Billy and Dim is an 8-chapter advanced-level story. I originally wrote it with the plan to release all the episodes on the podcast, but I decided it would be too long. You can read the whole story here, and I will be adding chapters as I finish grading them (making the language easier). You can listen to chapter 1 here. The audio versions of chapters 4-8 will be released on Patreon over the next few months.
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So that’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/italki. Take your English to the next level today!
OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for advanced learners. The name of the story is Billy and Dim. This is chapters 2 and 3. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Dim2. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Dim2. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So, hello again, everyone! You probably noticed, if you didn’t listen to the announcement last week, that I took a break. So there was no new episode last week.
So why did I take a break? Well, it was a break for my mental health. I think I mentioned that I wasn’t feeling so good. I don’t remember what I said. But basically, I had a bit of a breakdown last week. I had a big panic attack and, um, I was having a lot of emotions all at once and it was too much to deal with. So I decided to take a week off the podcast, I took a few days off work, and I went to stay with my parents, and my parents live in the countryside and they have a big, beautiful garden, so it was very peaceful and I had a nice recovery.
Um, it wasn’t so dramatic. I mean, it didn’t take me, like, ages. I mean, as you know, right? ’Cause I’m back here again, like, a week later. But it was a pretty big, um, psychological event, let’s say. I don’t know, I think everything kind of came together at once. Anyway, I talk about this more on Elevenses with Ariel, which you can get by pledging $5 a month on the Patreon. I’ll talk a bit more about that later. So if you want to hear all about the details of my mental breakdown, you can get that for just $5 a month!
Also, a few weeks ago, I was interviewed and I love being interviewed. I was a guest on the Clark and Miller Podcast, and I was interviewed by Gabriel. So Clark and Miller is a website for English learners, and it’s mainly designed for, like, advanced learners. So they do advanced classes with a focus on communication skills, and they’re very professional. They have a really professional website. They have a book. It’s much more professional than what I do!
But it was really, really, really fun to go on Gabriel’s podcast and we talked about all kinds of things. We talked about Easy Stories in English, why I started it and my experience with it, we talked about the teaching method that I use that involves storytelling called TPRS, we talked about learning through play, reading and storytelling in general.
So it really was a fantastic interview. If you want to go and listen to the interview, you can look up the Clark and Miller Podcast, or go to the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Dim2 and I will put a link to the podcast. It was a really fun chat. Thank you so much again, Gabriel, I really enjoyed it.
And if any of you listening have podcasts and you want to interview me, I love being interviewed! So do send me a message at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com.
So I’m doing things a bit differently with this episode because I’m not releasing the entire story on the main podcast. The reason this is, is because this story has turned out a lot longer than I expected it. I only finished it a few days ago and it’s actually eight chapters in total. Normally, if I do a story with several chapters on the podcast, the most I do is three or four. So eight chapters… I don’t know. Even if I release two episodes a week, like with this one, I feel like it would just be too much, because this is an advanced story, and I know a lot of you prefer listening to the lower levels.
So here’s how it’s going to work. I’m going to release this episode with chapters 2 and 3, and then if you go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/BillyAndDim, you will be able to read the rest of the chapters without audio.
Now, if you go there now as this episode is released, you probably won’t find anything, because I’ve written all eight chapters, but I haven’t adapted them, I haven’t levelled them for the podcast. So I’ve written the chapters at a native-speaker level, which is kind of too difficult to put on the podcast. So at some point in the coming weeks, I will work through the remaining chapters and put them up there. And hopefully, it won’t take me too long, but I am quite lazy, so it might take me a while.
And then after that, I will record and release audio of these chapters, but I’m going to release it on Patreon. So if you want to hear all of the episodes in audio form, you will have to support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. I’ll explain more about that later. Just because, you know, I have the Patreon, and this is the kind of thing that it makes sense to put on there. I’m not sure which level it will be at right now, probably $5 a month.
