Marcus watched the woman in front of him look over the menu, he already knew what he wanted to eat. He was a simple man, give him the daily special and he was happy. Eloise was an interesting person, he loved talking with her about anything, he wanted to know more about what she did at school. He learned she worked way too much. She needed a break and he wanted to be the one to help her with it, he had amassed quite the fortune from just a year of creating his business. Seemed many people wanted protection, be they famous, rich or business owners.
“Know what you want?” he asked, once she set down the menu, her delicate hands folded in front of her.
“I think I am going to try their meatloaf. I love making it and always try it at a new restaurant,” she replied, and he chuckled.
“You said you liked to go to cooking classes?” he probed.
“I won a voucher for six free cooking classes for a place in the mall. I enjoyed them so much, I put aside a little bit from each of my paychecks so I can afford a course over the summer when I have more free time. I want to take the baking class set next, they are teaching how to make and decorate a cake.” Her eyes lit up as she talked about baking and cooking.
“How expensive are the classes?” he asked, maybe he could get her the set for Christmas.
“Depends on how many are in the set. This particular baking one is all about making cakes and decorating them. It is five classes long and once a week on Wednesday nights. That’s why I need to wait until the summer to take the classes. They would cut into my tutoring sessions,” she explained, his eyebrows shot up at the knowledge of her tutoring during the year as well.
“Who do you tutor? He knew plenty of families in town because he employed a lot of their men.
“I have a couple fourth graders I am helping improve their reading skills. I would love to be the reading teacher at our school, but we already have one. I am waiting for her to retire, which should be in the next year or two,” she shared.
“What types of things do you teach in school?” He wanted to learn everything he could about her and teaching.
“The usual, reading, writing, math, science, social studies. What is it like running your own business?” she asked, as the waitress came by to get their orders.
“What can I get you Marcus?” Brenda asked, she winked leaning her hip against the table, giving her back to Eloise. He frowned at the blatant display of disrespect for his date.
“Eloise, what would you like?” He pointedly nodded in her direction, Brenda huffed and turned her body to face her.
“I’d like the meatloaf with a side of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli please,” she answered with a smile.
“Fine, Marcus?” She turned a blinding smile on him, and he fought the urge to roll his eyes. This was the first time he didn’t like her flirting with him. It was because his mate Eloise was sitting across from him.
“I’ll take the special like always. Can we get refills on our drinks too?” he asked, pointing to their empty glasses.
“Sure,” she replied, with a pat on his arm and walked back to the kitchen. He watched Eloise narrow her eyes at Brenda and had to fight a smirk. She hadn’t like Brenda flirting with him anymore than he had.
“I am sorry, you are the first date I’ve brought here,” he explained, and her eyes widened.
“You are,” he answered, reaching over to take her hand in his.
“Do you not date?” she asked, turning her hand so they were touching palm to palm. His bear purred, he wanted to reach across and kiss her so bad he did just that. He sat up and leaned forward, she followed his movement and soon their lips were touching. He pulled back after a minute thoroughly unsatisfied with the brief touch of lips.
“I’ve dated here and there, but had a bad experience before I went into the Marines. I have been very selective in who I’ve been seen with, although I wouldn’t call it dating long term,” he explained. She looked at him with sharp eyes and cocked her head to the side.
“Am I just a fling then?” Her eyes darkened, and she sat back from him her hand leaving his.
“No! It is hard to explain here, but I feel a connection to you I’ve never felt to anyone else. Not even to the girl I thought was my mate back in Texas.” He reached for her hand again, but she tucked it in her lap giving him a wary look.
“I know how shifters are, are we mates?”
“My bear says so,” he answered.
“But you don’t?” she questioned. He wanted to smack himself in the face for the way he phrased his reply.
“I don’t know, I want you badly I know that. I love listening to you talk, I like looking at you. You are sexy as hell, and last night in your little red dress I couldn’t resist picturing you writhing beneath me as I made love to you.” He sat back, his bear upset their mate didn’t want to touch them.
“Sounds like being mates to me,” she replied with a shrug.
