Cherry

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Feel the beat from the tangerine...

I take a deep breath and wave my hand in front of my warm face. Any second now Aiden will be walking through the door with his parents.

I am so nervous.

I'm sitting in his huge office forcing myself to sit calmly instead of pacing around like a mad woman.

I hear voices outside the door and my heart feels like it's going to explode through my chest.

The door opens quickly revealing a gorgeous woman who rushes into the office and walks toward me quickly.

"Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!" She's repeating over and over again.

I stand and open my mouth to speak but she grabs me and pulls me toward her, locking me in a warm embrace.

"Mom! This is you being chill?!" Aiden yells at her.

"Hush, boy," she says as she pulls me back to look at me.

"Wow. He said you were the prettiest girl he's ever seen. You undersold it, son!" She turns to him with a quirked brow.

The older man standing next to Aiden pats his shoulder and chuckles.

"Maybe... introduce yourself, Cyn."

"Oh, right! I'm Cynthia, Aiden's mother. I am just over the moon to meet you, Cassidy. I always wanted a daughter!" She squeals as she pulls me into her chest again.

"Mom!"

She waves her hand dismissively at him before taking me by the hand to sit.
I'm relieved that she is so happy and excited to meet me but part of my heart aches. I wish I still had a mother to introduce Aiden.

He moves through the room quickly to sit beside me.

"I'm Harris," his dad extends his hand to me with a warm, genuine smile.

At some point someone brings a cart with lunch for us. I can't believe it's already lunchtime, we've completely lost track of time.

Aiden groans and covers his eyes, "Dad!"

"What? It's true! Just listen to him next time the radio is playing. He always gets the lyrics wrong to every song!"

"Remember Dancing Queen?" His mom laughs.

"Ok, wait! I was like five!"

His dad starts singing the song,
"Dancing Queen, Feel the beat from the tangerine!"

Everyone is laughing, my sides ache, I haven't laughed like this, possibly ever.

"Tangerine and tambourine sound the same to a little kid!" He defendes himself.

Eventually the conversation makes it's way into more serious territory. Aiden and his dad are discussing yesterday morning's meeting.

"Once and Alpha always an Alpha," his mom rolls her eyes.

"So, has the council been notified?"

"Yes, I spoke to the chairman of defense as soon as the meeting ended," Aiden's voice sounds different when he's discussing business. There is no tenderness, it's all authoritative and sexy.

"They have no idea how many rogues it is?"

"Witnesses say at least four but their stories are inconsistent, to play it safe I'm saying up to ten. There are also at least two human men with them."

My interest is peeked but I don't want to be nosy.

Aiden takes my hand in his, "something strange is happening with a group of rogues about an hour from here. The Alpha of the pack nearest the issue has reached out for help."

I'm still fascinated by the politics and structure of everything here. The way they handle problems is so different from us.

Eventually, we separate, his parent's going home, while Aiden and I take the official packlands tour.

Once we've gone through the packhouse he leads me to a golf cart to see the rest of the grounds. This place is huge!

He drives us into the woods, down a small gravel road. When we get to a large clearing by the lake he stops the cart.

He takes my hand and leads me toward the newly started construction. It looks like the foundation and some of the frame has been built.

He pulls a large blueprint from the back of the cart and spreads it out over the grass. I'm not exactly sure what we're looking at but it's looks like its going to be a rather large house.

"You should start thinking about things like paint colors and what kind of floors you want. I haven't made any specifications for any of that, it all needs to be done, cabinet colors, countertops, everything."

I look up at him, confused.

"This is going to be our house, Cass. I'll put you in contact with the contractors whenever you have time after classes in the next few weeks. They have a million sample books so you can pick the stuff for the inside."

"This... our house..."

I think I'm hallucinating. He just said this was going to be our house?

"You thought we were going to stay in the packhouse? After last night I think its pretty clear that we need space...and soundproof walls."

I blush and look over the blueprints again.

"It will take awhile to finish but... welcome home, Cass."

I fling my arms around his neck and his chest rumbles with laughter as he pulls me tightly to him.

"Does this mean you like it?"

"Yes," I whisper. I feel overwhelmed by the last few days. Meeting his parents felt better than I expected. They accepted me instantly, they brought me in and treated me like family right away.

"Come on," he pulls me up to stand and we head back to the golf cart.

We drive the opposite way we came, down the main road until we come to a huge playground. Several pack members are setting up the baseball diamond off to the side.

"We're having a softball tournament tomorrow night," he says pulling the cart over, watching everyone happily talking and setting things up.

"Are we coming?"

"I was hoping you would want to. I know you have classes tomorrow."

"I want to! When does it start?"

"Six. Everyone will be so excited."

A little girl spots us and runs toward the cart.

"Alpha Aiden!"

"Hi, Cora!"

"Is this Luna Cassidy?" You're so pretty!" She reaches up and touches my hair.

"This is her," Aiden's smile is wide across his face.

"You don't look like a hole?" She turns to me confused.

"A hole?" Aiden and I both question.

"Miss Calista told my mommy she's a hole who dances on a pole."

I feel Aiden shake angrily beside me. As upsetting as this should be I snort loudly.

Aiden turns to me as I try to compose myself but I snort again, shaking as I try to hide my laughter.

"A hole?" I giggle.

"It's not funny, Cassidy."

He sends Cora back to the playground and grips the steering wheel angrily as he drives us back to the packhouse.

"You're not a whore."

"Or a hole," I joke.

"Goddamnit, Cass. This isn't funny. She should not be talking about you like that around the pack. Calling you a whore..."

"Look, I was a stripper, Aiden, it comes with the territory. I don't like it but... come on... 'hole' is kind of funny!"



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