For the Soul of an Outlaw 2018

By: T S Joyce

“How did she die?” Colt asked.

“Laney wasn’t a mountain lion shifter. She was a bear, and our pairing wasn’t accepted by the Clan I was in. So I tried to take the Clan and force her acceptance. I put her and Gunner at risk going for that Alpha rank, and now she’s…” He swallowed hard. “She ain’t with us anymore.”

“Fuck, man,” Trig whispered so soft Kurt barely heard it. “I didn’t know.”

“No one does. It’s not something I sing from the rooftops. And like I told you, I ain’t lookin’ for pity. If you give it, I’ll hit you both in the dicks with a baseball bat. I’m just telling you…I know that fear. And…well…I’m sorry. Sorry I left like I did. I haven’t had the balls to face the girls yet, but I wanted you to know I’m sorry.”

Genie was coming his way, and she looked like she was going to latch on again. Good God. Kurt stared down at his pant leg, now embraced by one emotional, or rabid, little squirrel.

“Genie, what the fuck are you doing?” Colt asked, staring at his little pet like she’d lost her mind, which clearly, she had.

She didn’t respond other than to nuzzle her face against Kurt’s shin.

“She’s been basically dead for two weeks, and now she’s a hugger?” Colt asked. “She ain’t even biting you! Trig! Are you seeing this? She’s got some kinda disease or something.”

Trig bent down at Kurt’s leg and slowly reached out. “Oh my God, maybe she is finally trained to be a nice squir—”

Genie bit him.

Trigger flinched back and held up his bleeding finger. “Mother fucker,” he whispered, staring at the red drop that welled up on his index. “I was wrong. She’s still a demon.”

Colt slapped his leg and laughed, Genie held on tighter to Kurt’s pantleg, and everything was weird.

“Right,” Kurt muttered. “Well, I’m gonna go say my apologies to the girls, and then we have a flock of crows to murder.”

As he walked away, Colt called out, “It’s funny you say that because a flock of crows is also called a ‘murder.’ I Googled it.”

Kurt glanced down at the little critter who wasn’t letting go of his leg to hide a private smile.

God, he’d missed this place.

Chapter Five

Gunner tromped along in the footprints Kurt made in the soft soil. The mud had dried out some overnight. Kurt couldn’t help himself and looked behind him again, just in time to watch Gunner step into his boot print and pause.


“Yeah, Boy Boy?”

“Someday, I want to have feet as big as yours.”

“Someday your feet will be bigger than mine.”


“Really, really. You have my animal, but you are built like your mother’s people.”

“Will you tell me what animal Mom was yet?”

“How old are you now?”

“More than six.”

Kurt smiled and continued making his way to his truck parked in front of Colt’s little log cabin. “I suppose that’s old enough.”

“Really?” his boy squealed.

“You have a mountain lion, but you also have the blood of a…” Kurt cast him a teasing grin over his shoulder, drawing his answer out.

“Tell me!”

Kurt grinned huge and spun, picked up Gunner, and tossed him high in the air, then caught his giggling boy. “Your mom was a fearsome grizzly.”

Gunner stopped squirming. “What?” His dark brown eyes blazed to green, and he looked stunned.

Kurt shouldn’t have done it this way. He should’ve prepared him better perhaps. “Your mom was so beautiful. Blond hair, and blue eyes. You don’t look much like her, but when she turned into her animal, her eyes turned green, like yours do. She was a grizzly, like Mr. Trig and Mr. Colt.”

When Gunner buried his face against Kurt’s chest, he squeezed his son tight, cupping the back of his head with his big palm. “I maybe should’ve told you sooner, Boy Boy. It’s part of why I like being around the Two Claws Clan. They are like your mom was before she died.”

“You mean before she got killed.”

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