One week until Halloween! These days we don't seem to see many trick-or-treaters out on Halloween. What I mainly remember about trick-or-treating as a kid was the battle with parents over winter coats -- where I live, it can be in full winter by Halloween, but what kid wants to wear a winter coat over her costume?
On the other hand, there is a lot more to do as an adult on Halloween now. Costumes aren't based around winter coats for adults. Personally I'm not such a fan of the "sexy" version of costumes, but my characters don't always agree with me. In my paranormal m/m romance Moon Shadows, werewolf Theo finds spiritual medium Max's choice of costume for him almost as trying as the evil spirits lurking around town . . .
Theo sighed audibly in relief and pushed back the woolly hood as they stepped out into the chill night air.
"Hey," Max said. "Stay in costume."
"It's really hot," Theo complained.
"You're hot. You're my hot Greek --"
"-- wolf in sheep's clothing."
"-- wolf in sheep's clothing!" They spoke in unison, Max's voice pitched high with barely contained amusement, Theo's low and distinctly not laughing.
"That wasn't funny the first ten times you said it." Theo waved a cloven-hoof glove at him.
"Wrong," Max said, claiming Theo's elbow. "It's hilarious. I have no idea who would make a sheep costume in your size, but when I saw it at the thrift store, I just had to get it. You look," he dragged his voice back to its native range, "adorable." They made their way down the rickety back stairs, and he added, "Well?"
"Glad we came?" He tugged and was amused by Theo's exaggerated loss of balance.
"Y-yeah." Theo smiled at the gravel underfoot.
"Good. Me, too." Max chuckled. "You think we're going to get a cab looking like a slutty shepherd and his hot sheep?"
"I don't know." Theo gave the street ahead a concerned look. "It's not even Halloween tonight."
"Halloween's on Monday. They couldn't have done it any other night. Besides, you've already got Halloween plans."
"It's a tradition," Theo said, as they moved slowly through the alley. "You're welcome to come."
"I'm not sure I want to watch a bunch of horror movies in a row with your friends," Max said. "Are you going to dress up?"
"Yeah, of course. It's Halloween." There was a pause, then, "But no non-fandom stuff."
"I don't have my geek-to-English dictionary on me, Theo."
"We cosplay -- uh, dress up -- like specific characters. Not like, y'know, just witches and stuff. Depends on what you're into." The words were coming out quickly.
"So what are you going to go as this year?"
"You wouldn't have heard of him."
"Hm." Max looked into Theo's rosy-cheeked face. "Do you want me to come?"
"Does that mean you don't want me there?"
"It's not your scene, obviously. But it'd be nice if you knew my friends, and I could --" He paused.
"You could what?" Max let the last word linger.
"Sh-show you off," came the mumbled reply. Max stepped in front of Theo to stop him.
"Don't make me mess up your lipstick," he said. Theo smiled, then kissed him lightly on the mouth.
"I hope we can get a cab," he said softly. "I don't want Ana to come get you."
"Oh, I like drunk Theo," Max replied in a matching tone, wrapping both arms around the floss-covered body before him. With his black lashes augmented by mascara, Theo's eyes were incredibly beautiful, and they focused on him alone. Then Theo's brows drew down.
"Okay, that's not fair." Max gave up on his complaint when he felt sickeningly familiar tingles on his neck. "Oh, shit. Theo?" Theo was hastily getting out of his costume. Max watched despondently. "Theo, you're not --"
"It's close," Theo said, shoving his clothes into Max's arms as he looked up and down the alley. Max closed his eyes defensively, light battering at his eyelids. When he opened them again, all he saw was the tip of a tail disappearing around the side of the building. Max slipped between two buildings and waited, shivering. His half-pants left his calves at the mercy of the night air. The buzz of alcohol had been replaced by adrenaline, irritation, and an unpleasant sense of uselessness.
When others left the dance and passed by his place in the shadows, Max held his breath. He didn't want to attempt explaining anything. He did worry about them, but suspected that leaping out of the dark warning about evil spirits wasn't going to get him anywhere.
They're going off with other people. At least they're not alone.
Theo had been clearly intimidated by the press of people but danced readily and with a decent sense of rhythm. It had been tremendous fun to watch him, to press against him, to laugh and smile with him. On the other hand, Max's head reeled from all the drinks he'd downed to try to keep from noticing the attention Theo had been getting.
This monogamy stuff's a pain.
After a small eternity, a big shadow trotted up to him. Panting, Theo sat down. Steam rose from his mouth, and his ears were at half-mast. Finally, he stood, shook, and flashed into light.
"Lost it," he said in disgust as he dressed. "Those things, I don't know where they go, but they just -- go."
"Well, spirits move through worlds we can't," Max said, ambivalent. "If they're afraid of you, why do they keep coming near you?"
"I -- I don't know. Is it me?" Theo was buttoning up the sheep suit.
"It's a possibility."
"Either way, I ... We shouldn't be alone tonight."
"We weren't planning to be, remember?" Max gave him a playful pat on the side, but when they went out into the street, he could see the fatigue in Theo's expression.
Goddamn things. First they mess with my sister, now they steal a night with the sexiest sheep in Fort Rivers.
* * *
When life-draining shadow spirits appear in Fort Rivers, Theo and Max take action together. Max starts wanting the gorgeous man he sees hidden behind Theo's shyness. The more Theo retreats from his attention, the more Max goes on the chase. Theo loves to submit but fears that he'll give up too much control to Max. They struggle to understand each other even as they zero in on the shadow spirits. But before they can reconcile their differences, an even darker threat comes along, intent on harming more than their relationship. If Theo and Max want to be together, first they have to get through this supernatural battle intact!
* * *