Tuesday Teaser 3/21/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 12
Holy moly, I was so busy packing I almost forgot about the Tuesday Teaser! Sorry this is late. I am moving on Saturday and I am drowning in boxes. I’ve packed 18 boxes so far, and I have a LOT more to go. I hate moving. 🙁
I wrote this section and something horrible happened. It disappeared. Either I didn’t save it –which is possible, of course–but Word is supposed to save every few minutes, and I SWEAR I never leave my computer without saving. So I re-wrote it hastily. This is certainly rough, but I like it. I hope you will too.
Marty hadn’t expected to feel nervous, but his palms were sweating. He wiped them dry on his pants, squared her shoulders, and knocked on the door to the bedroom where he knew the men of the wolf clan were. With their hearing and sense of smell, the wolves must have known who was there, but they kept him waiting a long minute before Stone opened the door.
“Victoria is not here,” Stone said. “You can find her in the kitchen with her aunt Renee.”
“I know. I came to talk to you.” He looked over Stone’s shoulder into the room. “All of you.”
One of Stone’s eyebrows hooked up. He stepped back open door wide. “Come on in.”
All of the men from the Wolf Clan who were in Omaha were there, except for Colby and Rock. Colby was probably still trying to woo Miss Summer, with Rock providing moral support. That thought almost made Marty smile, but this was too serious an occasion for that. Marty glanced around the room, marking Eagle, sprawled on the end of a bed, and Hawk, who was sitting in a wooden chair against the far wall. The room wasn’t small, but it felt crowded with five of the Wolf Clan there. Marty mentally girded his loins and walked over to Hawk.
The older man flipped a long lock of graying black hair over his shoulder and looked up at him blandly. “What can we do for you?”
“I love Victoria.” Marty kept his voice mild. “And she loves me. We are going to get married.”
An explosive “No!” came from Eagle.
Marty continued, looking Hawk in the eye. “We’d like your approval.”
Eagle lunged off the bed. “No,” he snarled. “We told you no.”
“At the gala in January,” Marty nodded. “And I backed off because I didn’t want to start trouble there. But my feelings for Vic haven’t changed.”
Sand slung an arm over Eagle’s shoulders just as the younger man opened his mouth again. “Let him speak, Eagle,” he said soothingly.
Directing his words at Hawk and Sand, Marty went on. “Victoria and I have talked about it, and we want to be married. Even if you don’t approve. It would break her heart to go against her family’s wishes, but she will. Please don’t do that to her.”
They all regarded at him silently. Under the weight of their stares, Marty forced himself to stand still, no fidgeting. After a long pause that grow ever more uncomfortable as the moments passed, he finally spoke again.
“What is it that you have against me?”
“You’re a cat,” Eagle spat.
“So? Miss Olivia mated with a cat.” He looked challengingly around the room. “Is that your only problem with me?”
Quill, arms folded, leaned his shoulders against the wall. “Your brother didn’t know how to treat his mate during the first year of their marriage. It wasn’t until she left him that he changed.”
Stone came up from behind and stood next to Marty. “Maybe Shadow is afraid you’d treat his daughter the same way.”
“Yeah,” added Eagle hotly.
“I wouldn’t,” Marty said flatly.
The other men all looked at Stone. Marty turned his head to see Stone nod.
Some of Eagle’s anger deflated. “Maybe you wouldn’t mean to,” he conceded, “but you could. I’ve heard about how you can turn only part of you into a cat, like your fingers into claws. That would hurt Victoria pretty bad.”
Marty shook his head. “I have too much control for that.” He drew a deep breath and let it out. “Look, Eddie had never been taught about the cat. He never learned to handle it. That’s why he didn’t treat Lisa as well as he could have. It’s different for me. I was taught self-control from the time I could walk. I knew everything about the cat before I ever shifted. My mom taught me. Eddie taught me even more, like how important it is to accept the cat. That’s why you don’t have to worry about me ever hurting Victoria.” He leaned slightly forward, to emphasize his point to Eagle. “Besides, Vic isn’t like Lisa. Would she put up with me doing anything she didn’t like?”
Eagle’s smile looked reluctant, but real. “No.”
“Give us your blessing,” Marty urged.
No one answered, but Quill asked a question. “Why do you love Victoria? You can’t know her very well.”
The answer to that was very simple, very reasonable, and very complicated. He decided to start with the reasonable thing. “She’s a strong woman. I like strong women. My mom is a strong woman, too, the queen of our little pride. When mom is gone, we’ll need another strong woman to be our queen.”
“She’s not a cat!”
Marty shrugged at Eagle’s exclamation. “Your mom isn’t a wolf, but isn’t she the Lupa of the Clan?”
“Yeah.” Sand nodded. “So, you want a replacement for your mother? That doesn’t sound like the right kind of love.”
“No!” Marty suppressed a shudder. It was time for the very simple reason. “She’s my mate. I don’t know exactly how it works with you wolves, but Kit McQueen says that cats don’t choose mates very often. When we do, it’s for life. When I met Victoria last fall I was completely fascinated by her. She’s beautiful. She’s commanding.”
“You mean bossy,” Eagle cut in.
“Yeah, I guess she is.” Marty smiled. “And I wanted to rub up against her and purr.”
The half-smile was wiped from Eagle’s face. “What?” he growled.
“I’ve never wanted to do that to another woman,” Marty explained quickly. “Really.”
Hawk stood up, eyes boring into him. “You want to marry her,” he began.
“I am going to marry her,” Marty cut in quietly but firmly.
“Ah.” Hawk nodded. “With or without our blessing.”
“Because you love her and she loves you.”
“And you promise to do everything you can to keep her safe and happy?”
Hawk glanced at Stone, who nodded.
“Well,” Hawk said, the lines around his eyes deepening with his frown. “I’m not her father, but I’d say she’s worth ten horses. What do you say, Eagle?”
Eagle’s bunched eyebrows didn’t look particularly happy. “Fifteen. She’s the only girl in the family. Dad would insist on at least fifteen horses, all well trained and healthy.”
Marty blinked, his head feeling oddly light. “You want to sell your sister for fifteen horses?”
“Want to?” Eagle made a sound of disgust. “No, I don’t want to.”
“It’s the Lakota way,” Quill said solemnly, taking his arm off Eagle’s shoulder. “The number and quality of horses show how much you value the woman you love.”
Marty began calculating how he could get his hands on fifteen good horses. Or twenty. “Victoria is worth fifty horses,” he said recklessly.
Stone smothered a grin behind his hand. Sand laughed out loud.
Even Eagle and Hawk smiled.
“We’re just kidding you.” Quill stepped forward to throw a light punch at Marty’s arm. “We don’t do that anymore. We’ll talk to Shadow and smooth things over for you.”
“But if you’d like to give us a token of your regard, I like a tall, powerful horse that can carry my weight,” Eagle said helpfully. “Preferably a bay.”
Marty looked around the room and felt the twist of anxiety in his guts relax. Somehow, he had changed their minds. They approved.