“Why do I have to be the one to take the soup over to Grandma?” Conor eyed the wicker picnic basket on the table, a deep frown pulling at the corners of his lips. “I only came here to visit, and I really need to get back into town before work tomorrow. Doesn’t Lizzie usually do it, anyway?”
With a sigh, Conor’s mother pulled the red raincoat’s hood a little farther forward on his head. “Lizzie is sick too, Conor. You just have to drive the soup over to your grandmother and then you can head on back home. I know it’s frustrating to be sent on an errand when you’ve come to visit, but I have to take care of Lizzie. I can’t run the soup over today either.”
Conor rolled his eyes and shoved his hands into his pockets, then produced his car keys from one. “All right, fine. I’ll take the soup.”
“Make sure she’s doing all right, please?” His mother called over her shoulder as she walked away. “She sounded really hoarse over the phone.”
With his free hand, he scooped up the basket. “Okay, okay. I’ll check up on her, then. Anything else before I leave?”
“A key to her house is in the basket. Make sure you drive carefully!” She called back, waving over her shoulder.
The cottage was a tiny little thing out in the middle of nowhere. At one time, the neighborhood had probably been lively and full of children and laughter. Now as he drove down that quiet country road, most of the yards were overgrown where they used to be carefully trimmed. A handful of houses were half-collapsed, and others had condemned signs plastered on the front door. Some of the remaining houses looked decently maintained, and he supposed those were occupied by either families who vacationed there in the summers, or possibly by couples who hadn’t lost one or the other to their inevitable end yet.
Conor had spent most of his childhood summers here, running through the grasses in the yard and climbing every tree he could reach. The sights and smells of the air sent memories rushing back — the time he’d eaten too many pancakes one morning and had made himself sick on the tire swing, the time he’d fallen out of a tree and broken his wrist, the time he’d stolen his first kiss and discovered that while girls seemed great in theory, he wasn’t going to be the smoothest guy out there.
His grandmother’s yard was one of those which looked worse for the wear, but you could still see the good bones underlying the weeds and ankle-deep grass. His grandfather had passed a few years back and while Grandma did her best, it was hard to keep up on both interior and exterior housekeeping in her old age. This current state was likely due to her illness; after all, he didn’t like to mow his own lawn when he had a cold, and he was only twenty-eight.
He parked in the driveway behind her Cadillac — why did old people always drive Cadillacs? — and made sure he remembered the picnic basket when he stepped out.
A knock at the door went unanswered, so he pulled out the key and let himself in. “Grandma?”
Only silence answered him.
Conor furrowed his brow and set the basket down on the dining table as he walked by. Maybe she was asleep, but he hadn’t exactly been quiet just now. Was Grandma normally a heavy sleeper? He found he couldn’t remember if she was or not. “Grandma?” He called again, louder yet.
Still nothing. No answer. No sound.
He couldn’t explain why, but a chill went down his spine, followed by the prickling sensation of the hairs on the back of his neck rising. Nothing in the house seemed out of place: it had been dusted recently, and he couldn’t see any obvious signs of burglary. Despite that, he balled his hands into fists to keep them from shaking. “Grandma is fine,” Conor muttered. “She’s just asleep in her bed. Grandma is fine.”
He still picked up the rolling pin from the kitchen counter before sneaking back to the bedroom.
Slowly, painstakingly so, Conor pushed her bedroom door open. At first he didn’t see anything, but on his second scan of the dim room he noticed a lump in her bed, piled up under the covers. He crept forward, rolling pin at the ready, and laid a hand on the top of the bump. “Grandma…?”
The bump twitched, and Conor screamed, brandishing the rolling pin.
“Wha–” The lump, who was very much a man wearing Grandma’s cap and nightgown, scrambled back toward the headboard.
Conor let the rolling pin drop slightly, then raised it again, pointing directly at the Grandma-lump-man’s face. “What the fuck?!”
The man raised his hands in surrender, his eyes wide with terror. “I didn’t know what to do! I panicked!”
“What do you mean, you panicked?!” Conor thrust the rolling pin forward again, coming inches from the man’s nose. “Why are you wearing my grandmother’s clothes?”
The man’s eyes crossed as he looked at the tip of the rolling pin. “You won’t believe me. I can’t believe I thought this would work. Oh, God.” He leaned back as far as he could as he shuffled to the side to try to slide out of the bed.
When the blankets slid off the man’s lap, Conor screamed again and swung the rolling pin as hard as he could. It hit the man in the side of the head with a sickening thud, slipped out of Conor’s hand, and clattered to the floor just as the man collapsed in a seemingly-lifeless heap.
A story of what had happened to his grandmother while wearing that nightgown was starting to form in his head. The man obviously had killed her, there was no other way that he could be wearing her nightgown in its current state, but why would he panic and wear it? That was an odd reaction for murder. Was he after her money? Her jewelry? Her car?
He was only sorry he’d killed the man before he could find out the truth. Conor pulled his phone out from his pocket and had just unlocked it to call the police when the man groaned and stirred there on the rug. He reached up to drag the nightcap off his head, and Conor couldn’t help but wince at the goose egg which had already formed on the side of his head. The nightgown, which was stained rusty red with dried blood, had ridden up to the man’s waist, and there was a nasty scar going over the man’s hip. Conor barely registered the scar beyond noting its grotesque keloid formation, more focused on ignoring his lack of underwear and the blood on the nightgown.
