Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have M.A. Church here today on her At Sixes and Sevens tour. Welcome, M.A.
There was no way a mating between a werewolf and a werecat could work. All I was doing was delaying the inevitable. Obviously Carter felt the same way since he hadn’t bothered to call me in the week since that meeting. He certainly wasn’t pursuing me.
Growling, I stomped to the bedroom. Well, screw him. I needed to be mated to a werewolf like I needed a hole in the head. I snatched up my cell phone and promptly dropped the thing on the bed when it rang. Startled, I hissed at it. Shit. The ringtone continued to blare as I snatched it up. If I’d cracked the stupid screen, I was going to…. I blinked in surprise.
Speak of the devil—or in this case—the werewolf. Running my finger across the screen, I unlocked my cell. My heart pounded. If I answered this, I’d have to stop avoiding the situation. Was I ready? There’d be no going back. Did I really want to take this step? Did I have a choice?
I answered the damn phone. “Hello?”
I closed my eyes for a second, took a deep breath, and then opened them. Why did his voice have to be so low and rumbly? I shivered. “Speaking.”
“This is Carter Lovelock.”
Right away I noticed he omitted his title, but that didn’t surprise me. He had no way of knowing how secure my phone line was.
“Are you there?”
“What?” Jeez, what was I doing? “Yes, I’m here. Sorry about that. I was….” Okay, no, I was not going to tell him I was perving on his voice. “Anyway. What can I do for you?”
There was silence on the line. The temptation to bang my head against the nearest wall was great, but I resisted. Had I actually asked him what could I do for him? Could I possibly sound stuffier?
“I can think of several ways to answer that question, but maybe it would be better not to.”
“I’m sorry?” I cringed. In my mind I saw my cat with his paw over his eyes. Well, guess that answered the question of whether I could sound stuffier. Apparently I could.
“Ah, is this a bad time?”
Is there ever a good time to make an idiot of myself? “No, no, it’s not a bad time.”
“I see. Cat got your tongue, perhaps?”
Whatever nerves were plaguing me suddenly ignited, and with a whoosh, went up in a screaming mass of indignant flames. Abruptly I wanted to use Alpha Lovelock as a scratching post.
“You know, your kind is proof evolution can go in reverse.”
Now I understood exactly what the term “dead air” meant. I couldn’t believe I’d said that, but by damned, he deserved it. Cat got my tongue—seriously?
Finally Carter chuckled. “I guess I did ask for that, didn’t I?”
“I would say so.” I collapsed on the bed, knees weak. Conversing with this werewolf was like pushing a boulder. Uphill. During a monsoon.
“Hey, it got you talking to me, at least—even if it was to insult me,” Carter said. Then his voice turned serious. “You and I need to meet.”
“Yes, I suppose we do.”
“I’ll give you directions to my house and—”
“No.” He couldn’t be serious.
How much arrogance could a person cram into two words? “I’m not coming on your pac… your, ah… your place. No way.”
“You have my word you won’t be harmed.”
Whoop-de-freaking-do. “That’s nice and all, but I’m still not coming there.”
“Well, I can’t come to you without permission from your… from Dolf.”
That was definitely a no too. “I agree. That’s not a good idea either.”
Dolf and the rest of the betas were already too interested in my life. The nosy bunch of felines would probably hide in the surrounding trees if Carter came here. It wouldn’t be curiosity killing the cat; it’d be me.
“Then what do you suggest, because we do need to meet. I’m afraid I really must insist.”
I almost told him he could insist until he turned blue in the face, but I was trying to be civil. “I think somewhere neutral would be better.”
I hesitated. Private meant isolated, and isolated meant… well, isolated. Although I understood why he’d request that—we didn’t have to watch what we said if humans were not about—I didn’t know this Alpha. He was my mate and wasn’t supposed to be able to hurt me, but did I really want to put that to the test?
“I… fine. I will tell Dolf where I’m going to be, though.”
“You should. Temple and Shea will know where I am too.”
I’d forgotten all about his betas. “You’re coming alone, correct?”
“I… no. I can’t. You know that. Would you allow Dolf to go somewhere unescorted?”
Damn. He had a point. Alphas never went anywhere without at least one beta with them. Now what? “So you’re going to have one of them with you?”
