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the moon that breaks the night

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The first time it happens, Rosaline calls the cops. Because there is a naked guy in her yard, and her eyes did not need to be assaulted this morning, thank you very much. The coyotes howled all night—or her neighbor’s Bluetick, more likely—and she’s too sleep deprived to deal with this bullshit.

The streaker is gone before the cops arrive. Good riddance to jacked rubbish.

 


 

The second time she lets herself look. Just for a second, between his yelp of surprise as the sprinklers come on and the moment he disappears into the woods behind her house. Her eyes trace the curve of his backside, musculature taut as he sprints across the yard, watching water paint pale tracks in the dirt covering his, well, everything.

Everything.

She’s only human after all, and he shouldn't have gotten naked in her yard if he didn’t want her to appreciate the view. Half the street probably saw everything there was to see before she even woke up.

And the realtor said this was a nice neighborhood.

 


 

The third time, he gives her a minor heart attack popping out of the bushes beside the porch. She’s immersed in a book, relishing the crisp October morning when he materializes with twigs in his hair and not a stitch of clothing.

She spills her coffee.

“What the hell?” she exclaims, shaking off her book and assessing its effectiveness as a projectile. It’s paperback, but at the right angle, the spine might do some damage . . .

Hot naked guy looks just as surprised to see her as she is to see him. His tongue darts out to lick his lips, eyes wide, showing off gold flecks in wild green irises. But he doesn’t duck back into the bushes as any rational person would. Edging forward, he licks his lips more slowly, eying the plate of warm cinnamon rolls on her knee.

“You’re not going to eat all those, are you?”

Rosaline bites the inside of her cheek and tears her eyes from his glistening mouth. “You’re asking for food? While trespassing naked in my yard?”

“Yeah.”

She chucks the plate at him. He ducks, avoiding the dish but not its contents, and she takes a minute to regret the loss of her pretty painted earthenware as a cinnamon roll oozes down his chest, stuck by the family frosting recipe. Snatching it before it can fall, he wolfs it down and licks his lips again.

She gapes at him. He looks like a naughty child, with icing in his hair and a guilty grin stealing across his face. But he’s not, she reminds herself. He’s a grown-ass man trespassing in her bushes and ruining an otherwise peaceful morning.

“Sorry, I’m just . . . hungry,” he finishes lamely. Catching a glob of frosting, he sucks it off his thumb, looking faintly embarrassed—but not, she notes, over the fact that more than his six-pack is on display. His stomach rumbles, drawing her attention inexorably down . . .

“I’m calling the cops,” she announces before she can do something about the fact that her mouth is watering, and not over cinnamon rolls.

“No, wait!”

That note of genuine fear stays her hand. Her thumb hovers over the keypad, ready to spring into action at the first wrong move.

“I know you don’t know me. And this,” he gestures vaguely at his lack of clothing, and her eyes follow the path he so kindly marks for her, “doesn’t exactly look good.”

Beg to differ, whispers the traitor in her head.

“But I swear, I didn’t end up here on purpose.” His jaw ticks and his voice turns defensive. “I haven’t figured out how all this works yet.”

“All this,” she repeats, incredulous.

He nods. His feet are planted in the flowerbed, mossy eyes fixed on her, but his muscles keep shifting unconsciously, like an antsy puppy ordered to stay.

“Let me clear it up for you.” Tossing her book onto the table, she stands. With the advantage of the porch, she looms over him. Her fingers curl around the railing, solidifying her stance.

“You got drunk. And naked. For the third time in as many months. I’m betting there was a girl involved—I don’t want to know,” she adds when he opens his mouth to speak, “but somehow your alcohol-addled mind has marked my yard as your personal hangover couch. Did I miss anything?”

“Only the part where I turn into a wolf.”