Tuesday Teaser 10/5/15: Olivia’s Mate
It’s October! This is my absolute FAVORITE time of the year! Cool at night, still pretty warm during the day, and perfect tea drinking weather. All the Mayo Clinic stuff is done and went well. Sometimes I think I feel tons better, and then sometimes I don’t. Being on 1300mg of aspirin a day is giving me an unhappy tummy. Or it could be coincidence. YaaahNo. I think it’s the aspirin. I guess I’ll give it a few days to be sure, then call the doc and see what he says.
Today I had a dental appointment (OUCH!!!!-He put a post through my bridge into the tooth below. The anesthesia is wearing off now and I have to admit the root canal I had a year ago hurt less than this!) so now I am finished with all that nasty business for the year. I can go ahead and get back into my writing routine. I did try on Sunday night and I did get some writing done, but it’s sort of lackadaisical. Blah. Maybe I should have Colby try to throttle poor Kit… I’m sure I’ll be able to spark it up a bit later, but here it is for now. I’m going to sit for an hour in my flannel jammies and read for a while before bed. Enjoy!
That left her alone with Uncle Des and Uncle Hawk. Des wore his habitual grim expression, but it was just as little darker than usual. The light hanging above them glinted in the silver wings in the black hair at his temples.
“Olivia,” he said sternly. “You won’t be alone with him. If he does one thing to make you uncomfortable, just raise your hand and we’ll escort him out.”
Yes, but will he be alive when you do? She didn’t say it out loud, but knowing her male relatives it was a valid question. And really, who knew what Kit would do? He was practically a wild animal. “Thanks, Uncle Des,” she said. “I’m sure it will be okay, but I’m glad you’ll be there. Where are we meeting? In the kitchen? Or the family dining room?”
“In the restaurant. Renee is still in the kitchen and he’s not family, so he doesn’t come in to the family areas.”
She nodded. That was fair. And six of her menfolk as guards wasn’t too bad. Actually, everyone seemed to be behaving pretty reasonably. For wolves.
When she entered the restaurant she saw why they were being so unusually reasonable. Another dozen men of the House and Taye’s den were there, seated at the scattered tables and drinking coffee or hot cider. Colby raised his mug to her with a fierce smile.
“Oh, no,” she groaned. She turned to the men behind her. “Uncle Des, this is ridiculous.”
“It’s just caution,” he said mildly.
Colby stood with a scrape of his chair over the wood floor. “I don’t trust him,” he said flatly. “He stole you before. He’d like to do it again. He won’t get the chance.”
There was no sense trying to argue with them. “Fine,” she growled. She moved to a small table that seated two. Des took her arm in a gentle but firm grasp and led her to the longest table in the room, the one reserved for groups of twelve.
“You sit here on this side facing the door,” he said. “When the young man arrives, he’ll sit opposite you.”
“But we’ll be ten feet apart!”
“Exactly.” There was satisfaction in his growl. “You’ll be alone at the table, so that’s nice, right?”
Alone at a table, with eighteen of her dearest male relatives in the room. Great. She took the chair Uncle Des indicated. What did she expect? And maybe it didn’t matter anyway. Like Gray said, he might not even show up.
But he did, and with his silky caramel colored hair lying in shiny waves over the shoulders of a perfectly fitted dark brown corduroy suit coat, he was amazingly handsome. And he appeared unexpectedly civilized. She compared her memory of Kit, feral, living in a cave with snarled hair and wearing few clothes, to this almost elegant man.
He paused in the doorway for just a moment while his gaze swept quickly around the room before settling on her. When he looked at her, such joy filled his face that Olivia stared.
“Miss Stensrud,” he said formally, and hurried toward her. Uncle Des caught him and shoved him toward the chair at the other end of the table.
“You sit there,” the Alpha growled.
Kit twisted lithely away from Des’ grip, and stood looking down the table at her for a long moment before turning to extend his hand to Des.
“Christopher McQueen, sir,” he said.
Des looked at the long slender hand like it was a dead fish, but he gripped it and shook it twice. “Des Wolfe. I’m Alpha here. If you behave yourself we’ll let you live.”
“Thank you.” Kit’s tone was perfectly respectful.
After a moment, Des grunted. Approval? “Have a seat.”
Kit pulled out the indicated chair and sat down. Des took up his position a yard behind Kit, arms folded and mouth turned down in its usual scowl. She and Kit sat in silence, staring at one another. All she could see was awe and happiness on his face. He was well dressed and well groomed, looking like a civilized man, yet his expression retained something of the feral openness she had seen on it when she had been his captive. Hiding his emotions didn’t seem to come easily to him. Silence stretched. Olivia wondered if she should speak first. Was allowing a woman to speak first a will polite thing?
“Good evening, Kit,” she said. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been well, thank you. And you?”
“I’ve been good.” This was excruciating. Olivia flicked a glance at her male relatives lining the wall. At least half of them should go away. She tried to use her eyebrows to convey that thought to them, but they either missed it entirely or ignored it. She looked again at Kit. “You look very nice.”
The small smile that curved his lips grew. “Thank you. You are even more beautiful than I remembered you.”
She blushed. “Your suit is very nice. I don’t remember you having a suit.” Actually, most of her memories were of him nude, or covered with the light fur his cat form had. “Is it new?”
He smoothed a caressing hand down his arm, stroking the chocolate brown corduroy of his sleeve. “My brother’s wife made it for me. She said that I should dress my best when I go to court you.” His expression turned very serious and he leaned forward as if to lessen the distance between them. “I want to do it right. Last time I did everything wrong. You are my mate. I didn’t know any better than to take you home with me the minute I found you. But I was wrong. You said you wanted a civilized man, so I went to my brother Justin to learn how.”
One of the cats knew how to be civilized? Olivia couldn’t imagine it. “I don’t think I remember Justin.”
No, he doesn’t live with the Pride anymore. A few years ago he met his mate and left us to live with her human family. After your father and brothers took you home I went to find them. I spent the last year living with them and learning how to be the man you want. Please let me court you.” His eyes gleamed as tears welled in them. Even across the table she could see them. “Please don’t send me away without giving me a chance.”
Olivia gripped the edge the table so hard her fingers hurt. She swallowed. “That was quite a speech, Kit.”
“I practiced parts of it,” he confessed. “But that doesn’t make it less true.”
She stared at him. Victoria was right. It took guts for him to come all this way face off against her menfolk. “Okay.” It was hardly more than a whisper, so she cleared her throat to speak louder. “You can court me. We’ll see how it goes.”
She wasn’t surprised to hear the growls coming from the men. “This is my choice,” she told them with a fierce tilt of her chin. “I won’t be stupid. I won’t be alone with him. But he deserves a chance to prove himself to me.”
Colby broke from his position against the wall to loom threateningly over Kit. “If he puts one toe over the line I’ll kill him.”
Kit rose to his feet and stared Colby dead in the eye. “That’s fair. I won’t do anything to hurt Olivia. I promise I want to do this right. I want her to be safe and happy, just like you do.”
The sound of derisive disgust came from more of the men than just Colby, but no one said anything. After a minute Uncle Des waved Colby back. He laid a heavy hand on Kit’s shoulder and it looked like he squeezed little more than necessary to get his attention.
“Tomorrow,” he said, “you can come here and have lunch. 11:30. Don’t be late.”