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Monday, September 20, 2021

A Cat for Troy by Allie McCormack - Book Tour + Giveaway



 Wishes & Dreams Series

Paranormal Romance

Date Published: 03-04-2021



Veterinarian Troy Shelton has no idea what he's letting himself in for when he rescues a friend's cat from the shelter after a dog attack. The friendly but demanding calico soon has Troy and his pregnant collie wrapped around her furry paw. But strange things begin happening in Troy's home when he’s away, and he could almost think someone else was living there besides him.

Torn and hurting, Katerina appreciates Troy's gentle care. She also appreciates his strong form and handsome face as much as the way he cuddles her. She's trapped in her cat form until her wounds heal, but once she's well again she finds herself oddly reluctant to resume her human form and life away from Troy. But someone else is interested in Troy, and that someone else has already tried to kill Cat once.


Excerpt

She caught his scent first, all woodsy and maple and oak, with smoky  undertones like a good fire in winter. The warmth of his scent went  personality deep. She touched his mind as he came into the room. Although  telepathic, she couldn't read minds per se, but cats were good at  impressions. He felt to her like a kind man, generous and compassionate,  the kind of man who drew people to him through no conscious doing of his  own, but his open nature drawing people to him like a magnet. 

Cat sat up, not without some difficulty given her injuries and the  bandages, pressing her face to the bars of the cage to be able to see him.  He’d paused just inside the room behind a young woman who worked at  the shelter, and was looking about. He was a big man, tall and tan, with  broad shoulders and a long stride; an outdoorsman type, she thought, who  spent his time doing things outside, in the woods and fields. That appealed  to her, far more than the slick, manicured types she had to deal with in her  line of work. 

Wanting his attention, she yowled. She liked him. She wanted him to  rescue her from this place. 

“Marrrwww!” she cried plaintively, demanding his attention. She  wanted him to see her, to notice her. To take her away from here. She  butted her head against the cage, curling her good paw around the bars  and rattling them so the metal clanged. Here! Here! 

The shelter employee laughed. “She sure seems to know you. This  must be the cat you’ve come for.” 

“That’s her.” His amused voice was deep and slightly burry, a rumble  of dark velvet. 

Cat pawed at the cage door impatiently, wanting to be out. “All right, all right,” the woman said, undoing the cage door latch.  The moment the door swung open, Cat launched herself straight into the  man’s arms.

“Whoa!” he said, laughing, catching her easily. “Take it easy, little  one.” 

His arms were strong and muscular as he held her. His fingers gently  explored her slender body, moving knowledgeably over aching bones, torn  flesh and bruised skin, as had the vet the night before, but without the  clinical detachment of the shelter vet. As if he knew her, and cared. 

The leap had jarred her scarcely healed wounds, and she was sure a  couple of them had broken open again, but it was worth it to lie in his arms,  cradled carefully against his broad chest, basking in his scent, the warm  aura of comfort surrounding him. She purred deeply, feeling comforted and  soothed. 

“We’ll be off, then,” he told the young woman. “I’ll be in for clinic on  Tuesday evening, as usual.” 

“Okay. I’m glad you found your friend’s cat, Dr. Shelton,” she  responded. 

Doctor? Oh yes, Douglas had several partners at his veterinary clinic,  perhaps this man was one of them. Cat didn’t care who he was. He had  come for her, and rescued her from this awful place. And he smelled nice. 

She liked that he didn’t try to detach her from his shirt, which she  kept snagged firmly in her claws, to put her into the cat carrier that he’d  come prepared with. Instead he held her close as he bent to pick up the  carrier, which he’d dropped to catch her. She clung to his flannel shirt,  

butting her head against the underside of his chin. She liked his aftershave.  It was a subtle blend of scents, masculine and outdoorsy, suiting him  perfectly. She purred deep in her chest as he carried her through the  building and out the door. 

He owned a big black truck, and Cat decided it also suited him. It was  high off the ground, and wisps of hay and straw were scattered in the bed,  the scent pleasing to her. This man had horses. She wrinkled her nose at  the other odor, unmistakable, of dog. Well, she could live with a dog, once  it understood its place. It would just have to learn that she was the boss.  Her nose told her the animal was female, which would make it easier. Male  dogs got all alpha and were always wanting to challenge her authority.  

Once inside the truck, she retracted her claws from the man’s shirt,  allowing him to settle her carefully on the passenger seat. His hands were  big and gentle, and he stroked her fur gently, smoothing her thick coat. She  rubbed her head against his arm.

“You’re a friendly one, aren’t you?” he said. His look was assessing.  “A Maine Coon, too, or I miss my bet. Jacinth told me you’re a stray, but I’m  guessing somebody will be looking for you, pretty girl.” 

She liked that he thought she was pretty, and she blinked at him,  settling herself as comfortably as she could on the seat. Her ribs and  shoulder where the dog’s teeth had dug into her hurt terribly, and she  ached all over, but at least she was out of that place, and the upholstered  seats were more comfortable than the cold steel of the cage she’d spent  the night in.  

Beside her, the man pulled out his cell phone and pressed a couple of  buttons. "Hey, it's Troy." 

