Here's the blurb:
With time running out, there’s no pussyfooting around…
After her fiancé’s last betrayal, Mahri Lassler decides she’d rather become a crazy cat lady than live with another man. Yet when her sister drags her to the animal shelter to make that dream a reality, Mahri just isn’t ready to commit. Not even to a litter of cuddly kittens. But when an odd black and white tomcat reaches through the bars, it’s almost as if he’s choosing her…
Cursed by a scorned lover for all eternity, Scottish clansman Morgan Felix resigns himself to living eleven months each year as a cat. Now, nearly a millennium later, he’s trapped in a cage at the animal shelter with no hope in sight. He has to escape before the first day of spring, when he’ll change back into his human form and find himself in a very tight squeeze. So when the pixie-like woman stops just outside the cage, he takes the situation into his own paws and reaches out to touch her hand…
Here's an extract from the opening chapter:
How do you tell the woman you love you have to marry another?
Morgan pulled on his horse’s reins, slowing the stallion to a trot as he neared the quiet clearing. He approached the cottage, still uncertain of what to say.
Dismounting and striding toward the door, he steeled himself. From the very beginning, he had found Brigid easy to talk to. It was almost as if she knew what he wanted to say before he actually said it. The words came to him without effort, and she understood.
Before he could call a greeting or tap on the wood, the door swung open, and Brigid launched herself into his arms. She wrapped her long, slender legs around his waist and rained kisses onto his face.
Morgan placed his arms around her body out of habit. Reluctantly, he untangled her legs and set her on her feet in front of him. “Sweet Brigid, we must speak.” His thoughts were tangled tighter than the vines climbing up the outside of the modest cottage.
“Mother told me your news a’ready. Your father is forcing you to choose between marrying a lass of his choosing or losing his blessing for succeeding him as chief. So your position will no longer keep us apart. You can choose as you will who you wish to be with.” Brigid’s voice was breathless with elation.
The fog of confusion in his head evaporated, leaving him to stare blankly into her warm blue eyes. Could he have been so wrong? Didn’t she know better than to think he’d put his own desires above the good of the clan? How could he have given her that impression? He caught her shoulders as she stretched closer to him in an attempt to capture his lips in another kiss. One dark brow lifted in a silent question. “Is something amiss?” She asked.
“Brigid, dearling, I won’t force Malcolm to rescind his blessing. The clan can’t afford the succession to be in contention.”
Brigid’s mouth compressed into a thin line, and two pink spots bloomed on her cheeks. Her nostrils flared with each quickened breath. “You would still choose them over us? After everything they have done?”
“’Tis my duty. I thought you understood. No matter how misguided they may be, they will need a steady hand to guide them in the future.”
A sudden wind wound between the trees, carrying with it dried leaves and the biting promise of winter. The strength of the gust pushed him toward her one more step before he could brace against its fury. The raven ringlets framing her face lifted gently from her shoulders.
“You love me. I saw it,” she said between clenched teeth.
Rumors named Brigid’s mother a witch, but Morgan had always dismissed the stories as nonsense. Sometimes, though, Brigid’s words or actions caused the hair to rise along the back of his neck. Morgan swallowed around the knot forming in his throat. Dark clouds floated over the sun, prematurely tingeing the world dusk-gray.
“Of course I love you. But I will not abandon my duty. The marriage Malcolm has planned will strengthen our clan, and his blessing will assure a smooth transition after his death.” Morgan’s grip on her shoulders tightened. He didn’t want to let her go.
Coming here had been a mistake. He needed to cut them both free and walk away. She would be angry, but eventually she’d move on. “I’m sorrier than I can say,” he continued. “I never meant to hurt you, but I will not be back.” He reached out with one hand to cup her face. “Good-bye.”
Brigid turned her face into his caress for a moment before sucking in a deep breath. Then she lifted her head regally, took two steps back, and stretched one trembling hand in front of her. With each move, her hair spread more and more until it appeared to stand on end. Every curl possessed a life of its own, twining and coiling wildly, yet not a single strand passed in front of her face to break her unrelenting stare.
Disconcerted, Morgan wanted nothing more than to turn from the glaciers of her eyes, but he was rooted in place. The wind continued to blow from behind him with unnatural strength. Immature vines growing on the sides of the house behind her swirled curious strands outward, vibrating with energy as they reached for her.
All the scary stories of the witch in the woods whispered during his childhood came to mind, causing goose bumps to race down his spine and a cold knot to form in his gut.
When she spoke, a deep, multilayered growl replaced her sweet, soft voice. “You have taken a beautiful gift and thrown it away. Even as you sacrifice all for your people, they move against you, killing your father and taking over the clan. In spite of your decision, should you return now, you too will be slaughtered.”
Morgan tried to argue, but all that passed his lips was a hoarse sound of denial. He wanted so badly to turn, run to his horse, and race back to the village to prove her wrong, but his feet remained rooted to the ground. He didn’t have the strength to wrest himself away.
The woman’s eerie voice continued with the howling of the wind. “Had you chosen love, you would continue to live, oblivious to the fate about to befall your clan. Instead you will pay for playing with the love of an innocent heart. Like the beast you are, you will wander forevermore until you find one who will love you in spite of your beastly form.”
Her rough words seemed to take on a life of their own, flying from her mouth and climbing up his arms, across his torso, and over his face. He was certain he felt their sting, and he wouldn’t be surprised to discover they left shallow claw marks in their wake.
“So that you will understand what you are missing, you will not be allowed to retreat completely into your bestial state. At the beginning of each spring, you will revert to your natural form for thirty days.”
With those last ominous words, the wind gusted again, more intensely than before, and finally succeeded in pushing him toward her. But his feet were still solidly stuck to the ground, and he fell forward, sprawling awkwardly at her feet.
Unimaginable agony ripped through him, searing every nerve and igniting his blood. Contorting in pain, his muscles contracted independently, twisting his body into impossible positions.
What seemed an eternity later, he lay gasping in the dirt. He pulled his lips back in a painful grimace as he sucked air into his aching lungs and looked around for Brigid. He would think twice before giving her an opportunity to hurt him that profoundly again. In all the battles he’d fought, he’d never felt such pain.
The clearing was empty. Brigid, the cottage, his horse, the small garden where they’d spent hours talking: all of it had disappeared without a trace. A shiver of unease raced through his limbs.
The breeze, gentle now, ruffled his hair. Testing his muscles tentatively, he noticed only a slight tenderness after the unbearable agony of before. But his muscle and joint pain paled in comparison to his sudden thirst.
Climbing unsteadily to his feet, he stumbled to the brook. Whatever she’d done to him had corrupted his vision. Everything seemed skewed. A silver sheen blanketed the world before him, and dampened the forest colors. Trees and other still objects appeared fuzzy, while anything that moved snapped with clarity, instantly claiming his undivided attention. Small animals scurried about everywhere.
Closing his eyes to offset the dizzying effects of this visual phenomenon, Morgan stretched toward the musical bubbling of water over stones, put his head down, and drank several mouthfuls before daring to crack his eyes open.
From the surface of water below, a furry black face with two short, pointed ears and feline eyes stared up at him.
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