Monday, October 19, 2015
“Decided on your costume yet?” Judy asked.
“I’m working on it,” Hoover said. Though at the moment he was more intent on catching the end of the game. He sensed Judy hovering at the door to her bedroom and realized he wasn’t going to get away with a prolonged silence. “I thought I’d go as a—”
“Don’t you dare say cowboy. Every other man and woman there will be dressed in some form of cowboy outfit.”
“Well, we do live in Montana.”
“I want to be something different. I was hoping we could go as a pair.”
Nope, no chance of bailing on this conversation any time soon, Hoover muted the sound on the TV. He could still easily follow the action without the announcers yapping in the background. “Sure, I’m game. What did you have in mind?”
“That’s the problem. I don’t know yet. All I know is, I don’t want to be part of a crowd. I want us to stand out.”
“It’s not a contest, honey. It’s a Halloween party at a bar.”
Specifically, the Caverns, the entertainment complex located in the underground complex formerly belonging to mad scientist Morloxian. A vampiress had taken it over last spring and turned it into a subterranean playground for people coming in off the interstate. Humans in particular, to Hoover’s relief.
Judy was human. They’d been dating for over a year and she still had no clue about Talbot’s Peak, or that she was going out with a wolf shifter. Hoover waffled on telling her the truth, sometimes mentally flip-flopping as much as a dozen times a day. He liked her a helluva lot, but could he trust her?
Until he could be sure her reaction would be positive, he didn’t dare tell her the truth about either the Peak or himself. And until he told her, he didn’t dare take her to the Interspecies Pleasure Club or any of the other secret establishments Dante had set up. Fortunately, the Caverns provided much the same outlets, only here at the exit, far from the Peak, and tailored for human consumption. The vampiric owner had no quarrel with shapeshifters, as long as they didn’t cause trouble and paid their tab.
“I don’t care. I want to go as something people will remember no matter how drunk they are. So no cowboys. And nothing that looks like an animal. Everybody dresses like an animal around here.”
Hoover snorted. Can’t imagine why. “I thought they all dressed as cowboys.”
“It’s sort of mix and match. People in horse masks and bull masks and cowboy hats. It was funny the first time, then it got old. Though I have to admit, Robbie’s giraffe costume was spectacular. I mean, that looked so freakin’ real. How do you think he did it? Stilts?”
Genetics, Hoover thought. He wondered what she was doing in the bedroom, and why she wasn’t out here on the couch with him. It sounded like she was rummaging around in her closet. Then his team’s running back made it to the five yard line and he lost track of the conversation for a minute. “What did you have in mind?”
“Something unusual. Something original. Like Cory’s last year, remember? She came as a cigarette. White pants, dyed her hair red. Wonder what she’ll do this year? She quit smoking over the summer. I think she said she wants to come as a pack of gum. Or Maryanne. One year she dressed as a Christmas tree, and Claude was a wreathe. That was before he lost all the weight.”
“Or the Bosemans,” Hoover said. “She had that armless tennis outfit. Venus Williams de Milo. And he had the tennis dress and the KISS makeup. Billy Jean Simmons.”
“I’d love to come up with something like that,” Judy said. “But please, no more Jesus with a pregnant nun costumes. That’s so overdone.”
“Y’know,” Hoover said slowly, “there’s this shop in Talbot’s Peak that does custom Halloween costumes. Original creations. You give ‘em the basic idea and they run with it. I’ll be happy to spring for whatever you want. Once you’ve got yours, we can figure out mine.”
“You’re so sweet. We could go as matching candy bars—no, Tim and Larraine are doing that. If I could just find this—I know I’ve got it in here somewhere—hey! There you are.”
“Found something?” Hoover asked, while thinking with his fingers crossed, Dukes of Hazzard. Dukes of Hazzard. He’d dress as Bo or Luke or even Boss Hogg if it meant seeing Judy in Daisy Dukes. Oh baby.
“Something my grandma gave me. Give me a minute. It’s got like a million buckles.”
Scat. She wasn’t really going to cover up those legs in an old lady dress, was she? Bite that. He’d put it on himself, go as Norman Bates’s mom if it kept her out of mumsy clothes. She could be Janet Leigh. Straight from the shower, naked and wet. Hoover felt himself getting hard.
“Okay,” Judy said, stepping out of the bedroom. “What do you think?”
Hoover turned around on the sofa. He let out a little eep.
Normally the sight of Judy in leather would have sent him over the edge. Not this outfit. He knew the look of armor when he saw it. This was no costume; it was the real deal. Conan the Barbarian couldn’t hack his way through that bodice, or those leggings. He’d have to deal with the sword first. It looked ancient, but still in fighting shape.
And that choker wasn’t a fashion statement. It was designed to protect the throat from fangs. Specifically, thick canines seated in lupine jaws.
He had a sinking feeling those wolf ears strung across her chest like a bandolier weren’t fake either.
“Holy shit,” he said weakly. “Who was your grandma, Xena?”
“Not hardly. She came from Bavaria. Mom said she used to hunt wolves.”
No, he thought, not wolves. Werewolves. Hoover knew a hunter’s outfit when he saw one. And he’d seen plenty, growing up.
“I thought maybe,” Judy said, “we could get you a fur loincloth and a fake sword. No, wait, I know! A cape and a hammer. You’ve already got the hair. Thor and Sif. What do you say?”
Hoover’s hand dug into the sofa cushion. A vintage shifter-slayer’s armor, passed down from mother to daughter. Any thought of confessing his true identity went on immediate hold. Somehow he managed a smile. “Let me think about it.”