On her twentieth birthday, Lynnie Russell—just a little ol’ thing from down in Havana, Arkansas—falls in love under a full silver moon.
When she wakes up the next morning naked and caked in blood, Lynnie is faced with a horrifying truth. She’s death incarnate.
In a race to unearth what she’s become, Lynnie must hide her beastly thing from those she loves most. If only to keep them alive.
When an unexpected ally offers help, how can she refuse?
I listened to him breathe for a solid few minutes. I knew Rusty well enough to know when he sat still, just breathing slow and soft, he was thinking. Sometimes he was just thinking about what was for dinner, but that night sitting on that rock with me, he was thinking about his future. It rolled off him, steam from hot skin on a cold night.
I waited long enough to finish my thought that he turned to look at the side of my head and watched me say, “I wish you weren’t so mean to me.”
“I was a kid, Lynn,” he said, his voice desperate.
“You’re a man now, Rusty.”
“Yeah.” He turned on the rock to face me, taking up too much space on the one-person seat. Clenched cheeks clung to the rough surface for dear life. “I ain’t mean to you like that anymore. I’m just teasing. And you’re mean to me. I tried to say something nice about your hair tonight and you told me to shut up.”
I looked up at the moon. “What else was I supposed to say?”
“Thank you. Just say thank you.”
Our voices had grown louder and echoed back at us. “Well… I don’t know how to be with you any other way,” I said hushed.
“I ain’t expecting you to.”
“What are you expecting?” I turned to look him in the eye. His face just inches from mine.
“Nothing. Sure as hell not this.” He waved his hand through the dark. Moonlight gleamed off his blue eyes.
I looked away before truth spilled out of my mouth. “Garret told me….”
He got quiet, still. “Yeah?”
“Is that why you’re out here with me?”
He sighed. “Fuck.” Water splashed between us when he kicked his foot. “Damn it, Garret,” he mumbled.
“Yes. Someone had to have the balls to say it.”
“I have balls,” he shouted, and his echo said it three more times.
“Not enough to tell me you love me.” I swallowed the word, but it bobbed in the back of my throat, threatening to spill out.
I turned to look at him. His mouth hung open. No words escaped. Tan skin was muted in the moonlight, but his eyes sparkled. Bright white and ocean blue.
One breath. Two. “I gotta take a leak.” He waded out of the lake and ran over to a tall tree that stood just in front of a set of head-high bushes. He turned his back to me.
“Just piss in the lake like the fish do, Rusty.” My voice echoed through the tight inlet. Our echoes made me nervous, like someone was gonna come out of the woods and catch me naked in the lake watching Rusty let loose a six-pack onto a tree.
I could hear his pee hit the ground and tried not to laugh when he said, “I ain’t pissing in there while you’re in there.”
“Since when?” Whether the emergency piss break was necessary or not, he’d successfully avoided the subject. I slid off the rock and let cool water cover my chest.
From the corner of my eye, I watched the top of his butt cheeks peek out from the waistband of his skivvies, two divots overtop. I wondered how I’d feel about him when morning came, when I wasn’t drunk.