False Alarm

The alarm sounded – an urgent, metallic voice crying “emergency” between shrieking beeps.

Lauren’s heart raced as she saved her work, slipped a folded piece of paper into her pocket, grabbed her security pass and phone, and rushed to the exit.

“These damn alarms,” her co-worker said, as they hustled down the fire stairs with the rest of level three. “Probably just some idiot burning their toast.”

“One day it might be real,” Lauren said as they burst into the sunshine.

“Everyone by the fence,” the fire warden bellowed. “You know the drill.”

Lauren shuffled away from the grumbling crowd and towards a large gumtree at the edge of the mustering area.

When she heard the siren approaching, she bit her lip.

***

She’d been reading a book in the park when he’d dropped onto the grass beside her.

She’d looked at him, trying not to gape. He was handsome – the kind of handsome you see in the movies – and tall, she could tell by the way his legs stretched so far beyond hers.

“You work in the Hutchings building, right?” he’d said. “I’ve seen you in the muster area when we’ve responded to the alarm.”

“You’re a firefighter?”

He’d waved his hands down his uniform. “It’s the outfit that gives it away, isn’t it?”

She’d cringed.

“Just teasing.” He’d elbowed her gently. “I’m Billy – and I know this sounds creepy but – I’ve always noticed you – under the tree, away from the crowd.”

“That would be me. Lauren. Our alarm goes off a lot.”

“At least you know it works.”

“I guess.”

He’d closed his eyes and tilted his face towards the sun.

She’d taken the opportunity to allow her gaze to drift over his profile, admiring his long black lashes and full mouth.

“Lauren,” he’d said, suddenly opening his eyes and turning towards her.

She’d quickly looked away – heat flooding her cheeks.

“Would it be okay if I – um – got your number? I’d like to ask you out. For a coffee. If you’re interested?”

She’d blinked. Hell-yeah, she was interested. “Sure,” she’d said, and hoped he hadn’t noticed the awkward squeak in her voice.

“Great.” He’d handed her his phone. “Pop your number in and I’ll text you.”

As she was putting her name in his contacts, a voice from across the road called, “Billy. We’re up.”

He’d leapt to his feet and flashed her a dazzling smile. “Gotta go,” he’d said, shoving his phone in his pocket. Then he’d dashed across the road and onto the fire truck, turning and waving as he disappeared inside.

That’s when her heart sank. She’d made a horrible mistake.

***

Lauren took a deep breath as Billy and his team exited the building and spoke to the fire warden.

“Another false alarm everyone,” the man said to a resounding groan.

She swallowed hard, waiting until she caught Billy’s eye. When he finally looked her direction, she gestured him over.

He seemed to hesitate before walking towards her.

“I gave you my old number,” she blurted as soon as he was in ear reach.

He threw his head back with a laugh. “Phew. That’s a relief. I thought you gave me the brush off.”

“No. God no. I changed numbers and I keep forgetting.”

He smiled. “Well then, I better get your new one.”

She took a folded piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to him.

***

Lauren dropped into her chair – a wide grin plastered across her face.

It hadn’t taken much to set off the alarm. She’d just popped some bread into the toaster, shifted the machine a little to the left, put it on high, and walked away.

She chuckled to herself, as she logged back into her computer.

When her phone dinged, her heart leapt.

She opened the message and saw a tiny firefighter emoji.

Then a second message popped up.

“P.S. Next time you don’t need to burn your toast – just call me 😉

© Amy Hutton 2021

Shifting

It always took time for David to get used to being in a house. After weeks of sleeping outdoors, curled under a tree, or dug into a den, the softness of a bed was strange and uncomfortable. The sound of traffic was deafening and the street lights unbearably bright. But the warmth of the body nestled beside him certainly made the experience more palatable.

He knew he shouldn’t be there, naked and pressed up against Jaida. It was stupid. It was beyond stupid. It was colossally stupid.

