“I am so happy that you finally decided to come out with us,” Mira greeted me with her signature obnoxiously cheery smile. “The others are meeting us there. I just have to grab my jacket, and then we can head out. Sit down and make yourself at home.”
I took a look around her small living room trying to find a place to sit. There was an old sofa that looked like it might fall apart if I sat on it. Everywhere else there were stacks of books, elixir bottles (some empty some half full), and on one of those stacks of books slept a fat grey cat. Not far from the sleeping cat was an odd looking alchemy station. So I guess that alchemy station means that Mira is a witch.
Great, just what I need in my life: another witch!!
“So what made you change your mind?” Mira asked me from inside of the other room.
The annoying magical talking mirror that lives in my house wouldn’t stop pestering me until I agreed to call you.
“No reason,” I called out.
I was about to ask Mira where exactly she was dragging me to, but I was stopped by an earth shaking boom coming from below us. A few of the books fell over, and an elixir bottle fell off a shelf and broke, but the cat continued to sleep un-phased. Mira bolted out of her room, charged past me, and ran outside. I followed her to see what the hell caused that mini earthquake.
“Papa.” Mira called down to the basement that was filling with thick black smoke. “Is everything alright?”
Against my better judgment I followed Mira into the basement.
It was hard to see, and even harder to understand what was going on. The smoke burned my eyes, and I just know that this dust will be impossible to get out of my fur. I need to get some fresh air as soon as possible. I made my way back up the wooden ladder with Mira behind me, guiding her father.
“What happened, Papa?” Mira asked her father once we were all above ground again. She was cleaning the black smoke and dust off of him.
The poor old man spoke very fast and incoherently, but I think he said, “I dunno. The what-cha-call-it interacted with the whos-its. Or the thing-a-majig didn’t connect with the do-hickey.”
I could tell right away that this man is not playing with a full deck of cards. He is not the sharpest tool in the shed. The lights are on, but no one is home. He is a few fries short of a Happy Meal. In other words: he is crazy!
Mira’s father was absentmindedly looking around the yard (does this old man seriously not know where he is right now??). However, once he got a good look at me, total fear took control of his body.
“You… you’re a…a…a…” he stammered while he turned white as a ghost.
I’m a what? A monster? A freak? A beast?
Yes, I know that I am all of the above, but I did not reluctantly agree to come out with Mira just to be insulted. Especially by this senile old loon. I let a low growl escape my throat in response to this disrespect.
“Papa,” Mira smiled at the dimwitted old fruitcake to try to defuse the situation, “this is Linc, our new neighbor I told you about.”
“Oh, I see” Father Time quickly recovered and his fear was replaced with friendliness. “It is nice to meet you Linc. You may call me Euclid.”
Just like Mira had done before, Euclid held his hand out to shake mine, and just like with Mira I crossed my arms in front of me.
If this is a sign of what’s to come of this night, I may as well go home now. Sitting at home talking with Bert is way better than this.
“My father means well,” Mira explained as we walked to where ever she was taking me.
It seems that because of Mira’s Immundus status, she can’t get a taxi to pick her up. So, we walk to where we are going. At least she isn’t making me ride on any flying broomstick.
“He just hasn’t been the same since Mama died,” Mira was talking this whole time, but for the life of me I can’t remember what she was babbling on about. Probably her crackpot father. “He spends all day and night down in the basement at his work bench.”
“So,” I was in desperate need to talk about anything else, “where exactly are we going? And who are we meeting?”
The change of subject was just what Mira needed to resort back to her annoyingly perky self. “Well, you have already met two of them. Flint and Renatta were with me when we showed up at your door. Flint in the fairy, and Renatta is the doll. And we are going to one of my all time favorite places in Moonlight Falls: The Cauldrons and Cappuccinos Café.”
Mira was right, Flint and Renatta were at the coffee shop when we showed up. As with the library, people were staring, but no one said anything to me about how I looked. It’s a good thing too. I was already on edge from my rude encounter with
Old Man River Euclid.
I took a seat in the corner chair brooding over why I even bothered to leave my house. Getting out was harder than I thought it would be. A big part of me wanted to say the hell with the lot of them, and storm out of this poor excuse for a cafe. But on the other hand, if I went home now Bert would annoy the living shit out of me until I agreed to hang out with Mira again. I can’t tell which option is worse; either way I lose.
Sitting here with Mira and her sickeningly bubbly friends was not making things easier, though. Renatta kept asking me questions that I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t want anyone knowing my real name, where I came from, or why I moved to Moonlight Falls.
It is ironic really. The old me used to love being the center of attention. I craved it. I could talk for hours about how jaw-dropingly awesome I
am was, and I would never get bored. That was the old me. The pre-beast me.
Instead of answering Renatta’s irritating inquisition I looking around the coffee shop. It was small; half the size of the Simbucks in Twinbrook. There was a small case of pastries to choose from, and a coffee maker behind the counter that looked so old it could have been in the Smithsonian. Behind the counter was an equally old fairy couple (again, not a reference to their sexual orientation but an actual fairy couple). The thing that really caught my eye though was an old upright piano.
