Candle light set a soft glow to the otherwise dark room as our bodies seemed to move as one to the pounding music in the background. Nothing else mattered in those moments but the feel of each other. Our bodies climbed together, racing toward the peak. As we reached it together, the neighbors probably knew it. We gradually brought each other down. I collapsed beside her, spooning her immediately. Her small, soft body gently panting and heavily sweating against my stronger, just as sweaty, body.
I was slipping into the grips of sleep when my phone rang. The moment I saw who was calling, all the sleepy, good feeling vanished. “Hi, Devin. I stopped to run. Must have fallen asleep.”
“Can't you tell me before you decide to take a late run?” A man whispered on the other end. “Ember and Leo tried staying up to wait for their mother.” I flinched, both at the tone of his voice and the last word.
“Are they in bed?” I asked in hopeful surprise.
“Its two in the damn morning, Sky. Yes, they're asleep.” I checked the time and swore. “Are you coming home before dawn, or not?” Devin demanded in frustration.
“Look, I can't fucking stop running just because a six year old doesn't like it. Not only is it not safe but they have to know it's what I do, in case-"
“Ember is too young to show signs.”
“No, she isn't.” I counted. “But I'll be home shortly."
“Forget it. I'll come get you. You'll take forever to get to the damn car.” He sighed. “How do you always end up in the woods?”
I snorted. “Cause I'm always driving when the urge is too hard to ignore. I can't always make it to the Centers, Devin. I will drive myself home.”
There was a sigh on the other end. “Fine. Be safe and please, stop disappearing without telling us for hours. The kids and I worry. I love you.”
“I'll try, okay? I'm going to find my clothes, and I'll be home.” I was glad my brain repeated I love you as much as regretting informing him I was nude. Since he didn’t ask, I hoped he had assumed I’d stripped to shift.
As soon as I’d hung up, she was getting dressed. “Go back to your damn human husband. Think about me the next time he shoves his twig inside you and calls you a girl.”
I let out a deep sigh. “Carmen, please don't make this harder than it is. What do you want me to do? My family isn't going to understand us any more than they understand that I’m not a girl.”
“I understand!” She snarled angrily at me. “I understand you're a man, Sky! I treat you like a guy, and don't get pissed off when you tell me you needed to shift so badly you couldn't make it to a center.”
“Fuck, Carmen, I don't drive if I feel like that. It’s a lie I tell my husband. You know, the one I’m cheating on? You may understand my gender and genetics, but you certainly don't seem to get why I'm going home to my husband and children.”
“No, I don't.” She growled. “Divorce is cheaper and easier than it has ever been. Sky, I get why you don't want to come out. It used to be evil and at one point in our lives it would have caused us serious issues. But it's everyday now people get on hormones.”
“I…I don’t want to completely loose the kids. I’m worried they won’t even give me custody.”
She sighed. “I think we can win. Sky, we could raise the kids together. They can learn they have two dads and a mom. They can adapt to that and you two not being together. I, on the other hand, am getting tired of being used as a sex toy and sleeping alone! I'm tired of my patents giving me side glances because for five years I've told them I'm with the same man who refuses to ever meet them! They're starting to wonder if I'm with a human or vampire.”
“Oh, how awful.” I growled as I got up and began to dress. She was getting dressed, and I’d told him I would be home. “Humans aren’t horrible to be with. Devin gets upset because he suspects I’m doing exactly what I’m doing.”
“Great! So stop lying to everyone! Its hurting us all! You don’t want to be with him, do you? Don’t you want to hold me every night?”
“Damn it, Camren, yes. I want to be here. I didn’t fall asleep next to you for the hell of it. I love you or I wouldn’t have stayed so long.”
“Well I love you too, Sky. Its why I’m tired of this shit. The lies. The sneaking around. The glances at your phone. I feel like every second I’m with you, I’m on borrowed time. I don’t like it. Fucking tell Devin or just stay with Devin.”
I whipped around. “What?”
“I’m done with lying! This is going to be found put eventually; its amazing we kept it a secret this long. Stop hurting everyone. Leave him or stay with him.”
My heart plummeted into the pits of hell. I staggered. “Camren. Camren, I love you.” Tears began to enter my eyes, making me drive them away. I hated crying.
“Then fucking prove it!” Her snarl was a wolfish sound. “Devin and the kids deserve more than this, and so do I! I’ve given you five years to make the decision on your own, and instead you pile lies on a foundation of lies! I could have even been fine with sharing you in a poly relationship. But you picked a man who has mortality from the early two thousands!”
I swayed over to her, taking her hand. “I want you. I’m just scared of loosing the kids.”
“Sky, I want you too. If you tell him, I will help you take the kids. Just stop doing this to us.”
I let out a deep sigh, closed my eyes and let out a deep breath, trying to center myself. This had been a long time coming. Five years. Five years of lying, of living two lives.
One of them was bound to ask me to choose.
“Okay, Camren. I’ll tell him.”
Her shoulders relaxed. “Sky, I’m sorry. I wouldn’t even ask, but you’re hurting us, and them. I can’t keep doing this. I tried so hard not to fall in love with you, but what’s done is done.”
I nodded, gave her a kiss and told her I loved her before finishing getting dressed and heading for home. With the cloud cover, I couldn’t see the moon or stars. But I could feel the pull of the moon. Today was not a good day to say something. But there was never a good day to break hearts.