She swiveled both ears forward to listen, eyes half closed, a deep  purr rumbling in her chest at the soothing cadence of his deep voice. "Yeah. I've got the cat here just fine. She saw me as soon as I walked  into the room and set up a howl, just like she knew who I was. She came  out of that cage and clung to me like she’d known me all her life. She’s a  sweet little thing. She’s cuddled up to me now here in the truck, purring like  mad.” 

Ah, he was talking to Jacinth. There was a pause. 

“She’ll be okay,” he reassured Jacinth in his deep voice. “Her  shoulder and front leg are a little chewed up, and maybe a broken rib or  two, so I'm going to take her home with me. I got hold of Douglas before I  left the clinic, and he said to tell you he had to be late or he’d bring her  home himself. As banged up as she is, it might be best if she stays at my  place for a few days anyway, where I can keep an eye on how she’s doing.  What’s her name?” 

Cat slit her eyes open to see Troy shaking his head as if in dismay.  “Cat it is. Well, I’m headed for home with her now. I’ll keep in touch and let  you know how she is.” 

She looked about the inside of the truck. A satchel was on the floor,  and some loose mail on the seat where she lay. While Troy started the  truck and backed out of the parking space, she stole a surreptitious look at  an envelope laying on the seat by her paw. It was addressed to a Troy  Shelton, DVM. 

Troy. Troy Shelton. She turned the name over in her head, and  approved. Like everything else, his name suited him. She sighed, pain and  exhaustion overwhelming her now that she had effected her escape from 

that place, and she crawled across the seat to curl closely against Troy’s leg.  She was too tired and hurt to feel the least curiosity about their  destination. Instead, she gave herself over to the enjoyment of being  petted and cared for. He drove with easy assurance, one hand on the  steering wheel and the other gently stroking her fur, and she dozed, lulled  by the rhythmic movement of his fingers as well as the high-powered  rumble of the engine. 

They drove for what seemed to her to be a long time. Her nose  informed her when they left the suburbs and headed into the country.  Fresh scents assailed her; trees, flowers, passing fields with horses and  cows. Songbirds twittered from tree branches as they passed under spreading oaks and maples.  

The truck slowed and turned off the paved road, the wheels  crunching on gravel. Cat stirred, struggling to a sitting position on the seat.  She thought she was as stiff and sore from the hours spent in the cold steel  cage as she was from her injuries. Looking out the front windshield, a long  drive wound its way through a grassy yard dotted with wide-branched trees  toward an older farmhouse set back from the road. Behind the house was a  large barn and beyond that pastures spread off to the right of the house.  Large black horses grazed within the neatly fenced enclosures, a breed that  Cat didn’t recognize. It wasn’t manicured and orderly, but just enough  jumbled to be pleasantly attractive and homey. Cat felt an odd pulling at  her heart, as if she had known this place in the past. It gave her the  strangest feeling, almost of coming home. 

Troy pulled the truck up in front of the house. 

“Here we are, Cat.” 

A large collie bounded out of the house, barking ecstatically. Troy  stepped out of the truck, fending off the collie’s joyous advances. “Down, Cherie,” he told the dog in his deep voice. “We have a  visitor.” 

He reached into the truck, lifting Cat carefully, doing his best not to  jar her wounds. He held her cradled close against his chest with one arm,  the other latching firmly on the collie’s collar, keeping the collie from  jumping at Cat. Cat sensed no aggression from the dog, only friendly  curiosity. 

Troy carried her up the few low, broad steps to the porch, then on  into the house. It was cool inside, air conditioned. Cat looked about her 

with interest. Gorgeous polished red oak floors met her approving gaze, with braided rag rugs scattered about here and there. She only had a  minute to look, as Troy carried her through a dining room into a large, old fashioned kitchen.  

He set her carefully on the kitchen table. Cat wrinkled her nose  fastidiously. Ew, this must be some kind of a “guy” thing. Personally, she  never allowed cats on her table. It was totally unsanitary. 

At a quiet but firm order from Troy, the collie, Cherie, went to lay  down in a corner, the soulful brown eyes fixed on her master as he moved  about the kitchen. Well-trained. That was good. 

“Now, let’s have a look at you, pretty Cat,” he said. He removed the  bandages, exploring the deep bite wounds with a cautious touch. The  probing, careful as he was, hurt her, but she knew he was doing his best not  to hurt her, and she purred at him. 

He opened a cupboard near the back door that she had assumed was  a pantry, but appeared to be full of veterinary supplies. Again, this must be  another guy thing. Most people she knew kept food in their kitchen, but  Troy apparently kept first aid supplies in his. He returned to the table and  smeared antibiotic ointment on the puncture wounds. 

“You’re a pretty, pretty thing,” he told her, his deep voice approving.  “Gentle, too.” 

Huh. Cat’s whiskers twitched in amusement.  

“It’s a damned shame what happened to you,” he went on, talking as  much to himself as to her. That was another thing that she found herself  liking about him. He talked to her as if she were a person, as if she could  understand him. 

