Tuesday Teaser 4/4/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 14
Last night I unpacked the last box. yay!!!! Does that mean my move is finished? Nope. That means I have a whole bunch of stuff stacked around the apartment that I need to find places for, and a bunch of flattened boxes to give away to a friend who is moving in a few weeks or take down to the dumpster. Moving is such a lot of work! But I’m getting closer to being done.
All during this move I’ve done very little –in fact, NO– writing. This next snip from Victoria’s Cat is pretty short. I’m starting with a bit from last week, but the last part is newly written. So new that I haven’t even read it. Please excuse the errors. *blush*
Quill and Stone took turns telling about the various members of the clan, recent births and deaths, and marriages. Victoria ate and listened. She didn’t know how well acquainted Mayor McGrath was with her kinsfolk, but he listened with every evidence of interest. At the foot of the table, Mrs. McGrath listened with equal interest. She knew Sand’s mate, Amanda, because they had worked together for Uncle Sky at the Limit.
Marty leaned a little closer. “I love watching you eat,” he murmured.
Victoria paused in spearing a potato. Her plate was loaded with meatloaf and potatoes drenched in gravy, with a small mountain of green beans on the side. A glance around the table told her that the McGraths’ plates were not nearly so full. “Am I eating too much?” she whispered.
“Oh, no.” His voice dropped to a purr. “You should eat as much as you need to keep that gorgeous figure of yours nice and …”
He trailed off, apparently having noticed her brother and cousins glaring daggers at him. He cleared his throat and went back to eating. Victoria glared back at her brother and cousins. Those killjoys need a poke in the eye. Dammit, just when Martin was starting to say something interesting. She moved her leg to press her thigh against his and gave Eagle a sweet smile.
She might have been bored with all the reminisces between the older people except that Marty had obviously decided not to bow down to her brother and cousins. He leaned a little closer again.
“Have you seen the house that I am building in the mayor’s compound back home?” he asked.
She thought about Eddie Madison’s home in Kearney, a stately mansion built in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Several blocks of Kearney were walled in around the mansion to form a private compound. She had never been inside the wall. “No, I didn’t know you’re building a house.”
“I am.” He smiled an intimate, quiet smile. “I started it last fall after I met you.”
Warmth fluttered in her chest.
“We’ve torn down one of the old buildings to make room. I plan three bedrooms right now, but there’s space to add on.” He cleared his throat. “To make room for more children.”
Eagle looked like he would crack teeth if he didn’t stop clenching them. Victoria gave her brother another bland smile. She turned her attention back to Marty. “When do you think it will be finished?”
She didn’t think Marty could be any more handsome than he was right then. “That depends on you, Miss Wolfe.”
He was doing that purring thing again with his voice, and Victoria had a stray thought. Would he have that same rasp in his voice when he talked to her in bed? She had to swallow to find her voice. “Oh?”
His smile said he knew how he was affecting her. “Say the word and I’ll send a message home to tell Eddie that it has to be done now. We can honeymoon here in Omaha for a few weeks until it’s done, and then we’ll go home where I’ll carry over the threshold and—”
A man rushed into the dining room, coat unbuttoned and blond hair standing straight up. He stopped in the dining room doorway, and cast a quick glance at them sitting around the table. It was the captain of the City Guard. “Rye,” he said curtly. “I need a minute. Right now.”
The smile left the mayor’s face. “My office.”
Captain Erickson disappeared.
The mayor stood up. “Please excuse me for a few minutes.”
There was silence for a long moment after the mayor left. Mrs. McGrath cleared her throat.
“I hope you have room for dessert,” she said brightly. “We have brownies and vanilla ice cream.” She nodded at her daughter. “Anna, Nick, bring it in.”
Victoria exchanged a glance with Marty. Maybe the mayor was called away from supper all the time, but Mrs. McGrath seemed a little too cheery, as if she were trying to hide worry.
“Brownies,” Quill said happily. “I love chocolate.”
The scent of warm chocolate entered the dining room before Nicholas and Anna. It was a mouth-watering scent almost delicious enough to distract Victoria. Anna was going to be a beauty one day, and she had more social graces than Victoria ever would have. Even with her gawky arms and legs she managed to serve everyone gracefully.
