Read A Life Less Pink Online

Authors: Zenina Masters

Tags: #Adult, #Erotic Romance, #Paranormal, #Shapeshifter

A Life Less Pink (4 page)

BOOK: A Life Less Pink
13.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Andy regretfully closed the portfolio. “Now I have to wait. It will be the hardest part.”

Artur looked embarrassed by the effusive praise.

Cori linked arms with him and said, “Come on, Picasso. Back to the tower for you.”

Andy wished them good night, and then, they were back in the bracing air. She shivered, and he disengaged his arm from hers to put it around her shoulders.

“Come on, muse. Time to get you somewhere cozy.”

She chuckled and shivered again. There was something in the air tonight that was enough to chatter her teeth.

They couldn’t get to the Open Heart fast enough for her liking.

The fire was roaring, and Teebie greeted them at the door with cups of steaming hot chocolate with a hefty dose of alcohol.

“Come in. There is a nip in the air tonight. It is very odd. Normally, it is quite temperate here. There is a fire in the drawing room.”

They followed her to the room, and Artur sat on the couch, pulling Cori with him. He set his cup down on the table and then did the same with hers while Teebie put a blanket around Cori.

The fire managed to work on her, but Cori was puzzled. “I am normally not this temperature sensitive.”

Teebie gave her a helpless shrug. “It isn’t that cold, but does your beast use body contact for heat sharing as part of the courtship ritual?”

Cori blinked. “We run in a tightly packed group. Does that count?”

Artur chuckled.

Teebie said, “Easy to find out. Are you warmer on Artur’s side or on the side of the fire?”

She was drawing more warmth from Artur and she knew it. “I think I have my answer.”

Teebie grinned. “On that note, I shall leave you two here. The fire will put itself out when you retire for the evening. Good night.”

“Good night, Teebie!” Cori called out.

Her blue host disappeared.

“Well, you don’t see that every day.” Cori turned and worked herself into as much contact with Artur as she could without crawling into his lap.

“You obviously haven’t been here very long.” He chuckled.

He shifted and pulled her into his lap. Her body delighted in the heat she could steal from him.

“How long have you been here?”

“Nine days. It is very entertaining, but I have been longing to return to the normal world with my mate. I am very glad you finally showed up.”

She laughed. “We almost missed each other. I was thinking about waiting for the next transport window, but Stella made me an offer to ship me right there and then, and I took the chance.”

He paused, “Mage Transporter Stella Winters?”

“Right. Do you know her?”

He laughed. “I designed her living tattoo. She has guts; I will give her that. Few women would have an experimental magic placed on their bodies, let alone their faces.”

“Did she know you were coming here?”

“I might have mentioned it. She sent me here after all.” He chuckled.

Cori leaned away from his chest. “How is that possible? You would have had to be…”

“Trying to work out their territory? They only take the ones they want. Stella is a commuter. She comes and goes.”

“Wow. Must be nice. I drive a delivery van. It gets me where I am going, but not much else.”

He chuckled and pulled her back against his chest. “Nice. Ever since I was a teen, I have had a soft spot for vans.”

She snorted. There was not a soft spot on his body. Every inch she was pressed to was rock hard and his pulse throbbed against her hip.

Cori finally asked a question that had been bugging her. “I have never met a bird as big as you. How is it possible?”

“Don’t ask me. My family are all storks, and as I mentioned before, it takes effort to maintain this physique. We get our height from our genes, but the body was built, and as you know, you are stuck with the animal you are born with.” He rubbed his chin on her head.

“I know; you are just not what I think of when I think of storks.” She relaxed against him and yawned.

“Well, I don’t see a flamingo when I look at you. I just see Cori.” He kissed her temple.

The world grew soft and dark, and instead of arousal, she felt sleep wash over her. It was a weird sort of night.

 

Cori woke with a jolt in a strange room. Artur was breathing softly at her back and his arm was around her waist. She looked under the sheet and exhaled softly when she saw her underwear still in place; she smiled that his was as well.

Still tired, she breathed in and out with a deliberate slowness until she fell asleep again.

