I groaned loudly and got to my feet so I could unzip my jeans and push them down, kicking them off my body before sinking back down onto the floor as the others laughed. I rolled my eyes but grinned as well, especially when the next set of cards I got were definitely a winning hand. Noah, Emelia (Noah’s girlfriend), Davy, and I were playing strip poker and so far I had lost the most. One more losing hand and my boxers would have to go. We had tried to get Max to join in but he insisted he needed sleep, although ‘Mr. Fluffy’ joined us, perching behind me to glower disapprovingly of my drunken actions.
Soon after Emelia and Noah lost more of their clothes they opted for making out instead of continuing the game so I went into the kitchen to do some cleaning and give them privacy. Davy followed me in, not bothering to put her clothes back on.
“You know my friends think your hot,” Davy said slurring slightly, leaning back against the counters. “Though the fact you’re a sssophomore is a point against ya.”
“Some women like younger men,” I couldn’t help but say.
Davy snorted. “Like your ancient girlfriend?” I just shrugged at that. “Seriously, though, you love her or something?”
“No. And she doesn’t love me either but… she’s nice…” I sloshed some water onto the dirty plates and then just dropped them into the sink to soak, not wanting to scrub tonight. “I always say I’ll do cleaning in the morning then I never do. I just complain about not getting the stuff done the night before.”
“Pfffft.” Davy turned so she leaned forward against the counters now. “How old is she?”
“She, uh, turned thirty-six last week,” I mumbled, remembering the birthday party. I had worn a new, very expensive outfit and stayed loyally by her side while she showed me off to her jealous friends. Then our night had ended with us being completely drunk in the hot tub and doing a lot of things I didn’t remember as clearly. “Don’t look at me like that,” I laughed at Davy. “She’s–she’s nice.”
“As nice as me?” Davy asked, arching her back a bit to display her, er, frontal endowments a bit better.
I quickly looked away from her body. “In a d-different way. But, uh, I figure it’ll be over in a week or two. I mean, with finals coming up…” Okay so a lot of time had passed since I thought about ending things and I still hadn’t, but there were still a couple weeks of the semester left and I figured once I finished with finals and had one last event with her–some big dinner thing she had to go to–then we could discuss our relationship being over.
Davy started to say something but then Lumie came down the stairs, shaking her head at the sight of all of us mostly naked. “I better get back to the dorms,” Davy said, stumbling away from me.
“Need a ride?” Lumie offered and when Davy nodded I found my car keys, tossing them to my sister. >So, she’s like, almost naked,< Lumie said as my friend went in search of her clothing.
>So’s Noah and Emmy. We played strip poker.< I bent down to pick Max up as he had trotted in to meow at me. “Nothing wrong with playing poker,” I said, scratching Max behind the ear.
>Getting naked with a girl not your girlfriend might be wrong,< Lumie suggested, giving me a tight-lipped smile as Davy returned to the room. “Let’s get you home.”
“Bye Zaid,” Davy yawned, flapping her hand as she trudged out the door.
I went upstairs and set Max on the bed, hardly having time to hit the bed myself before he became human. I waited for the lecture but nothing came. “No complaints about what I did tonight, then?” I asked, curling into a ball and hugging my pillow.
“I complain all the time and you never listen,” he sighed. “I worry about you but you’re too much like me.” He reached around and placed his hand on my face. “You do what you want. Except you’re more annoying than I am. I’m cute, so I can get away with it.”
I laughed and rolled over, facing him. “You get away with things because you turn into a cat and give us all those big eyes of yours.” I swatted at his hand as he began batting at me. “You knocked that glass of water all over Noah’s homework last week and all he did was give you kitty treats.”
“Hey he yelled at me first and I looked so sad that he caved,” Max said, sticking his nose in the air. “I can’t help I’m so adorable. But… about the drinking and stuff, you know… Gretchen and I and your dads are doing this so you can have fun here without worrying about murderers coming after you.” He put his hand back on my face. “So I guess you deserve to have some fun without me complaining.”
