After a thorough clean I dozed in the sun on the plush and unbelievably soft bed my master had given me. A low purr continuously rumbled in my throat, eyes lidded and tail flicking languidly in contentment.
The air from the open window was cool and fresh, fragranced by the grass, flowers and other parts of nature. The cool breeze felt amazing as it stirred my fur, so different from the breeze-less air I was used to, air that was pungent with bodily fluids so much so that it burned my nose and caused a headache to settle behind my eyes.
The sun's rays warmed my fur and I bathed in it, it felt so warm and nice, allowed me to relax fully and drag me deeper into my slumber. I stretched out my body as much as possible, groaning softly at the heavenly feeling, I felt boneless and entirely relaxed, this would definitely become one of my favourite spots to snooze.
I could imagine myself floating amongst the clouds, weightless, warm and cushioned with softness.
My stomach was perfectly full, the delicious taste of my recent meal still lingering on my taste buds and I licked at my mouth and lips to further savour the opulent morsels I'd dined on. Having a master as rich as mine never felt so appealing.
If this is what I had to look forward to every day... and more...
I didn't even know this luxury was possible, after seventeen years of concrete floors, metal bars, straw beds and chicken bones, this felt too good to be true, like a dream.
To think I could have been living this lavish life sooner made me dislike the boss even more, he'd locked me away in such squalor, I'd suffered at the hands of some of his keepers and lived a life of loneliness and isolation, driven to acts of defensive aggression just to feel some semblance of safety.
After a few hours of light dozing, I stretched out my paws and groaned, more than happy to lounge here all day, but I longed to explore this room that was now my own. I rolled onto my full and content belly and forced myself up and off my plush new bed, stretching out the sleepiness in my limbs as I took a few steps, my jaw opening wide as I yawned and I shook off the last dregs of sleep.
I craned my head up, eyes gazing at the maze of platforms on the walls, my tail swishing from curiosity and excitement, ears perked up and alert. I barely held my body back from wiggling, I just wanted to bound around on the vertical playground my master had made for me.
I padded over to the ramp, dipping my head to sniff and inspect the twine-wrapped wood. Once satisfied I slowly and cautiously placed my first paw on it, then the other, staring up at the first platform, my eyes flitting from the ramp to the platform, calculating the distance and the jump I needed to make.
A trilled purr escaped me as my excitement continued to grow, my eyes following the vertical path, figuring out the route I'd take.
I easily hopped up onto the first platform, looking over the edge and down at the floor, feeling a little anxious as I'd never had the opportunity to climb before, but it felt exhilarating, and I was no scaredy-cat.
I lifted my tail, feeling the air part for the long and slender limb, knowing I'd need it to balance. I lowered my body into a crouch, a loud mewl bursting from my throat as I shot off, my strong back legs propelling me up to the next platform, my front legs barely touching it before I was leaping onto the next.
My body sang with happiness and joy, urging me to go faster. Being able to move like this, muscles I hadn't been able to use aching in the best way as I put them to work, allowing me to climb higher and leap further, around and around the room until I came to the nest high up in a corner.
My chest heaved as I panted, my body wasn't used to such exercise, but it made me feel alive.
A circular hole had been made in the wooden board that faced me, making up one of the walls of the nest. I could see the straw generously stuffed inside and wondered how my master had gotten it in there.
The light in the nest was dim and cosy, the air cool, perfect for burrowing into the straw.
I poked my head in, seeing a second, smaller platform overlooking the base of the box, just about big enough for me to sprawl across if I was so inclined.
I jumped in, the soft straw rustling and decompressing under my weight, a thick layer of it between my paws and the base of the nest. I sniffed the inside of the box all over, wanting to know every spot of my little hideaway, purring in likeness and the familiar and comforting smell of straw.
The straw did feel... it was softer than I remembered, the stalks wide and flat, and extra sweet smelling... even the straw was of better quality.
I felt thoroughly spoiled by my master, all of this was beyond my wildest dreams and I'd only been with my master for a few hours and only seen a fraction of his house and the grounds that surrounded it, who knows what else I'd find in my new home?
The room had darkened, the orange glow of the setting sun filled the room, my head shooting up out of the pile of straw I'd buried myself under at the sound of the door to the room opening.
"Luci?" my master's voice called.
I stood up and hurriedly shoved my head out of the circular hole to the nest box, looking down and seeing my master looking around, a familiar frown forming on his face the longer he searched.
A chirp escaped my throat as I hopped out of the nest and raced down the platforms to my master, happy to see the generous and kind human, enough that I was tempted to give his face a long lick and nuzzle our noses together when I reached the ground.
"Look at you go," he murmured in awe, a blinding smile transforming his features.
My paws touched the lush carpet and I padded over to my master, snuffing and squinting my eyes in greeting, my tail quivering slightly for the man that seemed to be breaking down my walls in hours, something Juan and Vet Marshal hadn't been able to do in years.
I circled around him, keeping up some of the momentum from my race down the platforms, gradually slowing down into a slow saunter.
