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Dovima Bastet

Vee tapped a speed dial number and put the phone to her ear. It rang twice before the other end picked up. Her older sister was nothing if not prompt.

“Hi, Vee! What’s up?” Cheerful. Always happy to hear from her.

“Hey, Hazel. Wanted to let you know I’m going to New York for, honestly, I’m not sure how long I’ll be there. Visiting a friend.” She didn’t mention Tucker. She loved Hazel dearly but her sister was nosey and would start picking, and the information would inevitably make it back to their parents, and… it was better to avoid the whole thing entirely.

“Who do you know in New York?” See? Nosey.

Vee stifled a sigh. Hazel meant well, but damn.

“Her name is Soleil. I met her several months back. She invited me and I could use a break.”

“Uh huh. Did you tell mom and dad?” There’s a pause. “You didn’t. I know you didn’t. You can’t keep avoiding this.”

Now Vee did sigh. “I don’t want to get into it right now.” A sigh from her sister that meant she conceded, for now. “Tell Abigail I love her, and say hi to Kyle for me. Before you ask, yes, I packed plenty warm clothes. Have to go now.”

“Good! I will. Vee?”

“Hmm?”

“Love you.”

Vee smiled. “Love you, too.”

Still smiling, she tapped the red end call symbol as they announced her flight was boarding. Vee turned the phone off and slid it into a pocket before getting into the line, boarding pass in hand.

The flights were uneventful. A few hour layover in Johannesburg. Customs. The regular routine. A text from Tucker chimed when Vee turned her phone back on in Johannesburg. A couple taps later, Vee laughed out loud at the message. Bless that man. He may not be trying to be funny, but she appreciate it nonetheless. After thumbing a quick message in reply, Vee tugged the tablet and headphones from her carry-on and settled in to watch a movie.

One Long. @ss. Flight later… Hello New York City. Finally.

Deplane. Wait for luggage. Fetch luggage. Track down a Taxi. That done, once again Vee pulled her phone out. This message went to Soleil Whitaker AKA Blondie.

Text to: Blondie
I made it! In a Taxi headed to you now. Have one stop to make and will be there shortly.


Forty-five minutes to an hour later, a Vee doing a very good impression of Ralphie from A Christmas Story, arrived at the address provided to her. Seriously, New York was so damn cold to her. Before leaving the warmth of the Taxi, she tapped another message to her friend.

Text to: Blondie
I’m heeeeere! I’ll get out of the car when I see your face at the door. Otherwise you’ll have a Vee shaped popsicle for decoration.
February 05, 2018 01:30 pm

Soleil Whitaker

“What do you mean, we have guests coming?”

“I, uh…”

Soleil grins sheepishly at her wife, who’s sitting against the headboard with her arms crossed over her chest. It’s the morning of Vee’s arrival, and the younger Whitaker had just sprung the news that the brownstone was about to have two houseguests.

“I invited Vee to stay with us, it’s been a while since I’ve seen her.”

“Is my company not enough?”

“Babe.”

“I’m kidding. I just wish you’d told me sooner, so that I could’ve tidied the house.”

“The house is fine. Vee knows we have kids. And animals.”

“She’d better be willing to babysit.”

Soleil laughs before moving to straddle her wife’s hips. “You know that I love you, Rhiannon.”

The Whitakers take the morning to feed the boys, and do some last-minute cleaning. They’re just finishing up lunch when Soleil’s phone chimes.

V
iMessage
Slide to reply

“Baby! She’s here!”

Rhiannon grumbles from her seat at the kitchen island. Although she is nothing but gracious in the presence of their guests, Rhiannon hadn’t been shy in vocalizing her surprise. Afterall, Soleil hadn’t exactlysprung the news of company at the most opportune moment. After pressing a quick kiss to her wife’s cheek, Soleil races to the front door, so excited for her friend’s arrival that she forgoes a coat, entirely.

She waves eagerly from the doorstep; the cold air is invigorating as it fills her chest cavity – growing up in New England has her well-acclimated to frigid weather. She insists on helping with luggage, even though there’s a total of 10 steps from the curb to the front hall of the brownstone. It’s the polite thing to do, anyways.

“How was the flight?” she asks, closing the door behind her, “Where’s Tucker?”

February 05, 2018 08:45 pm

Dovima Bastet

Had it not been so Goddess forsaken cold, Vee would have taken the time to admire the outside of the Whitaker abode. Give her a break, people, she’s from a warm country. More than one warm country. Her very nature meant Vee flourished in warmth. Cold? In moderation only. Maybe, maybe, one of them might be able to talk her into playing in the snow. A small bribe, perhaps… For now, however, she wanted to be inside.

Upon seeing the familiar, if darker haired, form waving from just outside the door, Vee piled out of the Taxi with an equally enthusiastic wave. No sooner than her feet hit the ground did she do the quintessential little slip-skid dance routine. Laugher rang out in the chill air while she tried, and eventually succeeded, to gain purchase. By that time, Soleil already had her body halfway into the Taxi’s trunk.

“Oh, you don’t-” Vee stopped mid-protest and grinned. She knew better than to argue with her friend over this. “Thanks for the help.”

