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Her.

That was all that was on his mind right now. The girl was all that mattered. He needed her. He didn't know exactly why he needed her. Frankly, he didn't really know who she was at all. He just knew. It would be the same for her if she knew him, though they had never met. All he was positive about was that he wanted her, and he was going to get her.

She was meant for him. They possessed each other. Nothing else mattered. Nobody was going to get her besides him. It was predetermined by a higher force, though she wasn't exactly his species. Why was the most complicated love the kind held between people who aren't necessarily the same?

That was what was going through the mind of the cat as he prowled through the thick, oil-like shadows, blending in with the shade and soil. His paws took careful dainty steps, but they were not the wary kind of steps that prey took. The dapples of a shaded sun spinning through leaves danced on his pelt as he moved, practically enunciating his markings that wove themselves through his illustrious fur.

They were the leisurely pawsteps of a hunter, one with a job to handle.

Truth to tell, it wasn't any normal cat in the Shadowlands. There was barely anything normal in the Shadowlands, a part of a parallel universe, one that overlapped the jungles of Earth.

This cat, however, was one of the shifters. Shifters roamed freely between the mundane world and the true world, claiming territory, battling with other shifters, and learning how to evade other midnight beasties. This cat traveled alone. Werecats themselves were not looked highly upon, unless it was in their average kingdom. In the human world, they had been demoted, to be overlooked while they instead obsessed over dogs.

This name that belonged to this shifter was Jordan. Jordan Aderi, the kind of cat with a lanky build and a handsome face that still held as he turned back and forth from beast to boy.

He was traveling to her so she can see him. Their destinies were entwined, no matter what the girl did to stop him. There was no stopping him, even if he wanted them to.

He traveled through the Shadowlands, not seeing any other creature. Jordan was headed to the bridge that led to her Earth.

There was only one thing he did know.

She was meant only for him.


"Makenna!" a voice said worriedly, spiraling into my ears dizzily, while I clasped my head in pain, odd expression screwing up my face. "Makenna, are you alright?"

I am eighteen year old Makenna DeLautte, and along with my friend Rhea Frelle, I was playing volleyball for PE when the ball had suddenly hit my face after a brilliant serve by the opposite team. Colors danced over my eyelids hypnotically, driving away any sane thoughts. I threw the ball away as fast as I could, batting it irritably, but of course it hit another person. To everyone that was only an acquaintance of me, I was rather clumsy when I was involved in any activity other than my absolute strong suits- soccer and swimming. I am an athletic girl, around 5'8", with long, wavy chocolate curls that crinkled closer toward the end, deep azure eyes and natural bronze skin. I was an odd mixture, with broad cheekbones and a slight nose. My lips were full, though, along with my medium-largish chest.

Hardly thinking a coherent thought, I wasn't able to respond really to Rhea besides to shake my head and point at the ball brokenly, like a child seeking a toy. An ache spread through my temples, centering on my forehead… Oww…

I stared as the impact of my miraculous flying hit slammed into our new classmate's stomach, causing the handsome, bouncy-faced boy to double over, releasing one loud breath. Somehow, I felt like I had hit it hard enough to crack his ribs, and by the fondling of his fingers probing his chest, I could really tell that I was right. How I'd mustered up all that energy after being brutally hit in the head, I wasn't really sure at all.

Rhea and I watched as the kid went down, still cradling an arm around his chest, making small noises that didn't really fit with the sexy characteristics of his manly body that I had noted. It just didn't look right to see a man like that just crumple to the ground, unless he was seriously hurt.

"Oh, no!" shouted a girl that I recognized from my P.E class (seeing as this WAS P.E class), jogging over from the other side of the net, worry etched in the set of her stiff mouth. "Connor! Goddamn, are you okay!"

Apparently, I thought sourly, rubbing my head. Connor isn't new enough to not have a girlfriend. I again reevaluated the cute face of this pained boy, hand propped on my head like it hurt to think, but his shirt was tight enough that I could plainly see the leanness of his muscles. I can see why, though!