But don’t worry, I am going to do a readthrough of the whole thing at some point in future. Thanks to one of my listeners who always give great ideas, I’m considering doing a special Halloween live stream where I read through the whole story because, although it’s not a scary story, it has werewolves and witches, so it’s kind of Halloween-themed. And then, you know, by that point I should have all of the episodes in an appropriate format, and then you can come and listen to the live stream, and then if you want the professional version of the story, it will be available on Patreon.
In theory. This is what I’ve decided now. Who knows what I’ll change my mind to? I’m very fickle. I’m always changing my mind.
I want to remind you that today’s story is a romance story and, obviously, I’m not gonna put any pornography or sex on the podcast because that would be weird and uncomfortable. It’s something I write, but not on Easy Stories in English. However, this story does get quite sensual. There is a lot of touching and kissing and thinking about kissing.
So, while it’s technically not really sexual, for some listeners it might be a bit too sensual, a bit too steamy. So just be careful! Obviously, probably don’t listen to this with your children, ’cause I know some of you listen to the episodes with your children! This is maybe one to skip. And of course, everyone’s levels with this differ. I think for a lot of people this won’t be a problem, but if you don’t like that kind of story, maybe don’t listen today!
Also, today’s story has a lot of fantasy swearing. So not real-life swearwords, but swear words that I made up or adapted from real swearwords because it’s in a fantasy setting. So they say things like ‘Gods!’ and ‘Damn it!’ and ‘Gods be damned!’, ‘Curses!’, ‘Oh, Hell!’ and so on.
So I haven’t explained the meanings of all of these, but hopefully from the context it should be clear that it’s swearing, OK? So if you hear a lot of these words and you’re not sure of the meaning, it’s probably just fantasy swearing.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A charm is a type of magic. I apologise, I meant to explain this word in the last episode but forgot! Many people have lucky charms, special objects that they believe give them good luck. For example, one of my friends at school brought a pair of spoons into exams and put them on his desk because he believed they were a good luck charm. In fantasy stories, charms are just one type of magic.
Your ex, which is short for ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-husband or ex-wife, is the person you used to be in a relationship with but are no longer. It is very common to think back on your time with your ex, either positively or negatively. Some people have ‘exes from hell’, an ex-partner who was really awful and they are happy to have out of their life.
When you shudder, you shake. You can shudder because you’re scared, excited or cold. It’s quite a violent shake—your body’s really shaking a lot, and you can’t control it.
If someone makes a scene, they get into a big disagreement in public, and it is embarrassing for the others involved. For example, one time when I went out to eat with my parents in Paris, my Dad got given cold food, and he complained and asked them to reheat it twice. As British people usually don’t complain in restaurants, me and Mum kept saying, ‘Don’t make a scene!’ Sorry, Dad!
A pack is a group of animals who live and hunt together. Usually, we only talk about packs of dogs and packs of wolves, as these animals are very social. In this story, it’s a werewolf pack.
When you overhear something, you hear something someone said without them realising it. For example, if you go down to the kitchen and your mum is on the phone, you might overhear what she’s saying before you enter the room. She doesn’t know that you’re listening, but you can hear her talking—you’re overhearing her.
When you spit, and the past tense is spat, you throw water or saliva out of your mouth, like this: [spits]. In the UK, it is very rude to spit outside, but in the past, people used to chew tobacco and spit it out. If you eat some very bad food, you might spit it out. If you talk very angrily, you spit your words out: like this!
When you seduce someone, you flirt with them, you say nice things to them, until they want to get into bed with you. In the past, it was more common for men to seduce women. In fact, it was seen as normal and important. But these days, women have more bodily autonomy, more control over their body, and this idea of seducing someone can feel a bit old fashioned. Some people still like to be seduced, though.
“You’re toast” is a conversational expression meaning, “It’s over” or “You’re dead”. For example, if you’re playing a videogame with your friend and you’re beating them, and you’re just about to kill their character, you can say, ‘You’re toast!’ The idea is that, like a piece of toast, they are going to be cooked and defeated.
Five o’ clock shadow is a type of facial hair. Some people’s facial hair, their beard, grows very quickly, so even if they shave in the morning, by five o’ clock a bit of hair has grown back, and they have kind of a blue-y shade to their face. This is five o’ clock shadow.
