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Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark -> Motley Menagerie of Myriad Marvels

#1: Heat Author: Demeter AshtonCan Be Found: At work, or at play PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:56 am
((Contains reference to material of an adult nature.))

In nature, all things come in cycles. The seasons, the planets, the weather, even basic biology follows its own rhythms and patterns. It was the same for 'shifters - the most obvious was their calling to follow the phases of the moon, but there was one other that they shared with their more bestial counterparts. Demeter had managed to keep her heat from disturbing Neville in the month following his profound change from human to were, purely by arranging a training weekend that meant she was out of the city and the range of his sensitive nose for the three days that mattered. This time, however, there was no training weekend, and no excuse she could make for abandoning him for three days. This time, she was just going to have to hope he would be able to cope with the scent of his mate in full fertile glory.

She hadn't realized that she was in heat until after she had woken that morning, unable to give him any warning of the enticing scent that had to be beguiling his nose even as he slept on. Perhaps foolishly, she'd simply gone about her morning routine, in the vain hope that maybe he wouldn't notice what was different about her scent. As much as her body was demanding that she make use of her mate in this fevered part of her cycle, she refused to do that to Neville. Demeter didn't often cook breakfast, but she was hoping that perhaps the smell of pancakes would somehow counteract the scent of her lingering in the air.

Neville wasn't much of an early riser, especially when there was a full moon. But right now, his excuse was work. Shows at the Shanachie often ran late and by the time he got home, he was too wired to sleep and had to wait hours before he could relax enough to drift off. Now that Demi had turned him, things weren't much better; in fact, he'd become more accustomed to late nights than early mornings these days, but even a weretiger couldn't resist the smell of coffee and pancakes luring him from bed. He was a bit of a rumpled mess in the morning with his hair going every which way, clad in just a pair of equally rumpled pajama pants. He hadn't noticed any strange scents just yet - or at least, not consciously so. The part of him that was weretiger had, but the man hadn't realized what it was that was poking at his libido just yet.

His sensitive ears could easily pick up the sound of her voice, talking to someone on the telephone from where she was lingering in the kitchen, rearranging her work schedule and making sure her clients were covered by other therapists at the practice. The scent of her hung in the air, enticing him whether she intended to or not, calling out for her mate that she was ready and waiting. Of course, that wasn't entirely true, but Demi was trying to give Neville a chance at producing some coherent understanding of what was happening with her physiology today.

He had always desired her, even before he'd asked her to turn him, so waking up with that feeling wasn't so strange really, though he wasn't wholly conscious of it yet. Drawn not only to her scent but the smell of food cooking, he emerged from the bedroom looking like his usual rumpled self. He hadn't even tried running a brush through his hair, knowing it would require a shower to tame it. She was still on the phone when he arrived, his arms going around her waist from behind and his lips finding her neck, which did nothing to alleviate the feeling of desire that was tormenting him.

" ... would be lovely, Lisl, and oohhh ..." If Neville was in any doubt that his wife and mate desired him, then her reaction to the brush of his lips at her throat should be more than enough to convince him of the truth. In heat, she was even more sensitive to his touch than usual, hurriedly hanging up the phone as she swayed back against him, her hand rising to curl her fingers into the tangle of his hair as she shuddered with tender anticipation. "Neville ..."

"Hmm?" he murmured, still a little sleepily, against her neck. His hands seemed to wander of their own accord, appreciating his wife's generous curves while his lips savored the taste of her skin against his lips. His stomach growled, reminding him of another kind of hunger, further confusing his senses.

Caught up in her own desire, it took a supreme effort on Demi's part to drag her consciousness back to a state where she could force her hands to catch his, to stop him from encouraging her into throwing herself at him. "Sweetheart ..." She twisted about in the circle of his arms, her hands coming to rest at his jaw. "Easy," she whispered to him, not even daring to kiss him. "Breakfast."

He was tempted to tell her that he didn't give a damn about breakfast right now, some other part of him hungering for something far more urgent. There was some part of him that simply needed her, demanded her, the human part of him struggling to keep it in check. "Sorry," he murmured with an apologetic frown, looking more than a little confused by his feelings, his hands falling to rest at his sides. He wasn't going to force himself on her, no matter how much he wanted her.

"It's not your fault," she promised him, her hands stroking down over his chest despite her best intentions before she snatched them back. "Sorry." Swallowing, she stepped back, gesturing toward the table. "It-it really is best if you eat, love. We may use a lot of energy today."

He arched a curious brow her way, but made no argument as she pulled herself away from him. Was he imagining things or was she having just as much trouble resisting him as he was her, and if the feeling was mutual, why bother? "I don't understand. What's going on, Demi?" he asked, sensing there was something she wasn't telling him.

Taking in a slightly shaky breath, she drew him to the table, setting his breakfast in front of him. Hopefully the need to eat would have him filling his stomach before he acted on what she was about to tell him. "I'm in heat, Neville," she told him without preamble. "I'm sorry, I should have warned you about it."

"In heat?" he echoed, as if he'd never heard the phrase before. Wasn't that something only happened to ... And then, he remembered. They weren't quite human, or were more than human; he wasn't sure which. She was in heat, which also meant she was fertile, or so he thought. "What does that mean exactly?" he asked, needing to understand her completely before he acted on the urges that were niggling at him.

