“The fact that we shouldn’t get too comfortable here, none of us. Chatting and getting to know one another is all nice, I mean, after all, we’re stuck here and we’ll probably be stuck here for a while, but we’re in grave danger.”
“He’s right, and don’t get me wrong, I agree with him. When it’s a situation like this, a single momentary lack of focus could cost us dearly. But, we can’t just walk around one another in this house. We need some social interaction, too, otherwise we’d go crazy,” he smiled with those big eyes, not only his lips.
“You know what I’m wondering?” I take up the brown bag and start unpacking it, since he seems to have totally forgotten about the rest of stuff still inside. He joins me, and together, we put everything back in its rightful place.
“What?” he wonders.
“How on earth you two ended up as partners?” I purse my lips, and my eyes widen for just a single moment of wonder.
“Oh, that,” he’s smiling, but I can tell he didn’t expect this question. Perhaps I shouldn’t have asked it.
“I’m sorry,” I immediately pull back. “I’m prying.”
I physically take a step back, feeling my cheeks flushing with a sensation of awkwardness, which now, unfortunately, I can’t take back.
“Let’s just pretend I didn’t ask you this,” I add.
“Why?” he gives a half-shrug, as he folds the paper bag evenly over then across, and then places it carefully inside a small kitchen drawer closest to him. “I mean, not like it’s something very intimate. Not like you asked me how many girls I slept with,” he chuckles, and to my horror, I blush even more.
Did I want to know the answer to that question? No. I don’t know. Maybe. But, probably not.
Then, why am I blushing?
“We’ve been partners for a long time now,” he continues, and I’m grateful for not dwelling on the previous comment. “And, where we come from, being partners is much more than just having each other’s back.”
“What do you mean, where you’re from?”
Anderson sighs heavily, then sits at the kitchen table. The soft light of the lamps over his head illuminate his soft freckles and an occasional streak of crow’s feet, which become more prominent when he smiles. And yet, it somehow doesn’t diminish his charm. It makes it even more prominent. I always believed that old saying of growing old like fine wine was very difficult to achieve, but Anderson is somehow managing it, very successfully.
“Well, I suppose you were bound to find out at some point,” he tells me morosely. “I mean, I’m surprised your dad hasn’t told you yet, but I guess he has his reasons.”
“You keep mentioning my dad,” I snap at him, a little more threateningly than I intend to. “But, then you pull back and you just leave me hanging there in the middle.”
“Sorry, that’s not my intention,” he speaks calmly. “I see you here, all a tangled mess, and I just want to help you clarify things, even if it’s not my place to do so.”
I slump down onto the chair opposite him at the kitchen table. I feel like this conversation would be best conducted sitting down.
“So, can you please tell me what I need to know?” My voice is pleading. Anything is better than not knowing, and whatever he knows about my dad is probably crucial to me.
“Fynn’s going to kill me, you know that.”
“I’ll protect you,” I can’t help but chuckle. “Now, spill it.”
“I guess there is no other way than to do just that,” he smiles, with a heavy sigh. “Fynn and I… we belong to an ancient clan of wolf shifters, and - “
“Wait, wait, wait.” I lift my hands in a gesture of halt, palms open towards him. “Are you saying you guys can turn into wolves? Like, for real?”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying,” he nods, and there isn’t a flicker of a smile on his face.
“Well, I’m sorry, but I find it very hard to believe,” I snort.
“I’d show you,” he starts, “but, despite what movies will have you believe, it’s pretty darn painful to do. Our bones actually crack and readjust to make the new form. So, we don’t do it just for the heck of it. I believe that I myself have only done it a handful of times. Fynn, too. Only when there is no way out of a situation.”
I take a moment to try and let this realization sink in. But, it’s difficult. The man in front of me wants me to believe that he can actually turn into a wolf.
“Alright, let’s say that I believe you, just for the heck of it,” I continue, trying to be calm and composed, but I feel totally opposite from that, “you mentioned that you guys knew my dad from before. You aren’t going to tell me that he’s a wolf shifter as well, are you?”
“Um, no, not really,” he shakes his head and a few strands of his coal black hair fall over his eyes.