Gregor (Stone Society Book 2) (12 page)

BOOK: Gregor (Stone Society Book 2)
9.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Twenty-One

 

The
flight attendant in first class handed Tessa another plastic cup. It might be a
little early in the day to start drinking, but after the morning she’d had, she
deserved some alcohol. Her mother finally convinced her to tell her father
about Gregor. If he was shocked by the news, he didn’t show it. Xavier was over
seven hundred years old and had seen a lot in his lifetime. She doubted there
was much that could surprise him.

Before
her conversation with her father, Tessa had been of the mindset that Rafael
should know about human bonding so he and his newfound Queen could begin making
little Gargoyle princes and princesses. Now, she wasn’t so sure. If what her
father said about Alistair was true, did she really want to be the cause of
more death?  She already felt guilty about her cousin losing his life posing as
Magnus. Tessa had always been so headstrong, so sure of her beliefs. Now…

The
pilot came over the radio and announced they would be landing in approximately
fifteen minutes. She downed her drink and gave the empty cup to the attendant. Tessa
was wary about this visit. Normally she loved coming to New Orleans. This was
one of her favorite homes. With the exception of New Atlanta, she spent more
time here than any other. She was very fond of her cousin, Lillian. Lilly was a
talented artist who had a display set up at Jackson Square. Tessa’s home was
filled with various paintings she’d bought from her cousin.

Tessa
loved the free spirits that lived in the city. Whether it was the voodoo or
witchcraft, or just the vibe that came from the riverside area, she truly felt
right at home. The only downside was Jacques. Tessa had tried to break things
off with the man the last time she was here. Their relationship, if you could
call it that, had run its course. If she was honest, she liked the sex, but
couldn’t stand the man. When she first met Jacques in his bar, she had been
young and intrigued by his brazenness. She thought of him as a kindred spirit. However,
the more she got to know him, the less she liked about him.

Being
a shifter meant enhanced hearing. On her last trip, she had overheard a phone
conversation in which he was making a drug deal. Not just a small, I need some
weed to get me through the week, deal. This was a major transaction in which he
was the distributor of a lot of heroin. She had made the mistake of telling him
she moved antiquities. Did he expect her to help him with his shipment? The
excitement that had once shone brightly was now dimmed to the point of pitch
black. The man wasn’t used to hearing the word no, so when Tessa told him she
didn’t want to see him anymore, he hadn’t taken her seriously. She knew he had
eyes all over the city, so getting in and out without him knowing would be
tricky. If she had to face him, she would deal with it.

After
departing the plane, Tessa hailed a taxi and headed to her house. The ride was
quick, and she paid the driver handsomely for getting her home safely. She
hated taxis, but they were a necessary evil in this town. She climbed the steps
to her porch then opened the mailbox and pulled out a few advertisements. All
utility bills were paid online, a year in advance. The name on the deed was one
of her many aliases: Tabitha Stone. If Gregor ever found out she used his last
name as often as she did, he would probably get a bigger head than he already
had. He also had a lot to do with her not wanting Jacques.

As
soon as she realized he was her mate, she began fantasizing about being his
wife. She might act like she hated his guts, but she was totally infatuated
with the Gargoyle. Who wouldn’t be? Gregor Stone was a stocky, gorgeous
specimen. She had spied on him over the last three years whenever she could. The
one fantasy she used most often when she was in bed at night with her vibrator
was when he was in the boxing ring. She had followed him to his cousin’s dojo
and watched through a side window as her shirtless mate sparred with his much
larger cousin. Gregor was probably the shortest of his Clan, but he was the
most beautifully built. As Gregor had jabbed and kicked, Tessa had moaned and
swooned.

Not
only did he have the body of a god, he also had the most mesmerizing eyes she
had ever seen. She never allowed herself to look at them long, because she knew
she would get lost in their blue depths. Now that she knew the full story of why
her uncle had been banned from his Clan, she was even more confused than ever. Her
heart wanted her to throw caution to the wind and go after Gregor. Her head
told her to hold off and do the smart thing. She would just have to wait and
see which won out.

