Girlfriend Material Part 2
Stephan places a hand on my thigh, drawing my attention from the trees on either side of us. I turn to look at him.
"Still upset about the whole bathroom tease?"
I can see he is trying desperately not to smile, but one glance at my face Stephan's smile reveals itself.
"A tease it was indeed, as long as you make good on your promise."
"I'll have you screaming my name to the heavens."
Though Stephan is just being Stephan, those few words had the swirls coming back in full effect, and I'm forced to cross my legs.
He slows the car, making sure not to miss the inconspicuous turning on the left covered by greenery that anyone driving past wouldn't notice it.
He stops the car in front of the metal cattle gate, before getting out and pushing the gate.
Stephan's phone buzz and I pick it up, sliding it across, and holding it to my ear.
"Hi Theresa, Stephan is just moving the gate."
"Was he late picking you up again?"
I laugh as Stephan's mother spoke on the other end.
"Of course, he was, despite getting us a hotel next door." I hear the loud tut and sigh on the other end. "But he made me breakfast, so I guess he's off the hook."
"You're far too lenient on him dear, I would've given Llyod an earful if he did that," she says.
"And naturally my ear would've fallen off." I hear somewhere in the distance. I hold my mouth, trying not to laugh.
Stephan shuts the driver's door as I speak, "I'm roping him in with my charm, and then that's when the earful will begin. Either way your son is a lucky man. We will see you guys shortly."
He eyes me mouthing the words 'who's that?'. I show him the caller ID, and Stephan represses the urge to roll his eyes. I put the phone to my ear.
"See you in a bit Luna," Theresa says.
I hang up the phone, placing it back into the small cup holder as Stephan drives through.
"Lucky man, eh?"
I raise a brow at him as I speak, "don't you think so?"
Stephan slows the car pulling up outside the house alongside an army of other vehicles.
"I'll show you my appreciation tonight." He kisses me quickly.
A loud thud comes from outside, and there stand Charley and Kaleb. Beers in their hands, arms wrapped over each other's shoulders.
"What took you so fucking long Slaouse?" Charley shouts. Stephan groans opening the door, half-stepping out of the car.
"How old are you Charley? Slaouse? Really man?" Charley shrugs his shoulder, taking a long gulp of his brown beer.
The door opens, and Kaleb stands on the other side, he gives me a broad smile typical of the boys of the family.
"Ohh Kale the beard is coming through," I say beckoning him forward so I can run my hand over the stubble.
"You think so? The guys think it still looks weak." Kaleb says, rubbing his chin to reassure himself.
"And I say jealousy." That comment made the young man chuckle slightly.
"How late was he today?" Kaleb asks, he stretches out his hand to help me out the car.
"Well..." I announce catching Stephan's attention, who is trying to get out of a headlock. "He wasn't late."
Kaleb cheers, punching the air as Charley let go of Stephan. Charley fished into his pocket, pulling out a ten-dollar bill and slaps it into Kaleb's hand.
"But," I begin. The boys froze mid-transaction. "He did rush to get there on time. So he had a shower after we got back."
Charley's grip turned to iron as Kaleb tries to pull the note from his tight grasp.
"Hey, I won Charley."
"No, the bet was Stephan here wouldn't be late," Charley clarifies.
"And he wasn't," Kaleb points out.
"That's because he cheated. If he had a shower. He would've been late right, Luna?"
The boys turn to me, the deciding factor on who would win ten dollars. Stephan stands by my side looking down at me.
"Well I gu-"
"Luna." Theresa's feathery voice cuts through the boys well before I saw her emerge from out of the house. She separates Charley and Kaleb the ten-dollar bill ripping in half.
Theresa pulls me into a hug which I return. She held me out with both her hands on my shoulder.
"We've been waiting for you guys. How was the flight?" I sigh, running a hand over my forehead."I still don't like planes."
Theresa gives Stephan a stern look before her warming brown eyes went to me.
"I told him to drive."
Stephan gives his mother a hug kissing the top of her greying brunette hair.
"And I told you, mum, that I couldn't." He let go of her, heading to the car his brother's on his tail to help with the bags.
"Come in, Luna. I got the kitchen island done finally."
