“Peter,” Roman said quietly. “What are you doing?”
Peter looked up. “Dammit.”
Roman tilted his head and smirked. “Are you making breakfast?”
Peter nodded. “I was going to bring it up.”
Roman smiled, made his way over to Peter, and planted a kiss on his cheek.
“So, what are we having?” Roman asked, sitting down at the table.
“Toast, omelettes, orange juice, coffee. Bacon.”
Roman hummed appreciatively. “Bacon. Good.”
Peter laughed. “I thought you’d like that.” He turned back to the stove, and a few minutes later, set a plate in front of Roman, sitting down opposite him with his own.
Shelley appeared then, standing in the doorway and watching them. Roman put down his fork and stood.
“Morning, beautiful,” he said with a smile. He gestured for her to sit with them, and she took a seat at the end of the table. She tapped out a message on her phone.
Good morning, Roman. Hi, Peter.
He nodded at her, his mouth too full to speak.
Did you sleep over again?
Peter swallowed, glancing at Roman. “Uh, yeah, I did. Is that okay?”
Shelley grinned. Of course. I’m happy you stayed.
“Oh. Thanks, Shelley.” Peter returned to his breakfast, suddenly shy.
“You hungry?” Roman asked. Shelley shook her head. Roman sat down again and took a bite of toast.
“Full moon tonight,” he noted, glancing at Peter. Peter looked up.
“I know,” he said quietly.
“Want me to come with you?”
Peter hesitated, then nodded. “Just to the woods.”
They finished breakfast, and Roman washed up while Peter went to get dressed.
“We have a few errands to run before tonight,” Roman said, leaning against the sink. “Will you be okay?”
She nodded. I’m going to see Dr. Pryce. He’s helping me with something.
“What is it?”
“Right,” Roman chuckled.
Peter reappeared. “Ready to go?”
“Almost,” Roman said. He went over to Shelley and hugged her. “I love you, sis. Be good.”
She nodded. You, too.
Roman laughed. “You know I can’t promise that.”
Peter waved from the doorway. “Have a good day, Pretty Eyes.”
Shelley blushed and looked away, then looked back at him seriously. Be safe.
“I’ll try,” he said.
They left together, and Shelley watched them, an uneasy feeling settling in her stomach.
Roman and Peter sat in a quiet coffee shop, enjoying a few minutes rest. Evening was closing in quickly, and Peter was growing nervous. Roman took his hand after he ran it through his hair for the seventh time.
“Hey, it’s going to be okay,” he said softly, stroking the back of Peter’s hand with his thumb.
“I know, I’m just… I don’t know,” Peter sighed. He looked out of the window at the rapidly darkening sky. “We’d better go.”
They left and headed back to Peter’s cabin. Peter leaned back in his armchair and closed his eyes. Sweat rolled off his forehead. Roman studied him quietly.
Peter shuddered and opened his eyes. “It’s time.” He took off his necklace and undressed. They headed outside together, Roman holding Peter’s hand tightly.
“I’ll be right here when you get back,” he said. He kissed Peter, then stepped back. The change always hurt them both, each scream tearing through Roman’s heart and making him want to throw up, but he made himself watch. Peter needed him to be there, and he was going to be.
Peter took a deep breath as his body trembled. His shoulder shattered, and he dropped to his knees, screaming. Roman bit his lip, and forced himself not to run to him. He kept his gaze fixed on Peter as the wolf burst through. It shook itself off, then looked up at Roman. Roman gave him a smile and a single nod, and the wolf trotted off into the woods. Roman stood there long after he was out of sight, then headed back inside to wait.
Roman woke shortly after dawn. He looked around the cabin, but there was no sign of Peter. He looked outside. Nothing.
Dammit, he thought. He must have passed out in the woods.
He rubbed his eyes and made his way into the woods to search for him.
“Peter!” he called. “Where are you?”
He walked for what felt like hours, but there was still no sign of Peter. He was beginning to worry. He was about to give up, when something caught his eye.
A patch of the forest ahead of him looked disturbed, as though there had been a struggle. Broken twigs, crushed shrubs, and a few bent weeds lay strewn across his path.
Maybe he caught a rabbit or something, Roman told himself, but he wasn’t convinced. He went to take a closer look.
Blood spattered across a few large leaves, and a tree trunk was partially shattered. Roman’s stomach twisted.
“Fuck. Peter...” He turned in a circle, trying to decide which way to go. A trail of leaves and sticks disappeared into the forest to his left, and he followed it, nearly tripping over his feet in his haste.
The tracks stopped at a small, old cabin. Roman walked around it slowly. He tried to look through the windows, but they were so dusty and scratched that he couldn’t see a thing. He listened for a few minutes. There was no sound from inside. He tried the door, and it swung open with a loud creak. He made his way in hesitantly. There were only two rooms, the first of which being a joint living room and kitchen, but it looked as though no one had lived there in years. The furniture was filthy and covered with cobwebs, and a rat scurried along the skirting board and through a hole in the wall.
“Peter?” Roman whispered. “Are you in here?”
He walked slowly through the room. The floorboards creaked and bent under his feet, and he briefly worried about falling through. But Peter was more important. He went into the second room. There were no windows here, so it was nearly pitch-black. Something moved in the corner and he took a step backwards, but a low moan made him stop.
Roman pulled out his lighter and flicked it. The orange glow cast across the floor confirmed his fears.
Peter was curled up in the corner facing the wall, covered in a rough, woollen blanket. He was pale, and blood matted his hair. Roman rushed over and knelt beside him.
“Peter, what happened?” Roman brushed Peter’s hair back so he could gauge his injuries.
Peter looked up at him. “Roman… You have to go.”
“You have to get out of here. It’s a trap. He’s after you.”
