Sneeze Fart Shift
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“Ah, ha, I knew it,” Brandon breathed triumphantly as he released my hair. “What did you know?” I asked Brandon in confusion. Brandon displayed something black he had captured between his thumb and forefinger, “You have fleas,” he announced dramatically, not bothering to hide his disgust. Book #1 Sneeze Fart Shift Book #2 Ghouls Gone Wild Book #3 Crimson Tide
CHAPTER 1: PACK PLOT
His eyes were familiar, but I wasn’t sure if I could quite place him. They were brilliant grey with a dark halo outlining them, a halo I had once thought was unique until I learned that all wolves possessed them. According to lore, the halo represented Luna, the bright star goddess in the sky and creator of all Lycans.
Though the eyes seemed familiar, I didn’t recognize the face of the devilishly handsome wolf who continued to gaze in my direction as we rode the subway.
Not only have I not yet adjusted to city life, but I have not yet become accustomed to seeing so many of my kind living their lives out in the open.
I was raised on a farm in Iowa by my human adoptive parents. The tiny town we resided in was lovely, though it was populated by humans that I’m sure would have surrounded our farmhouse with lit torches and raised pitchforks if they had discovered my odd nature.
My parents were wise enough to realize that I wouldn't be widely accepted by humans, and that is why they had gone through such great pains to keep my condition secret.
They had not known I was a werewolf, not until my adoption was finalized, though, in hindsight, they should have been suspicious when the adoption went through with little oversight.
My parents had not been a gullible pair, but they had been desperate for a child, and therefore I assumed that they had turned a blind eye when they were presented with red flags.
The farm in Iowa was abundant with allergens. My parents had no cause for concern when I was plagued with sneezing fits during my first spring, but when the blooms produced a spore that activated my defense mechanisms and brought forth my inner wolf, there was cause for alarm.
My parents, of course, had been horrified when their baby girl shifted into a wily pup, and I am sure that they had considered being free of me, but in the end, they had made the loving decision to continue to parent me, even though they knew it would be a challenge.
Except for my occasional shifting outburst, my parents had managed to rear what appeared (at least to those who were not paying attention) a perfectly normal little girl.
I missed my parents. Unfortunately, they had passed away a few months prior in a vehicular accident. The town sheriff believed they had veered off the road to avoid hitting an animal who had wandered in their path.
My parent’s death left the town baffled because everyone in the area knew that an animal’s soft body was preferable to hitting a solid, rooted tree. My parents’ reaction had baffled most, but not me.
My neighbors may have been confused, but I had developed a theory on my own.
It had been a full moon that night, and from the time that I had hit puberty, the impulse to shift had become urgent.
Knowing that I would have trouble resisting my animal urges, my parents had erected an electric fence around the property to prevent me from straying.
The fence was compelling, and even in canine form, I knew my boundaries. So, I suspected another wolf had wandered into the road that evening and my parents had mistaken it for their daughter.
Though this was only a scenario, I had not escaped the guilt I felt over their death when I packed up and moved to New York.
The train stopped a few blocks from the apartment I shared with my roommate Brandon. At first, I had been flattered by the attention, but now the wolf’s eyes had begun to bore holes in my back, and I was desperate to escape his intense gaze.
I did not indicate that I was about to exit, I eyed the crowd, and once I saw an opening, I weaved around the other passengers in a hurry. I brushed shoulders with an elderly lady as I stepped onto the platform.
“Excuse me,” I mumbled, resisting the urge to glance over my shoulder, afraid I would meet the gaze of my admirer.
The elderly woman responded by hitting me with her large bag, “I’ll bite you,” she warned me with a shake of her fist.
Not knowing how to react, I simply muttered, “Sorry, Ma’am,” before trotting up the stairs to exit the station.
I had been holding my breath as I ascended, unable to exhale until I was above ground.
My senses had not yet adjusted to the odors of the city, so I often held my breath when I rode the train to prevent myself from gagging from the mixture of unhygienic smells that wafted through the passenger cars.
