Nothing moved in the backyard. She
called toward the house, "Anyone home?"
No one answered.
Madison circled the white tent to peek inside from the open
flap. She came face to face with a life size... Chupacabra?
A cloud moved across the sky, hiding the sun and bathing the
tent in shadow. Her heart raced and she reached for her
sidearm. She stopped mid movement. When did she get so
The object of her
fright was a tall metal sculpture, an armored muscular man
with the head of a coyote. Or was it Anubis, the Egyptian
god with the jackal head? The bright silver finish and
turquoise decorating the black metal could indicate either.
Madison had never made the connection between the jackal and
the coyote. In this representation, they looked identical.
crowded the concrete slab inside the tent, all stylized,
teaming with life, strikingly beautiful and awe-inspiring,
with bright enamel colors.
* * *
behind Madison. She whirled about, holding the 9mm .357 SIG
pistol in a two-handed grip. Aiming, she stared into the
yellow eyes of a large bobcat, sitting atop a flat boulder
in the shade of a pine tree. The animal had an orange top
coat and white spotted belly. Forty pounds of quick muscle.
Was this the killer? Was it rabid? The bobcat growled again
but didn't crouch to pounce.
"Felix seems to
The low baritone at
her back made Madison's skin prickle all over, but she
maintained eye contact with the bobcat. Never take
your eyes off a wild animal in a standoff.
"You better put
that thing away. He's like me. He doesn't like guns." The
calm male voice seemed to caress her. "It's okay, little
The wild cat
grunted a response, lay down on the flat rock and yawned. He
licked a front paw and rested his head on it to resume an
Madison lowered her
firearm and relaxed her finger on the trigger, but her heart
beat like a jungle drum. Reluctantly, she turned to face the
man who had spoken in such a smooth voice.
Tall, with a
welding mask flipped up over his head, he stood legs apart,
boots firmly planted in the ground. The top part of his
leather apron had fallen, and his black open shirt exposed a
thick silver chain resting on the copper chiseled muscles
glistening in sunlight. Madison allowed her gaze to linger
on such male perfection.
"Sorry if Felix
startled you." The Native American man removed the welding
mask with gloved hands, revealing a face streaked with soot
like black war paint. He wore his long black hair in a
ponytail and stared at Madison with the most startling green
eyes she had ever seen, fearless, with intense fire, like a
buried her lusty thoughts under a gruff attitude and
returned her sidearm to the holster. "A bobcat is not a pet.
There are laws protecting wildlife."
"Felix chooses my
company." He didn't seem sorry at all and grinned, showing
white teeth, as if he'd enjoyed her fright. Something was
odd about him.
The man's bold
stare made Madison uncomfortable. "This is a dangerous
animal to keep around, mainly for your neighbors' pets.
Don't they complain?"
"Felix and I have
an understanding. I feed him, and he doesn't kill." He
grinned at her with insolence. "My name is Kaletaka, and I
own this house."