Seagulls cried overhead as I watched the tide come in, the gentle waves lapping at my bare feet. A steady, tepid breeze brushed against my skin, which was more exposed than it was yesterday since I’d removed my overshirt. There weren’t many people out here at this hour of the morning, and those that were only glanced at me in passing without really making much of a fuss.
White Dunes differed from the city in a lot of ways; the atmosphere was more laid back and people generally didn’t seem to mind werewolves, even though most of the population was human. One thing I noticed as I watched Derrek sitting high on his lifeguard seat in the distance was how highly the locals regarded him. Who could blame them? He always had a friendly disposition, and anyone swimming in the ocean knew they were safe with him around.
This town was proof that we really could thrive when given the chance, and werewolves could have careers and jobs that weren’t just manual labor. Perhaps one day I could change things in the corporate setting once I actually started working for the company that hired me.
“Well, look who it is,” a familiar voice called from a few feet away. I turned as Adam ran up to me, kicking up the loose sand.
“What are you doing here?”
“Swimming lessons,” he said, eyeing Derrek with a smirk. “Well, that and I heard you were here.” Adam sat in the sand next to me. “You look good.”
“I feel like a freak,” I muttered, looking down at my exposed, hairy arms with a tuft a thick chest hair peeking from the collar of my tank top.
“Yeah, that doesn’t go away.”
“How did you know I was here?”
“You got your kuu, and Simon has a big mouth. I didn’t know he was the werewolf you chose.”
“Wait, you know Simon?”
Adam laughed. “Everyone knows Simon. He’s legendary.”
“Not in a good way,” he added.
“I’m surprised out of anyone you could have chosen, you picked the bummiest bum imaginable.”
“He’s really not that bad.” I smiled and looked back at the little beach house. Simon had gone inside to sleep after Derrek left for work. “Sometimes he surprises me.”
We listened to the waves for a moment before I remembered something.
“You should call your mother.”
Adam frowned. “You should mind your own business.”
“Hey, I’m just relaying a message from your aunt. Don’t get pissy.”
“How do you know Auntie Shanice?”
“Well, she’s gonna be my boss soon.”
The half-turn clicked his tongue. “Why bother working? It’s not going to matter. Get your free money and live it up.”
“Is that really all you want out of life?”
“It’s a pretty sweet deal,” he said, adjusting the kuu necklace he wore. “Once I’m a full werewolf, I’m just gonna party every day. I’ve earned it.”
“Earned it?” I asked. “What exactly have you done to earn it?”
“Don’t sound all condescending. We’re both earning it since we’re forced to let werewolves live with us.”
“It’s not so bad if you think about it. We’re doing some good by getting werewolves off the streets while helping fund an actual future. It doesn’t seem so bad now that I’ve given it more consideration.”
“Those earrings make you look really gay.”
I gritted my teeth. “It’s not like I picked them out.”
“They look good on you though,” he said, removing his shirt as he stood, brushing away the sand that had stuck to the backs of his legs. The obvious back-handed compliment annoyed me. “I’m going for a swim.”
“Wait, I thought you were getting swimming lessons.”
Adam gawked at the tall werewolf in the distance and licked his lips. “No one actually goes to Derrek for swimming lessons.”
The key slid into the door, and I heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank God.”
“You’ve still got a day. Did you really think they were going to change the locks on you?” Simon asked, following me inside. “I wish we could take the AC with us.”
“Maybe I can see how much a window unit costs. How much money do you have?”
“Enough for us to eat for a couple of days,” Simon replied. His deep voice had a slight echo since the apartment was mostly empty, save for a few duffel bags full of clothes and toiletries. “Plus, Derrek hates air conditioning. It’s only for a couple of weeks, anyway.”
“I can’t keep sleeping outside.” I held up my arms, revealing several bug bites that, for some reason, hadn’t completely healed yet. “I’m being eaten alive.”
Simon gently grabbed my arm and examined it. “Ah, I forgot about these. Dune fleas; well, that ain’t their actual names, but I know they bite the shit out of half-turns. They don’t bother werewolves, though.”
“I wish you hadn’t destroyed my inflatable bed.”
Simon grabbed the last two beers from the fridge and handed me one. “We’ll figure something out.”
We stood in the middle of the room, drinking in silence before I finally said what was likely on both of our minds. “Last night, you took it too far.”
