He chose to sit outside in the chilly Adirondack air, behind a hedgerow just out of sight of the kitchen. The moon was passing gently in and out behind the light puffy late spring clouds, and the stars were hard to see. He sat quietly, just looking and listening.
After 5 years, the forced Moon Change didn’t seem to hurt as much as it used to. Perhaps, though, he was getting used it. His father barely seemed phased by it anymore. Ellen on the other hand had not been ready for it. At nearly fourteen, she had thought she had escaped the curse, only to have it burst forth full blown.
It was near ten when Ellen plunked down next to him behind the hedgerow. She was shaking still and looked like she had seen her death. She pulled up her knees and wrapped her arms around them. They sat quietly next to one another for a long few minutes, just looking at the sky and listening to the forest around them.
“Well, the hearing is cool,” Ellen said, quietly. “So’s the seeing-in-the-dark thing. But the hair I can do without. And the paws and tail and fangs.”
“It’s all part and parcel of it, El,” Vincent said. “Trust me, being here helps.”
“Well, I know it does,” she said. “But why couldn’t it just skip me?”
“I don’t know,” Vincent said. “But this is only once a month.”
“You do realize this means I get two times of the month,” Ellen grumbled.
“I don’t need to know that, Ellen,” Vincent said.
Ellen smirked at him. “But you’re my brother. I can share anything with you.” Vincent shook his head quietly and stared up at the sky again. Ellen looked up and then looked at him. “Is this where you always sit?”
“Usually,” he answered.
“Why?” she asked.
He put a finger to his lips and pointed the house behind them. “If you want to really find out about how good your hearing is, stay quiet, and listen to what comes from the house.”
Ellen shrugged and put her head down. Vincent rolled his eyes, and tuned into the kitchen. He had been fairly sure he heard his mother in there a few moments before doing something. He heard another set of feet pad into the kitchen covered in slippers, and he knew from that alone it was probably Becca.
“How are you doing, Becca?” Sharon asked, putting something on the table.
“Well, it’s been an interesting evening,” she said.
“Sit down, please,” Sharon said. “Would you like a drink?”
“Something stiff,” Becca said, sitting down.
“Hot cocoa ala Smirnoff?”
“That sounds perfect,” she said.
“Are you alright?” Sharon said.
“I… am. I didn’t know what to think when he started to try to tell me all of this,” Becca said. “I’m an only child of divorced parents who care more about themselves than what was ever good for me. I’m better off without their bickering. When Nathan started to drop hints about his father, step-mother and a whole family out there, I was thrilled. He had never really said anything about his family at the office.
“He brought me to dinner with Richard, and I knew what he and I were building was a good thing,” Becca’s smile could be heard in her words.
“How long have you been dating?” Sharon asked.
“Eight months,” she answered. “But we’ve been working together for nearly three years, and have hung out quite a few times. We just sort of realized we liked each other eight months ago.”
“You must really like each other if he’s brought you here already,” Sharon said.
“What makes you say that?”
Sharon sighed. “Nathan has never brought anyone to visit us. Ever. For as long as I’ve known him. He’s gotten as far as meeting Richard, which freaked that woman out. He got to the point where he had to explain the moon change to another, and she called the men in the white coats on him. It took everything Richard had to get him released from the hospital that time. And while he was locked up in the hospital that little whore started spending all his money and partying at his apartment.”
“Oh,” Becca said. “That must be the infamous Regina.”
“He’s told you about her,” Sharon said.
“He’s cursed about her, but he never told me the whole story,” Becca said.
“Well, I leave that up to him because that got really ugly and I was nearly arrested,” Sharon couldn’t hide the laugh in her voice. She sobered a moment later. “I will warn you, here and now, Beccalynn. There are people out there who know, and who hate them, and will try to do anything to destroy Nathan and you and any children or friends you might have. Physically, mentally, financially. I don’t know where their hate comes from, but it is strong and terrible. You must be stronger than that.”
“I am,” Becca said, with no hint of mocking.
“What did you think of all this when he told you of it?”
“I thought about calling the men in the white coats,” Becca said, and laughed. “I really did, though. Instead, I didn’t talk to him. For about five days. I was furious that after all this, meeting his dad, talk about meeting his family, he would try to jerk me around. I just refused to talk to him. By the fourth day, I realized I felt lonely and missed him terribly. I gave in, called him, and I told him I was willing to believe him if he showed me.”
“And here you are,” Sharon said.
“Here I am,” Becca said. “And with the obvious exception of this… lunar infliction, I find myself liking this whole situation very much.”
Vincent could hear the smile in his mother’s voice, “Good. Because despite the fact that Nathan is twenty years my senior, I have always thought of him as my stepson and been very protective of him. I have been waiting for him to find someone like you, Becca, and I want you to take good care of him.”
“I will,” Becca said.
“Well, the sentiment is lovely,” came Nathan’s gruff, transformed voice, “but I am quite capable of taking care of myself, thank you.”
“Normally, I wouldn’t argue this, but until I organized your sock drawer, you probably wore mismatched socks your whole life.”
Vincent and Ellen started laughing.