In contrast to most females, Vee didn’t pack everything and the kitchen sink. Most of it was simply bulky in anticipation of the cool weather; layers. Layers were going to be her second best… hmm… Okay, third best friend for the time she stayed in New York. As such, she brought along one checked bag, which Soleil got to wrestle with, a carry-on, and her personal item. The last two stayed with her.

Vee dutifully stomped the snow from her boots before following Soleil inside.

Warmth! Thank you!

“International flights are always brutal. I’m lucky to be able to sleep almost anywhere, so it could be worse.” The next question made her freeze and almost immediately look sheepish. “You know, that’s an excellent question. I’m going to ask him right now.” Oops.

Vee bit the tip of the glove on her middle finger and tugged it off. Then she fished the phone out and tapped out a one handed message.

Text to: Tucker
I'm a terrible friend. I forgot to ask one very important question: when should we expect you?


The knowledge that her two favorite people outside the family circle would be together with her before too long made Vee giddy. “There. He should get back to me soon. He knows he’s expected. He also needs the address,” she chuckled and pulled the other glove free.

“I come bearing a gift! Since you were kind enough to open your home to me…” Vee stuffed the gloves into her ‘personal item’, a good sized tote, and came out holding a brown paper bag. A cheerful grin on her lips, she presented the bag to Soleil. Upon removal of the bag, the other woman would find a bottle of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur. Yum.

“Cheers, my friend.”
February 05, 2018 09:35 pm

Soleil Whitaker

“You shouldn’t have,” Soleil responds as she’s handed a parcel. She can’t help the wide grin as she pulls the bottled decadence from the brown paper bag; she already knows it’ll be perfect with the after-dinner drinks she has planned. After they decide what to do for dinner, that is. Soon after the bottle of chocolate liqueur is stashed in an overhead cabinet, a toddler appears in the kitchen doorframe. Rhiannon, naturally, isn’t far behind.

“Hey babe, this is Vee.”

Rhiannon greets the woman with a cordial hug, commenting on how much of a pleasure it is to finally match a face with the name. Of course, Soleil has always spoken fondly of Vee, ever since their chance (and, unabashedly, unmistakably flirtatious) encounter – she’d been so intrigued by the young woman’s unique aura that she couldn’t resist extending an invitation for drinks. Perhaps at first, this pull – this enchantment – was not unlike what one would have for a shiny, new toy. But, Dovima Bastet would quickly prove to be more than just eye candy. As the days passed, and as Soleil continued to become more acquainted, she found herself overcoming this initial, rather superficial fascination.

“I’m really glad you’re here,” Soleil confesses, “Glad that you finally made it. Even if the weather -”

Mommy?”

Soleil is interrupted by her ever-inquisitive son. But, in that moment, she’s glad that he’d remembered his manners, and not blurted something like, “Who’s that lady?”

“This, of course,” she says, scooping the toddler off his feet, “is Wilson. Say hi, bud.”

The boy waves clumsily, his fingers curled into a loose fist. He mumbles a greeting before burying his face into Soleil’s shoulder, suddenly embarrassed in the presence of a stranger. “He’s not actually shy,” the young Whitaker explains, “He just thinks he’s being cute.”

Which, in his defense, he is. Irresistibly so. But, Soleil refuses to give the toddler credit, even at such a young age.

“Anyways, make yourself at home.”

Upstairs in the loft, Vee would find a queen-sized bed with fresh sheets, impossibly plush pillows, and a full bath stocked with luxury towels. Quite honestly, it comes pretty damn close to what one would find in a five-star hotel room.

The Whitakers, afterall, don’t skimp when it comes to comfort.

February 07, 2018 12:07 am

Dovima Bastet

“Please. It’s the least I could do. Besides, you’ll be sharing,” Vee offered her trademark grin.

This could be mistaken for Vee taking her friend for granted but, no, that was not the case. The two women had developed a good rapport over time, and both indulged in easy banter often. Vee valued that about Soleil. She never made Vee uncomfortable or obligated, or felt compelled to lie, or act like anything other than herself. These made her invaluable to Vee.

Despite being calm natured and even keel, she trusted few people. Some secrets needed to remain, for Soleil’s protection as well as Vee’s. Such things were a fact of life.

Tonight, however, she intended to reveal aspects of herself that might tip the dynamic of their friendship one way or the other. It may also change little, or nothing. Vee trusted the other woman enough to take the risk.

But that would be later.

For now, Vee focused on Rhiannon. She returned the hug and pleasantries, genuinely pleased to finally meet the woman who managed to steal Soleil’s heart. Rhiannon made her friend smile. Made her happy. That alone got Vee’s stamp of approval. It meant she didn’t need to have a chat with one who shall remain unnamed…

A toddler chose that moment to make himself known, and Vee smiled softly. She made no secret of her love for children. Despite the fact true lions produced litters of cubs, a quirk of the werelion genetics made conceiving and carrying to term more of a challenge than the typical human. That Vee had not one, but two siblings, was seen as something of a miracle. Her older sister now had a second on the way, and everyone said prayers and kept fingers crossed.

