Ginny woke with a start. The room was way too quiet. The moonlight was coming in the window. “Damn! Patrick left the curtain open,” she thought. She rolled over to try and go back to sleep, but it wasn’t working. Ginny grabbed her crutches and headed for the bathroom. The clock on the desk said 4:28am.
“Should I stay up, or try and sleep,” she wondered as she headed back to bed. She climbed back in bed and tried to relax. They should be heading home tomorrow, but Ginny didn’t want to go back on crutches if she could help it. There was no way to live down her magnificent faceplant. She still had bruises and scratches around her face, and the ankle… There was no hiding that. Ginny snuggled down under the covers and tried to go to sleep.
“I’m giving up!” she thought. Tossing back the covers, she hobbled over to her clothes and threw on a skirt and teeshirt. Ginny grabbed the velcro strapped boot and got it on her foot. Settling onto her crutches, she headed down the hall. When she got to the stairs, she used the banister and one crutch to get to the first floor. Then she headed to the kitchen where she could smell Sam cooking breakfast.
“Do you think there might be a cup of coffee for me?” Ginny asked as she walked into the kitchen.
“Yes. Already poured you a cup,” said Sam. “I heard you thumping down the stairs.”
“Sam, you are a treasure,” said Ginny.
“Now don’t go getting any wild ideas. Have yer coffee, but crack that three dozen eggs inta that bowl,” said Sam pointing to the eggs and bowl.
Ginny sat down her coffee and pulled up a stool which she perched. A few minutes later, she was scrambling them for Sam who had the pan almost ready.
“I never realized you started cooking this early,” said Ginny as Sam took the eggs.
“Well, most times I just do the baking, but I figured you lot would be hungry. Rabbits just don’t fill up anyone,” said Sam.
That made Ginny laugh. It was true, and the guys would be hungry. She just wondered when they’d be back. She looked up at the clock. 5:28am.
“They’ll be back soon. Buster don’t like being out once dawn is here. I think he figgers he’ll scare folks away. Most of ’em that see him think he is just one big ol husky and don’t care,” said Sam.
“You’re probably right. Grammy always said to get home before dawn,” said Ginny.
There was a clatter on the back deck that startled both women. Sam walked over and peered out the window. “Yup, it’s them. I’d better get these eggs done,” she said and went back to the stove.
Ginny looked around to see if there was anything else to be done that she could manage. Finally, she just poured Patrick a cup of coffee. It was sitting waiting for him when he walked in the kitchen door with Buster about three minutes later.
“Ginny, what are you doing down here,” he said with a touch of a growl to his voice.
“Woke up and couldn’t sleep,” she said. “And don’t you go growling at me. Either one of you.”
“I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t come down the stairs by yourself,” said Patrick.
“I did just fine. No falls. So just quit,” said Ginny. “Bossy boots!” she thought.
“Alright,” said Patrick in a way that Ginny knew she had lost a battle. He picked up his coffee and sat next to Ginny.
Buster walked over to Sam, rubbed up against her leg and headed over towards the back door. She stopped scrambling eggs long enough to let him out. Buster went out and up into his backyard abode.
“You two had a good time?” asked Sam.
“Pretty good. Didn’t catch a damn thing, but we had a good run. We walked most of the way home,” said Patrick.
“He gonna last much longer?” asked Sam.
“I don’t know. Buster might last years or go tomorrow. He tried to shift at one point, because I think he wanted to talk, but he couldn’t,” said Patrick. “I had an uncle who went the same way. Over the years, he shifted back less and less until one day he just couldn’t.”
“Will he when he dies?” asked Sam.
“I have no idea. Once again, some do and some don’t. Even seen a few go the other way,” said Patrick.
“Me too,” said Ginny. She thought about her cousins that had died young and two of them were curled up nose to tail on their own beds.
“Well, here’s yer breakfasts,” said Sam as she put platters of eggs, bacon, sausages, fried potatoes and toast down in front of them. “I’m gonna take Buster’s out to him.” She walked out the door with a plate filled with eggs and sausages.
Ginny and Patrick dug into the food. Once the door was closed, Ginny turned to Patrick. “How long does he really have?” she asked.
“Hon, I’d be surprised if he makes it to tomorrow morning. We ran maybe two miles and it literally took us the rest of the night to walk back. If I’m guessing right, he’s close to 100 years old. Maybe older. Not in the best of health either. He has a smell about him when he pants. Not sure if it is just bad teeth or something else. I went to Buster’s room before we went out for a run and there are WWI & II medals in one box. There are some old black and white photos of him and a couple of people. All dressed in 1930’s style clothing,” said Patrick.