"It's, um ..." She took another deep breath. This wasn't something she'd ever thought she'd have to explain to anyone. "It's like a menstrual cycle," she attempted to clarify. "Obviously, I don't have one of those, but I have a heat cycle instead. Once every ninety days or so, I go into heat for up to seventy-two hours - up to three days. I'm fertile, essentially, and like most big cats, I produce a scent that is impossible for my mate to ignore. I'm also, um ... pretty much in a constant state of arousal. This isn't helping, is it?"

His mouth dropped open just a little at her explanation, which only served to confuse him further. "Every ninety days?" he echoed. "How long is gestation?" he asked, wondering if she followed a feline or human cycle of pregnancy and birth. He knew it took about nine months before a child was ready to be born, but what about a child who was born of weretiger blood?

"It's still around nine months," she assured him as gently as she could. "The baby is a were but still human, so they need the longer gestation period to develop the human brain. If ... if I were to be tiger for the gestation period, it would be about sixty days, but the litter would be born tiger, and would have great difficulty in adjusting to the shift to human form."

He thumped down onto the chair, looking a little stunned. Apparently, having children was going to be a little more complicated than he thought. "Does that mean you can't shift while you're pregnant? What happens when it's a full moon?" And to complicate matters further, on Rhy'Din, there were two of them.

#2:  Author: Demeter AshtonCan Be Found: At work, or at play PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:57 am
She eased down into a seat opposite him. "I would rather not shift when I'm pregnant," she said, the distance between them allowing her to form coherent thoughts once again. "I've never been a slave to the full moon, either. But you don't need to worry about my getting pregnant, sweetheart. I'm on birth control, and it is formulated for my biology. We won't start a family until we're both ready for it, I promise you."

"What makes you think we're not ready for it?" Neville asked. They hadn't really talked about the possibility of having children yet, but that didn't mean they didn't want them.

Demi had made no secret of wanting a family, but she didn't want to push Neville into things. "Love, you panicked when you were first changed," she reminded him in concern. "You were terrified that I might get pregnant and not be able to run with you at the full moon. I don't deny that I would very much like to have a family with you, but I won't force that on you if you're not ready for it."

Neville frowned while his coffee and pancakes got cold. "I want a family as much as you do," he told her, trying not to sound too defensive. He hadn't been born as tiger, and it hadn't been an easy adjustment for him, but she hadn't forced him into the change. It was something he'd chosen for himself.

She stared at him for a long moment, trying not to let her hope show too plainly. "Do ... do you think we're ready, then?" she asked him hesitantly.

Neville shrugged. "I think if we wait until we think we're ready, we'll never do it," he told her. Who was ever really ready to have children, anyway? There were people who said they were, but Neville doubted anyone was ever really ready until they'd had at least one child already. He reached across the table for her hand, doing his best to keep a lid on his desire and let his heart do the thinking for him, rather than his libido. "If you want to start a family, then we'll start a family," he told her gently, his lips curling into a smile before he continued. "But can I eat my breakfast first?"

Her answering smile was as bright as the dawning sun. She'd been stepping carefully around this since their wedding, knowing that he needed time to get accustomed to being a tiger, to the ebb and flow of time experienced as a person with one foot very firmly in the natural world. But he seemed ready, and that was wonderful. "Yes, you should eat," she told him with a nod, squeezing his hand. "You're going to need the energy." She winked at him, picking up the little pill packet next to her glass, and threw it quite deliberately into the trash. Decision made.

He couldn't help but laugh as she threw the birth control pills in the trash. "I guess that decides things," he said as he picked up his fork and cut into his pancakes. "So, does this mean we'll be spending the day in bed?" he asked, wondering if he should call in sick to work.

"Uh ... if-if you want to," she nodded, biting her lip as she grinned. "I won't come to the theater this evening, though. My scent would probably put you off rather dramatically."

"If I want to?" he echoed, chuckling. He'd woken up with one thing and one thing only on his mind, and that was her. Maybe it was because she was in heat, but what did that matter? She was his lifemate, and even if he didn't understand it entirely, he couldn't deny what his body was telling him.

Sipping her juice, she laughed with him, running a hand through her hair. "Well, I thought I should give you the opportunity to give your informed consent before I pin you to the nearest flat surface," she pointed out in amusement. "I'm regretting getting dressed now, though."

"That's remedied easily enough," he remarked with a grin, though he had yet to finish his breakfast. So long as he didn't let his mind linger too much on the task at hand, he thought he should be able to at least get through breakfast.

"I'd better set an alarm so you have plenty of time to pry me off you and get presentable for work this evening," she suggested, not at all deceived by her own nature. She'd never been in heat with a mate before now; she had a feeling she was going to be within a couple of inches of him for the next three days except for enforced distance.

The timing could have been better, at least, as far as his job was concerned, but he couldn't very well call in sick three days in a row when there was a show going on. Mataya had made enough concessions for him as it was, and he didn't want to take advantage. It was a tempting thought though. "I guess we'll just have to make the most of the time we've got," he said with a grin, knowing they had most of the day anyway.

