Andrew pulled up along the dozen or so other Subarus and Land Rovers. He took a quick sniff of the breeze. “Not too much testosterone or other scents. Here’s hoping Luc was able to settle things down,” he thought.
Vivien got out of the car, put on her hat which didn’t want to stay on her head and grabbed the taco salad. Andrew had the chips and two gallon jugs of iced tea. The bag from the sports store stayed in the car for the moment. They walked over to where the food was being placed on long tables. Then he took Vivien by the arm and began escorting her around the picnic area. He wanted to make sure all ‘confrontations’ were under his control.
“Luc!” he called out as they got near the one tree where people were gathered.
“Hello Andrew. Nice to meet you again Vivien,” said Luc.
“Hhi,” said Vivien. She looked around and found most people were curious, but not openly hostile.
“This is my wife Meg and our children, Elliot and Linsey,” said Luc.
“Nice to meet you Meg,” said Vivien. She cooed at the babies and shook Meg’s hand.
“Good to meet you. Luc told me a bit about you and Andrew. He was right though, you have the reddest hair I’ve ever seen,” said Meg with a smile.
“I keep thinking of chopping it off and dying it, but it would only grow back,” said Vivien. Curls had escaped the braid and she was fairly certain that there were ringlets all around her face.
“Oh, I wouldn’t. It’s beautiful,” said Meg. “Hmmm, not so bad after all.”
While they were chatting, Patrick walked up with Ginny. They went up to Andrew first.
“Hello Andrew,” said Ginny with a slight growl.
“Hello Ginny,” Andrew said giving her a hug and kiss. “Give her a chance, please.”
“Why?” she said.
“Because Luc demanded it, and so do I,” Patrick growled with enough sub-vocals to rattle windows.
“She’s a reporter,” Ginny hissed.
“You know, you’re sounding very much like your many great grandma Celia who was such a bitch she turned away the love and affection of her own grandson’s wives just because they were human. She never gave them a chance. You have an opportunity to do just that. Or is the real reason jealousy?” asked Andrew.
Ginny said nothing for a few moments. She looked over at Meg and Vivien who were talking. Meg was relaxed and Linsey was trying to grab Vivien’s braid. She looked back at Andrew and took a deep breath. “Okay. I’m nervous about the reporter thing. And…I am a bit jealous. If she can make you happy, that’s something I couldn’t do, and it hurts. And yes, I’m still not over you in some ways,” she said.
Andrew wrapped Ginny in his arms. “It’s okay. Now you know how I felt the day Patrick came into your life. Instead of being sour about it, I had to trust that he would love you even half as much as I still do,” he said softly.
Ginny looked up at Andrew with astonishment. “You… did? Do? Oh…” she said. “Andrew, I’m so sorry.” She crumpled a bit against him.
“All I ask is that you give her a chance. She’s scared of you. Scared of not being accepted and doesn’t know what to do either,” he said.
“Okay, I’ll give her a chance,” said Ginny. She reached up, kissed Andrew and then let go. Then she wrapped her arm around Patrick.
“Let’s go over and meet this mystery woman,” said Patrick. “And thank you Andrew. I know we talked, but thank you again.”
“Any time. You just keep her safe. She doesn’t know when to slow down sometimes,” Andrew said with a smile. The three of them walked over to Meg and Vivien. Andrew wrapped an arm around Vivien, turning her towards Ginny and Patrick. He waved at Meg and smiled at the two babies.
“Vivien, I’d like you to meet Ginny and Patrick,” he said.
Vivien trembled a bit. She’d felt the sub-vocals behind her and still had goosebumps. Patrick was taller than Andrew and more imposing up close. Ginny was actually shorter than she was which was a surprise. “Hi,” she said. “Gahhh! So lame!”
“We were surprised to hear that Andrew had a date,” said Patrick holding out his hand to shake Vivien’s.
“I’ve sort of gathered that he was the last bachelor,” said Vivien.
“You could say that,” said Ginny. “So, how did you two meet?”
“Over ice cream,” said Andrew giving Vivien an out.
