Excerpt

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Chapter 1

"I'm 27 years old and thought that making choices would become easier. The same goes for the changes in my life. Professionally, my life is going well, but privately.? Surviving is a constant struggle I'm not sure I'll be able to continue on like this. Choices change. Can I now make the right ones I need to do more than survive?" - Sarah.

"I swear some choices are designed to send one crazy. Any form of justice doesn't enter into the equation when life throws changes at us. Sometimes the only choice is to not go with one's first preference. Sometimes one needs to exercise a degree of control. Sometimes the only choice is to try to change the predicted outcome in a manner one would think of last." - Kaelan.

"With the changes thrown at me during the past few years, I've learnt to think things through. Making a home in a new country is not an easy choice, but it's done to be with those one calls family. Occasionally, one just has to make the choice to jump in with both feet, hold on tight and fight for what you want. Changes and choices are fine but, sometimes, it's to hell with what's expected and just go for what you want." - Itztecpatl.

~*~

It was March, the beginning of autumn, and felt like it was still summer. However, it was taking the Americans of the coterie a lot to get used to the backward seasons in Australia. Living through their first Christmas during summer had Orenda's Jaguars spending the day at the beaches and getting badly sunburnt. The vampires laughed and teased them while tending to them. The trouble was, despite healing faster than the unaltereds, the Jags suffered sunburn numerous times throughout the spring and summer months into the New Year.

During the first week of March, Itztecpatl heard talk among the Therian League that Jonathon, leader of the were-leopards and Therian League chairman, had placed a hit against Sarah. The story was the man feared she would challenge him to take over leadership of the were-leopards and the League.

As soon as Itztecpatl heard that, he knew that the man had lost the plot.

'Stupid bloody idiot! One: She's never shown any interest of being in power and, two: there was no way she can take over the Leopards since she's a Jaguar and we can't lead a group that isn't our own species.' He paused.

'Hmmm. Well, we probably could but it's not something we would actually do. Unless we deemed it necessary.'

At first, he was so angry at the man he wanted to kill him. Only to be informed that Antonio had already done so. By killing his leader, it now placed Antonio as the new leader of the Brisbane leopards and head of the committee of the Queensland Therian League. If the rest of the committee agrees that is.

Apparently, within moments of killing Jonathon, he had the hit cancelled. That made him an honourable man in Itztecpatl's opinion. He had always liked and respected Antonio and that situation only deepened the impressions more so.

Despite having called the hit man to cancel the job, and the hit man had told Antonio it was cancelled, Antonio was of the impression the hit man had continued with the job. No one had seen or heard from Sarah since that night. Along with others from the league, Itztecpatl had sent some of his Jaguars out to search for her, but to no avail.

His heart felt like a fist was crushing it at the thought of her now dead. He still didn't truly know her but her effect on him was powerful.

As the days passed, Antonio had been voted in as the chairperson of the Queensland Therian League. Votes for his approval were still coming in from other areas of the state. And so, life continues.

In regards to Sarah however, there was no news from either his Jags or anyone else who knew her. Even Orenda couldn't 'feel' Sarah when she sent out the 'call'. That knowledge didn't make him feel any better.

KC Riley-Gyer 2016