That was the second piano I saw today. Mira had one in her house (although hers was used as a bookcase and not as a musical instrument). It couldn’t be a coincidence. Seeing the un-played pianos made me homesick. I missed playing for my family. I missed showing off for Miss Melanie. I thought about how she beamed with pride as I played Joplin’s The Entertainer for her for the first time. I was still a kid back then, wearing the uncomfortable dress shirt Mom made me wear. And still crushing on Miss Melanie big time.
“Do you play?” Renatta’s tiresome questioning brought me out of my daydream. She motioned to the piano that I was fixated on.
“No,” I quickly shifted my focus away from the piano and on to the coffee that was sitting in front of me that had gone cold. “Not in a long time.”
As I refocused my energy back onto reality, and back onto this small coffee shop in the middle of Moonlight Falls, I noticed something was different.
“Where did Mira go?” I wondered out loud. Don’t tell me that she ditched me with her stupid irksome companions.
Instead of answering my question Flint spoke to Renatta, “I told you he wasn’t paying attention to us.”
Choosing to ignore Flint’s rude, but accurate, observation Renatta smiled at me and pointed to where Mira was standing on the other end of the coffee shop talking with someone else.
Mira was in deep conversation with someone she had not yet introduced me to. This new person was a female. She was tall, strong (she looked like she could bench press a truck), and hairy. She wore cut off shorts and a camo tank top, showing her overly hairy arms and legs. Her glowing yellow eyes were a dead giveaway that she was a werewolf. I focused my keenly sensitive hearing to see if I could discern what Mira and the werewolf were saying.
I have come to learn that there are a few perks to being a beast. One of which is my newly heightened senses. Since my transformation I feel physically stronger, I can see further, and I can hear better. I was able to hear Mira’s conversation with little effort on my part.
“So what do you think?” Mira asked the stranger.
The stranger did not seem keen to whatever Mira had just asked. Hesitantly she replied, “I will have to talk to Ryker. He is Alpha after all, and I don’t know how trusting he will be to a newbie.”
“I understand,” Mira nodded her head, “he just seems so lost, you know. We all are feeling that way these days. I just thought that maybe you and your pack could help guide him.”
The stranger stole a quick glance in my direction and then said, “I will see what I can do.”
“Hey Linc,” Mira called to me from across the room. She was completely oblivious to the fact that I had been listening in on her conversation. “There is someone I want you to meet.”
I really didn’t want to meet anymore people. I am not Mira’s Show and Tell to pass around to all of Moonlight Falls. On the other hand, anything has to be better than sitting with Renatta & Flint. So, I got up from the table and headed to where Mira was standing.
Mira made the introductions. “Linc, I would like you to meet Camilla Maynard. She is Beta Alpha to the best werewolf pack here in Moonlight Falls.”
“Beta Alpha?” I didn’t understand the term.
“I am the #2,” Camilla explained, “The Alpha to the pack is Ryker Silas.”
“Well,” Mira seemed very pleased with her match making. “I will leave the two of you to talk”
“Don’t get the wrong idea here.” I spoke before Camilla had a chance to say anything to me. “I don’t know what Mira told you about me, but I am not a charity case. I will not be paraded around to all of her friends like a supernatural play date. And I certainly don’t need her trying to set me up with you or any other woman.”
Camilla’s response was not what I had expected. She laughed at me, and by that I mean she loudly roared with laughter. She laughed so hard she hunched forward complaining about stomach pains. Everyone in the cafe stopped what they were doing and looked over to see what the commotion was all about. Her hysterics were so deafening that she could have been heard from outer space.
No one has ever laughed at me before. I don’t like it. I don’t appreciate being made fun of by anyone. But especially not by this woman who had obviously had never heard of a razor before. Who is she, or anyone, to laugh at me?! I am Lincoln fucking Charming! I will not stand for this! I should tell this hacked up hair ball what I think of her and her obnoxious cackling!!
Then again, that was the old me. The pre-beast me. Beast Linc just stood there silently until Camilla was done. When she finally regained some compose she said, “You have a lot to learn, young one.”
“Now, let me tell you something,” Camilla wiped a tear from her eyes, and with all seriousness said, “Mira is the kindest, most selfless, most noble person in Moonlight Falls. And the way she is treated by others is deplorable. I could smell the arrogance on you from the moment you walked in, you little brat. And the only reason I am doing this is because I owe Mira a favor.”
I stood there is silence. Again, no one has ever talked to me that way before. This was becoming a day of firsts, and not in a good way. I didn’t like it one bit. But I said nothing out of fear that Camilla could easily kick my ass.
“Like I said to Mira, this is Ryker’s decision to make,” Camilla continued, “and he will be less tolerant of your disrespect than I am. Shape up, and you might just survive running with our pack.”
Side Note: Hello All. Not many notes this time around. But I have to give a very big THANK YOU to Jowita who made some poses for me. Without her help this chapter would not have been possible. If you are interested, Jowita put the poses on her website for download. You can find them HERE. And again, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now I am off to catch up on some of my reading. Have a great day, or night depending on when you are reading this.