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Chapter 3


After waiting almost an hour for the local vet, Doctor James, to aid me with some medical supplies, I found myself sitting on a set of steel, green benches in the heart of the zoo’s arena, waiting for the seal show to begin. Usually, Doctor Keller did these kinds of visits, but since Marcus was his new number one priority, he asked me to stand in for him on this one.

I had never been to the Lionheart National Zoo before, even though I have driven past it hundreds of times, wondering what it might look like on the inside and what creatures resided within its rocky walls.

A female zookeeper, stood in front of the large crowd, holding her arms up as a sign for everyone to quiet down and take their seats. She swiftly delivered a brief warning to the public, informing us of the nature of wild animals and that they should not be fed, nor touched for the safety of the public and also for the safety of the animal.

I scoffed slightly to myself imagining someone trying to feed my wild beast, mistaking it for just some random wolf in the woods. That would definitely NOT end well.

The zookeeper quickly continued by reciting some of the rules of the park and communicating a few logistical arrangements to ensure order and a peaceful visit to the zoo. This included instructions on where to exit the arena after the show, where the restrooms were located and which way to head if you wanted to watch the lion feeding taking place right after the show.

Once she was done, she made her way towards a steel door at the back of the stage and pulled on a heavy leaver to draw the solid door upwards with a loud clank. Within seconds, two, large seals came bursting out and swiftly wobbled their way across the stage and into the water.

Their bodies disappeared underneath the crisp blue surface as they glided effortlessly through the huge pool. People were applauding and watching in awe as the lady gave a deep bow and handed her microphone over to a bulky man dressed in a khaki uniform. The moment my eyes landed on him, my heart unexplainably started to race, and a dull pang started to build up deep in my gut.

“Mate! Mate!” My wolf practically screamed into my head as she howled and nudged me frantically with her muzzle. I stared wide-eyed at the handsome, male zookeeper as the crowd kept following the seals with their eyes. The most amazing smile was playing across his face as he too watched the seals play in the water.

Tiny creases formed in the corners of his alluring eyes as he laughed wholeheartedly at the animal’s antics as they nipped playfully at each other’s tails. His brown, almost messy hair, shined in the sunlight and even from where I was sitting, I could see a slight shade of stubble forming across his chiselled jaw.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please give it up for Max and Kuba, our very own Cape Fur Seals,” he announced into the microphone as he gestured towards the animals.

People were clapping and whistling, while I fought my insides from turning into goo at the mere sound of the man’s deep, husky voice.

“These two are brothers and rescues. They had been flown to us almost three years ago after an oil tanker had ruptured near the South African coast, just off the city of Cape Town and we have loved them here ever since,” he said although it sounded quite rehearsed like he had been doing this show every day of his life.

I watched intently as he walked around the stage while carrying on with his introduction of the two and grabbed a large, white bucket off a shelf at the back. He kept talking as he made his way towards a small podium in the middle of the stage for the rest of the show to commence.

“My name is Conner, and I will be your presenter for today.” While he introduced himself, he dug into the bucket with his large masculine hands for what looked like a smallish, grey fish. I was fairly sure he was about to proceed to the action-packed part of the seal show, but I wanted to hear more about him. Couldn’t his introduction be just a little bit longer.

A second later, he blew on a tiny silver whistle hanging on a chain around his neck and almost like one being, the two seals lunged themselves out of the pool and bolted towards the tiny podium. With a mere gesture of his hand, the seals obeyed and quickly scrambled onto the podium, earning themselves each a fish as a reward.

Throughout the rest of the show, I could not take my eyes off the lovely specimen in front of me. Don’t get me wrong, the seals were also nice to look at, but the way Conner had held himself and how he connected with the animals really warmed my heart and I couldn’t help but feel proud to have been blessed with such an amazing man as a mate.

When the show finally ended, I stayed seated for a little while longer trying to drag the moment out. Conner finished up inside the fenced pool area as the crowd started to disperse but was instantly bombarded with members of the public as he stepped out of the caged area. They were surrounding him like he was some kind of celebrity, asking him questions about the animals and telling him stories of their own. The poor guy had to nod and listen to the most meaningless, boring stories I have ever heard in my life, but he did so all the while keeping a smile on that gorgeous face of his.

I could hear every word being said around him with my sensitive wolf-hearing, although I could not seem to smell his wolf at all, which was quite strange. Maybe he didn’t smell as strong because he was covered in the scents of all the other animals, he had obviously worked with earlier that day.

“All right folks, you are going to miss the lion feeding if you don’t hurry. Take the steps over there to the left and carry on straight until you see a bunch of people crowding,” he eventually said gesturing up the stairs, clearly trying to shoo the last group of people away so that he could get some peace and quiet.

They followed his instructions immediately and chatted happily as they walked away to go and watch the lion feeding.

My eyes, however, stayed glued to Conner, who looked visibly more relaxed as soon as he was on his own again, heading away from the crowds to a quieter, more secluded area of the park. I followed him from a safe distance, studying his every move until he disappeared into a building with a sign on the front which read, ‘Staff only, no entry.’

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