He shifted on his pillow and recklessly rubbed his face in her hair, inhaling her scent deep into his senses. He could pick out her shampoo, her perfume, her soap. There was a hint of the bar’s aroma from earlier that evening, a little trace of oregano from the pizza she had eaten, and his own musk. The one that set him apart. The one his pack followed.

“It’ll just be for the night,” he thought. Then he’d leave. Just one night.

***

From the moment she’d caught his eye across the room, he’d been fascinated. Something about Jaida captivated him in a way no human woman ever had. He was instantly drawn to her. He had to speak to her. Touch her. Breathe her in.

When she went to the restroom, he had followed her. Not thinking what that would look like. He wasn’t up on dating etiquette.

He’d terrified her as it turned out. At six-foot-four, he towered over her petite frame. He’d apologised. Excused himself. But when he spied her still watching him from her seat at the bar, he made his move. If he’d been in his other form, he would have pounced.

***

He froze, holding his body rigid as Jaida shifted beside him. She stretched out her toes from under the sheets, making tiny mewing noises as she shuffled closer. Her leg wrapping over his. Her hand on his belly. Her soft cheek resting on his shoulder as she drifted back to sleep.

***

He should have left the moment she told him what she did. He should have got up and walked away. She was an animal behaviourist, who had just moved to the tiny Oregon town to study a new grey wolf pack that had been seen in the area.

His pack.

He was their alpha.

When the moon was waning, he became a man.

But the moon would be full again in a week. Then he would change.

He shook his head and whispered. “Dumb, dumb, dumb.”

It was the kiss that had caused this monumental blunder. The one in the alley beside the bar. With her legs wrapped around his waist and her tongue in his mouth. That sealed his fate. Until then, it had just been a drink and some flirting. After that, it was so much more.

He had pushed her up against the wall and growled in her ear. A real growl. The one he would use in his other form. He’d felt her quiver below him at the sound, and he knew in that moment he was toast. He wanted her. He needed her. Fuck the consequences.

“Just two nights,” he thought. Then he’d leave. Two nights. Three tops.

***

The dawn light peaked under the curtains. He hadn’t slept. He usually didn’t sleep at night. That was when he hunted.

Jaida shifted, her hand drifting down his torso, skimming the bones of his hips.

He puffed out an embarrassingly shaky breath.

“Morning,” she said.

He turned towards her and without speaking, pressed his lips to hers.

He had a week. He could stay a week. Then, he’d leave.

©Amy Hutton 2021

The Birthday Surprise – A Holly and Callum Short.

“What’s that smell?” Holly took in a lung full of the stench wafting through the darkened room and coughed. “It stinks worse than you after Mexican food.”

“Funny,” Callum said. He breathed in the fetid air. “Sulphur. Which means it’s a demon. Unless it’s eggs. Or egg farts. Or an egg farting demon. Maybe that’s its evil power. Egg farts.”

She laughed and whacked him on the arm. “Idiot. Let’s get this done and go home.”

“Whatever you say, birthday girl.”

***

Callum sat on the sofa. Bare chested. His t-shirt was in his hand, bunched-up and pressed against his leg. His jeans were torn where he’d slid along a gravel driveway, and an angry wound oozed through the hole in the denim.

Holly knelt on the floor in front of him. “Take your pants off too,” she said.

He pushed himself up, dropped his jeans and stepped out of them. “If you wanted me naked, Holly, you just needed to say the word. Anyway, shouldn’t you be the one in your birthday suit?”

Holly ignored him. Or at least tried to. It wasn’t easy with Callum standing right in front of her, his tight, black boxer briefs practically at eye level.

“I don’t think it needs stitching,” she said, distracting herself by prodding at his leg.

“Ow. Careful.”

“Stop being a baby.”

“Hey. I didn’t ask to get tossed out the door by a goddamn demon.”

“Then you should’ve moved faster.”

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”

“A little.”