Demi giggled, ducking her head as she blushed at the grin on his face. It wasn't that they didn't know each other intimately; just that the next few days were going to be rather full. She was going to have to exercise a little self-control to make sure he ate and slept, as well as going to work.

He finished his breakfast without further ado and washed it down with a cup of coffee, before moving to his feet and picking her up to swing her over his shoulder and head toward the bathroom. His day didn't really get started until he'd showered, and he thought they might as well share.

She squealed as he picked her up, her shoes slapping off against the floor as he bore her toward the bathroom in a peal of giggles. Today promised to be well worth the exhaustion waiting at the end of it. With any luck, there would be at least a few catnaps in there, or he wasn't going to make it through the entire night's performance without nodding off.

Thankfully, not even two souped up 'shifters could go at each other for hours on end without needing a nap or two, but that overriding urge to mate was still there, even in sleep. By the time Demeter's alarm went off, they were both breathless and deliciously aching, epitomizing the phrase "joined at the hip". The insistent beeping, however, was just too irritating to ignore. Demi groaned, reluctantly crawling off Neville to slither off the bed and locate her alarm clock, which had somehow ended up underneath the quilt on the far side of the room.

Nap or no nap, Neville wasn't feeling like going to work. Not only was he exhausted, but he didn't want to leave Demi's side. He wasn't sure if it was some inexplicable biological need or just plain old-fashioned laziness, but for once in his life, the show was going to have to go on without him. "Have you seen my phone?" he asked, as she slithered off the bed to shut the alarm clock off.

"Uh ..." She surfaced from the quilt with the alarm clock in her hand, turning it off as she swept a slightly glazed look around the room. "Wasn't it on the bedside table this morning?" She tilted her head, admiring him with a feral glint to her smile before shaking herself, bending to wrap the quilt around her body. It wasn't like Demi to be modest, but if they were going to get him to work, she was going to have to behave slightly out of character.

"I think I knocked it on the floor," he admitted, hanging half off the bed to try and locate it. He hadn't told her why he was looking for his phone just yet, but she could probably figure it out.

She eyed him, keeping herself against the far wall despite the eager urge to crawl back onto the bed and continue to do all kinds of unspeakably intimate things with him. A slow smile quirked her lips. "I thought we were going to get you into work on time?"

"I think I deserve a night off, don't you?" he asked, followed by an exclamation of, "A-ha!" as finally located his phone, which had somehow gotten shoved beneath the bed. "Think this sounds convincing?" he asked, feigning a very unconvincing cough. It was a good thing he didn't try to make a living as an actor.

#3:  Author: Demeter AshtonCan Be Found: At work, or at play PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:58 am
She laughed, easing off the wall to walk toward the bed, the quilt still wrapped about herself. "As a psychologist, I am in a position to be able to tell you that pretending to cough while making a sick call is actually less convincing than just speaking in your normal voice," she told him with a grin.

"Well, thanks for the vote of confidence, Doc," he replied with a smirk. He hardly ever called in sick, unless there was a full moon, but with Grease in full gear, he wasn't sure this was going to go over too well. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?" he asked, as he dialed into work, hoping he'd get lucky and just have to leave a message.

As luck would have it, Mataya was passing through the office, and picked up the phone automatically. "Shanachie Theater, main office," her cheerful voice declared down the phone. Behind Neville, Demeter snickered softly, brushing her lips between his shoulder-blades.

Neville winced when he heard the boss lady's voice on the other end of the phone, wondering if he should just fess up and tell her he was busy with his wife trying to make a baby ... or was it babies? That was another question he'd forgotten to ask his lovely wife. "Um, hello, Mataya ... er, Ms. De Luca. This is Neville ... Ashton." He shrugged his shoulders in a meager attempt to shake Demi off, for the moment. "Demi, stop it! I'm on the phone," he muttered, muffling the phone for a moment, but not bothering to mute it.

"Oh, hi, Neville," was 'Taya's response, her smile audible and easy to imagine. "Calling in sick for the first time in five years, are ya?"

"Uh," Neville murmured uncertainly, the frown easily heard in his voice. "Yes, no ..." He sighed, feeling like a kid that had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar - guilty, as charged. "I know it's short notice, but ..." He glanced at Demi, wondering if he should just fess up.

Demi, unfortunately, was no help at at all. Since he hadn't allowed her to tease him physically while he was on the phone, she'd discarded the quilt and was stretched out languidly over the tangled sheets, every inch of her on display for her distractable mate. On the phone, Mataya let Neville fumble for a moment before speaking up. "Hey, you've given me two hours to get your replacement up to speed and here," she pointed out cheerfully. "This illness ... likely to last more than one day, do you think?"

"Uh ..." he muttered uncertainly again, trying hard not to get distracted by the sight of his voluptuous wife stretched out beside him and looking, well, voluptuous. "That depends on how long my wife wants to hold me hostage," he blurted saying more than he'd intended.

"Oh! Oh, I see." Mataya's grin was audible even to Demi. "Three days do you, or would you like to call it two and see what happens?" As she said this, Demi rolled toward Neville, her smile just a little predatory, and quite deliberately pressed an open-mouthed kiss somewhere highly suggestible.