Naturally, Vee loved Wilson. Just like that. Blood or not, he was Soleil’s progeny. Soleil was her closest friend. That meant Vee would protect the boy as her own, without question.

“Hello, Wilson,” she chuckled and gave one of the boy’s feet a tickle. “He’s adorable,” Vee stated what her friend would not, “And I think he knows it. But for now, I am going to take advantage of your hospitality. I can barely stand myself. All those hours cooped up with all those people in a flying cigar tube. Gross.”

After planting a kiss onto Soleil’s cheek, and nomming Wilson’s, Vee hauled her luggage up to the loft, and decided she owed the Whitakers another bottle of liqueur. They provided above and beyond expectation or even want.

“Bless you,” she sighed, and proceeded to lay claim to her temporary territory. Later, Tucker would share the space, but she took full advantage of having it to herself for the time being.

A nice long bath, a few hours later, and with a full belly, Vee relaxed on the couch in Soleil’s company. Sitting sideways, she’d stuffed her toes under her friend’s thigh. Seemed a shame to waste such an abundant heat source. There was the usual idle chit-chat, small talk, and catching up. They were at a lull in their conversation, so Vee decided to seize the opportunity.

No time like the present.

“Soleil?” Vee never called the other woman by her name. Always Blondie. That alone would be a dead giveaway. Though Vee’s voice remained low, there was an underlying intensity now. “What is your take on lycanthropy? Do you believe it exists?”

Vee was not one to test, but she needed to gauge Soleil’s reaction to her questions. So much hung in the balance.
February 12, 2018 01:07 pm

Soleil Whitaker

Soleil uses the few hours during which Vee rests to tidy the house. When it’s time to start preparing dinner, Soleil transitions from the living room couch to the kitchen island, watching idly as her wife mills around. Soon, the brownstone smells of basil and fresh pasta, luring Dovima from the loft upstairs.

After dinner, Rhiannon retires to her office; blueprints, and a number of impending deadlines demand her attention, giving Soleil and her friend an opportunity to catch up. Although small talk is usually a bore, Soleil can’t deny that she’s fascinated by all that Dovima has to say. She has yet to put her finger on what it is that draws her to the other woman – the enigmatic quality that has her so intrigued. But, when Vee mentions lycanthropy, Soleil’s heart skips a beat.

“As in like, werewolves?” she asks, voice low and steady to match Vee’s intensity.

There’s no doubt in her mind that it exists, for obvious reasons. Few people know that Soleil is gifted, and only one, the woman closest to her, is familiar with the Whitaker curse. It’s not entirely an issue of trust – there are a number of people she’d willingly reveal her true nature to, should they ask. Vee would, most certainly, be one. Despite the frequent banter about their “friendship of utility,” the two women have, somehow, endeared themselves to one another. Their connection feels old and familiar, like something they’ve shared for much longer than 6 or so months.

On occasion, Soleil worries that their friendship is a product of her addictive personality. Maybe she had latched onto what she interpreted as the first sign of intrigue, just as she had with Elouise. But, she quickly realizes that this is different. Vee is different. And this is a relationship of reciprocation. Afterall, Vee had the chance to refuse the invitation to stay in New York; she’s had multiple opportunities to cease communication. But, she hasn’t. That counts for something. Right?

The young Whitaker shrugs after a moment of thought. “Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I believe it exists, sure.”

It would’ve been an appropriate moment to hint at her own lycanthropy. But, she knows that an unsolicited body shift could send Vee running out the door, and into the bustling city streets. And that would be a disaster – the woman wouldn’t fare 15 minutes in the cold.

"Why?"

February 15, 2018 09:13 am

Dovima Bastet

“As in like, werewolves?”

Vee nodded and gave her friend a tight smile. Yes, that’s precisely what she meant.

Her blue eyes stayed pinned onto Soleil’s face while the other woman spoke, observing every tiny nuance; how her eyes expressed themselves, her brows adding as much to her words as the tone, the way her lips moved just so.

In another time, and another life, Vee may have been distracted by these things. May have pursued more. But that ship had sailed before the pair ever even met, and Vee would remain thankful for the friendship they shared. That Soleil had not scoffed or attempted to brush off the questions, and answered them honestly, only endeared her further to Vee.

This… was a delicate subject. For both of them, no doubt. Lycanthropy was not common knowledge or discussed casually. Most kept their nature secret, save to a select few, or small group. They had good reason for it.

"Why?"

After some consideration, in which she looked away momentarily from Soleil, Vee answered, “Would it interest you to know there are more than the wolves? There are many different strains, if you will, and they come about in different ways.” Her hands moved while she spoke, emphasizing this and that.

She had to stop and laugh at herself. “I’m sorry, I’m starting to sound like my father. He’s something of a historian in this matter.”

Vee sobered. “I asked because if you had answered any other way, I wouldn’t be telling what I’m about to…” Holding her right hand up in a fist, the left middle finger tapped on the lionhead tattoo on the right index finger. “This? This is my animal. Without the fluffy mane because I am female. Bit backward from humans… but yes, I’m a lion. Lioness.”

Nervous for the first time in years, Vee awaited her friend’s reaction.
February 19, 2018 04:57 pm
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