Authors: Stormy Glenn
Tags: #Glenn, #Stormy
“Elliot, have you been listening in on my conversation with my Dad?”
Elliot felt his face pale when Tommy crossed his arms over his chest and stared at him. He clenched his hands together in front of him and looked away, the stern glint in Tommy’s silver grey eyes too much for him.
“No, I wouldn’t—well, maybe.” Elliot looked back at Tommy. “A little?”
“Eavesdropping is not polite, Elliot.”
“I’m sorry, I just—I’m sorry.”
“I suppose the damage has already been done,” Tommy said as he held out his hand. Elliot quickly crossed the room and grabbed onto the lifeline Tommy held out to him, almost groaning when he was wrapped in Tommy’s arms. “So, how much did you hear, pretty baby?”
Elliot frowned and tilted his head back to look up at Tommy. “What’s a pack?”
“That’s going to take some time to explain to you, Elliot.”
“I’m not going anywhere.” Elliot frowned. “Well, I hope I’m not going anywhere. But if you really wanted me to I would, but I don’t want to. I just… I know what kind of man my father can be and I don’t want to cause problems, but I really want to stay, Tommy.”
“I want you to stay too, pretty baby, but you need to wait to decide if you want to stay until I tell you what I need to tell you.”
Elliot couldn’t think of anything Tommy could tell him that would make him want to leave. He really liked Tommy, even if he did have like a gazillion relatives, all of whom thought they needed to stick their noses in Tommy’s sex life.
“So, what do you have to tell me then?”
“Why don’t you sit down?”
Elliot frowned, feeling very confused and just a bit apprehensive about what Tommy needed to tell him, but he walked over to the couch like the man suggested and sat on the edge. He tried to hide his nervousness by sitting on the edges of his hands. He didn’t think he was doing a very good job of hiding it when Tommy sat down on the coffee table facing him and drew in a deep breath.
“Do you ever watch the nature channel, Elliot?”
Elliot blinked and stared. “What?”
“You know, the nature channel on television where they have those shows about wolves and bears and stuff.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Elliot cast a quick look at Tommy’s father. The man stood by the front window, walking back and forth over a small patch of carpet as he watched. There was sternness to his posture that gave Elliot a chill. The somber look on Daniel’s face and the way his arms crossed over his chest didn’t help.
“Did you ever watch one of those animal specials on wolves?”
“Wolves?” Elliot asked as he looked back at Tommy. What in the hell did wolves have to do with this conversation? Was Tommy trying to calm him down or something by making casual conversation? “What about them?”
“What did you think of them?”
“They’re okay. I never really thought about it.” Elliot looked to Daniel for a moment when the man snorted, then back at Tommy. The serious look on Tommy’s face concerned Elliot almost as much as the noise his father made. “Why?”
“Did you know wolves mate for life?”
Elliot pulled his hands out from under his legs and started twisting his fingers together in his lap. This conversation was getting stranger by the minute. He liked Tommy, he really did, but maybe the man was just a little odd.
“Tommy, you said you had something you needed to talk to me about and now you want to discuss wolf mating habits? You’re not making a lot of sense.”
“Yes, I’m sure I sound very confusing, but this is rather hard to explain, pretty baby.” Tommy chuckled and looked down at his hands for a moment. When Tommy looked back up, he also reached for Elliot’s hands. “I just want you to listen to me, okay?”
Elliot nodded, feeling at a loss for words for the first time in his life. He didn’t understand why, but knew whatever Tommy had to tell him was very important. He just wished Tommy would get to the telling part.
“Wolves mate for life, pretty baby. They find that one partner, the perfect mate for them, and they grab on and never let go. Wolves protect their mates, they provide for them, and they stay together until the day they die.”
Elliot stared at Tommy, waiting for him to go on. This had to be one of the strangest conversations he could ever remember having. It wasn’t that Elliot minded talking about wolves, he really didn’t. He just didn’t understand why Tommy was talking about them now.