When you pin something down, you hold it to the ground so that it can’t move. So if someone attacks you to try and rob you, you might fight back and pin them down so that you can get help. Or if you’re trying to give an injection to an animal, you might have to pin them down.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. The week before last, I talked about my hatred of autumn, how exams were handled during coronavirus in the UK, self love and my sugary addiction. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to our new patrons, as well as patrons who have increased their pledge: Nikita Vologdins, Victoria Romero, Giusy D’Agosto, Akemanee Pattanapipitpaisarn, Kemal Mandacı and 郁茹 邱 (Yùrú Qiū). Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to us.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Billy and Dim Chapter 2
Gods, Billy could’ve done without the memory of Cracktooth. It had been at least four years now, but the scars burned like they were formed yesterday, especially after so long being charmed away.
‘My feet hurt,’ Red muttered.
Usually, this was where Billy jumped up, full of energy, and encouraged Red along. But even he was exhausted. The charmed flowers had worn him out more than he’d revealed. The memory of his ex’s words were like a knife in his side.
‘Just stop the magic stuff for one day. It makes me uneasy.’
Billy shuddered. Red raised an eyebrow at him.
‘There’s a first for everything.’
Eventually, after hours of walking along the dark path in near silence, the lights of Noren shone in the distance. Billy had been there once before, many years ago, and to his memory the only famous thing about the village was that they had a horse who had played a decisive role in an attack on a nearby family of vampires. Billy grinned at that. If only they knew who would be staying there tonight.
Thankfully, there had been no sign of their ‘hunter’ since that afternoon, and no more traps. As they approached The Beggar’s Hand, the smell of freshly-baked pie came towards them and Billy’s stomach growled like, well, a wolf.
‘About time,’ he groaned.
When they opened the door, a wave of noise, sights and smells hit them. It looked like the whole village was packed in there, which made sense, since there was no other entertainment around apart from the famous horse. Many eyes turned to look at them, and Billy noticed a few looks of interest from both guys and girls, but for the most part they quickly returned to their drinking and dancing, cards and kissing.
‘Room for two and dinner for three,’ Billy said to the barwoman.
The girl gave a little jump when she saw him, which was odd. He didn’t think he looked particularly threatening after a whole day of trekking through the forest.
‘O-of course. Please.’
She pointed to the single empty table, which was pushed into the corner of the room.
‘Can we put our things in our room first?’ said Red.
‘Oh, right!’ said the girl, blinking like a surprised rabbit. ‘I’ll carry those up.’
She took their packs and struggled under the weight, but she bravely marched up the stairs without a look behind her.
‘How odd,’ said Billy as they sat down. ‘You think she liked you?’
Red snorted. ‘I think you’re seeing things again.’
They had just sat down when a plate with three steaks was carried over to them by an old woman who looked even tougher than the meat she was carrying.
Billy licked his lips. ‘That was quick!’
Red made a face. ‘We smelled pie when we came in. Do you have any left?’
The woman grunted. She looked far too old to be a barwoman, and Billy had a faint memory of her being the owner, from his last visit. Must’ve been a busy night for her to carry food around like a young girl.
‘This is all we have.’
Red sighed and smiled. ‘Well, thank you then.’
‘You’re too polite,’ said Billy, taking a big bite out of his steak. It took considerable self-control not to pick it up with his hands. ‘One would think you’ve been travelling around with your noble uncle, not a horrible hairy werewolf.’
‘Wait,’ said Red, holding up a hand. ‘There’s a hair on my food.’ She lifted the thick blond hair with her fork. ‘I’m just going to see if they have anything else.’
Billy grabbed her arm as she stood up. ‘Come on, don’t start making a scene here,’ he said, bits of meat flying out of his mouth. ‘We have to discuss our plans for tomorrow.’
‘I’ll only be a minute,’ she said, brushing him off.
Billy hated eating alone. Despite the fact that he’d run away from his pack long ago, he was still a social creature. Red was his pack, and without her the dry, tough meat tasted awful. But at the very least, it filled up his stomach and relaxed his mind.
But seriously, had they heard of spices here?