“Ice cream? You don’t eat ice cream,” said Ginny.
“No, but the shop across from the Silver Lode started carrying sorbet. I got some and needed a place to sit. We shared a table,” he said.
“Ah,” said Ginny.
“And we talked about the book I was reading and work. I explained that I was curious about a court case that I’d watched a few months ago,” said Vivien. “Might as well as get rid of the Elephant in the room.”
“So you were curious about werewolves?” asked Ginny a little harsher than she should have. Patrick grabbed her elbow in a none too gentle grip.
“Yes. Between half a dozen authors, TV programs and enough mythology to choke a horse, I was curious. And in conversation with Andrew, I’ve discovered that a good 85% of what is written is bunk. Oh, and that most people won’t believe you even if you shout it from the rooftops,” she said. “Enough so that I may not have a job by Monday.”
Ginny blinked at this admission. She’d figured that Vivien would hide who she worked for and lie about things. “Oh. I’m… I’m sorry about that. About you losing your job,” she said honestly.
“Yeah. Found out yesterday. Unless I can come up with an interesting beat, I’m out,” said Vivien. “It’s partially why I was looking at werewolves. Trying to figure out what the fascination and appeal was that has generated such a revenue stream for writers and such,” said Vivien.
“Well, even if you do lose your job, I hope you’ve found a new friend,” said Patrick.
“Um, yes. I think I have,” said Vivien. Andrew hugged her close.
“Food’s ready!” shouted Sandy. He and Jesse were in charge of the barbecue grill with Jeff lending a hand. People gathered around and helped themselves to steaks, burgers, sausages or chicken. Then the salads and chips. Sandy smiled at Vivien and loaded up her plate.
“I… I don’t think I can eat that much,” she said.
“Oh don’t worry, Andrew will help you,” said Jesse. He smiled and ladled barbecue sauce over the burger and handed her plate back.
Vivien walked back over to where Luc, Meg, Ginny and others sat. She perched on a corner of the bench and waited for Andrew who was talking to a huge man who’d just arrived. They walked over with Andrew.
“Vivien, I want you to meet George and Angie,” said Andrew.
“Nice to meet you,” she said as George’s hand engulfed hers. “Oh damn he’s big!”
“Nice to see that Andrew finally came to his senses,” laughed George.
“Hi, I’m Angie. They’d forget all about us women if we didn’t feed them,” said Angie. “George, go get us some food!” George nodded and headed off to the tables.
“Hi Angie. Nice to meet you too,” said Vivien.
The next hour was spent meeting people, eating and cracking jokes about food, people and bad habits. Vivien was finally beginning to relax when one of the cooks stood up and started talking.
“I hope everyone has had enough to eat. If you haven’t, there is more up here! Now, before we get to the fun, keep in mind that there are shade areas off to the left and plenty of baskets in the tent. If you lose your shoes or wallet, don’t come crying to me!” said Jeff.
Andrew had gone over to the car just as Jeff had started talking and brought the bag from the store over to Vivien and handed it to her.
“I… I don’t want to do..” she started.
“Yes, you can. Believe me,” he said with a smile.
Vivien just held the bag, not knowing how this was going to unfold.
“And now Andrew and his girlfriend Vivien said that they had a treat for us. All yours Andrew,” said Jeff.
Andrew stood up. “Now, some of you have met Vivien. What we didn’t tell you is that on our first um… date, we had a little adventure in a local park,” he said. There were giggles from some in the audience.
“Now, it isn’t what you think. There were some teens playing and I…um… well… sort of took something,” he said. He took Vivien’s hand and pulled her up next to him. “I realized that I’d never played with one of these as a wolf, and figured that it was just me,” he said.
“You always were weird Andrew! Get on with it!” hollered Cal.
“So, After talking to Luc, I discovered that I was wrong. Most of us have not played with these as often as the average man. Therefore, Vivien and I brought some to share,” he finished and put the bag up on the table. “Get out one,” he whispered to Vivien.
Blushing, Vivien got out a bright red Frisbee. As she held it up with a little assistance from Andrew, there were giggles and then silence. The silence was followed by giggles, hurrays and clapping.
