It’s Mother’s Day and I spent most of the time today out in the garden. Now Wolf says it is bedtime… so, dear readers, you get another chapter of Sheeple.
Eric sat back in the chair, and held the hand that Kate extended to him.
“So what happened when all the screaming and shouting stopped?”
“Well, she started throwing all of my stuff out of the house. I ignored her and dressed my leg up again as it had started to bleed through the bandage. I picked up my stuff and put it in the truck. Then I left the house. I had to hope she wouldn’t hurt the children while I took care of business.”
“Business? What did you do Eric?”
“Something I don’t regret.”
“I went back to the big house and called the boss out onto the porch. I told him what I thought of him and then I shifted.”
“Um, what happened?” Kate tried to picture this in her head.
“He had been laughing, and when I shifted, he screamed. Then he pulled his gun.”
“He never got a chance to pull the trigger. I took his throat out. Then I buried him up in the hills where no one ever found him. Cleaned up the porch, threw away my jeans and went back to the house.”
“Threw away the jeans? Why didn’t you just wash them?” Kate was puzzled.
“If you shift in clothing, it gets shredded. There wasn’t enough left of them to wash.”
“Oh. So you strip off to shift,” She was trying to fit things together in her mind.
“What happened then with your wife? The ranch?”
“By the time I got home, she had all of her stuff packed and was sitting in the kitchen. She yelled at me and said things I never expected to hear from her or any woman. I tried to talk to her and explain that I was still the same man, and….”
“And she refused to deal with it,” Kate finished for him. She held his hand more firmly.
“Exactly. So, I went back to the ranch house in the morning and found the strong box. I knew that there was a fair amount of cash to hand and took it. I divided it up and gave her about $2000. That left me with about $2500 which I figured was fair. She wasn’t going to take the children. I put everyone in the truck that morning and we left the ranch. Left it looking like we’d just be gone a few days.”
“So, that’s why you only had clothes and a few other possessions.” Things fell into place.
“Yes. I dropped her off in Cheyenne and then sold the truck. Bought that little VW thing and headed South.”
“But you said you were heading North when you showed up at the shelter.”
“Yes. I went clear to New Mexico and realized that I couldn’t live there.”
“Why?” Kate asked.
“Wolves need mountains and empty spaces. I couldn’t find what I needed there. Then again, didn’t realize that I’d find what I was looking for here.”
“Now, why didn’t she want her children? Especially Mark?”
“She ‘knew’ that they’d be wolves, and that they were some sort of monsters.” Disgust tinted his voice.
“But they aren’t. Jamie may shift, but certainly not Mark. I can see a lot of his mom in him.”
Eric nodded. “Jamie is certainly going to have the family trait. Mark on the other hand… he’s afraid of me.”
“No Eric, he is just a little boy who’s been through a lot.”
“No, I can smell it on him. I realized that about a week after we left the ranch. It was the same smell his mother had. She wouldn’t even kiss them goodbye.”
“Argh! Some people!” Kate said with vehemence in her voice.
“Yes.After we left New Mexico, we headed North, and that was when the car died. I wasn’t sure what to do as money was getting really tight. So when the Sheriff pulled up, I figured it was time to let fate deal the cards. He was very nice and brought us to you.”
“And now I know why you looked so wounded.” Kate let go of his hand and moved forward to hug him again. He stood so that he could put his arms around her as well.
Eric looked down at her face. “You have no idea of how nervous I was. Especially when you invited us up for dinner. I was afraid of not knowing enough about you. You’re so open at work, yet very private. I was relived when the boys outed you. And yet I was still nervous.”
“Yes, you were. I knew that there were things you weren’t saying, but wasn’t sure what.” Then something dawned on her. “You shifted that night! It was you that took the bones off of my dresser!” She was smiling as she said it.
“Guilty.” He reached into his pocket, and pulled out a small piece of bone. It was well chewed on one end. He handed it to her.
Kate took the bone and started laughing. “Oh! Oh! And that explains why your teeshirt had grease all over it. I knew it was suppose to be a clean one and never figured out how it had gotten dirty.”