Poor Mataya actually got to hear him groan, in place of an answer to her question. "I, uh ... I gotta go," he murmured, obviously distracted by something that was going on on the other end of that phone connection, and it probably wasn't that hard to figure out what.

"Three, then," he heard through the phone, together with a slightly dirty laugh. "See you on Friday, Nev. Say hello to Demi when she's finished." Well, he couldn't say he didn't have an understanding boss, could he?

Grinning, Demi looked up at her husband innocently. "Problem, darling?"

"Thanks, boss," Neville murmured, not even realizing what he was saying. Demi was like a drug that he couldn't get enough of, addling his brain and turning him into a mindless idiot. He didn't even bother to end the call, just dropped the phone onto the floor, which was thankfully carpeted, before turning to face his wife. "Three days off. Happy now?" he asked, with a somewhat guilty grin.

"Mmm , ecstatic," she purred, rising onto her hands and knees to crawl toward him, nipping a tender kiss or seven to his lips as she grinned. "We're going to be very busy tonight, lover."

"You're going to be the death of me," he murmured as she crawled toward him, but who was he to complain? A beautiful woman not only wanted him, but loved him so much she wanted to be the mother of his children. Who could argue with that? For at least the next two hours, there was no more talking between them, until he finally collapsed from exhaustion.

He wasn't the only one who passed out around then. Demi wasn't far behind him, awake just long enough to cover them both with the quilt to stave off any chance of a chill before she, too, succumbed to exhausted sleep. It was mid-morning before she woke again, some survival instinct pulling her up and out of the bed before she was even fully awake yet, padding down the stairs to set a hearty breakfast cooking before she turned her attention to giving herself a quick wash. The twisting coil of her heat was still in evidence inside her, but it seemed a little less intense today. Perhaps the heat would be over by tonight, and tomorrow they could recover together before the real world called them to return to their respective jobs.

Neville awoke shortly after she did, almost as if sensing his mate was no longer beside him. The urgency that had been almost like madness the day before was still in evidence but seemed calmer today, less intense than the day before. Had they conceived already? Was there any way of knowing that so soon? Neville groaned as he rolled out of bed, grateful to Mataya for letting him take the night off. He would have never been able to keep his mind on his work, anyway. He pulled on the pajama pants he'd had on the previous morning before he and Demi had lost themselves in each other and made his way to the kitchen, the mingled smells of breakfast and his mate drawing him there like a magnet.

Wrapped up in her robe, Demi was just in the process of adding fried bread to the mound of food on the plates beside her - food that was definitely on the meaty side, consisting mostly of bacon and sausages, but there was a definite suggestion of steak underneath the mushrooms and tomato. But given that they were both tigers, and they both needed the protein more than usual, it wasn't such an odd choice for breakfast. She turned toward the door as Neville approached, closely attuned to his scent and presence. "Good morning," she purred to him, setting the plates down on the table.

Just like the day before, he went to meet her, wrapping her in his arms and brushing a kiss against her neck in greeting. "Morning, Kitty," he replied, smiling but looking a little groggy. "Something smells delicious," he said, though he didn't specify if he was referring to breakfast or her or both. He couldn't deny he was famished, though, and she probably was, too.

She laughed, a low seductive sound deep in her chest, leaning back against him, unable to resist the urge to rub her backside against something that seemed a little more awake than he was. "We forgot to stop and eat yesterday," she murmured, tilting her head to kiss his cheek. "You smell incredible."

"I need a shower," he replied, thinking he probably smelled of a mixture of sweat and sex and her. Not necessarily a bad thing, except for the sweat. Though parts of his body were reacting to her closeness, he knew they both needed some nourishment or they weren't going to make it through the day. "It's not as strong today," he said, almost sounding disappointed.

"No, it isn't," she agreed, nuzzling close for a long moment before she forced herself to draw away. "We might get a day to recover at this rate." Smiling, she twisted about to kiss him, slow and tender, letting her hands roam over reasonably family-friendly places on his body for a long moment.

#4:  Author: Demeter AshtonCan Be Found: At work, or at play PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:58 am
He kissed her back, making no attempt to resist. If he'd understood her right, Mataya had given him three nights off, so there was no hurry. He smiled at the wandering of her hands, his own finding her rear and giving it a squeeze, before letting go. "We should eat breakfast before it gets cold."

"Mmm, we should," Demi murmured in agreement, though it took a while longer for her to let go so they could both sit down. "Strangely, I don't feel as tired as I thought I would. Maybe that's a side-effect of the process - quick recovery so we can get more done."

"Such a chore," he replied with a grin. It was strange how he wasn't feeling sore in the least bit. Was that because weres had the ability to heal quickly or was it some kind of enhanced endurance? He was pretty sure that a normal human would have been in agony by now. "Do you think you're ... you know?" he asked, as he unwound himself from her and went to pour himself a cup of coffee.

She snickered softly at his grinning tease, sinking down into a seat to make a start on the mound of food on her plate. She hadn't realized how hungry she was until she swallowed the first mouthful, groaning in relief at the taste. "I might be," she mused in answer to his query. "The whole point of this is to make absolutely certain that I do get pregnant, the way it works in the wild with true tigers. Only for us, I don't have to wander around looking for a random male to mate with - I have you imprisoned in here with me for as long as it takes." She winked at him wickedly.

