Matty woke to lips on his bare spine. He lay as still as possible, trying not to squirm under the tickle of Dean’s immaculate goatee.
A smooth tenor whispered in his ear. “You’re awake.”
“What do you plan on doing about that?”
Dean’s chuckle rose goosebumps. “Ask a favor?”
Matty rolled over. Dean was propped up above him.
He freed an arm and draped it around Dean’s neck. “Will I like this favor?”
“Probably not.” Dean took a deep breath. “I was hoping you’d go to a party with me.”
Terror shivered down Matty’s spine and his nails dug into Dean’s skin.
“It’s okay if you don’t, but I wanted to ask.”
His lips already forming a ‘no,’ Matty caught Dean’s slight flinch. Curiosity pushed his fear down to a manageable level. “It must be important, since you know I hate leaving the house.”
Dean rolled his eyes with a fond smile. “Just ask.”
“Fishing is more fun.”
“A former client invited me. I found her birth mother, and-”
“And she hits on you.”
It was a shot in the dark, but Dean’s brown skin shaded darker still. “Yeah.”
Matty laughed. “I might be insecure enough to go for a little while.”
“Well, yeah. Someone who isn’t afraid to leave the house is showing an interest.” He tried to keep his tone light, but his voice quavered anyway.
Dean flicked Matty’s hair out of his eyes. “And I want to show her how misplaced that interest is. But if you don’t want to go, I won’t either.”
Damp palms be damned, Matty was sick of living in fear. “No, we’re going.”
Black eyebrows rose. “You sure?”
“For a little while anyway.”
Dean took a deep breath and sat up. “Okay, here’s the catch—”
“I thought she was the catch?”
Confused, Matty didn’t say anything for a moment. The moment stretched longer, with Dean looking more worried every second.
Matty blinked. “Why is that the catch?”
“Isn’t there some weirdness for you at Halloween?”
“For werewolves or Canadians?”
“For were- Wait, they celebrate Halloween in Canada?”
Matty rolled his eyes. “Yes, Canada has Halloween. Why did you think there would be weirdness?”
Dean shrugged. “Popular media?”
Matty held out his thin arms. “And I’m some beefy dude who sniffs people inappropriately and turns into a weird man/wolf hybrid every full moon?”
“They were right about the painful transformation.”
“Partially.” Matty sat up. “We’ll need costumes.”
Dean flashed a sheepish grin. “I kind of covered that already.”
“So you spring a party on the paranoid, asocial guy, to passive-aggressively tell a woman to take a hint, and you pick out my costume without asking me?” Matty kissed Dean’s nose. “This sounded better in your head, didn’t it?”
Dean shrugged. “Not really, but I think you’ll enjoy this, anyway.” He opened the bedroom door, grabbed two plastic bags, and then handed one to Matty.
The first thing Matty saw was brown and hairy. He pulled it out and a rubber snout jiggled at him. Red paint dotted the huge white teeth of the mask in a bad approximation of blood. “A werewolf?”
Dean grinned. “Yeah, the mask, furry gloves, and shoe coverings. You just wear your normal clothes.”
Matty looked at the mask for a moment, and then laughter boiled out of his stomach until he wiped away tears. “It’s so meta. I love it!”
He stood and grabbed Dean’s face. The full lips were soft, but Dean’s hand were rough as they grabbed at Matty’s pajamas.
Panting, Matty pulled away. “Before we get totally distracted, what are you going as?”
Dean hitched a breath, bent down, and pulled out a red hoodie, a messenger style backpack, and a bottle of wine.
Laughter boiled out of Matty’s stomach again. “Seriously, Litt-”
“Oh, hell yeah.”
The party was loud, and the mask made it hard for Matty to see anything clearly. He shivered and tried to take a breath as he was jostled by the crowd.
“Dean.” The hoarse whisper was lost in the mask and the loud music. “Dean.”
Dean grabbed his arm, threaded through the crowd to the kitchen, and out the back door.
Matty pulled off the mask, gulping fresh air, as Dean rubbed his back. Eventually, he pushed the panic down. “Thank you. Though I question how you know the layout of this apartment so well.”
Dean leaned against the railing of the balcony with a smile. “June and her mother had me over for dinner after I reunited them.”
“I bet.” He leaned his head on Dean’s shoulder and tried to still his thudding heart.
“I invited you then, too.” Dean put an arm around him. “Are you okay?”
“I didn’t know there would be this many people.”
“We can go whenever you need.”
“Dean!” A woman’s voice squealed from the kitchen. “Mother told me you were here.” She was dressed in very low-cut, flowing gold lamé, with a tiara in her thick, black hair.
Dean plastered on a polite smile. “Hello, June. Matty, this is June Li. June, my boyfriend, Matty Grekov.”
Matty fought not to laugh at her drooping face when Dean emphasized “boyfriend”. She rallied spectacularly though. “Did you get anything to eat yet?” She gestured towards the crowd and Matty shuddered.
Dean squeezed his hand. “I’ll get you something.”
Surprisingly, June didn’t follow. Instead, she put her hands on her hips with a toothy smile. “How did you two meet?”
This is going to be fun.
“He was dating my sister, and things just clicked with us.”
June’s head jerked back. “Your sister?”
He twisted up a smile, feeling more like Mina than usual as anger seeped into him. “Yeah. And damn, that coming out… awkward. But some things were just meant to be, you know?”
June nodded. “How long have you been together?”
“Just over a year.”
Her eyes took on a wicked gleam. “He’s never mentioned dating anyone.”
“Why would he talk about his personal life with a client?”
“I’d like to think we’re friends.”
Matty’s temper frayed a little more. “I’m sure you’d like to, but he’s very professional. He doesn’t usually get personal with clients.”
The last of the fake smile faded, and her eyes narrowed. “There are no pictures of you in his office.”
A hot jolt of anger ran through him. “You should see the bedroom.”
Before she could say another word, Dean came back with a plate of food and drinks.
June gave him a stiff smile. “I need to see to my other guests.”
Matty smirked. “Have fun.”
The door slammed behind her as she stalked away, golden skirt swaying.
Dean arched an eyebrow. “What did you say?”
“I just let her know, subtly, that she’s got no shot.”
“I’m suddenly very glad I already cashed that check.”
Matty glanced into the apartment, stomach churning. “How much longer do we need to be here?”
He grabbed the red hoodie and pulled Dean close. “Well, you sure are looking good.”
“You’re everything that a b-”
“Stop, please.” Dean’s voice shook with laughter. “Let’s say hello to June’s mom, then we’ll go.”
“Anything for you.” He smiled down at Matty. “My big bad wolf.”
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