Flipping the Bird (Shift Creek #1) - Carrie Pulkinen

Chapter One

“Holy mother of unnecessarily cruel inventions!” Alice Crawford clenched the steel jaws—which were currently gripping her ankle with a thousand times more force than she could muster—and tried to wrench them apart. “Son of a bitchin’ bobcat! That hurts!”

Piercing pain stabbed all the way to the bone, where the trap penetrated skin, and blood trickled down her leg, staining her sock. “Damn it, that was one of two pairs without holes in the toes too.”

Gritting her teeth, she clutched the contraption in both hands, trying to pry it open, but the insufferable snare refused to budge. “Evil piece of garbage.”

How did a crow shifter find herself in the middle of a farm, entangled in a trap meant to save birds from predators…when she was a friggin’ bird herself?

Well, it was shiny, glinting in the moonlight, and she was a crow. How could she resist?

Her mistake had become evident the moment she swooped down to grab the culpable object, and it clamped down on her leg. The shock had forced her to shift from crow form to human instantly, and thank her lucky stars for that. It would have snapped her bird leg right in half.

Now, she sat with her butt planted firmly in the dirt, her left foot ensnared in the most inhumane of modern torture devices, while the chickens in the coop beside her bock, bock, bocked their feathery little heads off, threatening to expose her for trespassing. Fan-friggin-tastic.

A pair of eyes gleamed in the moonlight, and a chubby raccoon waddled toward her, chittering like she was laughing her ass off—which she was, knowing Megan. The chickens took one look at her, and pandemonium erupted inside the cage. Their clucking intensified, and they started running around like…well, like chickens with their heads cut off.

“I’m glad I could provide your amusement for the night. Now, help me out of this trap, will you? Those chickens are cackling loud enough to wake the whole town.”

The raccoon shifted into human form, and mirth danced in Megan’s dark brown eyes as she sidled next to Alice on the ground. “Hi-ho the derry-o, the farmer takes a crow.”

“Funny.” She clawed at the trap, but the stupid thing must have been broken. It would take the Jaws of Life to pry it apart. Her ankle throbbed, and her foot was going numb. “A little help, please?”

“This is what you get for trying to grab every shiny object you see. Here.” Megan pushed the latch on the side of the trap, and the teeth released their hold.

Alice yanked her leg from the device, pressing her hand to the wound to keep the blood from staining her shoe too. “Oh, hello, Pot. My name’s Kettle. It’s nice to meet you.”

“At least I know a trap when I see one.” Megan opened the wicked contraption, setting it on the ground before poking the release with a stick. The jaws snapped shut with a whack, breaking the stick in two. “You’re lucky it only got your leg and not your whole body. How’d you shift so fast?”

Alice shrugged. “I don’t know. Instinct, I guess.”

“Well, your instinct should tell you to stay away from these.” She picked up the device, curling her lip as she examined it.

“That’s a raccoon trap, isn’t it?”

“Raccoon, fox, stray dog. Anything that might go after his chickens.” She glared at the hunk of metal in her hands. “I mean, he has a right to protect his flock, but to make a poor animal suffer?”

The feeling returned to Alice’s foot, and she sucked in a sharp breath through her teeth. “I liked it better when it was numb.”

“Let’s get you to the creek. You’ll be good as new in no time.” As Megan rose to her feet, the farmhouse porch light flipped on, and the screen door whacked against the façade when a man stormed onto the patio. He squinted, peering into the darkness before cocking his rifle and stomping down the steps.

Alice’s pulse thrummed. She couldn’t afford another trespassing charge. “See you at the creek.”

“Not if I see you first.” Megan shifted into raccoon form and darted into the brush, dragging the trap behind her.

Scrambling to her good foot, Alice winced against the pain and shifted into crow form. Thankfully, her wings weren’t affected, and she took to the sky as the farmer barreled toward the chicken coop.

Her injury made it impossible to tuck her leg beneath her properly, which also made it impossible to fly straight. She tumbled through the air, completing two full

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