“What on Earth was that for?” The man muttered as he gingerly touched the lump with a grimace.
Conor stared down at him in disbelief. “I thought that would be obvious! You… I mean, you killed someone! My grandmother! I–”
“I didn’t mean to!” The man tugged the nightgown back down, hiding the scar again. “It’s a really damn long story, and you won’t believe me anyway. This was a terrible idea.” With a loud groan the man pushed himself to his feet. He touched the goose egg on the side of his head again then peered at the fingertips. “I can’t believe you knocked me out.”
“I thought I’d killed you,” Conor said. “I mean, not that I was trying to, but I freaked out.”
The man snorted and gestured at his clothes — Grandma’s clothes. “I know a thing or two about freaking out. Listen, I want to explain myself but I would really like to not die today. This is a pretty damn ridiculous story, I know. I gotta trust you aren’t going to try to finish the job here, though.”
Conor and the man stood there in silence, one of the man’s hands out in front of him in surrender, the other covering the goose egg. After a moment, Conor crouched to pick up the rolling pin again.
“Really?” The man turned his hands palms up in the universal what the fuck are you doing? pose. “I just said I needed to trust you weren’t going to kill me, and you pick up the fucking rolling pin again?”
“Talk,” Conor said. “Just tell me what happened to my grandma.”
The man sighed and rubbed a hand over the goose egg once more before wincing hard and drawing it back down. “Before I start, my name is Lowell. Figure I should get introductions out of the way first.”
He stared expectantly at Conor before he sighed. “Conor. Now, talk.”
Lowell drew a deep breath. “I’m not what I seem.” He paused to cringe, then said, “That sounded much better in my head.”
“Just tell me whatever it is you wanna say before I call the police, or…” Conor let his eyes flick down to the rolling pin in his hand before looking back up at Lowell.
“Ugh, I can’t believe you’re threatening me. Listen, I’m a werewolf.”
He raised his right hand as if swearing on a Bible. “Not even a tiny bit joking. I swear to you that’s the truth.”
Conor shook his head. First this guy killed his grandma and put on her clothes, now he was going to try to pass off some bullshit story about it? “I’m calling the police.”
“No!” Lowell cried. “They won’t believe me either! They have guns and at least you only have a rolling pin. If I show you where I put your grandma, you can see what he… what I… what I did to her.”
Conor raised his eyebrows and pressed his lips together in disbelief. Liars usually don’t stay with a story this deep. Usually something cracks by now.
“You’d better not be lying. Otherwise… the police may not find you in time to charge you with anything.”
Lowell drew a deep breath and sighed through his nose. “She’s in the garden.”
Conor grit his teeth, his grip on the rolling pin tightening. “You left her in the garden? Really?”
“I told you I panicked,” Lowell spat. “Do you want to see her or not?”
She deserved last respects from him. Conor didn’t know how he could explain this to anyone, or how he’d arrange a funeral, but at the very least he could go pay his last respects to his dead grandmother before he started to worry about any of that. Conor nodded then set his jaw, squared his shoulders, and took a deep breath in preparation for what he was about to see.
In a less dire situation he might have found the sight of Lowell in front of him, wearing a well-worn and faded floral nightgown, amusing. The gown had always been too long for his grandmother but it just barely skimmed the bottoms of Lowell’s knees, and Conor could see more scars around his lower legs. Was he clumsy, or did this have something to do with his insistence that he was a werewolf? How could he even ask that sort of question?
Grandma was hidden in the back corner of the garden, where her rose bushes grew. Lowell said nothing as he pointed out the bundle, then stepped back to allow Conor to come forward to see her. He swallowed hard and tried to ignore the knots his stomach was tying itself into. He was sure he was about to see a mangled pile of meat and bones, nothing more. Holding his breath, he stepped forward.
She looked lovely, to his surprise. She’d been tucked into a nest of blankets, her hair carefully arranged in a soft gray halo around her head. To Conor’s surprise, she was wearing another nightgown, the one with the high collar she always said was too scratchy. He would have thought Lowell would just take the one she was wearing and leave it. His consideration was surprising, but not unappreciated. With her hands clasped over her chest and her face serene, she looked as though she were napping, not dead.
“What did you… you do to her?” Conor whispered.
“He– I tore her throat out,” Lowell said in a voice Conor nearly didn’t hear. “It was over fast, I think.”
“What do you mean, you think?”
Lowell cringed and fidgeted as he rubbed a hand over his forehead, then winced when he brushed the lump on the side of his head. “I don’t always remember everything that happens while I’m… the wolf. I just… I black out, and come back, and… and see things like this.”
Conor furrowed his brow and kneeled to brush a tuft of hair back from his grandmother’s cold face. “How are you not dead? Haven’t you been caught before?”
“Literally, a few times,” Lowell murmured.
“That’s what the scars on your legs are, aren’t they?” Conor said. “They’re from getting caught in traps.”
Lowell nodded. “Barbaric things, but I guess I become a barbaric thing worthy of those sorts of things.”
“How did you escape?” Conor asked as he straightened up again.
With a smirk, Lowell cast a glance across to Conor. “You’d be surprised how strong my wolf is. Those traps aren’t made for wolves like him. They’re made for smaller predators. I have found them, still whole, dangling useless around my ankle when I wake up as me again. I’ve also found them broken near my leg, like he tore them to pieces.”
“Wow.” Conor stared down at the scars on Lowell’s legs again, then turned back to his grandmother. “What am I going to tell people?”