 

When morning light woke her, Cori rubbed her eyes and then eased out of the bed. Her dress was neatly folded on the bench at the end of the four-poster bed and she slipped it on.

“Good morning, Cori.” Artur’s voice was low and husky. He rolled to his back and tucked his hands behind his head.

She reached behind her and did up the zipper. “Good morning, Artur. I am sorry for falling asleep on you last night.”

“Literally.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Right. Sorry.”

She finished doing up the closure and looked around for her shoes. They were tucked neatly next to his. She picked them up with two fingers and headed for the door.

To her surprise, when she opened the door, her own room was staring at her. “What?”

“Teebie adjoined our rooms with my promise that I wouldn’t take advantage of your stunned state. I agreed that you were too tired to be any fun, and she rolled her eyes and linked our rooms.”

He flipped the sheets back and sat up. “I am going to grab a shower before breakfast. Care to join me?”

She bit her lip. “For breakfast or for the shower?”

He grinned. “Yes.”

Cori blushed, and she scampered into her room for a shower of her own. The dress smelled of sweat, as did her undergarments but that was to be expected when someone really enjoyed dancing.

She pulled out a navy blue summer dress, fresh underwear and some comfortable-looking sandals. With her clothing in her arms, she headed for her own shower, brushing her hair down in a straight curtain after she scrubbed all traces of sweat off.

The dress was a 50s style, but she decided to forego the victory curl in her hair. The sandals weren’t period, so the extra effort would have been wasted.

When she emerged from the bathroom, Artur was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt again, waiting for her with her sketchbook in his hands.

He flipped from one to the next. “These look really good.”

She blushed. “They are just preliminary designs.”

“What were you thinking for this one?” He turned the book and showed her a superhero costume that fit faithfully.

“Soft leather with stretch gussets for movement.”

“Have you thought of focusing on the fetish community?”

“That is how I paid for my shop. I own the building free and clear.” She smiled. “I still do some custom leather design from time to time, but it is a bit different than working with fabric.”

Artur kept flipping through her book. “So I am given to understand. If you can make half of these designs, you have a lot of skill.”

She smiled and took her book from him. “I do, though few of my subjects can do justice to my work. It sounds snotty but there it is.”

“Hey, I was reading that.”

“Show me your designs and I will let you see my sketchbook again.”

He gave her a sly look and returned to his room. He came back with a stack of sketchbooks and a portfolio. “Here you go, now gimmee that book back. You were just having your way with my body, and I want to know how it ended.”

She covered her eyes as he dove into the images with delight. Realizing that she had books of images to look at, she ignored her discomfort and opened up the first sketchbook, smiling with amusement at the first design with a pinup lying on musket.

Cori looked at pinups, fantasy scenes, fairy tales gone wild, series of images designed for the moving tattoos and what were obviously segmented doodles. His muse must drink because there was very little cohesion in his images.

Her stomach rumbled and she smiled. “I think it is time for breakfast.”

She opened the final book and stopped in her tracks. Images of her in a variety of clothing and poses, including the pose used in Andy’s tattoo. “You put the veil on her hat…”

“It disguised you. That was definitely you. All the lines of the body were yours and all the flirty amusement was you as well.” He grinned and set her book down. “Shall we have breakfast?”

“Since it is what the building is named for, I would say definitely.”

He offered her his arm, and she set the book down regretfully and walked over to link her arm with his.

They arrived in the dining area and they were the only guests.

Cori looked at him. “How did that happen?”

“Two more couples are here, but they are having their meals in their rooms.” Teebie grinned and came in with a carafe of coffee.

Cori held up her cup with both hands. “Please. I had a weird night last night.”

Teebie filled her cup and then poured for Artur. “It was strange for a lot of people. I have contacted my aunt, and she is looking into it. Any abnormality in the Crossroads has to be reported.”

Artur asked a question that Cori hadn’t thought of yet. “Do we have to leave because we have found our mates?”

Teebie grinned. “Not until you start knocking boots. For now, it is just courtship, and courtship is good.”

Cori asked, “What would you recommend for courtship?”

“A nice picnic in the woods near one of the lakes or streams. I can arrange a basket from the restaurant.” Teebie smiled.

