Authors: Veronica Blade
A Bite’s Tale:
A Furry Fable
Copyright © 2011 by Veronica Blade. All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any form or by any means whatsoever without the prior written permission of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Crush Publishing, Inc
Sunland, CA 91040
Crush Publishing, Inc name and logo are trademarks of Crush Publishing, Inc and are used only with its permission.
The places, characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by author.
Cover design by Rose Nomura
Editing by Robin Haseltine
And Sarah Billington
~ For my wonderful husband ~
Immediately following the end of this story, please scroll to the next page for sneak peeks of other books by Veronica Blade.
Seated on the log, I forced my limbs to hold still, but my foot had a mind of its own. My toes twitched, making tiny indentations in the soft dirt. Where was she?
Every day this past week I’d come to this same spot in the woods and waited for her, just as we’d agreed at the end of last summer. But I had no clue what day school ended for her across the sea in another country, so I had no idea when she’d arrive.
What if something happened and she didn’t come to Ile de la Paix this summer at all? I couldn’t imagine a summer without her. I didn’t know her real name. If she never showed, I wouldn’t know where to find her. My chest ached at the thought of never seeing her again.
I sucked in a deep breath and took in the warm mid-morning air. The scent of strawberries floated my way as leaves whispered on a breeze. I rose from the log to see if see if she’d arrived.
She emerged from the cover of the trees. Cinderella.
“Hi, Jack.” She beamed and as she stopped in front of me, my heart fluttered.
It’d been almost a year since I’d seen her. This was our third summer together and every time we reunited, she looked slightly different than the year before. Some things never changed though. Her hair was always fiery red and her eyes were the same bright, forest green.
My eyes fixed on one dramatic difference.
This time, she had… boobs. Maybe she’d had them last year. I’d never noticed. Last summer, her jeans weren’t that snug and didn’t sit so low around her hips. Her stretch tank top hadn’t clung to her swells and curves or rode up to expose about an inch of her flat stomach.
My mouth went dry.
She’d always been pretty, but now… now she was
. I wiped sweaty palms on my denim clad legs, while trying to act cool.
“You did something different with your hair,” I croaked, then cleared my throat. She was only fourteen, a year younger than me, and I’d never been nervous around her before. “It’s super straight.”
“It’s called a blow-dryer. Ever heard of one?” Cinderella giggled in a way that made me notice her lips and wonder how soft they’d feel against mine. “Hey, when did you get so tall?” she asked.
“It’s called a growth spurt. Ever heard of it?” I smirked.
Cindy’s hands shot to her hips, one brow raised. “Okay, smart-ass, what do you want to do today?”
I shoved my hands in my pockets and tried to ignore the almost uncontrollable urge to kiss her. “Anything you want.”
She gave me a shy smile. “I missed you, Jack.”
Maybe now would be a good time…
“Why are you staring at me like that? Did I leave some breakfast in my teeth?” Her hand covered her mouth.
“What? No.” I tried not to think about what it would be like to touch her — and not in the platonic way we had the last two summers. I wiped away the lust-induced brain-fog and remembered the food I’d loaded into my backpack every day the past week. “C’mon. It’s getting hot and we have a one-mile hike ahead of us. We can talk on the way.”
“Where are we going?” she asked, twirling a red lock of hair around her finger. “I thought you just said we could do anything I wanted.”
Oh, right. I
said that. But I really didn’t want to explain how seeing her again had made me practically forget my own name. Best not to go there at all.
“I thought that cabin we went to a couple years ago might be a nice place for a picnic.” Reaching behind the log, I grabbed my backpack. “When are you going to tell me your real name? I know it’s not Cinderella. No parent could be that cruel.”
She rolled her eyes. “I’ll give you mine when you give me yours. You’re the one who started it, remember?”
I turned my back on her and began weaving through the forest. It would’ve been more gentlemanly to let her go first, but I’d already made myself look like an idiot by gawking at her. Besides, I didn’t want to get trapped in a conversation about our real lives. If I told her my name was actually Remy, she’d figure everything out. My name wasn’t exactly that common, especially on our island. I couldn’t tell her my true identity. Not yet.
I liked knowing she was my friend just because she liked
, and not because I lived in a castle. Before I revealed myself, I wanted to be absolutely positive she liked me as much as I liked her. Even if she did, once she knew about me, she may not want to be my girlfriend. I’d listened enough over the past two summers as she voiced her thoughts on the royal family. She may not want any part of that life. Or me. I wouldn’t be able to stand that.
I hated being secretive and I knew she’d feel betrayed. One day soon, I’d have to tell her. I didn’t want her going back home and hooking up with some guy who wasn’t good enough for her. Some guy who wasn’t me.
But I wouldn’t tell her today. I needed a little more time with her before she knew the truth… and maybe hated me.
“By the way,” she said as she followed after me, “my mom told me never to come here. Any idea why?”
