Tuesday Teaser 5/9/17: Victoria’s Cat Part 18
Well, I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is that I have only 2 more chapters to write in Victoria’s Cat, and I expect to have a cover reveal within the next 10 to 14 days. The bad news is that Victoria’s Cat won’t be released on June 2 as hoped. It is being pushed back to July 3. I am so sorry. The move put me behind, but I still had hope that I would make my deadline. I failed. My editor is being very gracious and has a slot for me in the second half of June. Again, I apologize for the delay.
These last few chapters move quickly. I tried to make them suspenseful, and that begins at the end of this chapter. I hope you’ll enjoy this. Ta-Da: Victoria’s Cat!
Colby gestured with the backpack he held. “Sit down, Miss Gina.”
Georgina Summer snatched the backpack away from him and held her back very straight as she strode past him to the bench. Many of the delegates nodded to her as she passed them, but luckily no one tried to touch her. By the set of Colby’s jaw, he was irritated by something. A stranger touching his mate would undoubtedly have set him off. Victoria made room on the bench for the younger woman, who sat with her denim-clad knees primly together, backpack on her lap, looking straight ahead without speaking. It looked like Colby wasn’t the only one irritated by something. Or someone. Victoria cast another sidelong glance at her cousin and saw a shadow of misery on Colby’s face before he hid it.
A man in a blue uniform opened the door to the platform. “We’re boarding now,” he called. “Ladies first.”
Hawk took Renee by the shoulders and gave her a light kiss. “I’ll see you soon, love.”
Victoria was fervently glad that Marty wasn’t staying behind. She hugged Rock and Hawk good bye, but when she turned to hug Colby he murmured, “I’m going on the train too. I’m not leaving my mate’s side.”
Victoria arched a pale brow. Colby, passing up a fight? Of course, he’d give up even more for a mate. The only women in the station were Victoria, Renee, Georgina Summer, and Anna McGrath. The men in the station held back while they went out to the platform and boarded the train. Victoria chose a seat in the middle of the first passenger car and slid her suitcase under it. It seated two. She and Marty could at least hold hands for the four or five hours of the journey to Kearney.
Renee and Anna took the seat across the aisle from her. Georgina Summer tossed a quick glance over her shoulder, and squeezed past Victoria to sit beside her.
“Hey!” said Victoria. “I’m saving that seat for—”
Miss Summer seized her arm and cut her off. “Please!” she hissed. “I don’t want him to sit next to me.”
“Him? Who, Colby?”
“I don’t like him. He scares me.”
Ouch. Victoria glanced toward the front of the train and saw Colby’s face contract with hurt and grief. He’d heard every whispered word just fine. Poor Cole. She turned back to the younger woman. “Has he hurt you?”
Georgina opened her mouth, scowled, and closed it. “No,” she admitted reluctantly.
The girl was honest. Victoria approved. She leaned close. “He won’t. He’s pushy and bossy, but he won’t hurt you.”
“Maybe not me, but he almost killed Lachlan last night!”
Victoria looked up and her gaze followed Colby and Marty as they walked past and settled in the seats right behind where she and Georgina sat. Colby’s face was carefully neutral except for his black eyebrows which were in a straight line over his eyes. Victoria arched a brow at her cousin before turning back to Georgina.
“Did Lachlan try to touch you?” Victoria inquired. “Or stop you from coming?”
Miss Summer watched Ray slide into a seat behind Anna and Renee. Other men walked down the aisle and took seats. Victoria thought she wouldn’t answer and wished Marty was beside her instead of behind her. After a few moments, the other woman spoke in a low voice.
“Lachlan thought I’d be safer if I hid in Omaha.”
A quiet sound came from the seat behind them, not quite a growl, not quite a sigh. “You’ll be safer with the Pack,” said Colby.