“Bear attack, I guess,” Lowell said with a shrug. “It’s the excuse I normally arrange. I’ve probably single-handedly ruined bear attack statistics for the last five years.”
Bear attacks weren’t uncommon in this area. Were those all Lowell? “And if they don’t buy it?”
“What do you have to worry about? You can’t do what he– I did to her.” He held an arm out in front of him as Conor took a step forward. “Don’t try to look. It’s bad.”
Conor stepped back again and Lowell dropped his arm. “So they’ll just… buy it? I won’t have to give a statement or anything?”
“They might wonder why she’s so clean, and in new pajamas,” Lowell admitted. “Listen. Why don’t you go back inside and I’ll… I’ll make it look like it did. Just… not in her house. Out here.”
“And if they want to question you?”
Lowell shook his head with a smirk. “They won’t. They won’t find me.”
Conor furrowed his brow. “So you’re leaving?”
“It’s the only way to stay safe. I can’t stay in one spot too long. People start to notice when I hang around. And now that someone else is dead, I have to move on.”
Lowell crouched down next to Conor’s grandmother. “Go back inside, and give me thirty minutes before you call the police. I need to get her set up and start running before they get here.”
Conor grimaced and gripped the rolling pin tighter. “But how will I know you’re–”
“I know what I’m doing. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to cover my trail. Just go, Conor.”
He hesitated a moment more, then nodded and turned to go back to the house. Bear attack. He could claim a bear attack. It wouldn’t be that hard to lie to the police, would it? Just look them in the eye and tell them a bear killed his grandma. But how could he prove it? It’d be pretty suspicious to just know that it was a bear without actually, you know, seeing the bear.
Or maybe he should just ask for an officer? Report her missing? Yeah, that’d probably be the better way out. That was a much more harmless lie, and one he could pull off much easier. No worries about trying to tell an officer you knew a bear had killed your grandma without any sort of definitive proof.
He checked the time on his phone, then set a countdown for thirty minutes and switched over to his Entertainment folder. Something casual and mindless would fill his time nicely. No social media. Just stupid games. He’d just finished a round of Sweet Smasher when the timer went off, and he sighed and dialed 911.
The police took their sweet time getting to the house. They must have assumed that Conor was exaggerating when he’d insisted his grandmother was likely in danger. Little old ladies developed dementia and went missing all the time, so why should Conor’s grandmother be any different to them?
“We’re going to take a walk around the property,” one of the officers said. “You said you’d taken a look around already?”
“No,” Conor lied. “I got here and noticed she wasn’t in her bed or anywhere else in the house so I called you.”
“Huh,” the other officer said. “Okay, sir. We’ll go see if we can find anything.”
Conor didn’t have anything else to do while they walked around, so he pulled his phone back out. He’d thankfully only just burned his last life in Sweet Smasher when the police came back inside. He stuffed his phone back into the pocket of his red raincoat. “Did you find her?”
The police officer’s face was considerably paler than it was when he’d walked outside. “Sir, you should come take a look at what we found.”
“Is it bad?” Conor said, thankful his voice was on the verge of giving out all on its own. Lowell’s words echoed in his ears: Don’t try to look. It’s bad.
“I’m sorry, sir. We found a body. We just need you to… to identify the body.”
The walk out to the garden was long, longer than it had any right to be considering how close it was to the house. Conor realized what he was seeing before they’d even gotten to it: Lowell had done just as he’d said, and had arranged a convincing bear attack scene.
His grandmother no longer looked serene, no longer wearing that lacy nightgown. Her body had been arranged in a way that looked as though she’d been fighting.
And Lowell had been telling the truth: her throat had been torn out.
“That’s, um, that’s her.” Conor whispered.
The police nodded, and then everything seemed to kick into high gear. He gave a mostly untrue statement to police, watched as they took pictures of the scene, and stood to the side as the coroner collected her body.
He watched them drive away and started trying to think of how he’d explain this to his mother. With a sigh he pulled the hood of his raincoat back up, turned to head back toward the house, and screamed.
“What?! Why’d you jump like that?” Lowell said, from his spot in the bushes. “Man, I thought this was the safest place to be!”
“I wasn’t expecting to see someone!” Conor said. “I thought I was alone. Weren’t you going to move on?”
Lowell shifted in place. “Um, I don’t have any clothes.”
Conor blinked. “You don’t?”
“Why do you think I panicked and put on your grandma’s nightgown?!”
Conor scrubbed his hand down his face and sighed. “All right, what do you want to do about it?”
“Well, I can’t very well go out without clothes on. And I’ll get looked at weird if I’m wearing just your grandma’s nightgowns. So I… I need something.”
“Are you asking to borrow some clothes from me?”
“I mean– I really need to– I should probably– I can’t steal them while naked, so…”
He couldn’t abandon Lowell. He was the only person around who knew Lowell’s secret, and if he let Lowell run amok in human form, he might not stay in human form long. With another sigh, Conor unzipped his raincoat, slipped it off, and held it out to Lowell. “Wear this until we get you into my car. There’s a blanket in the back seat. We need to stop at my mother’s house… she needs to know what happened to her mother. I have no idea what I’m going to say. Then we’ll head to my pla–” With a start, Conor had a realization. “Wait, I can’t take you. What if you kill me, too?!”
