Be Careful What You Wish For

“What job?”  Jackson burped as he tried to swallow his mouth full of burger.  Damn, Remo knew when to catch a dude off guard.

Remo slid another half-full beer glass to Jackson.  “Now that you’re eating son, listen up.  A few more swallows won’t have you drunk. “

Jackson continued chewing. Listening didn’t cost him anything.  Besides his cash would stretch so far before he needed work.  Cattle herding and cowboy work wouldn’t be plentiful amongst the beach crowd.  The rodeo circuit closed for the season.  And there was that piece of paper he’d signed.  A blood oath that no shape shifter took for granted.  If Abebi passed by the window one more time, Jackson swore. . .

“Son, eyes here.  Ears here.  That sweet she wolf will be back.  She’s agitated.  They get that way in their first trimester.  Keep your focus.”  Remo smiled, waved his hand in front of Jackson’s face.

“Yes, I’m listening.”  Jackson drained the second glass of beer.  “Make it good, Remo.  Agitated fillies don’t settle easily.”

Remo nodded his low laugh barely audible.  “Relax Jackson.  Remoor Beach is my family’s haunt for more years than either of us has lived.  I intend to keep it in the family as long as possible.  But humans are amongst us.  We’re an oddity to them as they are to us.”

Sandy walked past Jackson.  She paused near the front door.  “Remo, I’ll take Abebi over to Starbuck’s.  Maybe Lacey will have her afternoon pastries done so we women can keep out of your hair for a bit longer.”

As the front door swung shut, Remo turned back to Jackson.  “Best way to get accepted into the pack is to become involved.”

“Involved?”  Jackson didn’t like the way Remo stressed the word.  And his sideways glance sent shivers up and down Jackson’s psyche in ways that caused goose bumps to cower.  Not a good sign.

Remo leaned on the bar, toying with a toothpick.  “A united community means peaceful co-existence.  Got us a few mixed species families making homes here.  Hell even the pack is a mixture.  Sandy is married to my brother-in-law.  He’s an owl shifter from London.”

“You’re married to a bird?” Jackson almost spit as he got his words out.  So much for enjoy the last few sips of his beer.

“Long story for another full moon.”  Remo shrugged.  “Been with her two decades plus.  The last of our brood is off to college.  My baby girl is moving away.  I can’t be in two places at once.”

“So where do I fit in?”  Jackson stood, his hands resting on the bar palms down.

“Into a Hawaiian shirt and shorts.” Remo tossed a multicolored flyer on the bar along with a lanyard with a badge attached.

Jackson read the large print on the flyer.  His eyes widened.  He began shaking his head.  “No, there’s got to be another way.”

“Best way to get to know everyone is to jump in.  Judging the annual sand castle contest on my behalf is the stamp of approval you need.  I ain’t gonna be around to protect your hide.  I’ve got mine to defend by riding shot gun over college males eyeing my baby girl as she moves into her dorm.”  Remo pushed the lanyard to Jackson.

Jackson eyed the judge’s badge.  He liked art and beauty was in the eye of the beholder.  This might not be so bad.  “What’s a Hawaiian shirt and shorts got to do with this?”  Jackson held the badge up.

Remo winked.  The slow grin spreading across his face had Jackson ready to dash out the door.  “Official uniform of the judging committee.  We need to stand out you know.  Be easy to spot.”

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