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 hum an affirmative.

***

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

Christmas in July – A Holly and Callum short.

The house loomed before them; a hulking silhouette against the starry July sky. The night was warm and sweat trickled down Holly’s spine.

“I’m so damn hot,” she said, fanning herself.

“Yes, you are,” Callum said, and he pressed his lips to the back of her neck.

She tried to shake him off. “You’re making me hotter.”

He wrapped his arms around her waist. “Do tell.”

 “Now you’re making me sticky.”

“Ooof. Keep talking.”

“Callum.” She gave him a playful shove and watched him laugh as he stumbled backwards. His dazzling smile lighting up the dark. “Can we get this job done so we can go home and take a cold shower.”

“A cold shower isn’t going to help us,” he said, and he leaned in and softly kissed her.

***

 They stood side by side and surveyed the room. The house was a mess. Boxes were strewn across the floor, and a sofa rested on its end against the wall.

“Did the spirit do this? Holly said, in a whisper.

“No. They were moving in when the disturbances began.”

“And they only saw it upstairs?”

“Yes. In the nursery.”

“A haunted nursery. How cliché,” she said, and a floorboard gave a loud creak under her foot.

“And now that cliché spirit, probably knows we’re here,” Callum said, as he loaded iron rounds into his pistol.

Holly grabbed his hand, “Um. It does.” She pointed upwards. “It’s at the top of the stairs.”

Callum shone his flashlight towards the landing. “What is it? What do you see? Are we in trouble?”

 “It looks… It looks like… It looks like Santa.”

“Santa? The jolly guy in the red and white suit? That Santa?”

“Yes. That Santa,” and she heard Callum stifle a chuckle. “Oh god no,” Holly groaned. “He just ho-ho-hoed at me.”

And this time she heard Callum laugh.  

***

Holly sat on their bed thankful that the job was done, the spirit was gone, and they were home. She tugged off her sweaty jeans as Callum watched, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.

“What?” she said.

“Of all the terrifying things we face in our lives, Holly, you’re scared of Santa Claus.”

“He’s a creepy old dude who likes kids way too much.”

 Callum snorted. “He’s a nice guy who gives people presents.” and he reached down and gently guided her into his arms. “Listen, I was thinking. Maybe you need to face your fear. We could do a Christmas in July thing. Just you and me.”

“Do you promise to stop laughing at me if I say yes?”

“I promise to stop laughing.”

“No Santa though,” she said, as she began to unbutton his jeans.

“How about just the hat. We’ll start off slow.”

“Okay,” she said, with an exaggerated sigh. She grabbed his waistband and pulled him towards the bathroom. “Nothing but the hat, and I meannothing. Except …maybe the boots.”

“Oooo. Kinky.”

“You love it.”

“Yes, I do.”

And Callum had been right, the cold shower didn’t help them at all.

©Amy Hutton 2021

A Devil Of A Romance – A Holly and Callum short.

Longlisted for Australian Writers’ Centre October 2020 Furious Fiction competition

 ______________________________________________________________________________

“This is kinda romantic,” Callum said, nudging Holly. “A cabin by the lake. You and me…

“Tied up, waiting to die.”

“Well, I said kinda.”

They sat on the floor, back to back, wrists and feet bound, a band of rope pulled tight around their waists.

It was supposed to be a routine haunting. Holly would clear the spirit, and Callum would back her up. Except there was no spirit. Just an elaborate ruse by a pair of amateur Satanists looking to sacrifice a psychic to their dark lord. That’s where Holly came in. Only the idiots forgot the ritual candles and ran into town to pick some up, leaving Holly and Callum alone. Holly would laugh if she wasn’t so damn angry.

“You shouldn’t have come, Callum. They wanted me. Now we’ll both die.”

“We’re not gunna die. We’ve been in worse fixes than this.”

His pinky finger caressed hers, causing a familiar tingle to zip up her spine.

He was right, they had been in worse fixes. Like the time they were trapped in the basement of a condemned house with a furious spirit who sent Callum soaring across the room, splitting his head against a wall. He still carried the scar from that wound. It ran through his left eyebrow. Holly found it sexy.

“Can you wiggle out of the ties?” Callum said, bringing Holly back to the present.

Holly tried to move. “No. But what if we drop to the side?”

They rocked back and forth, falling sideways onto the fluffy white rug that covered the cabin floor.

“What Satanist buys a white rug,” Callum said, as he puffed the long pile away from his mouth. “I mean, blood sacrifices and white do not go.”

“Focus, Callum. Move around a bit. It might loosen the knot.”

They flipped and flopped like two fish beached on the sand until Callum squirmed out of the rope with a “Ta-da!”

“Give me your hands,” he said.

Something wet and warm ran along Holly’s wrist. “Did you just lick me?”

“Maybe.”

“Callum. Focus!” She tried to ignore the goosebumps that erupted across her skin.

“Couldn’t help it,” he mumbled, as he tugged on her ties with his teeth.

The second Holly was loose, she crushed her lips to Callum’s, kissing him hard and deep. He didn’t object.

She forced herself to pull away. “Later,” she said, through heavy breaths. “We need to go.”

They clamoured off the floor and darted to the door.

“Hang on,” Callum said as he dashed back inside. He returned brandishing a bottle of red wine.

“Is that their sacrificial wine?”

“They ain’t gunna need it now. Besides, they owe us. We can grab a pizza on the way home!” He flashed a dazzling grin.

“You are unbelievable.”

“That’s why you love me.”

“That’s why you’re lucky I love you.”

“To the moon and back,” Callum said, and he leaned over and kissed her cheek.

Holly smiled. “And then back to the moon.”

© Amy Hutton 2020