Vivien sat at her computer. She was trying to decide if she should just dump the whole data base or hang on to it. All that work. All those days spent taking notes for nothing. All those false assumptions. She wondered how many more of them were false. She’d finished her last book review for the paper knowing that her heart just wasn’t in it.
She knew for certain that there was at least one shifter in the world and that there were probably others. She also realized that it would do no good to say anything to anyone. The phone call the other night to her buddy proved that succinctly. Andrew was right. She could sound off to the world, and all they would do is label her crazy. It was perfect protection. Well, nearly perfect.
Then there was that second consideration. That kiss. She must have stood there in the parking lot for five minutes. He’d smelled so good. Tasted good and oh the feelings that rushed through her when he pulled her up against him. Her fantasies had been rather predictable for the last week. She shut off her computer without deleting the data base. She just couldn’t do it yet. She put on her sweater, grabbed her handbag and went for a drive. She thought about heading over to the mall, but it was too late in the evening. She turned into the parking lot of the burger joint. She wasn’t really hungry, but it was someplace to go.
Andrew had been smiling most of the week. Becky just shook her head at him. He had the Frisbee up on the wall above his tools. He was humming softly under his breath.
“I can’t believe you shifted for her and played Frisbee in the park!” teased Becky.
“You’re just jealous you didn’t think of it first,” he teased her back.
“That… that would be like playing catch with my grandpa!” said Becky. She was in her early twenties and thought of Andrew as an uncle or really older brother. She had a bit of trouble thinking of him as being playful or silly. “Besides, what would Luc or Ginny think?”
“What would I think about what?” Luc asked as he stuck his head into the back of the shop.
Becky screamed. Luc and Andrew laughed.
“What can I do for you Luc?” Andrew asked when the laughter died down.
“Well, I need a couple of bracelets with bells. Linsey and Elliot are all over the place and I figured it would be easier if we belled them,” said Luc.
“Sounds good. I’ll have something beginning of next week,” said Andrew. He wrote down a few notes and saw that Luc was staring at the Frisbee.
“Andrew, where did you get that?” he asked as he picked it up and noticed the fang marks.
“Umm… I was in the park and a couple of teens were tossing it about and I just wanted to play,” said Andrew trying to be nonchalant. Part of him wished the wolf hadn’t bitten the toy. The other part smiled, because it showed that it really happened.
Luc looked at his friend. “There’s a story here. Tell me over dinner?”
“Bingo Burger?” asked Andrew looking up at the clock.
“Sure. Tell Becky you’re leaving early,” said Luc.
Andrew put the Frisbee back over his desk and called out to Becky that he was leaving.
“Again?” she asked.
“Yes. With Luc,” answered Andrew.
Becky waved him off, shaking her head.
“What did she mean by again? You never leave early unless it’s for family,” said Luc.
“I’ll tell you over supper,” Andrew said. They headed out the door and the two men drove their cars over to the burger shop.
When they got there, Andrew smelled something familiar. “Shit!” He walked quickly over to Luc to talk with him before they went in. Luc was on the phone to Meg, letting her know where he was and how long he’d be.
“Luc, I need to talk with you for a few minutes before we go in,” said Andrew.
“Why? What’s so important it can’t wait for five minutes?” asked a puzzled Luc.
“It’s about Vivien. She’s here. She’s who I was with in the park…” he started to explain to Luc.
Luc punched the side of his Subaru when Andrew explained that she worked for the papers and how she’d been stalking people she thought were shifters. Andrew grabbed Luc by the shoulders and shock him.
“Luc, be rational. She’s not going to hurt your pups or Meg. I wouldn’t have talked to her if I didn’t trust her on some level,” Andrew said still holding tight to Luc.
“And is there anything else I should know,” Luc said through gritted teeth.
“Yes. I. Like. Her. I want to maybe see her and maybe date her. It’s been a long time since Ginny. With Ginny and Patrick mated, I need to move on,” Andrew admitted as much to Luc as to himself.
Luc took a deep breath. “Fine. You trust her. If she screws up, so help me…” he growled.
“If she screws up, you won’t have to do a thing,” said Andrew letting his eyes bleed a bit yellower than normal.
Luc nodded. Andrew let go of him and the two men shook their muscles loose. Both were slightly shifted and neither wanted to scare anyone inadvertently. They walked across the parking lot and into the cafe.
Luc placed their order and paid for it while Andrew scanned the crowd. He could smell Vivien, but couldn’t see her. A man stood up and there she was. “Be right back,” he said to Luc and moved towards Vivien before she saw him. He came up behind her and then slid into the seat in front of her.
“Hello Vivien,” he said with a smile.
“Oh Jesus! You startled me!” she gasped.
“We came in for dinner and I realized you were here and came over to say hello,” said Andrew. “I’ve been meaning to get ahold of you and realized I never got your phone number. You haven’t been in for ice cream lately either.”
“We? Who? Um…Oh, no I haven’t. Okay,” said Vivien. “Once again, great conversation here girlfriend!” she berated herself.
“Andrew, can you scoot over, I’ve got our food,” said Luc as he tried to squeeze in next to Andrew. Andrew scooted over and smiled as Luc sat down in front of Vivien.