Red returned a few minutes later with her face the colour of her riding hood, carrying her hair-covered steak.
Red shook her head. ‘I overheard the owner talking to someone. A man—I didn’t see him properly. He was asking her for a key, and she was complaining… Then he went quiet, and I looked through the door and saw something on his arm.’
‘Probably just some desperate night with a lonely traveller,’ said Billy, although he couldn’t imagine being lonely enough to want to sleep with her. ‘What was it, a golden bracelet or something?’
‘A tattoo of a six-pointed star.’
Billy spat out the piece of meat he was chewing, sending it flying into Red’s hair. The girl didn’t even react strongly, just picked it out with her fork.
He blinked furiously, forcing his brain to work.
‘What?’ said Red.
‘A six-pointed star!’ He realised he was shouting, so he leant in close and brought his voice down to a whisper. ‘That’s the sign of Strictus.’
‘Never heard of it.’
Right. Of course she wouldn’t know.
‘They’re an organisation wrapped in secret, but what I do know is that they hate free werewolves. And vampires, and all things of that nature. They want magic to be controlled.’ Billy stared down at his food. ‘Curses. I shouldn’t be eating this.’ He pushed his plate away.
Red’s eyes widened. ‘So the flowers, and now the food is… Do you feel OK?’
‘I’m fine,’ said Billy, rubbing his eyes. ‘No, I’m tired. Gods be damned.’
He pushed the plate away and dug his nails into his hands. He needed to stay awake.
‘So the room will be trapped as well,’ said Red.
Oh, right. Billy couldn’t think straight.
‘We can’t move on,’ he muttered. ‘We’re too weak. And the agent will follow us.’
Red glanced around the room, and Billy’s eyes followed. But it all mixed into a vague mess.
‘Can’t seduce anyone like this,’ said Billy, resting his chin on his hand. ‘So we can’t get into another room.’ For a brief second, his eyes fell closed, but then his hand slipped and he jumped awake.
‘What are we going to do?’ said Red, panic in her voice.
‘Stay calm. We’re going to…’ Come on, Billy, think. ‘When the staff aren’t looking, we’ll throw these steaks out to the dogs. Then we’ll go to our room.’
Red gave him a look of alarm.
‘If he’s waiting there to attack us, we’ll be ready. And if not, well, we’ll prepare to attack him.’
It was a weak plan, but it was all his drugged mind could come up with. He had eaten about half of the first steak, but the drug had clearly been strong. It would be hours before he was himself again.
Hopefully, he had the energy to break some Strictus bones. If not, he supposed he would find out just how well he had trained Red.
Thankfully, the bar was busy enough that it wasn’t tricky to dispose of the food. They pretended they were going out to use the bathroom, hiding the steaks into their packs and throwing them to the dogs fighting outside. Then they brought their plates up to the bar.
‘Delicious,’ Billy said, giving a theatrical yawn. ‘We’d like to go to our room now.’
The woman nodded and silently led them up the stairs. She showed them to the last door at the end of a dark corridor and, in a weak attempt at hospitality, said, ‘Sweet dreams.’
They waited for her to leave and Billy slowly turned the knob.
But when they entered the room, it looked entirely normal, with a small double bed and some damaged closets.
Billy sniffed, and caught the scent of magic.
‘Red, check there aren’t any bugs in the walls. You know how they keep me awake.’
Billy went and lit all the candles in the room. Then he fell onto the bed, but thought better of it and sat on the edge. The drugs were starting to wear off, but he was still dangerously close to falling asleep.
Red quietly went and ran a hand over the walls, knitting her eyebrows together as she spell-searched them. Red threw Billy a few looks, uncertain if she should continue, but he nodded each time.
When she reached a section next to the closet she jumped, and the hairs on her arms stood up. Billy jumped up and placed his hand on the wall.
‘Reveal yourself!’ he barked.
A rectangular outline of sharp white light spread out around his hand and the two of them stepped back. A worn door faded out of the wall. For a second, there was silence, and then the knob turned, and Billy got ready to fight.
The door swung open and a figure in black jumped out, holding a blade, but Billy knocked it aside and tackled the man to the floor.
