Jessie could see Mr. Jerret sleeping on the window ledge below. It was her favorite spot during storms but he was a guest. She paced a bit on top of the bookcase, tail twitching. He was definitely asleep, he might not even notice her. She made her way down to the floor and jumped up on the small open spot by his knee. The rain thundered against the window, blurring everything outside. She pressed against the cold glass, curled her feet and tail underneath her body and started purring. A moment later the tranquility was interrupted by Mr. Jerret jerking awake and falling off the ledge to the floor.
“Hi… kiddo.” He set his book on the ledge, rubbing the back of his head with a wince.
“Mow.” She looked down at him on the floor and he smiled a little, looking out the window.
“I guess I fell asleep. Quite the storm out there.” He didn’t try to reclaim the ledge, leaving plenty of room for Jessie to stretch out. She sniffed at his book gently and he picked it up again, opening it, “So they don’t mind you shifting at home as much?”
Jessie flattened her ears and her tail twitched, thumping against the wall. Jerret frowned at the reaction.
“Or do they not really know? It’s a big house, I suppose there’s plenty of room to hide in.” He trailed off as Jessie hopped down from the window sill and darted around the corner.
She found the nearest stash of clothes and shifted, getting dressed quickly. Mr. Jerret was sitting on the window sill again, staring out at the rain when she returned.
“Granny knows I shift in the house, and Aunt Elizabeth and Aunt Rebecca. They make sure I have clothes so I can change back wherever.” She sat on the windowsill next to him as a flash of lightning light up his face briefly.
“What about the others?”
“Misa doesn’t like me to shift, and Aunt Sarah always says I’ll get stuck somewhere and suffocate. I don’t do it around them. Nobody else really cares but sometimes they tell on me.”
She didn’t really look at him but could feel his gaze shift briefly from the window to her, and then back. They sat in silence as the rain continued to batter the window. He picked up his book again and opened it, running one finger along the page as he read.
“What are you reading?”
His finger stopped moving as he looked at her, “It’s a book of poems I guess, it was the first thing to catch my eye.” He showed her the cover of two people sitting under a tree.
“Do you like it?”
“I don’t know, it helped I guess. I fell asleep reading it.”
Jessie twisted around and pressed her face against the window. The cool air and beating of the rain felt good against her cheek.
“Mr. Jerret?” He turned his head away from the window as spoke, “Have you ever gotten stuck somewhere when you shifted?”
He grimaced a little and pulled up the right sleeve on his shirt, showing a set of long scars, “I got stuck in a hole in a fence once, running from a farmer who thought I ate his chickens. I got loose but not before he shot me once.” He rolled his sleeve down again.
“Did you eat his chickens?”
“No… well I ate one later.”
“He gave you one? Was it because he felt bad?”
“Sure…” He set the book down on the windowsill, “He gave me one.”
“Where’d he shoot you?”
Jerret cleared his throat, “In the leg, but I can’t show you that one.”
“Oh… What about that one?” She pointed at the one by his shoulder that showed under his collar.
“That… that one was from someone with a bit of glass while I was asleep. I’m lucky they missed anything important.”
“Was it an accident?”
“Kind of, I think they’d had too much to drink.”
“Misa drinks too much sometimes, he just falls asleep though.”
“Yeah, I noticed…”
“Do you think Misa ever hurt someone on accident?”
Jerret looked out the window and didn’t say anything. Jessie kicked her feet out and leaned back against the window just as footsteps told them someone was approaching. Jessie could tell it was Aunt Sarah before she rounded the corner and spotted them. She always smelled a little like peaches. Mr. Jerret straightened up and frowned a little as she walked up to them.
“Everything alright up here? I got an alarm a little while ago.”
“Oh, I just got startled…” Mr. Jerret was very tense. Jessie looked from him to her aunt and frowned. Aunt Sarah was frowning at them.
“Anyways it’s time to get ready for dinner. You should go wash up and get dressed, Mr. Jerret will need to have his haircut finally.” She gestured towards the stairs and Jessie got to her feet reluctantly.
“I’ll see you at dinner, right Mr. Jerret?” She curtsied a little and he smiled.
With that she hurried past Aunt Sarah and downstairs. With any luck nobody had picked something out for her to wear and she could choose.