I have no content today, so here is a snippet.
I sat in a rocking chair on the top floor balcony and sipped my iced tea. On my left, Martin rested on a blanket in the Lotus pose. His eyes were closed. He said meditation helped him with the Bison rage.
It was the golden hour, that magical 60 minutes before sunset when the light turned soft and warm, and the first hints of red and yellow tinted the sky. The world was beautiful, and the tree line at the end of the kill zone turned lovely enough to frame, the tall pines spreading their fluffy branches as if trying to hold on to sunlight.
I glanced at the closest tower. The guard hunkering down under that metal roof was a teenager. A boy, with short dark hair and glasses. Sixteen tops. On the surface it seemed like an easy enough way to keep teens employed: sit on the wall, watch the woods, ring the bell if you see anything. Except when the trouble started, they would be on the front line.
The door to my left swung open and Troy padded out onto the balcony carrying a notebook and a small plastic cooler.
“Did you escape?”
He nodded. “Went out the back door when I heard them coming.”
Troy sat into the other rocking chair and put the cooler by his feet. His left arm seemed to be functional, but he was moving it carefully.
“Did you eat?” I asked.
I got up, went inside, went downstairs to the kitchen, and grabbed a tray. Penderton generously provided barbeque, so I loaded a plate with brisket and smoked chicken, added a beef rib with about a pound of meat on it, a chunk of cheddar, and some fresh crusty bread, and carried it back up to Troy.
He stared at the tray.
“Pledge of loyalty not required,” I told him.
He looked even more uncomfortable. “Thank you. I didn’t mean to inconvenience you, Consort.”
Ah. It was the fact that an alpha got up and fetched the food that was the problem. “I won’t tell anyone about it if you eat your food.”
He set his notebook down and tore into his dinner.
I sat back in my chair.
When shapeshifters ate, they focused on the food completely. They didn’t talk, they didn’t socialize. They ate. Even their formal dinners, like Pack Thanksgiving, went totally silent for the first few minutes.
It took Troy about a quarter of an hour to finish devouring the barbeque. Once his plate was empty, he sat back, a small, contented smile on his face.
“I know all this stuff is weird and exciting, but you have to take care of yourself,” I told him.
He nodded. “Yes, because if I die, nobody in Wilmington would have any idea how to treat a wounded shapeshifter.”
“No, because if you die, you will be dead. And all of us will be very sad.”
“Things just didn’t go your way today,” Martin rumbled from his blanket, his eyes still closed. “First, you’ve got your arm broken. Then the Consort had to bring you food. Now you are getting a lecture. It’s hard to be Troy today.”
“Don’t make me come over there,” Troy growled.
Martin opened his eyes. “And do what?”
Troy showed him his teeth.
“Stay where you are, and you’ll get to keep all of those.” Martin closed his eyes.