As planned, Sandra’s mum dropped Roger off at his house before taking Sandra home to get changed. She wore tights under jogging trousers and a thick jumper over a long-sleeved top, putting on a body warmer made of fleece as well. Her mum dropped her off at Rhyley’s. It was already dark when she arrived and she could see from the light of the nearest streetlamp that Mr Quentin was setting up a telescope on the front lawn and occasionally glancing up into the night sky, he himself dressed warmly.
“Well, have fun, honey,” said Sandra’s mother as Sandra was about to get out of the car. “And do remember to thank Mr and Mrs Quentin for being so kind.”
“I will,” Sandra assured her, climbing down. “See you later.”
“Before 8, remember, honey.”
“Okay. Bye then.”
“Bye.” Sandra’s mum drove off and Sandra walked up to Mr Quentin, who straightened up and smiled at her.
“Hello there. You must be quite excited.”
“Yes, I am,” Sandra replied, smiling back.
“Well, Rhyley’s inside. Don’t worry about ringing the doorbell - just walk in and say you’re here.”
“Thanks, Mr Quentin.”
Sandra walked to the front door and let herself in, calling “Rhyley, I’m here,” as she took off her shoes and walked into the living room.
Rhyley appeared, grinning.
“Hey! Are you in for a treat.” He walked over and hugged her, kissing her hair. “I’m so glad you could come.” He let go, still smiling, and led her to the kitchen where he gestured for her to sit at a table. “Would you like a drink? Squash? Juice? Tea?”
“Oh, d’you have orange juice?” Sandra asked.
As Rhyley was pouring out her drink, Rhyley’s mother walked in.
“Hello, dear. We’re just having pizza for tea, is that all right?”
“That’s fine,” Sandra said, smiling. “I love pizza.”
Rhyley came to sit in the chair next to her, putting her juice in front of her. There was a sort of ... increased activity about him, as though he were almost impatient in his anticipation of tonight.
“Is changing into a werewolf fun?” she asked, half teasing him.
“It’s liberating,” he told her honestly. “You can’t imagine the freedom.”
Sandra sipped at her juice.
“I can’t wait to see you in wolf form. I only saw your snout in the Wolf Dream.” It felt absurd to be saying this sort of thing, but also kind of cool. Her boyfriend was her soulmate - a werewolf who was going to reveal his lupine form this evening while she also learnt what a Wolfsong was. She had been sincere when she had told Rhyley’s dad she was excited.
“Oh, I’m absolutely breath-taking,” Rhyley said, winking.
“Rhyley,” Mrs Quentin said, her tone lightly reproving.
“Sorry, Mum,” Rhyley said, in a tone that was casual and unrepentant.
Mrs Quentin called her husband in and served up the pizza which had been cooking in the oven. There was also garlic bread and sweetcorn out of a can. After the meal, they went to the car. Mr Quentin was going to drive them there.
“Darling, if you take your telescope, you can star-gaze there until Sandra would like to go home,” Mrs Quentin pointed out as he started folding the equipment on the front lawn to put it away. “And there’s less light pollution by the forest, I should imagine.”
“Oh, yes, so there would be,” Mr Quentin realised. He smiled. “Thanks, dear.” He put the telescope in the boot of the car.
The forest was outside the edges of town - a dark and slightly frightening-looking place, though Sandra was reassured when she saw other cars lined up on the patch of gravel along the side of the road.
Everyone got out of the car.
“I’ll be near the car all night,” Mr Quentin told Sandra. “So you just come over when you need to go home. I’m sure Rhyley will be happy to accompany you to the car.”
“Thanks, Mr Quentin.”
Mr Quentin nodded and started unloading his telescope.