“She already knows,” Donna Chang smiled. Thomas Moon handed her a messy, store-bought bouquet of roses with a small box of candy hearts taped to the green wrapping. The short, ancient woman turned her nose up slightly. She dropped the bouquet into the trashcan beside the warming lights. “Takeru will get you pretty ones.”
“Those were pretty-ish,” Thomas said. He reached into the trashcan but his hand only returned with the small box of candy hearts. He left the discarded roses on their bed of discarded fish heads. “I’ve kept it secret for so long, there’s no way she knows. But that’s what tonight’s for,” Thomas smiled at Mrs. Chang. “How do I look?”
“Like a werewolf,” she replied.
“Thanks, Mrs. Chang,” Thomas smiled and turned to leave the kitchen. “Wish me luck!” he exited through a side door into the same hallway that housed the restrooms. Then he went back to his table. Emma smiled at him when he slid into the red and gold booth.
“That was a bit of a wait. Everything okay in there?” Emma asked she pointed at his stomach.
“Yeah, yeah. Sorry. I ran into Takeru and gave him our order.”
“That took 20 minutes?” Emma asked with a smile. Thomas hated to lie but knew he could explain the situation once she got the flowers.
“No. I needed some time to build my courage,” he said truthfully. Though, he’d planned to tell her for some time and only needed a couple of minutes to build his courage. The rest of the time was spent running to and from the nearest market.
“For what?” Emma asked. Her eyes sparkled with interest.
“I -uh,” He reached across the table and wrapped his hands around hers. “I’ve been keeping a secret since we started universe-hopping. There’s no easy way to say it so I’m just gonna blurt it out. Ready?” Thomas asked. Emma nodded. He took a deep breath.
“I’m a werewolf!” He half-shouted to make sure the secret came out. Emma tilted her head to the side and she gave him a confused look.
“Was that a secret?” Thomas narrowed his eyes at her.
“You knew?” She nodded. “Since when?”
“Since we met…,” she winked at him. “…the first time.”
“What? If you knew why did you help me hunt those other werewolves?” Emma shrugged.
“Because you let me. You weren’t a violent, mindless animal like them.”
“But how did you know?” Emma smiled broadly.
“It’s kind of funny. Back then I knew without knowing how. Mundo gave me a rundown of my powers when he taught me how to traverse; Estrellas can learn to see magic and fae.”
“Huh. So… it doesn’t bother you that I’m a werewolf?” Emma shook her head.
“It hasn’t so far,” she looked past him, then sat up straighter. “Food’s coming.” A giant cook with multi-color dragons tattooed on his arms walked toward their table with a full serving tray. He placed their plates in front of them then looked at Thomas.
“Thanks, Takeru. You can bring the rest now too.” Takeru nodded then walked back to the kitchen.
“What else did you order?” Emma asked.
“Well, I thought my secret might open a gap between us,” Thomas shrugged. “I didn’t want to let that happen.” Emma looked past Thomas and her eyes widened.
“OOOOH, Those are so pretty!” She said.
“So I ran to the market to buy you a pre-emptive bouquet.” He watched Emma’s reaction instead of turning around to see the flowers that Takeru picked out.
“You’re such a liar,” she said playfully. “You did not pick those out.” She pointed at the elegant red and gold flower vase Takeru placed on the table.
“Whoooa those are pretty!” Thomas said. The vase was beautiful, but it held a dozen of the most beautiful roses he’d ever seen. He assumed they were roses. The petal formation looked like the roses that went into the trashcan. Instead of the dull red color of the supermarket flowers, these roses formed golden, segmented petals. Thomas thought it looked like each petal was made of shiny, jagged, golden scales.
“See?” Emma giggled. “You’ve never seen them before.”
“Dragonbreath Roses,” Takeru said. “Be careful.” He leaned forward and blew a gentle puff of air along the top of one of the roses. A small flame flickered to life on the disturbed petal.
“Wow!” Emma said. “Thanks, Takeru!” The large man nodded then walked away.
“How do we-,” Thomas began to ask. He looked up at the roses, but the flame already died out. “Nevermind.”