Red swore loudly as Billy pinned the man to the ground, pulled up his arm and ripped back the wool fabric to reveal the six-pointed star.
‘Why are you here?’ grunted Billy.
The Strictus agent said nothing and reached with his free hand, grabbing Billy’s thigh. The werewolf felt the bite of electricity and quickly removed the hand, trapping both of them under his knees.
‘You’re outnumbered two-to-one,’ Billy said, leaning down by his neck. ‘If you try a single spell you’re toast.’
Still, silence. The man’s breathing came slow and steady beneath him. Moonlight spilled onto both of them through the window—the moon was almost full.
Billy drew on its power. His nails and teeth grew sharp. He let out a deep growl.
‘Do you know what happens when a werewolf bites a human’s neck?’ he said, making sure his breath was hot and strong in the man’s ear.
This was the part where the human started sweating, at the very least. But the man remained unnaturally calm. Billy pushed into his neck, rubbing his teeth ever so gently against the man’s pale skin. He shuddered, and Billy breathed in deeply through his nose.
‘Mmm, smells like…’
He was going to say “tasty human”, but that wasn’t true. The man’s scent was heavily masked, under layers of lemon and roses, but Billy had a strong nose, and it was certainly not the smell of a human.
Taking advantage of Billy’s surprise, the Strictus agent freed his hands, gripped Billy’s waist, and sent electricity through him. Billy shuddered and fell to the floor.
The man’s face went red with anger as he pulled out a thin, silvery rope, but just as he was about to tie him up, Red ran forward, grabbing his head in her hands.
‘Forget about me?’ she said. ‘Time to sleep.’
The agent hit her in the stomach, but she maintained her grip, and her spell soon took effect. The man passed out.
Billy shook the remains of the spell off him and stood up.
‘This rope…’ said Red, examining it.
‘Stops magic. Use it on him.’
Red tied up their prisoner’s wrists and Billy pulled him onto the bed. Now he could get a proper look at him. He was dressed in some strange woollen suit covered with trousers and a thin white shirt.
He was young, easily less than 30, and if he hadn’t just sent electricity through him, Billy might’ve even thought he had a kind of naïve beauty to him, with his smooth face and blond hair.
Far too smooth a face for what he was.
‘He’s a werewolf.’
‘What?!’ said Red.
Billy leant over and examined the sleeping man’s face. A five o’ clock shadow was pushing through his boyish cheeks. ‘Probably full of self-hatred.’
‘Are we going to kill him?’ said Red.
There was a storm going on in Billy’s stomach. He had just been threatening to bite him and turn him into a werewolf, which for most humans was basically death, but this guy wasn’t a human.
‘Not before we question him. Besides, peaceful methods are probably best. If Strictus thinks we’re a real threat, they’ll send more force after us.’
‘Then it’s a memory charm and we throw him in the river, right?’ said Red eagerly.
‘We’ll see. By the way,’ he said, putting on his teacher voice, ‘the reason I asked you to search the room is because he placed a charm on his hiding place. Only someone unaware of the spell can find what’s hidden.’
‘So you used my inexperience against me?’ said Red, pretending to be offended.
‘That’s what students are for,’ he said, grinning.
The man on their bed moved, and his eyes started to open.
Billy grabbed his chin, forcing him to look him in the eyes.
‘Tell me your name, dog,’ he spat. ‘Or I’ll break your pretty little neck.’
For the first time, the agent looked genuinely scared. He had bright blue eyes, like fresh rain.
‘Demetrius,’ he croaked, then bit his lip.
‘What a ridiculous name,’ said Billy, giving a cruel grin. ‘From now on, you’re Dim. And let me make one thing clear, Dim: if you try any more tricks or traps, I won’t hesitate to kill you. Understood?’
Dim gulped. ‘You don’t know what you’re dealing with.’
‘Oh, believe me, I do.’
Another memory of Cracktooth came to his mind: his lover leaving that morning, the last time Billy had seen him.
‘Goodbye, Billy. For your sake, I hope we never meet again.’
