Tuesday Teaser 12/22/15: Olivia’s Mate
Christmas is only THREE days away!!! I still have too much to get done! Hand stitching the binding on a quilt, wrapping presents, taking my mom out on one last shopping spree, cleaning the bathroom and the sewing room/guest room. That place looks like a bomb hit it! But my brother from Minneapolis will be staying in there for a few days and he needs to be able to walk around the bed without getting a pin stuck into his foot and find scraps of thread or fabric stuck to him. (I gave up on the cat hair. One of his gifts is a lint roller he can use immediately.)
Another thing on my list was to write a lengthy piece in Olivia’s Mate. I didn’t actually get very far and I haven’t had a chance to review and go in and add the little bits like emotions and little actions. Still, here is the bare bones of the next bit in Olivia’s Mate. I hope you can enjoy it anyway.
“You can force people to do other things, things they don’t want to,” Colby accused bitterly. “Like surrender.”
Oh. The reason for the anger and suspicion became suddenly clear. “I didn’t want you to get hurt.” He looked at Olivia pleadingly. “I told you I wouldn’t do it again. I promise, I never will.”
Again, all eyes went to Stone. “Truth,” he said.
“Oh, Kit,” Olivia said softly. She smiled at him with … Love? Was it love? “Are you sorry you stole me?”
“Yes,” he said.
Stone’s brows twitched together and he shook his head. Kat stared at him. How did he know? He pronounced true or false, and all of his kinsmen believed him without argument. Was he never wrong? Maybe not. He wasn’t wrong now.
“I am sorry!” Kit burst out. “I’m sorry that I did it all wrong and you were afraid of me. I’m sorry that I scared you.”
“I wasn’t scared of you,” she said defensively.
Her uncle looked at her. “Lie,” he whispered.
Color rose in her face. “Only a little at first.”
“That’s what I’m sorry for,” Kit said.
“But not for stealing me?”
Even though the entire room was listening intently, and with varying degrees of anger, he answered honestly. “No, I’m not sorry for that. I’m glad I had the time with you.” He almost mentioned his pleasure in feeling her mostly bare body pressed to his when they slept, but a glance at her uncles, Des and Hawk, made him swallow the words. Colby was rigid with temper, but the young wolf didn’t concern him as much as the elders. “I’m sorry because I didn’t listen to you. You told me I had to take you home. If I had listened to you, I could have begun courting you then.”
Colby snorted. “We would have killed you.”
“True,” Stone said with a wicked smile. “Or probably true, anyway.”
The low rumble of chuckles from around the room sounded dark and threatening.
“No, I wouldn’t have let them,” Olivia said stoutly.
“What could you have done to stop us?” Colby sneered. “You’re only a girl.”
Olivia’s eyes popped wide, then narrowed, as she half stood, slamming her fists on the table. “Only a girl?” she shrieked, at such volume that Kit’s sensitive ears quivered. “You— You idiot!”
Stone reached and patted one of her fists. “Calm down,” he said mildly. And to Colby, in the same mild voice, he said, “Have you found your mate yet?”
Colby’s nostrils flared in his reddened face. “No,” he growled.
“That’s a good thing.”
Kit watched while Colby’s jaw worked. “Why?” he ground out after a long, tense silence.
“Because now we’ll have time to whip you into shape for her.”
Colby’s face got redder. “Sit down,” he growled at Olivia.
Kit noticed several of the men looking at Colby with varying shades of displeasure and disappointment. The women looked nearly as outraged as Olivia. Olivia did sit down, still glaring at her cousin.
“What are you talking about?” Colby demanded of his uncle.
“I think you know.” Stone leaned back in his chair, still mild and conversational. “You didn’t learn that attitude from your father. You’ve known from the cradle the way a man should treat a woman.”
“I know how you treated Aunt Sara at first.” As soon as the words were out, Colby twitched as if controlling a cringe. “Sorry.”
Stone nodded. “I’m older and wiser now, and I gained that wisdom the hard way. We need to talk soon, but right now we’re talking to Kit and Olivia. Olivia, do you have any more questions for Kit?”
She turned her shoulder on her cousin and looked at Kit. “Are you really willing to live where ever I want?”
He paused, sure that Stone would know if he were lying. “Almost anywhere. A big city would be hard for me.”
“I mean, if I wanted to live close to my parents that would be okay?”
“Yes. Olivia, you can ask me anuthing.”
She stared intently into his eyes, before looking down at her fingers twisting together. “There’s only one more thing.” She swallowed and drew a long breath. “What would happen if you decide someday that you don’t love me anymore?”
His jaw dropped. He looked at Stone and then at Colby. The younger man looked smug. Kit snapped his gaze back to Olivia. “I won’t,” he said simply. It was a vow he meant with all his heart.
Olivia shrugged, still looking down at her hands. “It could happen. People fall out of love all the time. And cats aren’t like wolves, are they? Wolves only find one mate, but cats are fickle.”
The smugness deepened on Colby’s face, and Kit was sure he knew where Olivia had gotten the idea that cats couldn’t be faithful. “The men in my pride rarely find mates, but when we do, we are true to her to death.” He looked at Stone, who nodded. “I’ve seen among humans how unhappy some of them are with their mates. Most of the time, it’s their own fault. They don’t even try to talk together to make it better. Well, they talk,” he corrected himself, “but they don’t listen. I don’t think husbands understand what their women are feeling. Sometimes it seems like they don’t care. Sometimes it seems like the women aren’t saying the right things to make their men understand.” He shook his head at the tangle. It seemed easy to him. “We won’t be like that. When you talk, I’ll listen. If I don’t understand what you mean, I’ll ask you to explain more. And you’ll listen to what I say, and if I’m not clear you can tell me I need to try again. Then we won’t fall out of love.”
Every eye in the room was directed at him. With approval? Stone cleared his throat. “It’s not always that easy, but that sounds like a good plan to keep each other happy.” He nodded at the room in general. “He has my blessing.”
“Shush!” said Olivia over Colby’s dissatisfied grunt. She smiled at Kit. “The only thing left is for my parents to meet you and give their approval.”
Remembering the cold, narrow face of her father, he swallowed. “What if they don’t like me?”
A shadow crossed her face. “I can’t marry someone they don’t approve of. But they’ll like you!” She faltered. “Once they get to know you,” she tagged on.
Behind him, he heard a woman murmur, “When we were young we would have laughed at the idea of needing our parents’ permission to marry.”
And another woman replied, “The world has changed a bit since then, Connie.”
“Where are your parents?” he asked.
“They’re coming for Christmas. So just a couple of days.”
Praying was unfamiliar to Kit, something that humans did. But he stared at his mate and prayed for all he was worth that her parents would give permission.