My eyes widened at the prospects of finally seeing Theresa's new kitchen island.
"Llyod finally got round to it?" I ask, the excitement dripping from each word.
Theresa nodded her head. Hooking her arm around mine and leading me into the white and green house.
Stephan's family lived in a community in a teardrop formation. There were seven houses with Stephan's house at the top. They kept to themselves almost isolated from the world. Nearly all the children were homeschooled and besides Stephan who moved to Seattle they scarcely ever ventured out for too long.
Tonight was their usually quarterly community feast, and like always everyone came to Theresa's home to eat and spend time with one another. It was almost like a public holiday.
As the door opened, we are surrounded by people chatting and laughing. The general atmosphere of festivities and family unity is just shy overwhelming, and I feel my smile falter just a little bit.
Theresa was smart to keep the ground floor open planned-- merging together the kitchen, the living room and the dining area into one all under three large deer antler chandeliers hanging above us.
We navigate through the crowd to the edge of the room where the kitchen is. There Theresa's newest prized possession stands-- an intricate oak wood table island with white marble on top. I crouch down inspecting the complicated design etched into the wood.
The design follows the trees we had passed to get here and the path that leads to the community. It reminds me of something Michaelangelo would create like a wood carving of the Sistine Chapel ceiling artwork. Many stories weaving together to capsulate the essence of everything. However, there was a Nordic and also Greek flair to it almost depicting Ragnorok or something along those lines.
I stand up to and face Theresa, who was anxiously waiting for my response.
"It's beautiful, Theresa. Llyod did really well."
"I did, didn't I?"
I turn around to the husky voice. Llyod stands wiping his hands on his apron a spatula in one hand. Llyod is a big man both wide and tall and whenever we hugged I got the faintest hint of cinnamon underneath all the oak wood and timber I'm sure he played around with.
"You guys are having a BBQ in December?" I hug Llyod his large hands wrapping around my body squeezing me slightly.
"Of course we are. How else do you expect me to feed this lot if not with burgers, chicken and hot dogs?"
I look around, he did have a point.
Each family, including Stephan's, have five or more to a family unit and that was just immediate family related by blood. When you include marriages and children as a result, that's when any family event required significant amounts of food.
Llyod leans down to whisper in my ear, "was my son late again?"
"Dad, stop trying to get Luna to tell on Stephan."
Marie squeezes past a few people and pulls me into a long hug rocking us from side to side. I step back taking in her stomach.
"Marie, you've grown." I can't contain my excitement as she blushes. Tucking a brunette strand behind her ear as she rubs her stomach.
"I could just about get into this dress. When will this pregnancy be over?" She fakes a sigh as she places the back of her hand on her head.
"You should relish it, it's the only way Charley will keep away." Stephan emerges from the crowd, his brothers by his side. Charley hugs Marie from behind while Llyod pulls his son into a hearty hug.
"Come outside you guys, you must be hungry," Llyod spoke ushering us all out to the garden through the deck on the right.
Stephan takes my hand, and I am grateful for it no doubt I'd get lost among the people.
The only illumination we have is the lights of the surrounding houses. The sun has since taken it's leave replaced by the full moon.
We all stand huddled around the grill as Llyod worked away. Flipping the burgers and basting the chicken and steak in marinade.
"Marie," I begin. The brunette turned to me. "When? When I was here last, you barely had a bump now..." I motioned to her large stomach.
"For you, it seems like it's happened overnight, but she was always growing just now it's a bit more apparent." Marie giggled, as I gawked at her.
"It's a girl?"
Charley wrapped his arm around his wife as he spoke, "did Stephan not tell you?"
I turn to Stephan, who is mid-gulp of beer, and I nudge him in his ribs gently, causing him to choke slightly.
"No, he did not." We all look to Stephan waiting for an explanation.
"I forgot, ok."
We all groan, and Stephan gives me an apologetic look. I give him a small smile telling him I forgive him.
Kaleb hands us a plate of food unofficially officially assigned chef assistant. Stephan and I follow behind Marie and Charley taking a seat at the wooden garden table and chairs, there are only three chairs, so I settle on Stephan's lap not that he minded much.
"What you guys been up to?" Charley asks.
