During the break between terms, I went to my sister’s house. I was happy to see her and Shayla, and I think they were genuinely happy to see me, too.
Delia was also glad I was back. She asked if I had read her alchemy book. I had, though I had very little time to do it in between my other studies.
“The first thing I will show you how to make,” Delia told me, “is a elixir of bliss. It’s the easiest, and honestly, it’s the least harmful potion to brew.”
“Are you afraid I will harm someone?” I asked. Delia was the only one who knew that I was looking for a way to bring D’Arcy to life. Surely she didn’t think I intended to do harm.
“No,” she assured me. “I just don’t think you realize how dangerous magic can be.”
“Science is dangerous, too,” I said. “Everything can be dangerous. But I swear, I will be careful.”
Making the elixir of bliss was easy. Delia helped me at first, but I was soon able to do it on my own. Next she let me try making a vial of sleep.
“How goes the brewing?” D’Arcy asked, sitting down next to me on the sofa. Delia was in making dinner and my sister was busy teaching the kids how to use the toilet.
“I know how to make two things,” I said, proudly. D’Arcy got excited.
“So you’ll be able to change me before we have to go back to college?”
“I don’t think so,” I shook my head. “It’s harder than it looks. And Delia admitted that she doesn’t know the recipe. She says I need to do more research and reading.”
“Can I help?”
D’Arcy would never let me figure out how to bring him to full life on my own. He knew I was working hard, but he also knew that I could do better if he was assisting. We headed to the Elixirs and Sundries shop and picked out a few more books that the witch who worked the counter recommended.
We both focused on the research we were doing, but by the time the next term started, we still hadn’t figured out anything new.
This term we decided to rent a house and take on some roommates instead of living in the dorm. Sarah and Shayla had lived in the house we rented. I was excited to have a little extra privacy. I think D’Arcy hoped that he wouldn’t have to put up with guys like my friends Matt and Trey from the dorms.
Unfortunately, D’Arcy wouldn’t get his wish. We left a co-ed advertisement in the student union building. Our first applicant was a male. One that I knew.
“Alesondro?” I was shocked when he came through our door.
“Natasha?” he was equally surprised.
“I didn’t know you went here,” we both spoke at once. “What are you doing here? I thought you’d moved away?”
I found out that Alesondro had been so embarrassed about changing into a werewolf in front of me and my family as well as our school friends at my birthday party that he refused to go back to school.
“My folks enrolled me in boarding school.”
“You shouldn’t have left my house like that,” I said. “I looked for you at school the next day. I wanted to tell you that I didn’t care if you were a werewolf. I thought it was cool, actually.”
“Most people are scared,” he said. “I thought for sure you and the guys would hate me.”
“We didn’t. We wished you had told us, though. You were my prom date. I think I could have handled the whole werewolf thing.”
Alesondro apologized for running off. He said that going to boarding school was the best thing that had happened to him. It was a special school for people like him…with supernatural powers.
“I learned a lot about myself there,” he explained. “I don’t feel so crazy and out of control about my ability to turn into a werewolf. It’s just a part of who I am.”
Eventually our conversation turned to what Alesondro originally came for: an application to be my roommate.
“I am not sure,” I hesitated. “We have a history. It might be sort of uncomfortable.”
“Please?” Alesondro begged. “I really need a place to stay.”
“Well….” I hesitated again. “There is another who lives here and I will have to ask him. He might not like it.”
“Is he your boyfriend? I promise, I won’t do anything. We’re just friends.”
“No,” I laughed. “He’s not my boyfriend. He’s…well…um…he’s the oldest friend I have. I’ve known him since I was a kid.”
“Is he someone I know?”
I had no idea how to tell Alesondro about D’Arcy. I asked if he’d ever heard of the Fae at his school.
“Sure. We had lots of fairies at my school. Is your friend a fairy?”
“No. He’s sort of related, though. Ever hear of Fae Toys?”
“I tell you what. I’ll ask him and then I’ll introduce you to him.”
