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Chapter 10

Whilst Luci was eating his breakfast I went into my office to look up training classes for shifters and their owners. A few results came up and I looked on their websites. I dismissed the first few, they were just discipline and obedience training, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. I carried on and found one for protective training, it wasn’t what I brought Luci for and I didn’t want to force him to attack but he seemed to want to do that all on his own. I wanted to be confident I could control him if a situation like that ever happened, with Parker it was just insults, if someone attacked either him or me I didn’t know if I could get through to him. Shifter laws state that if a pet shifter kills a human or another pet they can be put down, it’s like with traditional pets and I really didn’t want that to happen. I looked through their page and decided to give them a call to see if they would help, it looked like it focused more on dogs but you never know. I dialled the number and put my phone to my ear.

‘Hello, this is Elite Protection, how may I help you today?’ a cheery female voice came from the speakers of my phone.

“Ah hello, I was wondering if you trained shifters that weren’t canines?” I asked the lady.

‘Umm… well we do occasionally but an assessment will need to be done before-hand.’ she told me. ′Could I ask the type of shifter you have in mind?′ she inquired, here goes nothing.

“He’s a jaguar.” I revealed and heard an intake of breath.

‘Oh well… I don’t know if we are capable training that kind of shifter.’ she told me and I felt some annoyance at her words, Luci was being prematurely judged again.

“He’s well-behaved but he is protective of me, I never brought him with the intention of using him for protection, I just want the assurance that he’ll listen in a heated situation if one was to happen.” I explained.

‘I… of course, I understand. Can I put you on hold while I get one of the trainers?’ she requested.

“Go ahead.” I replied and the phone clicked, quiet radio music playing. A few minutes later the phone clicked, a male voice on the other end.

‘Hello sir, how may I help you?’ the gruff voice questioned.

“I was wondering if you’d be willing to train a jaguar shift. He’s even tempered and calm most of the time but protective of me, I’m worried that if someone were to act in a hostile manor towards me he might attack them. I just want some training so I’ll know he’ll listen to me during that sort of situation.” I elucidated.

‘Does he listen to you?’ he pushed.

“He does yes, my brother and I got in an argument last night. He stood in front of me and growled at my brother but backed down when I pulled on his collar gently. That was just a verbal argument so I’m worried how he’ll react in a physical one.” I disclosed.

Has he ever attacked anyone before?′ he prodded and I swallowed, guess I should of expected that.

“He told me he has but the person attacked him first with a taser baton after going into his space.” I admitted.

‘By space you mean cage yes?’ he gathered.

“Yes.” I confirmed.

‘How bad was the injury?’ he carried on and I frowned.

“I don’t actually know, but I can ask.” I offered. “Luci!” I called and he quickly appeared in the doorway. “Can you shift for me, I need to ask you about Rico.” I explained. He shifted but didn’t look to excited about the conversation choice. “How badly did you injure Rico?” I asked him and he frowned.

“I was not much more than a cub then, I just scratched his arm to stop him from hurting me.” he revealed and I smiled sadly at him. I beckoned him over and he sat by my feet, I stroked my fingers through his hair as I listened to the trainer speak.

‘Is that all?’ the trainer seemed disappointed. I looked down at Luci but he shook his head no, he hadn’t done anything else.

“That’s it.” I assured.

’Well, due to the shift I would rather do home visits to train. As our receptionist probably said, he will need an assessment before we’ll consider training. Would you like to book an assessment?” he asked. I looked down at Luci, who’s head was resting on my leg, it was something I needed to do, for the both of us. I confirmed that I would like to book an assessment, and we sorted out a time. My house wasn’t too far from the establishment so they were able to fit me in for tomorrow just after lunch. The call ended and I sighed, I felt better now that was sorted.

Lunch the next day came around and I was nervous. I couldn’t concentrate on my work and my leg kept bouncing under the desk, it felt like forever till lunchtime, but finally a knock sounded at the door. I got up and headed to the door. “Luci!” I called and he poked his head out of his room, watching me walk past. I jerked my head and he fell into step beside me, I guess I’d never answered the door with him at my side before, but this was for him so I thought he should be there right off the bat.

I opened the door, seeing a burly and tall man probably in his early thirties. He was wearing all black; black cargo trousers, black t-shirt with Elite Protection printed on one peck and black boots. His hair was brown and kept short, eyes dark and observant, intense. He definitely fit the voice I heard on the telephone yesterday. “Hello Mr Clermont, I’m Jared and I’m here for the training assessment, and this must be Luci.” he squatted on my doorstep, getting down to Luci’s level. I watched as Luci sniffed him curiously, his ears rotating a little, tail swishing. The trainer offered a loose hand and Luci stepped closer, sniffing the hand, letting out a snuff and rubbing his cheek against the hand, guess the trainer got his approval.

“Please do come in.” I stepped away from the doorway to allow him to pass. Luci stepped back with me, his side grazing my leg as he watched the trainer walk in. I shut the door. “Is there any particular place you’d like to do the assessment?” I wondered and he gave a curt nod.

