With the party in full swing Marcus watched his mate play Christmas songs on the piano. He’d kept a running timer on his phone, after an hour he would be pulling her away from the piano and walking around to introduce her to more of his friends.
“Marcus!” Jay called, clapping him on the shoulder, he followed Marcus’ line of sight and smiled.
“She is pretty good, but why is she playing for the party?” Nick asked, he had come up on the other side of Marcus.
“My sister-in-laws begged her to play. We compromised on an hour, she has five minutes left. Then I am taking my mate and keeping her right by my side,” he informed his friends. Jay laughed and looked around the party.
“Your mom always knows how to throw an awesome party. Where are all the nieces and nephews?”
“Some are in bed, the older ones are in the kitchen keeping a close eye on all the Christmas cookies,” Marcus replied, with a nod over to his oldest nephew Vincent.
“Why is Vincent glaring at Ellie?” Nick asked.
“Not sure, ever since we got here yesterday, he hasn’t been to thrilled with her. My guess is that she is a teacher,” he remarked.
“What grade does she teach again?” Nick asked, looking over at Vincent.
“Fourth, the same grade Vincent is in,” Marcus answered, looking down at his watch, one more minute.
“When are you going to pop the question?” Jay inquired, he was watching a female bear shifter with a keen look in his eyes.
“As soon as I can get a ring. She is going for a girls’ day the day after Christmas. I am going to take that time to sneak out and get her a ring. I already have her ring size thanks to her mom.”
“Where is her mom?”
“She is talking to my mom.” He pointed to a short woman standing next to his mom.
“Whoa, they look exactly alike, did she get anything from her dad?” Jay commented.
“Her last name, and her Italian heritage. Other than that, nothing. Her mom raised her practically on her own. Her father disowned her as soon as she turned eighteen and focused solely on his new family of all boys.”
“Ouch,” Nick replied, Marcus nodded.
“Excuse me,” he said, slipping between his two friends he walked over to Eloise on the piano and tapped her shoulder. She smiled up at him, and his heart skipped a beat.
“Time’s up,” he told her.
“Let me finish the song and I am all yours. Tell your mom she needs to get her stereo ready,” she replied, he leaned down and kissed her before walking over to his mom.
“Hey Mom, Eloise is going to finish this song and then mingle,” he informed her.
“Okay, I’ll go get the stereo on.” She excused herself from the circle of people she had been with and walked over to her sound system.
“I haven’t heard my Ellie play piano in years. Thank you for sharing her, I know you didn’t want to be away from her for that long,” Lola told him, he smiled at his future mother-in-law.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing her do something new. We’ve been together for about a week now and even though we’ve mated I am still learning new things about her every day. Can you be honest with me and tell me what truly happened with William in high school? What did he do to be considered stalking in high school?” he asked, he wanted to be able to pin this stalking on William. In order for a court case to be heard, he needed concrete evidence of William being the same stalker from her younger days.
“Yes, but not here. Let’s find a quiet place, grab Ellie and meet me in your old bedroom. Your mom is letting Joe and I stay in there,” Lola replied, she slipped away to get Joe. Marcus could feel she wanted his support with this as well.
“What were you talking to my mom about?” Eloise asked, coming up behind him and wrapping an arm around his waist.
“I wanted to know exactly what William did in high school, so we can connect him to what is happening now. Even with him in Washington state, I don’t want to let our guard down and be blindsided by something. This is giving us a chance to connect the dots and pin the stalking on him,” he explained. She’d tensed when he spoke about William, she would never be free to enjoy her life until William was behind bars or dead.
“Where are we meeting to talk? I know my mom won’t want to talk about this out here.”
“My old bedroom, come.” He took her hand and they slipped away from the party and up to his bedroom. Opening the door, he noticed his mom still hadn’t changed anything inside. He hadn’t lived at home since he was eighteen, but she refused to change anything inside.
“Very masculine,” Eloise commented, looking at his tan walls, the rock posters plastered everywhere and the plaid bedspread.
“Very teenage boy,” Lola added, behind her stood Joe. Marcus nodded at him and everyone found places to sit in the room. He sat in his old desk chair, Eloise sat in a small armchair, Lola and Joe sat on the bed.
“So, you want to know what William did while Ellie was young?” Joe asked, Marcus nodded. He didn’t know how long Joe had been with Lola, but he sensed Joe thought of her like a daughter.