"I always thought it happened on the first try. In the wild, I mean," he said, taking a seat across from her, once he had his coffee. He wasn't so sure about how it worked with weres. There was something else that had been preying on his mind, when he'd had any time to actually think over the last twenty-four hours or so. "So, once you are pregnant, will you have to stay in human form for the rest of the pregnancy or can you still shift?" What he was really asking was whether she'd still be able to join him when the moon was full.

"No, wild true tigers go into estrus for an extended time, and males will fight over them for the right to mate with them as many times as is physically possible in that time," Demi explained. "The more sperm, the better, it seems to be. That, and the males aren't involved in raising the cubs at all." She shrugged, taking a long drink of water. "As for shifting ... I don't really know for certain whether changing my form will have any effect on the babies. I suppose I should go to a specialist doctor and find out before the next moon, really."

He frowned a little, unsure if he should admit what he was thinking. He was still pretty new at this whole shifting, hunting weretiger thing. New enough that he didn't want to do it alone, and all their friends were wolves - except Marissa. "We'll just have to figure it out, I guess," he said, uncertainly, keeping those worries to himself.

"Neville ..." She reached across the table, stroking her fingers over his knuckles. "We're white, love. More than that, we're mated. Even if I'm advised not to shift while I'm pregnant, I'll still be with you when you run under the moon." It took effort to touch her mind to his in human-form, but when one of them was in tiger-form, it was as simple as breathing. "Remember? I'm in your head, and you're in mine."

Even after all these months, even when he thought he knew everything there was to know, he still had so much to learn about being a tiger and about being her mate. He couldn't always hear her in his head, not when he was human. It took a lot more effort, and he was still learning, but today, he heard her loud and clear. "I don't want to hunt alone." Now that she was in his head, there didn't seem to be any point in hiding his thoughts from her, nor was he sure he could, even if he wanted to.

She held his gaze, smiling as she concentrated, needing him to feel the thought as much as hear it. "You won't be alone. I'll be with you, just not physically." Letting out an explosive breath, she shook her head. "That's harder when we're both this shape."

"What about when only one of us is this shape?" he asked, knowing he wouldn't be able to escape the change when the moon was full and dreading hunting alone.

"It should be easier," she assured him. "It's as simple as breathing when we're both tigers, but difficult when we're both human, so it makes sense that it would be easier when one of us is in this form, and the other is in four paws."

"Just tell me what to do, Demi," he told her, regarding once she was pregnant. As much as he didn't want to go out without her, he'd do whatever he had to do to take care of her and their children and keep them safe.

She held his gaze for a long moment, glad to discover that today it was easier to focus on coherent thoughts than it had been yesterday. "You need to hunt," she said finally. "And it would be good for you to run alone every now and then. Until I know for certain, I'm inclined to err on the side of caution and not change my form while I'm pregnant. The last thing we want is a mixed litter of cubs and babies."

"Why?" he asked, looking not only confused but upset even that she'd want him to hunt alone. It hadn't been that long since he'd been turned that he knew everything he needed to know about his tiger side yet.

She could see his upset, her expression crumbling as she tried to reassure him. "Neville, I'm not sending you away to hunt," she told him firmly. "Tigers are solitary by nature, and there's a freedom to running alone that I can't teach you. As for the mixed litter ... if we were to have both cubs and babies at the same time, they would develop along the same lines as their human or tiger counterparts. The cubs would be fully mature within two years, and only then would they shift; they'd be toddlers mentally in fully grown human forms. They'd be litter mates with toddlers developing in human fashion, who will not shift their shape until they reach puberty. It doesn't seem fair, does it?"

"No, I mean ..." He trailed off with a sigh. She'd answered his question, for the most part, but it had always been Neville's self confidence that had been his problem, and as his former therapist, she probably knew that. As a human, he might not like the idea of going out alone, but as a tiger, he wasn't so sure. "I wanted to become what you are so that we can share that experience together," he tried to explain, though he understood what she was saying, and he didn't want to take any chances with their children's lives. "I'll try to stay close to home, if I can." And hunt what? Rats? Like a common alley-cat.

"And we will share the experience, love," she promised him. "Every month after our litter, we will run together and hunt together, and when they shift, we'll do it with our children, too. While I'm pregnant, I'm sure we can arrange to go outside the city for the full moons, so you can hunt in the wild and I'll still be nearby. I'll still be connected to you, sweetheart. You won't be alone."

"I know I'm being ridiculous," he admitted guiltily. "I'm sorry. I'm sure we'll figure it out, Demi. I don't want to do anything that might put your or our children in danger," he assured her, his voice softening as he reached over to take hold of her hand.

"You're not being ridiculous," she promised him, curling her fingers through his. "I do understand. And if you're not ready to run alone, sweetheart, I can fish the pills out of the trash and start taking them again. I want you to be comfortable with all of this, and not just going along with it because it's what I want."