The cool air dampened the smell of vehicle exhaust, allowing the scent of warm pretzels and hotdogs to trigger my saliva glands. I lifted my gloved hand and dabbed at the drool that threatened to escape the corner of my mouth.
The city was designed on a grid system, so it wasn’t difficult to navigate once you knew what part of the city you were presently occupying. The signs indicated I should go west, so I pivoted in that direction, hoping to escape the tempting aromas filling the markets.
My intentions were halted by a hand seizing the crook of my elbow. I could feel my nose twitch as the beast within was alerted. A prickle ran down my spine, threatening to shift at a moment’s notice.
I spun around to face my aggressor and found myself face-to-face with the wolf with an ardent gaze.
I sputtered as the scent of his cologne hit my nostrils in full force. He was so heated that steam was rolling off his shoulders and though I had no idea what I had done to offend him, his expression told me that he was not pleased to see me.
Before I had a chance to react, the corners of his lips turned down, and his brow furrowed. “What you did at the Pack Plot the other day wasn’t cool.”
I was caught off guard as I recognized those blazing globes and that musky, though not unpleasant, scent. He was cross with me, but his angry demeanor did nothing to stifle my arousal. I pressed my knees together, pleading with my hormones to cut me some slack.
“You’re not welcome there anymore,” The Alpha said in a menacing voice as he flashed his incisors. “If you’re caught sniffing around there again, you will have me to deal with.”
City folk can be fierce, but I had grown up farm girl tough. My humility dissipated and was replaced with anger as I pulled my elbow from his grasp and narrowed my eyes, “I will go where I please,” I snarled, attempting to appear braver than a felt.
The wolf’s expression registered his surprise; I supposed he was accustomed to intimidating lone Lunas without any resistance.
I bared my teeth, but unlike him, I had not yet discovered how to control my incisors, so only my right one slowly descended. “Perhaps you should be more cautious about approaching strange wolves in public,” I scoffed unconvincingly as I lifted my fingers to my mouth to prompt my incisors to retract.
Fearing that I would continue to make a fool of myself, I abruptly spun on my heel and bolted around the corner. I glanced over my shoulder to ensure I wasn’t being followed. Once I was sure that he wasn’t giving chase, I slowed to a jog until I reached my building.
Though I had been blessed with plenty of stamina, a part of me wanted to relent and call a cab to carry me for the remainder of the journey. My feet were sore from a long day of traveling, and though I didn’t want to admit it, the interaction left me a bit shaken.
I nearly collapsed with relief as I entered the safety of my building’s lobby but was slightly disappointed when I realized the elevator was out of order again.
Thankfully, I lived on the third floor, so it didn’t take long for me to scurry into my apartment and sink against the door as soon I closed it behind me.
I buried my face in my hands in anticipation of the waterworks that had been threatening the entire trip. I was about to let the tears flow when I heard my roommate Brandon speak. “Anna, darling, what happened?”
Startled, I dropped my hands, “Brandon, I didn’t realize you were home,” I cried, and though I wanted to reiterate the entire scene to him, I noticed that he had a guest sitting next to him on the couch.
I didn’t know the young wolf visiting Brandon, but it didn’t take me long to access that I had interrupted a personal affair. “I’m sorry,” I flustered as I gathered myself, “I didn’t know you had company.”
Before Brandon could press me further, I fled to my room.
After I closed the door behind me, I threw myself face-first into my pillow and screamed to unleash the anxiety that I had kept pent up since I exited the train.
My panic had just begun to subside when there was a tentative knock on the door.
“I’m busy,” I called out. Though my voice was caked with agony; I knew Brandon could still hear me clearly but chose to ignore me as he pushed open the door and entered the room.
His concern for me was momentarily forgotten as his critical gaze scanned the room. “Girl, this room is disgusting!” he declared as he closed the door behind him, “You can’t leave your musty panties laying around, they’ll attract rodents!”
