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No matter how many times I checked my math, the answer came out the same.
I had flunked my Calculus II mid-term exam so badly that, even if I got straight 100s for the rest of the semester, my final grade would be too low to keep my scholarship. Without it, there was no way my family could pay my tuition at a private liberal arts college like Murchison U.
My roommate Scott heard me groan, and asked what was wrong. I explained, and he let out a low whistle.
"That’s a serious bummer!” he said. “What are you going to do?"
“Transfer to State, I guess.”
“Damn. You‘ve been a good roommate.” He went back to studying, then a few minutes later said, “You need a cougar.”
“A cougar. A rich woman to pay your bills. The female equivalent of a sugar daddy.”
“Oh, stop it!" I yelled, "You want me to prostitute myself to pay for college? That's just wrong! And besides, how the heck could I attract a woman like that?” I was after all, a scrawny, somewhat nerdy engineering major.
He just smiled and went back to his reading, A few days later, he flashed me a big grin and showed me an ad on Craigslist. “Cougar wanted,” it said. “Nice but shy SWM, NS, college student seeks sugar mommy for …” I didn’t bother reading the rest. "Come one!” I said. “Did you place that ad?”
“Yep! And you have a response already!”
It took him a few days to convince me to let him reply for me. The next day, he told me that I had a lunch date Saturday at a Riverwalk café. I almost didn’t go, but I figured, what did I have to lose?
And that is how I met Ashley. I was wearing my best jeans, a halfway decent button-down shirt, and a tie. I was a few minutes late. I’d like to say it was because I missed a bus connection, but it was mostly because I had trouble getting the knot in my tie right.
I walked down the steps from street level to the Riverwalk and saw a slender woman sitting at a table set for two. She had her back to me, so my first impression was dirty blond hair gathered in a sliver clip at neck level, and hanging about halfway down the back of her white silk blouse. She was wearing a denim skirt just barely too short and tight for modesty, and knee high, snug-fitting cowboy boots.
I walked up to the table, and she smiled up at me. “Are you Jake?” she asked. Her turquoise pendant matched the color of her eyes. She was somewhere in her mid-thirties, and very attractive, but not quite gorgeous. That was a relief. I always get awkward and tongue-tied around beautiful women. “Yes, ma’am,” I replied.
“Then, have a seat. And lose the tie,” she said. “And don’t call me ma’am.” To be honest, I was glad she told me to take the tie off. I hated wearing ties. To me, ties are like inverted nooses. Also, it was getting rather warm in the sun. We spent a while in small talk, and then the waiter came over. She ordered for me, something Italian sounding and a glass of wine. I started to say that I was under 21, but she silenced me with a look. The waiter certainly looked like he wasn’t going to ask any questions.
The meal was delicious. It was a mixture of fresh vegetables, pasta and steak in a red sauce. Not a jar sauce you’d buy down in the HEB supermarket, but a sauce made from freshly diced tomatoes, herbs and red wine. We chatted some more while finishing out meals. After the waiter cleared the plates, her demeanor changed. Suddenly all business, she asked, “So, Jake, what do you want from me?”
Instantly, a cat got my tongue. I had no idea what to say. Eventually, I managed to tell her the story about failing my Calc mid-term, losing my scholarship and my roommate’s solution.
“So, you’re looking for someone to pay your way through college,” she said.
“I don’t know what I’m looking for, ma’am. It‘s just that I like Murch U., and I want to finish my degree there, and I don‘t know how to pay for it. When Scott said he‘d set up a date for me, I figured I could always say no if I felt uncomfortable about it. The worst I would be out an afternoon and the price of my lunch.”
“What’s Scott’s phone number?” she asked, pulling a high-end smartphone from her purse. I told her, and she called him. First, she verified that Scott had indeed placed the Craigslist ad and set me up. Then, it sounded like she was checking a job candidate’s references. She thanked Scott, put her phone in her purse, then looked at me for several long, awkward minutes.