‘I’m the Big Bad Wolf. You’re the one who should be worried about running into me.’
Billy came back to the present. He couldn’t get lost in those thoughts.
‘Alright, wolfie—yes, I know you’re one of us, don’t look so surprised. Perfumes and razors can only cover so much. Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to ask questions, and you’re going to answer them truthfully, or else you’ll find out just how powerful the Big Bad Wolf really is.’
END OF CHAPTER 2
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in chapter 3.
Someone who is hulking is very large and strong. You might know the superhero The Hulk. He is called that because he is very large and muscular—he is hulking.
When someone says very confusing or very embarrassing things to you, you can get flustered. For example, someone tells you that your hair looks nice, and you totally weren’t expecting a compliment, so you wave your arms in the air and go bright red—you are flustered. You can also get flustered, for example, if you drop all your things in public, or bump into someone. You lose control for a short period of time.
A beast is a large, ugly, dangerous animal. For example, the Disney film Beauty and the Beast is about a beautiful girl who falls in love with a horrible monster, the Beast.
Torture is when you hurt someone to get information. It’s illegal in many places, but unfortunately it still happens. People are usually tortured by armies, by the police or by spies.
Bind, and the past tense is bound, means to tie something very tightly so that it doesn’t move or fall off. If you have a prisoner and you don’t want them to escape, you bind their wrists.
Sprout means to start growing. When you plant a tree or a plant, the first stage is when little green things come out of the ground. The tree or plant starts to sprout, and it still needs lots of water and time to grow fully. If your beard grows very quickly, you can also say that the hairs sprout from your face.
Tame means to train an animal so that it can live with humans and do what humans say. For example, many people have to tame their dog so that it doesn’t eat the furniture. In the circus, they used to tame lions to jump through rings and tame elephants to dance on balls, but they don’t do this anymore.
When you track a person or an animal, you follow marks they left on the ground to find out where they are. Hunters look at an animal’s footprints to track them, so that they can follow them and shoot them. These days, you can track people using phone signals as well.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Billy and Dim Chapter 3
Demetrius should’ve been angry. He should’ve felt scared, at the very least. But as the hulking werewolf stared down at him, his hands pressing into Demetrius’ jaw, he felt something different. Something that he had long pushed down.
‘Tell me your name, dog,’ spat the Big Bad Wolf. ‘Or I’ll break your pretty little neck.’
A deep, dark part of Demetrius’ mind thought, “Maybe I’d like that,” a thought which he quickly silenced.
Wait, no, he hadn’t intended to give him his name! A sweat broke out on him—the wolf had him flustered, and suddenly all his training had disappeared.
Focus, Demetrius. He’d already failed spectacularly in his plan that evening. He didn’t need to make it worse by revealing all his secrets.
‘What a ridiculous name,’ said Billy, giving a cruel grin. ‘From now on, you’re Dim. And let me make one thing clear, Dim: if you try any more tricks or traps, I won’t hesitate to kill you. Understood?’
Demetrius gulped. The name should’ve made him feel stupid, but somehow he… liked it?
‘You don’t know what you’re dealing with,’ he said, trying to sound threatening.
‘Oh, believe me, I do.’
A glassy look passed over the wolf’s eyes, and for a while he said nothing. Then he spoke again.
‘Alright, wolfie—yes, I know you’re one of us, don’t look so surprised. Perfumes and razors can only cover so much.’
Demetrius couldn’t stop himself from going red. There was nothing more he hated than being reminded of his disgusting nature.
‘Here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to ask questions, and you’re going to answer them truthfully, or else you’ll find out just how powerful the Big Bad Wolf really is.’
Demetrius said nothing. What could he do? His wrists were tightly bound, and even if they weren’t, there was a hulking beast leaning over him, pushing him into the bed, with his magical student to the side, ready to help if necessary.
That had been his mistake. He’d underestimated the girl.
‘Why are Strictus after us?’
Demetrius was surprised. Most targets of Strictus weren’t even aware of its name. This wolf was more clever than he seemed.
‘I’ll never tell you,’ said Demetrius, attempting to use some of his training again.
