So Ben and I had gotten to the fun with the soap part of our shower when I noticed that his skin was starting to get a little, well, scaly on his back.
“You have scales. Yellow ones.”
“You sure? It’s the wrong time of the month for my scales.”
I ran my hand over his back and felt the scales forming. “Oh yeah, these are scales.”
Ben swore. “I never shift out of cycle, what the hell Marlowe?”
“I don’t know, but your tail is showing.” I watched as it grew out of the base of his spine. My eyes widened when it turned green.
Ben was swearing as he shut the taps off. I stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel and dried off as fast as I could. I was wrapping my towel around myself when Ben stared out of the bathroom, naked and tail wagging. I pushed my thumbs in to the upper corners of my eyes because I could feel a headache forming as I ran to the closet and pulled on clothes as fast as I could. I ran out of the closet in jeans and a vintage concert t-shirt that my father had been to before I was born. I took the steps down two at a time and ran by Miles who was standing in the hallway, stunned.
“Yes!” I shouted over my shoulder.
Miles ran after me. “He was naked. I saw everything. No wonder you’re so happy.”
I snorted. Miles missed the tail, figures. “You missed the tail.”
“No, I did not, but I’ve been dying to see that man in his natural state for years and he just ran by me.”
I laughed. “Mine. No touchy.”
“Like I could get him interested in me.”
We made it to the great hall and found a half-formed Ben on the floor.
“He’s not going to make it to the dungeon. He’s too big to fit down the steps now.” I panicked a little and looked around the great hall for something to keep him locked in the hall.
“Marlowe, ask the house for gates.”
“Ask the house for gates! Hurry! He’s almost done and he’s grumpy when he’s fresh from the change before he can gain control of his other form.”
I would have done anything for Ben at the moment. I looked over at him, never taking my eyes off of him. “I need gates on the great hall to keep him in there, please.”
The house shuddered and bucked under my feet. I took my eyes off Ben for a minute and watched the gates form along the inside and the outside walls, over the glass. A small, human sized gate that I didn’t asked for appeared in the main doorway.
“Thank you.” I said and felt the house rumble under my feet in appreciation.
“Hmmm.. the houses really like you.”
“They’d better, after the mess they’ve made combining themselves together this morning.” I said as I moved to the gate to watch Ben.
He was shaking his head, using one paw to scratch at something on his face. I couldn’t see anything but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t there. I was tempted to call out to him, to see if he was okay, but I held back. I wasn’t sure how he’d react. I couldn’t watch him anymore and stand there helpless. I turned and searched for my bag that I remembered tossing at the base of the steps before I went upstairs to my bedroom the evening before. I could only hope that the houses left it where I put it when they combined.
“What are you doing?”
“Looking for my purse. I need my cell. Gotta call the Sheriff. This isn’t normal.”
“Oh. I saw it on the chair in the hall.”
I let my head rest on the wall in front of me and sighed. “Which hall?”
Miles shifted his feet. “Uh, the great hall?”
I hit my forehead against the wall gently. This was not going well. I heard Ben roar in the great hall and remembered his cell phone is always on the kitchen counter and took off running through the maze of hallways to the kitchen. I mentally cursed the fact that there was no land line in the castle. I entered the kitchen and groaned at the mess I saw. The house had tried to combine her Gothic cottage with his hardwood castle. Paint was everywhere on the walls like someone had thrown water balloons at the walls to paint instead of using a brush. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, reminding myself why I was there. I was there for Ben’s phone.
“Where are you, little thing?” I said to myself as I searched for it on the counters. They were piled with stuff from both kitchens and I finally found it under a bag of rice in the pantry. I dialed the Sheriff’s line and waited until he picked up.
“Marlowe? Is this important because I have a mess on my hands.”
“Ben changed out of cycle. He’s one unhappy dragon. Do you still have the tranquilizers?”
I heard the Sheriff sigh on the other end of the line. “Damn it, he’s the fifth one today. All the dragons were forced to change. Did you manage to keep him in the house?”
“The house helped me lock in him the great hall. Bars on all the windows.”
“Good. Keep him there. I can’t get there because Violet changed and she was outside with her children, at Milton’s Market. We can’t find her.”
“Okay. I’ll do my best.”
“Sing to him. He likes that damn lullaby from Lady and the Tramp.”
I was startled for a second and blurted out the first song that came in to my head. “La La Lu?”
The Sheriff laughed. “Yeah, that’s the one. Damnedest thing, too. When we figured it out it startled the hell out of all of us. Miss Maggie started singing it to him.”
“Okay. I’ll try it. Thanks Sheriff.”
“You’re welcome, Marlowe. Bye.”
I bid him goodbye and rang off the line. I tucked the phone into my back pocket and jogged down the hallway. I met Miles who was standing at the gate and clinching his fists.
“That stupid dragon just ate my 200-year old footstool!”
I smacked the back of his head. “Watch it. That’s my boyfriend you’re talking about.”
“Well I hope you plan on replacing that ottoman.”
“Nope, sure don’t.” I said as I pushed past him and walked up to the gate. I started singing the song the Sheriff suggested and the damned dragon that was my boyfriend threw a chair at the bars. Annoyed, I kept singing softly.
“Is that going to work?” Miles whispered as Ben threw more furniture.
“The Sheriff said it would.” I replied and went back to singing. On the ninth round through the song, Ben finally settled down and was nodding his head along with the song.
“That’s the freakiest thing I’ve seen.”
“You live in Blueville, I know that’s a lie.” I said as I opened the gate and walked in to the room. Now that I knew he was calm, I wasn’t going to worry about him eating me.
“Marlowe, you’re going to catch death if you go in there.”
“I already know him like a friend. We’ll have tea.” I shot back as I walked over to Ben. He picked up his head and made rumbling noises at me. I assumed that he was happy to see me. It was confirmed when Ben picked me up and tucked me in between his front legs again. I reached up and scratched his chin after I settled in and made myself comfortable.
“I take it back. That’s the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Lie. You live in Blueville.” Mark said as he came down the steps and walked over to where Miles was standing at the gate. “When did that happen?”
“About an hour ago.”
“And the house?”
“Last night. You slept like the dead.” Miles tossed off the joke without realizing it, but I heard it and sucked in a breath.
I looked from Miles to Mark and watched carefully as Mark felt the words hit him and then something weird happened- he smiled.
“I was tired. I spent time over at my place yesterday. I guess it wore on me harder that I expected.”
I let out the breath that I had sucked in and Ben made what sounded like a comforting noise. I went back to scratching his chin.
“Marlowe? Do I have a safe place if I change like he did?” Mark asked as he looked over Ben. I could see the worry on his face.
“Yeah, the dungeon in the basement has a damn good sturdy door. I don’t think you will change though. It seems to be affecting only dragons.” I said as I scratched Ben. I looked over at Mark. “The Sheriff told me when I called to report Ben’s change. I figured he would know what to do.”
“Good idea. I feel better though, knowing I won’t change though.” Mark said as he watched us from the gate. “Are you going to be comfortable there?”
“I could use a pillow, blanket and maybe the book from my bedside table.”
Mark nodded and trotted off to get the things. Miles stayed behind and looked over at me.
“So, is this how you crazy kids do the whole romance thing now?”
I threw a pillow at him.