“No! No, I won’t! I swear!” Lowell shook his head vigorously, then winced and cupped a hand to the goose egg. Through clenched teeth, he said, “I won’t shift again. I know what sets it off. Last night was the full moon. You’re safe for the next four weeks.”
“So it only happens on the exact night of the completely full moon?”
“Yeah. Weird, isn’t it?” Lowell pressed his lips together and looked down at the ground in shame. “I’m sorry about your grandma. I usually, um, chain myself up better than that.”
Conor held the coat out again and cleared his throat . “How do you normally chain yourself up?”
“I find a metal collar with a thick chain, padlocked to itself and to my wrists, wrapped around a tree, tends to work.” Lowell pulled the raincoat on with a smirk. “Not as fun as some people would have you believe.”
“Oh.” Conor frowned. “I’m sorry. That must be hard to endure.”
“What’s hard to endure is waking up — coming back to myself — to find you’re standing over the corpse of someone’s grandma,” Lowell said softly. “I really am sorry about that. Did the police accept it without much hassle?”
Conor shrugged and headed back into the house to collect the basket and his keys again. “I’m sure they’ll call me in a few days and want to ask me more questions about what happened. This isn’t something that will be over anytime soon. Hell, I’m worried about how I’m going to explain this to my mother. I’m not worried about the police nearly as much as the conversation I have to have when I get home.”
Lowell cringed. “Yeah… that’s probably going to suck. I’m so sorry. Is there anything I can do to help?”
“Sit in my car under the blankets and try not to get noticed,” Conor said. He unlocked the car, and gestured to the back seat. “In you go.”
“Ouch, in the back and everything?” Lowell opened the door and climbed in anyway. “Treating me like the dog I am, I guess.”
“I won’t have time to rearrange you in my mom’s driveway. Get the blanket ready. It’s a little bit of a drive so get comfortable.”
The car was silent while Conor got out of the neighborhood and back onto the highway, then Lowell spoke up from the back seat. “So what do you do?”
“I’m an accountant,” Conor said.
“Really? Isn’t that boring?”
Lowell fell quiet again. After a few more miles, he spoke once more. “So you’re not going to ask me?”
“I mean, you said. You go from place to place and never stay long. What can you do to support yourself with that sort of lifestyle? You can’t hold down any real job for any length of time.”
“Mechanical Turk,” Lowell said.
“You can’t be serious. That shit doesn’t make enough money to support you.”
In the rear view mirror, Conor saw Lowell shrug. “No, but combined with shoplifting it’s good enough. I have an old laptop stashed away — I’ll need to get that — and I use that to do the menial online work and basically steal everything else.”
Conor frowned, though he was hesitant to take his eyes off the road long enough to look back at Lowell. “Holy shit, Lowell. Between that and the fact that you’ve killed a few people I have no fucking clue how you’ve made it this far.”
“Really, neither do I,” Lowell said with a laugh. “I know I’ve escaped from bear traps and stuff, but I have no idea how I’ve managed to evade police notice this long. Sheer dumb luck, I guess.”
“Maybe you could get an actual, legit work from home job?”
“Most of those need a landline and it’s really hard to have one of those when you move all the damn time.”
“I’m sure we could find you one that just needs, like, VoIP or something. Those are portable.”
Lowell stayed quiet for a few minutes, then asked very quietly, “You’d do that for me, even after what I did?”
Conor took a moment to weigh all of this, then nodded. “Yeah. I think part of your problem is that you don’t let anyone help you. You just run away from all your issues. You never stay anywhere long enough to let anyone in.”
Lowell mumbled something that might have been an agreement, or maybe just acquiescence to the truth of Conor’s statement, and then the ride was silent the rest of the way to Conor’s mother’s house. Lowell handed Conor his raincoat back, and Conor grabbed the basket, took a deep breath, and put his hand on his car’s door handle. “Here goes nothing.”
It felt like forever his mother sobbed on his shoulder, until he gently reminded her that he needed to go back into the city to get ready for work the next day. He promised to call, and to forward the police report when he could get a copy of it, then went back out into his car.
When Lowell popped up in the back seat, Conor flinched and screamed again. “You have got to stop doing that to me!”
“Sorry! Really, it’s not my fault you’re so damn jumpy.”
Conor gripped his steering wheel tightly before starting the engine. “You would be too, after dealing with a day like today. Listen, you said you needed a ride out to the place you were staying. I gotta head back to the city but I think we can backtrack a bit.”
“I’m actually staying closer to the city. I… thought it would be safer going out into those woods to change. I didn’t realize there were all those cottages over there.” Lowell sighed and shifted the blanket on his lap. “So you don’t even have to backtrack.”
“Oh, good. Give me the address then and I’ll get us going.”
Lowell, it turned out, was staying at the cheapest extended stay motel in town, the sort Conor avoided as though the plague itself were radiating from every window and door, tendrils of blight seemingly lying in wait to pick his pockets and steal his very soul.
“Are you sure you’re okay staying here?” Conor asked, eyeing the door Lowell said was his warily.
“I’ve been here for a few months already and haven’t caught tetanus yet,” Lowell murmured. “It’s the only place I can afford.”
“We really need to get you a better job. Do you need my coat back?”
“I think I can just wrap myself up in the blanket, if you don’t mind. It won’t take long. I don’t have much.”
Conor nodded, and rested his finger on the automatic lock button before Lowell was even all the way out of the car. He sat in the car alone in the dark, trying not to breathe too loud for fear of attracting unwanted attention.
