Mika's Black Cougar
By Marisa Chenery
Heat Level: 1
Book Length: Novel
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Cougar Shifter
Publisher's Note: This was previously published under another title.
Mika Taylor has always had it bad for Trent Hunter, but she never had the guts to talk to him. Now that her best friend has moved away, Mika dreads having to face a school year at Vernon Secondary alone. And being classed as the school freak doesn’t help matters. When Trent finally looks at her and not through her, Mika starts to think grade eleven won’t be so bad, after all. Getting to know him better, she can’t shake the feeling there is something he isn’t telling her. A chance encounter with the fabled Okanagan black cougar has her putting two and two together. When Mika sees not only the black cougar along with another cougar lurking in her backyard, she has to wonder if things can get any stranger than they already are.
Since I’d taken my time getting to the cafeteria most of the tables were already full. Then I spotted an empty one close to the doors. I quickly walked over to it and sat in a chair at the end. I pulled my bagged lunch out of my backpack and set it on the table. As I took out my sandwich, I wished I’d remembered to bring a book to read. If I had, I could have gotten lost in my own little world while I ate. That way I wouldn’t have felt as if everyone stared in my direction.
Determined to get through lunch without feeling too uncomfortable, I picked up my sandwich and started to eat. I kept my gaze down, not wanting to see if anyone stared. The other end of my table soon became occupied by three grade-eight girls. I groaned to myself. They spoke in loud voices as they gushed over all the older high-school boys they’d seen. I glanced over at them. All three of them were pretty, and were dressed in the latest style. Not like me. I dress for comfort, not style. My jeans may be a couple of years old, but I had them broken in just the way I liked them. The pale pink t-shirt I wore may have been plain, but it’s one of my favorites. I knew these girls would have no trouble finding boyfriends.
By this time, I’d finished my sandwich. I pulled out the rest of what Mom had packed in my lunch—a juice box and some chocolate chip cookies. As I munched on the cookies, I looked up at the big clock on the wall across from where I sat. I still had another fifty minutes before lunch was over. Now that I’d looked up, I quickly scanned the crowded cafeteria hoping to catch a glimpse of the one person I wouldn’t mind staring at me.
I’d taken a sip from my juice box when I found where Trent sat, alone as usual. I sucked in a breath when I realized for once he stared right at me, which in turn made me choke on my juice. I couldn’t tear my gaze away from him, even though I must have looked really attractive with my face flushed as I tried to cough up one of my lungs. Trent gave me a crooked smile as I continued to choke. Embarrassed, I quickly looked away. Once I could breathe again, I gathered up what remained of my lunch and slung my backpack over my shoulder. I was sure I looked like crap with my streaming eyes and hot face. I threw the rest of my lunch in the garbage can on the way out of the cafeteria.
I ducked into the girls’ washroom. When I caught a glimpse of myself in the large mirror on the wall, I grimaced. My face was slightly red and my eyes still watered a tiny bit. “Smooth move, Mika,” I whispered to my reflection in the mirror.