“How did you manage to go to his room?” asked Ginny.
“I just flat out asked Sam. I wanted to know who I was running with, and I was curious if I knew his family. I don’t. I didn’t pry much further, but it looks like it was Canada rather than Montana he was from,” said Patrick.
“Why do you say that?” asked Ginny.
“Because there was a maple leaf flag in a couple of pictures. People went back and forth all the time before 2001. Especially, where there was more forest than farms,” he finished.
“That’s true. My grammy came from up there. She was born in Alberta,” said Ginny. She finished the last of her toast and pushed her plate forward.
Patrick took both of their plates to the sink. He looked out the window and saw Sam sitting next to Buster as he ate. “She’s gonna miss him when he goes,” he said.
“Yeah. She was up worrying about him just like me,” said Ginny.
“Not worried about me?” Patrick teased.
“No, you can take care of yourself. Buster’s an old wolf. Besides, the bed was too damn empty,” said Ginny.
Patrick smiled and got them some more coffee. “So, how’s the head?” he asked.
“Better. No more ringing in my ears and my nose doesn’t feel like it is going to fall off if I sneeze. The ankle still feels like a wreck and hurts,” she finished up.
Sam came back in with an empty place and after putting it in the sink she pulled apple cinnamon muffins out of the oven. “Nearly forgot about these!” she said.
“That’s what I was smelling,” said Patrick. “Glad they didn’t burn.”
“Nope, and you can have one after it’s cooled,” Sam said popping them out onto a cooling rack. “Buster ate well. He’s sleeping now,” she said as she pulled another pan out of the oven.
“Good. I’m going to take Ginny back up to our room. You need any help?” asked Patrick.
“Nah, don’t forget to take two of those muffins,” said Sam as she popped two new pans of muffins into the oven.
Patrick took the muffins on a place and he and Ginny left the kitchen. When they got to the stairs, he stopped Ginny. After setting aside the crutches and muffins, he picked her up and carried her upstairs.
“You didn’t have to do that,” she said as he put her on the bed.
“No, but I wanted to. Back in a second with the crutches and muffins,” he said.
Ginny had barely had time to get comfortable, when Patrick came back into the room. He curled up on the bed with her and they ate their muffins.
“Peter, you need to sister that joint,” called George from across the basement.
“I see that, I need to measure it first though,” said Peter. He didn’t mind George supervising, but today he couldn’t move fast enough to please him. Cal was upstairs trimming up broken floor boards.
“Alright. Sorry, I’m just getting anxious. Ginny is due back soon and I want both houses done before she gets back,” said George.
“Do you think she’ll go for the idea?” asked Peter.
“I don’t know. Angie still hasn’t really gone for the idea either. She’s just hmmming and hawing. I’m just afraid that if I ever shift here, that I’ll go through the floor again,” said George.
“Don’t blame you one bit. No way to know that the floor joists were water damaged. Hell, that one over there might have gone with just Angie’s weight,” said Peter pointing to a repair over by the corner of the basement.
“Well, we’ll just have to hold our breaths and hope that both of them go for the idea of switching houses. It’ll give Ginny and Patrick a bit of privacy and I can keep an iron fist on the three pups,” said George.
“Those three are a handful,” Peter said. Sara is a one pup wrecking ball and Joe and Ivan do whatever she tells them too.”
“They sure do,” said George. He handed Peter the piece of lumber he’d just cut to sister the joint.
Angie came down the stairs a few minutes later. “Are you guys breaking for dinner?” she asked.
“Is it 5:30pm already?” asked Peter.
“Nearly 6pm,” said Angie.
“Hell! I’d better go. Lisa will be wondering where I am,” he said as he handed the hammer to George. He was up the stairs and out the door in less than a minute.
Angie watched him go and then turned to George. “What was all that about?” she asked.
“Lisa is more wolf than human. Human features, but the wolf is more in charge. It makes life difficult at times. She doesn’t cook well and if their daughter needs help with her homework, she has to wait for Peter,” he said.
“Oh, never thought of that. I know that Meg mentioned that some don’t survive shifting or never come back after the first time, but I never thought about someone being more wolf than human,” she said.
“It happens. Most of the ones I know have a really strong partner. Shifter too. Never known one that married a human. The ones that don’t, tend to fade back into the forest or the wilderness,” said George.
“Makes sense. Do you want to come up for dinner?” she asked.
“Yes! I’ve been smelling it and trying not to drool on the saw,” said George.