“My family is much the same way, pretty baby. We find that one person, our mate, and we grab on and never let go. We mate for life.” Tommy brought Elliot’s hands up to his lips and kissed one then the other before staring intently at Elliot. “You’re my mate, pretty baby.”
Tommy watched Elliot carefully as his words sank in. In the few hours that Tommy had known the guy, he’d been able to see Elliot’s emotions on his face, every nuance. This time, Tommy couldn’t and that worried him. Elliot just stared at him.
“Does that mean you like me?”
“Uh, yes, pretty baby.” Tommy frowned, wondering if Elliot actually understood what he was talking about. “I like you very much.”
“Does it mean he has to like me too?” Elliot asked, pointing past Tommy to where Daniel stood.
Tommy glanced over his shoulder just in time to see his father’s eyebrow shoot up and a surprised expression cover his face. Tommy chuckled and shook his head as he looked back at Elliot.
“No, he doesn’t have to like you, but he does have to accept you.”
“He has to accept you because you’re my mate. Mates are chosen by fate, not us. It’s not something we get a choice in, pretty baby, it’s just something that is. My father knows that and once he gets over the surprise, he will accept it, and you.”
“That doesn’t seem really fair to me. I mean, it’s like you’re saying he has to like me because you do and I’m just not sure that’s fair to your father. I want him to like me, but it’s not required that he like me, even if that would be the nice thing to do, and I think once he gets to know me he might like me, but—”
“Elliot, enough.” Tommy laughed. “My father is not required to like you, but he does have to accept you. That’s two different things, pretty baby.”
“Is it?” Elliot pulled his hands away and pushed himself back into the corner of the couch. He started chewing on one of his fingers and Tommy wondered if it was a nervous gesture. “Is it really different? I know in the grand scheme of things that it probably is, but is it really? Can you imagine what family functions would be like if your father merely accepted me instead of taking the time to get to know me and maybe like me?”
“And what about the rest of your family? I know your brother, the sheriff, doesn’t like me. He already made up his mind. I could see that when he came to arrest you. I haven’t met your mother, but if she’s anything like your brother or your father then I’m pretty much screwed here. How am I supposed to make friends with these people if they don’t like me?”
“Elliot!” Tommy snapped as he reached over and covered the man’s mouth with his hand. The conversation was going off in directions Tommy couldn’t control. They needed to stay on track, especially since Tommy hadn’t dropped his biggest bomb yet. “It doesn’t matter if my family likes you or not, pretty baby. It only matters that I do.”
“And you do?” Elliot asked as he pulled away.
“Very much so.” Tommy grinned.
“Finish it, Thomas.”
Tommy shot his father his evilest glare and turned back to Elliot. “There’s something else a little different about my family, Elliot.”
A loud snort filled the room. Tommy wished his father would leave or go into the other room so that he could tell Elliot his secret without comments from the man. His secret could lose him the most important person in his life, even if Elliot had been that person for only a few hours.
“I don’t want you to be scared, Elliot,” Tommy said softly as he stood to his feet then pushed the coffee table to one side of the room. He walked back over to stand in front of Elliot, praying the man didn’t run screaming from the room. “I won’t hurt you, okay?”
Elliot frowned. “Okay.”
Tommy pulled his shirt off and dropped it on the floor then reached for the buttons of his jeans. He heard a small sharp inhale and looked at Elliot to find his eyes wide as he watched Tommy’ every movement. His face flushed as he looked past Tommy to where Daniel stood, then back.
“Tommy, your father is here. Shouldn’t we—”
“Just watch, Elliot.” Tommy pushed his jeans down his legs and kicked them away, then let the change take him. His bones cracked, muscles stretching as his body shifted into the four legged form of his wolf.
Once the shift was complete, Tommy shook his head then lifted it to look at Elliot. The man didn’t move a muscle, just stared. The look on his face wasn’t one of horror, but it did hold shock and something else that Tommy couldn’t quite define.
