When there was a pause in the celestial light show, Dani sat on the love seat and again buried her nose in the werewolf romance. But as in those long hours on the bus, she couldn’t read more than a word or two before her mind wandered. She smiled inside to think that no book could ever come close to the real romance that had recently entered her life. She even teared up to think how blessed she was. What had she ever done to deserve Ian? She had no idea. But she wasn’t ever going to let him get away.
After a while, she heard banging from the front of the house, but imagined it was simply the screen door become unlatched. When it went on, a rush passed through her to realize someone was knocking. It was Ian. It had to be. Tossing the book aside, she leaped from the couch and ran to the kitchen.
Opening the door, she saw it wasn’t Ian at all. Her heart sank, but she tried not to let it show. It was the nice old lady from the police station she met the other day. Trudy was her name. She had a bulging brown shopping bag clutched to her chest.
“Hey there, little girl!” the woman said with a smile. “How about letting a poor stranger in out of the rain?”
Dani returned the smile and opened wide to let Trudy in. Oddly, she didn’t seem wet. Not a hair of her bun was out of place. Before closing the door, Dani saw no car in the driveway either. Who knows? she thought. Maybe she was dropped off.
“I do hate to barge in like this,” Trudy said contritely, “but I thought it long past time for just us girls to have a nice conversation.” Setting the bag on the table, she turned and asked, “I hope you don’t mind?”
“Not at all,” Dani said politely, though she did think it a bit strange. After the woman went quiet and simply stared, Dani asked, “Umm . . . can I get you anything?”
“You know what might be nice,” Trudy said, clapping her hands together and taking a seat. “A tall glass of milk for us both. It’ll go nice with the surprise I brought!”
Pasting on a smile, Dani went to the fridge and poured Trudy a tall glass and a smaller one for herself. Setting them on the table, she sat down opposite Trudy and watched her drink half the glass in one loud slurp.
When she set the glass down, Dani suppressed her smirk about the milk mustache now on the woman’s upper lip. In fact, she realized the milk mustache was augmented by the more than a wisp of real mustache already there.
When a flash of lightning lit the room that same moment, Dani saw the woman also had long hairs sprouting from the bottom of her chin. Between that and the mustache, the clear image of a goat came to her mind. Having been raised better, she set it aside.
“So,” Trudy began. “I want to hear all about you and the boy. I think Ian is his name? I must say you two made quite a couple the other night! I tell you, everyone in town is talking about it. But first . . .”
She paused and put a mischievous grin on her face before reaching into her bag. With a ta- da motion she pulled two plump apples from within. Bright red and juicy looking, she put one down in front of Dani and took the other for herself.
“I been meaning to drop these by for the chief,” she explained. “Fresh picked from Red Apple Farm. I tell you, they’re just about the best in all Massachusetts. Did you know their orchards are more than a thousand feet above sea level? I think that makes all the difference.”
With that, Trudy picked up her apple and took a big crunchy bite. Afterward, she closed her eyes to savor each chew. When she opened them again, she saw Dani hadn’t touched hers and motioned her head toward it.
“I’m telling you sweetheart, it’s the best apple you’ve ever had. Better than a man, you asked me.” She took another big chomp.
Not wanting to be rude, Dani picked hers up and took a bite. Trudy was right. It was delicious. Whether it was better than a man, she would leave to Trudy. It certainly wasn’t better than Ian. Of that she had no doubt.
“You’re thinking about him right now, aren’t you, little girl?” Trudy asked with a naughty smile before taking another gulp of milk.
Dani could only blush. She didn’t want to talk about Ian with this woman. It was too personal. Too private. When she glanced again at Trudy, she saw the woman had closed her eyes to relish another bite. Her sheer manner of chewing again summoned to Dani’s mind the image of a goat. What made it stranger still was she had no experience with goats. She wasn’t sure she’d even seen one in real life. But she knew one when she saw one.
“Did you know,” Trudy went on with a mouth full of apple, “there’s even a rumor going around that you believe yourself to be a queen? Is that the funniest thing you ever heard?”
Dani’s vision started fading in and out. She wasn’t certain she’d heard what she thought she did. Looking up, she saw Trudy now had bits of apple all over her goat face. She watched as the woman reached out an impossibly long tongue to snag a chunk that had somehow found its way to the end of her snout.
Feeling faint, Dani looked down to relieve her nausea and saw beneath Trudy’s skirt were a pair of goat legs with thick gray fur upon them.
“A queen,” Trudy said in a voice that could belong only to a goat. “Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous?”
Dani felt darkness approaching. Reaching out her arms, she tried grabbing hold of the table but it was too late. When the blackness came, she fell to the floor with a heavy thud, bringing her untouched glass of milk along to shatter into a thousand pieces.
Meanwhile, Trudy grabbed another apple from the bag. With her eyes closed in almost depraved pleasure, she took a big bite.
Thanks for reading! And keep your eye out for THE MOUND, a mystery horror romance fairy tale. Meanwhile, don't forget to visit my Amazon Author Page to check out my other offerings! Thanks again.