“Garden’s good.” he replied, so I led him outside, Luci still sticking close to my side. We got outside and the trainer stood in front of us, Luci sitting down by my feet to the side, ever so slightly in front of me. The trainer studied Luci, a smile quirking at his lips. “I can see what you mean, he is very protective of you.” he agreed, seeming a little amused. Luci snorted at his words, as if saying of course I am.

A bee buzzed past, Luci’s eyes focusing on it, his body tensing a little. He looked up at me, his back legs shuffling, he looked back at the bee as it passed by him again. It looked like he wanted to chase it, but he wasn’t, and the bee seemed to be almost taunting him, going back and forth in front of him, going fast, or slowing down, darting around. One of his front paws lifted up off the ground a bit, his ears forward, eyes concentrating on the annoying buzzing thing that kept going around his head. “Leave the bee alone Luci.” I told him, he seemed disappointed but lowered his paw back down, freezing when it landed on his nose. They seemed to be watching each other, seeing who would move first.

Luci seemed to of won because the bee flew off again, this time leaving for good. Luci snorted and shook his head, pawing at his nose and rubbing it. The trainer just shook his head.

“Luci.” the trainer called in a commanding tone and Luci looked over at the trainer at his name being called. “Your ears work, and you listen.” he said more to himself. “How long have you had him?” he wondered.

“About a week and half.” I divulged.

“What did you buy him for?” he pushed.

“Just a companion I guess.” I shrugged.

“Nothing else?” he prodded and I frowned, was he suggesting what I thought he was? Some owners had that sort of relationship with their pets, but like I told Archie, I didn’t buy him for that. And how innocent and sweet he was I don’t think I could even if I wanted to.

“Nothing else.” I confirmed.

“Shift.” he was speaking to Luci again. Luci looked at me and I nodded, he shifted and sat on the floor, still at my side. The trainer studied him, but it was a in a professional way. “Where did you get him from?” he asked me.

“An auction house.” I answered and he sighed, scratching his head.

“You seem to be taking good care of him but being in a cage for so long isn’t good for his body.” he explained, it made sense. He crossed his arms and looked around. “All of this land yours?”

“Yes.” I confirmed and he raised a brow as he continued to look around. I had quite a few acres of land, including some woodland with a small river running through it. Thinking about that gave me an idea, Jaguars were supposed to like water right? I bet Luci would really enjoy a swim in the river, I must take him sometime.

“Has he been allowed to utilise all this… land?” Jared asked me.

“I’d left him to settle in his cage the first week but yes, he was very excited the first time, he told me he hadn’t been outside since he was a cub.” Jared sighed sadly at that, looking down at Luci with almost pity on his features. “He hasn’t been too far though, I would like to establish recall before I let him out of my sight.” I added and he let out a hum, looking at the cluster of trees in the distance.

“So I take it he hasn’t seen the woods yet?” I nodded. “Why don’t we go there now?” he suggested and started heading in that direction. Luci looked up at me, his blue eyes sparkling with excitement, causing me to smile.

“Can I shift master?” he requested.

“Of course Luci, just don’t go too far ahead.”

He shifted, rubbing against my leg before darting off, running back and forth, round and around in the grass nearby, just liked I’d asked. Jared chuckled as he watched Luci bound around like a giant kitten, racing past us before shooting back onto the field. Jared whistled sharply and Luci froze, head turning and ears rotating as he looked back at us. “Hmm… I doubt recall is going to be hard to teach, even distracted he is aware. Luci!” Jared called and Luci paused for a moment, considering, before sauntering back, thankfully not bowling me over like the first time. He stopped a few feet away and looked at the both of us, waiting. Jared reached into one of his many pockets, pulling out a plastic bag, which looked like it was filled with… cubes of raw tuna? Luci’s tail flicked up and he sat, looking intently at the food Jared was holding.

“Luci, look at me.” Jared ordered, coming to a stop in front of Luci. Luci’s eyes flickered up to Jared’s dark ones, waiting a few seconds before letting out a long meow, one of his front paws slightly lifting off the floor, looking almost pleadingly at Jared.

Jared took a cube of the tuna and threw it into the air and Luci easily caught it, his teeth chewing a few times before he swallowed. “Off you go.” Jared waved behind him and I could of sworn Luci frowned, but he walked away from Jared, jogging but keeping a lot closer than before, occasionally glancing back at us, especially at the bag with the tuna cubes in it.

“Well he’s definitely food motivated, has he shown any aggression related to food?” I frowned slightly at the question.

“No, he’s always well-behaved during meal times, he’s never jumped up if I walked passed with food and will wait beside his water dish patiently until I’ve put his food down and stepped away. He’s affection motivated as well, if that makes sense, he’s friendly and likes being petted, well excluding my brother apparently.” I muttered as an afterthought.

