Sharp Change(5)

By: Milly Taiden

“Great!” she said. “Just make sure you come, or I’ll have to hunt you down and make a wolf rug out of you.” Without waiting for a reply she went back to serving drinks, her happiness radiating warmth all around.

“So, are you going to be OK with Sophia joining us?”

Chase’s gaze landed on his brother and his shrewd stare. He didn’t want to know what River meant by his probing, but he could only think that his sibling had noticed Sophia’s obvious dislike of him. For fuck’s sake, the woman acted like he had rabies. Whenever he walked in, she walked out.

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I?”

“Hmm. No reason. Then I’ll call you Sunday. Don’t forget.” River gave him the look that he’d given him before his wedding, the one that said if you try to get out of this, I’ll bitch and moan so much you’ll visualize killing me multiple times.


* * *

Sophia woke up to a loud ringing next to her bed. She groaned, turned over, and tried to ignore the cell phone on her bedside table. But the loud sound of Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” wouldn’t shut up.

Why the hell had she let Julia pick her own ringtone?

She reached blindly until her hand grasped the phone and pressed the button on the side to stop the annoying sound. She put the device to her ear under the pillow, her voice muffled when she spoke. “The house better be burning down around me or you are so dead.”

Her sister’s tinkling laughter on the other end made her wince. God, when did she start laughing so loud?

“Get your ass up, you lazy bum. Did you forget our barbecue? You’ve got exactly two hours to get up, get ready, and get some chocolate cake at the bakery.” Julia’s voice turned a little rough. “Do not forget the chocolate cake, or I’ll make you go back and get it.”

“What the heck do you mean the barbecue? Isn’t that on Sunday?”

“Sophia? Are you OK? You do know it’s Sunday right?” Her sister’s humor faded as worry filled her voice.

Ah shit! It had taken all of two seconds to burst her sister’s bulletproof happiness bubble. “Of course I know it’s Sunday,” she lied with a chuckle. “I’m just messing with you. I’ll see you in two hours, OK? Don’t worry sis, I’ll be there.”

She took a deep breath. Thank God Julia wasn’t next to her, or she’d smell the lie in no time. Stupid shifter genes. There was no hiding the truth from any of them.

Ugh, her body was sore and sensitive, like when she was PMSing or ready to get the flu. Keep working like a robot, you nimrod, and your mistakes are only going to increase, she thought.

The groan that slipped through her lips came out sounding more like a strangled frog, which begged the question, was she also getting a sore throat? She couldn’t believe she’d slept through Saturday. She must have been super exhausted.

She needed coffee. Tossing the pillow to the floor, she sat up and looked around her room. Something was off, but she couldn’t put her finger on what. Her nose wrinkled at a distant foul smell. Something to investigate later; right now she needed to take a shower.

She sat on the toilet, relieving her ready-to-burst bladder. Still wondering what was different, she kept her eyes closed, stripped off her tank top and shorts, and walked into the shower. A low hiss pierced the air as warm water caressed her skin.

She looked around, wondering where the noise had come from.

There was nothing.

She took her time washing her hair and hummed while she brushed her teeth. Much more awake when she got out of the shower, she stretched and yawned.

She grabbed a fluffy blue towel and dried off, wondering why the material felt so coarse on her skin. Sandpaper would probably feel softer. Apparently she needed to change her fabric softener.

Wrapped in her short purple robe, she walked out of the bathroom, not bothering with the foggy mirror. A noise at her front door grabbed her attention as she was about to get dressed.

“Coming,” she yelled as she walked to the door.

Leaving the chain on, she opened the door to look outside. On her front lawn lay her weekend newspaper, ready to get soaked by the sprinklers that were going to turn on in a few minutes.

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