Angie laughed and they headed upstairs.
“Luc, I’m going to have to go shopping!” moaned Meg from the bathroom.
“Now? Today? Next week?” he asked as he poked his head in the door.
“I wanted to wait until Ginny got back, but I’m not sure I’m going to manage. I can’t zip any of my trousers or jeans. My bras don’t fit either,” she said as she took off a pair of blue jeans.
“Meg, I don’t care what you wear to work, as long as your comfortable,” said Luc.
Meg turned, and put her hands on her hips. “I appreciate that, but undies just isn’t going to cover it,” she said standing in nothing but bikini panties.
Luc laughed. “How about your black leggings, that teal blue tank top with the built in bra and one of my white linen shirts over the top?” he asked.
Meg thought about it for a moment and smiled. “Thank you!” she said as she went to find the clothes.
Luc smiled. Meg was getting big. Jeff kept reminding her that twins take up twice the room and need twice the nourishment, but it didn’t always sink in. Meg came around the corner wearing the outfit he’d suggested. She looked beautiful.
“Ready to head in?” he asked.
“Might as well. I have those two data bases to finish up, clients to bill and a phone to answer if today is anything like the rest of the week,” she said.
Luc nodded as they headed to the car. After a slow three weeks, business was ramping up. He couldn’t decide if it was linked to the weather or tax season or some totally random factor. When they got to the office, the phone was ringing and the answering machine showed five messages.
“I’ll deal with this until Kevin gets here,” said Meg who answered the call.
Luc nodded and headed for his office. His private line had eight messages. He started listening to those and writing down numbers and notes. Meg walked in five minutes later with her own list. He took it, read it and crossed three numbers off of his list.
“It is going to be busy today. Call Cal and Peter and have them come here first. They can head over to do the house work after lunch,” said Luc.
“Alright. Oh, and Angie said she’d be in today. I think she feels guilty for spending all the time with George,” said Meg.
“Women!” said Luc half joking as he rolled his eyes. He started making calls and shooed Meg out with his hand.
Meg went to her office. She got her packages ready to mail out and then settled in to work on the data bases. Working with Calc, she soon had data flying everywhere. She didn’t even notice Angie knock on the door.
“Hey! Did pregnancy make you deaf?” teased Angie as she walked into Meg’s office.
Meg looked up startled. “Oh! Angie! I didn’t hear you,” she said. She got up and hugged Angie, as she hadn’t seen her since George had fallen.
“Wow! That bump is pretty big for three months,” said Angie. “We going shopping soon?”
“Yes. As soon as Ginny gets home,” said Meg. “Then the three of us are leaving the guys to fend for themselves while we spend their money.”
“I like that idea,” said Angie.
“Figured you would. I can’t run around like this for six months,” said Meg referring to her outfit.
“It isn’t too bad. You look cute in Luc’s shirt,” said Angie.
“I may look cute, but I can’t wear this every day,” said Meg. “What’s in the bag?”
“Wondered when you were going to notice this,” said Angie. She held up a bag from the local bakery.
Meg took the bag and inside were three chocolate glazed doughnuts. “Angie, you are a saint,” she said.
“No, just smart. And before you ask, Kevin and Luc have theirs already,” she said holding up her own bag of pastries.
“Yummm!” said Meg pulling a doughnut out and biting into it. “Thish ish hebben.” Meg sat back down at her desk and Angie pulled up a chair. They both ate doughnuts until there was nothing left except sticky fingers.
“So, how are you enjoying George’s company?” Meg asked.
Angie just smiled.
“Oh no, you don’t get to just smile at me,” said Meg. “Spill the beans!”
“Okay. You told me enough about Luc when you two started dating. George is… um… very nice in bed,” she said with a smile.
“Not fair!” said Meg.
“George is sweet, gentle, considerate, attentive, and…” Angie paused. She looked to see if the door was closed, which it was. “While not hanging down to his knees, oh my god he’s got girth!” she said all in a rush.
Meg looked at Angie, who was gesturing with her hands. “And you can walk?” Meg asked.
“Amazingly, yes!” said Angie who broke into giggles. That got Meg laughing as well.
Luc stuck his head in the door, took one look at the women and retreated.
“What the hell are they laughing about?” asked Kevin as Luc headed for his office.
“Chocolate doughnuts, coffee and I suspect men were involved, but I’m not asking,” he said smiling.
“Nope! Not going there. Cal and Peter said they’d be here in fifteen minutes,” said Kevin.
“Good. I think we will need all the testosterone we can muster today,” Luc jested.