“I know,” he said, patting me on the back. “I just thought maybe it would help you loosen up some, but you didn’t look right after.”
“I can’t…” I trailed off before letting out a sigh. “I just let it happen because I couldn’t control myself, and I felt really gross after.”
“I forget yer not like the others, and I’m sorry.”
I looked away and smiled. “I think that’s the first time I’ve heard you say that.”
“That’s cause it’s probably the first time I’ve said it to anyone.” Simon set his beer on the counter and walked into the bathroom to pee with the door open as he continued talking. “Don’t hold it against Derrek. He probably thought you were some hookup I wanted to share, just like old times. To be honest, I kind of thought of you that way when I was around him.” He stopped peeing and walked back out into the room. “After it was over… I don’t know. It didn’t feel right.”
“Did you really not flush the toilet or wash your hands?”
“I figured I’d leave a surprise for the next tenant.”
I folded my arms. “You’re so fucking gross.”
He grinned before walking back into the bathroom. “You really are a tight-ass.” The toilet flushed and the water in the sink came on, Simon talking over it. “Well, probably not anymore after last night.”
“Funny,” I said as he padded back into the room. “I still don’t know how I could take both of you at once.”
“Half-turns are stretchy,” Simon said while holding out his balled-up fist. “You heal so damn fast I could go full Caligula on you and you’d be fine.”
“Don’t EVER do that,” I muttered, swatting his fist away. “Are werewolves like that, too?“
“Well, yeah. That don’t ever go away.” He raised a brow. “Why? I didn’t give you any ideas, did I?”
I cracked my knuckles. “I don’t know. You’ll have to wait and see.”
“I ain’t letting you near my ass.”
We both stared at one another before raising our beers with a laugh. Simon and I made no sense, but somehow, this worked. Maybe we were such complete opposites that somehow we grounded one another. Either way, perhaps having him as a roommate wasn’t completely terrible.
“I can’t believe I’m moving again already,” I said, taking a drink. “Wasn’t even in this place for more than a few months.”
“Staying in one place too long gets boring. Think of this as an adventure, and when you’re with me, it’s never gonna get boring.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
A loud knock came from the front door, startling me, but Simon seemed calm as always.
“Expecting someone?” he asked.
“No,” I said, hurrying to the front door. I peeked through the hole, seeing two police officers accompanying a middle-aged man standing on the other side. “Oh shit,” I whispered, waving Simon away. “You should probably stay out of sight.”
He nodded, disappearing into the bathroom, and I opened the door.
“Hello?” I said as the man brushed by me.
“You were supposed to be out today,” he said, looking around the apartment.
“No, the letter clearly stated that was tomorrow.”
“Things have changed,” he said, noticing the fur Simon had shed all over the carpet. “Having a werewolf live with you was one thing, but there is a strict ordinance against half-turns being on this property.”
“We’ll be out today,” I said, holding my hands up as one officer stepped closer.
Simon threw open the bathroom door, and the other cop pulled a taser out of its holster.
“Whoa there,” Simon said, slowly pointing to the bags lined against the wall. “We’re just gonna get our things, and we’ll be out of yer hair.”
“You!” The officer grew more irritated at the sight of the werewolf. He looked to be in his mid-thirties, but was built like he’d spent several hours a day in the gym. “Every time I’m called about werewolf disturbances, you’re involved somehow.”
“Well, hey there Sergeant Buttercup.” Simon smirked and took a step closer. “If we keep meeting like this, we may as well start dating.”
“One day you’re going to be in werewolf prison. I want to personally see them drag you away.”
“I didn’t do nothin’ wrong this time. I’m just helping the kid out.”
“Sure,” he said, opening the front door. “Grab your things and we’ll escort you off the premises.”
“I’ll be mailing you the bill for the lease termination,” the property manager said, opening the blinds before turning back to me.
“And I’ll rub it against my sweaty taint and mail it back,” Simon rebutted, grabbing four of the bags before leaning in close to the older man. “How’s that sound?”
The man said nothing, a little intimidated by how close Simon’s teeth were to his face.
The cop stomped his foot on the floor. “Simon!”
“Fine, whatever. Let’s get the hell out of here,” the werewolf grunted, pushing past the cops before walking outside with me close behind. As we got to the edge of the property, they stopped.
“If you come back, it’s not going to end well for either of you, understand?”
I nodded, intending to leave it at that, but Simon had more to say—unfortunately.