“I’m actually a Murch alumna, class of ‘89, so I understand why you’d want to stay. I like you, Jake. I’ll tell you what. You’re tuition is paid through the end of the semester, right? Let’s consider that a probationary period. If we get along, and you work hard for me, and pull up your math grade as best you can, I’ll think about sponsoring you for the fall semester. In return, I’ll require your company once or twice a week as my personal assistant. If it doesn‘t work out, well, I know someone in the Admissions Office at State.”
So, that is how it started. Once or twice a week or so, I helped her out. I set up A/V equipment at her business meetings, provided company for dinner, ran errands for her, and was her general all-around gofer. The one thing I was both hoping for and afraid of never happened. She never invited me to her bedroom. In fact, she only touched me a handful of times, and never flirted or even hinted at sex.
She called me into her office after finals were over. She said, “You know, you’ve been a good worker. I’m not sure I’d have gotten the Boerne contract without you. Also, I talked to Dr. Drake, and he said you managed to pull off a B-. He was impressed, given your midterm grade. So, it seems like you fulfilled your part of our bargain. Now, whatever you decide about college, I’d like to keep you on for next year. Do you still want to go to Murch next year?”
I nodded my head yes. “Good” She put a piece of paper in front of me. “This is a contract. It says that I will pay your tuition for the fall semester. In return, you agree to work as my personal assistant. You will also maintain a B average, and add a minor in business administration to your engineering classes. Also, within ten years of graduation, you will find a student in a similar position to yourself, and help them as I will be helping you. If you do not satisfy these terms, you will repay me. Is that acceptable?”
“Um, do you have a pen I could use?” I signed the contract, and she signed her name beside mine. Then, she pulled out an envelope and handed it to me. Inside was a check for the fall semester’s tuition, minus what financial aid I had managed to keep.
“You’ll still be responsible for room, board and fees,” she said. I wasn’t about to complain. “Now, one other thing. If you are going to be my assistant next year, you’ll need more reliable transportation than the bus or your bike.” She handed me another envelope. Inside it were a set of keys, and the title, registration and insurance for a five year old Civic. “Consider it your bonus for helping me get that contract. I assume you can drive a manual? No? Well then, I’ll just have to teach you!” We spent the rest of the afternoon in the car, learning how to drive it.
My parents were not at all happy about the deal. They thought Ashley was using me for something. They didn't know what, but they didn't trust her motives. They also didn’t like the fact that I would be with an older woman. It didn't matter that I said we'd never had sex. In the end, though, I convinced them that a deal was a deal, and I couldn’t back out.
The fall semester passed much like the end of the previous spring, with me as her gofer and A/V squad, as well as occasional dinner dates and other non-work occasions. I learned a lot that I would never have learned at the university: how to read people, how to read a legal document, how to cook, how to choose a good wine, how to dress well. It was quite an education.
I also helped out once in a while at her ranch in the hill country, clearing brush or restoring the old stone ranch house. She was trying to exterminate invasive salt cedar from her ranch, and it was a lot of hard work. One day, I looked down at some ground still damp from the rain a few days before, and saw what appeared to be a big cat track. She said it was a bobcat. I wasn’t so sure. It looked awfully big.
I went to the Army/Navy store the next day and bought a Ka-Bar. I knew I wouldn’t need it for a bobcat, and it wouldn’t help against a puma. Still, carrying it made me feel better when we were clearing brush. It made her laugh.
As I got to know her, I occasionally caught glimpses behind the facade she showed the world. She wasn't the strong, independent, self-sufficient businesswoman she liked people to think she was. Every once in a while, she'd see a happy couple, and a lonely, wistful look would come over her face for just an instant. Once in a great while, she'd start flirt with me, stop suddenly and deny it ever happened.
The weeks turned into months. We renewed our contract for the spring semester. My parents still didn’t like it. They did come up for Parent’s weekend to meet Ashley. She must have made a good impression, because their disapproval faded after that.
Shortly after Spring Break, she said she had arranged a summer internship for me with a friend’s engineering company. I said, “Thanks, that’s great, but where will I stay? The dorms will be closed, and my parents live too far away to commute.”
