Shelter from the Storm

Anna began to quicken her pace as she left the strange little pet shop. Elysian Haven was the strangest name for a pet shop she ever heard of. Carrying the heavy cat in her arms, the first destination for Anna was a soft bed.

"Come on Locke! Let's go somewhere out of this miserable rain," She gave the black cat a scratch under an ear as she mused to herself. She felt a bit uneasy being responsible for another life, it had been awhile since she felt companionship with anyone, much less a cat. When she lived at home, her family didn't allow animals. Her ex-boyfriend wasn't much better on the animal situation. Now she had her very own cat. A tiny giggle escaped her lips as she hugged Locke. Anna was somewhat giddy over having the pet.

Locke felt for now that he shouldn't allow Anna to know he was anything more than a simple cat. A small feat of magic allowed Locke's words to be heard by the rest of the world as a simple meow.  He groaned as his new owner gave him a friendly hug, "Come on, let up. I do need to breathe!"

The pair wandered about the city searching for a hotel, she found a small brick hostel in the business district. Debating whether or not to hide Locke, for now she stuffed him into her backpack; the cat gave an annoyed growl as he tried to stick his head out of the pack. She shooed him back inside the canvas bag and pleaded, "Please don't make too much noise, I don't think we can spare a pet fee. I'll bring you something nice, I promise!"

She walked into the building, it had definitely seen better days. There was a balding squat man behind an aged wooden desk. She unceremoniously walked to the desk, and fumbled with the money clip for a moment before trying to stammer out a sentence. "I-I um need a room please?"

The man looked up from his paper for a moment before pushing a registry towards her. "Twenty bucks a night, no turnin' tricks or I'll throw ya out,"

Anna could feel his eyes crawl over her, she wished she could shrink away from him.

"Unless, ye wanna give me a free sample first."

Anna scribbled her name on the registry before setting a few bills in front of him.

"Just the keys please,"

The man grumbled as he waddled over to the room keys. Selecting one near the top he returned to his paper and plunked the plastic keytag in front of her.

"Enjoy yer stay,"

Anna said nothing further as she swiped the key and walked off. Wandering through the hotel she found her room near the end of the hall. The room was not the best but it beat the shelters she was used to taking refuge in. Setting down the canvas bag, she undid the snaps, allowing Locke to roam free.

Locke wriggled out of the backpack before striding about the room. After deciding this was far worse than his lair in the pet shop. Lock hopped onto the bed and gave Anna a curious meow, "Not the most suitable room but it will do."

It had been years since he found a need to leave the shop, but this girl seemed to have promise. She was fractured; he could feel the turmoil about her. She had been broken in the past and the memories of distrust and abuse were heavy around her. However, this girl still stood. That meant she had great potential.

Shedding her wet jacket she plopped down upon the bed beside him. "Locke is such a boring name, I swear your owner must have been even stuffier than you." She pondered for a moment as names rolled about in her head. "Percival, no way too stuffy. Arthur, no too formal." The feline was kind of squat looking, almost like a fat dictionary when he rolled onto his side.

"I know, how about I call you Book?" The cat seemed to glare at her suggestion of his new name.

"Book? How dare you call me, a creature who's been around since the dawn of time for  a scrap of paper?" Locke was offended. This girl had to be made something stronger, and she didn't need to know he was nothing beyond a simple cat. He nuzzled her neck as she playfully scratched behind his ears.

Locke thought to himself as Anna continued her scratching, "This could always be worse, at least she likes to pet me." Anna grinned as she tried to roll him on his side. "So Locke, what are we going to do now?" The stack of money isn't going to last forever huh?

Locke gave his new owner a sideways glare. "Money, why do you humans always seem to be worried over stacks of paper? Oh well, it beats using rocks or something else." His response came out as a series of meows to Anna.  He could feel Anna was unfamiliar with being near, well creatures in general.

Anna grinned again as Book cuddled against her chest and let out a small purr. She was slowly relaxing at least and she gave his tummy a small nudge.

"Wow, Book, we're going to need to get you some diet kibble, won't we? You're kinda pudgy!"

Locke gave her rumbling growl as his retort to her diet idea."How dare you, this is a noble girth! He thought to himself. "You try fitting an infinite being into a damned cat! This is going to be a long trial..."

Anna cooed as she tried rubbing Book's jawline to earn some sympathy back. "Ok, I'm sorry! Your contract says fish and Milk. I'll see what I can rustle up. I swear your keeper fed you better than I've eaten for the last six months."

Locke gave a throaty purr as Anna wondered what would she do next. She could go out and panhandle for more money, or just get some food and come back to cuddle with Book? Cuddling seemed to be the better of the two ideas. "Ok Book, how about we see what's on TV then I'll go out and get us food okay?" The cat gave a contented meow and plopped back onto the bed.

"Ok,  let's watch some of this television. Neat invention of you humans, I have yet to discover the secret of the Home Shopping Network," Book meowed as Anna flipped through the channels. She gave a smile as she rustled Book's ears.

"You love to meow don't you big guy? I wonder what you are trying to tell me? Kinda funny, I barely say three words in the big scary world and now I'm carrying on a conversation with a cat. All I need now is a hat made of newspaper and my crazy life is set!"

"You're not insane! I'm just smarter than you. Now feed me!"

Anna didn't acknowledge the meow as the two began to look through the channels. Book seemed to perk up when Anna found the infomercials, his tail twitching back and forth a bit more rapidly on those channels.

Anna smiled as the combination of warm bed along with Locke cuddled up to her side and watched as his new guardian fell asleep. Food could wait for a little while, the girl needed some rest. Besides, the idea of food was more of a concept to himself than a necessity. Albeit he had learned to greatly enjoy tuna steaks throughout the years.

Locke wondered to himself, would Anna be able to complete her contract? The girl had the talent, and the potential. He'd been keeping tabs on her for a month now. Her past was a little murky to him, but he felt a warmth that called to him. Each owner before had carried the same warmth that allowed Locke to find them. So the girl would be tried, if she succeeded, the offer would be made. Failure, well, Locke didn't think much about that. For now, she will sleep.

The End

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