First chapter of Searching for a Soul to Love #4

(The Manx Cat Guardians)

Prologue

 

 

Max

August 1998

 

Max felt Aaden sink into sleep as adolescents tended to do, dropping like a stone. He barely stirred as Max contemplated how best to handle what came next. He understood a teenager’s mind was broader, that they found it easier to accept the strange and different things the world had to offer.

His original plan had been scuppered by a rush to imbue King Óláfr’s soul into Aaden’s. It had been a risk worth taking when he’d recognised Aaden as the recipient of the soul he’d protected for centuries. The urge to offload his burden had been too tempting to resist.

It appeared Aaden was paying the price though, with King Óláfr getting restless. The pull had been stronger tonight, compelling Max to go to Aaden, but he wasn’t entirely sure that Aaden was ready to accept his destiny.

Was I ready?

Worrying at his whiskers, Max prayed that Aaden didn’t do or say anything stupid, like telling people he could talk to cats. Some of his previous owners had done that, and none had understood his purpose when he’d tried to explain it.

His chest rumbled with the hope that Aaden would be different. Max shifted his vast bulk to get comfortable on the narrow single bed. He lowered his head to rest as he yearned for this to be the end of his very, very long journey.

He paid no attention to the voices in his head telling him not to count his chickens just yet. Instead, he closed his eyes, resting his head on Aaden’s chest and listening to the solid drum of his heartbeat.

 

***

 

Aaden started, the boy sitting up far too quickly and dislodging the warm duvet on which Max had been sleeping. Max was propelled to the floor, landing in an unexpected heap with a loud disgruntled meow.

A pair of laughing dark eyes peered over the edge of the bed at him, giggles erupting from across the room.

Disgruntled and aggrieved by the wake-up call Max had got, a shudder rippled through his body at the stinky T-shirt covered in semen stuck to his behind. He glowered at Aaden’s unrepentant, grinning face, shaking his body to dislodge the top.

“You need to be mindful, young man, if you don’t want me dragging that dirty T-shirt over to your brother,” Max threatened as he stuck his nose in the air.

 When Aaden gave him an alarmed look, casting a wary glance at Nick, Max chuckled.

It was then that Max realised that Aaden wasn’t acting all weirded out after their conversation the night before. It had to be a good sign that Aaden’s thoughts were calm, without any urge to go running from the room and scream for his parents to help save him from himself.

To test the waters, Max jumped back on the bed next to Aaden, curling into a comfortable position so he could clean his fur. “When Nick goes to school, we can talk privately. I’m sure you have the urge to speak aloud, but don’t. That will happen a lot to begin with, but don’t worry it wears off pretty quickly. I’ll answer all of your questions and remember you are not going mad. I promise.” Keeping his gaze on Aaden, he watched for any signs of an impending freak-out, not entirely convinced it wouldn’t happen at any moment.

“Okay.” Aaden shrugged. “I’ll try not to talk out loud. But you gotta promise to answer all my questions.”

He gave a nod of acquiescence. Although, he wasn’t sure Aaden was quite ready for everything despite the excitement leaking through their link.

A feline smile spread across Max’s face, his whiskers twitching in delight.

Aaden was different. This time would be different. Yes, yes it would.

As he watched Aaden busy himself getting dressed and play-fighting with his brother, the feeling of rightness grew, and for the first time in centuries Magnus’s hope started to return.

It was different, and by the Goddess Freyja, he hoped this would be the last time he would have to endure failure for them all.