Bit of a long chapter. Enjoy!
Zach was getting the kids up for school when the two of them stumbled out of the bedroom. Eric was still a bit unsteady on his feet, but moving much better than last night. Kate looked tired, but more relaxed than last night.
“Morning Mom. Eric. How are you feeling?”
“Better,” Eric replied with a yawn. “Just needed to sleep.”
“Sleep’s good. Are you going to shower?”
“Yeah, as soon as we can.”
“Ok, the kids will be out the door in a few minutes. Bess’ mom is picking them up this morning,” Zach said.
“That’s good,” Kate replied. “There is no way I want to drive this morning.”
“You get to take me to work later. Driving yesterday was the pits. My hand and the shift knob do not like each other.”
“Oh. I forgot about that. Shower time now!” she said as she moved them towards the bathroom. Zach just smiled and went to go marshal the kids out the door.
After the shower, Kate took a good look at Eric’s hand. It looked more like the injury was three or four days old and not less than 24 hours old. “You do heal fast.”
“I know. Some days I feel like one of the X-men. Just close enough to human and a whole lot different.”
“Well, you are.”
“Yeah, but from the sounds of it, you are more like me, than like the rest of the population.”
“You lost me there.”
“Kate, you are demonstrating many things that I only have seen in family before now. So, you are more like me than like Suzanne or Margaret, etc.”
“Aren’t these things just empathy and healing just a little more intense than normal because of our relationship? What with both of us being healers and empaths?”
” I have to admit, that I am beginning to wonder. Some of this, yes. I could honestly look at you and say it is just empathy. Just healer stuff, and due to the fact that we are lovers. However, there are things that I’m noticing that make me wonder.”
“What do you mean?” She was beginning to be both nervous and agitated at the same time. She wondered what Eric dancing around and not saying.
Eric took a deep breath. “It’s been talked about by my cousin and myself about how a person with certain talents can bring on latent talents in others. Like a healer can often spark the healing talent in someone who just hadn’t had that part of them wake up yet.”
“Ok, so how does that apply to me?”
“Well, we are both healers. Empaths. Yet both of our talents seem to have gotten stronger in the last few months. Look how well we pick up on each other’s injuries.”
Kate nodded. This made sense. “Is there anything else you are thinking of?”
Eric nodded. “I’m wondering if you or Zach aren’t latent shifters. He’s had dreams, and I swear that you ‘smell’ right. I’m just not sure.”
Kate looked at Eric. She thought about what he had said, and realized that she couldn’t refute it. “You know, you might be right. Or, it might be that because we have such a connection that some things just flow in a way they normally wouldn’t.”
“Agreed. Will you keep track of dreams and such? I know you went into the same type of healing trance I did last night. Not sure if it was just because of me or what, but you did.”
” I know. It wasn’t a normal sleep, and to be honest, I feel really good. A bit groggy, but good. Will I do this every time you or I are ill? The healing trance thing?”
“Probably. We will just have to wait and see.”
“Ok, and yes, I’ll keep track of my dreams,” she said almost as an afterthought.
The school holidays hit faster than Kate expected. Samhain was barely over before Thanksgiving hit and next thing she knew, it was time for the holiday program at school. Jamie was to be a goose and Mark a drummer. The school was doing a modified version of the Nutcracker. It always amazed Kate at how well all of the teachers did to integrate the whole school into one production. She knew it helped that there were only 120 kids in the school.
Kate had finished the children’s costumes and had done a final fitting. She packed the stuff into their school bags as there was a dress rehearsal this afternoon. Tonight was the big show. Kate hoped that it wouldn’t snow. Almost every evening program she had ever gone to at the school had had some sort of bad weather. Snow, rain, or even hail. The last few programs had had decent weather, so she and everyone else was waiting for the weather forecast. So far it said clear, but no one ever really trusted it.
Eric came racing through the door into the kitchen. He was running late, which was unusual for him.
“Love you! Gotta go!” He kissed the top of Kate’s head in passing.
“Don’t forget that the program is tonight!” she hollered after him. She’d call him later in the day as she was pretty sure he hadn’t heard. His mind was preoccupied of late with a computer project at work. The hospital administration department had finally listened when he suggested an upgrade to their system. Today was the board meeting where he’d present his ideas. Nervous didn’t even cover it, although he tried to hide it.
