Author notes: Set in the same alternate universe as Prisoner's Key and Confessional.

Enemies

The door to his office opened with a soft click and slowly swung inward. Cole glanced up from the file he was reading, instantly alert. Heather walked in; he recognized her by the honey-colored hair that fell forward, hiding her face, and he relaxed again. Still, why was she hunched over? Was she in pain?

He shoved back the leather swivel chair and pushed to his feet. “Are you all right?” he asked, rounding the table and striding to her.

“What?” She looked up with a faint smile, cradling something round and black in her arms. “Oh. Yes. Look what I found scratching at the back door to the parking lot?” She held out the object in her hands, a ball of dark fur spotted with white. It purred softly, and startlingly green eyes, the pupils a narrow slit, studied Cole over a whiskered pink nose.

However, as soon as the kitten lay eyes on him—caught on to what he was with the extrasensory perception cats possess for such matters—its contented demeanor changed dramatically. Fur rose to hackles; it keened a high pitched squeal, surprisingly loud for such a small animal. Ears flattened against its head, it wriggled out of Heather’s grip and flung itself at Cole, tiny, razor sharp nails stretched out, ready to claw at eyes and rake flesh.

Cole snatched it out of the air an instant before those claws could touch his face, and held it up by the scruff of its neck. He winced; though in time to prevent more serious injuries, he had been too late to keep the kitten’s hind legs from gouging parallel lines across his chest. They burned beneath his shredded shirt.

The little fur ball had courage, he had to give it that. Rendered virtually helpless the way it dangled from Cole’s fist some five feet above the carpet, it still was a hissing spitfire, white teeth flashing dangerously while those green eyes burned with an age-old hostility.

“Wow…” Heather breathed, her eyes wide with surprise. “She was really very friendly with me. Purring, licking my fingers. Why would she attack you?”

Cole gave a wry grin. “She senses my powers.”

“So? I’m a witch; I have powers too.”

“That’s exactly it,” Cole said. “You’re a witch, one of the good guys. I’m… something else. Something cats hate with a ferocity known only to their species.”

“I’m sorry,” Heather said contritely. “I never thought… I’ll lock her away in the file room until I can take her to the animal shelter.”

“No, don’t,” Cole interjected. “Here, take her.” He held the sputtering ball of soft fur away from him. “I think she came to you for a reason. I think she is your Familiar.” He uttered a brief chuckle. “At the least we know for certain she’ll keep you safe. No way she would let any demons come upon you unawares.”

***

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