I lifted my head from my pillow to glare at him. “Oh, Anna Banana,” he gushed as soon as he saw my red and swollen face, “What happened, honey?”
I shook my head and drew up my comforter, wanting to hide, but Brandon sat next to me on the edge of the bed and began to stroke my hair soothingly.
“Come on,” he urged me, “Did something happen? Did another homeless person bite your ankle? They are more frightened of you than you are of them.”
“No, nothing like that,” I sniffed, “Something embarrassing happened…” My sentence trailed off as my eyes shot at the door, “Is your guest still here?”
Brandon’s eyes widened as he remembered himself. He jumped up from the bed and cracked the door open.
“Hey, Edward,” he called out to his friend, “I’ll be back in a moment; my roommate is having a crisis.”
There was a long pause before Brandon’s guest responded. “My name is Chris.”
Brandon looked at me and outwardly cringed. I could tell that the wheels turned in his head as he sought a reasonable explanation for calling his current suitor the wrong name.
Chris didn’t allow Brandon to recover. Before Brandon could gather himself, we heard the door to our apartment slam as Brandon’s guest let himself out.
I grimaced as we pricked our ears to listen, hoping Chris would reconsider and return.
We waited a few moments, but it soon became apparent that Chris wouldn’t be returning.
I looked at Brandon and apologized. “I’m sorry,” I told him, “I didn’t mean to ruin your night.”
“It’s his fault,” Brandon said with a shrug, “If he had been more interesting, then perhaps I wouldn’t have had such trouble remembering his name.”
I sat up on my bed, hugging my pillow against my chest for comfort. Brandon returned to my bed, this time edging in alongside me. “Now that you have my undivided attention, it’s time to spill.”
“I can’t,” I sobbed, “I’m so embarrassed!”
“That never stopped you before,” Brandon reasoned as he placed a hand on my back and massaged my tense muscles.
“This is different from before,” I insisted, “It’s not as if I stumbled over my own feet or ran face-first into a closed window.”
Brandon chuckled a little, “That was pretty funny,” he commented, then cleared his throat and assumed a serious expression. “Anna, I doubt you’ve done anything that should leave you feeling this miserable.”
“You want to bet?” I challenged him, “It was so horrible that a witness to the event stalked me on the subway.”
Brandon clasped his hands together and brought them to his chest, “You have your first stalker,” he cried, “My little Luna is growing up!” I shot him a miserable look as he added, “Having a stalker is sort of a rite of passage in this city.”
I crossed my arms across my chest, “I didn’t come here to assimilate; I came here to find my mother.”
“You will, with time, New York has a large population to weed through, honey. You can’t tell me that you came here believing that you would accidentally bump into her on the street, did you?”
I flushed a little; this was precisely how I had imagined it, though I knew my fantasy was unlikely. I knew I wouldn’t be the exception, but I still wanted to believe in fate and miracles.
“I don’t know what I expected,” I admitted, “But bumping into that wolf so soon after seeing him at the Pack Plot seemed serendipitous.”
“Hold the phone,” Brandon cried, throwing his hands up, “Let’s stop and rewind. Why were you at the Pack Plot?”
“I went on Saturday, shortly after you left to go visit your father,” I confessed.
“The only reason I showed you the Pack Plot was to warn you about it; that way, nobody would ever coerce you into going to that wretched place,” Brandon exploded, “I understand going out of sheer curiosity, but what possessed you to go unaccompanied?”
I bit my nail as I considered lying to him, but Brandon had a keen sense for deception, and besides, I didn’t want to alienate my only friend in the city by giving him a reason to distrust me. Brandon has been a good friend, gracious enough to open his home to me and help me adapt to city and Lycan life. So, I had no choice but to come clean with the truth.
“I wanted to lose my virginity in the most uncomplicated manner possible,” I stated bluntly, without fear of judgment. I wouldn’t have dared make such an admission in my former life. The human social construct was based on ill-conceived moral bias, but here in New York, I could accept that I was an animal with primal urges.