“You can stay with me.”
And that’s how I ended up at her ranch one night in late May. After a wonderful dinner that we had cooked together, and more wine than I was used to, she started getting all flirty with me. I expected her to stop like always, but she didn't. Coming off the stress of final exams, I suppose I was more susceptible to seduction. One thing led to the next, and, the next thing I knew, I was flat on my back on her four-post bed, buck naked. The old floor-to-ceiling doors were open, and the curtains fluttered in the breeze. She was kneeling over me, naked and half-illuminated by the full moon’s light and candlelight, saying, “Do you trust me?”
“Yes,“ I said. Get a 20 year guy old somewhat drunk and very hot and bothered, and he’ll say yes to just about anything a good looking woman asks.
She took one of my hands, and stretched it up over my head. With her other hand, she felt under her pillow, and pulled out a leather wrist cuff on a strap. She fastened it around my wrist, then did the same with my other arm. She did the same thing with my ankles. She then straddled my thighs and wrapped both hands around my cock. “Comfy?” she asked as she kneaded with her strong fingers. I was too distracted to reply with anything but a low moan.
She dug her nails into the tender skin along the underside of my cock. I gasped. I was about to complain, but rather than deflating, I had never been harder. She raised herself up onto her knees, shifted a bit, then impaled herself on me. She was hot, wet and tight. Hotter and tighter than anyone I had ever been with before. Not that I was very experienced.
I moaned again and closed my eyes. She lifted up again, and something sharp dragged against the top of my cock as she did so. I instantly sat up, or would have if my arms hadn’t been strapped down. “What the fuck!” I yelled as I looked down. Two thin scratches ran the length of my cock, with beads of blood forming. “Why the heck did you do that? Let me go!”
“I’m afraid I can’t, Jake. Not anymore. If I did, I’d have to kill you. And I like you too much to do that.”
She sank back down, and her vaginal wetness stung in the scratches. “You see, Jake,” she said as she leaned forward, the candles on the nightstands shining on her face, “I’m not exactly human, and soon you won’t be either.”
As she said this, her irises changed from pale blue to green-flecked gold. The changes progressed outwards from there. Her eyelids turned black, and the outer corners shifted upwards. Her nose grew broader, then longer as her upper lip became fleshier and her jaws extended. Her ears became thin, pointed, and migrated back and up. She sat up again, and her breasts shrank until they were mostly nipple. Two rows of dark spots appeared below them, then grew into additional nipples.
She sat there for a moment, with her hands resting on my belly. Each finger ended in a sharp, hooked claw.
“I’m a shape shifter, a were-cougar. And now you will be too. It’s transmitted by exchange of bodily fluids. I could have bitten you, but I thought this would be more … fun. With my vashinal wetnesh in your bloodshtream, you will be a were-cougar, thoo!” She laughed, showing off long fangs and sharp incisors.
“You know, I wash thinking abouth thath Craigthlith ad.” Her diction was becoming slurred as her mouth became more and more catlike. “You really shoulth be carefull whath you athk for, jutht in cathe you geth ith!” By this time, he body was covered in pale brown fur, and her internal temperature became even hotter.
My mind was torn. I wanted to rip out the straps and run. I wanted her to keep fucking me. I didn’t want to come and release the only control I had left. I couldn’t wait until I did. I was on the edge of panic when I finally orgasmed, my cock pulsing and throbbing inside what was now almost entirely a cougar. Only a few faint vestiges of humanity were still visible - fingers on her front paws, and a deeper brainpan than normal for a feline. She lay down on me and pushed her nose into my face. Her tail flicked between my ankles. Her whiskers tickled as she rubbed her cheeks on mine.
“Scent marking me, claiming me as yours? I asked. She lifted her head, and nodded. All of a sudden, I had to laugh. She tilted her head as if to ask, “What?”
“I just came in a pussy pussy!” She crinkled her nose at me, and proceeded to lick my face with her very rough tongue.
