It took a while for my master to show me around the rest of the house and I noted that there were plush beds in almost every room for me to nap on if I so wished. The thought excited me knowing I'd soon have free reign of the house and possibly even the garden if I made sure I was really good for my master. He hadn't said as much but the garden was extra special for me and I hadn't even seen it properly yet!
When it came time to go upstairs I'd looked up at the steep and slippery wood with trepidation. My balance in human form wasn't that good on flat ground, trying to climb up those steps was a feat far out of my comfort zone.
"You can do it, Luci, just take one step at a time, I'll be right beside you the whole way." he encouraged gently and placed a cool hand on the small of my back and offered me his arm to hold onto.
The touch surprised me but it wasn't unwelcome. I remembered what Juan had said about touch and that it could be comforting. Master's hand supporting me did make me feel safer, and that he'd catch me if I stumbled. I decided I'd trust him cautiously, after all, he's done so much for me and always acted like he had my best interests at heart, so I felt it was only fair to give something back.
If he proved I could trust him then I would continue to do so, if not…
I won't let myself think about that.
I did what he said, not focusing on the whole staircase but just one single step, and slowly but surely we began to make our way up the stairs. I'd swayed a few times but my master steadied me and gave me gentle words of encouragement all the way, and was more than happy for me to grab his offered arm and lean on him until I felt confident enough to keep on going.
How had I been so lucky to get a master like this?
I didn't know humans so kind and patient existed.
When we reached the top I felt immense pride in myself, turning at looking down at the stairs, surprised I'd managed to climb them and I felt myself smile, feeling like I could do anything with my master by my side.
"Well done Luci." he praised me in his soft voice and gave me one of his dazzling smiles.
It made me feel all warm inside and I wanted to bound around from how good it made me feel to be praised by my master.
He went ahead again and showed me what was upstairs. It wasn't as interesting as downstairs, just filled with human beds and strange white rooms master explained were bathrooms, where humans cleaned themselves and went to the toilet, how strange.
I did enjoy looking out of the windows and my heart had raced with joy as I got a look at the garden.
It was so much bigger than I was expecting!
There was so much grass, as far as I could see in every direction and in the distance there were lots of trees!
I'd struggled to tear my eyes away, but master's promise about going outside later made it easier.
Master showed me the last room upstairs and I purred as his subtle scent filled my nose, its light sweetness already soothing, paired with ink, coffee and bitter chocolate. It was distinctive but not overpowering and I stepped deeper into the room to explore.
His scent seemed to cover the entirety of the room, so he must spend quite a lot of time here, but then again I spend most of the day sleeping and the night too, but I was a cat.
His bed held the strongest concentration of scent and I stopped in front of it, part of me wanting to jump onto it and roll in his scent. My master was wonderful, I wanted to smell like him and I'd wear his scent with pride.
I felt his cool hands on me again, touching me very gently and fleetingly and guiding me to sit down beside him on the edge of his bed.
My human legs were grateful for the break and I stared up at my master, tilting my head and studying him with interest. My master was strange, but I liked how he was different. Juan and Vet Marshal had been nice enough, they'd never harmed me and had looked after me but my master did so much more.
My master smiled softly at my curious gaze and started to speak. "How are you settling in Luci?"
I returned his smile, thinking that my master was very thoughtful for asking how I was doing. I looked around his room some more, spotting another one of those plush beds that matched the one in my room and my smile widened knowing that I could potentially sleep in here with my master, I think I'd like that, very much so.
"I really like it here master," I answered honestly.
"I'm glad," he murmured and I looked back at him when I felt his cool fingers brush my shoulder, the long and slender digits especially gentle when they touched a rough patch of skin located there, a scar left from when Rico had held a stinging stick against my skin until it had burned. I still remembered the smell of my fur and skin burning, the pain and fear as I was paralysed by electricity, and the shame I'd felt when I'd released my bladder over myself. Anger was surprisingly absent as I recounted the memory and the fear I felt was fleeting.
Being here with my master made the reason for the scar feel like a distant memory, it felt so long ago now and from my master's kind disposition I knew he'd never treat me like Rico did. The growing trust I felt for my master and the cautious ember of safety his home gave was like a balm on my old wounds and allowed me to move on.
I was here with him now, my nice master, I had no need to fear stinging sticks or to be angry at bad keepers.
"What happened Luci?" he wondered softly, the pad of his thumb running over the small scar, a deep frown furrowing his brows and his vibrant green eyes sparked with an emotion I was unfamiliar with.
"A bad keeper hurt me," I whispered, like always I wondered what I'd done to Rico to deserve the pain he'd caused me. He was the only keeper to treat me like that, Juan had always been nice and considerate to my needs and I'd acted no different towards either of them, maybe even worse towards Juan after what Rico did to me, but he never once raised his hand toward me or showed any form of violence or anger, lots of frustration maybe but he'd never gotten angry at me.
I heard the quiet gasp and I stared owlishly at him as he pressed his lips to the scar, his bright green eyes flashing with anger, but not towards me. "Does that bastard still work there." he practically growled and I was stunned at the change in his voice and the vehemency he spoke those words with.
"No master." I shook my head and sighed, knowing I needed to tell him what I did. Rico hurt me, which made him a bad person, but I'd hurt him back, which made me bad too. I didn't want to disappoint my master though. "He came into my cage one-day yelling orders at me and waving his stinging stick around and I got so scared I attacked him." I frowned and looked down at my feet.
I knew that if a pet attacked a human or another pet then they could be killed for it. I remember Vet Marshal pleading my case to the boss, the man had been furious when he found out Rico had scarred his precious merchandise. I never saw Rico again and the boss let me off with a punishment; no food for a week.
Vet Marshal had snuck me morsels of food whenever he could and after that week I met Juan.
I never regretted what I did to Rico, but I knew it was wrong.
"Good, he fucking deserved it." My head shot up and I gawped at my master in shock and surprise, expecting him to reprimand me, not give me praise.
"B-but master, I did a bad thing."
He smiled sadly and gently squeezed my shoulder. "I'm not saying that hurting someone else is a good thing because it's not, but you did what you had to, you protected yourself, and I would never tell you off for that."
I frowned, the boss had told me off many times after, and had made me go a week without food as punishment. None of my keepers were allowed in my cage either and I had to go into a crush cage if I wanted my bed to be cleaned and a new pile of straw put down.
Vet Marshal hadn't said anything about the matter, he kept on acting as he always had, giving me no punishment but no praise either, he just continued to care for me.
"The boss told me off for it and said I wouldn't get food for a week, Vet Marshal didn't though, he just made my wound better and snuck me food when the boss wasn't looking." I smiled fondly at the memory, finding that I missed the softly spoken vet and his stubbornness, then I remembered how he would always bicker with Juan which made me smile. "I met my new keeper after that, he was much nicer."
"Was he the one on the stage with you?"
"Yes." I nodded. "When he said goodbye he told me to give you a chance, I'm glad I listened," I said as I smiled up at my master, forever thankful to Juan for giving me that advice.
I somehow wanted him to know that he'd gotten his wish.
That I had a master that understood me as he hoped I would.
And then some.