“Toss it here!” hollered one man.
“No! Here!” said another. Shouts went up all over the area.
Vivien looked at Andrew.
“Toss it, and get ready to toss them all,” he said as he started to walk towards a sun shelter.
“Where are you going?” she asked.
“To undress! I want to play!” he said.
Vivien then realized that others were doing the same thing or were just undressing where they stood. It was difficult to know where to look. She shook her head and tossed the first one towards Luc.
Luc saw it and ran up the picnic table and started shifting midair. He caught it in his jaws and landed heavily. The grin on his face was hilarious. He gave it to Meg, stripped off his torn shirt and shorts and then finished shifting. Meg threw it towards him and watched him catch it on the run.
Vivien just shook her head. She threw another one and another. Wolves were catching them and then racing up to a person to have it thrown again.
“Let me give you a hand,” said Angie with a smile on her face. She grabbed one and threw it at a huge shaggy wolf. He caught it and began to lumber towards her. “That’s George by the way,” she said grabbing it and tossing it again.
Vivien laughed for the first time today and tossed one at the wolf she thought was Andrew. He caught it and headed her way. A few other women came up and helped throw Frisbees. The picnic grounds had turned into a riot of wolves, Frisbees and laughing children. The children were throwing the Frisbees randomly and wolves were diving for them. When the last of the Frisbees had left the sack, Vivien grabbed the tubes of tennis balls. She grabbed one and tried to figure out where to toss it when a huge wolf ran up to her and crouched down in front of her waiting. Vivien blinked, realized it was Andrew and threw it. He ran off after it. In a few minutes, all the tennis balls were gone too.
Vivien sat watching the wolves, children and various adults who hadn’t shifted toss and catch the Frisbees and balls. She couldn’t believe how happy everyone was with a bunch of toys. Then again parks are full of people playing football, baseball and Frisbee golf, so why should werewolves be any different? Angie sat back down next to her exhausted from tossing the Frisbee for George.
“You’d think he’d never played with one of the damn things!” Angie said.
“From what I understand, most of them haven’t as wolves. Kids yes, but not wolves,” said Vivien.
“The things you’d never think of,” said Angie. “Then again, I though if I got bit, I’d change into one.”
“Me too,” said Vivian. “All sorts of misconceptions.”
“Yes, a lot of them. Granted, the first time I saw one shift, I about fainted. I didn’t believe Meg and poor Kevin shifted in his clothes. Got his belt and underwear all tangled in his legs,” said Angie laughing at the memory.
“What?” said Vivien.
Angie explained. By the end of the story, both women were laughing. Vivien told her about Andrew and the kids in the park. Once again, there were giggles. The two of them looked around and saw that some of the wolves had learned to toss the Frisbees with their mouths. Others were playing some sort of game with the tennis balls.
“Do you think they will stop before dark?” asked Vivien.
“Yes, unless they glow in the dark,” said Angie.
A sleek dark wolf ran up to Vivien and dropped a rather well chewed Frisbee in her lap. Vivien looked at Angie.
“Toss it!” Angie said.
Vivien tossed the Frisbee and the wolf shot out after it. “Who was that?” she asked Angie.
“That was Ginny. I think you are forgiven,” said Angie.
“Yes. You caused a real stir and Ginny was leading the dissension. You have to understand that she and Andrew were lovers at one point,” said Angie leaving the obvious unsaid just as the wolf came back.
Vivien threw the Frisbee again and turned back to Angie. “So, she didn’t want me here because she was jealous or because of being a reporter?” Vivien asked trying to figure thing out.
“Openly, being a reporter. Privately, I think she wanted to make sure you were good enough for Andrew. Her bringing you the Frisbee to toss is an apology of sorts,” said Angie.
“Oh. Was she gruff the first time you met her?” asked Vivien.
“Yeah. I was invading her office space. And she was my boss. Just give her time,” said Angie.
“I will,” said Vivien as the wolf came up a third time. She tossed the Frisbee as hard as she could.