Mercy Thompson


Mercy Thompson Book 5 - Page 6

His eyes brightened. "I see," he said, and his shoulders relaxed a bit, even if his cheeks reddened. "I was thinking about that."

"We okay?" I asked him. "I'm sorry I intruded."

He shook his head. "No apologies necessary. You're welcome to whatever you pick up."

"So," I said casually, "your first time was under the bleachers, huh?"

He jerked his head up.

"Gotcha. Warren told me."

He smiled. "Cold and wet and miserable."

The waitress plunked our food down in front of us and hurried on her way. Adam fed me bites of his rare filet mignon, and I fed him some of my salmon. Food was good, company better, and if I had been a cat, I'd have purred.

"You look happy." He took a sip of his coffee and stretched out a leg so his foot was against mine.

"You make me happy," I told him.

"You could be happy all the time," he said, eating the last bite of baked potato, "and move in with me."

To wake up next to him every morning . . . but . . . "Nope. I've caused you enough trouble," I told him. "The pack and I need to come to . . . detente before I'm moving in. Your home is the den, the heart of the pack. They need a place where they feel safe."

"They can adjust."

"They're adjusting as fast as they can," I told him. "First there was Warren - did you hear that after you let him in, several other packs have allowed g*y wolves to join, too? And now there's me. A coyote in a werewolf pack - you have to admit that's quite a lot of change for one pack to take."

"Next thing you know," he said, "women will have the vote or a black man will become president." He looked serious, but there was humor in his voice.

"See?" I pointed my fork at him. "They're all stuck in the eighteen hundreds, and you're expecting them to change. Samuel likes to say that most werewolves have all the change they can deal with the first time they become wolf. Other kinds of change are tough to force on them."

"Peter and Warren are the only ones who've been around since the eighteen hundreds," Adam told me. "Most of them are younger than I am."

The waitress came and blinked a little as Adam ordered three desserts - werewolves take a lot of food to keep themselves fueled up. I shook my head when she looked my way.

When she left, I took up the conversation from where I'd left off. "It won't hurt us to wait a few months until things settle down."

If he hadn't basically agreed with me, I'd have been sleeping in his house already instead of making do with dates. He understood as well as I did that pulling me into his pack had caused a lot of resentment. Maybe if it had been a healthy, well-adjusted pack beforehand, things wouldn't have gotten so tense.

A few years ago, some of his pack had started harassing me - a coyote living next door. Werewolves, like their natural brethren, are territorial, and they don't share their hunting ground easily with other predators. So to put a stop to it, Adam declared me his mate. I hadn't known at the time why the harassment abruptly stopped - and Adam hadn't been in a hurry to tell me. But pack magic demanded that the declaration be answered, and Adam bore the cost when it wasn't. It left him weaker, crabbier, and less able to help his pack stay calm, cool, and collected. By bringing me in as a member of his pack at virtually the same time our mating bond connected, Adam hadn't given his people a chance to get their feet underneath them before throwing them back onto uncertain ground.

"One more month," he said finally. "And then they - and Samuel, too - will just have to get used to it." His eyes, the color of bitter dark chocolate, were serious as he leaned forward. "And you will marry me."

I smiled, showing my teeth. "Don't you mean, 'Will you marry me?' "

I meant it to be funny, but his eyes brightened until little gold flecks were swimming in the darkness. "You had your chance to run, coyote. It's too late now." He smiled. "Your mother is happy that she'll be able to use some of the stuff from your sister's wedding that wasn't."

Panic swelled my heart. "You didn't talk to her about this, did you?" I had visions of a church filled with people and white satin everywhere. And doves. My mother had had doves at her wedding. My sister had eloped to get away from her. My mother is a steamroller, and she doesn't listen very well . . . to anyone.

The wolf left his eyes, and he grinned. "You're okay with marrying a werewolf who has a teenage daughter and a pack that's falling apart - and your mother panics you?"

"You've met my mother," I said. "She ought to panic you, too."

He laughed.

"You just weren't around her long enough." It was only fair that I warn him.
* * *

WE WERE LUCKY AND GOT OUR SCORING TABLE TO ourselves, as the women who had the lane to our left were packing up when we got back from choosing our bowling balls from the available stack. Mine was bright green with gold swirls. Adam's was black.

"You have no imagination," I told him smugly. "It wouldn't hurt if you found a pink ball to bowl with."

"All the pink balls have kid-sized holes in them," he told me. "The black balls are the heaviest."

I opened my mouth, but he shut me up with a kiss. "Not here," he said. "Look next to us."

We were being observed by a boy of about five and a toddler in a frilly pink dress.

I raised my nose in the air. "As if I were going to joke about your ball. How juvenile."

He grinned at me. "I thought you'd feel that way."

I sat down and messed with player names on the interface on the scoring table until I was satisfied.

"Found On Road Dead," he said dryly, looking over my shoulder.

"I thought I'd use our cars as names. You drive a Ford now. F-O-R-D."

"Very Woo-hoo?"

"Not a lot of cool words start with a 'W,' " I admitted.

He leaned over my shoulder and changed it to "Vintage Wabbit," then into my ear, he said, "Very wicked. Mine."

"I can live with that." His warm breath on my ear felt very wicked, all right.

Until Adam, I'd always felt like his black bowling ball - boring but useful. I'm nothing special in the looks department, once you get past the slightly exotic coloring my Blackfoot father gave me. And Adam . . . Heads turn when Adam walks by. Even in the bowling alley, he was attracting attention.

"Go throw your boring black ball," I told him sternly. "Flirting with the scorekeeper won't help you because the computers keep score now."