“I guess we’ll have to put a pin in our plans to rob the place, huh?” There was an obvious air of sarcasm to his tone, but the cop that knew him didn’t seem very amused.
“It’s a joke, deputy donut. Lighten up a little.”
The officer unsheathed the taser and fired it point blank into Simon’s abdomen. The werewolf yelped, dropping the bags before collapsing to the ground.
I let out a surprised gasp. “You can’t just shoot people like that!”
“You’re not people,” he said. His words had a disturbing lack of emotion to them, and for the first time I felt like I wasn’t anymore around this part of the city. Both men walked back to the patrol cars in the parking lot while bystanders gawked at the commotion, some recording everything on their smartphones.
I knelt next to Simon, who still lay on the ground, holding his stomach.
“Are you okay?”
“I think I pissed all over myself.”
“You’re a fucking idiot,” I hissed, grabbing his hand to help him into a sitting position. “You could have gotten us both in a lot of trouble.”
He stumbled to his feet, winking at the cop car driving by. “It’s not the first time he’s tasered me.”
“Are you a felon or something?”
He shrugged. “The past is the past.”
“Simon…” Something strange happened to me as my rage reached a boiling point. I didn’t just growl, actually made a snarling sound while baring my teeth. For a second, I felt compelled to swing and bite at him, but counting backward from five helped calm me. “I’m not going to jail because of you!”
“Stop worrying about it. It was just me having some fun.”
I noticed the wet fur around Simon’s crotch and a damp spot on the sidewalk where he had fallen. “Yeah, that looks like a real good time to me.”
Simon picked up the bags and walked with me toward the bus stop. “You were worried about me, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” I said, annoyed by how nonchalant he was about how serious this was. I wasn’t used to being treated like a criminal, especially since my only crime was existing in a place I no longer belonged. “If something happened to you, I’d have to carry all this myself.”
“You like me, don’t you?”
“I hate your guts.”
Simon put the bags on the ground before sitting on the bench as we waited for our ride. I sat next to him, the adrenaline high from earlier fading.
“I just remembered something,” Simon said, his ears in the airplane position as though he’d just gotten into the garbage.
“I, uh… may not have a job anymore. Kinda forgot to go back.”
“Well, it’s not like you can take four-hour-long bus rides every day. Just get another one when we get to White Dunes.”
When his shoulders slumped forward, I knew what was coming. “C’mon. We’ve got enough until yer money comes in.”
“Yeah, my money, not our money. You’re not going to leech off me and lie around the house doing nothing.”
Simon continued with the act, his eyes growing big and watery.
“It’s not going to work this time, Simon.”
He got on one knee and stared up, his nose nearly touching my face as his ears dropped to the sides of his head.
“You’re making an ass of yourself.”
He leaned back a bit. “Man, I must be losing my touch.”
“You never had it to begin with.”
He made the face again, this time struggling to hold it. It was disturbing how easily he could do that. “Nothing? Really?”
I shook my head.
“Eh, fine. I’ll find a way to make some money.”
“A legal way,” I added.
“Nerd,” he muttered before sitting back on the bench. His tail wagged, which immediately set off alarm bells. “Hey, I’ve got an idea.”
“Can’t wait to hear it.”
“You remember how I said I had an OnlyFans?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “Three hundred dollars a month isn’t going to cut it, Simon.”
“Well, I could get more—if…” He flashed his brows.
He playfully shoved me. “Don’t write me off yet. Werewolf accounts featuring half-turns are pretty popular right now.”
“I’m probably going to regret asking why that is.”
Simon shot me a mischievous grin. “Cause half-turns look kind of human, and I could do stuff to you I can’t with a human, for obvious reasons. It’s a fetish thing, and people love that shit.”
“Don’t pretend you didn’t love what we did in that shower.” He turned my head toward him with his fingers. “I could barely fuck you hard enough, and you wanted more.”
“That’s different. It’s not in front of a camera with a bunch of strangers jerking off to it.”
“Pretend the camera ain’t there, and it’s not like you’re ever gonna see any of those people.”
He had a point.
“So… how much money could we hypothetically make?”
Simon’s tail pounded the bench. “Well, that depends. What are you willing to do?”
“And with that question, I’m no longer interested.”
His tail stopped wagging. “Okay, okay. We don’t gotta do anything too gross, but it can’t just be vanilla, either.”
