Melvin was late for gym class. Again. Life kind of sucked lately. Ever
since he hit puberty and his antlers grew in, they were a huge load to
They’d already popped out twice this morning, once when Laney
Queen-of-the-Universe Siamese gave him that haughty look and tossed her
hair over her shoulders.
It wasn’t his fault! Her silky hair brushed his nose and he got a
headful of heady girl-cat scent and out they sprang.
All the kids in the hallway laughed (except the two he knocked down with
his headful of dorkiness… and the other two kids he flattened when his
antlers pulled him to the ground in yet another example of gravity
working against him).
The second time was when sweet, little Kelly Mole blinked up at him from
her book as he walked by her in English class. She was a naked mole rat
for heaven’s sake, but did his antlers care? Of course not! They were
moose antlers and they sensed girl and that was all it took.
Mrs. Saber snarled at him to get his rack under control and that sent
the entire room into gales of laughter.
It had taken him ten minutes in the bathroom to will those antlers into
submission and now he was late for gym, where he’d be forced to dress
out in fur, thus giving those antlers free reign again.
Barreling down the hall, internally ranting at the horrors of his
antlerhood, Melvin never even scented the new girl, the human, coming
around the corner.
Every single adult in school had taken the time to lecture him about
avoiding the new girl. One glimpse of his antlers and the secret of
their shifter town, a secret their town had guarded for centuries, was
toast. But he wasn’t thinking about that. He was worried about being
late and cursing his antlers as he barreled around the corner.
He caught a glimpse of bright blue eyes and then their bodies slammed
together in a tangle of arms and legs. He reflexively caught her in his
arms, her scent barreled over him and BAM! Out sprang the antlers from
The only good news?
They knocked New Girl out with one blow, sending her unconscious to the
floor, possibly ensuring she never knew what hit her, possibly ensuring
the town’s secret was safe.
Melvin leaned forward to check on her and - yikes!
His antlers and gravity toppled him over.
He flung out his arms to catch his fall and ended up crouched over her
This wasn’t good.
Should he just leave her there, unconscious on the floor?
He placed two fingers against her neck, where her pulse should be.
Except - she was fully human. Would that change the location of her
pulse? He tried to remember what he’d learned in his human anatomy
class, but her scent was so distracting.
She smelled divine.
Not because he thought she’d be tasty - he was a vegetarian, for
goodness’ sake, but something else. Something amazing. He grabbed his
rack to keep it from becoming fresh with the human and leaned forward to
take a big whiff.
The girl’s eyes opened..
“Hi,” Melvin said.
She groaned, rolled to her side, placed a hand on the floor and wobbled
as she tried to get to her knees. “What happened?”
Melvin didn’t answer. He jumped up, desperate to hide his antlers. The
teachers would kill him if she –
The girl staggered to her feet, turned, caught sight of his antlers and
went down again.
Melvin tried to catch her, but he was afraid of impaling her on his rack
and moved too slowly as a result.
She was out cold again.
Melvin knelt, this time tilting his head back to keep from
overbalancing. He slid his arms beneath the girl, lifted her and stood.
He cradled her against his chest. Her long, black hair brushed against
his ear and she sighed against his neck, her breath tickling his chin.
If his antlers weren’t already unruly and out, that would have done
There was no hope for it. He was going to have to carry her to the
He set off down the hall. He walked past the cafeteria where study hall
He heard whispers begin inside the room and cringed. Had they seen him?
He walked past the next door and an explosion of sound came from inside.
They’d definitely seen him.
“Melvin Moose!” Mrs. Crane squawked from behind him.
Melvin faced the study hall teacher.
She stood in the cafeteria door and her students crowded behind her,
trying to see.
“Yes, Mrs. Crane?”
“What are you doing with that girl?”
“She fainted, Mrs. Crane.”
“Your antlers are out. She didn’t see them, did she?”
“You have got to be kidding me. It’s only her first day in this
school and you’ve already revealed the secret this town has spent
centuries protecting. You weren’t even supposed to be near that
“I don’t think she got a good look.”
“Oh, I suppose she just fainted at the sight of your face?”
“Well, see, I came around the corner and I didn’t see her. We ran
into each other and my antlers popped out and they knocked her out.”
Melvin rushed through the last of his explanation, running all the words
“They knocked her out?” Mrs. Crane repeated incredulously.
Snickers broke out among the students.
She whirled on them. “Get back to your seats right now. Study, study,
The students edged away and slowly walked back to their seats.
Mrs. Crane waited until every student was seated, then she faced him
again. “Well, what are you doing with her?”
“I was taking her to the nurse.”
“And do you think that’s a good idea, young man?”
“The girl is human. You were to avoid all contact with her and now
she’s seen you. And to make matters worse, you’re carrying her
through the school! What if she wakes again and sees you?”
“Give her to me. Now.”
Melvin passed the girl to Mrs. Crane.
“I’ll see she gets to the nurse. You get to class, young man.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Melvin walked away.
“And control that rack!”
Excerpted from "The Trouble with Antlers (a.k.a. Melvin's Rampant Rack)" by A.J. Culey. Copyright © 2016 by A.J. Culey. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.