Tuesday Teaser 5/30/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 21
We’re getting close to the end of the story! In this chapter we will learn more about President Todd, and next week we’ll find out more about who Georgina Summer is and what’s been going on in Omaha for the past day. Hard to believe Rye McGrath’s dinner was less than twenty-four hours ago! Lot’s has happened, and lots more will be happening.
Victoria was surprised when the soldier led the way not to the largest tent in camp, but the one beside it. When the clan set up camp, the Alpha’s lodge and those of the leading families were at the center of camp, with others laid out in concentric rings around them. Here, three larger canvas tents were at the front of dozens of rows of small A-line tents all facing one direction in a block. It looked weird to Victoria. She glanced at Renee to see what she thought of the camp, but Renee was looking down at Anna McGrath. The girl was white faced, her lips visibly trembling. Poor kid.
Two uniformed sentries with rifles held across their chests were posted on either side of the closed door flap. They stood like statues, not even looking at them. The soldier escorting them paused outside. “Mr. President,” he called. “Lady visitors to see you. Permission to enter?”
There was a moment of silence, then a voice spoke. “Permission granted.”
One of the sentries pulled the door flap open, still not even glancing at them. The escort ducked under the flap. Victoria followed, grimly eager to meet her enemy face to face.
The rectangular tent was divided into two squares, this front room with a table with a roll of paper on it surrounded by four chairs, and another room in back, probably a sleeping room. There were three people in the room, all dressed in the familiar uniform of Kansas Missouri. Two of them sat at the table and third stood beside it as if he had just stood up.
Victoria examined them, trying to decide which one was the president. The man standing was boyish and slim, with sandy brown hair cut short, bulbous blue eyes, and a weak chin. She dismissed him and looked past him to the men at the table. The one nearest to her had a stocky build with thick, broad shoulders and a face that wasn’t precisely handsome, but she could see how the craggy features would appeal to some. His hair was black with generous sprinkles of silver, with a hint of curl controlled by a close cut. He was probably her dad’s age, in his mid-fifties. The third man had a perfectly proportioned physique that made his uniform look elegant. The gray green fabric was tailored to fit his broad shoulders and narrow waist perfectly. His brown hair was thick and neatly trimmed, his face dominated by large liquid brown eyes. Victoria had to suppress a sneer. He was prettier than she was. And he was about her own age, so probably too young to be the president. It must be the rugged one across the table.
Boland, their escort, snapped a salute to the wimpy-looking guy standing by the table. “Mr. President, Lt. Mott asked me to conduct these ladies to you. They are from the train we stopped this morning.”
Victoria remembered to close her sagging jaw and examined the man again. His face might appear boyish, but a closer look revealed lines around his eyes and mouth, proving that his age was closer to fifty than twenty.
“Where is Lieutenant Mott?” the scrawny man asked. His voice was deep, full, and rich, utterly belying his appearance.
Boland maintained a rigid posture of attention. “Sir, the lieutenant has been momentarily delayed, but he will be in directly to give his report.”
“Very good, Boland, you are dismissed.”
The soldier snapped another salute, turned briskly, and left the tent. The president stepped closer to them with a friendly smile. “Ladies, allow me to introduce myself. I am Gerald Todd, President of Kansas Missouri.”
Victoria almost snickered. The all mighty president of Kansas Missouri didn’t quite come up to her chin. There was a moment that stretched a little too long before Renee replied. “I’m Mrs. Wolfe, and this is my niece, Mrs. Madison.” She pulled Anna a little closer. “And this is my niece, Miss Wolfe.”
An almost childlike delight lit Todd’s eyes. “Wolfe?” he cried. “From the Indian tribe of werewolves?”
Victoria clenched her back teeth together to keep herself from correcting him and allowed Renee to do the talking. “That’s right,” Renee said in cold voice.
The door flap opened and Lieutenant Mott came in. He stood at attention and saluted. “Sir, I am ready to make my report on the taking of the Omaha train.”
“Splendid. These ladies tell me that they are part of the werewolf tribe.”
Todd turned his attention to Victoria. She had heard people talk about undressing someone with their eyes. She was fully dressed, but she would swear his protuberant eyes were undressing her. His gaze lingered on the curve of her breasts. Where was her coat? It must have been left back on the train, dammit. She drew herself up to her full height, and had to hide a wince when pain burned her side.
The president frowned and when he saw at the bloodstains on her blouse, the frown turned into a dark scowl. “My dear lady, have you been hurt?”
“Yeah, when one of your men shot me.” Sarcasm was thick in her voice. She remembered an instant too late that she was supposed to be a weak, helpless woman. She put one hand over her heart and tried to flutter her eyelashes. “I was terrified. It was dreadful.”
Victoria didn’t know how, but that weak chinned face went cold and hard. He didn’t look boyish or secretarial now. He snapped glare at Lieutenant Mott. “What happened?”
“Mister President, one of the men overreacted and fired his weapon. His target was not the lady, but she was grazed by the bullet. Private Hastings cleaned and bandaged the wound. There’s no indication that it is serious. The man who fired has been executed.”
“Excellent.” The president stepped even closer to take Victoria’s hand. As he bowed over it she noticed there was a bald patch in his sandy colored hair. “I’m sure the private did his work well, but I’ll send my personal physician to attend you. I deeply regret that you were injured.”
He brushed his lips over her knuckles and it was all she could do to not clenched her hand into a fist and ram it into his weak chin. Instead she forced a smile. “Thank you. When will we be returned to our families?”
“Not immediately, I’m afraid.” The president stepped back and gestured to the pretty young man. “Josh, will you escort the ladies to the harem and then find Doctor Penrose? “
Victoria’s squawk was either ignored or missed when the older man stood up. He was staring intensely at Anna. “What is your name, young lady?”
The girl’s voice was a tiny thread when she said, “Anna.”
Renee cut in quickly. “This is my niece, Anna Wolfe.”
The older man’s smile was sardonic. “Really? I’m told the mayor of Omaha has a daughter named Anna, and you resemble him greatly.”
“This is my niece,” Renee insisted.
Todd waved a soothing hand. “We won’t worry about that now, Bill. The important thing right now is for Mrs. Madison to be looked over by Doctor Penrose. Ladies, if you will follow Major Ellis, you will be given quarters where you can rest. I will see you later for supper.”
Lieutenant Mott, the President, and the man he’d called Bill gathered around the table, speaking softly. Renee looked like she wanted to protest more, but closed her mouth and gave Anna an encouraging smile. Dismissed, they followed the pretty man out of the tent.
The harem was the largest tent. Victoria ground her teeth over that designation. The man had a harem? And took them along when he was ready to conquer a new city? If he expected to make her his newest wife, he was in for a rude surprise. She was already married. And if he tried to move on her, she would bend that little shrimp into a pretzel.