A BEAST IN BED • by Evan Roberts

A werewolf isn’t always a werewolf. Sometimes it’s the old grocer who places the bread at the bottom of the bag; sometimes it’s the irredeemably handsome bartender with a crooked smile, packs of cigarettes filling his pockets like playing cards. And sometimes, as it was for me, it’s the slightly rotund man in line at Starbucks, his curly black hair foaming under the brim of his Trilby hat as he waits for a pumpkin spice latte.

And what do you do with a werewolf? Well, if you’re a normal 21st-century girl like me, you know this is the moment you’ve been waiting for all your life. You’ve been searching for the kind of misunderstood, bestial romance that only a wolfman could offer. And he’s been waiting too. He isn’t looking for the kind of superficial, mock-tanned, buxom cover girls promoted on television and end-of-the-aisle tabloids. No, he’s been waiting for a pale, freckled, curt kind of girl, the kind of girl whose body is purely a vessel for her inner beauty, the kind of girl who keeps the porch light on so he doesn’t fumble with his keys in the moonlight. The kind of girl who will love him for who he really is.

We’ve been dating for six months and it couldn’t be better. Unless it happens to be daytime.

Keith isn’t attractive if he isn’t covered in fur and rippling with superhuman strength. When human-Keith eats, it’s such an intense exertion that he works up a sweat. He isn’t a high-school student, not a teacher or a policeman; he works retail at a new-age health store, selling coconut oils and almond lotion to upper class housewives.

And there’s nothing sexy about his name: the name Keith. What happened to the old-fashioned werewolves named Jacob and Antonio?

But I think he’s getting used to his pet name, Daniel. And with a bit of convincing, my boss Julie let me change to an evening shift at the library so I can stay with him deep into the night. It’s been over two months since I’ve seen Daniel during the day, so long that I’ve forgotten what the human side of him looks like.

I’ll take a long bath right before he comes over, and by the time I get out he’s already turned, sitting there in the living room, hunched over, filling out a crossword puzzle on the coffee table. He grins at me with his snarled teeth, and I know I’m in love.

“Why don’t you come join me in the bedroom?” I ask, damp from bathwater and awkward in the inexperienced maiden kind of way, awkward in the my-clothes-are-slipping-right-off-me kind of way. “I’m so cold.”

“We’ve been at it every night,” he grunts. “How about we just relax? The Walking Dead is almost on.” It’s cute how he plays hard-to-get. I grab his arm and pull, and he slinks into the bedroom.

The next week Daniel keeps arriving early in the morning while I’m getting ready for bed. He sits on the edge of the sofa, grabbing my foot in his search for the television remote. He laughs louder than before, watches me over his shoulder to see if I’ve fallen asleep. I haven’t, and we both know it, but neither of us stop pretending.

He keeps trying to take me out on what he calls a real date, which I suppose is his way of suggesting we’ve never gone on a real date, as if crawling under the covers together every night has in some way lost its romance.

So Daniel takes me to an afternoon costume party. I refuse to dress up. There’s something about a costume party that brings out the worst in people. There’s a certain vanity to it: the girls wearing cat ears and maid outfits, if anything at all. The men hiding their fat stomachs, their flabby arms and glasses under the guise of pop culture novelty. There’s a stormtrooper, a Gaston, a Superman with a padded chest. And there’s a vampire.

Our eyes meet throughout the evening. He’s wearing an illustrious cloak, and his fangs dig into his bottom lip, chewing incessantly when I catch him glaring at me. The partygoers congregate in the kitchen, racing one another to intoxication, and Daniel must be there too because I don’t see him, but I don’t look that hard. I swear I hear a man who sounds like Daniel in the other room, but it can’t be him because the man is talking to a woman. And she’s laughing.

As the last of the guests funnel into the kitchen, the vampire seems to be my only company in the living room.

“Have you ever slept with a vampire before?” he asks. It’s blunt, upfront, but not wholly unexpected. That’s just what vampires do. There’s something dark to his words, the type of Transylvanian hiss that says I’ve been looking for the kind of girl like you all my life.

“I haven’t,” I say. “Not yet.”

He escorts me to his car, drives me to his apartment, and we bound upstairs into his bedroom before crawling under the covers. What else do you do with a vampire?

I wonder what Daniel will say when he finds me like this. I wonder what he’ll do. But I can picture it already: Daniel will storm into the bedroom, snarling, saliva dripping off his chin. He’s here to claim what’s his. He’ll tear his shirt clean off, and the vampire will rise too, baring his fangs. They’ll lunge at each other, collide midair, articles of clothing trailing in arcs off their thread-wrapped bodies. I’ll beg for them both to stop fighting over me. I’m not sure I’ll want them to.

But Daniel never comes. In the morning there’s a man in bed beside me, yet the vampire is gone. His cloak is on the foot of the bed, and his fangs have fallen out.

Evan Roberts holds a B.A in English from George Mason University and has served as both a reader and editorial assistant for Stillhouse Press. His stories can be found in google drives, under the dresser, or in the nearest bin. This is his first publication.

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