“Thanks buddy,” I said, talking into his hand since this was yet another habit of his I had grown used to. I preferred this over the licking any day. Though sometimes when he licked me I had this super strange urge to kiss him or something. It was really discomfiting. I figured it had something to do with the thoughts your brain has when you’re on something high and get the desire to jump, or when you’re in a place you have to be quiet and you just want to start yelling. Because even though I got those feelings to kiss Max, I knew I liked women–I loved women. I reeeallly loved women and being with women. So I just figured it should just be filed as one of those weird, random, pointless urges.
The last couple weeks of my second semester as a sophomore went by fairly the same as usual–as in completely hair-pulling stressful. The day after my final exam, Lucja and I went to the dinner we had been planning on going to for a while. I tried to turn down her buying me yet another suit but she just bought me one regardless. After the dinner (in which she acted extremely strangely through the whole thing) we returned to her place.
This is it, I thought as we moved into the bedroom. I tried to build up my nerves, not really sure why I felt this way. It wasn’t as if we loved each other but still, breaking up with her wouldn’t be easy. Lucja stood by her dresser, staring in the mirror for some time. I offered her some wine but she turned it down, and I realized she had touched a drop of alcohol that night. Which wasn’t like her. Which meant something troubled her… did she know what I had planned…?
“Zaid,” she finally said, turning towards me as she reached back to undo her dress.
“Lucja before you say anything, I want to talk to you about something,” I put in.
“Zaid, this is–this is important,” she said, letting her dress fall to the floor. “It’s about us.”
Oh crap. I began to sweat at those words. Either she wanted us to break up or… “I need to say my piece first, please,” I said and she turned away, shrugging. “I care about you but we both know we’re not exactly… a loving couple. And it’s been some great months between us. Some really amazing months. But I think we should… end things.”
Lucja went to the window, pushing the curtains aside so she could look out. Had she heard me? She had to have heard me, which meant she chose to ignore me. She wanted us to stay together… “Lucja, I–I do like you but I don’t love you, and I know you don’t love me. You deserve a man that’ll make you happy for more than just a twirl on the dance floor and a romp in the sheets. And I need to focus on my schoolwork. I’ve spent more of my time with you than doing anything else, and my grades have really suffered for it. I need to focus on school. I can’t… deal with a relationship or a commitment at this time.”
She turned around, eyes boring holes into me though I really couldn’t tell if they were full of anger or sadness. “Commitment,” she said slowly, as if testing the word.
“I don’t know. I mean, there’s every possibility I’ll find someone and fall in love,” I said, involuntarily thinking of Davina. “But it won’t be you. And I’m not the man for you. I’m barely even a man.”
“A romp in the sheets,” she said softly, echoing the words I had spoken a moment ago.
Is she losing her mind or something? I wondered. “Great romps,” I admitted. “Really great romps. Amazing romps. But is there really anything else between us?”
She stared at me then finally her shoulders slumped a bit. “No. I don’t love you. I just…” She trailed off then sighed, walking over to me. She pressed her fingers on my cheek then kissed me hard. “You’re right, Zaid. You have college. And one day a young lady your own age. We had a wonderful time together but all good things must come to an end.”
“Uh, wh-what were you wanting t-to talk about?” I asked, a bit curious.
At first I couldn’t be sure if she’d tell be but finally she gave me a small smile. “I had been wondering if you’d like to go to Isla Paradiso for a couple weeks this summer.”
“Oh.” I studied her smile. “You’re not angry?”
She laughed, leaning into me. “How can I be angry? You’re a sweet kid who gave me some of the best times of my life. Every woman deserves to have something like this. To feel young again. To feel sexy again. No.” She put her finger to my lips as I began to protest that thirty-six wasn’t exactly a senior citizen. “Just one more night together? And tomorrow… you can go on with the life you deserve.”
She pulled me into the bed and held on tightly the entire time. Once we were both finished we kissed then separated. She watched me get dressed and gave me a very sad smile as I left her house once and for all.
