Three days passed while the trio took advantage of their enforced leisure. During the afternoons, while Addie still slept, the men swam or lay on the pristine beach soaking up the sun. They talked in a casual way about nothing in particular, each one avoiding anything to do with their lives or what might happen once the three of them returned to New Orleans.
Shan was quite aware that the younger man looked on him as more than just a casual acquaintance, or at least that he wanted there to be more between them. But that was not something that would happen. Every time he looked at Race he thought of Lav and vowed that never again would he open himself to someone and chance the agony of loosing them. In his world, with who he was and what he did, the risk of that happening was enormous. Better to live alone with his memories.
Addie joined them when she woke, usually just as the sun was going down. At her age she was able to tolerate it and savored the bit of daylight allowed to her. Then the trio would spend their time exploring Shan’s part of the island. Each time they did Shan shifted so that he could run, loving the freedom it gave him, while Race had watched in wonder.
“He’s beautiful,” he’d whispered when it happened again on the third night.
“That he is,” Addie agreed, “although I think he’d prefer handsome.”
“He’s that too. It almost makes me wish I was a Were. There’s something magical about being so at one with the earth and life. Something a human could never experience.”
“Very poetic, and very true I suspect. There are advantages to being non-human as you so politely put it. That’s one of them.”
“But there are disadvantages too, like you not being able to be out during the day,” he replied, nodding.
“There’s always good and bad to everything, Race. You just have to make the best of the bad and embrace the good the way Shan is at this moment.”
“I know,” he said, leaning back against one of the trees while they waited for Shan to return. “Every time I got really bummed about how my life was, I’d think of the fact I was my own person with nothing to tie me to anyone. No one other than me expected more than I could give. And if I wished, well sort of anyway, I could go wherever I wanted to, and do whatever I wanted to, and no one would be hurt.” He grinned. “Well, no one but me that is, if I did something totally stupid.”
“You weren’t lonely, living like that?”
“Sure, sometimes. But the alternatives were worse than the loneliness. I couldn’t, wouldn’t go back home. Not to people who hated me. Living in a shelter wasn’t an option. Not when I’d know about anyone I happened to literally bump into. I got jobs sometimes so I’d have money, but as I told Shan they didn’t last long because of the whole touch thing.”
“You let us touch you,” she pointed out.
“Because I know you’re good people and I trust you.”
“And we’re the first ones since you left home?”
“Yes,” he replied quietly.