About Tails and Whiskers
Author: BA Tortuga
Word Count: 20127
Page Count (pdf): 80
Series: Midnight Rodeo 6
Date Published: 03/03/2017 second ed
Publisher: Evil Plot Bunny
File Types available: pdf, mobi, epub
Tiger shifter Dmitri loves his new home at the Darque and Knight rodeo, and he adores all of his new friends. His past as a circus animal remains strong in his memory, though, particularly when he sees inequality, like the hot little fox shifter who isn’t allowed on rodeo grounds unless he’s working.
When fox Isaac meets the handsome, burly tiger, the attraction is instant. He’d love to spend more time in Dmitri’s den, but as a contracted performer his access to the rodeo is limited. It doesn’t help that his greedy goblin boss refuses to loosen his grip.
Can Dmitri and Isaac find a way to be together, and to make a change for the better of everyone at D&K?
Someone was singing about having a tiger by the tail. Loudly.
Honestly, Dmitri loved to sing. He loved other people’s enthusiastic music. This morning, though, he was not so pleased. His head felt very large and a tad swollen around the temples.
He blamed Brax. The head of the kitty cavalcade loved to get everyone full of green smoke.
Dmitri lifted his throbbing head that was, at least, five sizes bigger than it had been, and peered out of the window. Oh. His dear friend Denver was calling for him.
With fried sweet things.
For that he would crawl out of his happy bed, which still smelled like Denver since he’d bought his friend’s old trailer, and put on—shorts? Something.
“Open up, pussycat. I brought doughnuts.” Denver was a good friend, especially for a wolf. Blaine must have thrown him out this morning for being too perky. Denver’s little wolf partner was not a morning person.
Dmitri opened the door to his trailer. “Welcome, friend Denver.”
“Good morning, fuzzy.” Denver walked up and rubbed cheeks with him, sharing scent. The bullfighter knew the rules, knew how to be pride as well as pack. That made him more valuable than gold.
“What did you bring for breakfast?” Dmitri asked.
“Apple fritters. Fresh from the fryer.”
“I love apples!” His head began to clear pretty quickly. “Tell me what is the news.”
“We got a big crowd tonight. Seems tell people are revved. Bulls are spitting fire. That weird little group of trick riders are pulling the first break, to give Kurt a breather. He’s burning up.”
Yes, it was warm in Texas for a panda. Dmitri understood. His inner Siberian tiger longed for Colorado. Maybe Canada.
“There’s a lake close by. We should go, the bunch of us,” Denver suggested.
“Oh.” Swimming. His tiger surged, close the surface, wanting out of his human body. “Yes. Apple things first.”
“You bet. Come sit with me.” Denver bumped shoulders with him. Well, Denver’s shoulder bumped his arm.
Dmitri followed Denver out into the sun and sat at a picnic table. The heat pressed at him, but he did love the light.
Denver had an entire box of the pastries and they ate eagerly, wolfing the doughnuts at first, then ending with lazy nibbles. Oh. Better. So much better.
Sugar left his tiger cold, but his human side loved it, and the crispy-fried part? Perfect.
He bounced, rocking the table. “Swim now?”
Denver checked his watch, then nodded. “Let me grab the others. You’ll invite the pride?”
“I will.” He grabbed a trash can lid and a piece of wood and began banging. “Wake up, kitties! We are going to the lake!”
He got half cheers, half people throwing things at him. Blaine walked over with an apple fritter in hand, the other bullfighters Caul and Carter followed along with Potts. That only left one bullfighter and Terrance was notoriously slow.
Brax appeared, his naked, tanned form lean and pretty. “What are you caterwauling about?”
“Swimming! Friend Denver says there is a lake.”
Brax wrinkled his nose, stretched slowly, all golden skin and muscle. Yum. “I’ll pass.”
“Coward,” Denver teased. “You can come tan. Show off all that pretty skin. Maybe you’ll get laid.”
Dmitri wished he would have that, not Brax. No one wanted to be broken, Brax told him, afraid of Dmitri’s size and… enthusiasm.
“Yeah?” Brax came over, scented Denver and Blaine, then nodded. “Okay, sure. Let me grab some oil.”
“And some shorts,” Potts called. “A shame to damage yer pecker, eh?”
“Mine is so big I can cast my own shade.” Brax winked and headed off.
Potts growled, but the sound was more happy than ugly. Dmitri looked between them, then raised a brow at Denny.
Denver just shrugged, eyes twinkling. “What will be, will be, huh?”
“It will.” He was happy if his friends were happy.
“Lake. Water. Swimming.”
“Dog paddling,” Dmitri teased.
“You know it. Terry is a champion paddler.” Denver clapped Terrance on the back when he went by.
They clomped the half mile to the lake, a motley band of shifters, the water glinting under the sun, the grass on the way green and thick. Dmitri whooped as soon as he saw the water, breaking into a run.
Blaine followed with him, the little wolf losing shirt and flip-flops with a happy howl.
He laughed, splashing in up to the waist and leaving his shirt on the bank. He popped water at Blaine, roaring with delight.
Blaine tackled him, totally unafraid and eager to play.
Dmitri chortled, and soon he was surrounded, five puppies and kittens flying in all directions when he shrugged hard. Denver was floating on his back, watching with deceptively hooded eyes. Denny saw all.
Oh, Dmitri loved his life.
They flopped and swam and played, then slowly people began to float, to relax.
Of course, that was when a group of lithe young men jumped into the lake from the opposite bank, shouting and splashing.
They were brightly dressed, little, wild and loud. Attention catching. Dmitri liked them instinctively.
The boys climbed all over, diving off each other’s shoulders.
Brax snorted from the shore, drawing his attention and Denver’s. “Foxes. Used to be acrobats. Now they’re trick riders.”
“What do they ride?”
“Horses. Like real ones.” Brax chuckled. “Otherwise I have no idea.”
“Ah. They look fun. Joyous.”
“They’re probably contagious,” Denver said, then hooted and slapped the water.
He could catch fun, joy. One of them, a tiny lad, spring-boarded off another’s shoulders, fearlessly somersaulting into the water with a splash.
Dmitri wanted to go play. He started paddling toward the foxes, just easing over.