9: The Thanksgiving Disaster
The black Porsche turned onto the driveway of the Parkers’ residence.
Lukan parked behind a bright pink Volkswagen Bug. Next to the Bug was a ruby red Mustang convertible.
It wasn’t hard to figure out who the cars belonged to.
Melody and Todd, Lukan thought, disgusted by their flashiness.
Then again, he was well prepared to be disgusted by everything about them.
Lukan picked up the pie dish the pumpkin pie that he’d brought with him was in. Sofiya had made it especially for the occasion. She had said that it was the closest she could come to being there to support Lukan and Jane.
Lukan cut the engine and got out of the car, making his way to the front door. Lukan froze at what had sounded like low growl. Lukan looked around him, using all his senses to try and find any threat that might be in the area. Guy watering his lawn, old lady pruning her rose bushes, kids playing in their yard…
Only partly satisfied that the growl had just been his imagination, Lukan rang the doorbell. The door opened, revealing a tall, almost-unearthly beautiful young woman with all the right curves in all the right places.
Lukan already didn’t like her. She seemed artificial to him.
The young woman tossed her light blonde hair irritably in the most attractive manner before seeing Lukan. She stopped short and looked him up and down, shamelessly undressing him with her eyes.
“Well, hello, handsome,” she said, leaning against the door seductively and licking her full, pouty lips.
Lukan inwardly rolled his eyes at her display. He had gotten so used to Jane that he had lost his taste for the type of girl that liked to play games.
“What’s your name?” she asked, her eyes dilating with desire.
She batted her eyelashes at him in a way that would have brought any other man to his knees.
I think I might vomit, he thought miserably.
“I’m Lukan Masters,” Lukan replied curtly.
“Wow, that is such a great name-”
“I’m Jane’s boyfriend.”
Melody straightened up immediately, her mouth gaping. She looked Lukan up and down again, but this time her expression was shock, not seduction.
“No. Way. I mean, I heard that Jane hooked herself some loser but you… I mean, I-”
“You are most obviously Melody,” Lukan said, shoving the pumpkin pie into Melody’s hands as he pushed past her to walk into the entryway of the house.
Melody looked at the dish in her hand and laid it on the side table along the wall none too gently.
“Todd! Get in here!!” Melody shouted shrilly.
Lukan winced as the sound pierced his sensitive ears.
“What!?” Lukan heard a male voice say to his right.
Lukan looked over to see a young man with pale blonde hair like Melody’s, only spiked with hair gel. He was wearing a pair of black rectangle glasses that matched the rest of his black emo look and in his hand held an open copy of The World’s Greatest Modern Art.
Todd removed his glasses and looked at his sister, his expression that of great irritation and impatience.
Melody walked over to him and laced her arm through his, pulling him in Lukan’s direction.
“I want you to meet someone,” Melody muttered, frowning.
Todd, suddenly aware of Lukan’s presence, fixed his stare on him disapprovingly.
“Melody, what did mom and dad tell you about bringing your…” Todd looked Lukan up and down in disgust. “…gentlemen friends to the house? After last Christmas with the eggnog incident, one would think that you’d know better.”
“That was not my fault and you know it! He took advantage of me!” she cried indignantly.
“I highly doubt he needed to,” Todd muttered dryly.
“Well, it doesn’t matter because he isn’t one of mine! Ha!”
“Oh, really? Then who does he ‘belong’ to, if I may be so brave as to ask?”
The smuggest look took its place on Melody’s face then.
“Jane,” she said with relish.
Todd visibly paled and his eyes snapped back to Lukan’s form, reevaluating him.
“No… No, that’s just not possible…” Todd said more to himself than anyone, his voice full of doubt.
“Yeah, that’s what I said,” Melody piped up, her arms folded against her cleavage-bearing halter top. “He’s way too good looking for a freak like Jane to land him.”
For the first time in several hundred years, Lukan actually wanted to hit a woman, with the exception of Mrs. Parker, whom he would’ve given his wings for a shot at.
It took great restraint not to beat Melody’s face to a pulp, but somehow he managed it.
“That’s not what I meant, Melody,” Todd snapped at his sister. “It’s just that she would’ve told me if there’d been someone.”
At that Lukan couldn’t hold back anymore. He’d been restraining himself from laying into both of them from the moment they opened their selfish, rotten mouths.
“Well, maybe if you called more than once every two months and didn’t blow your sister off when she calls to tell you about the changes in her life, including me, then you’d actually stay in the damn loop!” Lukan said hotly.
“The other day… she called me. She was trying to tell me…”
Todd trailed off, reevaluating Lukan.
“Wait, Jane told you about that?” Todd said, looking decidedly confused.