“I’m afraid so. That’s nonnegotiable, and you know why.”
This was turning into a massive headache, and we hadn’t even laid eyes on each other yet. I growled softly. “I am not discussing anything of a personal nature with you as long as you have an extra set of ears listening in.”
“Which is why I suggested you come here. It’s easier.”
Of course it was—for them. I didn’t find anything about going there easy. The idea of being the lone cat surrounded by nothing but wolves was intimidating. In shifted form they were bigger and heavier than my cat, which was the size of a large Savannah.
While we could be arrogant, we had nothing on werewolves. Ha! Arrogant. The word described them perfectly, along with sarcastic, bossy, and vain. They acted as if the rest of us shifters should bow down to them.
If Carter came here, one of his betas would be with him. Plus they’d have to spend several nights, considering Carter’s pack land was several hours away. I was uncomfortable offering Carter my guest room, but I might’ve done it. But his beta too? Not happening. That was one werewolf too many.
Having two strange males—who were werewolves—under the same roof with me was more than I could handle. Not to mention I only had the one spare guest room, and I couldn’t see Temple and Carter sharing a bed.
My cat immediately growled his opinion on that. I’d probably fillet that sucker if he tried to get into bed with my mate… oh no. Banging my head against the nearest wall was looking better and better. I was getting possessive of Carter, which was a bad sign. A very, very bad sign.
“What?” I snapped.
“I’ve already given you my word nothing bad will happen to you here.”
“That’s supposed to reassure me?”
The growl that came across the phone line lifted the hair on the back of my neck.
“You question my word? My word? That’s an insult in so many ways I don’t know where to begin.”
By the goddess’s right paw, what was I thinking? “Okay. That was uncalled for, and I apologize, but you have to understand how uncomfortable this makes me.”
“Apology accepted. I do understand, and I promise you if any of my wolves lays a hand on you, they will regret it.”
Well, hell. He meant it. I heard the conviction in his voice and pinched the bridge of my nose. A voice in the back of my head whispered this was a disaster waiting to happen, but I couldn’t see a way around it.
It’d be easier for me to go there, even though the thought left me trembling. On the other hand, what better way to see if I could tolerate living among the wolves? Better to find out now before we mated, than later when there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.
“Fine. I’ll come there.” I clutched the phone as my stomach dropped to somewhere around my knees. “But understand this—the moment I feel threatened, I’m out of there.”
“Understood. If that happens, I want to know about it immediately, because you won’t feel that way for long, I promise you. Would you consent to staying for a couple of nights?”
Yep, the aforementioned headache just sank its claws into the base of my neck. “Might as well.”
“Thank you. I know this is difficult, but all I ask is that we sit down and discuss this like two rational adults.”
Then we were already screwed, because I’d never known a werewolf to be rational, but why throw that into the conversation? “Agreed. Send me your address so I can program it into the GPS.”
“I will. Is the snow awful down there?”
Oh yay. Small talk and the ever-safe topic of the weather. “No. Not really. The temperature is supposed to rise tomorrow. That’ll get it melting quickly.” Which sucked, but it was better for driving. “I need to talk with Dolf and square this with him so I can have the time off. I’ll probably leave tomorrow after lunch. Since it’ll be Sunday, the traffic shouldn’t be too bad.”
“Excellent. Send me a text so I know when you leave.”
Already with the demands. “How about you ask me to send you a text? I’m not Temple or Shea, even though I hold the same rank. And you’re not my Alp… well. You know. You might want to remember that.”
“But I do hold the same rank as Dolf. You might want to remember that.”
I gritted my teeth. We were already off to a rip-roaring start. “While I am perfectly willing to give you the respect your rank deserves, I kiss nobody’s ass. If you want me to do something, ask instead of demand. I’m your mate, not your beta.” I cursed softly for my slip of the tongue.
“You’re right. I….” Carter sighed. “Will you send me a text before you leave?”
That was better. A firm believer in starting out how I meant to go on, I answered him in the perkiest voice I could muster. “Sure. I can do that.”
“I’ll see you when you get here. Have a good evening. Good night.”
“You too. Good night.” On that cheerful note, I ended the call and slipped my cell back into my jeans pocket.
If we didn’t kill each other within the first hour, it’d be a miracle.