He didn’t notice Lowell come out of the room again, so he screamed once more as Lowell knocked on the back window.
“I just need you to let me put my stuff in here,” Lowell said, fully dressed now. The sound of his voice was muffled by the closed doors.
Conor unlocked the doors for him, but stopped him before he went to climb into the car. “Don’t sit back there. Come on into the front seat.”
“Oh, okay.” Lowell loaded his bags into the back seat — Conor noted a duffel bag and a laundry bag, it looked like — then closed the door and climbed into the front with him. “That’s everything.”
“Really? That’s it? That’s, like, all your worldly possessions there?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
Conor sighed and rubbed a hand over his hair. “Your life is shitty, dude.”
“Tell me about it. Come on, let’s go. I see Shifty over there staring a little too long.”
Conor started the car’s engine and frowned. “That can’t really be his name.”
“Nah, but you start to give the people around you nicknames after long enough in a place like this.”
Conor started the drive to his own house. He was about halfway home when he spoke again. “So I guess the unspoken understanding here is that you’re going to stay with me for… a few days, at least. Until we can get you set up with a work-at-home job.”
“I really appreciate it,” Lowell said. “Nobody’s ever done this for me before.”
“I know,” Conor said quietly. “I can’t just leave you alone like this.”
They fell into silence again, until Conor pulled into his driveway. “Grab your stuff. I’ll show you the spare bedroom.”
They walked up the driveway together, and for once Conor didn’t feel the urge to scream with Lowell’s presence lurking behind him. The spare bedroom was next to his own, and Conor opened the door with a wide gesture. It was sparse, but it was a bedroom. “You’re lucky. I just finished setting it up for guests a couple of weeks ago.”
Lowell nodded in appreciation. “This is perfect. Thank you.” He set his bags down, and turned to Conor, arms wide for a hug. “Truly, thank you.”
Conor pulled Lowell into a close embrace, his nose buried in Lowell’s neck as Lowell’s was buried in his own. He couldn’t put his finger on it but Lowell smelled… interesting. Different than anyone he’d ever smelled before. Not quite like any cologne he was familiar with, but not quite like anything else. Lowell smelled, he supposed, not unlike a few of the dogs he remembered from his youth, but not necessarily in an unpleasant way.
Lowell was breathing more deeply as well, and Conor was about to ask if he was all right before he heard the breathy murmur in his ear: “Oh my God, you smell amazing.”
He’d never really been turned on by a person’s smell before. Looks, yes. Personality, absolutely. But smell was a new one. Maybe it was the combination of all of the above, mixed with Lowell’s body quickly showing his own attraction to Conor, that drove Conor to whisper back, “So do you.”
Lowell drew back from the hug and hesitated for a moment, then leaned forward and brushed his lips against Conor’s. It was a quiet cautious thing, but Conor could feel the hunger burning under it, and he shoved down his doubts about this newfound sort of attraction and answered in kind. He cupped his hands against Lowell’s jaw and slipped his fingers in that blond shaggy hair he hadn’t realized he adored until that very moment, and slanted his mouth against Lowell’s.
Much like his smell, Lowell’s taste was unique. There was a wild sort of edge to it, and Conor wanted more. He let his hands start to wander over Lowell’s body, over his clothes, until Lowell pulled away with a grin to yank the shirt over his head. He winced and hissed as the shirt brushed the lump on the side of his head, but when Conor reached out to check it, he shook his head. He grinned as he gestured to Conor’s own clothing. “No, I’m fine. You, though…”
“Well, fuck, let me–” Conor grabbed at the zipper of his raincoat, frantically unzipping it to pull off along with his own shirt. He gave Lowell a smirk, then unbuttoned and unzipped his jeans, but left them up around his hips. He was glad for the sudden room this afforded him; his dick had grown uncomfortably hard in the confines of the denim.
Lowell grinned as he slid his hands around Conor’s waist again. “God, you look fucking amazing.”
Conor said nothing, but kissed Lowell again. It built faster this time, mostly because Lowell seemed like he wasn’t content to let Conor control this, and so they both seemed to be moving it forward. Conor found he couldn’t keep his hands out of Lowell’s hair again, this time gently raking his fingers through the sides before settling one on the back of Lowell’s head, the other cupping his neck. Lowell returned the favor into Conor’s own short-cropped auburn hair, fingers stroking against Conor’s scalp as though to find some sort of way to pull him closer yet. Their bodies each began to move against the other, and Conor’s breath began to come faster as the sensation built.
“Your bed or mine?” Lowell asked, the words rushed between kisses.
“Mine,” Conor gasped.
Lowell planted one more firm kiss on Conor’s lips, then took him by the hand and led him out of the guest room. He hesitated in the hallway, and Conor took the lead before all the momentum was gone from their situation. He tugged on Lowell’s hand and led him into the master bedroom. “Here.”
With a grin that felt almost too reminiscent of a wolf, Lowell backed Conor toward the bed, then eased him down before crawling up to straddle Conor’s hips. “I like this a lot.”
“Yeah, me too.” Conor leaned up to give Lowell another kiss, his hands closing around the button of Lowell’s fly. Lowell grinned, and sat up straighter to allow Conor to open his jeans. To Conor’s surprise and unexpected delight, Lowell had nothing on under the jeans, and as the zipper parted, his cock fell forward. Conor only hesitated a moment before he decided to do what he’d want done to him: he took it in his hand and slowly stroked along its length, catching his lower lip between his teeth as he looked up into Lowell’s eyes.
