Thea had never really paid attention to the passage of time before. Now that she was a werewolf and would, hypothetically, live forever, she noticed it a great deal. Weeks went by and Cyrus was finally deemed in control enough to leave Bran's. He moved in with her, temporarily, until he could find the perfect place to build his own home. Fall turned into winter, the holidays came upon them, and still Asil kept his distance, to an extent. He made sure there were no further moments of temptation by not giving in to the urge to kiss her again. It frustrated Thea to no end but she couldn't force the old wolf's hand. She couldn't make him take that next step.
Christmas came and it was always such a big family thing for the Stavros clan that it was hard with just her and Cyrus. So they invited Sage and Asil. Thea cooked a big dinner, at least with them being werewolves nothing would go to waste, and because she couldn't think of something to buy for Asil, she decided to try her hand at knitting and made him a scarf. It wasn't perfect but it looked good.
Asil had a similar issue. He wasn't sure what to get Thea. He knew she was patiently waiting for him to proclaim her as his mate, and he longed to do so, but still he hesitated. He wanted to court her properly but his wolf wasn't making that easy. It wanted their gift to be his proclamation. He finally broke down and asked Cyrus for some suggestions.
"Hmm, gift ideas. Well, Thea loves to read," Cyrus said after a few minutes. "She doesn't have any one specific genre she likes more than others but she does have some favorite authors; Tolkien especially," he added.
With that knowledge Asil set out to get her something memorable. To that end he got her a first edition, first impression copy of The Hobbit or There and Back Again, published in 1937, and first editions, first impressions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, all four signed by the author.
When Thea opened the package from Asil she just stared for a moment. "Oh my gods," she breathed. "Asil... these... they're amazing," she said, stunned. Her gift to him was nothing compared to the precious treasure he'd gifted her with.
"I hoped you would like it, Little Omega," he replied. He felt the same way about her gift to him, that it was precious, because she made it for him.
"I... don't know what to say," she replied and looked at him. He had the scarf wrapped loosely around his neck. "I'm... I'm sorry, my gift is so lame," she added, voice tinged with embarrassment.
Asil scoffed at that. "Lame? I happen to think it's beautiful. It comes from the heart, yes? That makes it very precious to me, Thea."
"You're not just saying that to make me feel better, are you?"
"I will never lie to you, Little Omega. Never."
Thea gave him a soft smile. "Okay then." She had to take him at his word. She was working on using her nose to smell lies but she hadn't perfected it yet. Not that she really thought he would lie to her.
When Asil left, after dinner, and then Sage and Cyrus left to spend some time alone, Thea sighed softly. This was, by far, the quietest Christmas she'd ever had. Christmas in the Stavros house was always filled with noise and laughter. She was putting dishes away when her phone rang. She glanced at the number and laughed a little. Of course her papa would call once things settled down a bit.
"Merry Christmas kopela mou," Mikolas said as soon as she said hello.
"Merry Christmas papa. It sounds like things are still a bit lively there," Thea replied. She could hear laughing in the background and knew it was the twins.
"Ne, it seems they're reluctant to let the festivities die since we're short two members of the Stavros clan," Mikolas said with a faint chuckle. "How are you Althea? And how is Cyrus?" he asked.
"We're both well papa, I promise. Give everyone our love, ne?" she replied.
"Of course. I know you are both grown up, and I am so very proud of you, but you are still my children and I will always worry about you."
Thea's eyes teared up a little. She realized then how much she missed all of them. "I know papa. You don't know any other way to be."
Mikolas chuckled. "That is true. And Asil, has he been true to his word?"
"Ne, very true to it. And this will come as no shock to you, but you were right about his interest in me."
"I told you manari mou, a papa knows these things. He is good to you?"
"He is," she replied. He didn't need to know that Asil was being stubborn about taking things further.
"I hear an unspoken 'but' in there. What's wrong, Althea?" he asked and it was that commanding tone he'd often used when she was a child.
"Nothing is wrong papa. Asil is from a different time and he does things at a slower pace."
Mikolas laughed. "You never were a very patient child," he teased his daughter.
"And that, unfortunately, didn't change when I became a werewolf," she admitted.
"Do I need to get your brother to have a chat with him?" he asked.
"Okhi, it's okay papa. He'll come around soon, I'm sure," she replied.
"Is that Thea?" a voice said in the background and Thea smiled. Petros and Petrina were the youngest of the Stavros clan. At eighteen they'd just started college and even though they lived within driving distance they both decided to live on campus in order to get 'the full college experience'.
"Ne, I suppose you want to talk to your sister," Mikolas said and handed the phone to Petros.
"Hey adelfi. So what's it like in the middle of nowhere Montana?" Petros asked.
"Hey Petros. It's very quiet with a lot of wide open space," she replied with a soft laugh.
"Sounds boring. I mean I can understand why you moved there, to get away from that malaka, and I really wish papa would let me and Helios give him a sound beating but papa says no so we'll leave him be, but Cyrus has always been the party type. I just don't get him staying there. What gives?"