“I… um… I ate the bones on top of the clothes, and didn’t realize it was so messy. Sometimes when you are in animal form, you aren’t always as cognizant as you’d want to be,” he said a bit shyly.
“Oh! And that would explain the panicked look on your face that morning when Jamie insisted that you’d been out for rabbits. Does she realize that you shift?”
“No, I know that she doesn’t know on an active level. However, I suspect that she dreams of hunting. I just haven’t dared bring it up. She is so precocious that I can’t trust what she will say to others.”
“That could be a real problem when she goes to school in a few weeks.”
“By the way, when do you lycanthropes start shifting?”
“Usually at puberty. Girls with their first moon blood. Boys are a little harder to predict. Most of us can tell though because the pheromones change and it has a real effect on those that can smell them.”
“Pheromones eh?” Kate was thinking about what he’d said. “So, just before the first shift, Jamie or Mark will suddenly start smelling really good?”
“Can non-lycanthropes smell this?”
“I’m not sure. I never got the chance to ask their mom. Although, she did say I always smelled good.”
“Hmmmm.” Kate moved closer to Eric. She smelled his shirt at her nose level, about dead center on his chest. Standing on tiptoes, she smelled the base of his throat, moved up behind one ear and then over to the other. “You smell like chocolate, baking chocolate. Cinnamon and…and… ” she giggled. “Dog.” Kate giggled harder.
Eric went red in the face. “That is so not fair!” he said. Then he bent down and sniffed her throat. No fear. She giggled as he sniffed.
“What do I smell like?” She was still giggling.
“Onions,… sweet grass, a bit like me because we’ve been hugging. And, don’t laugh, dog,” He had a smile on his face that made her wonder what he was thinking.
“Well, the boys do say that the only time I panic is when the onion bin is empty.”
It was Eric’s turn to laugh. “I can believe that. I don’t think that I’ve eaten a meal yet that you haven’t put onions in. Except for that lovely cake of yours.”
Kate smiled. “So, if Jamie suddenly starts smelling like cinnamon chocolate cookies, we do what?”
Eric blinked. “We?”
“Yes, we. I have to admit that I just don’t see you as a single parent Eric. So, I figure that I’ll probably be called to help.” Then she realized that what she said could be taken another way. Too late….. so she just let the words stay.
“We… um, probably better go camping. When I hit puberty, the men took you out and let you shift. Some don’t make it. Others never shift back. The rest learn to cope with a dual nature.”
“How do you deal with the deaths or disappearances?”
“It was easy back home. Most people knew which families were lycanthropic. So, if they died, we had a funeral. If they disappeared, we just dealt with it like you would if someone moved. Some people ended up with a new dog. Most importantly, no one hunted wolves.”
“Now, a small change of subject.”
“Alright.” It was his turn to wonder where the conversation was going to go.
“Earlier this evening, we talked about our mutual attraction. And you said you wanted to tell your story before I said anything.”
“Yes. And in spite of hugs and sniff tests, I still need to hear what is in your head.” And in your heart he thought.
“Eric, I will be honest with you. Part of your story sounds outrageous. And yet, I believe you. I haven’t seen you as a wolf, and wouldn’t go so far as to say I wouldn’t panic the first time you shift. However, you are the first man in years that has even made me think to open up my life again. My boys like you. Hell, they practically told us to go get laid earlier.”
“Yes, they weren’t exactly subtle.” He remembering hearing more than they realized.
“So, even after hearing what you had to say, I would like to see what its like to live again.” She moved closer into his arms.
“Kate, are you sure?”
“Yes,” she said and brought her lips up to his.
Eric bent down to kiss Kate. Her lips were sweet and warm. It had been far too long for both of them. Hands explored backs as they kissed.
Eric broke the kiss first. “Kate, what will we tell the boys? My kids?” he asked as he caught his breath.
Kate looked up at him. “My boys? Well, probably that I decided to get a life.” She smiled at him. “Your children, nothing yet. They are use to being here. Let’s just give it a bit of time. If we need, we just tell them that we like each other a lot and see what they say.”
“Sounds okay. They certainly took our move from the ranch better than I thought they would.”
Kate moved out of his arms for a moment and moved across the room. “I think we probably aught to close the door though.”