh,” I agree, slapping the surface of the water with my tail to emphasize the point.
“Unacceptable.” Raym stalks to the edge of the pool and sits down, dangling both legs into the water. I can smell them, and I feel saliva pooling in my mouth in anticipation. “If you’re going to imply that my cunt is delicious then the very least you could do is ask to taste it.” They spread their legs, then reach down to spread their labia too.
The scent is unbearable. I need it. I press my ass down and back against Greta’s increasingly uneven lap and whine, “please may I?”
“Hmm.” Greta pretends to mull it over with a teasing smile. “Yes, you may, but only if you can do it while I fuck you from behind.”
“Ooh, that’s the other thing I wanted.” I giggle and kiss her, then paddle over to where Raym perches with a sharktoothed grin. I ask, “may I partake of Their Grace’s sweetness?”
Raym laughs. “I don’t know what that means. How bout you go down on me while I figure it out? Ah!” Their devil-may-care demeanor evaporates the moment my tongue touches those lips, and they go silent, trembling, until I finish dragging its rough surface up, pulling away just before reaching their clit. “That’s! Really intense?” they gasp. “Wow.”
“Isn’t it?” Greta asks from around my butt, which is the first indication I get that she’s there. I barely have time to squeak before I feel her tongue on my pussy and have to fight to keep from sinking down into the water as my entire skeleton turns into horny goo.
“Hey.” Raym grips my chin and turns my head back toward them. “I didn’t say you could stop.”
I grin. “Yes, Your Grace. Sorry, Your Grace.” I return to work licking between Raym’s labia, working my way up a tiny bit, stroke by stroke, until I’m just grazing their clitoris a little bit. I raise my fingers into position to penetrate them, but just as I realize Greta isn’t licking me any more, I am penetrated instead.
“Oh my Bast! Fuck!” I mewl at the feeling of my beloved entering me, my whole body shivering and twitching. “Greta, that’s—”
“Kitten,” gasps Raym, fingers clutching at my head. “Please don’t stop, please.”
I push my fingers inside them and seal my lips over their clit, suckling at it. Letting my tongue slide over it over and over again, sending Raym into a backwards arch of tense-body pleasure, their legs twitching.
I lose time; it’s all forever and an instant. The three of us pick up a rhythm, Greta pushing into me pushing into Raym, an alternating sexual current that runs through us. I’m the first to cum.
I’m the second to cum also.
Raym’s orgasm comes next, a screaming affair that I half-expect to tear open a fresh portal to another dimension.
The moments around my Greta’s orgasm gain a clarity the others don’t. The set in her jaw as she gets close, the way her hips smack mine harder, drive her further into me.
My desperate rasp, repeated: “Mistress, please cum in me. Please cum in me. Please.”
She does, and I swear I can feel her pulsing inside me, emptying herself into my womb. I wail my satisfaction as I cum again.
We spend hours in the bath that day, but we don’t really get clean until the very end.
As we collapse together on Greta’s bed once again, aglow and pristine, I have to stifle a shriek of joy, wriggling in place between my lovers. They both cuddle me into submission, and I let myself relax into their warm embrace.
“I belong here,” I murmur aloud.
“Mm-hmm,” agree the voices on either side of me, and that’s all the lullaby I need; I close my eyes and drift immediately into the happiest catnap of my life thus far. I’d have even better ones soon.
Chapter 14: Epilogue
One year later, the Kisatchie Forest Reserve suffers an unexpected Abyssal Incursion, disgorging a wave of mindless extraplanar abominations into the wilderness. Due to the proximity of the Alchemist’s active estate, the incursion is patched up with no loss of life and few casualties. the Supernatural Threat Evaluation Committee will later rate the severity of the event as ‘Trivial’.
But being caught in the middle of an event, no matter how small, is far from trivial for the people on the ground.
There’s a young woman named Rachel hiding by a bush, her small frame curled around the still form of a small terrier. She’s struggling to breathe, but not too loud: a centipede the size of a full stack of shopping carts creeps through her yard, looking for prey. The many human hands at the end of its dozens of legs rip up handfuls of grass as the monster searches. Its mandibles clack, and the mouth below them licks its human lips with a human tongue.
Rachel tries to move, to drag the dog away, but the effort only results in shooting pains through her chest and an involuntary yelp of pain.
The many-legged abomination perks up. Its movements become more furtive. Drool falls in thick ribbons from its oversized human mouth, teeth and mandibles clacking together in anticipation of a coming meal.
“I’m sorry, Felix,” she croaks to the terrier, whose eyes open just a little. “But it’s not so bad. I’d rather die with you than live without you.”
The abomination races toward the dying companions, mouth gaping wide.
Suddenly, in a splatter of ichor and a burst of severed limbs, the centipede faceplants in the dirt a full meter away from its intended victims. Rachel looks up in shock to see a figure in a hooded cloak standing over her. In the stranger’s hand is a green-glowing wide sabre, monster ichor sizzling on its surface.
“Are you hurt?” The stranger’s voice is light and feminine. Rachel opens her mouth to speak, but the abomination ‘speaks’ first.
It tears its face free with an unearthly shriek, mandibles slicing the air and seeking a target. It lunges upon the cloaked woman, but she skips back and vaults over the beast, dealing a savage cut to its neck with the blade. The monster bucks and flails, trying to bring its deadly jaws to bear on the Spellsword, but it can’t seem to face her for more than a moment. Each time she passes by, she deals another score to the beast’s shell, until she finally beheads it with a decisive, flashing blow from the sword.
The swordswoman turns back to Rachel and throws back her ichor-splattered hood to reveal a pretty face with distinctly feline features. “You don’t look so good.”
“Don’t feel so good either,” Rachel murmurs, her head rolling back.
“No. Stay with me, please! Mistress!” The catgirl calls back to another cloaked figure on the road. “Mistress, we have a survivor but she’s hurt!”
“Oh,” Rachel murmurs as the Alchemist looms above her. “I know who you are. From the magazine.” The cat-swordswoman hovers nearby, eyes searching for other threats.
“Don’t talk,” grunts the Alchemist as she kneels next to Rachel, examining her body.
“Please,” says the injured girl. She clutches her pet close to her chest. “If you can only save one of us… save Felix. He’s everything to me. Please.”
The Alchemist and the Catgirl Spellsword exchange a startled look.