“Very nicely done,” Mrs. McGrath told her daughter.
The girl’s round cheeks glowed with a pleased blush.
Renee surveyed her plate of brownie topped with a perfect sphere of vanilla ice cream before taking a bite of brownie. “Heavenly,” she announced. “A perfect blend of chocolate and vanilla.”
Anna’s blush grew brighter. Her mother gave her a fond smile. “Anna made the brownies.”
Renee looked surprised. “They are very, very good.”
Mayor McGrath came back in, followed by Captain Erickson. Both of their faces were grave. The mayor stopped beside his wife at the foot of the table and looked at each one of them.
“This is unexpected.,” he said. “President Todd is sixty miles from Omaha, and he brought his army with him.”
Mrs. McGrath grabbed his hand. Her beautiful face remained calm, but her knuckles shone white. The mayor glanced down at this wife, but didn’t speak. Victoria was alarmed by the way Marty stiffened beside her
“How long till they get here?” he asked calmly.
The mayor lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Maybe two hours to get to the river. They might camp on the other side of the river tonight or they might push through.”
“What does he want?” Hawk glanced quickly at his mate, trouble in his eyes.
Now the other shoulder rose in a shrug and the mayor shook his head. “I don’t know. We were supposed to have until the middle of the month to get an answer to him about whether or not we would accept his alliance.”
Quill looked grim. “How likely is it that this is a peaceful visit?”
“He brought his army with him. That doesn’t strike me as particularly peaceable.” McGrath looked down at his wife again, and then over at Hawk. “I want my wife and daughter safe. Will you take them back to Kearney with you?”
No,” said Mrs. McGrath instantly. “I’m not leaving you.”
“Cayla,” the mayor began.
“No,” she said again, more forcefully. “And I know you want me safe, Rye, but not all the women of Omaha have a way to leave. I will not run away and leave them.”
Worry twisted the mayor’s face as he looked at his wife. And after a long moment of silence he nodded and turned his attention back to Hawk. “My guess is Todd will do one of two things. He’ll attack tonight hoping to take us by surprise, or he will wait until morning and try to bargain with us.”
“Why would he attack and risk casualties to his own army if he can the alliance he wants?” Stone tapped his fingers on the table, frowning in thought. “Maybe he brought his army to intimidate you into agreeing to the alliance.”
Hawk stood up. “And he’s coming now, while all the representatives of all of cities and settlements in the region are here in Omaha. If he takes all the leaders hostage, he won’t have to attack the cities to control them.”
Dean Erikson nodded grimly. “That’s my take. We should notify the representatives immediately so they can evacuate back to their homes.”
Rock had an eager look on his face. “We should stay. If there’s going to be a fight, you can use us.”
Eagle and Colby nodded vehemently. “If Omaha is conquered, it’s only a matter of time before Todd heads up our way,” Eagle pointed out. “Better to stop him here.”
“Yeah,” Colby agreed.
“I could use your help.” The mayor looked tempted. “No, you should be sure Miss Victoria and Mrs. Renee get home safely. I wouldn’t trust their safety to Todd. I’ve heard stories of what he does with women.”
Colby whispered, “Georgina.”
Eagle looked torn, glancing between Victoria and Renee. “Hawk can escort them home.”
Hawk shook his head. “I am older and more experienced. I should stay. Quill, you will see to our women.”
“Rye Thomas saved my mate once. I will stand here with him. Stone?”
Stone shook his head. “We all stay or we all go.”
“But Renee and Victoria must go home,” Hawk decreed.
“Sand, you could take them,” Quill suggested.
The mayor raised hand. “Time is short, gentlemen.”
Marty’s chair squeaked as he stood up. “I will take the ladies back to Kearney.”
Eagle’s thick eyebrows dove down over his nose. “You’re not kin.”
“Not yet.” Marty flashed a confident smile around the table before turning to Mayor McGrath. “Marry me to Victoria. If I’m her husband, I can be her escort.”
Victoria’s heart leapt in her chest. It was a sign of just how much Eagle wanted to stay for the possible fight that he didn’t protest immediately. He glanced at Hawk with his lips pressed tightly together. Hawk shook his head minutely.
Hawk nodded at the mayor. “Do the ceremony quick.”