“How would you know?” he asked, and their meals came out. She took her time unrolling her silverware and placing her paper napkin in her lap.
“Roxie and Josie,” she answered, and took a bite. He watched as she closed her eyes and savored her dinner.
“Oh wow! Tell Lou this is amazing,” she announced, taking another bite, with a small bit of mashed potatoes. He smiled, she looked like she was enjoying every bite of her meal. He almost forgot his chicken fried steak sitting in front of him as he watched. Her mouth became the most sensual part of her body. Her lips would open slightly for a bite, then close together in the most perfect pout. A small drop of gravy sat at the corner of her mouth, he couldn’t resist and reached over to wipe it off, then licked it off his thumb. Her eyes darkened with desire when he sucked off his finger, he purposefully took his time to torment her.
“Not fair,” she whispered, with a playful glare. He laughed out loud this time and cut into his dinner.
“Sorry, I couldn’t resist. You are so sexy when enjoying your food. I like that about a woman, one who enjoys what she wants and doesn’t worry about what her date will think,” he shared, and her cheeks took on the barest hint of a blush.
“Is your meal good?” she asked, he could tell she was trying to change the subject. He nodded and cut her a piece offering it to her. He was rewarded when she leaned forward and took it from his fork with her mouth. She chewed and took in his meal, her head bobbed with approval and then she cut him a piece of her own dinner.
“Want to try mine? Although if you come here a lot, you’ve already had it.” She held out her fork offering him a bite. He didn’t hesitate and took the bite offered.
“Delicious,” he proclaimed, licking his lips keeping his eyes trained on hers. He meant more than just the food, he loved looking at her.
“You never did answer me,” she said, and he gave her a confused look.
“What did you ask again?”
“About your protection agency we got side tracked with another conversation.” She smiled and he remembered her talking about being mates.
“Well, running my company is very satisfying. I helped Roxie retrieve all her paintings earlier this year. I’ve been hired by the rich and famous to help keep them and their children safe when traveling around the world. Just this past week Rhett hired on a group of my men to be bouncers for his club,” he shared, finishing his dinner.
“That sounds like a lot of work,” she commented, her plate was empty he noticed. Her eyes were trained solely on him.
“It is, but I enjoy it. I’ve been able to set aside for any future needs. I use about twenty shifters all ex-military,” he explained, proud of all he had accomplished.
“That is wonderful, you always hear about veterans coming home and becoming homeless because they cannot find a job. How do you help with PTSD?” she wanted to know, he cocked his head to the side and thought about it.
“For my guys I find keeping them busy helps. I also don’t let them go to jobs I know might cause flashbacks. If a job causes flashbacks, I come out and help them through it. I require all my men to go to therapy to help them come back into civilian life. I found it was helpful for me. It took a while for me to realize the man at the grocery store wasn’t strapping a bomb underneath his jacket.”
“Whoa, I had no idea,” she whispered, and reached out to take his hand. He took it, letting her warmth spread over his body comforting him.
“Few do, ready to go home?” he asked, waving Brenda over for their check.
“Yes, I need to change and get to work,” she replied, and he frowned.
“I’m not sure going out to work is the best thing for when you have a stalker,” he said, handing Brenda enough money to cover the bill and tip.
“I need the money or I’ll fall behind in my bills,” she argued, he could see the hard set of her eyes.
“Can I offer a proposal then?” He was hesitant, but he wanted to offer to cover her bills for the weeks they needed to be together until they found her stalker.
“Go on,” she prompted.
“How about we talk about this at my house? I think it will take longer than just a quick yes or no,” he offered, and she nodded. Standing he held out his hand, and she took it. Walking out to his car he wrapped an arm around her shoulders to keep her warm. She snuggled right into his side, where she fit perfectly. He loved the feeling of her pressed against him.
“Here you go,” he said, opening the door, he helped her up into his large truck and walked around to the other side. Climbing in, he looked over to see her deep in thought, sending a quick text to Rhett wanting to talk, he started the car and drove them home in a comfortable silence.