So I read on the blog that she can’t make me do anything, that is not strictly true. While I remain somewhat stubborn I am a far cry from the wild young man, fresh out of the Navy, that she met almost twenty years ago in college. While still lazy and selfish I sincerely hope that I am slightly less so. To prove my point I present for you a thing I’ve been working on. My plan is to explain why The Beast Lord was absent for the naked dinner he won. It’s not that he didn’t want to see Kate in her panties, he did, but like the saying goes, sometimes he does what he likes, most times he does what he has to. I am still working on the second part, but here is the beginning bit. (thanks to Ilona for adding the pics)
POV for Panties part 1
It took a moment to realize that I was awake and that the phone ringing was not just in my dream. It was a good dream. Kate and I were moving to the bed after the naked dinner. The phone kept ringing. Okay, this better be good. Since tech was up, I figured it could not be anything too dire.
I rolled over and picked it up and growled into the receiver. “What?”
“You up?” Jim asked.
“I’m talking to you.”
“Don’t mean you’re up. Means you’re awake, maybe.”
“Jim, if you don’t tell me what you want, I’ll find you and shake it out of you.”
“No time for games, grumpy pants. You got a brunch with B.”
“You tell me this now?” Nothing good ever came from meeting with the head of the Hyenas. She seemed to take great delight in making my life difficult.
“I’m telling you now, like I told you before.”
“I don’t remember, do I have to go?”
“You only remember what you want, and yes, you do.”
“Why and what does she want? I have plans for today.”
“Because you said you would and I wouldn’t know why she wants to see you.”
Bullshit. “Yes, you do. You’ve got your fingers in everybody’s pies.”
“Thanks, I think. Anyway, Bea is, as usual, playing things close to the chest, so your guess is as good as mine.”
Usually Jim knew about things before they had a chance to happen. But B was a special case. She didn’t like or trust cats. Really, the boudas didn’t much like anybody.
“Whatever the hell it is, it better not involve bribing law enforcement, or public orgies, or requests for additional funds. It’s like the Warren Zevon song: every time she wants to see me, it ends up being ‘send lawyers, guns, and money’.”
“How is it you can remember old song lyrics, but I gotta remind you of significant shit all the time?”
“It gives you something to do and makes you feel important. How long and where?”
“One hour, Dillard house. I let you sleep in but you won’t have much time to do your hair.”
“Shut up, Jim. You wanna lift weights and spar a little later?”
“Maybe, but do you really want to be tired and beat up for your big panty party?”
“At least I get to see some. How you doing in the romance department?”
He didn’t say anything.
“You know if you keep blowing Dali off, she’s going put some sort of Asian voodoo love spell on you.”
Jim’s tone changed abruptly. “My lord, a car will be ready in half an hour.”
The disconnect signal beeped in my ear.
So Dali must be a sore subject or maybe he just did not like me knowing one of his secrets. Served him right. He was far too keen on my love life and needed one of his own. I knew he liked her. I could tell from the way he spoke to her, looked at her when he thought no one was watching, and most of all, covered for her after the upteenith expensive car crash. Any other cat, male or female, would have had their arms and legs broken the next time they disobeyed him. Jim did not enjoy violence, though as Alpha of Clan Cat, he was willing to use it as a tool. Pain is an excellent teacher. Besides, we heal fast. What took humans weeks, we could heal in days or even hours.
A quick shower, shave and brushing of the fangs and I was ready and headed downstairs. Derek, my werewolf bodyguard and driver, was waiting behind the wheel of a Pack jeep.
“My Lord,” he intoned with a nod.
“Knock it off. ” He was a good kid but often went overboard with the formality.
“As you wish.” Again the almost bow.
“Derek…” I began. He grinned and held up his hands as if to ward off imaginary blows.
“Ok, Curran, but can I ask about why you’re meeting with the boudas?”
He managed to put a little disdain into the word. Like most wolves, Derek considered the hyenas to be little more than dangerous degenerates. Emphasis on the dangerous. While their sexual appetites were legend, they were also ruthless and deadly fighters. Their numbers compared to other clans were small, but if you fought one bouda you better be ready to fight them all. To the death, that’s how they rolled.
“Are you worried that there will be trouble?”
He smiled a little, “With them it’s always trouble, but I was wondering if we’re going to have to fight.”
He was right. I would not make light of his unease. Jim had trained him to be cautious.
“Maybe but don’t do anything until I say.”
“Of course, but, if they start shit and there were more than four or five of them, including Ms. Bea, I might not be able to protect you.”
” I appreciate the honesty, but as good as you are, Bea is better. If that shoe drops, you leave her to me and try fight your way out and get help. It’s unlikely, but just in case Bea’s teeth and ambitions are bared, be prepared.” He missed the reference and I sighed. Kids. “Derek, stick with me and you’ll never go hungry again.”
