Tori curled up on the couch and the dog immediately joined her. He cuddled close, his head up, tongue lolling out. 'You might look like a fierce wolf, but you're really a softie, aren't you?'
The animal tried to lick her mouth again. She fended him off. 'No more doggie spit. I think you're cute, but I don't like you that much. However, if you're going to keep coming around, you need a name. Hmm, how about Rover?'
When the animal flashed his canines at her and shook his head, Tori roared with laughter. For a moment there, she actually thought he'd understood her. 'Um, okay, Fido? No?' This time a slight growl accompanied the movement of his head. 'Blackie? Patch? Rollie?'
She threw her hands in the air at the dog's continued negative response. 'Wow, opinionated for a four-legged beast, aren't you? You should meet Kaeden. You'd make a good pair.' She chuckled. 'There's a thought. I'll call you Kaeden. That should get a reaction from him when he knows I've named a mutt after him.'
Her new pet stretched his lips wide and made a strange raspy sound. His body shook, the hair ruffling around his neck. Damn, she'd swear he was laughing. 'Okay, I guess Kaeden it is.'
Images of the two-legged Kaeden slid through her mind. For some reason, the dog reminded her of him. The amber eyes. The cocky attitude. A real alpha personality. She lifted her hand and dragged her fingers across her lips. The imprint of his mouth remained, like a fiery brand on her skin.
She shivered, sensation overwhelming her. Her thoughts took on a decidedly raunchy edge. One little kiss, and here she was, acting like a teenager with her first crush. Heat gathered inside her, spread out to encompass her entire body. Her skin felt tight. Her breasts ached. Tension gripped her, demanding release.
'Enough already!' She jumped to her feet, waving a hand in front of her face to cool herself down. She had to stop thinking of Kaeden like this. He'd never given her any indication he wanted to be any more than a friend, and maybe not even that at times.
Well, except for that kiss.
'Get over it, girl.' Stalking across to the sideboard, she grabbed a packet of flea-control pipettes and rejoined the dog on the couch. She snapped the end off one of the vials and patted her lap. 'Okay, K-that's your new nickname, by the way. I can't keep calling you Kaeden. It ties me in knots every time I hear his name. Now, let's get this sorted out. Put your head down here.'
K lowered his head to her lap, wriggling to get comfortable. He snuffled a time or two until Tori tapped him lightly on the tip of his nose. 'No sniffing, remember.' Spreading the thick fur on his neck, she poured the contents of the pipette on the skin. The animal whimpered as if in pain.
'Don't be such a wuss. It doesn't hurt. Now.' She scratched him behind the ear. 'I'll keep you inside tonight and tomorrow I'll take you over to the surgery. If you're going to stay with me you have to be fixed.'
The dog raised its head and stared at her, his lips pulled back, a soft growl coming from its throat.
'Don't look at me like that. I don't want you out there tom-catting around. Okay, so dogs don't tom-cat, but you know what I mean. So tomorrow you get the chop, you hear?'
K bounded off the couch and skidded across the polished floor. He hit the door with a thump, the timber vibrating with the force of the impact. Then he started to scratch to get out.
Before Tori could get to the door, he threw himself against it again. 'What's wrong with you? It's one tiny little snip.'
Mouth opened, head raised, the dog howled. The hair on Tori's arms stood up, goosebumps pebbled her skin. She opened her mouth to tell him to calm down then snapped it shut as shock splintered through her.
The air around K wavered, circled about the beast and reshaped itself. Like ripples in a pond spreading out from a central point when the surface is disturbed. Sparks shot out from his body, hung in the air a moment and then disappeared. Heat swelled and surrounded him, hot enough for Tori to feel it on her face. His body twisted. Limbs contracted before lengthening, changing. Growls issued from his mouth and the hair on his body receded, leaving behind tanned flesh. The last thing to change was the elongated snout.
Fear clawed at Tori's gut. The breath strangled in her throat and she fought to drag fresh air into her lungs. She didn't know whether to run in horror, or stay and confront whatever was happening.
With a final burst of flickering light, it was over. Instead of K the dog, there stood Kaeden the man. Naked!
He advanced on her. Tori backed up until the edge of the couch hit her behind the knees. She blinked her eyes and lifted her hands to her head, squeezing, trying to make her brain function.
Kaeden stopped within an inch of her. 'Just so you know, ain't no-one coming anywhere near my family jewels. You start talking the chop and I'll start biting. Got that?' He tapped the end of her nose with one long, human finger. 'And just for the record? I don't have fleas.'
Tori flopped backwards onto the couch, legs splayed, hands hanging limply between her spread thighs. 'Holy freakin' nightmares! Toto, I think we just left Kansas.'