“It’s your account. Come up with something interesting that doesn’t disgust me.”
“Yer on.” He grabbed the bags as the bus rolled to a stop in front of us. “You like bondage?”
I returned that question with a glare.
“I’ll take that as a maybe.” He walked up the steps of the bus with me following. “What about e-stim? Ever stuck an electric metal rod in your pee hole before?”
My face heated as we walked down the aisle to the back of the bus, people staring.
“Can we not talk about this right now?” I whispered. “Idiot.”
“Hey, if we’re gonna go into business together, I gotta know what you like,” he said, setting the bags down before taking his seat. A rush of excitement manifested as perked-up ears and a creepy, wide-eyed grin as I sat next to him. “I think I’ve got a great idea.”
“If you say the name Caligula again to me, I swear to God you’ll regret it.”
“Think about it, Art. We could do some dirty cosplay. People love that shit!” The fur on the back of his neck stood straight. “I love Halloween, and it could be Halloween every week.”
“This sounds like a lot of work. You’ve got to get the costumes, record us, edit the video, advertise somehow, and you have to upload often. Are you sure you’re up to it?”
“Well, I was hoping you’d handle the editing and advertising.”
I knew that seemed too ambitious for someone so unbelievably lazy.
“And what the hell are you going to do?”
“I’ll get the costumes and let you ride my dick.”
I didn’t say anything for a moment, mostly because his audacity had me speechless.
“Find an actual job, Simon.”
“Alright, I’ll do the editing, but I don’t got a computer.” He paused and gave me a nudge. “Hey, you said yer job was gonna give you a laptop, right?”
“You’re not editing porn on my company computer!” That was a little louder than I intended, and it garnered a few stares from humans sitting closer to us. I lowered my voice. “Sounds like you need to earn some money first to buy the equipment.”
“Can’t you just loan me the money?”
“What money, Simon? I don’t have anything, and I don’t know when I’m getting that government check or how much it will be—and I can’t even start my job until I have a stable place to live. We need income now, and you’re the only one who can work. Suck it up.”
Simon let out a wistful whine. “I’ll see if Derrek’s company is hiring temporary lifeguards.”
I raised an eyebrow and poked the werewolf’s protruding gut. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so much as walk at a brisk pace. You’re too fat to be a lifeguard.”
“I’m a werewolf,” he grunted, flexing his arms. “I’m in the best shape of my life.”
“I guess round could technically count as a shape.”
Simon dropped his arms and laughed. “Okay, maybe a lifeguard is pushing it a bit.”
“Just find a little part-time gig so we can eat. When I start my job…” Knowing Simon, I regretted what I was about to say, but I also wanted to give him a shot. “I’ll loan you the money to get a computer, and I’ll dress up in your costumes—and MAYBE do something extra kinky in front of the camera, but that’s it. You’re responsible for everything else.”
A contemplative hum left his nose as he sat back in his seat, giving my proposal some thought.
“I’ve never used a computer before.”
“If you can use a smart phone, you can use a computer.” I scratched my head. “Wait a minute, how do you have an OnlyFans account? I’ve never even seen you use a phone.”
“Ah, see I got this buddy—”
“Never mind,” I interrupted. “You’re going to need to figure all this shit out, because I’ll be busy with my own stuff.”
“Alright. But I get most of the money.”
“That’s fair. You can cut me in for thirty-five percent.”
“Thirty,” he said.
Simon held up a finger to negotiate further, but cocked his head to the side. “Wait, that’s not how you do this. Yer supposed to go down until we meet in the middle.”
“Now it’s thirty-seven, because you’re pissing me off, and I hold all the leverage.”
After a moment of silence, he begrudgingly held out his hand. “Fine, thirty-five.”
I grabbed hold and shook. “Alright. Let’s make some porn.”
I took a bite of leftover bratwurst while leaning back in the lounge chair, watching the sun setting over the ocean waves while occasionally fending off swooping seagulls. Simon sat next to me, and Derrek was inside working on something.
“It actually feels kind of nice outside for once,” I said, finishing the sausage before setting my plate on the sand next to me. “Maybe we should just find a place to live here.”
“I don’t think it works like that. You don’t really got a choice where they put you. It’ll probably be in the Ruskin area.”
“I really hope this place isn’t a complete dump.”
“It’s government housing, Art,” Simon said, picking my plate off the ground before standing. “It’s not going to be Shangri-La, but at least it’s free.” He stacked my plate on top of his. “You still hungry?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
“One day, I’ll make you my baked ziti. You like tiramisu?”
