Tuesday Teaser 1/26/16: Olivia’s Mate
My goal was to have the rough draft of Olivia’s Mate done by the end of January. Thanks to overtime at the day job, that’s not going to happen. But I have only a chapter and a half left to write, so the end is near! Here is the next tidbit in Olivia and Kit’s story (unedited, of course!). You enjoy this while I go off to my local critique group meeting. I’m going to run the last chapter by them and get their take on the ending. 🙂
As Kit approached the gate to the house where his mate lived, he ran a hand over his hair to smooth it. Her parents had arrived this afternoon. He had watched from a distance and immediately recognized her father when the man stepped from the train. He hadn’t appeared particularly happy even when he saw his daughter. Her brothers had been worse. Her father’s face had been cool, but theirs had been angry. He must be the only reason they would be angry with their sister.
The icy night wind caught his hair again. His hand trembled slightly when he reached it to pull it back. The guard came to the gate. He recognized Gray Shirt. He was the son of Des and Connie.
“Hey, Kit” said Gray, opening the gate. His oddly light blue eyes crinkled in a smile. “You’re a little early. You might want to hang out here with me for a while.”
As Kit stepped through to the yard, he heard a roar muffled by distance. He froze, trying to identify the voice. “What’s going on?”
Gray barred the gate and turned back to him. His grin was friendly. “Just a little family discussion.”
“Is Olivia okay? Is she— Her parents… Are they angry?”
“Nope, it looks like Aunt Tami and Uncle Tracker are okay with you. Maybe not thrilled, but okay. Parker and Taylor, though …” He gave a mock wince at the next roar. “Well, you can hear how well they are taking it.”
Kit stared at him. “Why are you being so friendly? Don’t you hate me too?”
“But you used to.”
The other man shrugged, one of his black braids sliding over his shoulder to hang down his chest. “That was before Stone cleared you. Since you’re going to be marrying my cousin, I guess we should be friends.”
Kit clutched his arm. “Am I? Am I going to marry Olivia?”
Gray cocked his head toward the house. “It might not sound like it right now, but never bet against a Clan woman. We men try to take care of them, but they’ve been raised to think for themselves.” A smile spread over his face as the sound of a feminine screech rose. “Hear that? Olivia seems pretty set on marrying you.”
He had to go find her. When he took a step toward the house, Gray stopped him with a hand on his chest. “Where you going? Better hold off a while.”
They both heard the sound of footsteps the same time. Their heads turned to search the dark outside the gate. And it was Stone, followed by a shorter round figure and four more.
“Stone. Aunt Sara.” Gray opened the gate for them. “Come in. India, you’ve grown. You must be how old now? Twelve?”
The smallest of the figures answered with dignity, “Thirteen.”
Kit wanted to go to Olivia but he found himself pinned in place by a pair of narrow brown eyes in a plump, pretty face with a smile lines showing age. This woman must be Stone’s mate.
“You must be the young man that Olivia is in love with,” she said. Glee threaded her words. “We got here just in time, Spot. Let’s go in quick so we don’t miss anything.” She beckoned to the four other people who had come in with her and Kit realized they must be her children. Amazingly, two of them were girls. “Come on, kids.”
Kit was going to follow them in, but Stone put a hand on his arm. “Hold on a minute. Let’s give Sara and the kids a minute to say hello and get settled. She’d be disappointed to not see the whole show.”
With effort, Kit relaxed. He owed this man. Gray said the reason he accepted Kit as a future cousin was because of Stone’s word. He should be polite. The four children following the round woman into the house weren’t all children. The largest was a young man in his late teens. “You have a nice family,” Kit ventured. “Your son is named Spot?”
“No.” Stone’s voice was dry. “It would be me. My mate’s idea of a love name. No, we have five children, two boys and three girls. Cut Ear, Red Paint Woman, Black Sun, and India are here. Suzanne is only seven and she decided to stay at the den tonight. It’s too cold for her and besides she wanted to play with her favorite cousin.” The ghost of a smile drifted over Stone’s lips. “Colby is amazingly patient with her.”
Kit spared a moment to be fervently thankful that Colby hadn’t come. The roars had dwindled to murmurs. He hoped that meant things had been resolved in his favor. “Can we go in now?”
Olivia shot her brothers one last disgruntled look. They had subsided, scowling, onto one of the couches in the family room. Satisfied that they would finally be quiet, she turned when the door opened.
“Aunt Sara!” She enveloped the older woman in a hug. “Oh, you’re cold. Come sit by the fire. Alexia — I mean Red Paint Woman, it’s so good to see you.” Most of her girl cousins went by their European names, but not this one. Red Paint Woman was tall and slender and stately, but she gave Olivia an enthusiastic hug.
“I saw your mate outside,” she whispered. “He’s handsome.”
Olivia’s heart gave a leap. He was here! She shot a single quick glance at her father. He was greeting Sara gravely and shaking hands with Cut Ear and Black Sun. She made herself turn away from the door. “India, look how big you are. You look just like your father.”
There was a round of hugging and a shuffling of seats for the newcomers. Just as everyone was settling in, the door opened and Stone came in. Olivia smiled at him. Her smile grew when she looked past her uncle to the man behind him. Kit returned her smile, but he immediately looked around the room. Even crowded as it was, he seemed to have no trouble finding her dad. She watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed.
Her dad stood still, watching Kit with his usual impassive face. He didn’t look away even when he murmured into Stone’s ear. Stone replied in a voice too low for Olivia to hear. She hoped he was telling dad about how truly Kit loved her. She looked quickly at Kit. He was watching her dad. She crossed to him and slipped her hand in his. He looked down at her quickly, and gave her fingers a squeeze. Of course her brothers growled. She gave them the evilest eye she was capable of. It didn’t stop them. Her father’s cold glance did. He nodded once to Stone and came toward them. Kit’s fingers tightened almost painfully on hers.
“So.” Her dad looked Kit over with cool thoroughness. “You want to marry my daughter.”
She watched Kit swallow. “Yes, sir,” he said.
After a long moment of silence her dad looked back at her mom. She stood up and came toward them. Her brothers sprang up, but dad shot a hard look at them and shook his head minutely. Dissatisfaction and anger all over their faces, they sat down again.
“I guess we should take this somewhere more private.” Her dad jerked his chin at the door. “There’s a little dining area back that way, if I recall.”