On my way to do some serious writing today, I was doing my karaoke best to keep up with Bush when I realized I had a passenger. After ensuring that I didn’t end up as a trailer hitch to the Dodge Challenger in front of me, I snuck a quick peek at the new arrival.
Battered biker boots draped with the necessary chains were propped against my pristine dash tapping in time to the bass (those scuff marks better come off!), lightly tanned legs interrupted by a short plaid skirt. The exact kind I would have loved being able to pull off at any point and time in my life, except I’ve let reality win and given up. Besides, as young as my mind thinks I am, my body is not in an agreeable mood. Fingers tipped with some bright green nail polish, tap on one bare knee. Etched leather cuff with bits of flashing metal wrap around one small wrist, strong arms (damn, this girl’s got some seriously good genetics!), over the white fitted t-shirt which any breathing male would appreciate, past the leather choker with some tribal type pendant, and then under the purple tipped spiked blonde hair was a delicate patterned tattoo spanning temple to chin on the right side of the most feminine face I’ve ever seen. Without those markings a person could easily be fooled into believing her some delicate fairy princess of punk. Not a smart move, because under the wrapping lay the cunning intelligence of a lethal predator.
“Hey Xander, nice outfit.” The Dodge in front of me was pulling away and since it wasn’t Raine sitting next to me, it was safe to concentrate on driving.
“You like? I figured I’d take advantage of the sun while I”m here.” Voice like smoke wove through the music. “Since my last trip to your little edge of the desert wasn’t exactly a day at the spa.”
The edge of a growl lacing her words had me cringing mentally, but I kept it hidden. Didn’t do to let the wolf next to you see you cringe. Not like I could hide the sudden spike in my pulse or the tension ringing through my body. “Ummm, yeah, about that….sorry?”
A bark of laughter. “No you’re not.”
Okay, true, but…”Look, I didn’t know Warrick-”
“Vidis,” she corrected.
Right because the only one who gets to call the Northwest Alpha by his first name was the woman glaring at me from her deceptive sprawl in the seat next to me. “Vidis,” I answered, “was going to go that far.”
A tense moment or ten passed, then she turned to watch the passing traffic. I tried not to sigh at the relief of being out from under that intense regard, but by the small grin on her face, I knew I’d failed.
“I wasn’t ready for this.” The words were low, an admission of a weakness she didn’t like to acknowledge aloud. “I know.” I’m not a cold hearted bitch, I know she wasn’t ready for this, but even in writing, this was life. You get thrown a curve every time you think you have it all figured out. No matter how much you think your path is set, there are always detours.
Xander straightened, turning to face me, her arms crossed. “He’s going to fight all the way down.”
I swallowed, “Yeah he is.”
“You’re backing me into a corner.”
Tightening my grip on the steering wheel, I clenched my jaw. “No, I’m not.”
The snarl that filled the car raised every hair on my body. “Not giving me options is not smart, Jami.”
I shook my head, my own frustrations rising in spite of the little voice in the back of my head yammering to shut the hell up. “You have options, Xander, you just have to decide which ones you’re going to take.” I slant a quick look at her. “Let me ask you something.”
“Who’s more important–Vidis the man or Vidis the Alpha?” I’m not being fair, I know that, but life rarely is and here was part of her problem–duty versus want.
“For him they are one and the same.”
Compassion stirred as I caught the flicker of uncertainty in her words. ” But you and I know they aren’t.” I turned into the parking lot at my favorite coffee shop and put the car in park. I turn until I can face the woman next to me. “You’re a protector, Xander, it’s who and what you are, but underneath that you’re a woman who loves a very powerful man. A man like that needs one person who he can be himself with.”
She won’t look at me, but stares out the windshield. “He won’t expose himself to that extent. An alpha can’t afford to be seen as weak.”
“So make him.”
Her hands curl into fists and a grim smile appears, adding the age of painful experience to that youthful face. “Easier said than done.”
I laugh, because whether she realizes it or not, she’s the one female in the whole world that can make Warrick Vidis remember there is more to life than being an Alpha. “I have faith in you.”
“Glad someone does,” she growls.
I turn to grab my laptop from the back seat and when I turn around, she’s gone. Poor Vidis.