Valerie sauntered across the street, her glossy red heels clacking against the pavement in quick, graceful steps. Charlie leered at her swinging hips and licked his lips. He moved through darkness, avoiding the glaring sunlight streaming just beyond the store-front canopies. Once she glanced around, seemingly nervous, as he tracked her through her shopping adventure. She almost caught a glimpse of him, but he ducked into the shadows just in time. He watched as she inhaled deeply, but he was certain the perfumed ladies looking at flower bouquets would mask his scent.
Charlie waited until she came out of the final shop on the strip before he showed himself, lounging against a grimy brick corner. Then, he ducked into the alley where shadows reigned between the looming buildings. He watched as she scurried to the car and piled her packages into the trunk. She seemed to hesitate. Should she get in and try to run? Should she come and confront him? She glanced in the alley, but glare from the sun deepened the shadows.
He jumped to grab the fire escape hanging loosely from one of the buildings. It creaked too loudly, so he let go, dropping to the ground, gliding behind a dumpster to mask his scent. Still, when she reached the alley, looking for him, seeing only shadows, she breathed in deeply, closed her eyes, and she smiled. He stepped out. The corner of her red lips tipped up in a subtle smirk.
“What do you want, Charlie?”
“I just want what’s mine.”
“I don’t belong to you. I never did.”
“Don’t you? I made you. Without me, you’d be—”
“Human. But we’re not. And we have you to thank for that.”
Charlie cocked his head, like a puppy trying to identify an unfamiliar sound. He wasn’t the only thing the shadows had been hiding. A tall stranger stepped around the corner at the back of the alley. He wore his brown hair in waves to his shoulders, tied back with a black cord fastened with a silver oak leaf. He stepped close, towering over Charlie, his clothes smooth to Charlie’s wrinkles.
“I choose my own partner,” Valerie said. “And I asked before I changed him.”
She sauntered forward, and he couldn’t help but stare at the swing of her hips beneath the tight sheath dress, silky fabric moving across bone and muscle. So easily did she mesmerize him. Her scent filled his nose, his mind, his being.
“Perhaps you should find someone who wants to be chased,” she said, her breath close and warm against his face.
The stranger had closed the distance during Charlie’s moment of weakness. A large hand clapped his shoulder. Then, looking into his green eyes, Charlie finally recognized him. It was her boyfriend from before, the one who’d bought her an engagement ring before Charlie changed the rules. Charlie shrugged free. They let him go. He didn’t matter to either of them. They had each other. Even immortality couldn’t change that.
Before he left the alley he heard her say, “I thought you were going to go to the hunter’s shop, get some decent supplies.”
Her lover smiled. “I got distracted.”
She rolled her heavenly blue eyes. Then, he pulled out the bag he’d hidden behind his back. She smiled, crooked her finger, and he followed, as he’d done since before Charlie had changed their lives. “C’mon, we’re done here. I want to make it to the next camping ground before beasting time,” she said.