Tuesday Teaser 2/14/17 Victoria’s Mate Part 7
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Valentine’s Day. It just happens to be Tuesday, so that means a new teaser from Victoria’s Cat. We haven’t gotten to the actual romance part of the story yet (although Vic does her best to let Marty feel her attaction to him), but I’m giving you a slightly longer than usual bit so you can see Colby meet his mate and … *cough* … show her how tender, patient, and sweet he can be. Yeah, let’s go with that. LOL
“This is the city center,” said Marty. “Too bad it’s only March, because the fountain is beautiful in the summertime.”
The wide sidewalks in this part of town where clear of any ice, leaving Victoria with no excuse to lean on Marty’s arm. She had declined the offer of riding in the bus. First of all, she hated that contraption, and secondly, she wanted a chance to actually talk with Marty. Walking at his side would be the best way to do that. Besides, when she had to walk over any ice, she laid her hand on his arm to supposedly steady herself. She felt positively infantile getting a thrill from having her fingers rest on his coat sleeve, but she would take her thrills where she could find them.
She walked between Marty and Eagle into a wide open area and looked around at the architecture of the Times Before. Ray, Rock, and Colby were behind them. Even in March, this section of Omaha was impressive. There were tall buildings on three sides of an open square whose centerpiece was the fountain. Nothing was growing yet, but she could picture colorful beds of flowers and velvety green lawns. They must have been here yesterday, because the building behind them was the railroad station, but Victoria had no memory of the fountain.
“I bet it’s real pretty,” she agreed. “Those stone benches would be a nice place to sit and watch the fountain on a hot day. What’s that building over there?”
“That building is the City Hall, where we’ll go tomorrow for the start of the legislative session.” Marty turned his head so the three behind him could hear. “The ground-level holds jail cells. The next floor is where the court meets to try criminal cases. The legislature meets on the top floor. I’m not sure how they’ll get everyone in there. There’s not that much room even when it’s just the usual representatives in attendance. I bet there’s another fifty or sixty people to fit in there now, with all the delegates from the towns here in Omaha.”
The thought of standing in the legislature chambers to represent her clan was almost as exciting as having Marty brush against her. Her breath caught in a pleasurable shiver when he bumped into her hip.
“Sorry,” he said immediately. “Are you cold? The building opposite City Hall is the Cultural Center. There’s a coffee shop there if you’d like to get a coffee or hot chocolate.”
Victoria wasn’t actually cold, and her brother and cousins certainly weren’t, but at the mention of hot chocolate, they all headed for the Cultural Center. Marty insisted on paying for all of them, which was good. Victoria had no cash. Her brother and cousins didn’t either. Currency was a city thing. The Wolf Clan had cash, but normally they bartered for what they couldn’t produce themselves.
Victoria and the clan men took the largest table in the shop, the one in front of the big window in front, while Ray and Marty went to the counter and ordered.
“This is a nice little place,” she observed to Eagle. “A few little tables and chairs, nice view of the square, and a fireplace with big fat armchairs in front of it. I’ll have to come back again.”
Her brother inhaled deeply. “Smells good too.”
Colby closed his eyes and sniffed. “It does. Too bad coffee doesn’t taste as good as it smells.”
Marty and Ray came back each carrying a tray loaded with cups and donuts. Victoria made room for Marty on the padded bench beside her. Eagle and Colby, sitting on the other side of the table, paused a moment while they appeared to debate whether they should protest this seating arrangement, then reached for cups and donuts.
The hot chocolate was the good kind: thick and rich, with a small mountain of whipped cream on top sprinkled with shaved chocolate. Marty watched her enjoyment of the beverage with a smile that looked almost envious.
“You like chocolate,” he commented. “You know they say chocolate is the way to a woman’s heart.”
Normally that sort of remark would have brought the snarling wrath of her brother and cousins down on him, but they were deep into their chocolate. Victoria let her free hand slide down beneath the table to brush over Marty’s thigh. It was the barest touch, but red flowed into his cheeks and he drew in a sharp breath.
“You know what else?” She leaned a little closer to him. “There were two things that the Wolf
Clan loves to eat: raw meat and chocolate. Personally, I could leave the raw meat, but I do really like chocolate. I like watching the sunset over the plains, and I like finding prairie roses in the green grass in the spring.” She watched his Adam’s apple go up and down as he swallowed and lowered her voice to a purr. “And I like you.”
Colby’s head came up with a glare. It would have been more effective if he didn’t have a whipped cream mustache. Victoria gurgled with laughter.
“Vic.” Her brother sounded pained. “Please behave.”
