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Sleepwalker Wolf

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New Meat


Tomorrow is my birthday. I never particularly cared for my birthday. It's just another reminder that my parents never loved me. To me, just another day.

To my best friend Caroline, it's the greatest day of the year. Which is why she's planning the entire day down to the minute. Any kind of event is the perfect reason to display her Type A personality.

"Then we can go get mani pedis-"Caroline rambles until I cut her off with a groan. The myriad of smells from the kitchen combined with the heavy cologne of whoever just walked past me is making my stomach turn. Not to mention the many forks scraping plates are beginning to grate on my sensitive ears.

"Val, are you okay?" Carry asks, placing her hand over mine.

"Fucking stinks," was all I manage to mumble.

Caroline doesn't ask. She knows how sensitive my nose is. All she does is suggest we move to a table outside when we get our food.

The early-autumn air is a welcome boon to my senses. The fresh air allows the smells to blow past my nose without clinging around like a noxious cloud. Trees planted in cut outs in the sidewalk rustle in the slight breeze that carries the smell of mostly car exhaust and trash.

"Okay, that's half the day planned. Was there anything else you wanted to do," Caroline asks as we settle at the table with lunch.

"Do we have to do so much? I planned to spend most of the day sleeping in," I say, after swallowing a bite of my ruben.

"Val! It's your twenty-first birthday!" After I raise a brow at her, she groans and relents. "Fine! At least we can go to a new bar that's opened up. It's a little out of the way, but it's something!"


Carry spends the rest of lunch telling me about how her boss won't stop reheating fish in the breakroom microwave and how her coworker refuses to clean out her stuff from the fridge.

We go our separate ways so I can get back to work at Stan's Prime Cuts, the butcher shop I work at. Sometimes I work preparing cuts in the back or I work the front, whichever Stan doesn't feel like doing that day. Over the few years I've worked there, Stan became the surly uncle I never had.

Walking down the street, I filter out the street noise and the conversations I can hear from passing groups of people. I missed my morning jog, so the walk was much needed to stretch out my muscles and get rid of extra energy.

The shop is a small concrete building with its name painted on a wooden sign over the door. It's been in Stan's family for generations, but only he and I work there.

"Afternoon, Stan," I greet over the ding of the bell that hangs over the doorway. He grunts, pouring all his concentration into the books he demands keeping for the shop. I always tell him a computer would make everything much easier, but apparently I don't know anything.

On my way to the back cooler, Stan stops me. "Delivery of venison today," he grumbles before letting me go.

The Scotts make a delivery of venison and even sometimes rabbit two or three times a month. They're a strange family, but I'm not one to talk with my hypersensitive nose and sleep walking. They live out in the woods and are the most prolific hunters I've ever seen.

I stay in the back cooler until Stan announces the delivery. We head to the back door that leads to the back parking lot. I recognize Elijah, the youngest Scott, since he makes all the deliveries. He had dirty blond curls and soft brown eyes. Then two men I don't recognize step out of the front seats.

Both look similar, but slightly different. Same hair and eye color, but one's chocolate brown hair is curlier, his shoulders a little slimmer and not so much bulk on his arms. Both are quite handsome with a smell like Elijah's that seems wild and musky, almost like a dog.

"Hi Stan! Hi Val!" Elijah calls while his brothers, I assume, open the back of the van. Stan waves a hand before heading back toward the cooler.

"Hi Eli," I greet, while I walk up to the van. "These are your brothers?"

Elijah turns to look at his brothers. "Yes, the one with curlier hair is Travis and the other one is Trevor."

"Hey!" Trevor calls from the back of the van. "I am not 'the other one!'"

Travis snickers as he comes around the side of the van. "Don't be a baby, Trev. Sometimes I'm 'the other one.'" He stops in front of me and puts out a hand. "Hi, Travis Scott."

"Valery," I greet back while shaking his hand. He tightens his grip on my hand slightly before tilting his head slightly like a puppy. Travis's hand is slightly rough and makes my hand feel so little. He takes in one large breath through his straight nose, it twitching slightly.

Finally he lets go so his brother can greet me in almost an exact manner. This close I can smell a slight difference between them, but both still carry that slightly dog-like scent.

"It's your birthday tomorrow right?" Elijah asks. "Got anything planned?"

All three boys carry a few big packages of venison covered in paper to the cooler. While I stand holding open the door.

"Just going to a bar with my friend. Figure I'll spend most of the day in bed."

"Boring!" Trevor calls from inside the cooler.

"Don't listen to him," Travis says as he passes me to go back inside. "He barely remembers his last birthday."

"Yes, because I have fun, unlike you who spent his last birthday cooking with Mom," Trevor teases as they meet in the back room.

A slight pink brushes Travis's high cheekbones as he glares at his brother. "Shut up. At least Mom likes me better."

"I think it's sweet," I say. Travis gives Trevor a victorious grin, revealing perfect white teeth and a set of adorable dimples that make me melt a little inside before heading back to the kitchen.

The boys continue picking on one another as they finish unloading the venison. Trevor seems like a goofball with poor impulse control while Travis is a sweetheart who wears his heart on his sleeve.

After they finish, all of them wash their hands in the sink in the back room. Elijah goes to take payment from Stan at the front, leaving me with the twins.

"Well, it was nice meeting you, Valery," Travis says, stuffing his hands in the back pockets of his worn jeans. "I hope you have a good birthday."

"Any birthday at a bar is bound to be a good birthday," Trevor reasons, crossing his arms and throws a flirty wink at me.

I narrow my eyes at him slightly. Of the brothers, Travis has my favor. Both are handsome since they look almost the same, but Travis has this open nature that makes you want to trust him.

"You two can come if you want. It's the new one that opened."

The brothers share a look before Trevor claps his brother on the shoulder. "I'll have to pass. Mom needs help weeding her garden tomorrow. I'm sure Travis would love to." Trevor gives me an over-exaggerated conspiratorial wink.

Travis shoves his brother's shoulder as he heads to the back door. "Sorry, he's obviously the dumb twin."

I laugh a little at the brother's bond. "It's fine. He seems like a riot."

Elijah appears then from the front of the shop. He looks between us before giving us an awkward smile as we watch him head out the back door.

"I guess I'll see you tomorrow," Travis says as he turns back to face me.

"Yeah, tomorrow. At seven," I tell him.

"Bye, Vallery," he whispers before leaning in to kiss my cheek softly. It's warm and sweet and makes my heart flutter in my chest. He turns on his heel after and hurries to the van.

It was an intimate gesture, but somehow, I don't mind. I flush, but a soft smile pulls at my lips as I watch his retreating figure, especially his firm butt in those jeans. My eyes catch Trevor in the driver's seat of the van, biting his lip to stop from laughing at me with his dark brows raised.

Mortified, I slap my hands over my cheeks and turn. I just got caught staring at someone's ass! Something's going on with me today.

But he did have a nice ass.

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