Mrs. Rutkowski made life at the shop for me too hard to continue. I know she didn’t do it out of hate but out of hurt. Her daughter’s heart had been broken (well, in her opinion it had) and she lost a possible son-in-law. So I put in two weeks’ notice and we were both glad when my last day of work came and went.
I hunted for a new summer job but only managed to work in a movie theater cleaning up sticky floors and the remains of popcorn fights. It didn’t pay as well but at least I had an income. Noah worked at firm as an assistant to the IT group which brought him in some more money than my job so we were able to keep up our nights of drinking and having fun. I also took the occasional job with the art department as a model.
“NUDE model?” Noah spit out his drink when I told him. “Oh. My. Watcher. Zaid. Wow.”
I laughed. “Stop, it’s great. Apparently I have very good muscles.” I leaned back, posing.
Noah punched my arm. “I’m sure it’s your muscles all the ladies are enjoying sketching. Tell me, what if you get a boner there in the open–“
“Shut up!” I punched him back, trying not to laugh. “Okay, I did get one but only one girl giggled. All of them are very professional art students. Except that one girl. Who, uh, then asked me out.”
“You going out with her?”
“No way,” I said, rolling off the couch and trying to figure out if I wanted popcorn or potato chips. “She reminded me too much of my first girlfriend.” Noah traipsed after me into the kitchen and mentioned Davina. I tried to ignore his questions but he kept pushing until I finally admitted I didn’t know. “I think she’s interested but–I like her, as a friend, and I don’t want to ruin anything. I had a friend before I liked and was pretty damn sure she liked me too but when I talked to her about it, we got into this big fight and… well, it didn’t go so well,” I explained. “Besides, Davy probably wouldn’t like me now.”
Noah grunted at that and followed me back into the living room now I had my snacks. “Chicken. Seriously, dude, you’ve been sleeping with Mrs. Robinson. A rick, fairly hot chick wanted you. You’ve slept with twice as many women as I have–“
“Two, I’ve had two partners!” I tried to sound argumentative but all I could do was give into the laughter that tried to take me a few minutes before.
“Still twice as many as me,” Noah said, sticking his tongue out. “Besides you haven’t been on a date in two months, since you and Lucja broke up. Just because you strip down in a room full of strangers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strip down with a special someone.”
“My posing nude has nothing to do with my lack of a dating life.”
“It is, though, what you were referring to about Davy not liking you now. Is it not?” Noah asked in a prim voice. I glowered and he smirked, knowing he had hit the nail on the head. “Davy likes confidence. Hey, you should take her to the studio sometime then she can get a gander at your gander without gandering your real gander.”
“Do you speak an alien tongue now or something?” I asked, kicking at his ankle as he chuckled. “Do you think I should ask her out?”
Noah nodded enthusiastically. “I do. I bet Lumie does too. You should do the, uh, creepy thing in your head with her.” He elbowed me. “Get your sister’s opinion.”
“I can’t, she’s in Midnight Hollow. We can reach from a distance but not that much of a distance,” I said but I began to wonder what Max might think of it. “Look, I–I’ll… sleep on it. I’ll make a decision tomorrow. I’m gonna go relax in my room a bit.”
“Ask her out!” Noah shouted after me, ignoring the middle finger I gave him as I went up the stairs.
Max sat on my bed in cat form, sleeping soundly, his tail twitching. I didn’t really want to wake him up but I kinda wanted to lay down. He made protesting meows as I lifted him up. “Move it, Maxie, I wanna lay down.” I set him besides me, stroking his fur as I stared out the window. “Noah says I should ask Davy out. What do you think?” I figured he’d turn human to respond but he didn’t; he hissed loudly, his ears flat against his skull.
“What, I thought you liked Davy?” He gave a shrugging motion and sat up, licking his paw. “Don’t give me that. She’s nice. I think I will ask her out after all.”
Max jumped off the bed and walked out of the room, waving his tail in an annoyed fashion. I threw a pillow at the door, scowling deeply, not liking the fact he did this sort of thing. If he had a problem he needed to tell me and not hide behind his stupid meows. And what sort of problem would he have with me going with Davy anyway? He had told me before she seemed all right. So he had no room to complain.