“So you’re saying that the guy who wants to have the spare room is a werewolf?” D’arcy asked me when I told him over dinner.
“Yeah. I went to school with him. He’s a great guy.”
“Which of your friends was he?” I always forgot that D’Arcy was around when I was a child even if I hadn’t played with him and didn’t know he was alive or coming to life.
“He had the long hair. Alesondro Whitefish.”
“Oh. The prom date. The guy who ran away and was never heard from again.”
“Yes. He was sent to boarding school.”
Later, when D’Arcy and I were playing video games, I continued explaining about Alesondro.
“I was humiliated,” I said. “I thought we were great friends. I actually hoped that he’d be my boyfriend after the prom. I couldn’t believe he kept such a great secret from me.”
“It was kind of mean of him,” D’Arcy agreed. “Is he going to be a jerk like that again?”
“No. I think he’s sorry. He is here studying art. In a lot of ways he reminds me of my brother, Chris.”
“Will he change into a werewolf around us?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you think he will be able to see me?”
“I don’t know. Your friend, the fairy one, she says that most supernatural creatures can see you.”
“Yeah, but we never ran into a werewolf before and the vampires just ignore me.”
So Alesondro moved in with us. Even though we had an extra bed, no one else was interested in moving in. I felt sort of bad about that. If we had had a fourth, maybe things wouldn’t have heated up between D’Arcy and Alesondro as much as they did.
Alesondro could see D’Arcy. At first D’Arcy tried to lurk about to test the theory. He would come up behind us or just sort of hover at the edge of a room. Alesondro wasn’t fooled, though, so D’Arcy gave it up.
Eventually D’Arcy and Alesondro developed a sort grudging tolerance of each other.
“So only super-naturals can see you?” Alesondro asked.
“I guess. We haven’t been able to find much out about Fae Toys.”
“You and Natasha are doing research together?”
“All the time. We hope to bring me to life fully.”
“And what will you do when you’re a real boy?” Alesondro joked. I was studying in the other room. I looked up to hear what D’Arcy would say.
He just shrugged. “I guess we’ll all have to wait until that day happens and find out.”
I won’t go so far as to say that Alesondro and D’Arcy became friends. They did like to challenge each other, however.
“This time I’m going to kick your tail, Dog-boy,” D’Arcy taunted when they were playing video games.
“You and what army, Doll-face?”
Even I got in on their teasing competition. Whether it was bowling, pool, or even grades, I tried to give as good as they did. It was at one such competition that I finally saw Alesondro turn into a werewolf again. He was so caught up in trying to beat me and D’Arcy that he forgot what time of the month it was.
Most of the time, Alesondro liked to keep his changes from happening in front of people. He didn’t like showing off his feral side. He did everything he could not to go wild.
When his wolf takes over, he explained to us once, he is reduced to his baser instincts. He liked to hunt, fight, feed and fuck, he said.
To keep himself from losing all control, Alesondro meditated.
“It’s also why I like to paint. When I am sketching or painting, I can tap into that inside of me which is the most human…the ability to create. Animals don’t have that side of themselves.”
D’Arcy and I continued our studies and our research as the term progressed. I swear, though, I was beginning to wonder if we’d ever find anything that would help us out. I was beginning to lose faith in both magic and science.
One afternoon, after a pretty fruitless experiment, I told D’Arcy that I wanted to give up.
“We’ve been working for over two years on this and have gotten no closer!”
“But we can’t give up,” he said. “I don’t want to remain like this forever!”
“I’m sorry D’Arcy. I just don’t know how much more we can do. It’s beginning to affect my studies. I’m almost flunking chemistry.”
“I’ll help you study so you pass finals,” he said. “We have to keep going, though. I can feel it. We’re getting close.”
“How can you say that? All we’ve been doing is looking at samples and comparing data. Nothing has brought us even one step closer.”
“What about magic? Are you still studying alchemy?”
“Yes. I’m still studying. That’s probably why my chem grade is so bad! I’m not studying the right things!”