Her mom knew about this place? Crap. Her mom could come looking for Cindy and recognize me. Cindy figuring out my real name would suck, but there were worse things. It only took one person at the castle to find out I’d snuck out — and had been doing it regularly — before word eventually spread to Dunston. Then he’d kick my ass — if my dad didn’t beat him to it.
I was supposed to be in my room right now, resting. They hovered over me, always worrying that I would strain myself physically. My dad even employed a live-in doctor, just in case. That was ridiculous since most of the time I never even noticed anything was wrong with me. Still, I wasn’t allowed to go off on my own. They worried something might happen and no one would be around to help me.
What good was being alive if I couldn’t live my life the way I wanted to? I would’ve gone nuts if I hadn’t gotten very good at sneaking out.
“Does anyone know you’re here?” I stopped and swung around to face Cindy.
“No. Of course not. My mom never lets me go anywhere alone. As soon as she realized I’d turned into a teenager, she practically put me in lockdown.” She waved a hand through the air. “I’ve been slipping out of the house for months. Anyway, she’d mentioned that this was the king’s property and there’s no trespassing. Apparently, they’re getting really strict about it. My mom read something in the paper about a guy getting arrested.”
“Only because he was a tourist and didn’t know that all hunting on the island is forbidden. Don’t worry. I come here all the time.” I turned and resumed the hike.
“Right. I forgot. But just because you come here a lot doesn’t mean you won’t get caught,” she pointed out.
“Well, it won’t be today.” I threw a grin over my shoulder.
She giggled. “Hey, I heard that the king’s advisor—”
She bumped into me when I halted mid-step.
I turned to face her again, brows furrowed. “What about him?”
She cast a searching glance around the forest.
“There’s no one to hear you,” I reminded her.
“Rumor has it he’s a vampire.” She shuddered, then leaned toward me conspiratorially. “Makes the castle seem even creepier, don’t you think?”
I chuckled. She was so cute. “It would, but only if vampires existed.”
She gave me her get-real look. “You’re going to pretend you don’t know about them? Look, I know they try to keep the humans ignorant, but we know better, don’t we?”
Was she a believer and fishing for information or did she just want to see if I was gullible? I stared at her.
“You haven’t noticed some of the people on the island are stronger than normal? Or…”
By her face, I could tell she wasn’t joking around.
“How do you know about what goes on here?”
“My mom is a witch.”
It made sense now how Cindy would know, since it was usually difficult to keep that kind of thing a secret from family. “Yes, the king’s advisor is a vamp.”
“That doesn’t bother you?” She wrinkled her nose.
“Not really. Maybe he’s nice. You can’t judge someone you’ve never met.”
. That’s how he survives. Gross.” She grimaced.
I wondered if she’d still come down on him so hard if he wasn’t the king’s advisor. It wasn’t the first time I’d noticed her aversion to all things royal. Each time she’d brought up the king, my father, it made me even more resolved never to tell her who I was.
Of course, this summer would be different.
“What’s your problem with the Ile de la Paix government?” I asked, not entirely sure I wanted to know. “Did the king do something?”
“Only the obvious.” Cindy rolled her eyes.
“Which is what?” I asked.
“You call it a government, Jack, but it’s a dictatorship. King Lefevre wasn’t voted into the position or anything. He rules because he took this island by force. It’s so barbaric. If he truly wanted to do right by his country, everyone would have their own say on the laws and they’d
for who they wanted.”
She hadn’t quite copped an attitude yet, but knowing her on the subject of the island royalty, she would soon. Still, I had to at least try to set things straight.
“He’s a good ruler. The people who live here are lucky to have someone who cares about them and who listens to what they want,” I said.
“They? You’re not including yourself under Lefevre’s rule? Are you only here for the summer, like me?”
That wasn’t the point. Was she trying to be difficult?
I bristled. “What does it matter? You’re only here a couple months out of the year. In a few weeks, you’ll fly back home to Florida. If the king’s people aren’t complaining, why should you?”
“Aren’t you suspicious at all though?” She squinted at me. “It’s a little strange how everyone is so happy around here. The king must be using mind control or something.”
If she knew about the king and the island’s other supernatural inhabitants, she should know better than to say something like that.
My irritation dissipated at her naivety and I suppressed a smile. “Because the king is a warlock, you suspect him of brainwashing everyone on the island, the whole country?”
We really needed to get going on the hike, but it would be harder to gage her reactions if she were behind me, or vice versa.
She nodded, but her eyes darted away and she shifted her weight to her other leg.
I smirked. “I thought you said your mom was a witch?”
Cindy’s brows furrowed. “So?”
“You should already know witches and warlocks aren’t capable of that magnitude of mind-control. They can only influence one person at a time. And even then, it’s not complete mind control. They can’t turn people into mindless robots or anything.”
Cindy blinked. “Oh.”
“Your mom doesn’t tell you much, does she?”
“I guess not.” She shrugged. “She takes overprotection to a whole new level.”
“Withholding information usually does more harm than good,” I said — like I was one to talk.