I was born in Ireland, in a ruined castle on the coast of County Kerry, high above the sea. A hundred years ago the nearby villagers valued us for protection. But as human populations grew, the political world changed and Shifters dwindled in number, life became difficult.
Feast days and our holy days were wild. Sometimes the old Fae would come--the ones that liked us, not the other kind. No one is as crazed as a drunk faery.
I grew up pretty much doing what I pleased. I felt protected by my family--mother and father, two younger brothers. I can’t say my childhood was unhappy.
Unhappiness came when my mother died. My father, Dylan, left us for a year to grieve. As the oldest, and since I had fifty years on me, I assumed leadership of the family.
My youngest brother Kenny despised my father for his weakness. Sean didn’t so much, but he never spoke of it. I pretended I understood, but since I’d not mated, I didn’t know what Dad's grief truly meant.
Our own grief was strong--Shifters bond fast and breaking it is like ripping your body out of hardened cement. I mourned my mother in my own way, mostly by hunting and fighting. Sean is more spiritual than I am--you could find him in meditation most days, up on the battlements or a cave he liked in the hills.
Dylan returned, but he was never the same. Not long after, Kenneth was mated. We all loved Sinead, a high-spirited woman with a great sense of humor. She liked practical jokes but could take a joke on herself as well.
When Sinead was pregnant with my nephew Connor, a Shifter in England "came out" to the press and demonstrated what he could do. The shit hit the fan then. Shifters were rounded up, registered, controlled, and then some half-fae bastard invented the Collar.
The Collars are a cross between technology and magic--they are locked on us and control our more violent tendancies. The humans didn't feel safe from us until they snared us in Collars and made us live in Shiftertowns.
Dad and Kenny worried for Sinead, so we moved to Austin, Texas, where we already had kin. But it was too late for Sinead--she passed away bringing Connor into the world. Kenny went walkabout himself for a few weeks. Dad explained that losing a mate rips out a piece of your soul, and the Shifter only wants to kill everything around him to avenge the death, even if the death is natural. It was best to let Kenny alone.
While he was gone, Sean and me and Dylan looked after Connor. When Kenneth returned, he lavished so much love on that little shit.
Dad was a dominant, and when we moved in to the Shiftertown, even among our own kind, there was a struggle before we figured out the pecking order of the clan. Dad came out on top, under only Fergus, our clan leader, me second, Sean third. Fergus lived in San Antonio, and he put Dad in charge of the Austin Shiftertown.
That meant me and Sean were dad’s deputies and enforcers. We always tried to be fair. At first we had to settle many disputes as Shifters learned to live in our screwed-up world.
Then Kenny got himself killed by a feral Shifter, one of the ones who refused to take the Collar.
Losing Kenny put a hole in our lives. We mourned for a long time, each of us disappearing for a time to be alone. I still blame myself for not being there, but I'd been out doing dirty work for Fergus, while Sean and Kenny faced the feral alone.
What am I like?
I like to stay up late even if it’s just hanging out on the porch with my friends or brother. I don’t like to get up early and am cranky until I have coffee.
I like to drink stout--what Irish lad doesn’t? I work hard but I do it to live. I like Guinness and Harleys and partying with friends and my brother. The most important people in my world are my family. I take care of them. Hell, I need to so no more feral Shifters take them away from me.
Women? Women are beautiful. One thing that the Collar did was to allow different species of Shifters to live together in peace. The Collars dampen our natural agression to each other. So I’ve now shagged wolf and bear Shifters as well as Felines. Lupines are pains in the ass, but their females are good in bed. (Dad should know, he’s got a thing going with our next-door neighbor, a wolf Shifter called Glory. She’s… interesting.)
I love women who are independent and strong, who love to give into life and have a good time. I like gutsy women who stand up to me. but who also like that I’m protective of them. That’s me, the big protector.
I haven’t taken a mate because I’m not good mate material. A female needs a mate who will have time for her and to raise a family, who isn’t running errands for the clan leader or hunting ferals. It’s dangerous work, and it’s not fair to a Shifter who needs someone to help her with the cubs.
Females know this, so they don’t chase me except to have fun. I make sure they have a lot of fun, but they know when it’s time to leave.
I don’t want to get close. I saw what losing a mate did to Dad and to Kenny. I can’t let that happen to me.