"No, I want this, Demi. I want us to have a family. I just don't understand all of it yet, but I will. I will because you will teach me," he told her, a soft smile on his face. He'd been robbed of the chance to have a family with his first wife; he wasn't going to take the chance of that happening again.

#5:  Author: Demeter AshtonCan Be Found: At work, or at play PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 7:59 am
"It's only eight or so months, love," she tried to reassure him. "Our species tends toward multiple births, so it's likely I'll give birth in December or January. Nine moons, if that. It isn't so very long, is it?"

"No," he replied. "No," repeating himself as if to be sure. And then, once the children were born, they'd still have to sort out what to do with them while they were out hunting, but he supposed he was getting too far ahead of himself. "They won't be much younger than Marissa and Emrys' children," he realized aloud, wondering when Seren and Dorian would follow suit.

"No, they won't be," she laughed softly. "That will make for a few interesting conversations, I'm sure." She squeezed his hand, her own thoughts turning toward Seren and Dorian briefly. If Seren wasn't pregnant by the end of the year, Demi would be very surprised indeed. "Or much older than Seren and Dorian's, if I'm any judge. No, they're not pregnant yet," she added, before he could get confused again. "But I'd be willing to lay odds that they will be soon."

His brows arched upwards, but before he could ask the inevitable question, she had already answered it. Neville privately wondered if Dorian was having the same issues he was with hunting, but somehow he doubted it. Dorian didn't seem the type to worry about much of anything, unlike his twin. "When will we know?" he asked, wondering if that worked the same way as it did for humans.

"Uh ..." She actually blushed at that, ducking her head with a smile. "You'll be able to smell if I'm pregnant within a couple of weeks," she admitted shyly. "Do you remember when I showed you how to recognize that scent in Marissa? It will be like that; you'll likely know before I do. I can't smell myself, after all."

"I can sense something already," he said, though he presumed that was the fact that she was currently fertile, not pregnant. "Not much need for pregnancy tests then, is there?" he asked, trying to lighten the mood by making a joke.

Demi laughed, glad he seemed to be cheering up. "I love you," she giggled, squeezing his hand as she rose to put her plate in the sink. If she was already pregnant, perhaps he could scent it on her; she could feasibly have conceived around this time yesterday, and the body didn't need that much time to start making its preparations for incubation.

He wasn't sure what he was sensing exactly, but he figured it wouldn't hurt to be sure. "That doesn't mean I'm not willing to keep trying," he told her, as he rose from the table to help her clean up. The sooner they did that, the sooner they could return to more enjoyable tasks.

"I should hope not," she said in a teasing tone, turning her head to kiss his shoulder as he came up beside her. "I was a little worried about friction burns, but I suppose that just isn't a problem for us, is it? Isn't that nice?"

He chuckled at her remark. There were plenty of advantages to being were and that was just one of them. "No chafing here, if that's what you're worried about," he told her, reaching around her waist to distract her as much as he could with lips and hands while she did the dishes.

Unlike yesterday, when the sheer overriding force of lust had kept them pretty serious with one another even as they bounced gloriously into bed and stayed there, today the edge was softened just enough that Demeter could laugh as he teased her, no doubt getting his own back for the teasing she had done when he was talking on the phone the night before. Giggling, she purred in his arms, abandoning the dishes to twist about and do a little teasing of her own as she ran wet hands over his back. "Shower?"

"Sounds like a plan," he replied, sliding his arms around her waist to take her in his arms and kiss her quite thoroughly, raising the temperature between them. He didn't toss her over his shoulder this time, but tugged her by the hand toward the bathroom where he planned on very slowly undressing her and showing her in no uncertain terms how much he adored and desired her.

So much for biology made me do it. Yes, there was a certain amount of biological coercion when it came to being in heat, but it had nothing to do with the way Neville and Demeter celebrated their intimacy together. They didn't need the biological push to be tender and loving, and they were more than happy to be pushed into it in this instance. It was another marathon; hours of touches and kisses, this time mingled with laughter and talk, that found them lying together once again as the night drew on, exhausted but satisfied, the last nudge of hormones easing away as they nuzzled one another.

"Seems as though we get a day to recover, after all," Demi murmured, nose to nose with Neville as her fingertips trailed up and down his back.

For the last couple of hours, Neville couldn't manage to wipe the smile from his face. Even now, as the evening was winding down and turning to night, he just couldn't wipe the grin from his face. He touched a kiss to her nose before carefully disentangling himself from her and rolling away. "I want to watch the stars come out," he told her. Not alone, but with her in his arms.

He wasn't the only one wearing nothing but a smile, though that wasn't going to last. "The stars?" she asked in a soft tone, rolling to watch him as he slipped from the bed. "Does that require clothing?" Never let it be said that Demeter Ashton had any modesty at all when it came to her own skin.

"Yeah, you know those twinkly things in the sky?" he said with a teasing smirk, knowing she knew what stars were. "Come on," he said as he tugged a pair of pants on. "It's not that cold. We'll wrap up in a blanket."

She snorted with laughter, throwing a pillow at him for the smirk. "You're lucky I love you," she informed him with a grin of her own, languidly stretching even as she tipped herself out of bed to reach toward the closet. All right, so it was his closet, and it was his shirt she ended up wearing, but at least she was short enough that it seemed like a dress on her. She wiggled her hands at him impishly, the sleeves falling over her fingers. "I feel very silly this evening."