“’Told me about it?’” Lukan asked dangerously as he remembered every sob and tear, her rain-soaked hoodie, her red, puffy, sad eyes looking up at him sorrowfully, and the way she clung to him like he was the only thing in the world keeping her in orbit with the rest of the planet.
Lukan walked up to Todd, slowly – dangerously – until they were eye to eye.
“Told me about it?” Lukan ground out through his gritted teeth. “You’re lucky you are still breathing after how badly you’ve hurt her, and believe me when I say that the only reason for that is because – for some reason that I can’t for the life of me understand – Jane loves you. A lot. But if you hurt her again, you can bet your art-gallery-aficionado-ass that you won’t be breathing for long, you worthless little pansy.”
“Same goes for you, bub,” Todd said, his delicate jaw flexing irritably, his fisted hands shaking in anger.
Lukan had to admit that he was impressed. Not many guys stood up to him. Of course, that didn’t really matter after the rainy afternoon in the car.
Lukan wasn’t joking when he said that the only reason Todd was breathing was because of Jane.
Everyone turned in their heads in the direction of Jane’s voice just as she walked around the corner while drying a plate in her hands.
Her whole face lit up when her eyes fell on Lukan and it made his heart soar to see it.
“Lukan!” Jane exclaimed.
Jane walked briskly toward Lukan, passing her gaping brother and sister without as much as a glance.
“I thought I heard you come in,” Jane said as she put her arms around his neck in a warm hug, smiling.
Lukan wrapped his hands around Jane’s waist, lifting her off the ground and twirling her around, making her laugh gaily.
Todd and Melody nearly fell over when Lukan put Jane on the ground and kissed her soundly, his arms tightening around her. They nearly died of cardiac arrest when she more than reciprocated his affection.
When Lukan released Jane she looked a little disoriented, whether from the spinning or the kiss could only be guessed, though her face had taken on the slightest tinge of pink. It was rather attractive really.
“Umm… You- You should take a seat in the living room and relax while I cook dinner. It’ll be a while yet. Maybe you can bond with my brother over art and poetry or something,” Jane said, while Lukan took her hand in his.
“Yeah, that’s not gonna happen,” Lukan said, throwing a dirty look in Todd’s direction, which was returned with vigor. Lukan’s brow furrowed. “Where’s your mom?”
“She’s taking her pre-Thanksgiving siesta. Apparently it helps with the digestion,” Jane said wryly, rolling her eyes.
“So she’s taking a nap while you’re cooking dinner for six people? What about your sister, or shouldn’t I ask?” Lukan asked, throwing a condescending look in Melody’s direction.
“I was filing my nails-” Melody began defensively.
“I didn’t ask you, Barbie girl!” Lukan snapped viciously.
Melody visibly flinched and moved behind Todd a little.
Lukan ignored her, and turned back to Jane with an angry look.
“What about your dad? Your brother? What are they doing that is so vital?”
“Well, dad’s in the den watching an old football game and I think Todd was… reading…” Jane said, her voice getting a little smaller with each word.
She wasn’t stupid. She obviously knew where he was going with this.
“So you’re cooking a massive Thanksgiving dinner for six people – all of which are perfectly healthy and not doing anything important – by yourself? Why, may I ask?”
“Lukan, it’s not a big deal, really. I always do it,” Jane said with a nervous laugh, obviously embarrassed.
“Yeah, it is a big deal, Jane,” Lukan said with a longsuffering sigh. “I’ll help you.”
“What?” Jane, Todd and Melody asked in unison.
“I’ll help you cook dinner,” Lukan said again slowly as though speaking to a child.
“Lukan, you really don’t have to-” Jane began.
“You’re not a servant, Jane!” Lukan said angrily, sending Todd and Melody a scathing look. “It’s about time people stopped treating you like one!”
Lukan put his arm around Jane’s shoulders and led her in the direction of the kitchen.
“Um… Can I help?” Todd asked, sounding rightfully ashamed.
“No,” Lukan snapped. “No, you can’t.”
Lukan had forced Jane to sit and rest while he cooked the entire dinner himself. She had protested that it was unfair for him to have to cook dinner by himself, to which he had raised an eyebrow meaningfully.
It had silenced her on the subject, but only just.
Lukan had spent the whole time he was cooking finding new and improved ways to entertain Jane with funny stories and anecdotes. He had even worn the frilly pink apron he found in a drawer just to see her laugh. And she did laugh, again and again, loudly and gaily, piquing the curiosity of the Parkers, all of whom came into the kitchen to supposedly get a glass of water or some other excuse.
He always snapped at them, and snarled so that they didn’t dare come in again.