In less than twenty minutes we were pulling up to the long winding blacktop drive leading to a large stone building at the top of the hill. It was one story and predated the Shift by several decades at least. It was family style dining and while not fancy, the food was good, they served meat, and you got a lot of it. That’s five stars for shapeshifters.
B and her party, three females and her son, Raphael, were waiting outside. Nobody sat or ate before the king, thus far they had offered no insults. So far so good.
B gave me a big sweet smile. She would smile just like that before stabbing someone in the back with her claws. Raphael nodded at me. B ran the clan, but her son was the male alpha. We didn’t exactly see eye to eye. Why was he here?
“Clan Bouda greets the Beast Lord and thanks him for joining us for a meal.” B and her son inclined their heads briefly. The others held their heads down, eyes fixed on the ground.
Yeah, right. “Please B, it’s too early for such formality. Good to see you, Raphael. I didn’t think you liked this place, not quite your style.”
B’s little prince favored fancier fair, with more flash and beautiful people making sure they were seen. The scion of clan bouda was five inches taller than me and fifty pounds lighter. Where I went for bulk and explosive power, he was lithe and quick, built for speed and deadly with a blade. If it got ugly, he would go through Derek in mere moments and I would then be hard pressed to handle him and his mother. If there are enough hyenas they can take down a lion. Well, maybe not this lion but most others.
Raphael kept his face neutral. “Mother likes it and it does have a certain rustic charm.”
“Indeed, Bea, it’s such a lovely day, why don’t we dine on the patio?” It would give me room to move if they were planning on starting anything.
B gave me another sweet smile. “An excellent suggestion. It’s been reserved for us.”
We went inside and were led through to the rear and a large covered porch. A long picnic type table had already been set, complete with a red and white checkered table cloth. Two buffet tables sat a short distance away, one with large stainless steel pans loaded with bacon, scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes and my favorite, French toast, the other with an assortment of sliced and chilled fruit. Umm, maybe later, after I had a few passes at the meat.
I didn’t know what they were up to but they had laid out a great spread and I was never one to turn down a free meal. Of course with Bea, nothing was free. They wanted something and they were very careful to feed me before they asked for it. Whatever it was, I wouldn’t like it.
Everybody got plates and sat down to eat. That’s one of the things that make us different from humans – when we sit down to eat, we eat. There is not a lot of small talk or playful banter. We focus almost entirely on the food. From the outside it probably seems strange but we all take it for granted. It’s actually considered rude to try and carry on a conversation with one of us while we’re eating.
After everyone had consumed several large platefuls, it was time to get down to business.
“Thanks for the food, B, now what can I do for you and your son?”
“You’re quite welcome, and what I would like is a favor, an indulgence if you will, not just as fellow alpha but as a mother.”
Uh oh. I turned to look at Raphael. What had the little prince stuck his dick into this time?
“You know of course of Andrea Nash, the beastkin knight.”
Damn it all to hell. I knew that was going to bite me in the ass. No good deed goes unpunished. Nash was a knight in the Order of Merciful Aid, a group of pro-human zealots with whom we had an uneasy truce at best. They were not officially law enforcement but they were well trained and funded. They saw themselves as humanity’s last great hope against monsters, against us. So far we had coexisted in a state of mutual distrust but some day push would come to shove and they would come to the Keep with swords and burning torches.
As if that were not enough, Andrea was also beastkin, the extremely rare result of a successful mating between a human who turns into an animal and an animal who turns into a human. Most animal-weres possessed below human intelligence. Few are capable of speech. Some packs kept them as pets, some murdered them.
Normally any child resulting from such a pairing is considered an abomination. Pack law demands they be killed at birth. Somehow Andrea had survived and as teen had passed herself off as human enough to enroll in and then graduate with honors from the Order’s Academy. Not sure how she had managed it, but it couldn’t have been easy. What I did know of her came from Kate and she’d hinted that there was a lot of abuse in Andrea’s past. I didn’t doubt it. We had a saying: a pack’s only as good as the alpha and the alpha is only as good as the pack. Some of the smaller packs outside our territory let themselves be run by sadistic assholes.
I had to give it to the Order – they trained their people well. Andrea had fought with us in the Midnight Games and she was damn good with ranged weapons; maybe as good as Kate was with her sword. Andrea was also a potential problem. She was an unaffiliated shapeshifter in my territory, which was against the Pack law. She had to report to the Pack and asked to be admitted in the ranks, leave, or ask for a special dispensation, none of which she had done. Her only saving grace was that her shapeshifter status was secret.
I leaned back. “Andrea Nash is a knight of the Order. How does she concern us, or you?”
“I love her,” Raphael responded before B could say anything.
“Really?” I could not hide my surprise. He’s had a string of lovers but I’d never heard him say that about any of them.
“Does she know?”
“Yes. She and I are dating.”