“Who’s after me? What are you talking about?”
“Please, just go.” Peter closed his eyes again, exhaustion washing over him.
Roman tapped his cheek. “Hey, don’t go to sleep. I’m gonna get you home.”
He slid a hand under Peter’s arm and pulled. Peter cried out, and Roman let go.
“Fuck, I’m sorry,” Roman whispered. “You gotta get up, Peter.”
Roman pulled the blanket back, and nearly dropped the lighter. “Fuck.”
Iron shackles chained Peter to a pipe on the wall. Bruises and half-dried blood encircled his wrists where he had struggled against them.
“Who the fuck did this, Peter?” Roman asked urgently. “I’ll fucking kill them.”
“He wants you, Roman. Please, go.”
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m not leaving you.” Roman stroked Peter’s cheek softly.
The front door slammed shut and Roman whirled around, the flame going out as he did so. Footsteps came towards him, and a switch flicked somewhere near the doorway. A dim lightbulb illuminated the figure standing there.
“You made it, then,” the man smiled.
“Who the fuck are you?” Roman snarled.
“That’s not important. It’s who you are that matters.”
“And why is that?”
“You killed my daughter.”
Peter twisted around to look at them. “Roman? What’s he talking about?”
“I don’t know.”
“Janie,” the stranger clarified. “Eighteen, blonde. Last seen at a party, found the next day with her throat torn out. She left that party with you.”
“Roman! What the fuck is he talking about?” Peter pulled at his chains, but they wouldn’t budge.
“Janie…” Roman whispered. “I remember.”
“Why did you do it?” the man asked. “Why did you kill her? What did she ever do to you?”
“Nothing. She didn’t do anything. I…” Roman faltered, unable to find the words.
“You what? Just felt like it?”
“No… I’m sorry. Please, let Peter go.”
“Not until I get answers.”
“We… we met at the party. Talked, had a few drinks. I don’t remember much.”
“We got really drunk. And high. We left around midnight. I…” Roman stopped, racking his brain. “I don’t know what happened after that.”
“You were the last person to see her alive!” the man shouted. “I know it was you!”
“How could you possibly know that? It could have been anyone,” Peter argued. He knew what Roman was, but he didn’t believe he could kill anyone. Unless he needed to, of course.
Roman took a step forward, but the man raised a shotgun and aimed it at him.
“Stay where you are.”
Roman stopped and raised his hands. “Okay. Not moving.”
“Good. Now, try to remember.”
Roman thought back to the party. Meeting Janie, buying champagne. The cocaine dealer in the bathroom. Finding a private table in the back and getting high together. Then leaving. The rest was blank.
“Look, I’m sorry she’s dead, but I don’t know if it was me. Maybe she met someone else after, and they killed her.”
The man shook his head. “I don’t believe you. I think you’re just trying to save yourself and your boyfriend.”
“No, I’m not, I’m serious,” Roman said, risking another step towards the man.
“Don’t come any closer, you son of a bitch!” the man growled, jabbing the gun at Roman.
“Shoot me, then,” Roman said. “I’ve told you what I know.”
“Fine.” The man aimed the gun at Peter. “Move again, and I’ll shoot him.”
Roman stopped, cursing under his breath. “Okay. Don’t hurt him.”
“It’s a little late for that, Roman,” Peter said with a soft chuckle.
“You, shut up,” the man said sharply. Peter huffed and turned back to the wall.
Roman glanced out of the window. The sun was beginning to set.
“Fuck,” he muttered.
“What?” the man asked, narrowing his eyes.
“It’s getting late,” Roman said.
“You got a curfew or something?”
“Let Peter go. Or you’re going to get hurt.”
“Is that a threat?” the man snapped.
“No. It’s a promise.”
“Roman…” Peter moaned.
“It’s going to be okay, Peter,” Roman said, not taking his eyes off the gun. “Please, let him go. You can have me. Do whatever you want to me. Just let him go.”
Peter let out a yell as his bones began to crack and shift. “Roman!”
“If he turns here, he’ll kill you. Those chains might hold him now, but they won’t for much longer.”
The man hesitated, watching Peter writhe in pain. Peter pulled at the chains again, the clang rattling Roman’s ears.
“What do you mean, ‘turn’? What the fuck’s happening to him?”
That surprised Roman. He’d assumed the man had caught Peter last night.
“What exactly happened when you took him?”
“I… I was out hunting, this morning, and I saw him wandering around. I thought he was drunk or something. Stark-naked, looking like he was about to pass out. I knew he was your friend, so I thought I could use him to get to you. And it worked.”
“Well, none of that will matter if he kills you!” Roman hissed.
Peter was screaming now. His human screams mixed with the wolf’s growls, filling the cabin with a deafening roar. The man dropped his gun and fumbled for the key to Peter’s cuffs. Peter clawed at himself, tearing strips of skin away. Roman dropped to his knees beside Peter and reached out a hand, stopping inches away from touching him.
“Give me the keys!” Roman barked. “And get out of here.”
The man threw the keys onto the floor at Roman’s feet, and made for the door. Roman turned back just as Peter exploded, and the shackles fell slack. The wolf lay panting for a few seconds, then leapt to its feet, snarling.
“Peter, don’t!” Roman tried to hold him back, but Peter slipped through his grasp and hurled himself at the man, dragging him to the floor. The man’s scream was cut off as Peter’s teeth sank into his throat.
The wolf looked back at Roman, licked his lips, then bounded off through the front door and disappeared into the woods.
Roman sat back against the wall, breathing heavily.
“I tried to warn you,” he shrugged. He picked himself up, and, leaving the man on the floor for someone else to deal with, headed back to the cabin to wait for Peter, praying that he made it home this time.