Bite Me(10)

By: Shelly Laurenston

“That’s how you judge people? By their expression when they’re eating chocolate fudge sundaes?”

“Or because the only time I’ve seen her expression change is when she attacked that lion male football player.”

“He was asking for it. He patted her ass.”

“True. He did. But I still think tearing off part of his scalp was an overreaction. Especially when we both know how calculated that was. You know how lion males are about their hair.”

Vic looked down at his meal. A seventy-two-ounce prime rib with a pepper-honey glaze. Perfect for both his tiger and grizzly sides.

“I just think I should do something for her,” Vic admitted.

“Send her flowers.”

Vic and Shen looked up from their meals at the same time, stared at each other, and finally said together, “Nah.”


Livy stepped out of the elevator and headed toward her office. As she walked, she heard her name. People calling out a greeting of some kind, but she didn’t reply. She wasn’t big on greetings. She found them irritating.

Moving down the hall, Livy didn’t look into the other offices. She didn’t look up at the people walking by. She just kept her head down and traveled on. That was how Livy mostly traveled . . . unless she had her camera out.

Livy pushed open the door to her office and stepped inside. She didn’t have a giant office on the underground floors of the Sports Center, where shifters of all kinds came to play their dangerous shifter games, but it was still a good size for what was essentially a staff photographer position.

Two or three years ago, Livy never would have come to the Sports Center. She’d never have had a reason. But financially things had changed. At one time, Livy had been on her way up. She’d traveled to many parts of the world and taken the kind of photographs that she knew future artists would study. But then, well . . . she’d had some . . . issues. A few editors she’d argued with. A few countries she’d pissed off. And her family’s reputation always haunted her.

Her cousin Jake had, on more than one occasion, kindly offered to give her a whole new identity. He could have, too. That was his specialty. But Livy didn’t believe in running. Whether it was running from who she was or running from a pissed-off hyena, it went against everything she’d been taught by her parents.

Honey badgers don’t run. They fight.

Of course, it was kind of hard to fight when a country revoked one’s visa to get their dislike of you across.

Although, at first, none of that mattered. Sure, they could take away her visas, deny her access to the Louvre without armed guards shadowing her, and keep forcing her to go to goddamn anger management classes. But the one thing they could never do was take her art from her.

Unfortunately, though, it seemed she’d done that to herself.

After a year of taking pictures of guys who considered sports an actual career, Livy no longer thought of herself as an artist. She was once considered a prodigy, but now she was just some chick who took pretty pictures of physically perfect people. It was not a challenge.

It was a job.

Livy dropped her backpack on the floor and plopped into the chair behind her desk. There were stacks of proofs for her to review. Pictures of shifters from tristate teams that played football, hockey, soccer, basketball, and whatever else that she didn’t give a shit about.

These were the pro teams. Or as Livy liked to call them, the “teams with all the penises.”

Okay. True. That wasn’t fair. Unlike full-human sports, there were many females on the pro shifter teams. But most of them were She-bears and big-armed tigresses. So Livy wasn’t sure that counted.

Livy sat at her desk, staring straight ahead, her phone vibrating in her back pocket, her PC pinging away, telling her that e-mail was arriving.

Livy ignored it all.

But she couldn’t really ignore the tall, beautiful woman who suddenly filled her doorway. Well, she could ignore her, but she’d tried that before and got hit in the face for her trouble. The reasoning? “I was worried you were dead. . . . I was just checking that you weren’t. Aren’t you glad someone cares?” Cella Malone had asked at the time with no sense of irony.

“Hey, Livy.” And here came the requisite sad face. The expression everyone used when someone they knew had a death in the family, but they didn’t actually know the person who’d died. Toni had burst into tears at the news. But she’d known Damon Kowalski well, once even managing to get Livy’s father to pay for art school by using an extreme level of guilt.

More sad face from the She-tiger who coached the New York Carnivores hockey team. “How ya doin’, hon?”