In celebration of my upcoming novella, Little Red and the Surly Bear, I thought I’d explore a scene from the story from one of my supporting character’s point of view.
Maddy pinched her son, swatting him out of the way as he pulled a fresh onion ring from the top of a patron’s plate. “You quit that before I serve you up to our customers instead.”
Theo grumbled and rolled his eyes, so she swatted him again.
A deep smoke-laced coffee scent inched through the kitchen window, narrowing Maddy’s eyes on the curls as Kalib walked to the table where Kaia sat. And neither of them told her they were coming? Oh no, sweets. That is not how she ran her social life or safehouses, and that vampire knew as much.
When she finished the fried catfish plate and served it to her customer at the bar, she detoured and slipped into the empty seat at their table. “Two of my favorite people show up at my place, and nobody warns me first. You’d better be planning me a surprise party, or I’m going to be offended.”
“Surprise.” Kalib smiled without fang, warmth and intimacy bled into it like a promise to make it up to her.
Maddy turned to Kaia, knowing her humanity and newness to paranormal persuasiveness, she didn’t hold it against her. Much.
“I sent you a message before I left.” Kaia’s green eyes blinked at her as is if to amplify her innocence.
A short shuffle with her phone, and there it was, just as her friend said, a heads-up text. Maybe Kaia was more of a match for this group than she thought. “Well, apparently you did. So, I’ll forgive you. You, on the other hand, are in the dog house.”
Maddy pointed at him to accentuate her point.
He played his part, dramatic in shock. “If this is what I get for surprising a friend, I will have to choose better friends, maus.”
Maybe he played that part too well, anxiety fluttered under her ribs for a heartbeat before she pushed it away. They’d been friends a long time. More than on a few occasions.
It carried her back to the kitchen.
Dev slipped in through the back—the real reason Kalib was at their establishment. Should have figured.
Her brother leaned in to give her a kiss on the cheek before tagging Javier for a brief chat.
Maddy shook it off, digging into her work: tasting, seasoning, stirring, scooping. Managing the pub’s kitchen and trying to ignore the guilt of having pushed Kalib away those centuries ago. Before she knew the kind of man he was. Before she’d had Theo.
She needed a fresh air break. Or maybe a cigarette and a glass of bourbon.
Hitting a lull in the line, Maddy did just that, sneaking off as Kalib grabbed her brother’s attention. As much as she brush him off, the concrete feeling of his attention caressed her spine.
The backdoor sealed the noise and stew of scents inside, and Maddy finally found some relief. She fished out the pack of cigarettes she kept for times like this from behind the dumpster and pulled the acrid smoke into her lungs with relish before the backdoor opened again, and Kalib stepped out.
“Tsk, tsk, maus. Do you not know how quickly those death sticks will kill you?” Unceremoniously close, he slipped the cigarette from her fingers and took his own drag, the smoke pluming thicker and darker on his exhale.
Kalib leaned her back against the brick via proxy as he returned her nicotine. His proximity stirring old feelings with the new ones.
The temptation to draw him closer strangled her. Too close to mating season.
She glanced at the door between heartbeats.
“Afraid of being caught by your pious brother?”
That pulled a snort out of her. “My brother? Pious? I think you’ve had something a little heavier than tobacco.”
Those elegant fingers stopped her short, drawing her hair from her face and tucking it behind her ear.
Sanity said to push him away, but his smoke slipped into her mouth before he kissed her—intense like the first time but not fueled by the same childish neediness.
Still she could not control her ragged breath when he pulled back.
“Consider this my apology for showing up unannounced and playing matchmaker. The romantic in me can’t seem to help myself.”