“This is our secret, Elliot.” Tommy turned his head to watch his father walk over to stand next to him. As angry as he was at his father for his interference, Tommy couldn’t help but lean into the hand Daniel used to scratch behind his ears. It felt really good. “Our entire family is like this, Elliot. Well, most of them, anyway.”
Tommy turned back to see Elliot’s reaction, but it hadn’t changed. Elliot just continued to stare at him. It was starting to make Tommy nervous. Was his secret too much for Elliot? Tommy took a hesitant step toward his mate in the hope that he could bridge the sudden gap he could feel between them.
Elliot suddenly jumped up and ran into the kitchen. Tommy looked up at his father as he felt his heart start to break. Was Elliot rejecting him? He was born a wolf shifter. He’d been that way since the minute he breathed air. He couldn’t change it and he didn’t want that to be what cost him his mate.
“Not everyone can accept the wolf, Thomas. You know that.” Daniel’s face held sadness and a hint of regret. “I’m sorry, son.”
Tommy felt his heartache start to overcome him. Elliot was his mate. Without him, Tommy would live a very lonely existence. He would never find another mate, not unless Elliot died, and that was unacceptable.
Determined to fix things between him and Elliot, Tommy started to walk to the kitchen when Elliot came barreling around the corner. He had a bottle of liquor in one hand, three glasses and a bowl in the other.
Elliot stumbled to a stop when he saw Tommy, his face paling. Tommy dropped to the ground and whined softly, trying to show Elliot he wasn’t a danger. Elliot didn’t say anything for a minute, just stared some more then he slowly held up the items in his hand.
“I don’t know about you, but I could really use a drink. I think my buzz wore off somewhere back when your brother tried to arrest you and I don’t think I can deal with this shit sober, not right now. Maybe later, after I get used to the idea of you going furry, but right now, no, I need a drink.”
Tommy’s mouth would have dropped open in shock if he were in human form. Instead, his head cocked to one side, his ears perked. Elliot wasn’t running. He was just getting a drink? Not sure what to think, Tommy followed Elliot back into the living room.
Elliot was sitting on the couch once again. He looked down at the bottle and glasses in his hand then slid down to sit on the floor, his back pressed against the couch. He set all three glasses on the floor along with the bowl and poured the amber liquid into each one.
Tommy sat down across from Elliot, not too close and not too far away. He didn’t want to scare Elliot, but staying away from the man was almost more than Tommy could handle. Maybe he should shift back?
Elliot held out a glass to Daniel, who took it and sat in one of the chairs next to the couch, then placed another glass and the bowl in front of Tommy. Elliot picked up his own glass and shrugged when Tommy looked at him.
“I didn’t know if you needed a glass or a bowl. I mean, if you were human then a glass, right? But you’re not exactly human right now and so I guess a bowl would be best.” Elliot frowned as he waved his hand at Tommy. “Can you drink the way you are right now? Or does that affect you badly? Maybe you shouldn’t drink.” Elliot shrugged again as he chuckled. “I guess one of us drunk is enough, huh?”
Tommy watched Elliot take a long swig of the liquid in his glass then glanced over at his father. Daniel held his glass with both hands, but he seemed to be watching Elliot rather than drinking.
“Elliot, if you don’t mind my asking, why are you taking this so well?” Daniel asked. “In my experience, by now most people are running for their lives and yet you sit here drinking with us.”
“Tommy said he wouldn’t hurt me.”
“And you believe him?”
“Shouldn’t I? Was he lying?”
Tommy dropped to the floor and crawled closer to Elliot, whimpering a little. He wouldn’t hurt Elliot for anything in the world. He wanted Elliot to know that.
“No, I don’t believe Tommy will hurt you.”
“But?” Elliot asked. “I can hear the but in your voice and there’s always a but. So, what is it? What aren’t you telling me? Because I think I need to know everything.”
“Thomas was born a shifter just as I was, just as many in our pack were.”