WIP Wednesdays | Dinner Date Excerpt 2 | 3/22/2023

More of the murderous shapeshifter and his partner in crime being a terrible kinda-sorta couple who are definitely-absolutely the worst.

The last post about this can be found here. This story is going along at a faster clip than I’d hoped! Draft one is finished and I’ve started working on draft two. Here is a little bit more of it.

Warnings for depiction of an abusive relationship and references to people getting eaten by a monster.

Angela wakes up with Diederick on top of her, crushing the breath out of her with a particularly heavy form, less the lean gym rat of the night before and more an overtaxed bodybuilder.

“Dee,” she wheezes out.

He wakes up too slowly for her liking, eyes slowly blinking open. She almost wonders if he’s doing it on purpose, just to mess with her.

She smacks weakly at his musclebound shoulder. “Dee—!”

He rolls to one side, off of her.

Angela sucks in air, wondering how long he had smushed her in her sleep.

She takes out the earplugs and turns to look at him. “You could’ve suffocated me.”

Diederick yawns, shifting back to a form he favors around the house, the one she’s nicknamed “hot youth pastor” in her head. “But I didn’t, so relax.”

His tone rings casual on the surface, but she knows him well enough to detect the thread of irritation in his voice. He doesn’t want to talk about it. She bites the inside of her cheek. They have this fight every other week. While he’s digesting he’s so deep asleep that he doesn’t have any control over his form and he winds up crushing her. After she’s freed she brings up what feels like an astoundingly reasonable solution—getting a second bed—and he reacts like she just said she would move out.

“I’m going to go work on the website,” she says instead, deftly avoiding starting another fight.

“Mmm.” Diederick cracks his neck from side to side, clicking his vertebrae back into place, yawns again, and rolls back over onto his front.

He’s asleep in seconds, returning to his unstable shifting. His meal must have been satisfying.

Angela gets out of bed and slides into her favorite slippers. They’re starting to pill and fall apart with the amount of abuse that they suffer from frequent wear, but they’re so fuzzy and warm that she keeps them around anyway. Diederick hates them. It’s only a matter of time until he “accidentally” gets some blood and guts on them to try to force her to get rid of them.

After her morning routine—double shot espresso, more of the cereal she had last night, remembering at the last second to brush her teeth—she goes to work in the home office. Returning to the dual monitors she had been at last night feels a lot more natural than trying to cuddle with Diederick while he’s sleeping, as preferable as that is in theory.

She does the daily tasks first, checking their company email. It’s always inundated with the requests of desperate women but she has to be careful about the ones that she picks out to be clients for Diederick. The ones new to dating are the easiest, the least suspicious of mysterious men, the more likely to be pulled in by his charming facades. They’re the types to get catfished and be catfishers themselves in the future (or they would be if Diederick didn’t eat them).

She stays away from women who seem more experienced, more likely to have told their friends were they were going. The last thing that they need is law enforcement getting involved again. They moved halfway across the country after Diederick was left with little choice but to eat every last bite of a detective investigating them. Angela was torn up for a long while about having to be so far from where her mom lives. Diederick was more upset about the resulting stomachache.

Angela skims the potential clients’ emails, looking for the usual hallmarks of good prey. Rebounders, terrified-of-being-spinsters, desperately lonely. The insecurity oozes off of a number of them despite the attached photos showing perfectly average and even particularly pretty women. Angela gnaws on a pen cap. Comparing herself to them is an inevitability. Diederick has to be at least a little attracted to her or he wouldn’t have kept her around so long. But he doesn’t compliment her in the crooning tones he does with his prey and he certainly has never deigned to have sex with her. It makes his sleepy cuddling and occasional bouts of physical affection confusing.

He’s never once called her his girlfriend. She’s thought of more appropriate labels: helper or maid or… or pet, sometimes.

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