Tuesday Teaser 2/21/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 8
Here is the next snip in Victoria’s Cat. Things are finally getting interesting! I think during my revisions I’ll need to make a lot of changes so that Marty and Vic get to spend some more time together. The trick is getting them together without her brother and cousins/uncles getting in the way. As Marty says, “It’s a tricky business courting a woman of the Wolf Clan.”
I also re-wrote the bit with Colby after his mate brushes him off. I think I liked it the other way better, where he thinks his first encounter went pretty well. What do you think?
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. “Did that go badly?”
Rock coughed. “Pretty much.”
Marty and Ray both hid behind their cups. Eagle slumped back in his chair, shaking his head.
“What did I do wrong?”
With Marty dragging her hand in little circles over his thigh, Victoria was having some trouble concentrating, but she tried.
“Are you married?” she said, pitching her voice to a low growl to imitate Colby. “Honestly, Cole.”
Colby rarely looked anything less than supremely confident. Now he reminded her of a kicked puppy as he stared into his cup. “She’s my mate. I needed to know if she was already married.”
Ray gave his future brother in law an encouraging thump on the shoulder. “At least you know where she works. And you found out her name. Summer. That’s pretty.”
“Actually, Summer is her last name.” Marty gave Victoria’s hand a squeeze and turned it over to trace designs on her palm. She all but swooned. “Her name is Georgina Summer.”
Colby craned his head and looked toward the counter. It was empty. “Miss Summer. So she’s not married. But where is she?” A frown gathered on his forehead. “She shouldn’t be here alone. Anyone could walk in and steal her! I—”
“Sit down.” Marty could put quite a bit of bite in his voice when he wanted to. Colby visibly bristled under the tone. “This is Omaha,” Marty told him. “Women aren’t property here. They aren’t stolen.” Colby opened his mouth, but Marty went on. “Usually, Lachlan and Ceara are here too. They own the place. Tomorrow there will be four or five counter staff to handle the crowds from City Hall. Representatives stop in here all the time when the legislature is in session. Miss Summer is perfectly safe.”
Muscles in Colby’s bunched. “I have to talk to her. I have to … court her.” Wonder broke over his face. “I have a mate!”
Rock and Eagle leaned close. “How did you know?” asked Rock.
“My wolf told me.”
Eagle frowned. “Does your wolf speak to you in words? Mine only sends me feelings.”
“This time I swear I heard his voice. He said ‘mate’. And then I smelled her. She smells so good.” Colby closed his eyes and inhaled, as if catching the last lingering traces of his mate’s scent. “Chocolate and coffee and sugar. So sweet.” His eyes opened and went to the counter. “I have to find her. I need to—”
“Wait.” Marty finally let go of her hand to reach across the table to Colby. “She’s probably still upset. Why don’t you give her a little time. Let’s go up to the museum, and on the way out you can stop in here to apologize to her.”
“That’s good advice.” Victoria’s hand felt cold without Marty’s strong fingers holding it. She pulled it up and wrapped it around her cup. “Think about it, Cole. She’s never seen you before in her life, and you grab her and ask personal questions. What would you do to a man who tried that with your sister?”
Since that was the answer she was expecting, she didn’t roll her eyes. “So you can see why she was upset.”
He didn’t seem to want to admit it, but after a long moment he nodded. “Okay, let’s go look upstairs.”
Victoria was happy for Colby, but what made her really happy was that the discovery of his mate drew attention away from her and Marty. They left the coffee shop and crossed the building’s lobby to the stairs, and the whole way, Rock and Eagle were asking eager questions about how Colby knew that Miss Summer was his mate. Was he absolutely sure she was the one? How did it feel? Even after they had entered the museum on the second floor, the three wolf warriors were still talking about it.
A fussy looking elderly man glared at them. “Please keep your voices down.” The words were polite, but the tone was an order. Victoria looked around the large cluttered room and saw no one else that they would disturb by talking.
Rock, Eagle and Colby drifted to one end of the room, whispering furiously. Ray gave Marty a wink and followed them. Victoria listened, and when the whispering died down, Ray asked a question that started it up again. Marty tilted his head toward the other end of the room.
“There’s a display down here I think you’d like to see,” he said loudly.
Victoria followed him and bent over the glass case. Flat rectangular things were arranged artistically over cream colored velvet. “What are they?”
“Cell phones from the Times Before. Eddie’s wife, Lisa, had one. I bet your mom did too.” He bent over also so that their shoulders touched and their faces were side-by-side. He lowered his voice to a whisper. “I tell you, trying to court you is just about impossible with your brother and all your relatives in tow, but I am not giving up. I take it by the way you petted me downstairs, that you are not in adverse to my courtship?”