When dinnertime finally arrived Lukan was surprised. The Parkers had planned the table setup perfectly – oh, he would give them credit for that, evil, abusive bastards that they were. Todd was seated across from Lukan, and Todd made every attempt at lobotomizing his sister’s new beau by glaring a hole in Lukan’s head. Melody was seated next to Lukan on his right side, chatting away nonstop about all the things that she believed were wrong with Jane and all the reasons he shouldn’t date her. They had made an attempt to seat Jane on the other side of Melody, putting the seductress between the two supposed lovers, keeping them from looking at one another or making conversation.
Lukan had drawn the line there.
There was no way he was leaving Jane to deal with those vultures on her own without him right next to her.
“Actually, I would rather like it if Jane would sit next to me,” Lukan said, the order behind the words only barely veiled as he pulled out the chair next to himself for Jane to seat herself in.
Jane took it, apparently now confident in his ability to deal with her practically rabid family.
“But-” Mrs. Parker began.
“I’m sure, being the generous people that you are, you’ll allow me to have my way in this,” Lukan said, his voice like hard, unbreakable ice.
Jane sat next to him and no one said anything more on the subject.
They had all been at the dinner table for fifteen minutes, eating with casual conversation in play.
It had been the longest fifteen minutes of Lukan’s life.
The ‘casual conversation’ had been solely comprised of insults and belittlements showered on Jane’s head from the entire family with the exception of Todd who remained completely silent, continuing his attempts at lobotomy-by-glare.
Every remark had been addressed to Lukan in a way that made their intentions obvious: they wanted him to break up with Jane. It didn’t make much of a difference to him what their reasons were; he still just wanted to rip their throats out.
It occurred to Lukan that the only times he felt particularly violent was when he felt that someone was a threat to Jane.
The only thing that had held Lukan back was Jane’s hand on his arm and the pleading look in her eyes. She obviously just wanted to have Thanksgiving in peace, no showdowns between her fake boyfriend and the family that wasn’t really even hers. Jane took insult after insult with patience beyond anything that could be expected of a saint, let alone a teenage girl. She received cruel remark upon cruel remark with a grace that showed Lukan the biggest between her and Melody: class.
Jane had it in spades; her sister had none.
None of the Parkers have any, Lukan thought angrily.
It was when Lukan was at the end of his rope with their tirade of insults that Todd spoke for the first time.
“I have an announcement to make,” he said, getting the attention of everyone in the room. “I haven’t been at college like I said I was. I never even registered. I’ve been working – painting.”
Here he turned to Jane.
“That’s why I haven’t called you in the last two months,” he said, smiling. “I knew that if I talked with you it would all come out and I so badly wanted to be a success and make you proud before I said anything. Well, the other day when you called, I was at the opening of an art gallery. That art gallery was featuring my work. I sold twelve paintings, some of which I got over a thousand dollars for.”
Todd was practically glowing. His parents were glowering.
“That had better not be true! You said you were at college – you even gave us the administration’s phone number!” Mr. Parker shouted.
“No, I gave you my friend, Bill’s cell phone number. He told me you called twice to check up on my grades. He gave me A’s and B’s, I hear,” Todd said smugly, while his parents mouths fell open in shock. He turned back to Jane. “I’m a success, Janie! They love me and I never would’ve taken the chance if you hadn’t told me so many times to stand up for my dreams. I don’t know how I’ll ever repay you.”
“Try returning her calls, jackass,” Lukan mumbled loudly enough for everyone at the table to hear.
“Todd, this isn’t like you,” Mrs. Parker said, cutting off Todd before he could respond to Lukan. “Why would you do something like this? Lawyers have nice, steady work, and a fat paycheck. It’s a wonderful career for you.”
“No, it’s not,” Todd replied determinedly. “Art is a wonderful career for me. Painting makes me happy, and if that’s not enough for you then you must not love me very much.”
Todd’s tone was that of unbendable steel. His parents remained silent.
Melody wasn’t quite that smart.
“Great, Jane, another genius move. You just don’t know when to keep your stupid mouth-”
“Shut up!” Lukan shouted, banging his hand down on the table so hard that the tremors shattered several glass dishes. “If any of you insults, berates or belittles Jane just one more time, I swear, I’ll rip all your throats out and have you for dinner instead of the turkey! I’ve never seen people act the way you-”
Lukan froze. A noise just outside the window. Low, barely distinguishable from the wind’s journey through the leaves of the bushes outside, but it was there, and Jane heard it too.
A low growl…
“Get down!” Lukan shouted, pushing Jane out of the way just as the window behind them shattered, two fully transformed lycans landing on the table, breaking dishes and smashing the yams, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes with their sharp-clawed paws.