Author Charlie Richards
Now Available at eXtasy Books!
Educating the Platypus
Kontra's Menagerie: Book Seventeen
Enjoying a last hoo-rah before another tough year of college begins, Kai Sudderson and his friends vacation in Kansas. He takes advantage of the secluded pond system behind his rented cabin to go swimming...in his platypus form. Living with his aunt and uncle, Kae had never met anyone else with the ability to turn into an animal. That is, until he gets himself snared in a beaver trap and a penguin shifter rescues him. Unable to pass up the opportunity for not only knowledge but medical treatment, Kai accompanies his new friend home. There, he meets Dorian Yaris, who--despite being so much older and having such a serious disposition--calls to Kai like no other. When Dorian explains about mates, will Kai consider the bonding thing with someone so obviously different or will he deny everything and return to his former life?
Excerpt - Educating the Platypus
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Kai Sudderson attempted to think through the pain radiating through his tail and up his spine. Damn trappers! All he’d wanted to do was take a swim in the pond. Evidently, someone hadn’t liked the beavers that had built the nearby dam, and had set a trap. It’d been dumb luck that he’d hit it with his tail.
At least it wasn’t my foot. Then I couldn’t reach the surface.
As it was, Kai could just stick his head above water. He could breath, but wasn’t able to go anywhere. Yeah, the nature of a trap, he thought sourly. Taking a deep breath, Kai dove under the water and inspected the construction. He attempted to grab the spokes that needed to be pulled apart to open the trap, but it quickly proved impossible with his webbed claws.
Kai surfaced, biting back a whimper as his bobbing on the surface tugged at his tail, sending a fresh wave of pain through him. Swirls of red floated through the water. This time, Kai couldn’t hold back his bleat of fear, as the thought of predators scenting him crept into his mind.
After several more wails, Kai managed to get himself under control. He floated in the water, taking deep breaths, slowing his breathing. An odd scent tickled his senses. As a shifter, Kai knew he had a better sense of smell than his friends, who were all human.
That wasn’t the only difference. Although he stood five foot eight while in his human shape, shorter, a little plump, and less tone than his friends, he was stronger, faster, and healed far more quickly. As a matter of fact, when Kai had broken his arm, he’d had to hide the fact from his aunt and uncle, knowing he couldn’t go to the hospital. Good thing his buddies had been there to help him.
Kai wished they were there now.
If wishes were horses…
He didn’t know the rest of that saying, but since right about then he spotted movement a bit further down the stream, the thought slipped from his mind anyway. He tried to twist so he could see better without tearing his tail further. Ripples on the surface gave away the position of something heading toward him, but he’d never smelled anything like it.
Kai wondered if that was because of water distortion or if he really had never smelled an animal like what approached. He got his answer soon enough. In fact, when Kai saw the black and white creature that swam toward him, he nearly swallowed a gulp of water in shock.
A penguin! It’s an effing penguin! How could that be?
Except, it was! It really was. The creature bobbed next to him, chattering, then it dove underwater. Kai sank beneath the surface, tracking the creature’s movements with his rather poor eyesight. He wished he had his glasses, but knew from experience that he couldn’t keep swim goggles on his furred head. He’d tried.
The penguin circled him, seeming to inspect the trap around his tail. Kai didn’t think the animal—wait, weren’t penguins birds—would consider him a possible meal, but he let out a slow rumble in warning anyway.
Cocking its head, the penguin peered at him through the water. For some reason, Kai actually thought the bird appeared…concerned. Then, the penguin surfaced and Kai mirrored the other animal’s movements, wondering just what the thing wanted. Hell, where had it come from?
Suddenly, a ripple worked through the bird’s body. Muscles and bones seemed to slide under the skin, making it appear to undulate grotesquely. Kai gasped, suddenly grateful his head was above water. The penguin’s black skin faded, his white skin darkened, and the bird’s body reshaped.
Within twenty seconds, Kai no longer stared at a penguin, but at a man! A man with mostly blond hair, the tips dyed black, and a lean torso and big blue eyes peered at him with unmistakable worry.
This guy is a shapeshifter, too!
Kai had so many questions, and yet, he realized he suddenly feared the answers. When he’d first discovered he could turn into a platypus, he’d researched werewolves online, and he hadn’t liked what he’d read. They’d always been portrayed as monsters, or the bad guys in movies, so he’d stopped looking.
Now, Kai stood—well, swam really—before another of his…kind.
“Can you shift with your tail in the trap?”
Holy ca-moles! This guy knows I’m a shifter, too? How?
The other male nibbled his bottom lip as he watched him. “Damn, you must be in shock. You stay right there. We’ll get you out.” Then, the stranger started striding through the not quite three foot water toward shore.
The man retreating finally yanked Kai out of his shock. Grunting wildly, he tried to regain the other guy’s attention.
It worked. The penguin shapeshifter turned back around to face him. He must have read something in his expression, or maybe his scent—Kai could tell what some people were feeling if he concentrated on their scent enough—for the stranger smiled reassuringly. “Relax, buddy. I won’t leave you like that. I just gotta find my mate. I think he’ll know how to open that beastly trap.”