Lowell had a relaxed look on his face, the corners of his mouth turned up in a smile. “Oh, that feels awesome. Damn, it’s been too long since I let someone else do this.”
“If it’s been so long, I promise I’ll do my best to make it good for you.”
With a soft laugh, Lowell looked back down at Conor. “You won’t have to try. I know it’ll be great with you.”
Conor curled his hand around the head of Lowell’s cock as he grinned. “Looks like I’ve got some expectations to live up to here.”
Lowell groaned, and it seemed he’d lost the capacity to keep up the banter. He closed his eyes as he started to move his hips into Conor’s strokes, and the rocking of his hips ground him against the bulge in Conor’s own underwear. With a groan of his own Conor moved his hips up against Lowell without any sort of thought behind the action, and he stroked his hand along Lowell’s cock faster to match the pace he’d set.
“Fuck–!” Lowell managed to choke out before reaching down and grabbing Conor’s wrist. “I can’t blow my load all over your chest this fast. Holy shit.”
Conor grinned with pleasure at his own natural ability, but dropped his hand to his thigh and slowed the movements of his hips. “What do you want to do, then?”
“I want you to fuck me,” Lowell said with a completely straight face.
“Oh,” Conor said. A sudden surge of nervousness bubbled up. “I– I’ve never…”
Lowell frowned. “Never what?”
With a sigh, Conor covered his face for a moment before dropping his hands back to the mattress under him. “What a shitty time to have this talk. I’ve never been with a guy before, okay? Kind of didn’t even realize until about five minutes ago that I was attracted to them.”
Lowell’s eyes went wide and he gaped at Conor for a few moments. “Wait, really?”
“Do you want me to try this or not? Acting all appalled over it isn’t doing anything to convince me.”
“Sorry, sorry. Okay. I can show you how to do this.” Lowell slipped off Conor’s lap, leaned down to give him one last kiss, then stood up to push his jeans down.
Conor’s eyes went again to that scar on Lowell’s hip, and this time he couldn’t help but reach out to touch it. “That must have hurt.”
Lowell glanced down at Conor’s hand, and sighed. “Yeah, it did. You know how people talk about one single defining, life-changing moment? That’s it right there.”
“Is that what… Why you…”
“Yeah.” Lowell smirked and took Conor’s hand, gently pulling it back from his hip to lay on the bed next to him. “I promise I’ll tell you everything you want to know later, but this is really killing my boner.”
“Sorry,” Conor murmured. He took a deep breath, then lifted his hips up off the bed to wiggle his jeans and underwear down to his knees.
Lowell moved around to grasp the waistbands, and helped pull the clothing off Conor’s legs entirely. He took a moment, his eyes wandering over Conor’s body, and Conor couldn’t help but to shift uncomfortably under his gaze. He was about to speak up, to ask Lowell to stop staring, when Lowell climbed up on top of him again and murmured, “My God, you’re really fucking gorgeous.”
This only served to make Conor cringe more, and he whispered, “Stop.”
“Do you want me to go?” Lowell asked, his voice soft as his brow furrowed in concern. “We don’t have to do this.”
“No, no, I… I want to do this. I’ve just never had anyone talk about me like that before.”
Lowell cocked his head to the side, and in that moment appeared more canine than Conor had ever seen him. “Do you not like being flattered?”
Conor shrugged, starting and failing to talk a few times, then grimacing before saying, “Well, I do, but… guys… don’t… do that.”
He needed Lowell to shut up. He needed to stop thinking about how toxic masculinity was and how uncomfortable the implications of all of this made him, and he needed to just feel Lowell’s hands on him again because everything was right when he was in the moment. He could sort through all the baggage later. Conor hooked a hand around the back of Lowell’s neck and pulled him down for a hard kiss. When they broke apart again, he whispered against Lowell’s lips, “Shut up and show me what to do.”
Lowell gave a breathless laugh, then settled himself back down onto Conor’s hips and pushed forward, their cocks sliding against each other. Conor gasped, and only managed to force out a strangled, “oh God,” before moaning low in his throat. He’d never felt anything like it before.
Lowell pushed forward again as he leaned down to murmur into Conor’s ear, “You like that? You like my dick on yours?”
Conor nodded, gasping for breath between low moans, his fingernails digging into the backs of Lowell’s shoulders. He didn’t quite know what to do with his own hips, and he alternated between trying to rock up to meet Lowell and simply staying there to receive Lowell’s own motions.
“Fuck, Conor,” Lowell said into Conor’s ear. “Just — God, this feels good — just let me do it. You enjoy this. Don’t worry about it.”
Again, Conor could only manage a wordless nod, and stopped the irregular movements of his hips. Instead, he focused more on his hands, the feel of Lowell’s skin under his fingers, Lowell’s breath against his ear, the smell of Lowell’s hair overwhelming him. He closed his eyes and let everything overtake him, riding the waves of pleasure Lowell was giving with each push of his body against Conor’s.
Lowell brushed gentle kisses against his neck now, scraping his teeth every so often against Conor’s skin. Each taste of pain wrenched more breathy gasps from Conor’s lips, and his fingers began to dig into Lowell’s shoulders again. “Please,” Conor managed. “Please show me what to do.”
He pressed one final kiss to Conor’s throat, then Lowell straightened up again. “You keep condoms somewhere, right? Hope you’ve got lube, too.”