Artur chuckled. “You genuinely enjoy your job, don’t you?”

“Oh yes. This is the most fun I have had in decades.” Teebie laughed.

 

Chapter Six

 

 

The lakeside was lovely, and with each of them toting their sketchbooks, it was a fun time as well.

“So, where do you want to live once we go back to normal?”

She sighed and looked up from trailing her fingers in the clear water from the edge of the bank. “I don’t know about you, but I have a brick and mortar shop that folks are used to seeking out. I need my supplies to create costumes and I am attached to my home.”

“That is settled then. I can work anywhere and I travel frequently. There won’t be an issue for me. My family is located in the northeast, and they are waiting eagerly for me to tell them of my luck.”

“You consider this luck?” she lifted her fingers out of the water and flicked them at him. Water drops spun through the air and fell short of his sketchbook.

He nodded. “I do. Not only do I love every line of your body that I have seen so far, I love your sense of humour.”

She blinked in surprise. “Love?”

“Yes.” He met her gaze and smiled. “It is the only name I can put to it as I have not felt this sensation before.”

Cori knew what he was talking about. It was a warm swelling in her emotional areas. Affection and heat all mingled together to create something new.

She idly kicked her legs and enjoyed the feel of the sun against her back. What she really wanted to do was to strip off, shift and go for a walk in the lake.

Artur closed his book and set it aside, kneeling and removing his shirt. “It is too nice a day to spend it in human shape. Join me?”

She chuckled and pushed herself upright, removing her dress, folding it neatly and then shucking out of her bra and panties. Without looking at him, she waded into the water and pulled her bird out from within.

It always felt so strangely unnatural to be fluffing feathers in front of strangers, but she walked out until she was knee deep and then turned to watch Artur as he followed her lead and waded into the water, transforming with every step.

He was slightly shorter than she was, but his limbs were all of a sturdier make. She circled him, fluffing out her feathers and using her neck to examine him from all angles.

His beak was straight and strong, perfect for spearing small fish in a marshy area. They were built similarly for two species that evolved a great distance apart.

When she finished her examination, she took a few steps away and minimized her heat loss by lifting one leg up and pulling it out of the water and to her underside.

His eyes blinked rapidly as he eyed her with one side and then the other, turning his head and clacking his beak. Artur stretched out his wings and flexed them, one by one.

The white feathers with black tips were clean and snapped as he opened and closed them in a hypnotizing rhythm.

She turned her head from side to side, to take in the pretty display with an appreciative eye.

He was dancing for her. He bent his head back and clacked rapidly before he straightened.

She mimicked his moves, standing on two legs for balance as her long neck bent to touch her head to her tail.

When she straightened, she was a little dizzy, but he clacked again and her feet wanted to move.

She gave into it. He clacked, and she extended her wings to dance. She shuffled rapidly around him, wings out. He continued to provide the rhythm and he extended their wings, so they danced.

It was a peculiar blending of species’ behaviours, but it felt right, and more than that, Cori felt her pulse in far more places than her chest.

The water was frothing around them by the time their mating display was complete, and Cori was exhausted. They rested, head to head, necks touching, until she started to preen his feathers for him.

He worked his beak along her neck, and her inner human squealed at the ticklish feeling. She nipped at him to stop him and moved toward the bank, becoming human on her way out.

His arms came around her, and he lifted her from the lake with a rush of water. She gasped as the world spun around her until her feet touched the ground again.

With him in the water and her on the bank, she was slightly taller than he was. With an impish grin, she leaned in and nibbled at his lips. As he responded, she threaded her fingers through his hair and held tight while the heat between them soared.

When she dropped her hands down to his shoulders, she could feel the slight difference in skin that marked his tattoos. She pulled away and moved back so she could see him.

BOOK: A Life Less Pink
13.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Radium Halos by W.J. May
Vow Unbroken by Caryl Mcadoo
Free For Him by Sophie Stern
Dead Americans by Ben Peek, Ben Peek
FRANKS, Bill by JESUIT
8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber
Twice in a Lifetime by Dorothy Garlock