I looked up at him. “Were you some kind of chef?”
“Nah, I just really like food.” He started walking back to the beach house. “It’s nice to cook for someone else for a change.”
“Why don’t you do that for a job, then? You’re obviously passionate about it.”
Simon stopped and looked back at me, and for the first time, I actually saw a bit of sadness in his expression. “Heh, maybe.” He turned back and walked into the house.
What was that about?
“Simon told me you get too hot sleeping in the bed with us, so… what do you think?”
I examined the mesh hammock he set up between the two support beams. It had a blanket and a pillow on top of it.
“I don’t know. I’ve never slept in one before.”
“Go on and try it,” Derrek prodded. “We’ve still got to have our swimming lesson tonight.”
I gave him a suspicious look.
“Only swimming, I swear.”
After a moment of hesitation, I carefully positioned myself to sit on the swinging bed, but every time I’d try to sit down, the hammock would feel too unstable.
“I don’t know about this.”
“I’d sleep in it myself and give you the bed, but I’m too big,” Derrek said. “Just don’t make any sudden movements.”
“Am I going to bed or hiding from velociraptors?” I asked, my ass now making contact with the netting. When I leaned back slightly, the hammock flipped with me, the blanket and pillow falling to the floor. “Shit!” I shouted as my head bumped against the wooden floor.
“You okay?” Derrek asked, both werewolves snickering as they reached down to help me up.
“That’s not funny. I could have broken my neck!”
“Yer a half-turn. You ain’t gonna break nothing,” Simon said, helping me back onto the swinging bed.
This time, I crawled on top facing down until I was in position; however, I was now presented with a new dilemma. How would I turn onto my back without the bed flipping again? Slowly, I repositioned my body while trying to keep the hammock stable. With each movement, it swung a little more until I was swinging so much that the bed flipped again. This time my feet and arms got tangled in the net, and I dangled above the floor.
Derrek and Simon were now howling with laughter, and I was getting more and more irritated as I let myself fall.
“I think I’d rather sleep on the floor,” I muttered, slapping both werewolves away as they tried to help me up again.
Derrek’s front door swung open, and Adam strutted through it as if he lived there.
“I thought you were going back home,” Derrek said, sounding uncharacteristically frustrated.
“I will… eventually.” He looked at me and Simon. “What are you guys doing in here?”
“Crashing until I get my call,” I replied, looking back at the hammock. “Let’s just get an inflatable mattress.”
Adam walked over and sat down on the swinging bed before effortlessly lying on it while crossing his legs.
“I could get used to one of these,” he said.
“How the hell did you do that?”
“What do you mean? I just laid down. It’s not rocket science.” He looked over at Derrek. “You up for a lesson?“
“Not tonight,” Derrek replied. “Art’s on the schedule.”
Adam looked me over and flashed a grin. “You mind if I join in?”
“Not at all,” I said, crossing my arms. “I think we left off on how to float.”
“Wait, you actually can’t swim?” He let out a quick snorted chuckle.
“Hey,” Derrek cut in. “At least he’s willing to learn something new. What have you been doing lately?”
Adam sat up out of the hammock and glared at the tall werewolf before storming out of the house.
“What was that about?” I asked.
“I’ve known Adam for about a year now, and the kid’s got a shitty attitude. It’s kinda fun putting that brat in his place, but when it’s outside of the bedroom, it gets old fast.” He tossed a glance at Simon. “Maybe you should have a go at him.”
“Well, I haven’t gotten off today, so I’m up for it.”
“No, I mean talk to him. You’ve got plenty of experience being a shitty person, so maybe you could tell him what not to do with his life.”
Simon didn’t say anything for a moment, a bit stunned by the comment. “Well, that came out of nowhere.”
“Just so you know, if Art wasn’t with you, I’d have told you to fuck off yesterday.”
The smaller werewolf stared at the floor, his tail tucked between his legs. “I’m not that person anymore. I can’t really remember much from those days.”
“It’s probably better that you don’t.” Derrek took a deep breath, his usual soft smile returning. “I still consider you a friend, but while you’re living here, you’re gonna make it up to me.”
“Oh?” Simon’s ears perked up. “What do you have in mind?”
“You’ll see.” He turned his attention back to me. “Let’s go have some fun.”