After a bit of silence, he continued. “Her eye’s sparkled before the drugs. She was funny, warm––caring. I couldn’t help but love her. You would have liked her, Christian.”
“I saw you standing alone in the rain as we pulled away from the funeral. That’s how I knew. Love does that to a man. Makes him stand in the rain––makes him do a lot of things he would never do for another.”
He looked up, eyes wet but not tearing; finding it hard to show emotion like most men.
“Ready to head out?” I said, giving him an out.
“Not yet. You go ahead.”
“I just need some time to clear my head.”
“I’ll see myself out then.”
“Christian, you really would have liked her.”
I nodded and walked away.
Reaching the stairs, I pushed the up button, causing them to rise, their sound unable to silence the wailing from below.”
“You know, there’s another reason I never told you about our history or made a shift in front of you until last night.
“If I were to expose a potential student to our history and make a shift in front of them, they may change their mind and refuse the gift. They may even go so far as to betray me with a hidden camera. Think about it; millions could be made, and shifters would again be hunted down like they were in the old days. In contrast, withholding the information until they transition protects me and puts them in a predicament.”
“I’ll answer by saying this. Betray me, betray yourself. You are one of us now and will suffer equally.”
“So you didn’t trust me.”
“You have to understand, relationships crumble every day over the mundane. And I had no way to know for sure how deeply you loved me until yesterday when you laid on the bed before me. A trust like no other was given and taken at that moment by both of us, sealing our fate forever.”
Feeling panicked, I stood up and stared out over the balcony onto the beach below.
“Slow your breathing, it will subside, and we can continue.”
“What about the others? You said you’ve loved no one like me. But they laid before you as well.”
“This is true; shifters and students love one another like family. But you’re my soulmate, and even you, my once bonehead bodybuilder, has to know the difference.”
“I’m sorry, my head is spinning right now. Yesterday, today, it’s all too much. I need to lie down.”
Taking my hand, she led me inside to the couch, smiled, and left the room.
“What have I gotten myself into?” Half of me wanted to flee, while the other wanted Karen and all she entails. Seeing her long legs shimmer through white pantyhose as she reentered the room in a sexy nurse’s uniform sealed my fate.
“I hear you’ve been feeling a little under the weather. May I sit beside you?”
I nodded as she sat, slowly crossing her legs for effect. “Oh my, your temperature seems to be rising. Have you been under a lot of stress lately?”
“Well, let’s see if I can do something about that.”
Her dark hair engulfed my face while red fingernails moved beneath my shirt. With a kiss, time disappeared, and our bodies became one with each shift, lost in the depths of ecstasy.
It was midnight before I woke up, and Karen was nowhere to be found.
After breakfast, I moved to the balcony for another cup of coffee. It felt good to be in my own body, and I was in no hurry to shift again.
Stepping outside with me, Karen asked, “Ready for a history lesson?”
“No, I just want to chill.”
Karen smiled. “So let’s begin. We are human, and all humans are shapeshifters.”
“Wait, I want to–”
“Don’t interrupt me.”
I was beginning to feel like I was no longer the teacher’s pet.
“IN THE TIME BEFORE TIME—how’s that for dramatic effect?”
I nodded, and she continued.
“There were three disasters, each with its own misery: a plague, asteroid impact, and flood; the plague being most devastating because it killed the adults, leaving their children to fend for themselves. Without their parents, all shapeshifting knowledge was lost, albeit for a few older ones who had already transitioned.
“As years went by, these loners searched for others like them, making skin contact with everyone they met. But encounters with non-shifters usually ended violently as these, now adult, kids had learned to kill or be killed. A new world was developing. One shapeshifters no longer fit in.
“Legends began to form around these misfits. Stories about werewolves, vampires, witches, and the like. And while these creatures did not exist. Many believed, and the sight of a shapeshifter in transition was all the proof they needed, which meant certain death for those caught in a frenzied witch hunt.
“Today, we face the same dilemma, but our enemies do not come in the night with torches. A new One-World Government is forming, and technology is their weapon. We have been able to hide in plain sight up to this point, but it’s becoming more complex, and some tribal outliers want to stop this new government from advancing any further.