Mooning Over a Monster
Before leaving my house, I memorize the directions to the address Mahon gave me. Electronic navigation around Lake Galen is always spotty, leading people to the wrong place or shorting out completely. From what I’ve heard, the disruption occurs naturally rather than because of some witch’s spell.
The suspension in my SUV keeps the ride on back roads smooth, and as the sky slides to the darker side of twilight, I flip on my headlights. That’s the only illumination coming from my car, as I’ve made sure to dim my dashboard display until the information is barely legible. All to keep the interior of my car as dark as possible. But even if the world was noontime bright, no one would be able to see through my windows, all of which have been tinted far darker than the legal limit.
Not that I’ll get pulled over for breaking the rule. The whole of Folk Haven’s small police department has my license number on file and knows not to stop me for the violation. One of many reasons I’m glad Levi is on The Council. Within a month of his election, my friend implemented measures to help me and other mythics without human forms to move more easily around town.
Of course, the cops can still pull me over for speeding. But if they do, I won’t have to use one of my emergency human-illusion patches because all officers have been briefed on my appearance. Still, I keep two in my glove box, just in case.
When the sign for my turnoff appears, I ease on the accelerator, immediately missing the rush of the high velocity. Despite the discomfort of cramming my wings behind me in this bucket seat, I consider driving more often in the future, just for the joy of rushing down empty back roads, surrounded by dense greenery that threatens to overtake all the land lost to civilization.
The last stretch of the drive has me on a dirt lane, but the way is almost as smooth as pavement. When I round a bend, I find a traditionally styled farmhouse with white siding and blue shutters. To the right of the house sits a large barn, and that’s where I spy movement. Pulling up next to a familiar truck, I try to figure out what I’m seeing.
Are they hanging a sheet on the side of that barn?
The approach of a large form distracts me. The figure is shadowy in the dusk, but I know that body just from the outline.
He steps into my headlight beams, and I catch my breath at the sight of him. Tonight, he’s dressed himself up in a pair of dark pants, a crisp white button-up, and a set of suspenders that stretch over his broad chest. The change in his normal casual appearance eases my nerves about my own outfit choice. I smooth a hand over the silky skirt of my black dress. The material falls far above my knees and plunges in the back, leaving plenty of room for my wings.
Then, there are the boots. This morning, I crawled into the attic and pulled out all the boxes labeled Momma’s Shoes. When she passed, I knew I should donate them, but I couldn’t find the will to let go of her little treasures. Tonight, I’m glad I held on to them.
Collecting the gift bag from the passenger seat, I turn off the headlights and climb from the car, taking a moment to straighten my clothes. Then, I hear a wheeze and glance up to find Mahon staring at me, his mouth as wide as his eyes.
I guess the thigh-high heels are doing their job.
“Since you gave me zero direction, I hope this outfit works,” I tease as I approach the stunned man.
In answer, Mahon stumbles forward and hooks me around the waist, fusing our mouths together. His heavy hands explore the many exposed parts of my body until my scales tingle with needy pleasure. When his thumb brushes under the short hem of my skirt, I wonder if he’ll skip all the preamble and just fuck me on the hood of my car. The shifter wouldn’t hear any complaints from me.
Instead, Mahon rears his head back with a gasp. “Gods, you are fucking perfect. I’m jealous of your dress. The thing looks better on you than I ever could, but damn, I want to be on you all the time. And your shoes. I never want you to take them off. But also, I need to peel them off slowly. Kiss all your scales as I go.”
My nipples harden, pointing through the thin fabric, and he groans when he notices. But before the bear can get any more dirty talk out, I shove my gift bag in his face.
“Happy birthday!” My words come out breathy.
Mahon loosens his hold, putting enough space between us to hold the gift in front of his chest. “You didn’t have to get me anything. Anything other than a night with my face between your thighs, of course.”
When I let out a scandalized gasp, the bear chuckles. Despite protesting the need, he digs past the tissue paper, and I suddenly find myself self-conscious. In a short amount of time, I’ve let down most of my walls for this mythic, but we still know so little about each other. I wasn’t sure what kind of gift he’d like, so I had to guess.
“It’s not much. Since I only had a few days. I can get you something better with more time.”
He pauses in his digging to swoop forward, stealing a quick kiss. “I love it.”
“You don’t know what it is.”
His broad shoulders shrug under the dress shirt. “It’s a gift from my Satine. So, I love it.”
When he pulls the first item out, I’m busy, rubbing my chest, just over my heart because the organ is about to bust out of my rib cage and tuck itself in his pocket.
“Honey?” He holds up the mason jar, a delighted curl to his lips.
“Well, you’re a bear.” Good job. Way to sound super caring and smooth.
Mahon’s expression freezes, and his nostrils flare. I brace myself to discover I’ve made a misstep. That gifting honey to a bear shifter is offensive in some way.
With jerky movements, Mahon unscrews the lid and practically shoves his nose in the golden goo, sucking in a deep breath.
“Is something wrong?” I hold out my hands, ready to take the gift back and hide it in the SUV in shame.
“Is this honey from Violetta’s hives?” He names the witch who is also Levi’s mother.
“Yes. Can you tell that just by scent? Is her honey okay?”
“Is it okay?” The question gasps out of his throat. “H-how did you get this? She never shares.”
“She gives me a jar sometimes. Violetta and my mama were friends.” Two women with monsters for children. “She looks out for me.”