I didn’t get to see Davy until she came back in for college, starting her fourth year while I started my third one. I asked her out the day after classes started and tried to be as careful with my wording as possible. I didn’t want another incident like what happened with Trysh… and Davy said yes!
We went to the movies then to a coffeehouse to relax and chat. She talked a lot about her summer, how her mother lamented the fact her daughter had chosen a career like law. “She would have preferred something less stressful,” Davy sighed, stirring her coffee sadly. “She thinks I should become a nurse, like her. A nurse, a mother, a wife.”
“I’m sorry she’s not as supportive,” I said, reaching over and touching her hand.
“Are your parents supportive? About your major-general college decisions?” she inquired with a light giggle.
I flicked her hand, smiling at her. “Yeah, they’re both supportive of whatever me and my siblings do. They knew I wouldn’t really be taking a degree like medical or whatever, but they still sacrificed a lot to send me here.” Sadness crept into my voice despite my best efforts, and Davy seized my hand to squeeze. “I’m thinking about becoming an assistant to my Sifu, though he lives in Moonlight Falls and I don’t know if I’d–” I stopped, realizing I had come close to broaching dangerous territory. Davy raised her eyebrows, waiting for more. I had to come up with a lie. “I don’t know if I’d feel like moving back there, or making that commute.”
“It’s only an hour away from Midnight Hollow, isn’t it?”
I sat back, picking up a cookie and biting into it, regretting that we had gone on this topic. “Speeding, yeah. At the speed limit it’s more like an hour and fifteen, maybe an hour twenty. Man, Midnight Hollow is a gloomy place. Our house there is really bright and it looks so out of place.” I leaned forward, taking her hand and tracing designs along the base of her thumb. “My Pa is a super happy type of guy. Dad told me when they started trying to get to know everyone in the neighborhood no one knew what to do with Pa. It was like the Brady Bunch meeting the Addams Family.”
Davy laughed so hard she soon clutched her sides, giving pained sounds. “Oh man! Though I have a secret.” She leaned in very close so her lips were against my ear. “I’ve always preferred the Addams family.”
“So have I,” I whispered back then we both turned our heads so they were very close, and I closed the gap between us with a kiss without thinking. I hoped she wouldn’t freak out but instead she kissed back. I took hold of the back of her head, kissing harder, enjoying this quite a lot. We finally stopped, settling back in our chairs but now we held hands and I knew this wouldn’t be our only date.
Davy and I became an official couple before October, and she even got to meet my family at Vilkas’s wedding in November. We all knew for a while now he had gotten engaged and such but due to the strange circumstances of the werewolf clan, we were unable to be part of the main ceremony. But he threw all tradition out the window (and angered half his clan) by having another, more mortal-traditional ceremony where we could all be involved and in the wedding. I brought Davy as my date and everyone liked her, especially Pa once they got to talking about video games.
“I can’t believe your brother lives here,” Davy whispered during the reception. I couldn’t either, but didn’t say that I hadn’t visited the impressive castle before. “He’s a king, a–a werewolf king…?”
“You told me you didn’t mind supernaturals,” I said, kissing the back of her hand.
She paled slightly. “I don’t. I–I thought I didn’t. It’s just… dozens of werewolves in one place sort of… makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.”
I glanced around at all the white-haired beings. Almost every single one had an unhappy look on their face though a few seemed pretty happy. “Vilkas is, like, their king so none of them would touch you. Don’t worry, you’re safe.”
Later Vilkas had to give me the third-degree about Davy of course. He didn’t know about Lucja… none of them did, except Lumie. So they all thought Davy was my first ‘real’ girlfriend since Kim. He congratulated me and asked if there’d be another wedding soon. I denied the teasing, though the fact I caught the garter didn’t help anything. Luckily Davy didn’t catch the bouquet (one of the werewolves did) but after I held possession of the garter my entire family joked about it the entire trip back home. I sat in the back of the van, blushing deeply, wishing they’d all shut up despite Davy’s whispered assurance she didn’t mind.