Georgina half-turned her head. “I’ve known Lachlan for months. He and Ceara have taken care of me like I was their sister. I’ve known you for what? Two days?” The words might have been sarcastic, but her tone was calmly reasonable. “Think about it. Why would I believe you over them?”
“Because you’re my mate.”
Victoria waited for her to explode, but she didn’t. She merely turned her head to the front and sat quietly with her hands folded over the backpack in her lap. Victoria raised a brow.
“So,” she asked conversationally. “Why did you come?”
Georgina didn’t look at her. “Because I didn’t want Lachlan to die.”
“I wouldn’t have killed him!”
Colby sounded more beseeching than angry. Miss Summer didn’t turn. “I’ll stay with your mom and your sister for a little while, and I’ll say thank you for the hospitality, but I am not looking for a husband.”
Colby muttered, “You don’t have to look. I’m right here.”
His mate sniffed and ignored him. The train started off with a jerk and a hiss. A tiny niggle of worry that Victoria hadn’t even been aware of seeped out of her. The train moved sluggishly at first, then built up speed. They were heading home. Victoria leaned over Miss Summer to look out the window. Yes, they were leaving the station now. She began to sit back when she saw two figures running along the platform. They leaped onto the train.
A moment later the door at the head of the car opened and two men rushed in, panting. Jon and Tanner Allersen. Victoria supposed, sourly, they weren’t staying to defend Omaha after all. The two young men started toward the back of the car. Beside her, Colby’s mate turned her face sharply away. She probably didn’t like the Allersen boys either. If they had done something to annoy her, Colby wouldn’t be happy. Or maybe he would be, since it would give him an excuse to fight.
Brother Saul boomed over the noise of the train. “Sit down, you rascals.” He lowered his voice to what he probably thought was a quiet tone but even human ears could hear him just fine. “Did you get it done?”
After a long minute, Miss Summer turned to Victoria. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. I am Georgina Summer.”
Victoria shook her hand and felt callouses on it. “Victoria Wo… I mean, Victoria Madison.” Her smile bloomed with wonder and pride. “I just got married last night.”
“Thanks. My friends call me Vic.”
“My friends call me Gina. Are you friends with, um.” Her voice trailed off as she appeared to search for a name. “Cody?”
“Colby,” he growled.
Gina’s face was completely sober except for a tremble at the corner of her mouth. “Right. Colby.”
Victoria looked at her with surprise and some approval. That was a smile hiding on Gina’s face. She was teasing Colby. “Yeah, we’re cousins. Our dads are cousins, so that makes us second cousins.” Victoria took pity on Colby. “He’s a good guy. I mean, yeah, he’s pushy like I said, but he’s a good guy. You should try to get to know him while you’re staying at the den. Aunt Carla won’t let him bother you.”
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” Gina said, obviously deciding to ignore the topic of Colby. “I guess I’ll try to get a little rest.”
She shifted her backpack against the window and laid her head on it. Victoria lifted a shoulder and looked over it at Colby, trying to convey that she had tried to sway his mate’s opinion in his favor. He nodded to her.
With no one to talk to and nothing to do, Victoria closed her eyes and let her head droop. The rocking of the train lulled her into a doze.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed before she woke to the scream of breaks. She and Gina were thrown forward into the seats in front of them as the train shrieked to a halt. Some of the passengers tumbled into the aisle, others stumbled to their feet. Marty reached over the back of her seat for her shoulders.
“Are you okay?”
Victoria rubbed her forehead. “Yeah, sure. What’s going on? An accident?”
Before he could answer, a dozen men in gray-green uniforms poured into the train, all grim-faced, marching in perfectly synchronized, pounding steps. They lined the center aisle, every other man facing the opposite direction, rifles pointed at the passengers. One man with a thin line of red down his sleeve stood at the head of the car and spoke in the ringing tones of authority.
“Everyone will remain in his seat,” he barked. “In the name of President Gerald Todd, this train is now the property of Kansas-Missouri. You are our prisoners. Anyone who attempts to resist will be shot.”