That’s just great. My life lately, had been far too easy, and they decided to complicate it. “Good for you. I’m still not hearing an answer to my question, so I will ask again. What do you want from me?”
B folded her hands on her lap. “We understand that Andrea presents a problem. What we would like, what we humbly request, my Lord, is that you do nothing. We simply ask that you overlook this matter and allow us time to resolve it in a manner that will be mutually beneficial.”
“I have been very patient up to this point. I have allowed an unaffiliated shapeshifter, a beastkin even, to live within the Pack’s territory. Do you know why?”
I paused in case they wanted to say something. They didn’t.
“It’s because she has no connection to or dealings with us. She’s living as a human knight within the Order. She has rejected her shapeshifter heritage. I know her history and have no wish to expose or banish her as long as she remains apart from us. Now, however, you force my hand. If you intend to date her, and, or, eventually mate with her, the fact that she’s a shapeshifter will come out. She will have to be brought in. Moynohan is an asshole of epic proportions. If he finds out she’s dating you, he’ll make her life hell. If he finds out she’s a shapeshifter, he’ll expel her.”
“I know that,” Raphael said.
“Then you know that she’ll have to choose, and soon, because it can’t be both. When she’s discovered, the Pack will want to know what I knew and when. If I didn’t know about her, I’m stupid. If I knew and did nothing, I am weak. Why should I allow this?”
“I will fight for her if I have to,” he held my gaze. Wow, he had it bad. Was this a challenge or just mating crazy?
“Who are you willing to fight? Think a moment before you speak,” I warned.
Aunt B, sensing the danger, quickly interjected. ”There will be no need for that. We are making arrangements for Andrea to be brought into the clan. I’ve been an alpha longer than you’ve been alive and I am not getting any younger. I am starting to think of slowing down, retiring and watching my grandchildren grow.”
Sure, the only thing she cherished almost as much she treasured Raphael was power, and maybe fucking with me.
“Nash is strong and my son loves her. He has since the night Kate brought her to us. He didn’t know it yet but I did, a mother knows. I realize that things have not always been straightforward between us. I have perhaps on occasion even been the proverbial thorn in your paw…”
I held up a hand and interrupted her. “B, you oppose me, even when it is not in your best interest to do so, you undermine my authority, albeit subtly, and you have since I first became Beast Lord, and now you want a favor from me because your little boy likes a girl from the other side?”
“You’re not going to make this easy are you?”
“No, ‘What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value’.” I quoted.
Derek moved behind me and disappeared into the restaurant. Hmmm.
“Bea, the meal was delicious, additionally I am myself on the hunt, and so I am in a generous and mellow mood. I will grant you this boon but not without certain concessions on your part.
“Name them.” I had her, how much was she willing to concede to indulge her son? I decided to go for broke.
“It’s actually quite simple, I want only one thing. Honesty.”
B leaned forward. “Can you be more specific?”
“When I make a decision and you have genuine concerns or reservations, you tell me. If you have doubts we will discuss them privately, but publicly, once a decision is made and announced, you will support me, unconditionally. No more games, no more snide comment, no more clever jokes. I know your job is tough. So is mine. Being the boss sucks, and sparing with me is fun, but I need you and Mahon both. I need your council and wisdom.”
I took a swallow of my drink, letting the words sink in. “You want the best for your clan. So do I. I want it for all of us. I know that I can be a bit of a tyrant, and I’m not always right. When you think I’m wrong tell me, when I’m right, back me. Agree to this and Nash is yours to do with what you will. That’s the offer, take it or leave it.”
She was silent a moment. Thinking it over…
Light steps told me Derek was coming back. A moment later he emerged. His face was paler usual. Either his food didn’t agree with him or something really bad happened.
Aunt B smiled. “You finally grew up, dear.”
“I’ve been grown for a long time now,” I told her. “You just haven’t bothered to notice.”
“Very well. You shall have honesty and respect as well. All you ever had to do was ask.” She smiled again. “Nicely, without all the roaring.”
“Thank you, B. I’ll try to remember that. Now if you will excuse us.”
“Of course, my lord. I understand you have quite an evening planned with the delightful Ms. Daniels.”
And how the hell did she know that?
Aunt B’s smiled got wider. “Don’t do anything we wouldn’t.”
I wondered briefly what exactly that might be but was unable to imagine something that dangerous or depraved.
I waited until we got to the car and well out of the boudas’ earshot.
“Well?” I prompted, when we were inside.
“Jim called to the restaurant, while you were negotiating with Aunt B. Boris is dead.”
“Big Boris? Boris the Boar?”
Whoa. “Did a building fall on him?” Boris the boar was a tough old bastard. If I ever had to fight him, I would be bringing Mahon.
“Murdered. He didn’t die easy. Jim says there was a lot of blood at the scene, too much for all of it to be his.”
No doubt, there would have had to be a lot of them and I’d bet some hadn’t walked out on their own.