Mahon moves in close again and plies me with a series of rapid-fire kisses that have me giggling by the time he backs off. “This is the most delicious honey I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve only had it once because I took some from a hive when I was a teenager. When Violetta found out, she cursed me to lose my coat for an entire month. I was a butt-ass naked bear! Then, she hired a protection witch to set a spell around her bees. I never got another taste. Until now.”
And with that, he scoops up my hand and dips one of my fingers in the nectar, and then he sucks my digits into his mouth, tonguing the sugary coating off so thoroughly that I’m worried I might orgasm just from the hot slide of his licking.
As I try to recover, Mahon screws the lid on and reaches back into the bag. Realizing the other small gift can’t compare to the honey, I move to tug it away.
“Don’t worry about the other thing. It’s a joke.”
He grins, hand already coming up with the bundle of blue material. “I love jokes.”
“You don’t have to wear it,” I persist.
Mahon lets the fabric unroll, and I watch his eyes track over the letters I ironed onto the material. Suddenly, he’s setting aside the honey, as if forgetting the golden treasure he just proclaimed it to be. The shifter shrugs off his suspenders, unbuttons his dress shirt so fast that I’m worried he’ll pop off a few buttons, and then tosses the top aside, replacing it with the simple T-shirt, displaying the two words on the front—Satine’s Bear.
“I want six more,” he declares, voice serious. “One for each day of the week.”
“You’re ridiculous.” And I can’t help pressing myself into him and kissing the hell out of my bear.
A throat clearing breaks up our make-out session. I’m glad I can’t blush when I realize Calder and a stranger hover just a few feet away. Then, it registers—a person I don’t know can see me in all my wide-winged, blue-scaled glory. My body stiffens, and I’m about to launch into the sky to escape when Mahon wraps a staying arm around my waist and grins at the pair.
“Delta! Calder! Check out my badass shirt.” The bear points to my craft project like I gave him a designer suit.
Calder reads the words and then turns to his partner. “I want one.”
The dark-haired woman rolls her eyes, even as she smiles. Delta steps forward, extending a hand in a kinder greeting than I expect from strangers.
“Nice to meet you. You’ll have to tell me where you got that.”
“I made it. But I can show you how,” I offer as I carefully shake her delicate hand.
Everything about her appears human, and I wonder if she is or if this face hides another form. Despite my lack of time among Folk Haven’s population, I do know it’s rude to interrogate a mythic about what they are, and I don’t want to alienate Mahon’s friends.
But maybe Delta, who hasn’t even tilted a brow at my appearance, would be willing to get to know me well enough that I could ask if those are acrylics or claws on her pale hands.
“We’ll leave you two to it.” Calder steps forward to give Mahon an affectionate slap on the shoulder. “Happy birthday.”
As his friends climb into the truck, Mahon uses his arm around my waist to guide me toward the barn.
“This is your day, but I feel like I’m the one getting the surprise.” My eyes take in the suspended sheet and what appears to be a giant pile of pillows.
“You can surprise me next year,” Mahon offers, as if us being together a year from now is a guarantee.
My heart thunders with happiness that his mind has reached the same conclusion that I want. That we aren’t a quick fling. That this is more.
“But since it’s my birthday, we’re watching my favorite monster movie.”
The bear directs me to sit on the cushions as he fiddles with a projector. When the sheet lights up like a movie screen, I can’t stifle a delighted squeak at the title.
“I like this one,” Mahon explains as he reclines on the pillows next to me and encourages me to sprawl on his chest, “because the monsters save the world.”
Which is the exact reason I love this movie too.
Could I also have fallen in love with this sexy, silly, sentimental bear?
Did I ever have a chance?
As the film plays, we cuddle and share snacks and drinks pulled from a cooler. Strategically placed citronella torches keep most of the bugs away, not that they’d bother me with my impenetrable scales, but I’m glad for the protection of my shifter’s vulnerable skin.
When the credits roll, I wonder if we could start from the beginning. Just keep playing the movie all night and never leave this perfect moment. But I’m guessing the owner of this property will eventually want us to stop squatting.
“Is this Delta’s land?” My claws idly trace over the proclamation on the shirt I gifted him. I assume it’s hers because we’re not in water mythic territory, which is where Calder would own a home.
Mahon’s stomach bounces with a chuckle. “Nah. This is all mine. Twenty acres.”
That has me sitting up, meeting his hazel eyes in the dim glow of the half moon. “This is your house? And you’re working as a delivery guy? Is your mortgage super expensive or something?”
Mahon slowly shakes his head, his focus on my mouth, as if he’s more interested in kissing than conversation, but I keep a staying hand on his chest, wanting to know everything about him.
“My parents owned this place. Used to be a horse ranch. They missed the cold, so they moved up to Canada a few years back and left this all to me outright when I said I didn’t want to go.” His warm palm covers the back of my hands, thumb idly tracing the design of my scales. “I do odd jobs because I’m not sure what work I want.”
“Why’d you stay?”
Don’t ask that! I silently shout at myself, not wanting to give him any reason to leave.
The curve of his lips threatens to distract me. “Folk Haven felt like home. Like there was something important here for me. Or someone.”
Could he mean what I think he does? I find I’m too much of a coward to ask outright.
“Have you come up with any ideas? Deciding what you want to do?”
Now, the curl of his mouth is pure naughtiness. “I have in fact. Got a good idea that just popped into my head right now. And I think I need some help with it.”
The shifter leaps to his feet and pulls me up with him. Next I know, the bear tugs us toward the shadowy forest.