Gandhi had once said “Where this is love, there is life.” But what happened when you loved two people, and one would not be okay with it? What happened when one asked you to give up everything?
I can’t keep the lie going and expect to be happy, anyway.
The phrase that kept going through my mind was what’s done is done. Because it was true.
Coming home to see Devin pacing the house made my heart squeeze, making me force down the well of emotion to try to prevent my body from triggering the Change. It wasn’t safe here. There were children in the other room.
He went to hug me in relief the moment he saw me. I stepped away from his embrace. He gave me a concerned look. “Sky?”
“We need to talk.”
He tensed, pulling away slowly. “I think I can guess what it’s about. Are you sure you want to do this tonight?”
“No, but there's no right time for this conversation.” I gathered every last ounce of my energy. “But we should probably do this sitting down.”
We tensely sat on opposite sides of the house, him on the sofa and me on the chair near the door. I took a moment to consider how to begin.
“I want a divorce.” I settled on the hardest part first. “And Ember is showing signs. She is like me, and I refuse to allow a human to raise a lycanthrope.”
He stared at me for several uneasy minutes, his deep green eyes wide with shock. “You…want a divorce? And the kids?”
“I want both kids, yes, but no court will support you even attempting to raise Ember.” I replied gently. “Its too soon to tell with Leo. He’s too young, but its unlikely he is human since I’ve already passed it down.”
“She hasn’t shifted yet!” He protested. “You can’t be sure!”
“Actually, I can. We always can by five. She’s six. I…have known for about six months now.”
Devin’s shocked gaze slowly began to burn with anger. “And who are you leaving me for, Sky? Is he another werewolf?”
“She is. Ember knows her future mother already, in fact. Carmen has always wanted kids.”
Understanding blended with the growing rage in his eyes. His jaw set as everything fell into place. “How long?”
“Five years.” I spoke as softly as I could.
He was to his feet and in my face in the next second. “You’ve been with her almost our entire marriage and I’m just learning about this now?!”
“Devin.” I did my best to withhold my growl. “Get out of my face now.”
It seemed to take everything in his power to remove himself from my personal space. He still was too close for my comfort, balling his fists and fixing me with a pointed, furious glare.
“You want to play with my heart for six years and rip my kids away from me?”
“You will still get visiting rights, but yes, I want my lycanthrope children.” The snarl finally came into my voice. “I tried, Devin, to make us work. You didn’t want to touch me the only way I wished to be touched. You didn’t want me talking to others like me. You argue about me wearing clothing I like and the way I want my hair. Yes. I have been having an affair. You treat me like a woman you have control over just because we signed a piece of paper.”
“We signed that paper in a ceremony about love!”
“I do love you, damn it, but you don’t want a husband! You want a wife! A human wife! What you want from me, to act like I am not a lycanthrope, is not even possible! I am what I am, Devin, and so are the kids! I thought you understood that when we got together! I quickly lost hope of being who I was! When I found Carmen, I never meant to fall in love with her too!”
“Pack your shit tomorrow and get out!”
I let out a low growl. “Devin, I'm not leaving without the kids.”
“Take that up with a lawyer!”
“You'll need the lawyer, Devin. I may have been having the affair, but I also have the better paying job and lycanthropy.” I rose to my feet. “They find us to dangerous for humans to raise. Now. I'll leave tomorrow with the kids. I can sleep on the couch.”
He stood there looking like he wanted to protest before leaving the room. He still brought me out a pillow and blanket, to my surprise. Then I heard the bedroom door lock.
Sleep was restless when it finally came. I woke around dawn to my alarm going off to wake up Ember. I called the school and informed them that Ember wouldn't be in today due to a family emergency, called Carmen and made plans for us moving in and got Ember and Leo up and around.
“Where are we going momma?”
“I'm taking you to your new home. We're moving into Carmen's house. Ember, would you do me a favor and grab the diaper bag?”
I paused before getting down on my hands and knees. “Ember, can I talk to you a second?”
She nodded, her six year old eyes wide.
“I am a man on the inside. I'm your daddy too, not your mommy. Do you understand?”
She looked at me very thoughtfully. “So you're not my mommy, but my dad?”
“Then why did you want me to call you mommy before?”
“Because it was a secret. It isn’t one anymore. Okay?”
She thought about it again before nodding. “Okay, dad. Is daddy coming?”
That one is a little harder.
“Daddy isn't coming. He's staying here.” I replied as calmly as I could. “I'll talk to you about it when we get to Carmen's, okay?”
“Okay.” She replied with a frown “I'll get the bag.”
“Thank you, my little pup.”
I stuffed everything I could into my truck. Camren helped us unpack, and I did my best to explain to Ember what was going on without hurting her opinion of her father. This was going to be a long process, and I had a lot of making up for five years of lying. But the future was ours, and I could be content with that.
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Such an interesting concept, but I thought fleshing out the concept a little more (what Carmen meant, emotions, conflict) would have been a bit more fulfilling and impactful. The werewolf aspect also could be explained a little (dw, I know it is a short story), but maybe explain how the gender/human to wolf shift happens. Shouldn't werewolves be more understanding due to this quality, or do only some wolves shift this way. I did love your protagonist's personality too. Good luck with the next one!
You've come up with an interesting world here, I would have loved a bit more world-building. Nice choice to draw parallels between being a werewolf and being trans, it's great that his gender was accepted so easily.