The next morning, I woke up with my cock in something hot, wet and vibrating. It took me a minute to realize what was going on - the most incredible blowjob I’d ever gotten. She was purring! Between that and the incredible things her coarse tongue did to me, I quickly exploded into her mouth. She cleaned me off with her tongue, then licked her lips. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized I wasn’t tied down anymore.
“There is a serious advantage to being one of the smaller cats,” she said. “Lions and tigers and leopards get all the press, but they can’t give purr jobs! Come on, breakfast is ready. Let’s eat while I explain.”
Breakfast was delicious, as usual. As we ate, she told me that she had been an ROTC cadet until she was diagnosed with advanced hepatitis during her sophomore year. She lost her ROTC scholarship, and would have had to withdraw from Murch hadn’t one of her doctors taken her under his wing. Soon after, she let him seduce her, only to find herself being forced by a cougar. He was apologetic after, and taught her how to control her inner beast, but she never again let her guard down around him. And, until the previous night, had restricted herself to a few one-night stands with other were-folk.
“You know,” she said, “I wasn’t joking last night. When I said I’d have to kill you. It’s one of the few laws all weres have in common. Anyone who knows we exist must become one of us, or die. Had I let you go, we’d both be hunted down and killed.”
She stopped spreading jam on her toast and put it down. “I’m sorry, Jake, truly I am. It’s just that I’ve been so alone. I can’t undo what I did to you last night. I wish I could have given you a choice.” I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.
After that, we went our separate ways to work: me to my internship, her to her office. Afterward, I returned to the ranch to find her sitting on the patio, with wet eyes. I wasn’t sure yet how I felt about what she had done to me, but I still cared for her.
I sat next to her, and she said, “After Dr. Hennessey changed me, I felt like I had been raped. Yes, the sex was completely consensual, but what came with it… was very much like a rape. And now, I've done the same thing to you. I feel so guilty. Can you forgive me?" She looked so miserable, so apologetic, that I took her in my arms, and kissed her tears away. Eventually, we were kissing, then she made love to me with an abandon that can only come from denying yourself for fifteen years.
Then something she had said clicked. “You had unprotected sex with me, and you have hepatitis?” I almost screamed it at her.
She laughed at me. That made me even madder. She actually laughed at me.
“I turned you into a fucking werecat, and you’re worried about hepatitis?” She continued more quietly. “Jake, The virus can’t survive in a felid body, and most cougar diseases can’t survive in humans. About the only thing we have to worry about are rabies and toxoplasmosis. Avoid rabid animals, don‘t eat rats and wash your hands after changing a litter box, and you don‘t really have to worry about infectious disease at all.”
We spent the next several weeks like that. She’d wake me with a blowjob or sex, we’d go off to work, then come home for more. In between, she told me what to expect on the next night of the full moon. Eventually, she said, I’d be able to control it and change at will regardless of the moon phase, but for the next six months or so, I should plan on spending full moon nights at the ranch.
During that time, I felt something strange building within me. Some sort of tension, or static electric energy. It felt like every nerve I had was buzzing with fear or with anticipation, I couldn’t tell which. Probably both. She enrolled me in meditation and tai chi lessons, and that was the only thing that really eased the itch. Well, that and sex.
The morning of the full moon, I woke up before she did for a change. I was near bursting with the tension within me. I figured it was time to pay her back for all the wakeup calls she had given me. I slowly spread Ashley’s legs apart, then kissed the slit between them, at first gently, then with more and more pressure as her labia swelled and dampened. I licked and sucked and prodded with my tongue until I felt her spasm. Before the last wave crested, I flipped her on to her stomach, then took her from behind. Before long, she came again with me inside her. It felt so good that I followed shortly thereafter. I collapsed on top of her as we basked in the orgasm afterglow.
She lifted herself up on one elbow to look over her shoulder at me, smiled, and kissed me. Then she reached over to her handbag and pulled out a compact. She opened it up and held it so I could see myself in the mirror. My brown eyes had lightened to cougar gold.