She could sense that he was uptight in a way she wouldn’t have expected even three weeks ago. Between more frequent healing trances and some very intense dreams, there were days Kate wasn’t sure who’s pains were who’s. It was almost a joke with the aspirin or herbal teas as to whether it mattered who took it since both would feel better once one of them had taken something. Zach chalked it up to them just being weird. Then Kate had a migraine and couldn’t keep anything down. Eric took aspirin, curled up with her and about six hours later, she was up and fine. Normally it would take nearly twenty-four hours for her to get over a migraine. That had changed Zach’s mind about things just a bit.
Kate took stock of what needed to be packed and called the kids to head out to the car. There were some mornings that it was an endless stream of forgotten items and delays. Today was one of those mornings. Mark couldn’t keep it together. He must have forgotten everything twice. Even Jamie was in a dither. Kate was just glad that today was the last day of school as well as the program.
After dropping the kids off, Kate went to work. The shelter was jammed as the holiday season approached. It happened every year, and this one was no exception.
“Hello Suzanne!” Kate said as she breezed through the door.
“Good morning to you! What kind of a count do we have on the shelter this week?”
“I have no idea. Let me get the stats up and I’ll bring them in to you in a few minutes.”
“Ok. Oh. Let Eric know that I’m taking his computer idea seriously. I don’t know if I’ll have the budget for it before Spring, but I do like the ideas he gave me.”
“I will. He’s presenting almost the same plan to the hospital board this morning. Oh was he nervous.” Kate turned her computer on.
“I bet. That bunch is so tight with a penny!”
“They certainly are! I’m just glad that Eric has a job out there and that they might listen to what he has to say.”
“You never know. One of them might actually have a brain.” Suzanne smiled as she headed back to her office.
Kate smiled too as she started pulling up information in her database. Fifteen minutes later, she kicked the data to the printer and headed out of the office to see who was making a racket in the hall.
A small family stood in the front entrance. The teen age girl was making the noise. She was whining about being at the shelter.
“But Mom, can’t we go to Aunt Carol’s?” she whined.
“No. They don’t want us. We will just be here a few nights and then we will move one. Just shut up.” The mom sounded harried.
Kate moved forward and introduced herself. Suzanne looked like she was ready to duct tape the teen to a chair just to make her shut up.
“Hello, I’m Kate. What can we do to help you?” She started into her chat she’d used a hundred times before. She deftly steered them into a small alcove and got things rolling. The family followed and the teen actually started to quiet down.
Kate was just getting back to her office when she noticed the time. It was 5:45pm. Eric was going to be here any second. Gathering her stuff, she started to lock down her computer and turn off the lights when she bumped into Eric.
“Whoa! Where’d you come from?”
“The parking lot.” He grabbed some of the stuff in her hands so that she could get her coat on. He leaned forward and sniffed her neck. “You smell good.” He sniffed again.
Kate pulled back a bit. “We don’t have time for this dear. And I don’t know why I’d smell good. I didn’t even put perfume on this morning. Not even sure if I got deodorant.”
“Well, you smell really good to me.”His voice going just a bit husky this time.
“Eric, I don’t know what’s come over you, but we don’t have time for this. We have the children’s program to go to.” Kate headed out the door.
They almost were to the back door when Eric’s head turned. He stopped, sniffed and then looked back to Kate.
“We need to get moving now.” There was an urgency in his voice that wasn’t there a few moments before.
“What now? You were ready to have me in the office five minutes ago, and now you’re pushing me out the door. I don’t understand.”
“I’ll explain outside. Let’s get going.” They were out the door in record time.
In the car, Kate turned to Eric who was sitting in the passenger seat with the window rolled down.
“Isn’t it a bit cold for that?” She gesturing towards the open window.
“Yes, but I’m trying to clear my nose and my brain.”
“Would you please explain what the heck is going on?”
“There was a shifter there at the shelter. A young one, in heat. That’s what was making me so… so amorous. It’s why I just about took you in your office. The whole shelter is flooded with pheromones. Who did you check in today?”
“Ummm, five or six people. One family.” She thought for a moment. “Oh… the whining teen.”
“About sixteen? Athletic build?”
“Yes. And she was complaining right and left about not being able to go to some relative. The mom was really uncomfortable. I had the feeling that they wouldn’t stay as long as they said. In fact, I’ll be surprised if they are there in the morning.”
