Author: “Hello, Sir Nicodemus.”
Nico turns around in the pond he’s been swimming in. The sunshine filtering through the forest canopy makes the drops of water that cling to his muscular torso glitter like diamonds. “Who the hell are you?” he says in a gentle growl at being caught unaware.
Author: “No one terribly important. I’m just the one who created you.”
Nico tosses his damp hair away from his eyes, the blond strands within the brown refusing to cooperate, falling back over his forehead. “You think so? How do you know that I don’t exist in some alternate universe and I created you to tell my story?”
Author, frowning: “Very clever, but that’s beside the point. I came here to interview you for my readers.”
Nico shoos away a water sprite. “Ah, I see. Then I am happy to oblige, madam.”
He emerges from the pond, and Author realizes he’s naked as the day he was born and turns her back. Hears the rustle of clothing, takes a peek, and is half-relieved to see that he’s pulled his trousers on.
Author: “Um, can you tell my readers a bit about yourself?”
Nico shrugs, muscles rippling beneath smooth skin. “I’m a were-wolf, I live in a castle that my brother swears is haunted, and I have a sister-in-law who tries my patience. Is that sufficient?”
Author, smiling: “No, not quite. Tell me about Philomena.”
Nico: “The ghost-hunter?” His dark brown eyes glaze a bit, the golden specks in them glinting with something akin to hunger.
Nico: “She really can talk with ghosts, you know. Amazing woman. Her companion is a were-snake and she has a spirit-guide named Tup.”
Author: “I understand she’s a bit older than you.”
Nico: “That doesn’t signify.” He scowls. “Although she uses it as an excuse to keep me at arm’s length. Not that it will work, mind you. I bloody well get what I want.”
Author: “I have no doubt.” Takes a step back from the predatory gaze in his eyes, then scolds herself for being foolish. Despite his look, the man wouldn’t harm her. “But you’ll have to deal with some issues before that can happen, won’t you, Nico?”
The shadow of his were-self surrounds Nico. “Know about that, eh?” Picks up his white linen shirt from the mossy bank and shrugs into it. “What am I saying, of course you do.”
Author: “But my readers don’t know yet. Can you enlighten them?”
Nico cocks his head, more hair tumbling over his eyes, as if he’s trying to hide behind that shaggy screen. “So what do you want me to say? That I fear my very nature? That I enjoy it when my wolf hunts, when he devours our kill?” He paces the mossy bank like a caged beast, the movement parting his unbuttoned shirt and revealing the hard ridges of his belly, the sculpted contours of his muscular chest. “That doesn’t mean I killed my fiancée, damn it. I would never murder anyone.”
Author, soothingly: “Of course you wouldn’t, Nico. But you need to prove it.”
Nico: “I can.” Fists his hands. “I will.”
Author: “Maybe Phil can help you.”
Nico stills, his handsome face calms. “Yes, she believes in me. But I’ll solve my own problems.”
Author, smiling indulgently: “We shall see, Nico.”