He laughed and bent forward, cupping her chin in his hand as he crushed his lips to hers.

She shimmied up his lean body and pressed into the warmth of his bare chest, her mouth still glued to his. When he gently pulled away, she almost squeaked in disappointment.

“I got you messy,” he said, his voice little more than a growl.

“You sure did,” Holly said, her heart racing. Then she followed his gaze to her shirt. “Oh. The blood.”

 “Well, hopefully both. But how about I look after my leg and you go clean up. I gotta surprise for you.”

***

Holly scooped her wet hair into a messy bun and opened Callum’s dresser. She slipped on a pair of his boxer briefs, teamed with the crystal earrings he gave her for Christmas, and nothing else. He wanted birthday suit, he was getting birthday suit.

***

“Don’t come in the kitchen,” he called as she walked down the hall.

She perched on a dining chair, sucking in everything that might roll.

He hobbled into the room, wearing a thick bandage around his knee and a World’s Sexiest Cook apron around his waist, his eyes down as he concentrated on carrying a birthday cake ablaze with candles.

“Happy birthday to…” he looked up and froze. A crooked grin spread across his face. “Are those the earrings I gave you?”

Holly burst out laughing. “That’s what you’re noticing?”

“Also,” He placed the cake on the table and turned around. “Great minds.”

Holly’s gaze locked on a firm, naked ass. “Is this my surprise?”

“Technically it was the cake, but…”

“Very nice butt.”

“Do you wanna piece?”

“Of the cake, or you?”

“I’m voting me.” He grabbed the waistband of her boxers and guided her into his arms. “This puts a whole new take on getting into my pants.”

She reached around him and undid his apron ties. It fluttered to the floor. “I’m going to blow…”

Callum’s eyebrows shot up.

“…those candles out,” she said, turning and puffing out the flames.

He threw his head back and laughed, then gazed down at her, his green eyes sparkling. “I love you, Holly Daniels, you know that?”

She smiled, stood on her tiptoes and pressed her lips to his. She did know that.

©Amy Hutton 2021

The Last Sunrise

It would be my last sunrise.

The last time I glimpse the orange streaks stretching across the wide blue sky. The sun shimmering gold above the ocean as its dazzling light glistens off the frothy peaks of the waves.

My breath catches in my throat at the sheer beauty of it. Nature at her most glorious.

A young woman rides along the footpath atop the headland where I stand. She stops and pulls her bicycle onto the grass beside me.

“Gosh. It’s a stunner this morning,” she says.

I nod and hmm in agreement.

***

It’s been centuries since he witnessed the spectacle of the dawn. His eyes have not gazed on the sun, nor experienced its warmth for four hundred years.

He watches it rise in movies. The colours vividly captured on celluloid. The grandeur of the moment frozen in time. He strains to remember the touch of it on his cold flesh. The lick of its heat.

He studies the photos I take for him and eagerly listens as I explain every glint, every shade, every sensation the still image does not capture.

I consider how startling he would be in sunlight’s brilliance. His alabaster skin, eternally shadowed by the night, gleaming iridescent. His striking face illuminated, and his green eyes blazing.

I will never see him like that.

Just as I will never see another sunrise.

***

I draw a deep breath, holding the air trapped in my lungs until they burn. Savouring the scent of the sea spray that follows the air down.

I won’t breathe after today. My nostrils will never again tickle from the breeze. My chest will never rise and fall. I exhale an exaggerated puff and marvel at how my lips tingle as the air passes over them.

I will miss it. All of it. But I don’t regret my decision.

Not when I feel his mouth on mine, or his cool touch against my searing hot skin. Not when his hard body presses into me, as his butterfly soft kisses dust my shoulders, and his powerful hands caress my back.

I would give up everything for that.

I will give up everything.

I selfishly want him to love me forever, and if that means dying for him, then I shall.

A tear splashes onto my cheek and I swipe it away before another can follow.