“I mind,” I grumbled, feeling like a teenager again instead of a man almost twenty-one.
I hadn’t really thought about Lucja much but it did surprise me to read in the papers that Lucy’s Wedding Dreams (named so since she didn’t think many people would use a business named ‘Lucja’) moved headquarters from Redbloom to Bridgeport. I knew she liked Bridgeport but always talked about how she’d never want to live there… but soon my curiosity passed, as there were more important things going on in my life than wondering about an ex-girlfriend.
I met Davy’s family over the winter break when I went to her place to visit overnight. Her mom seemed to really like me, her dad made it clear he hunted, and her older brother was too drugged out to care either way. When I prepared to go to bed–sharing her brother’s room–I felt uncomfortable. An uneasy feeling filled my body, one that reminded me of the day when I had been hunted down. Which made no sense I mean, we were no where near Moonlight Falls.
I looked out the window and saw a black cat lurking around in the snow. I winced, not liking the fact Max would be out in the cold all night. Shouldn’t be staying here, I thought, closing the curtains, knowing he had a warming spell so he wouldn’t freeze but still. I crinkled my nose up as the smell of whatever Mark had been smoking. He offered me some but I shook my head and left the room, going to Davy’s room and knocking. She let me in, looking ravishing in a short nightie.
“Your brother is so high. Or something.” I wiped my eyes. “Could I sleep on the couch?”
“You could sleep with me,” she offered.
I nearly choked on nothing. “Watcher, Davy, your father basically pointed his shotgun at me when meeting me. No way am I sharing your bedroom. Ahhhhh,” I drew out as she began kissing my neck. “Davy. Your father is plotting my murder as is. No need to give him more reason.”
She laughed, pulling away. “You’re right, you’re right. Okay, we’ll get you set up in the living room. What’s the matter?” she asked as I frowned. “You don’t want the living room?”
“Nah, I do, I do. You, uh, I uh… there aren’t any supernaturals around here, are there? In this town?” I asked, getting that awful, creepy feeling.
“Mm-mm.” She shook her head then pulled me close to kiss again. “I thought you liked them or something, though?”
“I do. I just… have this weird feeling…” I held Davy close and wondered if perhaps I should tell her about my past, about Max, about–about all of it. That my ability of shattering boards had more to do with fear for my life than love of sim fu. I never considered telling any of the other girls in my life so why did I suddenly want to give Davy the details?
“Is it a… horny feeling?” Davy whispered, stroking my belly.
“It is now!” I laughed, pushing her hand away. “Seriously though, no. We’ll, uh, we’ll have fun later. Your dad scares me.”
“Mhm. Okay, let’s get the couch set up then.”
>So. Is Davy like, moved in with us now? We got ourselves another roomie?< Lumie asked the day after we returned to our rented college home in January. Davina brought a suitcase and unpacked things into my dresser drawers and bathroom. >You’re pretty serious about her aren’t you? Yeah, I’ve been hearing those thoughts floating around your head. You really love her don’t you…< I didn’t know how to answer my twin and she knew that. I did love Davy. A lot. But we were so young, it seemed kinda ridiculous to fall in love so hard at such a young age. >Pa was what, twenty? When he and Dad got married? Vilkas is only a couple years older than us and he seems happy.<
>Stop lecturing me,< I demanded, watching as Davina put her underwear in my underwear drawer. >Sharing an underwear drawer is kinda serious though, isn’t it?<
>HAH! It’s very serious, dumbo. I mean jeez, I wouldn’t put my undies in Gerry’s underwear drawer, and I started seeing him before you and Davy got together.<
>Gerry’s underwear drawer probably has cockroaches in it,< I snickered, then apologized since I didn’t want her to think I disliked Gerald. I didn’t really. >Maybe I am serious about Davy then.< I looked up as she turned, smiling at me in a way that made everything inside me go wild. >Maybe… this is true love…<