“Was that because of your argument?” he inquired.

“No.” I sighed. “Parker called him an oversized kitty and pulled his tail.” Jared’s lips formed a line and his brows furrowed.

“And how did Luci react?”

“Well Parker pulled it twice, the first time Luci hissed, the second was harsher and he yowled. I took him to his room to shift after that, Parker tried to pet him and Luci didn’t like that, he pulled away and his ears drew back, his tail swishing. He settled down after a moment and sat by my side, staying well away from Parker.” I recounted.

“Your brother sounds like an asshole to be frank.” Jared muttered and I chuckled.

“Yeah, I don’t like him either, but he’s my older brother, so I’m stuck with him.” I sighed.

We reached the woods and Luci paused to look up at the tall trees and I could hear loud sniffing coming from him. He moved cautiously, his tail still, movements slow and fluid. He inspected a tree before coming to stand on his hind legs, dragging his claws down the bark, leaving deep claw marks behind. He dropped back to four paws and looked satisfied at the marks before padding into the woods. Jared inspected the claw marks, running his fingers in the grooves. “Those are some deadly claws he’s got there.” he commented before following Luci.

I couldn’t see Luci’s dark coat amongst the shaded light of the woods but let out a pleased chuckle when I heard a loud splash. I walked around a few trees before the river came into view, seeing Luci mostly submerged in the water and I could faintly see his legs working as he swam. “Now that’s one happy cat.” Jared mused and I couldn’t help but agree.

Luci suddenly ducked under the water, only to emerge a second later with a large, floundering fish held securely in his jaws. He swam to the bank, shaking off before pounding over to me, looking at me as he held the flapping fish. I smiled, feeling pride, gently stroking the wet fur on his head. “Good job Luci.” I told him as I squatted in front of him. His tail lashed through the air at the praise before he laid down on the ground, grabbing the end of the fish with his front paws and I heard the crunching of bone as he began to eat the still somewhat alive fish, I bet it was the freshest food he’d ever had and it looked like he was enjoying it immensely. His strong jaw and sharp teeth made easy work of the fish and it quickly disappeared. He licked his lips and front paws, cleaning up any of the left over fish that he might of missed. A few snuffs sounded from him as he got up and he padded ahead again, pausing to sniff at different plants and adding some more scratches to the tree barks and to my surprise spraying a few as well.

“He surely has retained his instincts despite being housed in an auction. What is he like in his human form? Is he still quite cat like?” Jared wondered as we followed Luci through the woodland.

“I’m not actually that sure.” I frowned. “He prefers his cat form, he feels more secure and safe in it I think and I’ve noticed when he is in human form he’s more reliant if that makes sense, he seeks my support and company. When I first got him he never shifted at all, I have to ask him to shift, it isn’t something he does on his own. In fact he struggled to walk in human form at first, I doubt he’d shifted much at all at the auction house, his speech is a little spotty and he struggles to put on and take off clothes. He still rubs against you in human form and snuffs, he’s slept in the beds I’ve left around the house in his human form as well, but I think it was more because he couldn’t be bothered to try and get undressed and he knew I wouldn’t be too pleased if he ripped his clothes.”

“So he’s in cat form most of the time you’d say?” he continued and I nodded. “It’s not healthy for shifters, which I’m sure you already know, they’re at risk of losing the ability to shift entirely, then they’d just be a highly intelligent animal.”

I sighed at that. “Yeah I know, I’ve tried to get him to shift often, but as I said he feels more vulnerable in his human form, and I wouldn’t want to force him to stay in human form for long periods of time as I know he wouldn’t like it and I wouldn’t want him to be unhappy. He’s been in an auction house for a long time from his records, he’s been caged and feared, I don’t want that for him again. To be honest I feel relieved that I was the one who brought him and not someone else, quite a few women were eyeing him up like a piece of meat in the auction room, I hate to think what his life would have been like with them. He doesn’t know much, he hasn’t been trained at all, he just uses his instincts to get by. All he wants is affection and acceptance, he broke down crying when one of my assistants visited and recoiled in fear at the sight of him, poor Luci did all he could to show he was no threat, he’s so sweet, he hates it when people are scared of him due to his appearance. And you know, he told me that the auctioneer would of sold him off to a Lanista if he didn’t get bid on, or they would of shot him. He knows how people feel about him, he expects fear and hostility, so I think he’d rather be in cat form, so he’s able to defend himself.”

Jared looked both angry and sad at what I’d said, watching Luci explore with a sigh. “He needs a lot of support Quill, I can help to make sure he doesn’t attack anyone but he needs confidence and stability, like you said he wants to be loved. I’m glad too that you’re the one who picked him, you seem to care for him a great deal, you have his best interests at heart. You need to understand though that he might need a push, he might not like his human form as much but he needs to get more comfortable with it, when he shifts give him lots of praise and attention. I could actually teach him a little self-defence in human form, that might make him feel safer knowing he could protect himself in that form too.”

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