“Abigail, you have to come.” Kate’s voice took on a whiny tenor as she pleaded with me. “Derrick’s friend is in town, and needs a date for tonight.”
I was already in my pajamas, with my feet up and a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon poured.
“It’s already late and I have to prepare for my presentation tomorrow.” The last thing I wanted to do was spend another evening with Kate chasing after her on-again/off-again boyfriend.
“Please….” Kate grabbed my hand and knelt at the side of the couch.
Extricating my fingers from Kate’s vise grip, I shut my case file and put it down on the coffee table a little too forcefully.
“This is the last time,” I demanded. “I’ll drive so I can leave when I want to, and that will be early.”
I left Kate doing her happy dance while I got dressed for the evening out.
Derrick was a prick. He was far more into himself than he was Kate. My gullible roommate was his friend-with-benefits. Kate saw him as her ticket to a cottage with a white, picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a golden Retriever named Beau.
I also knew that if I didn’t go with her, Kate would be even more annoying by pouting. I really needed to have my own place. I never had any luck with roommates.
The bar was dark, loud and smoky. Kate took my arm as we wove through the crowd to a back table. I saw Derrick before he noticed we had arrived. He had a handful of the waitress’ butt cheek, and an eyeful of her cleavage.
He gave the wench du jour a quick pat, palming the slip of paper with her number when Kate called out to him, waving wildly over her head, oblivious to his lascivious subterfuge.
That’s when I saw him… Quentin, my blind date for the night. A night I planned to end early.
Early turned out to be 6am the next morning.
I stood at my bathroom mirror, remembering our first night together, my anger renewed at how easily he deceived me. This time, it was my turn.
Bracing my hands against the vanity counter, I closed my eyes and concentrated.
This would be my most punishing test. I managed small changes before this, but I had to accomplish a total transformation. Quentin won’t expect this. In the three years he laid dormant, I learned a few things. Mastering shape shifting may be what saves my life.
The bit of me that Quentin retained, even if unintentionally, will help guide me to him, but it will also allow him to sense me. I have to counter that by confusing him. Hair can be dyed, eye color can be changed with contacts. I have to shift bone and sinew.
I could feel the alternations… my skin peeled away as if I was being flayed alive. Every joint throbbed and flamed with pain. It felt like my eyes were being pierced with needles, and my head was a mass of writhing worms. One last shudder and I collapsed on the floor.
Crawling to the tub, I pulled up along the rim to sit against the wall. I rested until I could breath again without my lungs complaining, then stood at the mirror again.
My own mother wouldn’t recognize me.