Eloise had to stifle a laugh, Beth was fuming at Marcus for trying to turn her on at the table. She bet everyone could smell her arousal and were being polite by not saying anything. Trip sat to her left and she’d caught his eyes widening when Marcus brushed against her core with his fingers.
“While you are in town, we must do a girls’ day. We will leave the kids with the men and go enjoy ourselves,” Beth announced.
“That sounds wonderful Beth, I haven’t had a day to pamper myself in a long time,” she remarked. She would have to dip into her emergency fund to pay for the day, but she knew it would be worth it.
“Excellent, we will go on the twenty sixth. When do you fly home?” Beth asked, she looked at Marcus this time. He’d just put a huge bite of food in his mouth. Taking pity on him she answered for him.
“We fly home on the twenty-eighth. My best friend Josie is having her baby shower for family and friends. I promised to be there, before I met Marcus.”
“Does she know what she is having?” Dana asked, she was trying to wrangle Kelly in the high chair.
“No, she wants it to be a surprise. Her mate Rhett has been a mess. I suspect she is having a boy,” she shared.
“I’m impressed she is waiting. When I had the boys, ultrasounds weren’t very accurate. Now there is a blood test you can have done when you first find out. It is amazing how times have changed,” Beth remarked and Eloise smiled. She knew when she had children she’d want to know as soon as possible.
“Josie is very much a free spirit,” she said, her heart felt heavy. She’d never had the chance to just be free. Her whole childhood she watched her mom struggle to pay the bills. Now as an adult she was in the same boat. Her week with Marcus was the closest she had come.
“Sounds like there is more behind those words,” Trip pointed out, she turned to look at him and nodded. She didn’t want to talk about it with children around. They deserved to be carefree for as long as possible.
“Kids, go play until we call you for dessert,” Trip ordered. Watching in awe all the children picked up their plates, pushed in chairs, and marched into the kitchen. The adults waited until the last child walked out of the house and the screen door banged, before turning their eyes on her. Marcus was holding her hand on top of the table. He knew about her past, and was showing his support.
“Is there more to this stalker situation I need to know?” Trip asked, his voice gruff, but soft.
“I had a stalker my senior year of high school into my freshman year of college. I managed to catch him on tape in the act of leaving me notes and gifts. His name was William and his family had moved to my town. I said hello to him, nothing out of the ordinary and he latched onto me. The kids at my school were ruthless to him. He was short and skinny, the football players loved tormenting him. He took my kindness as we were meant to be together forever. I set him straight after he followed me across three state lines.”
“What did you father do about him?” Trip asked, her heart clenched.
“Nothing, he and my mom were never married. They dated for a while, but in the end he found someone else. I have three half-brothers. The oldest is twenty and in college at Ohio State.”
“Was he in your life?” Beth asked, she had unshed tears sitting in her eyes.
“Two weeks a year, spring break and a week over the summer. He lives in Ohio and my mom and I lived in Washington. It was an expensive plane trip, one my mom could barely afford,” she explained, having Marcus with her eased the pain of being rejected by her father.
“Do you still see him?” Travis asked, she shook her head.
“On my eighteenth birthday, he told me I was officially an adult and he no longer felt obligated towards me. My mom told him about William, he laughed and asked how on earth I managed to attract a stalker. I knew then he never cared for me. I haven’t spoken to him in thirteen years come February.”
“That is awful,” Beth remarked, she reached across the table and patted her hand.
“I’ve learned to live with it. I love my mom and we are very close,” Eloise said, she wanted to reassure Beth she was fine with the way things were between her and her dad.
“Now that you are Marcus’ mate, you’ve got a whole family to surround you and your mom,” Trip told her, she looked up at him in surprise. She hadn’t thought about Marcus’ family becoming hers now that they mated.
“Thank you.” She smiled up at Trip, he gave her a nod with a soft smile of his own.
“So what are you doing about your stalker?” Travis asked.
“We are trying to lure him out,” Marcus replied, he took her hand and placed a gentle kiss on her knuckles.
“What will you do when you catch him?” Matt asked, Eloise realized all the men at the table were holding their mates hands. Rob was listening intently with his hands steepled, she could tell he was processing everything.
“Turn him over to the police. There isn’t anything else we can do legally,” he replied, Eloise wondered if he might try to do something less legal if given the chance.
“Do you have an idea who it might be?” Clyde inquired.
“We have three men who might be my stalker. William was my stalker from high school and we found out he moved near me recently for a job. A father of one of my students, or the man who tried to drag me off at a Mate Me event in September.”
“Wait what?” Beth gasped.
“Eloise, how are you so calm about everything? You’ve been through so much!” Beth demanded, she got up from her seat and hugged Eloise tight around the shoulders.
“Grandma can we get dessert?” Jill asked, she peeked her head in the dining room.
“Of course, pumpkin.” Beth walked over to her granddaughter, scooping her up, and bringing her into the kitchen.
“Once the kids have dessert, I want to talk about the shifter who tried to drag you off. This sounds more complicated than just a stalker,” Trip informed her. Looking at him Eloise wondered what he was thinking.