“Yeah, yeah…” Conor murmured, dragging himself back to the present as he rolled onto his side to begin digging through the bedside table. It wasn’t the best lube, but it was cheap and easily available, and serviceable enough for jerking off. To his relief, the condoms weren’t expired, either. “Here.”
Lowell grinned as he accepted the items from Conor. “Do you want to do it yourself, or do you want to watch me?”
“I’m sorry, do what?”
“You’ve never… you’ve never even done ass play with a girl?” Lowell raised his eyebrows.
“Well… no. None of the ones I’ve ever been with have been into it.”
Lowell sighed and shook his head, then smiled as he pushed Conor down onto his back. “Get comfortable. You’re in for a show.”
Conor shifted to settle himself onto the bed in a position that allowed him to watch Lowell without much need to contort himself. He drew a shaking breath to try to clear some of his nervous anticipation. He willed his voice to be even, and asked, “A show, huh?”
Lowell paused, having just torn a single condom off the strip. “Are you sure you’re okay with this, like really really sure?”
“Yes, I’m really, really, really sure I want to do this. This is excitement. I promise.” Conor gave Lowell a smirk before gesturing down at his crotch, his cock standing at rigid attention. “I really want to do this.”
Lowell chuckled and nodded, then held the condom out for Conor to take. “Don’t put it on yet, but if I touch it again after I start this it’ll be too slippery to open.” He took the lube in one hand and crawled back up onto the bed before bending to kiss Conor again softly. “This is when the fun part begins.”
Conor watched, engrossed, as Lowell turned to face away from him and kneeled. The curve of Lowell’s back flowed down into the swell of his ass in a way Conor had never noticed on another man, and woefully under-appreciated on every woman he’d ever seen. He held his breath as Lowell uncapped the lube bottle and squeezed some of the slippery liquid onto his fingers, then released it in a slow exhale as Lowell braced himself on his clean hand, reaching back to circle his own hole with those slick fingers. The sight of Lowell’s fingers disappearing into himself thrilled Conor in a way not many other things had, maybe because it was new, maybe because he’d never seen such a thing before… maybe because it was Lowell.
Lowell began to move his fingers faster, rotating them, sliding them deeper into himself, and he grew louder each time. His breath came faster, and Conor’s sped up to match. Each time Lowell moaned, Conor answered in turn. As Lowell’s fingers moved faster, Conor’s hips rolled up in the smallest movements to match the tempo, until he finally brought up his hand and grasped his own length. He didn’t stroke, for fear he’d drive himself over the edge from the combination of the sight and sensation, but he squeezed gently each time Lowell’s fingers disappeared from sight. How would it feel to be buried within Lowell, to have his cock in there instead of those fingers? Would it feel so different from every other time he’d made love? Would it be better?
“Put on the condom,” Lowell said between panting gasps. He slowed down the movements of his fingers, merely rocking himself back onto them instead of thrusting in.
Conor tore open the package, nearly dropping the condom onto his chest in his haste, and rolled it down his length. “Do you want me to move?”
Lowell shook his head as he picked up the bottle again, flipped the top open, and drizzled it over Conor’s cock. With the already-slick hand he stroked along Conor’s length, spreading it, before straddling Conor’s hips again. He grasped Conor’s cock and positioned it before starting to sink down. “No, I want to — ohhhh, fuck! — I want to see you.”
The heat was beyond anything Conor could have imagined. Absolutely nothing like any girl he’d ever been with. It felt as though Lowell’s ass was gripping him, pulling him in. He let his head fall back against the mattress under him and groaned. “Fuck, Lowell!”
He took a moment to settle in once he’d taken Conor all the way inside, and then Lowell began to move. He planted a hand on Conor’s chest and used it to brace himself as he moved up and down on Conor’s cock.
Conor squeezed his eyes shut, moaning low in his throat as he gripped the sheets beneath him. The sensation was overwhelming and he wanted to be lost in it, to just let it take over all his senses. He felt Lowell shift, the mattress dipping down on either side of his upper arms, and Lowell’s movements on his cock grew more shallow. Conor moaned again, in frustration this time, and moved his hands up to rest on Lowell’s hips. He braced his feet against the bed, and started to rock up to meet Lowell.
That was even better than passively letting Lowell do all the work. He increased the speed, and before long his hips were slapping up against Lowell’s thighs, and Lowell lowered his upper body down onto Conor’s entirely. That intoxicating scent that was uniquely, entirely Lowell, filled his senses, and it drew another groan from him.
Lowell rode out Conor’s movements for a time, then nipped at Conor’s shoulder before planting a kiss over the spot. “I gotta… God, Conor, I gotta come.” He pushed himself upright again, but didn’t lean back all the way. He stayed on his knees, still allowing Conor to control the movements, and reached down to take his cock in his hand.
“Fuck yeah, let me see you come,” Conor gasped, still thrusting up into Lowell as fast and as hard as he could while still keeping his peak at bay. There was nothing in the world he wanted to see more.
Lowell nodded wordlessly as he pumped his hand along his shaft, his breath coming faster as he went. It didn’t take more than a minute until he threw his head back and groaned so low it could very well have been a growl. His ass grew so tight around Conor that he couldn’t help but suppress his own moan, and it only took a scant few more thrusts up into Lowell before he, too, came undone.
The room fell silent save for the sound of their breathing, and then Lowell managed to speak. “Holy shit. Let me… oh, fuck, can I even walk?” He slid off of Conor, limbs shaking, and collapsed onto the mattress next to him. “No. No, I can’t.”
