Tuesday Teaser 1/24/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 4
Okay, this is a little later than I had hoped, but it’s still Tuesday, at least here in North Dakota, so this still counts as a Tuesday Teaser 😉
Before we get to the teaser I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who bought Brave Hearts and especially those who left a review. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And now, here is the next little snip in Victoria’s story. Again, parts of this are flat and more “telling than showing”. I am considering having Colby find his mate in Omaha. I can’t decide though. What do you think?
Victoria started toward Marty’s corner, but was cut off by her cousin Colby. She couldn’t smack him here, with all the witnesses in the room, so she gave him a smile. Hopefully no one would notice her clenched teeth.
“Cousin,” he greeted her silkily. “Come say hello to the rest of the family.”
She saw that Hawk and Rock had stayed against the far wall. Obeying the pull on her arm, she went with Colby to greet them. She gave Rock a hug. He was the elder son of Des and Connie, the Alpha and Lupa of the Plane Women’s House. A little younger than she, he was painfully shy with women, but just as belligerent as any other wolf warrior of the clan. His hair was long and so dark a brown that it looked black. She stepped back and turned to the older man in the group. Hawk was one of the oldest of her uncles, and had been her surrogate father while she stayed at the House last fall. She’d always thought of him as calmer and less aggressive than the Alpha males in the clan. His embrace was warm.
“So, Victoria,” he murmured in her ear. “You are the delegate from the clan.”
His voice was carefully neutral, but she was sure she could hear amusement in it. Since they were nearly the same height, she could look him right in the eye.
“Is there something wrong with that?”
He lifted his hands in surrender. “Absolutely nothing. I’m just wondering how you convinced your father to send you.”
Victoria slumped a little. “It wasn’t me. Mom spoke for me. But I think the person who really swayed him was Aunt Sherry.”
His brow hooked up. “Sherry?”
“I know. I don’t think she’s ever spoken in council before.”
“Huh.” He smoothed his silver-streaked hair behind his ear. “When a quiet hearted person like Sherry lifts her voice, the wise listen.”
At the sound of Colby growling, she turned away from Hawk. The two brown haired men from the little couch had approached. They stood elbow to elbow with nervous expressions on their faces.
“We, uh, we thought we’d like to, uh, welcome the lady.” The one on the left seemed relieved to have gotten the sentence out. When Colby and Rock continued to growl, the young man swallowed hard and looked at Colby. “No offence.”
“Of course not.” Victoria smiled at him but didn’t try to step around Rock or Colby. She had been dealing with over protective males her whole life. She’d learned long ago that fighting this particular battle was useless. “I am Victoria Wolfe.”
The second of the two men poked the first. “I knew it,” he whispered. “See?”
“Shut up.” He took a deep breath and tried a smile at Victoria. “I’m Jon Aller-Jensen from Falls City. This is my brother, Tanner. We’re real happy to meet you, miss.” He extended his hand to shake, but when she didn’t move from behind Rock and Colby, he dropped it. She was a little sorry to disappoint him, but who knew what Colby would do if she touched a stranger?
“Pleased to meet you.” Victoria looked the brothers over. They were tidy and well dressed, but going by the tans that hadn’t completely faded and the callouses on Jon’s hand, they weren’t soft townsmen. “So, what do you do in Falls City?”
“Farm, mostly. Run some cattle. Brother Anthony is here for the legislature, but me and Tanner came along to see Omaha. Never been here before. We’re—uh, hoping to meet some ladies.”
He was nervous. Victoria hid a smile. Nervous men tended to ramble on, and it seemed men were always nervous around her. If her heart wasn’t already given, she might have enjoyed a little flirtation with Jon. “My first visit too,” she said. “Have you met my cousins? This is Colby Wolfe and Rock Wolfe, and my uncle, Hawk In Flight Wolfe.”
No one shook.
“Falls City,” Hawk said flatly. “That’s the Brotherhood Commune?”
Both young men nodded. “Yes, sir.”
To her complete surprise, Hawk took Victoria’s arm and steered her firmly away from the brothers without even telling them good bye. “What are you doing?” she demanded in a low whisper. “I was only talking to them.”
“That’s all you’ll be doing with them, and it’s the last time you’ll do it.” He let her go when they got to the bottom of the staircase between the big rooms. “Let’s go up to my room until supper is ready.”
She blinked up at her uncle. Had she thought Hawk was the reasonable one? Colby caught up to them at the first step. “What’s the Brotherhood Commune?” he asked.
Quill, Rock, Eagle, and Stone joined them. Victoria went up a couple of steps to get away from the testosterone. It gave her an elevated view of the reception room. Jon and Tanner were standing with their heads close together, whispering furiously. Marty was still in his corner chair, smiling at her. She smiled back, tempted to wave, but not wanting to draw her menfolk’s attention.