Tessa
usually called her next door neighbor to let her know she was coming to town. Gladys
was an older woman who lived with a cute little dog. Most animals didn’t take
to shifters, but Toby didn’t seem to mind Tessa. Gladys had never married, but
she still entertained gentlemen often. She had told Tessa that she got bored
easily, and if she never married, she wouldn’t have to worry about divorce. Tessa
flipped the thermostat up a few degrees to knock the chill off. She threw the junk
mail into the recycle bin and headed for the refrigerator. She didn’t keep it
stocked with food, but she always had beer.

She
twisted the top off a bottle and took a long pull. After she relaxed for a bit,
she would see if Gladys was home. If she was, Tessa would visit with her for
the remainder of the day and go see Lilly tomorrow. She pulled off her boots
and turned on the stereo. Normally, she opted for hard or classic rock. Today
she was in a pensive mood, so she opted for some classical. She sat on one end
of her leather sofa, pulling her feet under her. Placing the bottle on the end
table, she leaned her head back. Closing her eyes, she let her mind wander to
the Gargoyles, one in particular.

The
doorbell ringing woke Tessa. The classical music had lulled her into a nap. She
slowly walked to the front of her house and peered through the sheer curtains
that covered the long windows on either side of the door. The silhouette was
that of a short person. Gladys. She opened the door for her neighbor.

“Hello,
Dolly. I came to get your mail and heard the music.” Tessa stepped back to
allow her friend in then shut the door and locked it. Gladys’ nickname for
Tessa always brought a smile to her face. There was nothing doll-like about
Tessa, and they both knew it.

She
hugged the older woman before leading her into the living room. Tessa’s home
was one of the smaller houses in the district. Considering she spent so little
time in the city, it didn’t make sense to purchase a huge house. She had
considered it an investment. Eventually, all the cousins would transition and
she would not have to travel as often. She loved this city and hoped to spend
more time there in the future, just not on official family business. Would
Gregor like New Orleans?

“Can
I get you something to drink? I think I have a bottle of wine somewhere.” Tessa
rarely drank the stuff, but she kept it for Gladys.

“I’m
fine, my girl. I want to know how you are. You don’t look happy. Tell Gladys
your troubles.” The older woman sat down next to Tessa on the sofa and patted
her leg.

“I
never could get anything by you, could I? I have some major decisions to make. I
couldn’t do that with the distractions back home, so I decided to come here for
a little down time.” Technically, she wasn’t lying. She did have major
decisions to make, and Gregor was a distraction. A big one.

Gladys
knew Tessa had more than one home. Being an archaeologist meant that she traveled
the world, and having have homes in multiple places made sense. When she was
younger, the cover had been fun, adventurous even. She had gone on a few digs
with real archaeologists to see what it was like and had thoroughly enjoyed
herself. Now, she was ready to settle down a little. She enjoyed watching over
her cousins, but most had transitioned. When she no longer had to worry about
them, she would need to find something else to fill her time. Blue eyes came to
mind. She would like to fill her time with Gregor. She’d like to fill herself
with Gregor.
Fuck.

“Tabitha,
did you hear what I said?”

 Tessa
sighed. “I’m sorry, Gladys. My mind was elsewhere. I’m afraid I’m not going to
be very good company today.”

Gladys
patted her leg. “You have man troubles, I can tell. I sure hope it has nothing
to do with that Jacques person.”

“How
do you know about him?” Tessa never brought Jacques back to her home. She had
no doubt he had followed her and knew where she lived, but she tried to keep
him separate from her personal space. The first few times she visited the city,
she had stayed in a hotel. When she realized how much she loved New Orleans,
she searched for a small house and had found the one next door to Gladys.

“He’s
been coming around, asking about you. He’s a shady character, that one. How did
you get messed up with him, anyway?”

Tessa
had a cover story for just about every situation. “He was looking for a certain
rare object and hired me to find it. When did he come by here?”

“When
didn’t he? He knocks on your door and then sits in his car, waiting. Eventually
he gives up. I’ve called the police a couple of times, but when he sees the
patrol car, he drives off. He came to my door once, asking if I had seen you. I
told him in no uncertain terms that your whereabouts was none of his business.”

“Oh,
Gladys. Thank you for looking out for me, but you are right. Jacques Dupart is
not a man to be messed with. I was hoping this trip would be drama free, but it
seems I’m going to have to have a chat with him. But you, you do not open your
door to him again, okay?”

