Chapter 1 - Political Canis
Beautiful, I'd say. It was always nice to receive love and appreciation from the good-hearted strangers of the internet.
"You are an absolute abomination on this website. Your review was unnecessary and unwanted, and honestly, to be this self-entitled should be a crime."
"Look, I understand that we all have freedom of speech, but I’m a real person and your reviews are mean, and so I’m asking you kindly to delete them. Forever."
"U suck. And ur jelous."
Lovely. Truly, lovely.
“Shame, man. Why don’t you cut those poor girls some slack?”
An almost negligible pressure landed on my sleeve. Marcel's dark hand held my rental suit steady as he wrote on top of a dangerously thin napkin, a mucky canvas he had draped over my arm. In an instant, I felt my wallet crying out for me to do something before it was past the point of no return. Literally.
"Why don't you cut my thirty dollar sleeve some slack?" I said and smacked his hand away.
His message was simple: the words I’M HUNGRY. SACRIFICE YOURSELF in all capital letters. I snorted, quietly. No one in the grand hall was paying much attention to us, which was great if not suspicious. I was surprised that not even one person had caught us throwing party favors at each other's heads while various officials took to the podium to make their speeches.
As it turns out, dicking around was way too easy inside a ballroom filled with sleepy, ancient sorcerers in tacky lapels.
My reply to Marcel's disapproval of my internet pastimes came a little later in the form of an innocent stare. “Also, I don’t know what you're talking about. They're not all girls. One of them is a dude who writes tasteful vampire romances that aren't that bad prose-wise. Also also, you being hungry is your own fault.”
“Tasteful my iron-deficient ass.”
“Well, that’s also your fault.”
Marcel smiled with the clear wisdom of a friend who had dealt in foolishness for ten years too long, as if he was any better, shaking his head at me. But soon, he returned to acting on his cravings. Cravings, mind you, that had been plaguing him since the caterers took his plate of uneaten, bloody steak. He reached toward a bowl in the center of our table, popping one of its last remaining peppermint candies into his mouth. He was getting hungrier the longer this seminar continued. “Someday,” he said through the savoring of his treat, “those writers are going to track you down and skin you.”
I licked my lips, trying to suppress the ever-growing, shit-eating grin bubbling at the corners of my mouth. “I'll be fine. I’ll tell them the whole truth. That I’m tragically misunderstood—don’t laugh—really, I want someone to love, to mate with, to hold…”
“To bring you food.”
“To bring us food. And once I let it slip that I transform into a wolf part-time, they’ll forgive the fact that I gave all of their stories half-stars on Archive of Our Fiction.”
Marcel, lifting a hand to rub his eye with his fist, gave an incredulous laugh. Staying up late was nothing new for us, but today, the boredom kept a tight reign on our nighttime buzz. I was sure he was grateful that I hadn't abandoned my cocky attitude for this formal event. “Nothing like a Full-human and Superhuman romance, right?" he said.
He yawned. “Man, how much longer? It’s nearly midnight.”
“I haven't the smallest idea. Dad said he’s on the podium last. Some kind of 'make them wait for the big news' strategy that Lily’s mom advised him to use.”
What that big news was, I didn’t know.
I assumed it had something to do with his abolishment plan for the Beast Laws, the last remaining anti-wolf laws in the far north prohibiting marriage between Wolven and any other being. My dad had been talking for ages about cutting a deal with congressmen Joan Maark and Haven Pillard, two very old, very conservative sorcerers who ruled the policy of the deep northern regions of the United States.
Yadda yadda, they agreed, yadda yadda, the Beast Law days were over. I was happy for my dad, really, but the movement was a tiny policy change in comparison to the everyday propositions we talked about when I was a kid. After all, The Beast Laws hadn't been enforced since 1928.
I suppose the pace couldn't be helped. He had to start somewhere. My dad was a week in, freshly elected as Senator of the Wolven.
“I haven’t done my essay. Lily won’t help me.” Marcel pushed his empty cup of water around, empty because I drank it. Marcel didn’t like the taste of anything that wasn’t sugary, including the taste of blood.
“She told me to tell you to tell yourself to stop being a lazy boy.”
“But I do my assignments. Everything she writes is gold. She should use her abilities to help the little people, the me people, because she's an actual genius.”
“So am I,” I said, indignant.
“Tell that to...EternalDark823.” He read slowly. The message above the username was more than a little aggressive over my decision to review an extensive collection of shape-shifting erotica. “My God, Yandel.”
“I don’t help you because I agree with Lilith. You’re lazy.” I said, clicking out of my AoF account and into a more appropriate news article about my dad's political ascension. “And because I have better things to do.”
Around us, journalists and photographers walked from tables decorated in navy blue cloth to the chairs lined in front of a stage where my father would soon walk upon. They didn’t acknowledge us although Marcel and I were the sons of two of the most prominent figures attending this shindig.