“There are other ways to explore your sexuality without sacrificing your dignity to the Pack Plot,” Brandon said, sounding a little sympathetic. “The Pack Plot is not only a sex spot for wolves, but it’s often crawling with Objectors, who detest humans so much that they have betrayed their kind, not the type of wolves you want to get mixed up with.”
“Well, what’s so wrong with Objectors?” I pressed him, “They may be prejudiced, but at the end of the day, they are Lycan too.”
“We will circle back to that,” Brandon promised, “After you tell me what happened at the Pack Plot.”
I drew my knees up to my chest to shield myself from the humiliation I was about to recall.
“I went to the Pack Plot, undressed, and shifted behind the bushes,” I began, “When I entered, it was obvious that all the males were pleased with the fresh scent of meat, and a dozen started circling me immediately. Then, out of nowhere, a large dark wolf began attacking my suitors and claimed me for himself.”
I paused as Brandon raised a suggestive eyebrow, obviously intrigued. “He was on the cusps of mounting me when something started aggravating my allergies.” I finished, giving him a meaningful look.
Brandon’s jaw dropped as he gasped, “Oh, no, Anna, you didn’t!”
“It couldn’t be helped,” I pleaded, “The back of my throat began to tickle, but before I could flee, I sneezed, and suddenly I was human again,” I shook my head, “I think that is why he had followed me on the subway, he thinks I sat him up.”
“Bestiality is a crime in the human as well as the werewolf world,” Brandon said, shaking his head, “If all he did was stalk you on the subway, then you should be thanking your lucky stars.”
“I understand why he was angry,” I whined, “But he didn’t even give me a chance to explain.”
“Well, there is nothing you can do about it now,” Brandon sighed, giving me a sympathetic pat on the shoulder, “But you will need to be more vigilant when you’re out in public. It’s unlikely that he will be the only one to recognize you in human form, and that is when you are most vulnerable.”
I nodded in understanding; desperate to change the subject, I reminded him, “You promised to tell me about the Objectors and the Protectors.”
Brandon rolled his eyes, “Take my advice and stay out of politics.”
“We have politics?” I asked, genuinely baffled. Our nature itself seemed to oppose such ideologies. Though I knew all beings were prone to fall into natural hierarchies for the sake of survival. Even the agricultural community back home couldn’t escape being affected by politics.
I was relieved when Brandon shook his head, “Not in the traditional sense,” he explained, “The Leviathan created political parties when we toppled the monarchies which caused the Lycan divide.”
“The Leviathans are sadistic,” I spat, “I don’t understand why Luna tolerates their presence; I thought she cared for the humans; that was why she decreed the canine bloodlines as their protectors.”
“She did,” Brandon agreed, “She created us to protect the humans from the Leviathan.”
“If the Leviathans are so evil and cause human woes, why doesn’t Luna just destroy them?” I pressed him, “It seems like a simpler solution; why create factions to protect the most vulnerable instead of ridding the earth of the aggressors?”
“Ah, well, that’s where things get a little sticky,” Brandon exclaimed. “I know what this conversation needs; alcohol, let’s move into the living room and have a few drinks.”
“It’s barely three in the afternoon,” I chided him.
“Then we will have three drinks in the hour’s honor,” Brandon said, standing up from the bed and offering me a hand up. “Come on, Anna, day drinking is fun.”
“It’s not like we drive,” I relented, allowing Brandon to pull me from my bed and guide me into the living room.
The apartment had an open floor plan, so I sat on the couch and watched as Brandon began to mix drinks on the island that divided the two rooms.
“The earth was the first, a reflection of Helios with its warm core and Luna with its cool surface. Little did they know that this combination would cause their little world to sprout vegetation and create new life on its own and soon enough beyond its control.” Brandon began as he joined me on the couch and handed me a glass.