“Okay,
but you be careful. If he isn’t a nice man, you shouldn’t be around him
either.” Gladys stood, crossing her arms over her chest. “Promise me you’ll be
careful, Tabitha.”

“I
promise. And I apologize for not being good company. I’ll make it up to you
tomorrow.”

“I
can cook dinner, if you’d like.”  Gladys was not the best cook in the world,
but she tried hard and always made a decent spaghetti.

“I
would like that very much. Thank you, Gladys.”

“No
need to thank me yet. Get some rest, and I will see you tomorrow.”

Tessa
shut the door behind her neighbor and leaned against it. “Fucking Jacques. What
are you up to?” She hadn’t seen him in almost six months, and the last few
times they had been together had been less than stellar. He couldn’t understand
why their sex life had gone from down and dirty to non-existent. She couldn’t
tell him it was because he disgusted her. She needed to come up with a plan to
get rid of him once and for all. She hated the idea of selling her house, but
the man had lived here his whole life. He definitely wasn’t going anywhere.

Her
stomach growling reminded her she hadn’t eaten in a while. Cassandra had
insisted on feeding her before she left for the airport. When she asked the
older lady why she was sad, Cassandra told her they were happy tears. Finding
one’s mate was a big deal, and she hoped Tessa blessed them with little
shifters before Cassandra was too old to enjoy them.

Tessa
laughed and played it off. The thought of having Gregor’s children made her
nauseous after the conversation she’d had with her father.

Knowing
there was nothing to eat in the house, Tessa decided to walk to the local Irish
pub and grab a sandwich. She was taking a chance on one of Jacques’ men seeing
her, but she needed the fresh air. Instead of going out the front door, she
went out the back, and snaked through some of the neighbors’ alleys. If Jacques
was around, she wanted to avoid him as long as possible.

 

Twenty-Two

 

Gregor’s
flight had taken forever. Not really, it just seemed that way. He spent the
short forty minutes studying everything Julian could dig up on Jacques Dupart. On
the surface, the man seemed like an honest business owner. His bar, Jacques’
Place, was lucrative, even if it was a seedy dive. The tourists more than
likely avoided it since it appeared to be a rough joint. The locals probably
called it home. The man in the picture was not the type of man he figured Tessa
would go after. But then again, he knew very little about his mate, including
what type of man she found attractive. The guy in the picture was the complete
opposite of Gregor: long blond hair, dark eyes. He was dressed in a suit and
tie. His bio put him at six-two, two hundred twenty pounds. That didn’t bother
Gregor. Being a shifter, he wasn’t intimidated by anyone.

Gregor
punched in the address for Tessa’s home and set out in his rental car. The ride
from the airport was lengthened due to rush hour traffic. He didn’t know the
area, so he had to rely on the GPS to navigate the busy streets. Half an hour
later than he should have arrived, he pulled onto her street. Slowly, he took
in the beautiful houses that lined the road. Finding Tessa’s home was easy
since the number was nailed to a post on the porch. The pretty little house was
nestled between two larger ones. Gregor sat at the curb, car idling, while he
thought about something else Julian had dug up: the house was registered to
Tabitha Stone.

Gregor’s
heart was swelling with encouragement that his mate really didn’t hate him. Why
else would she be using his name as her alias?  Tabitha. That was better than
Trixie, but it still wasn’t her. Neither was Andrea. No, she was definitely
Tessa. An older woman walking a small, fuzzy dog was headed down the sidewalk
toward him. She stopped and tapped on the passenger side window. He rolled it
down and asked, “Can I help you?” The woman was eyeing him suspiciously.

“I
was just about to ask you the same thing, young man. Are you lost?”

“No,
ma’am. I was just calling to see if my cousin was home before I knocked on her door.”
He held up his cell phone.

“Your
cousin, huh?  I need to see some identification.”

Was
she serious?  This woman had to be close to seventy. Yet here she was, ready to
defend her neighborhood. He grinned, “Of course. I’m going to reach in my back
pocket and pull out my wallet. Please don’t shoot me.”

“Don’t
be a smartass. I’m not going to shoot you.” The small dog was yapping. “Hush,
Toby.”