“I wonder if they caught the dog that did this. Sounds like a mastiff,  from the description the woman who brought you in gave them. She  offered to pay the bill for you to be fixed up.” 

Cat flicked her ears forward. Well, now wasn’t that interesting? She’d  have to have Douglas get the woman’s name and she could...  “Yowwww!” 

“Sorry, pretty kitty.” The large hands soothed her apologetically.  “Guess that’s sore, huh?” 

He took a clean roll of bandages from his supplies, and wound it  about her ribs and her shoulder, snugly but not too tight. That done, he  stroked her head, his gaze admiring.

“Well, little lady, you got torn up some, but you’ll be fine. Jacinth and  Douglas both assured me you’ve had your rabies vaccine, which is good,  since from the description of that dog, it was a worry.” 

Rabies. Cat considered that for a long moment, her golden eyes  narrowing as she replayed the event in her mind. She hadn’t thought the  dog was rabid, although it had been slavering when it attacked her. No,  something else had been behind that attack. The dog had been set onto her  by someone... or something. Something that was not quite human, and she  had a pretty good idea who... or at least what... it was.  

Troy brought her a bowl of water, and she drank gratefully. He  brought a plate of cat food for her, but she turned her head away in  disgust. She hurt so badly that food held no appeal for her, but even if she  were starving she would never eat such gross stuff. She’d worry about that  later, though, when she felt better. 

After taking the food away, Troy picked her up again and carried her  into the living room, settling her with care on the sofa, pulling an afghan  from where it was draped over a chair and making a nest for her to lay on.  A very nice afghan, too, she thought disapprovingly, even as she made  herself comfortable on it, kneading the soft folds. Probably hand-made, and  with a faint scent of lavender. Perhaps it had been his grandmother’s, it  was that kind of afghan. He should be taking better care of it. 

In the meantime, Troy had disappeared into some other part of the  house, returning shortly with a cat box, which he put in the corner of the  room and filled with litter from a large yellow box. Eww!! Cat wrinkled her  nose. Like she was going to use one of those! 

It hurt too much to curl up, so she stretched out, laying her chin on  her paws. She drowsed, one ear cocked to listen for Troy as he moved  about the house, the collie a constant companion at his heels. After a bit he  returned to the living room, lowering his large form into a large leather  recliner. Cherie whined a bit, then went to lay in a cushioned dog bed  before the hearth, turning herself around and around before settling. 

All the while, Cat turned over her options, considering what she  should do. If she went home, she would have to take care of herself, which  meant Changing... and she suspected her wounds would hurt much, much  worse if she were to try the Change. Or she could stay here, in her cat form,  with Troy until she had healed. That might even be the better idea. He  would take good care of her. Besides, she liked Troy. She liked him, and his 

house, and she wasn’t much inclined to want to leave right now. There  were of course disadvantages to that as well, but she was too tired and hurt  to worry about those right now. But also, just to clinch the matter, if she  stayed in her cat form to heal, she wouldn’t have scars when she returned  to her human form. Shifters never did.  

So that was decided. She would stay here in this spacious farm house  with this gentle giant of a man to look after her, and Cherie to keep her  company. She eyed the collie doubtfully, who was eyeing her with equal  indecision. Cherie was pregnant, Cat realized, noticing the dog’s rounded,  fecund belly. From the size of her, she was due to have pups any day. It was  a testament to Troy’s handling and training that the dog accepted a strange  animal into the household so easily when she was so close to giving birth.  Safe. He made the collie feel safe with him. Cat felt it too. Safe. 

With a sigh, Cat closed her eyes and dozed, only the tip of her tail  swaying to and fro. After watching the news on the large-screen television  mounted on the wall across the room, Troy got up to move through the  house, closing blinds and windows and flipping the lock on the front door.  Cat kept one ear perked, swiveling to follow his passage as he moved past  her into the small hallway and made his way up a narrow staircase to the  upper floor.  

The click-click of toenails on the wooden stairs informed her that  Cherie accompanied Troy upstairs. Good. She felt her muscles relax, not  aware until that moment how apprehensive she’d been to be left alone  downstairs with the dog. Not that Cherie was like the one who’d attacked  her. But it was good that she was upstairs. Cat rose, and gingerly jumped  down from the sofa, her injured body protesting every move. She leapt up  onto the recliner that stood at right-angles to the sofa. The leather wasn't  nearly so soft as the sofa and the comfy afghan, but it was clearly Troy’s  chair, and she snuggled herself into his scent as she reposed herself for the  night. 



About the Author

Allie McCormack is a disabled U.S. military veteran, now pursuing her life-long dream of being a writer. Allie has traveled quite a bit and lived many places all over the U.S., as well as a year in Cairo, Egypt as an exchange student, and a year in Saudi Arabia under contract to a hospital in Riyadh. Allie now lives in wine country in beautiful southern California with her family and two rescue cats.

Allie says: "A writer is who and what I am... a romance writer. I write what I know, and what I know is romance. Dozens of story lines and literally hundreds of characters live and breathe within the not-so-narrow confines of my imagination, and it is my joy and privilege to bring them to life, to share them with others by writing their stories."


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