"No argument there," he replied, with a grin. He tugged a shirt on over his head, but left his feet bare. They were only going out on the porch, after all. "You feel silly, but look adorable," he told her, as he grabbed a blanket and tossed it over his arm before offering her a hand to lead her back downstairs and through the house to the family room, which lead outside to the back porch, where a porch swing awaited.

She skipped along behind him, barefoot and giggling again as he drew her outside. The spring evenings were still a little chilly, but between the blanket and each other, they were more than capable of curling up warm together to watch as the sky darkened and the stars came out to shine down on them. "This really is a lovely place to live," she murmured, nestled close in his arms. "No regrets about leaving the city?"

"No regrets," he confirmed. It was a bit of a drive to get to work, but it was worth it to be away from the congestion of the city and have a little green space of their own. He wrapped them both up in the blanket before tugging her down onto the swing beside him to watch the day fade and change to night. He didn't have a single regret where she was concerned.

Curled close within the blanket and the wrap of his arms, Demi laid her head on his shoulder, watching the sky above them even as her mind wandered. It was very likely that she was already pregnant now, though they would not know for certain until she started to show symptoms. Likely, too, that there were at least two little lives beginning tonight in her womb, possibly more. But one thing she was absolutely certain about. "Our eldest daughter will be called Penelope," she murmured to Neville, wanting to honor his first wife the only way she could.

#6:  Author: Demeter AshtonCan Be Found: At work, or at play PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 8:00 am
"Penelope?" he echoed, brows arching upwards at her. "Are you sure?" He wasn't expecting that, nor would he have ever thought to ask her to honor his first wife in that way. This was about them; then again, without the tragedy of Nellie's death, they might have never met.

"Of course I am," she smiled, tilting her head to meet his gaze. "She was a remarkable woman, Neville. I know her scent, though I never had the chance to meet her myself. She deserves to be remembered by someone who loved her."

"Okay," he agreed, seeing no reason not to agree. "She would have liked you, I think," he said after a long moment of silence. If Nellie had lived and they had met, they might have been friends, but none of that mattered now anyway. It didn't mean he loved either woman any less; he loved them both, but Nellie was gone, and she wasn't coming back. He didn't think it would hurt too much to name a child of theirs after her.

Demeter's smile softened as she kissed his cheek, nuzzling close. "It doesn't have to be her first name," she promised him. "I just want to keep the name alive. I wonder how many we'll have? It could be up to four, you know."

He almost breathed a sigh of relief. It would have been weird to call their daughter by the same name as his first wife, but a middle name would be a perfect way to honor her. He slid an arm around her shoulders to draw her close as she kissed his cheek. "The first time, you mean?" he asked, assuming they'd have more than one "litter" or whatever it was supposed to be called.

"Mmhmm," she nodded, laying her head on his shoulder. "Tigers always have more than one, and weres tend to have four or less. Depending on how many times we decide to do this, we could have dozens of children."

"Dozens?" he echoed, looking a little alarmed by that. Not a dozen or even a baker's dozen but dozens, plural, with an S, even? "I think maybe we should worry about one litter at a time, okay?"

She giggled softly. "I promise, I will never get pregnant without talking to you about it first," she assured him. "One litter at a time sounds like a very good idea to me." She squeezed her arms about his waist, laughing once again. "Although we will definitely have to do it again if we have all of one gender."

"What are the chances of that?" he asked, presuming it depended on how many children they had at one time. Children? Cubs? If they were born human, then children, he thought. "Do you have any preference?" he asked further, as his chin came to rest momentarily against her shoulder.

"Oh, goodness, I don't know the stats off by heart," she smiled, touching her temple to his as they wriggled about one another to find the perfect position to settle into. "Unlikely, is about as authoritative as I'm prepared to get. At least one of each would be nice."

"One of each sounds nice," he agreed, especially to start with. Anymore than two, and they'd definitely have their hands full. He knew they didn't have much choice in the matter, though, and he'd be happy with whatever the Powers That Be choose to give them.

"Look!" She raised her hand, pointing out the shimmer of a shooting star falling across the sky. "Make a wish, love." Smiling, she closed her eyes to make a wish of her own, displaying the sweet juxtaposition of her temperament all over again - that the clinical psychologist happily believed in superstition.

He was more interested in watching her than in wishing on a falling star, and yet, he turned his head just in time to see the star streaking across the sky and made a silent wish of his own.

Biting her lip, Demi smiled up at the sky. Who knew if that shooting star was even a star at all? It could be a meteor, a falling satellite, and yet, it didn't matter. She'd made her wish, and it had already come true, in a way. She was exactly where she wanted to be. "Star light, star bright ..."

"First star I see tonight," Neville said, picking up where she left off. He snugged his arms around her, not only to hold her close but to keep her warm. "What did you wish for?" he asked quietly, as if he was afraid someone might overhear them, though there was no one there but them.

"Something I already have," she whispered back to him, cuddling close into his arms as she tilted her head to show him her smile. Her lips touched his in a tender caress. "You."