“Vivien, this is Luc Moreau. Luc, this is Vivien Sopris. She’s the woman I’ve been telling you about. The one with the Frisbee,” said Andrew. He understood the power play and was okay with it for now.
“Nice to meet you Vivien. Always good to meet someone who’s taken Andrew’s interest,” Luc said with a smile and just a touch of sub-vocals.
“Nnice to meet you Luc,” said Vivien. “Oh Shit! Oh Shit!”
“I hope you don’t mind that we joined your table,” said Luc. He could smell the panic and wasn’t too unhappy about that. He knew that Andrew might take it out on him later, but it was worth testing the woman.
“No, I… um. No. Not at all,” she said. She took a deep breath and promised herself to make Andrew pay for this later. After she found out just how serious he was about seeing her.
“I wanted to meet the woman who caught Andrew’s attentions,” said Luc.
“Luc’s family and ours have been friends for years,” said Andrew around bites of burger.
“Oh. I didn’t know that,” said Vivien. “What the hell is going on?”
“Andrew told me how you two met and your trip to the park,” said Luc.
“Yyes, Did you show him your trophy?” asked Vivien who felt like crawling under the table to get away from Luc.
“Trophy? Oh! The Frisbee,” said Luc. “Yes, I saw it. I realized I’ve never played Frisbee shifted either.”
The thought of super serious Luc playing Frisbee made Vivien snicker. His tone had changed in a flash and she couldn’t help herself. Then she laughed. “Oh no! Not you too!” she giggled.
Andrew nodded. Luc smiled. The tension at the table lightened ever so slightly.
“Am… am I going to have to go to the park again?” she asked. “Or just buy you your own Frisbee?”
Andrew and Luc looked at each other. Each man tilted their heads to one side and then Luc nodded. Vivien looked at the two men trying to figure out what just happened. She had been certain that Luc didn’t like her when they sat down. She had that whole feeling of being growled at without the growl. Then something had changed.
“Um… guys?” Vivien said as the silence got a little intense.
“Vivien, what are you doing on Saturday?” Luc asked.
“I… Laundry I guess,” she answered a little unsure of where this was going.
“Well, we’re having a picnic up at Jeff’s ranch. I figure if you’re going to be seeing Andrew, you might as well meet some of the family. Would you like to come?” Luc asked.
“Umm…” she stuttered. “Yes, I’d be delighted.” “Andrew, you are so going to have to explain yourself!”
“Good,” said Luc and dug into his food.
Luc said his goodbyes soon after his food was gone and left Andrew and Vivien to talk. Partially so that Andrew wouldn’t try to thump him for playing dominance games and partially because he couldn’t wait to call Meg from the car and let her know that Andrew had a girlfriend.
“What in the hell was that all about?” Vivien whispered at Andrew after the door shut behind Luc.
“He dropped by the shop today and asked me out to dinner. We love this place, and I didn’t know you were here until I got out of the car and scented you. So, I had to tell Luc all about things in less than five minutes in the parking lot,” said Andrew.
“Okay. Fine. Now what in the hell was it that made me feel like I should roll over and show my belly every time he spoke for at least the first fifteen minutes?” she asked.
“Subvocals. It’s what all Alphas, family heads, parents use on anyone they are in charge of or think they should dominate. He was still a little angry when we came in,” said Andrew.
“Oh? He’s pissy because you told someone?” asked Vivien wishing she could use sub-vocals.
“He’s angry because he’s the family head. CEO of Alpha Wolf Tech, and has two pups to protect after a long hassling court case which involved a paper you work for. Yes, he was questioning my judgment. He was also testing you. Seeing if you were a loony,” said Andrew with more than a touch of sub-vocals.
“Stop growling at me! Did I pass? Is that why I got invited to that picnic? Or is it a way to make me disappear?” asked Vivien trying to make the goosebumps on her arms go down.
“Sorry about the sub-vocals. And yes you passed. You got invited to that picnic because he trusts me and is willing to give you a chance. And while he’s the leader of this family, I’m the spiritual leader. He has to trust my judgment sometimes too,” said Andrew.
Vivien sat there just a little shell shocked. She took a sip of her drink and thought for a moment. Then it dawned on her just exactly what this meant. “You… you want to date me?” she asked.
“Yes. I didn’t have your number. While I could have called your work or ‘nosed’ you out, I wanted to see you. You knew where to find me, but I wasn’t so privileged,” he said taking her hand in his and kissing her fingertips.
Vivien blushed to the roots of her fiery red hair.
Out in the parking lot, they exchanged phone numbers and addresses. Andrew got directions to her house and told her he’d be there by 9am on Saturday.
“What should I bring?” she asked trying to figure out what kind of food she should make.
“Well, anything except chocolate. Salads, chips, casseroles or any kind of thing you’d like,” said Andrew as he wrapped his arms around her. He was happy when she didn’t flinch. While not small, she fit under his chin nicely. He kissed the top of her head.
“Ohhkay,” she said softly as she inhaled his scent as she wrapped her own arms around him.
“Oh, and we have to stop at the sports shop,” Andrew added.
“What for?” Vivien asked.
“For Frisbees of course!” he said.