I take one last wistful look at the fledgling day and turn and walk towards my car.

***

He holds my hand in his. “You’re sure?” 

I gaze at his handsome face. His eyes long dead, yet still full of love, crave reassurance.

“I’m positive,” I say, and tenderly kiss his icy cheek.

He runs his nail across my palm, drawing a thin line of blood.

I hiss at the pain and wince as he dips the nib of the quill into the fresh wound.

Red liquid drips from the pen’s end as he hands it to me.

My signature in an ancient book is all it takes to end my life.

I close my eyes and picture the sunrise, fixing it eternally in my mind, before inking my name on the page.

My death was a brief one.

© Amy Hutton 2021

Hawaiian Heatwave

Elle wasn’t sure if the pounding was happening inside her head or if it was the surf crashing against the beach outside her hotel window.

She groaned and licked her lips, screwing up her face at the stale tang of mint and shuddering at the memory of the mojitos she drank way too many of the night before.

“Morning,” a raspy voice beside her said.

Elle’s eyes snapped open, and she cautiously glanced to the side before slowly allowing her head to follow.

A smile met her. Wide and sleepy and impossibly bright.

She squinted as she struggled to focus.

The smile was surrounded by golden skin, with eyes the colour of faded denim sparkling above it. Messy brown curls stuck out in every direction and dark scruff shimmered along a strong, square jaw.

Everything roared back to her as she gawped at the gorgeous man in her bed. The cocktails. The music. The dancing. The kissing. The more kissing. So much kissing.

She lifted the covers and peeked beneath them, sighing with relief when she saw she was wearing her underwear.

“Yeah. We didn’t do that,” he said with a laugh. “What kind of guy do you think I am?”

At that moment, she wasn’t entirely sure, but she thought he might be an… “Adam?” she blurted. “Hi… Adam…” She cringed at the hesitation in her voice.

He laughed again. “Yep. Adam.”

She winced. “I know. You’re the reason I can’t feel my feet.” Or my lips, she wanted to add.

“We did do some dancing,” he said, stretching his arms above his head. A crack rang out. “Oof. I need to work out more.”

Elle frowned. From her vantage point, it looked like he worked out plenty. Broad shoulders lay against her pillows and perfectly formed biceps rested on top of her sheets.

She ran a hand over her hair, as she wondered how she could slide away to the bathroom and a mirror.

“Hey. You look beautiful,” he said, leaning in and kissing her on the cheek.

He threw back the sheets, strode to the window and drew the blinds.

Elle was dazzled by a magnificent sunrise and Adam’s equally magnificent back.

She inhaled sharply, and a tiny gasp escaped her mouth.

“I know, amazing, right?” he said, still gazing at the view. “Nothing like a Hawaiian sunrise.” He turned and smiled at her. “How about an early swim?”

***

They held hands as they walked barefoot down the path, past the pool and its straw umbrellas, and onto the beach.

“Race you,” he said, turning towards her and running backwards.

“You’re on,” she said, as she dropped her towel and sprinted towards the ocean.

She hooted as she shot passed him, then squealed in surprise as the cool water slammed against her skin.

He followed her in, slid his arms around her waist and dropped them both under the waves with a splash.

Elle burst to the surface laughing and spluttering – her long hair wrapped around her face.

Adam stood in front of her and guided the wet strands from her eyes. Then, bending down, he pressed his lips to hers.

They rocked back and forth, mouths locked together, bodies pressed into each other, fingers entwined, everything warm and wet as gentle ripples lapped around their thighs.

“So,” Adam said, when they finally broke for air. “You feel like some breakfast, Elle? I know the best spot on the island for Loco Moco.”

“Sure,” Elle said. “Or…” she hesitated. “We could get room service?”

***

As they walked back across the sand, towards the hotel and the deliciousness that awaited them, Elle licked her lips, this time savouring the zing of sea salt, and the heady taste of holiday romance.

© Amy Hutton