by: Judge and Alanna Rodriguez
Hello one, hello all! Thank you very much for joining us this month as we release the next chapter of the Romeo and Juliet story.
It is our most sincere hope you had a safe, happy, and blessed new year. On to the story!
Juliet glares at the growling mutt. “I mean it. If you stay away from me and my babies, you might not get hurt after all.”
“You’re not part of my pack.” The dog’s growl gets deeper, more menacing.
“Bruno! Be nice to the kitties!” Nate’s voice is sharp as he taps a finger on the doberman’s nose.
Bruno looks up uncertainly, lip-curl beginning to slowly lower.
Juliet gives the human a slow blink, showing her affection for the one and only human she trusts.
Bruno growls at her and receives another tap on the muzzle, this one hard enough to make his teeth clack together sharply.
Juliet purrs and rubs her side against the man’s leg.
Bruno growls out, “Still not part of my pack,” to which he gets another tap.
Juliet gives Bruno a hard glare. “Look, you don’t want to end up like Mephistopheles, the guard before you. Just leave my family alone and we’ll get along just fine.”
Bruno cocks his head in curiosity.
With one one more rub against Nate’s leg, Juliet purrs, “Later.”
Bruno huffs out, “fine,” turns and leaves the warehouse to stand sentry by the gate.
Nate reaches down and strokes Juliet’s back. “Just let me know if he cause you any more grief. Okay?”
Juliet purrs and rubs against his leg one final time, then bounds up the stairs to her little ones.
As she reaches the top of the stairs, she glances down and sees Nate smiling at her, before turning and leaving the building himself.
When she gets to her nesting place, her babies are all snuggled together, napping in a puddle of fur, flesh, and stuttering purrs.
Juliet walks around, checking to make sure that mutt can’t gain access to her babies, then curls up next to the puddle and purrs herself to sleep.
Juliet’s first mistake was to leave her nest during the day, when the warehouse is open. She hadn’t realized it when she left the comfortable nook in the far corner of the warehouse, where Mephistopheles couldn’t reach her. Her second mistake was to allow herself get distracted by the noisy humans while they were going about their day.
As Juliet made her way to the food and water bowls, she heard the yowl of her mate simply screaming one word: run.
Juliet turned to look behind her and saw the hulking menace of a growling dog. She could only stand stock-still for a full three breaths, before bolting in the opposite direction of her nest. She twisted this way and that, even dodged what the humans call a forklift.
Mephistopheles stayed on her heels. Close enough she could almost feel his breath on her tail. Finally, after running throughout the whole warehouse a couple of times, Romeo stood right in front of her.
When her mate saw her coming around the corner, he bolted toward the mutt, leaping toward Mephistopheles at just the right moment to land on the dog’s back with all of nature’s weapons bared, shredding skin, fur and flesh.
Juliet made a bee-line for her nest. The run made her babies nervous enough to start moving around in her belly, so she knew she needed to go quiet them.
She nestled into the comfortably dark and enclosed space very quickly. Her paws bent and flexed her claws out, expecting to see a brown muzzle trying to reach her, even here, in her safe place.
After several breathless moments, Juliet heard Romeo’s searching mews.
She gave him an answering trill, letting him know where she was.
He entered their little alcove and rubbed faces with her. Although his sides were heaving, he seemed to be all right.
She nuzzled her mate. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I was so thirsty, I just didn’t think he was going to go after me like that.”
Romeo stayed silent for several moments, then took a bracing breath. “You scared me. I thought I’d lost you. Please don’t do that again.”
Juliet began trembling all over. This wasn’t her first run-in with the devil incarnate, but was the closest she’d ever come to dying. Now, there’s not only herself to think about, but her babies as well. She sighed. “Yes, dear. I know. I’m sorry for scaring you.”
Romeo sighed. “It’s alright my love. I was scared. Please wait until the humans leave for the night, before venturing out. We’ll need to give Mephistopheles a few days to cool off before we can try to go out during the day.”
Juliet awakens when her little ones seek her out to try and find some food. Knowing they are old enough to start hunting on their own, she denies them her milk, much to their annoyance.
She leads the mewling herd of hungry young ones to an area where she knows crickets are. She works on her lessons in teaching them how to find their own food, so she can remove their dependence on her milk.
It’s late in the evening, just before nightfall, that Juliet leaves the warehouse, knowing how to avoid detection. She finds a place close to where Bruno’s resting place is, but out of reach of the lithe mongrel.
When she finds a comfortable resting place, she calls out, “Are you ready to talk yet? Or do you want to continue trying to hurt my babies?”
Bruno lays his head back down on his front paws. “What do you want?” he sulks. “Didn’t you rub my muzzle in the human’s preference for you enough earlier?”
Juliet looks down at the young dog with pity. He’s not wanting to kill her or her babies, he’s simply jealous of her attention. She sighs. “I’ll tell you what. I will do the same thing my mate did with your predecessor: bring you a mouse a day to help you stay strong.”
Bruno gives her an incredulous look. “Why would you do that? Don’t you have to feed your little ones as well?”
Juliet can feel the tip of her tail twitching in irritation. “Yes, but they are learning to hunt on their own. Do you promise not to try and hurt any of us?”
Bruno grumbles something under his breath.
“What was that?”
Bruno looks up the pile at her, with his eyelids drooping. “I said, ‘do whatever you want. I can’t stop you at all.’ Is that alright?”
Juliet begins to purr. “I know you’re mad now, but it will get better. I promise.”
Judge Rodriguez and his wife Alanna are currently co-authoring the Legends of the Landrun Series available in e-book, paperback, and now in hardback format. They can be found here.