Conor stared at the ceiling wide-eyed, and let out a contented sigh. “Oh my God. That was amazing.”
Lowell turned his head, though he let the rest of his body lay there limp, and grinned at Conor. “Everything you’d ever imagined?”
“Not that I’d ever imagined this, but yeah. Yeah, that was better than I could have ever thought.”
Lowell smiled, then rolled up onto his side and placed a soft kiss on Conor’s lips. “Do you wanna go get cleaned up?”
With a loud groan, Conor forced himself up to a sitting position, and nodded. “Yeah, I can do that. Don’t go… don’t go anywhere.”
Lowell let that request hang in the air for a long, silent moment, then murmured, “Okay, I’ll wait here.”
Conor nodded to himself, then went into the bathroom to dispose of the condom and wash up. Once he was finished, he braced his hands on the sides of the sink and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of himself now. He’d certainly tilted his world on its axis with that little assignation.
There was no undoing it, so best to face it head on. He splashed some cold water over his face, dried off, and headed back into the bedroom.
Lowell, true to his word, was still sitting there on the bed. “Is everything all right?”
Conor mulled that question over. Was everything all right? What did this mean for him, that he’d slept with a man after spending his whole life thinking he was straight? Hell, what did it mean that he was willing to sleep with the man who’d killed his grandma, even if he wasn’t a man when he did it? He’d also made Lowell a promise, that he’d help him get a job and get on his way. Could he let go now, after all they’d done? He was turning into that one date who’d called him three times a night for six weeks after he has brought her home from the club, and Conor grimaced at that thought. He needed to be able to let go. Fake it till you make it, right?
“Yeah, everything’s fine.”
“Okay, bullshit. What is it you’re confused about?”
Conor laughed as he sank onto the bed again. “Everything.”
“Not much I can do about everything,” Lowell murmured. “One step at a time, maybe?”
“Am I a shitty person for sleeping with you after you killed my grandma?”
Lowell cringed. “Wow, going straight for the hard-hitting questions. No, I don’t think so.”
Conor glanced over at Lowell, but couldn’t stop the grin pulling at the corners of his lips. “You’re not an unbiased party.”
First Lowell frowned in thought, then nodded. “You’re absolutely right. Fine: in my completely biased opinion, it doesn’t make you a terrible person for sleeping with me after I killed your grandma. I do remind you that I was not entirely myself when that occurred, and thus I cannot claim full responsibility for the event.”
Conor chuckled at Lowell’s declaration of innocence, but grew serious again. “Speaking of that, you promised you’d tell me about that scar.”
“Oh yeah.” Lowell sighed. “My first boyfriend did that to me. That’s how I found out he was a werewolf, actually. That was fun.” As the statement had gone on, Lowell had grown more bitter until he spat that last sentence out.
“I’m so sorry,” Conor said. “That must have been terrifying.”
“It is what it is,” Lowell said. “A boyfriend tried to tear my hip off and now once a month I’m no better than a dog. There’s nothing to be done about it, so lingering in self-pity will do nothing for me.”
Conor nodded, accepting this. “Okay then, next thought: I’m not automatically gay now, can I? I still think women are awesome. I don’t want to be gay.”
“Then you’re not,” Lowell said. “Welcome to the wide world of bisexuality.”
Lowell nodded with a smirk. “That’s it.”
Conor sank down next to him and laughed. “Okay then. I was thinking we’d try to get you a job, so you don’t have to rely on shoplifting to fulfill your personal needs.” Conor laid back on the bed, and glanced over at Lowell. “I want you to stay until we know you have a job and a place to go. You need to be safe, and that’s the only way I’ll know for sure you are.”
Lowell stayed quiet for what felt like forever, and Conor was actually dozing off when Lowell spoke again. “I don’t deserve this.”
“Nobody does,” Conor said. “Just take it for what it is. Enjoy it.”
“What is it, then?” Lowell asked. “Because there’s about five different places I could be going with that offer, ranging from pity to a suggestion of exclusive dating.”
It was Conor’s turn to let the silence stretch on too long. “I think that’s exactly what it is.”
Conor cast a glance at Lowell out of the corner of his eye. “No. The other one you said.”
Lowell stared at Conor in silence, then burst out laughing. “You can’t be serious.”
“Listen. Just… try. I want to, so I can see if this” –Conor waved his hand in the air between them– “is more than just a passing fling. I’d feel better if I knew you weren’t seeing anyone else while I tried to work this out.”
“I guess I can give this a try.” Lowell smiled and reached out to take Conor’s hand. “Since I don’t deserve what you’re doing for me anyway, I may as well not deserve you too.”
Conor playfully shoved Lowell’s shoulder, a smile spreading across his lips. “Good.” He fell back against the mattress again and sighed. “I can never tell my mother about this.”
“What, that you’re with a guy now? Is she that much of a homophobe?”
Conor shook his head. “Oh, no, I doubt she’ll care about that. She’ll probably be surprised, sure, maybe even more surprised than me. No, I mean I can’t tell her that I fucked the guy who killed Grandma.”
“Bet you we could make fucking bank selling that story to the trashy supermarket mags, though.”
Conor couldn’t help but laugh at this, but shook his head again. “That’s pretty much the exact opposite of not telling my mom.”
Lowell grinned, then leaned down to kiss Conor gently. “We’ll keep the idea on the table.”