"Oh my God!" the girl yelled. "Someone, anyone! I think he's cracked a few ribs!" Worriedly, bottom lip clasped between her teeth, she pointed out a rather scrawny black-haired boy and aimed her finger at the door. "You. Brandon. I need you to go to the office and see if anyone can help. I don't care, bring the coach if you have to!" she hissed at his lips opening to protest. "I just need an adult to get this fixed! Connor could be really hurt!"

After Brandon took off, the girl, I finally recognized her as Hailey Daxfaithe, turned toward me with a murderous look on her face, teeth grinding together and the furrow in her brow even deeper than it was before.

"Makenna DeLautte." Hailey whispered, turning toward me angrily, hands clenched into fists at her sides. "How in Hell did you manage to do that after getting hit in the head!" She raised her fist, and I prepared myself for a blow, wincing and holding up my hands to block my face, pulsing with pain at the thought of being bonked again. Rhea stood behind me, expression and posture hopeless, eyes gaipng and wide. Dad will be lucky if I come home with only a black eye and a bloodied lip. I thought, groaning.

Hailey took another step forward threateningly, hands outstretched and eyes full of an emotion that I really didn't want to identify. Honestly, I had gotten this look from everyone once, besides Rhea. It was the look that someone would shoot an outsider. It skewered my insides and made me feel even less normal than usual, even weirder. A look filled of hate- of violence, even. Even the mother that had brought me into this world had fixed me, her only goddamn daughter, with this stare, every single night after she got herself good and drunk.

Hell, I could hardly wait to graduate.

The sensation of Hailey's eyes pinning mine sucked my mind all the way back into my painful reality, and I watched like I wasn't a part of my own body as the athletic girl's hand rushed to meet the side of my face. It felt like slow motion, and it was way to slow for me. I wanted my pain to be over with. I wanted to leave! I closed my eyes and waited for it. It had come every night until my Mom had left, anyway.

Suddenly, two things happened at once. The first thing was that the harsh blow never came. Hailey fell away with a scream, even though I hadn't felt her touch me and I was pretty sure that Rhea hadn't come to my rescue, and landed in a pile on the floor, similar to how Connor collapsed. Then she simply melted into blackness, absorbed into the floor. Her body was encased in shadow, before it greedily pulled her into the ground. My eyes widened as my mind reconnected with my body yet again, and I saw my vision spin.

A loud keening wail entered my ears, and I looked around slowly, wondering who it had come from until I realized that it was my own voice, combining with the gasps of Rhea. I had thought that the collective screams were loud then. But, no, of course not.

Everything just became worse.

All of the students, even the skeptical people who were known never to panic, were screaming their heads off as a large, spotted cat shattered through a glass window on the ceiling which caused the shards to rain down on all of our heads. I raised my hands again to block them from slicing down my face, ravaging and eating at the flesh and knuckles of my hands instead. All of them ducked down, while Rhea tucked her head into my shoulder, whimpering. Rhea was never really good when it came to either pain or emergencies. She depended on me to stay strong, and with my background, how the hell could I not? She tended to freeze, unsure of what to do, until I came along at least. The way we were connected, well, it seemed like she considered me with some sort of hero worship, and love. I'd saved her ass more than once, and that was for certain. It was beyond unfortunate that the coach had taken a leave of absence before I'd hit my head though- but it was even worse that he wasn't there for this.

The cat prowled through the room after landing gracefully on its feet from spinning in midair, making everyone scramble to plaster themselves on the walls. Except for me. I was stuck where I was.

Everything was chaos. Everyone was freaking out. All except for lonely little me, both shy and outgoing me, self-aware me as I stared, transfixed at the beautiful beast that had placed itself in front of me. It stared back, unafraid of me, mahogany eyes glinting in the harsh light filtering through the jagged hole where the glass used to be. It made my knuckles ache even thinking about it, but staring at the cat had made me numb. Something about those freaking eyes seemed intelligent, full of wisdom.

They enraptured me, and it hadn't made one single move to kill me at all yet. I was feeling as confident as a person under a spell could possibly be. How could I be so enchanted by this predator? It was larger than any other cat that I had ever seen, even in the zoo. This cat was unnatural, just like me, and I was drawn to it more than I was drawn to the smell of strawberries in the rain.