We went round and round, me trying to quit the experiments we were doing and him trying to convince me to keep going. I left promising that I’d keep going only if I passed chemistry. He agreed that we would study only that until after exams.
Though I managed to squeak by with a C, I was beginning to wish that I had never promised to keep up my research for something, anything, that would bring D’Arcy to life. I won’t lie. I gave up hope.
I knew we were doomed to failure when we tried to do a mind-meld experiment one day. It was a technique that we’d both read about. I thought it was hog-wash, but D’Arcy insisted that we try anything.
“Grab my hand,” he said. “And then touch my head. I will do the same. We will both be thinking about me coming to life. It’s bound to work.”
“Why is this going to work more than anything else we’ve tried?” I demanded sarcastically. “This is ridiculous.”
“No, it’s not. Remember that old book you read? The one that talked about believing?”
“Yeah. Like Peter Pan and Tinker Bell.”
“Well this is sort of like that. Maybe this is the sort of believing that they were talking about. We just have to believe it hard enough and then it will happen.”
Taking a deep breath, I held in what I wanted to say about the process of melding minds. I grabbed D’Arcy’s hand and touched his head. He did the same.
It didn’t work, of course. We both went to bed disappointed. D’Arcy refused to look at me as I got into my bunk. I knew he felt that it was my fault. I didn’t disagree. I had told him we’d try again, but he knew I was only half-hearted about it.
D’Arcy never asked me to do a mind meld again. He continued to do experiments, but I rarely assisted him. He refused to give up hope, but I couldn’t bring myself to share his optimism.
During our second term, when Alesondro first moved in with us, he seemed to go out with many different girls. These were casual dates, he said. He told us he wasn’t looking for anything more than that.
A few of the girls were human, but one girl, Ye Gangam, was a werewolf. When Alesondro started seeing her, things were a bit more serious.
Ye was actually a pretty nice girl. She invited me to one of her rallies on campus.
“It’s to protest unfair treatment of those with super-natural needs. Did you know that the university makes the vampires travel in the sun for day classes because they don’t offer any at night? And did you know that professors purposely schedule tests on full moon nights just so that werewolves have a more difficult time?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“It’s true. Come tonight to hear what we’re planning to do about it.”
Because of Ye, I got pretty involved in the cause of equality for super-naturals. Pretty soon, I was giving speeches at rallies myself. The hardest thing about being an activist was escaping from the police who insisted that all rallies be approved by the administration and issued a permit. Who asks for a permit to protest?
It was just easier to set up your speeches and run like heck if the cops showed up.
I thought Alesondro’s relationship with Ye was doing well. They attended parties together and always went out on the full moon night to hunt as a small pack with the other werewolves at the university.
I guess I didn’t know much about werewolf relationships. One morning after a particularly tough full moon, Alesondro came home with scratches, cuts and bruises.
“What happened?” I asked when I saw him.
“Ye and I got in a fight.”
“You guys actually fought? Like with fists?”
“And claws and teeth,” he nodded.
“Why? What happened?”
“Nothing important,” Alesondro said and headed to his room. He liked to crash the morning after the full moon.
“So did you guys break up?” D’Arcy asked later in the afternoon. He was playing video games online with Ye, who refused to talk about the fight.
“We weren’t going out,” Alesondro said.
“But I thought she was your girlfriend?” I asked. “You guys seemed serious. You always went out with her and hung out.”
“We were going out. That doesn’t make her my girlfriend.”
“Is that what you were fighting about? Did she want more?” I asked.
“Something like that.”
Alesondro could be quite tight-lipped. I remembered how stubborn he was in high school if he didn’t want to talk about something.
A few days later, I was still trying to figure out what had happened between my friend and my roommate. Ye hadn’t come around and she only talked to D’Arcy or me online. She also canceled all of her rallies.
“I just don’t get it,” I bugged Alesondro as we were returning home from the coffee shop. We liked to go there sometimes to study.
“We weren’t a couple, Nat. That’s what I keep trying to tell you.”
“But you guys were so cute together. Why weren’t you a couple?”
