“Wouldn’t you just love to be carried off by some strong handsome, stud,” the longing sigh of her friend had Ellie shaking her head in disgust.
“Would I like to be manhandled by some overzealous gym rat? No thanks,” Ellie rolled her eyes at the over the top Tarzan poster Lauren was currently ogling before going back to her camera.
Turning with a scowl Lauren playfully swatted her friend, “Oh and I suppose the monkey you are fawning over would make a much better date…hmm?” She stared pointedly across the roped fence to the group of monkeys swinging through the trees.
Ellie gave her a crooked grin, “As a matter of fact this one here,” she pointed to a monkey with a black tipped tail dangling above two smaller ones, “would be perfect.”
She laughed at her friend’s dubious expression, “I’m serious he’s one of the most intelligent primates I’ve ever seen and hilarious to boot. I’ve seen him concoct all sorts of pranks on the others since I’ve been here this week.” As she said this, the monkey in question had just finished surprising the other two monkeys with a shower from a nearby bowl, sending them scurrying away in a frenzy of squeaks.
Ellie laughed as her camera shutter clicked and she snapped shot after shot of the comical creatures. They never ceased to fascinate her and were one of her favorite subjects.
“You are really losing it Ellie,” Cas tutted before going on, “Why don’t you at least take pictures of something else for a change? It’s a big zoo you know, like… a…gorilla!”
She froze, her finger stilling on the button, “Uh…I don’t really like gorillas to be honest with you,” she stammered, “besides, I’m shooting monkeys. They are going to be my ticket into Wild magazine I just know it.”
“Oh, come on. You’ve been shooting those same monkeys for a week straight. I doubt you will get anything new. Just try something else for a little bit, a little variety in your pitch can’t hurt,” she pleaded eagerly pointing to the sign in the corner.
Hesitantly, Ellie glanced toward the far corner where her friend was pointing. She could just make out the black fur covered hand laying against the thick glass and shuttered. There was absolutely nothing her friend could do to convince her to go near that gorilla! It was bad enough she had to walk by it every day to get to the monkeys, but she loved photographing them so it was worth the awkward walk through the facility avoiding even glancing toward the gorilla enclosure.
She jumped up and grabbed her camera, not wanting to linger any longer, “You know what, you are absolutely right. We should go to the giraffes next! They would be the perfect edition to the portfolio I’m sending to Wild.”
Cas didn’t argue, seemingly happy that her friend had taken her advice and tried anything else.
Ellie sighed as she quickly shuffled her way out of the primate house. There was no way she could explain her phobia to her friend, but for now she was just glad to be far away from that gorilla.
“Well look who finally showed up,” Kal could practically hear the grin in George’s voice.
It was like that since he first met him years ago when he made his debut at Wild Adventures zoo.
Without looking up he fired back, “Not everyone has time to waste monkeying around in some zoo all day.”
George being one of the founders spent most of his time here and although he was a great guy, he had a penchant for practical jokes, but he did his best to make the place a haven for shifters of all kinds. It was one of the things he admired most about his friend. Being a gorilla shifter in a large city meant it was particularly hard to find places to let loose in his other form. So Wild Adventures, was one of the few places he could really be himself.
“Oh, that’s right your starting your new job as an instructor aren’t you,” he looked up then to see
George dangling from the branch closest to his enclosure, face pressed up against the thick glass,
“You won’t be able to spend much time as you usually do with your new hours.”
“Most likely not, banana breath,” his frame shook in laughter.
“Oh, you’re just jealous because the females like me more than you,” He flipped through the air and landed on his feet with a flick of his tail, “Face it, I’m just hotter than you.”
Kal burst into laughter. the low rumble startling a few passersby, “Sure man, you keep telling yourself that.”
A grunt sounded from the corner opposite Kal, “Would you two shut it, some people are trying to sleep.”
The large gorilla slunk further away, grumbling about inconsiderate idiots. Kal didn’t know him well, but he always seemed to be in a bad mood. The way George told it, he spent a majority of his time here, unlike most who only visited for a break now and then.
“Don’t mind Alex, I think the poor guy is just wound a little too tight,” George mused. “So how did your first day on the job go?”
He stretched and moved to face his friend without being to conspicuous. The humans couldn’t understand them in this form, but he didn’t want to raise suspicion by acting too strange for a normal gorilla.
“Not too bad, we got a lot more people interested in the new self-defense classes than I anticipated, but business should be booming for a while at least,” he couldn’t keep the melancholy tone out of his voice and his friend noticed.
“So…you don’t sound so happy. I thought this was what you wanted,” George sat down and rested his furry cheek on his palm.
He sighed, how he could he explain that, although he loved his job he still felt like something or…someone was missing.
“It’s just that…it would be nice to have someone to share it all with, you know,” he leaned back against the stone wall in agitation. He had waited years for his mate, but now he was beginning to doubt she even existed.
His friend hung his head a bit, “I know what you mean. Waiting on a mate can be hard, but you can’t find her if you don’t get yourself out there. Who knows maybe your mate will come walking through the zoo one day,” he grinned good naturedly.
Just then footsteps sounded from the facility entrance. It was getting later and the usual customers had trickled out, but it looked like they had a last-minute visitor.
George turned back to his friend, “I wasn’t kidding about being popular with the ladies, while you were gone I acquired myself a fan. Did I mention I’ve been thinking about getting into the modeling business,” he laughed and scampered off to the other side of his enclosure.
Kal rolled his eyes before mumbling, “Show off.”
He started to close his eyes for a long overdue nap when all his senses suddenly heightened and it felt like every nerve ending was on fire, “What the?”
His heart thumped into overdrive and he felt compelled to run to the wide glass window overlooking the inside of the primate house.
Making his way over he quickly scanned the area, but whoever had walked through was already gone. Why was he feeling so anxious?
The sound of a shutter going off made him snap to attention. Someone was taking pictures near the monkey enclosure. He glanced through the side window into his friend’s area, but could only make out a vague shape through the shrubbery.
A breathy giggle sounded through the air and stroked over his taught nerves making him shiver. He needed to see who was making that beautiful sound.
Without thought he crawled over to the far end of the window and pressed his face to the cool glass to catch a glimpse of their visitor. What he saw took his breath away.