Eric shook his head. “No, they’ll be there in the morning. I’d guess the mom is a shifter and probably trying to keep the girl under control. Some relative either tried to take the girl, or knew what was going on and kicked them out before there was trouble.”
“Kate, some people are not as ethical as I am. And when something smells that good, most men don’t think with the brain on their shoulders.”
“Oh, oh gods!” She gave Eric a look that showed that she’d taken the whole situation in. “That poor woman. That poor girl.”
“Not poor girl. She’s probably the reason they are on the road in the first place. Unless you have a good family support unit, or one hell of a mom, most girls end up with a reputation if you know what I mean.”
“Eric! That isn’t very charitable.”
“No. Just the truth. Hell, If I’d stayed in there a bit longer, I’d have been up those stairs in about ten seconds. She was in the room to the left of the one we were in when we first got here.”
Kate just blinked. He was right about the location of the family. “Well, what do we do? Just leave them alone? Fumigate the shelter? Offer them some alternative aid?”
“Just let them be. If mom is a shifter, she’s doing the best she can, and knows by now that another male was in the building. If she wants to talk, she’ll find us.”
“Do I have to worry about you heading out the back door tonight?” She was only half joking.
Eric looked at her, reached over and stroked her face. “No Kate. I’ve got more control than that. However, I’d love to romp with you tonight.”
“Even if I shower?”
“Yes. Haven’t I told you before how good you smell to me? Especially fresh out of the shower?”
Kate smiled back and concentrated on driving out to the school.
The gym was packed with parents, grandparents and people who just wanted to see the program. The weather was cold, but fair. This brought people out that wouldn’t brave bad weather. Kate and Eric had given up their seats to an elderly couple. Standing against the wall, they watched Mark and Jamie. Eric was scanning the crowds. His odd motions caught Kate’s attention. After the drive in and the discussion in the car, Kate was wondering what he was looking for.
“Eric,….” she started to whisper.
Eric moved his lips close to her ear. “I’m just checking out the crowd. Thought I smelled something. Something familiar.”
“Yes. Shifter. Wolf.”
“Oh.” She was trying hard not to sniff the air herself. Not that she’d smell much. Her nose wasn’t as sensitive as Eric’s. Especially not with all the perfume in the gym.
Eric moved quietly along the wall, trying to get a better vantage point. Or, at least upwind of the old ladies bathed in lavender water and Channel. He held very still and then moved back down to where Kate stood. He leaned over her shoulder to whisper in her ear.
“It’s only the boys.”
“What?” Kate was perplexed.
“Zach and Anne just came in with Andy.”
“But you said it was a shifter.”
“Yes, and I told you what I thought about Zach. I just don’t have any proof yet. However, he smells of wolf, and shifter. Just as you do.”
“Oh you!” She dug her elbow at him. “I sleep with you. Of course I’m going to smell of shifter.”
“No, you smell of you. Just like Zach has his own scent. And you both smell good. Now watch our little wolf in goose feathers. It’s her turn.
Kate wanted to argue with him about the shifter business, but he was right. Jamie was just coming up to her part where she and the other geese did their thing. For the next thirty minutes, they stood watching the children.
“Wasn’t it just wonderful Mama Kate?” Jamie asked for the twentieth time. They were in the cafeteria of the school, where everyone gathered for refreshments.
“Yes. You did a wonderful job Jamie. So did Mark.”Kate was honest. Mark had done a good job. Betty and Sylvia had done their utmost with that child and found a place for him in the production that worked and he was happy doing. A minor miracle that Kate was happy to see. She had wondered if Mark would ever fit in anywhere.
“I’m gonna go get some more cake!” Jamie said as Zach and Anne approached Eric and Kate. She sped off almost as if her goose wings were real.
“Hey Mom. How are you? We looked for you, but couldn’t see you,” Zach said.
“It was crowded in there. Eric found you. Said he smelled you before he could see you.” Kate teased her son. The look on Zach’s face made her stop in mid thought. “Zach, what’s wrong?”
“I… um could swear I could smell where you two were, but couldn’t see you,” Zach said.
Eric leaned over Kate’s shoulder. “I told you so.” Then he smiled at Zach. “Moms, what will you do with them?” he said in a joking tone. It took the edge off of Zach’s face, and the conversation returned to the program and the bouncing geese also known as Jamie and Bess.