My side brushed up against his legs and I looked back at him, meeting his vivid green eyes that were crinkled in the corners from the smile on his lips. My tail gently hit the side of his leg and I nudged him with my hip before taking a few steps and twisting around, sitting on my haunches a little ways from my master.
He might have charmed me with all the gifts and the opulent room, his general demeanour and apparent kind nature but I was still wary. I needed to remember that I'd only known him for a short time and to wait for more of his colours to show before I put my trust in him and allowed myself to like him.
I was by no means fragile, but prematurely putting my faith in this human and allowing myself to be vulnerable around him would make me so. I couldn't forget the scars I bore, both physical and mental because of humans, no matter how nice my master appeared to be.
A week went by and I was struggling not to let my walls crumble completely around my master.
He'd kept me in my room, and although I would have liked to explore the rest of the house sooner I understood the need for me to settle in.
I had become very comfortable in my room, which now smelt strongly of my scent, mostly from me rubbing against every surface I could.
My master kept the room clean without being intrusive to my space, the large room allowing me to not be so territorial but he never outright approached me or touched anything he didn't need to. He refreshed my water twice a day to coincide with my two meals and made sure that my toilet box was always clean, ensuring the room never smelled, which I was incredibly grateful for.
I got used to the routine, so when my master entered my room at a time he never had before I was immediately alert.
He smiled reassuringly at me, obviously noticing that he'd startled me.
I had been napping on my bed and enjoying the late morning sun, my breakfast slowly digesting in my stomach, each meal after the first he'd given me just as good and there was never a chicken bone in sight.
"Could you shift for me, Luci?" My master requested and I tilted my head, wondering why he wanted me to shift, but I liked that it had been a request rather than a demand. I was hesitant about being in human form around him, saying goodbye to Vet Marshal and shifting on the stage at the auction had been special cases.
My master had been nice to me, incredibly so. I was slowly learning to trust him but I questioned his intentions.
There were really only two reasons for a pet-shifter to be in human form, one, to talk, two... I snorted loudly and shook my head, I wasn't even going to think about that, such an act with a human... They were creatures of debauchery, taking a natural act and overindulging to the point that the reason for the act was unimportant and an undesirable outcome.
I highly doubted that was what my master asked me to shift for but there was an odium of doubt in the back of my mind that made me reluctant.
"No?" he inquired in a soft voice, even more so than his usual velvety tone.
He looked disappointed more than anything, a little hurt maybe but not even a flicker of anger showed on his face.
He let out a disheartened sigh and gave a slow nod before making a move to leave my room, accepting my decision.
I felt a painful twinge in my chest, guilt overriding any and all emotions.
I suddenly felt terrible for denying his request. He never asked anything of me since he brought me home and has given me so much, and yet I can't even shift into my human form for him?
The change took over my body and in an instant, my human self sat where my jaguar once was. "Master! Wait!" I blurted out in a panic, the door about to close behind him.
The door stopped closing, then slowly started to open, my master's face coming into view as he rested his cheek against the door frame, a gentle smile tugging on his lips.
I stared at him, frozen, in awe at the sight of the open and enchanting smile, the late morning sun streaking in from the window, making him light up, his hair turning golden and his eyes seeming to glow, warmth taking over his pale complexion and bathing him in yellow light.
I was struck by the beauty of this moment, my master had always had this... pull, but I've never felt it so strongly, it was almost magnetic.
He held out his hand. "Come, Luci, let me show you around." His smooth and soft voice was like a gentle balm to my ears and I felt my racing heart slow.
My eyes blinked leisurely as I gazed in his direction, my body almost moving on its own, struggling a little at first to get my long human legs beneath me. I made it to my feet and shuffled a little unsteadily towards him, gratefully taking his offered hand and the stability that came with it.
"Did you not shift much at the auction house?" he wondered as he slowly led me into the hallway, the light was dimmer here, but then again my room was a suntrap, something I loved about it.
He hummed in the back of his throat as he guided me towards the front of the house until I saw the familiar wooden door and the red-tiled entryway.
We didn't go down that hallway though, walking past the stairs and into a bright open room. There were many shiny appliances and places for storage, slabs of wood on top, countertops I think they were called? This was a kitchen, for preparing food.
Off the kitchen was a room with a large table surrounded by chairs but Master didn't linger in there, continuing on to the next room. It looked cosy, decorated with warm colours and comfy-looking chairs and benches scattered around, a reflective dark screen that reminded me of a phone but much larger was on top of a cabinet.
I was more interested in the glass box on the other end of the room, the midday sun flooded into the small room and I could see the outside through the glass walls. It was so beautiful.
Master caught me gazing at all the green past the glittering glass and squeezed my hand. "I'll take you outside later," he promised and I nodded with a wide smile, almost giddy with anticipation.
I wanted to feel the cool and tickly grass on the pads of my paws again, really feel the breeze as it rustled through the trees. I wanted to see the blue sky again and the fluffy white clouds, and feel the beating sun warming my fur. I also wanted to run, really stretch my legs and see what my jaguar could really do, I wanted to feel free.