I called in sick, and we spent most of the day clearing salt cedar. By the end of the day, I felt like I was holding a live wire or something. I heard a flutter behind me, and by reflex turned to look. My eye was immediately caught by the motion of a sparrow flying overhead. After it passed, I smelled its scent wafting down. All day, I was being distracted by the local wildlife. All the time I had helped her on her ranch, I had never noticed how much of it there was. Now, every rustle, every scent on the breeze, every glimpse of motion caught my attention. Late in the afternoon, we spooked a rabbit, and I almost started chasing it. Ashley laughed, put her arms around me and said “I’ve done that, too. Come on, it’s almost time.”
With the sun getting low in the sky, she led me to a secluded clearing near the creek. We undressed each other, then sat down to wait. The setting sun made everything glow, including her body. Her scent filled my nostrils. I reached for her. She put her arms around me, gave me a hug, and said, “Not now. Later, I promise.” She was still holding me as the nervous tension inside me jumped in a sudden crescendo. I looked up, and saw the moon rising over the hill across the valley. “It’s okay, baby. I’m here with you. I’ll be with you.” She kept murmuring reassurances in my ear. It started in my groin where she had - is infected the right word? - well, infected me. My cock and balls retreated backwards between my legs. My cock was slowly being enveloped by a sheath. As I watched, the tip disappeared inside it. Next to change were my fingertips. I felt pressure inside them. My fingernails grew thicker and longer and hooked into wickedly sharp claws. Then I felt the same thing in my toes. My toenails became claws, then my toes bent upwards as my foot bones lengthened. Then, I felt the same pressure in my jaws. First, my canines expanded in girth and length. I ran my tongue over my new fangs. The pressure grew to fill my lower face. I felt my jaws extending forward, pushed out by the pressure within. My nose broadened and suddenly, I was overwhelmed by the scents surrounding me. I focused on Ashley’s scent. Her odor, her words whispered in my ears, her arms around me kept me grounded, sane, as my ears were dragged backwards and upwards through my skull.
I became aware of pressure in my chest. It grew until it felt like my breastbone was being pulled away from my spine, and my ribs were being crushed in from side to side. With a wrenching, painful crack, my ribs rearranged themselves into the ovoid shape of the felid torso. My arms drooped and I panicked a bit until I recalled that the front legs of felids are not attached to the rest of the skeleton. I felt the muscles in my shoulders rearrange themselves to support my arms, which were rapidly becoming forelegs. My skin itched intolerably for what felt like an eternity. I looked down, and saw tawny fur growing. Soon, it covered my body. Then, with a sensation somewhere between a full-body toothache and a mind-blowing, toe-curling orgasm, the rest of my body followed.
You know the feeling of release when the last item of clothing comes off, and you're finally fully naked for the first time with a new lover? That's what it felt like. I felt free.
It’s hard to describe what happened after that. It’s not that I don’t remember what happened. I can’t find the words to describe it. My best guess is, as the changes penetrated into my brain, I lost the use of language. Ashley’s murmured reassurances became a buzz. This scared me more than anything else had. Was I losing my identity, the memories and skills and experiences that made me who I am? Until then, I could think of myself as a human in a cougar body. Now I was losing that, too,
I panicked and tried to run, but my four legs betrayed me. I couldn’t coordinate them, and fell painfully on my snout. Ashley let me go, and got down on her hands and knees. She shifted into a cougar herself. It was the first time I got to watch her shift since that night four weeks before. I had been a bit distracted then. I was amazed by how fluid it looked, compared to how it felt when I changed. After I regained my feet, she led me into the bushes. I stumbled at first, but soon walking on four legs seemed natural.
We spent the night prowling her ranch. She taught me how to walk, run, pounce, and climb on four legs instead of two, how to use night vision, smell and hearing to navigate instead of stumbling around in the dark. Towards dawn, she brought down a yearling buck, and I tasted hot blood for the first time. It was wonderful.
Then she led me back to the clearing by the creek where we had first changed. We made love in the dawn sunlight as we regained our humanity. Over the summer, she taught me how to be a cougar, without losing my identity in the cougar mind.