“So, life on earth was an accident?” I asked him, though it made perfect sense to me. I couldn’t imagine a world so flawed being intentional.
“Well, it evolved, but soon enough, the planet’s life became overwhelming, so Luna created Leviathan. Large hungry, cold-blooded creatures with the sole purpose of clearing the earth to make it habitable for all living things,” Brandon said, swishing his glass, causing the ice cubes to tinkle against the glass.
He looked at me expectantly as I took a sip of my own drink. The cool liquid soothed my sore throat as the heat from the alcohol filled my veins and instantly eased my anxiety. “That is strong,” I choked, “but delicious.”
Seeming pleased, Brandon put aside his glass and continued. “So, the earth is overwhelmed with life, and Luna created these creatures to rid the earth of the vegetation that was growing at a rapid rate.”
“The Leviathans were the world’s first landscapers,” I quipped.
“That was the intention,” Brandon told me, not even offering me a pity chuckle. “But the Leviathan were hungry, and soon enough that hunger turned to greed, and they wanted nothing more than to devour the world.”
“So not much has changed,” I commented bitterly. I had only encountered one Leviathan in the flesh. He had attended a photoshoot of Brandon’s. My beast within had immediately detected his presence, though it had taken my humanity a moment to recognize it as amphibious.
The Leviathan had appeared sleek in his expensive garb, with carefully manicured nails, and expensive leather shoes. Though my human nature was impressed, my wolf had not been fooled and reacted passionately to the creature’s musky scent.
I wasn’t forming my bias on that one meeting alone; once I learned how to spot a Leviathan from a distance, I saw them everywhere, often on television when they held hearings to introduce human legislation or on Bloomberg, doling out unrealistic financial advice.
“This caused the first spat between Luna and Helios. The earth was their shared child, but Helios viewed Leviathans as Luna’s bastard children, so he had no problem eliminating them. But Luna protested.”
I interrupted Brandon by asking, “Why would Luna protect them if they destroyed their world?”
“Ah, and that is where things get complicated,” Brandon proclaimed, raising a finger, “The Leviathan are her children as well, and she didn’t have the heart to destroy them.”
“I bet Helios did take that very well,” I commented.
“No, no, he didn’t,” Brandon confirmed, “In fact, he turned away from Luna and refused to grace the earth with his warmth.”
“That is why we had an ice age,” I gasped in realization, feeling giddy over making the connection on my own. Brandon sensed my earnestness and treated me to a pat on the head as my reward. “Yes, in a sense, Helios gave the world the cold shoulder.”
I glanced out the window at the brilliantly lit sky. “Well, obviously they made up, so I supposed Helios gave his wife her way?”
“Well, they came to a compromise,” Brandon began but was interrupted by a rapping on their front door.
Brandon sighed as he placed his drink on the coffee table. “Craig must have forgotten something.”
“His name is Chris,” I quickly reminded him as he crossed the room to answer the door.
He flung open the door, his expression told me he was prepared for a catfight, but his demeanor brightened once he saw it wasn’t Chris who waited on the other side. “Where have you handsome devils been?”
CHAPTER 2: GOLDEN TICKET
I greeted our guests as Brandon waved them through the door. My nostrils were immediately filled with the odor of breezy days, fall leaves, and bubbling creeks, which identified Brandon’s friends as Lycans.
His male companions couldn’t have been more different. The tall one had dark features, onyx eyes that shone as diamonds, full lips, and cheekbones chiseled to perfection. He was every bit as flashy as Brandon, but he wasn’t the alpha that caught my attention.
I focused on the smaller wolf who stood next to the tall, dark, and handsome stranger.
He wore baggy clothes. I assume to disguise his waifish figure. His sun-kissed brown hair was a few shades lighter than my own, his large green eyes were stunning, and his button nose was sprinkled with freckles, giving him a boyish appearance. It was a relief to meet a lycan that didn’t appear as if they had just exited a runway.
Brandon moved behind me and placed a hand on each of my
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