Man, she’d better be worth this trouble.
German scanned the occupants of the crowded dining room without trying to match the offensive scents to the individual. Better to ignore that particular talent, he figured, as it would only heighten the innate anxiety he felt when packed in with this many people.
Ten in all, without counting himself or the missing rogue.
He took a chair at the back corner of the long table, as much to protect his back as to keep a wary eye on everyone. This kind of elbow to elbow love-fest he’d never gotten used to. Unlike a bar or a restaurant, this was too personal. He wasn’t anonymous here. This tricky situation had his wolf pacing too close to his skin, making him edgy, which in turn made it hard to act normal. Well, act human, anyway.
The pixie-like woman who helped Charlie’s wife in the house sat down beside him, and hitched her chair up to the table with a few quick, screeching hops.
“There,” she chirruped, “that’s better.”
German burned holes in his plate with his stare, while the woman beside him flickered, fluttered, adjusted.
Great Luna, make her light somewhere.
“Anybody tell Sofia it’s dinnertime?” The voice belonged to one of the men German had seen half buried in the guts of an old Army truck. The mechanic.
“She won’t make it,” the pixie replied. “She came in a little while ago to say she was going to tedder the hayfield while she had the tractor up there. Which was really nice of her,” she twittered on, “you know, given how, well, you know it was nice considering. I mean, I don’t want to have to set the table for…”
The rest of her babbling went unheard by the wolf-man, who stopped listening after hearing the rogue wouldn’t be making it to the table. Confirmed. He continued to bore holes into his dinner plate, even though his eyes, as trained as they were on the decorative pattern in front of him, never missed the shadows the pixie threw every goddamned time she flitted her hands while she talked.
A wasted excursion into the belly of the beast. He’d get no opportunity to observe his quarry in a crowd, see how she handled herself with this motley group. Because if she’d been harmed by them, if they’d beaten down, or worn down, the wolf’s spirit in her blood…
German dropped the threat as his spine rustled heat. Instead, he recalled Sofia’s concrete stare, hoping that bit of evidence would settle him. He also found himself imagining the curl of red hair along her brow, which cooled nothing within him. It only confused him.
She’ll live because she’s my ticket to freedom, he reminded himself, then tried to pick up the thread of what the woman beside him was saying while he poked at the food on his plate.
The pixie had a mewling pitch to her voice, like a wounded kitten, and his body registered it with another flare of sparks up his spine. Christ. Homing in on her like she was prey certainly wasn’t helping. He narrowed his eyes as he chewed on the bloodless bird he’d stuffed in his jaws.
“That’s what I was saying, you know? I told Marlene if she wasn’t going to buy the red one then I would, and you know what she said to me, she goes…”
Oh, dearest Luna, please shut her up. German pulverized the flesh in his mouth as he eyed the others, then shoved his glass of water under his nose to help diffuse the scent of the yap-trap beside him. In his peripheral vision, he could make out her skinny arms gesticulating grandly, cutting out shapes in the air in front of her, and damned if it didn’t rivet his entire attention. He swallowed what was in his mouth and trained his eyes on the girl’s flapping hands.
And felt the burn in the muscles along his back.
The girl triggered his instincts, drew him toward her like a wounded animal, and the room around him sizzled into crisp focus. He felt his top fangs slide past his bottom ones.
German stepped back from the table so fast his chair flipped to the floor and his plate spilled peas. He bolted without so much as a thanks for the great food or an excuse to go powder his nose.
Nope. He had no time for the pleasantries. Shifting into a wolf at the dinner table would not be considered good table manners, so he took the former option and ran out of the house without apologies.
Keep tuning in for the next installment of Wolf-Love.