The wolf sighed. ‘Alright then. We’re going to do this the hard way. Red, go close off the room, make sure no sound can escape.’
Demetrius practically laughed. He may have been terrible at laying traps and keeping his mouth shut, but torture was one thing that every member of Strictus was well prepared for. With his magic bound, he wouldn’t be able to heal himself so easily, but still, he wouldn’t let out a single cry of pain.
A strange smile passed over the Big Bad Wolf’s lips. He placed his hands on Demetrius’ cheeks. They were warm and solid, and Demetrius felt a strange feeling in his chest, along with the smooth touch of magic.
What was he doing?
‘I do quite like blond beards,’ murmured the wolf.
A few seconds later, Demetrius understood. Hair sprouted from his cheeks, pushing against the hands that held them.
Demetrius’ heart beat hard in his chest. What kind of torture was this? But it was effective—it had shaken him up. He couldn’t stand how he looked with a beard.
‘Oh, how pretty,’ said the wolf, once the beard had grown to a decent size. And then he started stroking it. Demetrius felt disgusted.
But suddenly, he stopped. Demetrius felt a pain in his chest. Why had he stopped?
Next, the wolf slipped a hand under his woollen suit and placed it on his chest. Demetrius shuddered, bringing out an even bigger smile from the werewolf.
Thick hairs sprouted from Demetrius’ chest, wrapping around the wolf’s fingers. In his stomach he felt a sickness, but it met with another feeling, one he didn’t fully understand. As much as he wanted every reminder that he was a werewolf taken from his body, there was a certain strange… joy in having the hairs grown like this.
‘How long has it been since you grew your hair?’ said the wolf.
‘Why do you care?’
‘Oh, are you not enjoying this, Dim?’ He pulled his hand away suddenly.
Demetrius was hit by a wave of cold.
‘Of c-course I’m not!’
‘Sounds like you were,’ said the Big Bad Wolf, placing his hand on Demetrius’ neck, his expression casual. ‘Want me to continue, Dim?’
All that came out was a weak sound: ‘Nggh.’
Gods, how did this beast have such a hold over Demetrius? He was sweating and sweating, even though the night was cold, and his Strictus training felt like a distant dream.
‘I’ll take that as a yes.’
Slowly, ever so slowly, he slid his hand down his neck and back to his chest. When his magic flowed into Demetrius again, he exploded with desire.
‘So tell me, Dim. Why are your group after us?’
Every hair that grew felt like a nail stabbing into his skin, and yet, the push of Billy’s hand on his chest felt…
‘You’ll never tame your wolf if you continue like this,’ snapped Professor Banner in his head. His old teacher had never had patience for Dim’s—no, he was Demetrius, damn it!—Demetrius’ poor concentration.
‘Ethel,’ he said.
Red walked over from her spot guarding the door and leant over the bed.
‘What do you know about my grandmother?’
Demetrius had forgotten she was there, so focussed he was on Billy.
‘We know you killed her. One of you.’
Oh damn. He was supposed to not be answering their questions. But Billy had him completely flustered.
‘How did you find out?’ shouted Red.
Clearly, this was a difficult subject for her. Maybe this was something Demetrius could use.
‘I won’t tell you,’ he grunted.
‘I’ve got this,’ said Billy, looking at Red. The sweet, honey-like tone from their private conversations was back.
Reluctantly, Red returned to the door, and the Big Bad Wolf leaned back over Demetrius, his legs pushing into his waist.
‘Why do you wear this awful thing?’ he said, slipping a finger under Demetrius’ woollen suit.
Demetrius bit the insides of his mouth. That was a secret he would never reveal.
Billy leant even closer, pressing his face to Demetrius’ chest and sniffing. The agent shivered, smelling Billy’s own scent. And gods, it smelt sweet. Like wildflowers.
‘It’s charmed,’ Billy said plainly.
‘Just some magic defence.’
Billy shook his head. ‘The perfume, the shaving, now this… They don’t let you shift, do they?’
Demetrius felt like the wolf had cut open his stomach, reached inside and pulled everything out.
