I woke up to the sound of Asha singing softly in the kitchen and the most divine smell known to man; cooking bacon. I inhaled deeply, before it registered I was fully clothed in bed. A split-second later, a jackhammer errupted into life in my head. I groaned, rolling onto my side and groping around for the painkillers I usually kept by my bed. Just a habit, for some reason, whatever made me a shapeshifter did not make me immune to alcohol or hangovers. According to Asha, vampires could get drunk but were immune to hangovers.
"At least we didn't repeat the 'Dragon Incident', Liam." I muttered to myself as I stripped for the shower. "I hope.."
The combination of hot water and the painkillers eased the worst of the effects and I pulled on a pair of jeans for Asha as I wandered downstairs. In the decades we had been travelling together, I had only heard her sing on very few occasions and never for a happy occasion. I paused in the doorway of the kitchen, listening. She did have a beautiful voice-clear and pure, like a flute, winding through melodies in ancient tounges that evoked images of sunlit forests and golden summer afternoons. I watched my friend as she moved, for once, unguarded. She had done something with her hair and it fell in a cascade of half-curls, so black that it seemed to absorb the light. She was dressed in a fitted shirt, showing off her curves, the sleeves short, showing the pale, flawless skin of her arms. Her jeans hugged her lower body perfectly and she was barefoot, moving with a fluid grace that would make even the best dancers cry with envy. She was focused on the cooking, her brilliant blue eyes alight and a small smile lifting her lips, softening features I usually saw tense or perfectly still in a blank mask. I realised then just how beautiful my best friend was.
Took you long enough. I berated myself. Asha wasn't vain, but she was still female. She would have noticed, especially with her powers. Though maybe she likes that you only see her as a friend.
"I do like it, Liam." She said softly, lifting her eyes to meet mine.
I huffed. "You know I hate it when you root around in my head." I replied, fairly embarassed.
"I can't help it if you're mentally yelling." She gave me a smile that was more mischief than anything else and dumped a plate of bacon sandwiches on the table, set with juice and everything else needed for the perfect cooked breakfast. "Bon appetit."
I grinned before I could stop myself, attacking the feast. "Alright, what have I done to deserve this?"
"You've agreed to come to the circus and look after Cody's brother tonight...which may involve a little showing off from you-though no bird forms."
I held up my hands in a 'wait-what-the-hell-are-you-on-about' gesture. Asha, of course, understanding, filled me in with all the details about her date tonight.
"And I get to babysit?" I said finally, less than impressed.
"Well, Cody did help you back yesterday while you were drunk and I am your best friend..." She turned on the full force of the doe-eyes and I found myself caving.
"Dammit, Asha. Fine." I sighed. I was useless at saying no to people and she knew it.
Her face lit up with a smile as she hugged me tightly. "Thank you." She murmured in my ear.
I grunted in response, still not amused but a little appeased by the food and her reaction. "You really like this guy, don't you?"
She nodded. "He's the first vampire I've met in a long time thats not a Hunter, depressed or a monster. And he's not out to get anyone at all. He's a genuinely good guy." The smile on her face as she spoke told me more than her words did. She was happy to be with her own kind again. While I was pleased for her, it promted a vicious pang of jealousy. I'd only ever met one other shapeshifter and that had ended up with the supernatural world's entire force of scientists and associated mercenaries out to capture me. With a broken heart thrown in for good measure. It was why I preferred the bachelor life. No chance of repeats.
Asha gave me another hug. "There are more 'shifters out there, Liam. We'll find them one day. I promise."
I shrugged. "Whatever." I got to my feet, appetite suddenly gone.
She pulled a face and I felt bad for ruining her good mood. I gave her a swift hug. "I'm fine without them, Asha. Honestly. So don't worry."
She hummed in response but dropped the matter. "So, are you going to come over to meet Cody and Rayn?"
I sighed good-naturedly. "I guess so. Lemme change though."
She smiled again, the usual shadows of strain gone from her face. "Don't be long."
I mock-saluted her, easing the mood again and followed orders. About half an hour later, Cody and Asha were curled up in the corner of Number Three's garden, his arm aorund her, talking softly while I entertained Rayn, who was like a five year old that had just discovered E numbers. I shifted to a squirrel, hoping to escape, but Rayn gave a shout of delight, chasing me up a tree. Cody and Asha started to laugh.
"Guess you didn't warn him about Rayn's love of squirrels?" Cody directed his words at Asha, giving her a smile that she returned.
"I thought it might be more interesting to see if he discovered it on his own."
The laughter increased as another pair appeared through the back doors. The guy was fairly tall, his hair spiked and brown, his eyes a few shades darker than his hair. Tribal tattoos were just visible. However, it was the person next to him that caught my attention. My mental cursing broke clean off as the male in me took over. Loose black curls that fall halfway down her ribs and a figure to make anyone weep. Her skin was tanned perfectly and her eyes were a deep chocolate brown that was incredibly enticing. She gave of an aura of incredible sensuality mixed with fun. Damn.
"Thought you'd be practicing for tonight, Aria?" Asha turned her attention to the fine lady I had been admiring and I almost felt things click into place. Asha's friend too. Double damn.
"I thought I'd come pay y'all a lil' visit before tonight." She smiled, her voice an incredibly sexy Southern drawl.
I shifted to a small monkey, swinging low so that I could shift back to my human form.
"Show-off." Asha called, laughing before introducing me. Unfortunately, I couldn't take my eyes off another guy's lady.
Dammit. Not again.