"Who are you?" I whispered questioningly to the cat, feeling helpless, like I couldn't help that I had just asked an animal a question. I was barely paying any attention to the things around me except for the cat, the dusty looking and giant leopard, so I used the space where he (I was pretty sure it was a he; I could feel it somehow just how I knew that Rhea was probably staring at me along with everybody else) didn't answer to pay attention to my surroundings, using my senses that weren't drawn intensely to him. The screaming had mostly died down, because everyone was staring at me, like I had thought. Some were whispering to one another, and I could hardly hear their hushed voices. The tinkle of glass still splattering down from the roof echoed around me.

I was surprised that I hadn't looked away from it already- it was still capturing my attention with everything it had. The cat sat down lazily, tawny fur blazing in the sunlight raining down on him. His eyes held mine fiercely, wild and smart at the same time. I began to feel a sharp tugging at the back of my mind, but I dismissed it as the bump on my head trying to demand my attention from this graceful creature that still was poised across from me.

Besides the slight mumblings of the crowd, (I could also hear the panicked breaths of Rhea directly behind me, against the wall) I could somehow hear someone dialing some number on the telephone on the side of the room, presumably 911, and then talking in hushed, hurried tones. Two or three minutes later I began to hear what sounded like sirens blaring in the distance, though my focus was still centered on this creature. I couldn't find a logical reason how, and have beyond given up.

Then I heard the spotted lion reply

I am here for you. He said, taking a regal step forward, drawing his body up behind the movement of his legs and then he bowed. His huge paw was a centimeter away from my foot. The noise warbling through my mind made me start, yelping, but I was still unable to move my feet. Knowing this, the large leopard nuzzled my hands, activating some sort of nerve that forced my hands to capture his velvety muzzle. His huge head rested in my fingers, and on my own, my thin fingers explored his face. His fur felt like silk, and I found myself stroking the ears of this monster lovingly.

"I meant, what is your name?" I heard myself tell it loudly, though to all other people, it had given me no audible response.

You can answer in your head, if you want the conversation to be private. My name is Jordan Aderi, and I am a Shadow Cat. he paused to purr at the ministrations that I was patterning along the pelt of his neck, somehow of my own accord. It means I'm similar to what you humans would call a shape-shifter.

My fingers stiffened as I reached the crown of his shoulder, his now-audible growls filling my ears and attempting to urge me to continue, but nothing would stir me to continue. Finding my feet, I took a step backwards. The thing's posture, or I suppose Jordan's posture turned from peaceful to feral as his hackles and scruff began to raise.

Why are you stopping? He demanded, scowling at me with his sharp canine teeth leering strangely at me. I was not going to tolerate anybody bossing me around, telling me to do things that I didn't want to do. I'd had enough of that three years ago, when Dad kicked Mom out of the house, after I needed him to give her the boot for real. Don't stop. The way he said it was like he considered it to be an undeniable demand, like I couldn't resist coming back and brushing his precious face again. Now I'm pissed.

"Or what!" I quipped, feeling a pressure at the back of my mind again, "You'll bite my head off!"

What made you so picky? He asked irritably. Was it the tail? Or maybe the teeth? Why would it matter, because a second ago, you were just all over me.

"No," I told him angrily, feeling another strong tug as the sound of the sirens grew closer and closer, ringing repetitively in my ears and even further annoying the crap out of me. "Because you just told me something I don't need to know. You are a freaking cat!" I layered the new strength I felt into that last sentence, watching his ears flatten against his head, his tail swish from one side to another like an untamable rope. "And you could talk to me! That is just not normal! You compelled me to touch you! Now, you expect me to believe in freaking shapeshifters!"

I heard tires skidding on the pavement outside, and the sirens were right outside the walls. My head was starting to hurt again, really bad, and I was wondering if the full affects of my ball-to-face incident were coming back.

He flashed me a grin, still in his leopard form, poised and dangerous.

Watch and learn, sweetheart.

I saw his form waver in the light, but my vision fell away from me slowly, like a dream. The last thing I saw was a flash of the ceiling with the busted window, heard the police busting through the door, and felt a fissure of pain split my skull in half.

Then it all turned to black.