Well, that was an astonishingly mild rebuke. She walked her fingers down Marty’s thigh to his knee, trying to look innocent. A naughty part of her wanted to walk her fingers in a different direction, but stroking his fly would be a little much. A girl had only so much control. But someday, she vowed silently, I will stroke every single part of him. Marty’s hand grabbed hers and held it pressed tightly against his knee. He tried to speak, failed, and cleared his throat to try again.
“There’s a, uh, a …” Marty coughed. “A museum on the floor above. Would you like to go up there next?”
“What do they have up there?” Rock set his cup down and swiped a hand over his upper lip to clear away the remains of the hot chocolate. “Is it like the stuff in the library at Kearney?”
“Some of it.” Marty drank the last of his chocolate, his fingers playing with hers under the table. “Some of it is much older, like from the early nineteenth century.”
There was a trace of chocolate at the corner of Marty’s mouth and Victoria forced herself to look away. If the others weren’t here, she could kiss it away. Would it taste even sweeter from Marty’s lips? She made herself remember the history lessons she had been taught as a child. “That was before the Times Before, right? After the Civil War? Or is that before the Civil War?” She had never been very good with dates.
“The Civil War was in the eighteen-sixties, so before. But there are some Indian artifacts from the eighteen-seventies and eighties that you might enjoy seeing.”
“Lakota?” Like all of them, Colby was very aware of their heritage.
“Yes, Lakota, and Pawnee, Cheyenne, and I think some Kiowa items.”
They all voted that the museum would be their next stop. Before they could get up, the counter girl came over with a large carafe.
“I don’t have any more whipped cream,” she said apologetically, “but there is more hot chocolate. Would anyone like a refill?”
Victoria held out her cup with a smile. “This is great hot chocolate,” she said. “Thanks.”
Surprised that more cups weren’t being held out, she turned to look at the rest of the table. Her brother and Rock were both staring at Colby, who was staring at the girl with an expression Victoria had never seen on his face before. Longing? Fear? Awe?
She glanced back at the girl. She wasn’t especially pretty. Her chin was pointed, her nose long. She was taller than aunt Ellie, but not especially tall. Her hair was mousy brown, scraped back in a limp ponytail that hit her spine a few inches below her shoulders. Her figure was painfully thin, not softly rounded. Victoria was baffled by her cousin’s interest.
Colby’s nostrils flared as he inhaled deeply and for one moment Victoria could almost see his wolf deep inside him. Uh-oh. It couldn’t be… No, this couldn’t be Colby’s mate. Marty held his cup out to the girl and Victoria prepared to defend him from her cousin. But Colby didn’t move. He watched, white faced, as the girl took Marty’s cup with a cheerful smile and refilled it. Victoria let out a breath. That meant either the girl wasn’t Colby’s mate, or Colby’s wolf considered Marty part of his pack. A mated wolf, especially a newly mated wolf, would violently object to a man outside the pack touching his mate.
Victoria went back to watching her cousin. “Hey, Cole? You want some more hot chocolate?’
Speaking slowly, still staring unblinkingly at the girl, Colby said, “Yes, please.”
The girl lost her cheerful, friendly smile under the intensity of Colby’s stare. She held the carafe in front of her like a shield. Impatient, Victoria plucked Colby’s cup from his hand and held it out to the girl.
“Pay no attention to him,” she advised the girl. “We don’t let him out very often so he’s not really socialized.”
The girl gave a nervous laugh and filled Colby’s cup. He reached out quickly, trapping the girl’s fingers between the cup and his hand. “Are you married?” he demanded.
The girl gasped. Victoria huffed. “You see what I mean? No social skills at all.” She said out of the corner of her mouth, “Cole, are you crazy?”
“Mate,” he said simply.
“Wow.” Victoria looked at the girl again. “Are you sure? She doesn’t look any older than sixteen.”
“Eighteen,” the girl flared. “Your manners aren’t much better, are they?” She aimed an impressively cool glare at Colby. “Now let go of my hand. The cup is hot and it’s burning my fingers.”
Colby released her at once. “Sorry. Are you okay?” And with barely a pause,” What’s your name?”
She put his cup on the table with enough force that the liquid slopped over the edge. “You can call me Miss Summer, if you need my services as your waitress. Other than that, you don’t get to call me anything.”
“Summer.” Colby let out a slow breath. “That’s a beautiful name. I’m—”
“I don’t care who you are.” Summer wheeled around and stalked off.
There was silence at their table for a long moment before Colby cleared his throat. “That went pretty well, don’t you think?”