“Because I like someone else!” Alesondro’s announcement caused me to turn around sharply and nearly made him run into me. “Who?”
“You, you idiot!” Allesondro grabbed me and kissed me, right there in front of our porch.
Just because Alesondro kissed me, doesn’t mean that we started a torrid relationship right then and there. In fact, the kiss shocked me so much that all I did was look at him and then I went into the house. He followed.
But we started spending a lot more time together. We had to be careful. D’Arcy would not approve of this new development, this I was sure of. I made sure that D’Arcy wasn’t around any time that Alesondro and I were acting like more than just friends.
By the time the term ended, we were casually dating, but no one knew about it.
Again I went home to Sarah’s. Chris had asked me to spend the break with him. He said he wanted to take his family to Sunlit Tides and I could join them. No thank you! I knew that he meant I could help him and Shasta with their kids while the two of them relaxed in the sun.
“So how’s school?” Sarah asked me. “Are you keeping busy? I noticed that your grades weren’t as good last term.”
“I know. I got a bit side-tracked with some extra work, but then I got back on track.”
“Are you sure you aren’t socializing too much? Mom used to worry that Chris was partying too much. That’s why she was glad when Shayla and I got that house together.”
“I don’t party,” I assured my sister. “I barely have time to exercise between classes and experiments.”
“Well you should have some fun. You should be meeting people. Boys…or girls if that’s what you’re interested in.”
“Well…” I hesitated.
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
“No. Not really. But I got a roommate. He’s really nice. He’s an art major like Chris.”
Whenever I spoke to Alesondro, I did it in the bathroom. I didn’t want to say too much in front of my sister. I had no idea where D’Arcy had gone off to. He was spending a lot of time with Delia. He’d asked her to teach him alchemy, too. He knew that I wasn’t doing anything to help our research.
It was a pretty bland break. I kept wishing I could invite Alesondro to stay with us at Sarah’s but I couldn’t figure out how to do it without D’Arcy suspecting. And besides, Alesondro lived in Moonlight Falls. He had family there and a pack.
When we returned to the University for our third term, I promised D’Arcy that I would really apply myself to our studies and try to keep a more positive attitude. I felt badly that I was keeping a secret from him.
“I have a good feeling about this term,” D’Arcy told me one night while we were in the lab together. “I think we’re getting close.”
“What makes you say that?” I asked. I was in a hurry to leave because I was supposed to be meeting Alesondro at the coffee shop.
“Well, Delia and I were doing extra research on some herbs she’d found. I think one of them holds the secret to what we need.”
“What sort of herb is it?”
“She called it life fruit.”
“Life fruit? That sounds promising.”
“Yes. She found a small sample of it. Not the whole fruit, though. She gave it to me to test. If the tests show some results, you and I can start looking for places to acquire it.”
“That sounds great, D’Arcy! I really need to go, though. I have a group study session with some of the kids from my Astronomy class.”
“I didn’t know you joined a study group.”
“Yeah. You can keep working here. I’ll see you later!”
It wasn’t exactly a lie, I told D’Arcy. I was studying astronomy. Alesondro and I were sitting together studying the stars.
“Aren’t they beautiful?” I asked.
“Not as beautiful as you are,” he flattered me.
“No really. Look at that constellation there!”
I was looking up, but Alesondro kept looking at me. Eventually I got a bit embarrassed by it. “Why do you keep staring at me?”
“I’m memorizing your features.”
“I want to paint you.”
“You know I could pose for you,” I offered.
“I don’t think you’d want to do that.”
“Will you pose nude?”
That question stumped me. Alesondro and I had been dating, but so far we hadn’t been intimate. Could I actually pose for him naked? He’d never even seen me in underwear. Then I got to thinking about it. Maybe posing for him would make me feel less awkward if we did become intimate.
So I agreed. Alesondro went in to get his sketch book and pencils. I went to my room and stripped down. I gave myself a look in the mirror. I wasn’t that bad to look at. I was no fitness model like my sister, but I wasn’t overweight or anything. My breasts were large and my hips and belly were slightly round. I had curves. I hoped Alesondro liked curves. Taking a deep breath, I grabbed my robe and went into the living room.
