Pregnant By The Panther(2)

By: Riley Moreno

Samantha’s husband Larry, the mechanic in Shifter Grove, had hit on Sonya her first day in town. Sonya didn’t feel guilty about that. She felt sorry that Samantha had such a creepy husband.

“Where’s everyone else?” Sonya asked.

“Oh Kathrine is having an argument with this man who took our parking spot,” Samantha waved towards the entrance eagerly perusing the menu, “And Claus needed to get some eye cream. I think I’ll have the chicken.”

Katherine and Claus slid in to the booth as well. Clause, pink, hook-nosed and spindly legged, shooed Samantha to slide in further. Katherine looked self-satisfied. There were scrapes on her knuckles.

“You punched him didn’t you?” Samantha said.

“Thrice,” Claus rolled his eyes.

Katherine grinned.

They ordered lunch and gossiped about the people they knew in Shifter Grove and Waterville; the city wasn’t very fond of its adjacent town of Shifter Grove and the feeling was mutual but they kept their animosity under the surface for a friendlier environment for the children to grow in.

Samantha checked the checklist of all the preparations that had been made for the party and Sonya distributed the last handful of tasks.

“Have you had any luck?” Samantha asked when they tallied the number of people who would be coming.

“I have a lead,” Sonya shrugged, dejected. “But it’s a place in upstate New York. I was planning on calling first and gauging a reaction before I went ahead.”

“What if he’s an asshole?” Claus asked, sipping his iced tea, his feathery soft eyebrows up in his hairline. “What if he’s this unsavory character who doesn’t really care that he has a son?”

“Then I hang up and hope he doesn’t find us,” Sonya shrugged.

Diesel had never known his father, his mother breaking up with him when she’d found out he was a Shifter. She had never mentioned him, his name, where he lived or what he looked like. Martha Cousins had fallen pregnant, left her family home in the middle of the night and moved to Brooklyn to avoid shame. She had dropped her last name to pull on her ex-boyfriends like a jacket to cover her sin and told people she was a war widow. Sonya had seen pictures of Diesel’s mother, spade jawed and blonde, the woman looked nothing like Diesel except the blue eyes. She was sure Diesel looked like his father.

Sonya had been piecing together information, searching for every Wake in America and needless to say there were over thousands. She began looking for men who had lived in Albany in the late 70’s and come up with fifty men. Out of those fifty forty five were still alive. Sonya had been tracking them all down, and after a grueling process of elimination that had taken months she was down to one man.

Andrew Wake; owner of a general store in Poughkeepsie, was a Vietnam vet and was in Albany in 1979, the year Diesel was conceived. Sonya had his address and number burning a hole in her pocketbook but she hadn’t found the courage to call; what if Andrew Wake wasn’t Diesel’s father, what then? She had no more names to go to. And what if he was and not worth knowing? Would Diesel thank her for uniting him with a father he wasn’t even sure he wanted to know?

“I think what you’re doing is amazing,” Claus said, “It’s always a punch in the gut for a man if their father’s a jerk but at least you know where your good side comes from. Diesel’s mother abandoned him; that’s hard. He needs to know if his father was better.”

Claus had been born in to a family of Shifter’s. WereBoars, one and all, they had been embarrassed by Claus, the only WereFlamingo. His father took it as a personal insult, bullying him when he was a baby, insinuating that his mother had cuckolded him till he had sent Claus to the ER. His mother had picked him up when he was discharged and driven out of the beatnik Texas town, just the two of them, and moved to Shifter Grove.

“Or maybe he doesn’t,” Katherine shrugged. Katherine’s parents had abandoned her on a gas station in the middle of nowhere. She had just started showing signs of her WereBear nature and they hadn’t wanted one in the house. Katherine remembered her sisters screaming and pounding the windows as their parents sped away. Katherine missed her sisters’ sometimes, never her parents.