Her heart skipped a beat and fluttered. “Not one bit adverse. In fact, I plan to marry you.”
In the reflection in the glass she could see the white of his teeth as he smiled. “One of the things I love about you the most is your honesty. Vic, I didn’t stop courting you because I didn’t want you.”
“I know, I know.” She shook her head with a sigh. “It was my dad, wasn’t it? I bet he said something to you at the gala in January.”
He took her hand. “Yeah, he did.” With his other hand he pointed at one of the cell phones in the case.
Victoria shot a quick glance toward the men and saw Eagle looking at them. “Yeah,” she said in a normal tone, which she knew her brother could hear perfectly well even across the large room. “That one looks a lot like the one my mom had in the Times Before.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Why did you let my dad chase you away?”
“The gala wasn’t the right place to make trouble. And I wanted to be sure that you really did welcome my interest.”
“Aunt Marissa said in her letter that you were going to come find me if you didn’t hear from me by April.”
“Absolutely. I know who I want to marry. You are worth fighting for. I would hate to cause trouble between you and your parents, but I know who the right woman for me is.”
They had been crouched over this one case for a suspiciously long time. Vic moved a few steps to the next case. “I’m sorry that my dad doesn’t like it. It would about break my heart to lose his approval. I’m not a little girl.” She quit pretending to examine the display and looked him in the eye. “I know who the right man is for me and even my family can’t change my mind about it. I don’t care what their objections are. You are going to be my husband.”
He swallowed. “I can understand their objections. They don’t need to be concerned, but they do have their reasons.” He licked his lips. “There’s something about me that you need to know.”
The silence stretched while he appeared to try to find words. Victoria jumped in. “You mean about you being a mountain cat?”
His jaw dropped. “You know?”
“Of course I know. I don’t see why my dad would object to that. I mean, your brother and Ray are cats, right?”
His golden hair caught the light as he nodded his head. “Yeah. Yeah, but there’s a little bit more to it than that. When Eddie and Lisa were first married, he was a bit of asshole to her. Almost abusive, really.”
Victoria’s eyes widened. “What? Mayor Madison has always treated his wife like a princess.”
“I was not even born at the time, but Eddie has told me a little bit about it. His cat didn’t know how to treat her.”
Victoria crossed her arms over her chest. “He beat her?” She shook her head with certainty. “He couldn’t have. Snake would have killed him.”
“No, it wasn’t that bad. He was just rough with her. He would grab her arm and hold it too tight. Sometimes he spoke harshly to her. He would say things that hurt her.”
“Oh. That’s not so bad.”
“It’s bad enough. Your dad is afraid I will treat you that same way. That’s his real objection.”
Victoria’s back snapped straight. “If you ever did anything to hurt me—”
“You would kill me? Or have one of your brothers do it?”
“No.” She relaxed. “You would never do that to me.”
He smiled. “No, I wouldn’t.”
They had been so involved in the conversation, they hadn’t noticed that the others had abandoned their corner and were approaching. Victoria looked down into the case they stood at. “What is that?” she asked loudly.
Marty peered down into the case. “I’m not sure.” He angled his head to read the white card. “It’s a fitness tracker watch.” He read a little bit more, frowning. “People in the Times Before would wear these on their wrists. It would tell them the time, temperature, and…” He shook his head. “How many steps they had taken during the day. I wonder what they wanted to know that for?”
Colby tapped a finger on the class of the case. “Hey, let’s go back downstairs. I’ve seen enough.”
Victoria doubted that she and Marty would have any more time alone, so she gave in with good grace. At least they had had a chance to figure out where they stood, and they would have more chances to talk. Preferably alone.
To keep from overwhelming Miss Summer, the rest of them waited in the lobby when Colby went into the coffee shop to speak with his mate. He came back in only a couple of minutes.
“She went home.” Colby looked lost. “There’s a man in there instead.”
Marty nodded. “She’ll be back tomorrow. You are not the representative from the den, so you’ll be free to come here tomorrow while the legislature is in session. Maybe you can get a chance to talk to her then.”
Colby brightened. “That’s right. Quill has to stay there for all the talk, but he doesn’t need me to be with him every minute. I’ll come here and court my mate.”
Victoria wondered just how much time Miss Summer would have if the coffee shop was as busy as Marty said it would be. She shrugged. It would do Colby good to have to work for something. As she walked out into the thin spring sunshine, Victoria grinned to herself. She’d give her favorite necklace to see the girl brush him off and take him down a peg or two.