Gregor
showed his warden’s identification badge to the lady, hoping to instill a
little bit of trust. “See, Gregor Stone, Warden.”

“Tabitha
never said she had such a handsome cousin. You just missed her. If I had to
venture a guess, I’d say she walked down to McFadden’s. It’s the Irish bar on
St. Charles.”

Gregor
flashed his best smile at the lady. “Thank you…” He didn’t know her name.

“Gladys.
I live right there.” She pointed at the large house to the left of Tessa’s.

“Thank
you, Gladys. It makes me feel a lot better knowing Tabitha lives next door to
someone who watches out for her.”

“She
needs someone looking out for her. I hope you’re here to get rid of that bum,
Dupart.”

“Yes
ma’am, that’s exactly why I’m here.” Gregor hated that Gladys knew who Jacques
was. That meant the man had been around. He didn’t have a plan where Tessa’s
lover was concerned. Gladys gave him one last look, then she and Toby turned
back the way they’d come. He searched on his phone for the address to the bar.
If Tessa had walked, it shouldn’t be too far. Gregor decided to leave his car
parked where it was and take a stroll himself.

 

McFadden’s
Irish Pub was a familiar place for Tessa. She ate there every time she was in
the city. It, like The Tavern in New Atlanta, was home. The owners and
bartenders knew her by name, well her alias anyway. They treated her like she
was part of the family, no matter how much time passed between visits. She
pushed through the front door and immediately heard, “Tabby!”  Fiona, one of
the owners, was coming around the bar to pull her in for a hug. She hugged the
woman back and grinned. “Fi, how the hell are ya?”

Fiona
was a beautiful, Irish woman with an equally gorgeous husband. Wherever Fiona
was, Roy wasn’t far behind. “We are very well, thank you.” Her smile was so big
Tessa was nearly blinded by it. When Fiona’s hand moved to her stomach, Tessa
knew there was a very good reason for her friend to be so happy. They had been
trying a long time for a baby.

“This
is seriously good news. I am so happy for you both.” Roy was leaning against
the post that separated the bar area from the kitchen. His face was adorned
with his own smile.

“Now,
come on. Sit down. You have been scarce these last few months. We need to catch
up.” Fiona led Tessa to a table close to the bar. This way they could have a
little bit of privacy for girl talk, and Roy could keep an eye on his wife. Roy
brought Tessa her usual draft beer and a cup of tea for his woman. He kissed
her cheek gently then went back to the bar.

“Wow,
Fi! A baby!  This is so exciting.” Tessa kept the conversation away from her as
long as she could. She talked about cribs and strollers and diapers, anything
to keep the topic on their first child. She knew having an alias was imperative
in her life, but if there was one person she hated lying to, it was Fiona. She
was the one true girl friend Tessa had.

Roy
interrupted long enough to bring Tessa’s sandwich and refill her pint glass. Eventually
the topic of babies had run its course and Fiona asked the inevitable, “Have
you seen Jacques? He has been tearing the streets apart searching for you. Tabitha,
what’s going on?”

Before
she could answer, she heard Roy say, “Oh, fuck.”

Speaking
of the devil had brought him straight to her.
Shit.
Jacques walked right
up to the table where she and Fiona were sitting. It was no coincidence he was
there. Someone had tipped him off. “Tabitha.” The one word caused a chill to
run up her spine. Why was he so reluctant to let her go?

“Jacques,
what are you doing here?” Tessa picked up her glass and finished the beer,
holding the glass up for Roy to see it was empty.

“I
happened to be in the neighborhood and saw you sitting here. Can I not stop in
to say hello?  I have missed you.” He didn’t bother waiting for an invitation.
He pulled a stool over from a nearby table and sat next to Tessa.

“That’s
nice, but my friend and I were in the middle of a conversation.” That wiped the
smile off his face. She knew he was full of shit. The table was away from any
of the windows. He either followed her, or someone had seen her and called him.
Tessa wasn’t scared of the man. Even though she was a woman, she was a shifter.
The only male she would lose a fight to would be another shifter.

 
Roy placed her beer in front of her, and she gave him a small smile. “Thank
you. Would you please bring me a to-go box for my sandwich? I seem to have lost
my appetite.” She knew she was pushing it with Jacques, but she hated the fact
that he was stalking her.