‘So I can turn into a wild beast like you? I would never do such a thing. It’s called self-control.’
Billy gave a questioning expression, his hands still resting on Demetrius’ chest.
‘You’re such an expert at self-control that you need a charmed bodysuit to control yourself?’
Oh, curses, he knew. How was this wolf so damn clever?
‘It’s just a precaution,’ Demetrius stammered.
‘You’re a terrible liar, Dim.’
The nickname cut into him.
‘I wonder… What would happen if I took off your suit, tied you up and left you out in the full moon?’
The idea of having his clothes taken off by Billy excited Demetrius—there was no point in denying it now—but then he realised what he was actually saying.
‘You wouldn’t dare!’
‘Try me, little wolf. You’d undo all those hours of shaving in just a few minutes, and I bet you it would feel good.’
‘Shut up!’ cried Demetrius, sounding more childish than he’d intended. ‘I’ve been trained. I wouldn’t transform. Some of us can actually control our magic.’
Billy chuckled. ‘Right now, you can’t even control your desire towards me.’
Demetrius’ cheeks burned red. It was bad enough that he was attracted to this beast, but was it that obvious?
‘I’m going to ask you one last time, Dim. Tell us everything you know about Ethel, and why exactly Strictus want us. If you don’t, we’ll work a memory charm on you so strong you’ll forget you were born, and throw you on a boat going down the river. Oh, and you’ll never get to kiss me, which I’m sure you’re dying to do.’
‘It doesn’t matter! They’ll find out.’
‘Hmm?’ said Billy, raising an eyebrow. ‘So they’re tracking you?’
Curses and hellfire, this wolf was clever. He pulled up Demetrius’ wrist and sniffed his star tattoo, making an unpleasant expression.
‘I thought this was for more than just show. Red!’
The girl came over, apparently unbothered by the whole situation. Demetrius couldn’t stand to look at her, so embarrassed he was by his failure.
‘Mask the magic on this while I get the rest of the information from our friend here.’
Red placed a soft hand over Demetrius’ tattoo and started mumbling magic words. She would have a tough time masking the spell, but if she had even a quarter of the power Ethel had…
‘How did you defeat her, anyway?’ said Demetrius, desperate to fight back.
‘Nuh uh uh, I’m asking the questions here. Tell me: how did you find out that we killed Ethel and lived to tell the tale?’
Demetrius gulped. That was a question he didn’t know the answer to, but he didn’t dare admit it to the wolf.
‘Just kill me. Don’t bother with the memory charm.’
‘Nice try, Dim. But if we kill you this tattoo’s going to sound an alarm, isn’t it? One that can’t be masked.’
‘Done,’ said Red, sighing deeply and moving back. ‘Want me to start working on the memory charm?’
Billy stared at Demetrius and said nothing. He was making some kind of plan.
‘I’ve got a better idea,’ he murmured. ‘You’re gonna call me crazy, Red.’
Then, without warning, he gripped Demetrius’ woollen suit and ripped it open.
‘What are you doing?!’ shrieked the agent.
Billy ignored him, ripping his shirt and the wool apart with his claws.
‘You wearing anything under here?’ he grunted.
‘Then I’ll close my eyes.’
Within minutes he had removed Demetrius’ clothes and completely destroyed the woollen suit. Demetrius could only sit there like a rabbit in the jaws of a fox, unable to stop him. But true to his word, the werewolf did not look at his naked body. Once he was done, he threw the bedsheets over him to make him look decent.
‘What in the Hell are you doing?’ hissed Red.
‘I changed my mind. No memory charm. He needs our help.’
‘This werewolf is full of self-hate. I intend to change that.’
Billy placed his rough hand on Demetrius’ forehead in an oddly gentle way. Demetrius had given up on understanding his intentions.
‘If you’re trying to seduce me… Just do it, you wild beast.’
Billy shook his head, suddenly serious. ‘I would never do such a thing. Good night, Dim.’
The sleeping spell passed through Demetrius’ hair and his eyes slipped shut. The last thing he saw before falling asleep was a strange look on Billy’s face.
It almost looked like pity.
END OF CHAPTER 3
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