“Where should we do this?” I asked nervously.
“Here, I guess.”
“Yes. The light’s not too horrible and it’s too cold to go outside.”
“Ok,” I agreed. Then I dropped my robe. I was gratified by the stunned breath Alesondro took when he first saw me. He looked me over quite appreciatively, but then he got down to business. He sketched me for nearly an hour only looking up a few times. Mostly he just talked to me. He told me how beautiful I was.
“Thank you for posing for me,” Alesondro said to me the next morning.
“You’re welcome. I thought it would be more embarrassing, but you made it easy.”
“You shouldn’t be embarrassed. You have a beautiful body.”
“I’m not too curvy?”
“Curves are interesting. They give the artist someplace to use his paints and brushes, to apply shadows and hints of mystery.”
“Oh shut up!” I blushed. “Now you’re just flattering me!”
“Is it working?”
Needless to say, I posed for Alesondro a few more times. And, posing nude did give me a sense of freedom and comfort when we finally took the next step and became intimate with each other.
I wish that keeping my relationship with Alesondro from D’Arcy had been difficult. It wasn’t. D’Arcy was very involved in his research. When we were together, that’s all we spoke of. We read books, talked over data, and analyzed a multitude of samples.
“Do you think we’re any closer?” I asked. I was still skeptical.
“Yes. I really do,” D’Arcy enthused. “I know that last batch of samples was rubbish, but it did help in the research.”
“How did garbage samples help us?”
“Well, now we can rule out those substances.”
Maybe if D’Arcy hadn’t been so focused, I wouldn’t have become complacent about him discovering me and Alesondro. Since we’d become intimate, we were hardly discreet.
One afternoon I completely forgot that D’Arcy was supposed to meet me at the coffee shop. He’d made a discovery that he wanted me to see.
Alesondro was there when I got there. He greeted me with a kiss. Then we got to talking about our classes and I completely forgot that D’Arcy was coming.
Alesondro and I were busy flirting and teasing each other. He kept trying to get me to leave so that he could paint me.
“I need you naked, woman!” he joked.
“You don’t want to paint me now. I know what you want!”
Alesondro growled. It was a day before the full-moon and he was always a little more feral just before it.
“What big teeth you have,” I teased him. I knew he hated Red Riding Hood jokes.
“All the better to eat you with!” he teased me back. Then he grabbed me and kissed me, just about devouring me with his wicked mouth.
What a horrible moment for D’Arcy to come into the shop!
“What are you guys doing!” he yelled, seeing us. We leapt hastily apart.
“It’s not what you think!” I said, then I back pedaled. “Well, it is. But we’re sort of dating…and we just hadn’t told you about it yet.”
Alesondro stepped away to let me and D’Arcy talk. “I’ll get us all a drink,” he said and headed to the bar.
“I’m sorry D’Arcy,” I started. “I knew you wouldn’t like it. I just really feel special when I’m around Alesondro. He makes me feel beautiful.”
“So you’ve been kissing and dating and doing things while I’ve been researching and studying?”
“Don’t be upset. It wasn’t like that. I’ve been helping, too. I have. You know I have.”
“But not whole-heartedly. I’ve been doing most of the work.”
“I know, but you’ve always been more invested. I nearly gave up on it last term.”
“Don’t be mad, D’Arc. You said you’d found something out. You were going to tell me about it.”
Just then Alesondro returned with our drinks. D’Arcy ignored his. He just shook his head.
“It doesn’t matter now,” D’Arcy said. “Don’t worry about it.” He turned and left us in the bar.
“What was that about?” Alesondro asked.
“I don’t know. I think it might have been important, but now we’ve hurt him. We should have told him about us long ago.”
“Let’s go catch up with him. I’ll grovel. Maybe he’ll forgive us,” Alesondro gave a wolfish grin. I smiled and punched his arm. Then we headed out to find my oldest friend.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find him anywhere.