“You
don’t have to be rude. I just want to talk to you.” Jacques picked up a french
fry off of Tessa’s plate and bit the end of it.

“I’m
not the one who sat down uninvited and started eating someone else’s food.
Fiona, please forgive my
friend
here. He usually has more manners.”
Tessa stood and retrieved the Styrofoam container from Roy. “I will let you get
back to work. We will finish our discussion later.” Tessa was pointedly looking
at Fiona, attempting to telepath her sincere regret at bringing potential
trouble to their establishment. It must have worked because Fiona stood and
walked over to her husband. Tessa pulled out a couple of twenties and laid them
on the table.

Not
bothering to speak to Jacques, she grabbed the to-go box and stood in front of
her friends. “I apologize. It was lovely to see you both, and I am so happy for
you. I will do my best to come back before I head out of town.” She kissed
Fiona on the cheek and turned toward the door.

She
didn’t get far when she felt a huge hand grab her upper arm. “Where the fuck do
you think you’re going?”

 

The
pub was only a few blocks from Tessa’s house. Gregor intended to stay outside
and wait for her to come out. He had no idea how he would explain his presence
other than he had, in fact, followed her for no good reason. He could tell her
Tamian asked him to follow her, even though her brother had specifically asked
to be kept out of it. For now, he would just wait and see how she reacted.

Gregor
felt Tessa’s emotions coming from inside the bar, and these were not good ones.
His mate was pissed. There were tables visible through the front window of the pub,
but he didn’t see her. “Get your fucking hand off me.” He might not be able to see
her, but he sure as hell heard her. “I just want to talk, Tabitha. Why are you
acting like such a bitch?” He could only guess who was speaking to her that
way. He wasn’t going to wait and find out. He calmed himself and walked inside.

The
scene before him was enough to cause him to fully phase. However, seeing Tessa
putting Jacques Dupart in his place had his beast calming down. A little. “I
said, take your fucking hand off me before you lose it.” Tessa’s emotions were
supercharging now. It was a wonder she wasn’t phasing. Gregor needed to defuse
the situation before they were both showing fangs. He stepped closer and cleared
his throat.

“Hello,
Sweetheart. So sorry I’m late, but I was caught in traffic.” He didn’t know who
was more stunned, Tessa or Jacques. He strolled right up to her and kissed her
on the cheek. “I don’t believe we’ve met. Gregor Stone.” He stuck his hand out
to the other man who was still staring at him.

 “Stone?”
Dupart asked incredulously.

“Yes,
Gregor Stone. And you are?”

Jacques
didn’t answer his question or shake his hand. Instead, he accused Tessa,
“Stone? You’re married?”

 Gregor
put his arm around Tessa’s shoulders and pulled her to his chest. Her face was
priceless. “Yes, Tabitha. Tell the man. You’re taken.”

Tessa
finally closed her mouth and leaned in, putting her arm around his waist. “That’s
right. Though, we were separated for a while.”

“Un-fucking-believable.
You are really something, you know that?” Jacques kicked over the nearest stool
and stormed out of the bar.

Gregor’s
smile turned to a deep frown. “Yes, Tabitha. You are something.”

 She
pulled out of his embrace. “What the
fuck
are you doing here?” She
seethed through her teeth.

“Watching
that ass. I told you to keep it safe, and it appears you were doing anything
but. And you should watch your language. You curse too much.”

The
couple who had been standing off to the side watching the excitement took the
opportunity to approach Tessa. “Are you all right?” The pretty woman was eyeing
Gregor as warily as she had been Dupart.

“Yes,
I’m fine. I am so sorry that jackass caused a scene. Fiona, again,
congratulations on your wonderful news. I am going to take my sandwich and
my…Gregor and head home.”

BOOK: Gregor (Stone Society Book 2)
9.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Dead Letters Anthology by Conrad Williams
Framed by Nancy Springer
Where You End by Anna Pellicioli
Indulge by Georgia Cates
Murder Walks the Plank by Carolyn Hart
Three Summers by Judith Clarke
This Present Darkness by Peretti, Frank
The Boy Under the Table by Nicole Trope