Today, we want to introduce you to Jae’s newest lesbian shapeshifter novella, Manhattan Moon, by posting a scene from chapter two. The two main characters–Shelby, a shape-shifter, and Nyla, a human–just had their first date, which didn’t go so well.
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“Here we are,” Shelby said as she stopped the car in Nyla’s driveway and turned off the engine.
They looked at each other and then stared through windshield into the darkness beyond.
“The movie was really good,” Nyla said.
“Yes, it was.” Since she hadn’t paid attention to the movie, Shelby didn’t know what else to say. One problem solved. Nyla won’t ask for a second date. That’s for sure. You bored her to death, acted really squirrely all night, and made her think you’re deeply closeted.
Nyla unbuckled her seatbelt. The metallic click sounded much too loud in the silence between them. She glanced at Shelby, then at the passenger door.
In a second, she would leave. Everything in Shelby demanded she find a way to make Nyla stay, even though she knew there was no hope for them.
Nyla leaned to the side and opened the door.
“Wait!” Shelby nearly got tangled up in the seatbelt as she unfastened it. “I mean … wait a minute. I’ll walk you to the door.” She finally managed to free herself of the seatbelt and hastened around the car. When she stood in front of Nyla, she didn’t know what to do. She stuffed her hands into her pants pockets and shuffled her feet while she studied the gravel in Nyla’s driveway.
Nyla closed the passenger door.
The loud sound made Shelby flinch. She followed Nyla to the house without saying anything.
Key in hand, Nyla paused in front of the door. The metal jingled as she spun the key between her fingers. “It was a really nice evening,” Nyla said.
Shelby stared at her in disbelief. She didn’t need to use her nose to know that Nyla was lying or at least not telling the whole truth. It hadn’t been the fun, relaxed evening she had hoped for.
“Okay,” Nyla said as Shelby continued to stare at her, “we had a few awkward moments. But I like you, Shelby. There’s no reason for you to be so nervous.”
What was she supposed to say to that? She couldn’t tell Nyla what had made her act like a criminal on the run all night.
“Maybe we can repeat it some time,” Nyla said. “This time without the nervousness.”
Shelby nodded, even knowing it was not a good idea. Something burned behind her breastbone. Did Wrasa suffer from heartburn after all?
“Good night, then,” Nyla said but made no move to unlock her front door.
“Good night.” Shelby didn’t move either. She stared at Nyla’s sensuous lips. Should she kiss Nyla? For the first and only time. Or would it just make things worse? Did Nyla even want to be kissed?
Her scent seemed to indicate that she was interested, but Shelby didn’t trust her senses. Maybe it was just wishful thinking.
Just do it. For once in her life, she would do something just because she wanted it instead of desperately fighting for the respect of her pack and her fellow Wrasa and never really getting it. She took a tiny step forward.
Did Nyla lean toward her?
Shelby wasn’t sure. She took another step.
Goliath started barking inside the house.
“Hey, what’s going on?” Mrs. Rozakis called.
The light on the porch flared.
Blinded, Shelby pulled back.
Nyla searched for the right key and pushed it into the keyhole. “We’ll see each other Monday, right?”
Shelby suppressed a sigh. “Sure. See you Monday.” When they would just be colleagues, nothing more. “I think we both have the early shift.” She fished her car key out of her pants pocket.
Nyla still hadn’t unlocked the door. She looked at Shelby. “See you Monday. And please drive carefully.”
“I will.” After a few more seconds of hesitation, Shelby gave herself a mental shove, turned, and walked toward her car.
After opening the car door, she turned once more.
Nyla stood in the doorway and lifted one hand to wave.
Shelby forced a smile and returned the gesture. She dropped into the driver’s seat. When she looked through the windshield, Nyla was gone. The door was closed and the light on the porch had been turned off. Only a tiny ray of light fell through the crack beneath the door.
Reproachfully, Shelby stared up at the waning moon. She wanted to lift her head and howl until every coyote in the neighborhood joined her lament. Instead she leaned her forehead against the steering wheel and closed her eyes.
A knock on the window next to her made her jump. Her head smashed against the steering wheel. “Ouch.” Rubbing her forehead, she looked up.
Nyla stood next to the car. Her face was pale in the moonlight and looked almost too beautiful to be real.
For a moment, Shelby thought she was dreaming. Then she hurriedly got out of the car. “Did you forget something?” She glanced at the passenger seat, searching for Nyla’s purse or another object Nyla might have left behind.
“No.” Nyla combed through her locks with both hands. “Yes. Shelby, I …” She stopped and leaned toward Shelby.
Shelby’s breath caught. Had Nyla come back to …?
Her soft lips brushed Shelby’s, then backed away.
More, more! Shelby wrapped both arms around Nyla and pulled her closer to kiss her again. The touch of Nyla’s lips made her whole body tingle in a way that she normally only experienced in the seconds before a transformation. Her nostrils quivered as she greedily sucked in Nyla’s scent. She kissed Nyla’s full lower lip, breathed kisses along the heart-shaped line of her upper lip, and nibbled gently on the corner of her mouth.
Warm breath washed over Shelby’s lips, and then Nyla’s tongue teased her mouth.
With one hand on Nyla’s neck, Shelby pulled her closer and opened her mouth.
Yapping sounds made them jerk back.
“Goliath, be quiet!” Nyla wagged her index finger at the dog.
It took a few moments before Shelby’s vision cleared. Everything around her felt strange and surreal. Everything but Nyla’s taste on her lips. Growling almost inaudibly, she stared down at the dog.
Goliath bared his teeth as if he wanted to rip Shelby’s throat out.
Shelby fixed him with a warning glare. You better watch out, rat. If I manage to shift into a coyote for a change, I’ll eat a little thing like you as an appetizer.
Nyla picked up the dog. From his elevated position in her arms, he continued barking at Shelby.
“Goliath, sssh.” Nyla lifted the tiny dog until she could look into his eyes. “What’s wrong with you? Shelby isn’t hurting me. We just …” In the moonlight, her face turned a bright pink color.
Despite her growling rival, Shelby had to smile. We just kissed.
Nyla finally ignored the dog and glanced at Shelby.
They stared at each other without saying a word.
Every single cell in Shelby’s body screamed at her to pull Nyla into her arms again, to breathe in her jasmine scent, and—
“Nyla?” Mrs. Rozakis called from the porch. “What are you doing out there?”
Nyla groaned. “As if one chaperone weren’t enough,” she murmured. Then she called toward the house: “I’m saying good night to Shelby.”
With her sensitive Wrasa hearing, Shelby heard Mrs. Rozakis mumble, “That’s what they call it nowadays.”
“So,” Nyla said and looked into Shelby’s eyes. “Good night, then.” She caressed Shelby’s hand with two of her fingers.
Only now did Shelby realize that she was clutching the frame of the open car door. She let go and touched Nyla’s fingertips with her own. “Good night.”
Nyla hesitated, then leaned forward and brushed her lips against Shelby’s in a quick kiss. Before Shelby could return the kiss, Nyla turned and walked away.
Shelby watched her until she reached the house. Long after the door had closed behind Nyla and the lights in the house had gone out, she stood in Nyla’s driveway and traced her lips with trembling fingers. What in the Great Hunter’s name am I supposed to do now?
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