He chuckled a little at her reply, leaning close to return her kiss. "You aren't supposed to wish for something you already have, silly," he told her, tapping a finger against her nose.

She grinned, snapping teasingly at his tapping finger before nuzzling to him. "I have nothing I want to wish for," she confessed. "The moment you chose me, I had everything I could ever want." And they had just spent 36 hours adding to everything they had in a rather ... primal way.

He could think of something to wish for, but he wasn't sure he wanted to share it with her. She knew enough about him that she could probably guess what he'd wish anyway. "I hope you still feel that way when I'm old and balding," he told her, with a teasing smirk.

Demi laughed, wriggling her arms from beneath the blanket to curl them about his shoulders, nose to nose with him. "You will never be old to me," she declared with absolute sincerity. "I simply refuse to accept it."

"Do we age differently?" he asked curiously, knowing one of the benefits of becoming a weretiger was speedy healing, but he wasn't too sure about longevity. He knew they weren't immortal, but would they still grow old, the way humans did?

She shook her head with a smile. "No, sweetheart," she assured him. "We live out our lives in the same way as humans. We may stay fitter for longer, stronger for longer, but age catches up to everyone in the end."

"Maybe I should have wished not to go bald, then," he teased, that smirk returning to his face. Then again, growing old wasn't such a bad thing, so long as they grew old together.

She growled playfully at him, kissing the tip of his nose. "If there were not a single hair on your body at all, I'd still love you," she promised with impish good humor. "And you know how much I like your hair. All of it."

He laughed, both of them knowing that was unlikely. "There's enough of it anyway," he admitted with a grin. Even if he went bald, he had plenty of hair in other places to make up for it.

"Mmm, I know," she purred, inching closer to him in the wrap of his arms. Her fingers poured through the hair at his nape as she nipped at his lips. "I love you, my manly kitten."

"Kitten?" he echoed, chuckling again. "Tiger," he corrected, feigning a growl as he nipped her lips in return before deepening that kiss. If they kept going, they might end up back in bed again, but he wasn't complaining.

#7:  Author: Demeter AshtonCan Be Found: At work, or at play PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 8:00 am
She snickered against his lips, drawing her nails through his hair. "I did say manly," she teased, quite happy to trade soft, teasing kisses back and forth in their weary embrace. Bed was calling them, but for sleep more than anything. With luck, the heat would ease overnight, and they would have a day to grow accustomed to one another without her hormonal scent filling their nostrils.

"Mmhmm," he murmured against her lips as they traded kisses back and forth. "Do you think we made some babies?" he asked, a little out of breath, as their lips parted at last, affectionately brushing his nose against hers. Babies? Kits? Cubs? He wasn't quite sure which word was the right one anymore.

She shared her smile with him, stifling a yawn in the back of her throat before she attempted speech. "I hope so," she murmured, the tip of her nose circling his tenderly. "Otherwise we will simply have to do this all over again in three months' time."

He didn't need her to tell him she was tired; there was something inside him that sensed it - that connection that linked them together somehow. "Tired, Kitten?" he asked, a soft smile on his face. The urgency they'd shared earlier seemed to have mellowed, and he was content for now to just hold her close.

She nodded, sighing softly as she wilted against him. "I'd stay up with you all night if I could," she admitted, "but I think you've rather tired me out with your lascivious suggestions and masculine loveliness."

"I've tired you out?" he echoed with another chuckle. "I think it might be the other way around." After all, she was the one who was in heat, not him. His body was only reacting to hers, but he couldn't deny he could use some sleep.

She giggled, curling her arms tighter about him to hug close for a long moment. "Come to bed, love," she murmured against his ear. "We might even be able to get dressed tomorrow." No doubt he felt the curve of her teasing smile against his neck before she drew back, rising from the swing to offer him her hand.

"Or spend a lazy day in our pajamas," he remarked, despite the fact that they'd already spent two lazy days that way. One more day to recover before they both went back to work. After the last two days, they were going to need it.

And who knew? Maybe they had done what they had set out to do. Maybe even now the next generation were forming in her womb. but biological imperative or not, the enforced intimacy had pushed the line a little further for them both. Demeter was certain she'd not felt closer to Neville before now, and yet they had already been so close to begin with. It was a startling feeling, and one she intended to treasure. Taking his hand, she gave him a tug back into the house. "Come to bed, sweetheart."

"I'll be there in a minute," he told her, wanting to make one last wish before he joined her - it was an important one. He offered her a reassuring smile that promised he wouldn't be long.

"Don't be long," she warned, smiling as she padded barefoot back into the house, making her way in her own time to their bedroom, to set the bed to rights before crawling between the sheets once again. It had been a very long couple of days.

He kept his promise, not lingering too long on the porch, just long enough to whisper a final wish or maybe even a prayer to whatever gods or divine powers might be listening. "Please, if anyone is listening, don't ever take her from me. Keep her safe and keep our children safe. Now and always. That's all I want. That's all I ask." He wasn't sure if anyone was listening or if anyone cared, but if the gods were kind, perhaps they'd look on him with sympathy and grant his request. It was all he'd ever ask of them.

Red Dragon Inn - Dragon's Mark -> Motley Menagerie of Myriad Marvels

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