Behind him the barking continued relentlessly. They’d be upon him soon unless he figured out a way of retracting his tails. Once his tails were out of sight, they’d lose his scent.
Húlí rushed toward the wooden door, hoping it was unlocked and that whoever lived there had vacated the place. Once he was inside, he’d be temporarily protected from the hounds’ sense of smell long enough to calm down and get rid of his tails. At least that’s what he hoped.
Busting through the unlocked door, Húlí uttered a quiet thank you, the momentum almost throwing him into the roaring fire in the hearth directly across from the entrance.
“Who the hell are you?” a voice exploded behind him.
Shit! The house was not empty after all. Awesome. Now I have to deal with this human too.
“Close the fucking door,” Húlí begged, bracing his hands on his knees and trying hard to regain his composure. Even a fox like him got winded after such an intense chase.
“Not unless you tell me who you are,” the human male said.
Húlí turned halfway to look at him. Couldn’t he see his red tails, gloriously—and unwisely—unfurled behind him? Right, he couldn’t. Húlí had no control over the scent his tails exuded but he could glamour them from humans.
“I’m being chased,” he sputtered, trying to catch his breath. “Please, can you close the door? I will tell you everything afterward.”
The male, a tall young specimen with a mop of dark curly hair carelessly gathered into a high ponytail hesitated for a heartbeat before doing as he was asked.
“Thank you,” Húlí whispered, a sigh of relief escaping his lips. Now, he could slow his heart down and cut the trail of his scent. Brushing off the dust from his clothing, he took deep breaths and checked for damage caused by the chase. His arms and hands were scratched and bleeding, leaving a trail of red stains on his light blue long tunic. “Shit. Now I will have to trash my clothes. I liked this shan yi.” His outrage only grew when he found a large rip on his left side where one of the hounds had sunk its teeth in. “Damn dogs.”
Húlí shook himself off, his tails swooshing as he moved. Good, they’re retracting. The sound of his pursuers was getting closer, but he wasn’t as worried anymore. In a few more seconds, his scent would be back to human only and the hounds would lose his track. He lifted his gaze to the other man and was surprised to meet a pair of intense lavender eyes studying him.
“Who are you?” the man asked, crossing his arms over his chest. He cocked his head to the side. “Why are you being chased by the hounds?” There was sharp intelligence in those beautifully shaped eyes; they were finely cut jewels that glinted in the dim light of the fire.
Not jewels. Petals of a lotus flower. Exquisite.
“It’s a long story,” Húlí muttered, one last swoosh telling him his tails were finally fully hidden. “I don’t want to bore you with it.”
The stranger anchored his feet solidly on the ground and twisted his full lips into a half smile. “I have all day and nothing interesting to do.”
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Thank you for sharing ❤️