“The Brotherhood Commune?” Stone said with a frown. “I think I’ve heard the name, but I can’t place it.”
“Brotherhood,” spat Hawk. “They say they are all brothers and share everything.”
Rock looked confused. “We all call ourselves brothers.” He glanced at Victoria. “And sisters. Even though most of us are cousins, and some only distant cousins at that. Some of us aren’t blood related at all. Is that what they mean by brotherhood?”
Hawk looked up at her. “Why don’t you go upstairs, Vic? We’ll call you when supper is ready.”
“Ha.” She folded her arms and stared him down. “One of the reasons I’m in Omaha is to meet men. If those two aren’t suitable husband material, I need to know why.”
“An Omaha man wouldn’t be suitable,” Colby stated.
“Oh?” She tilted her head. “Isn’t that why you are here? To see if your wolf will claim a mate?”
“That’s different,” he growled.
Eagle opened his mouth with a frown, glanced toward Marty Madison, and closed his mouth without saying anything. Victoria smiled sweetly at her brother.
Hawk cleared his throat. “The Brotherhood Commune,” he began with a quelling frown, “Is a farming community about five miles south and east of Falls City. They share everything. No man owns anything. Everything belongs to the commune and the commune belongs Brother Anthony Jensen. Everything.”
“Like the plows?” asked Rock.
“And the harvest?” put in Eagle.
Colby frowned. Somehow, frowning made him even more handsome. That thought irritated Victoria. Such a stubborn man shouldn’t look so handsome. His frowned deepened, making him look darkly handsome instead of sulky. “Their clothes and furniture belong to this commune?”
Hawk shrugged. “Maybe not their clothes. The men sleep in bunkhouses. They share everything else.”
Quill sounded thoughtful. “That doesn’t sound so bad. Lots of single men stay in dormitories or bunkhouses. What aren’t you telling us?”
“Wait.” Eagle had forgotten about Marty to stare at Hawk. “What about the married people? They don’t stay in bunkhouses, do they?”
“There aren’t any married people at the Brotherhood Commune.”
Rock chuckled a little at Hawk’s statement. “They won’t be around long without any children to continue their line.”
Hawk was silent for a long moment. “There are women and children, but the women aren’t married.”
“Well, what’s wrong with the men in this commune?” Rock demanded in disgust. “They don’t need to go to Omaha to find wives, not if they have women right there.”
Hawk allowed himself a sigh. “The Brotherhood share everything,” he began patiently.
Eagle made a choking sound, head swiveling to stare from Hawk to the brothers below, and back to Hawk. “They share their mates?”
Hawk nodded. “The women there are treated just like any other communal property.”
Victoria slapped a hand over her mouth and turned her back on the brothers. “I am going to throw up.”
Colby looked like he was about to launch himself over the banister at the Aller-Jensen boys. “Excrement of diseased dogs,” he snarled in Lakota.
It was his own made up curse word, since Lakota didn’t have the wealth of swear words that English enjoyed. Victoria used to hide a smile when he said things like that, but right now it had never sounded so appropriate.
“Women abusers,” Eagle agreed, scowling fiercely, obviously prepared to back Colby in his attack.
Hawk laid a restraining hand on Colby’s shoulder. Quill grabbed the collar of Rock’s flannel shirt with one hand and Eagle’s with the other. “Just hold on,” Hawk said. “I’ve never heard that the ladies aren’t happy with that arrangement.”
Victoria made a gagging sound. “Really? They probably aren’t allowed to talk to strangers.”
Stone chuckled. “Some women like having the attention of a lot of men.”
Victoria cast a glance of loathing at the two brothers. They must have noticed, because they quickly turned away, shoulders hunched. “That’s disgusting,” she snapped. “And they are here in Omaha to meet ladies? Ha! Probably looking for new blood for their harem.”
Eagle shook off Quill’s hand. “They won’t get it.”
Quill sighed and looked at Stone. “When did we get so old that we are the voice of reason?” He turned back to the younger generation. “No. We are not here to pick fights with the other delegates. Just cool down.”
Eagle bristled. “If they so much as smile at my sister…”
“Smiling is acceptable,” Stone said. “No fighting unless they step out of line.”
Victoria waited for him to define what constituted stepping out of line, but he didn’t. She tapped her chin with a forefinger as a wicked idea came to her. Compared to the Aller-Jensen boys, Marty must be much more acceptable to her menfolk. She smiled.
“You’re right, Uncle Quill. Dad told us we should present ourselves well here in Omaha. Beating up strangers because we don’t like their lifestyle would be wrong.” She swallowed and forced the next words out. “We should invite them to sit with us at supper.”
Every one of her relatives snapped his head around to stare at her. “What?” they chorused.
“Well, you know, just to be nice. I mean …” She faltered under their combined outrage. “It would be neighborly. Right?”
Hawk voiced their collective response.” No,” he said with flat finality.