Thea wanted to tell him everything, but not now, not over the phone. "You know how protective Cy is of me, and after what happened with Robert, there at the end of our marriage, Cy feels like he has to look out for me."
"I guess I can get that. Wait, are you having trouble? Do we need to worry?" he asked.
"No, there's no trouble to worry about. Besides, what makes you think I'm the only reason he stayed?" Thea countered. It was funny, with her father and mother she often used the Greek words for yes and no, but with her siblings she didn't.
Petros frowned at the phone. "What do you...? Ohhhhhh... please tell me she's hot?" he asked.
"I wouldn't know. I don't judge a woman's attractiveness. You're welcome to ask Cy though," Thea replied.
"Oh no, not happening. He'd kick my butt next time he saw me."
Thea laughed at that. "True, he would. What is all that noise?" she asked because in the background she heard a lot of jeering between her siblings.
"The noise? Oh, that's Helios. Mama got him that new game system he wanted and he set it up here so we could all play. He's getting his butt beat by Petrina," he said with a grin she could hear in his voice.
"Hey! I wanna talk too," Petrina said and tried to snatch the phone from her twin.
"Looks like my time's up. Love you Thea," Petros said before he handed the phone to his twin.
"Love you too, Tros," Thea replied.
"Hey Thea, Merry Christmas," Petrina said then sighed. "It's really unfair of you to leave me, mama, and Kalika here to deal with the boys," she joked.
"Hey to you too. You know it's not like that," Thea replied.
"I know, I'm just teasing. I miss you though. And Cy. Christmas is always a family thing and you two aren't here. It's not quite the same, you know?"
"I know. I miss you too. Maybe when you have your next break from school you can come for a visit."
"Oh, that could be fun. We could go hiking. Papa said you live in a good area for that."
"I do. You would love the mountains here."
"Then this summer I am so there," Petrina said and Thea laughed. "Gotta go, it's my turn again. Love you, Thea."
"Love you too, Trina," Thea replied. She'd been holding her emotions in check but the next voice on the phone made her want to cry.
"Your papa says you're happy there. Is that true?"
"Hi mama. It's true. I miss all of you, of course, but I needed the change. I didn't realize how much until I got here."
Xenia Stavros sighed with relief. "It's good you're happy little dove." She had a bird name for all of her children. Cyrus was little eagle, Helios, who was two years younger than Thea, was little hawk, Kalika, who was a year older than the twins, and three years younger than Thea, was little robin, Petrina was little raven and Petros was little falcon. Thea was the one who was always trying to bring peace to her siblings which was why she was little dove. The symbol of peace. "You hadn't been for some time. We all saw it, but you had to be so independent. I am so proud of you for doing what you felt you needed to do in order to find your happiness again. Your papa says your home is lovely. Once the weather warms up we will come for a visit."
"I'd like that mama, I'd like it a lot," Thea said and wiped at the tears in her eyes.
"Hey adelfi, wish you were here," Helios called out over top of their mother.
"Tell Helios I love him too," Thea said.
"I will, little dove. Here's Kalika," Xenia said and handed the phone off to her fourth child.
"Hey Thea. So, papa says you have someone eyeing you, what's he like?"
"Leave it to you, Kali, to get right to the heart of things," Thea said and laughter bubbled out. She'd needed that. "His name is Asil and he's... very different. A bit old fashioned, which I like, a little intense, and very sweet. And no, he doesn't have a sister I can introduce you to."
Kalika laughed. "Darn, you know me too well. You sound happy adelfi, and he sounds like a good catch. Is he good to you?"
"Well, we're taking things slowly but yes, he is good to me," Thea replied. She was the first person Kalika had felt safe coming out to as lesbian and she'd always felt honored and humbled by that.
"He better be. We looked the other way before, we won't do that again," Kalika said. "I better let you get off here. Give Cy our love. Love you," she added.
"I will. Love you too, Kali." She spoke with her father for just a few more minutes before they hung up.
Sitting there looking at her phone, and thinking about what she'd told Kalika about them taking things slowly, she decided maybe she needed to give Asil a little... push after all. With that thought in mind she put down her phone, grabbed her bag and keys, and headed out to her car.
Asil sat in his living room sipping tea and pressing the scarf Thea had given him to his nose. It smelled of Thea, he knew it would for only a little while, and he savored the way her scent clung to the yarn. He heard her car pull into his driveway and he frowned. Was something wrong? "Thea? What's wrong?" he asked when he met her on the porch.
Thea saw him exit the house and smiled a little. She'd known he would recognize her car. "Nothing's wrong Asil," she replied. She joined him on the porch before she continued. "I just wanted to give you something else for Christmas," she added.
Asil cocked a brow at her. She had no gift in her hands and she'd left her bag in her car. "What is that, my dear?"
"This," she replied and leaned up and kissed him. It wasn't a shy, gentle kiss. It was filled with passion and when she ended it and stepped back she saw the hunger in his eyes. "Merry Christmas, Asil," she said softly and before he could respond she went back to her car, got in, and headed home. She hadn't gotten exactly what she wanted for Christmas, she hadn't gotten a solid commitment from the man she and her wolf had already chosen, but she knew they were one step closer to that now.