"Work," we say in unison. We both stare at each other before laughing.
"You guys are far too compatible," Marie points out. I stroke Stephan with the back of my hand.
"It's probably why we've been together for so long," Stephan mentions, and I nod in agreement.
"I agree. We kind of just seem to fit. Our schedules work well with us."
"You say that now, but what happens when you get married and have kids?" Charley asks. Stephan avoids the question by taking a drink of his beer.
"We've talked about it. But Verna has to give us her blessing, right?" I turn to look at Stephan. He nods still half avoiding the question.
Marie puts her hand on mine from across the table.
"Don't worry, she will approve you guys. It's been three years together and two years of suitability."
I sigh, hanging my head slightly. Stephan pulls me to his chest, holding me close.
It is a touchy subject, the suitability ritual.
"Luna does an amazing job. I know we are coming to an end. You won't have to do it for too long now."
I smile, but it can't quite reach my eyes. Stephen brings me close, kissing the top of my head whispering words of encouragement as his brother and wife watch.
"Stephan." We all turn to the old woman as she shuffled towards us, her hands clasped over her yellow blouse.
"Abuela." I get off Stephan's lap so he can hug his grandmother.
He has to crouch down to properly cradle the old woman. As she finishes pinching her cheeks, she turns to me her arms open wide.
"Verna," I say hugging her breathing in the flowery scent.
"You know you can call me Abuela as well."
I let go of the hug.
"I know. I want to be officially part of the family before I do."
Verna hugs me again, taking a look at the second eldest grandson.
"I always said I liked this one."
Stephan side hugs me, kissing the top of my head.
"You and everyone else it would seem."
Verna peeks around us to Charley and Marie, who are still sat down.
"Marie, the kids are in bed, but they insisted that Luna tuck them in. Is that ok?"
Marie looks to Stephan and me as she spoke, "is it ok?"
I waved my hand nonchalantly.
"Of course. I haven't seen the guys in so long."
Marie nods in approval and leans back in the chair. I hand Stephan my half-eaten plate and head back into the house.
The guests have begun to thin out, just a few seniors talking in the corners of the room. I take the staircase by the garden door and head upstairs to the bedrooms.
As always Claire and Austin are in the first one. I open the door slowly the constellation night light, causing stars to dance across the wall.
Claire is the first to see me, she jumps out of bed, hugging me at the waist before Austin comes and joins her.
"I thought we'd be asleep by the time you arrived, Luna," Claire whispers.
I usher them back into bed, taking a seat on the floor between the two.
"Abuela told me you wanted me to tuck you in."
Claire nods her head quickly, forcing her to sweep her golden-brown hair out of her face."Claire wanted you to tell her the story."
I look to Austin who has the covers covering most of his face all that was peaking was the family green eyes.
"Liar. You want Luna to tell the story as much as I do." Claire points out.
"Did not." Austin retort.
I raise my hands shushing the pair before Marie came in.
"It doesn't matter who wanted the story the most I'll still tell you the story. But you need to be quiet, deal?"
"Deal," they both say. I sighed happily, clasping my hands together.
"Right do you want the scientific version or the far more interesting version."
"Come on, Luna, when have we ever wanted the scientific version?"
I laugh at Austin's comment and shrug my shoulders.
"It doesn't hurt to ask." I clear my throat before I begin, "I was born on a full moon. That in itself is not special as there's a full moon every month. However, what made my birth special was what happened.
"My parents were star enthusiast. I'm sure if you asked them any question on stars they could tell you. They never missed a chance to see a star. For the longest while they decided that my name would be Lyra after the constellation.
"As they were watching the stars shine my mother's waters broke, they were on a camping trip that day. Like I said big enthusiast for stars so even a baby on the way wouldn't stop them examining the sky. So there was no way my father could get her down the hill, let alone to the hospital. They always wanted a home birth, and this was just as good. My mother really wanted to give birth under the stars and have that be the first thing I'd see."
The door creaks open, and I turn around, seeing Stephan leaning on the door frame. I blew him a kiss which he caught before I return to my story.
"The birth from what my parents told me was fairly easy, aside from the screams of labour. The best part came when I arrived. They said I didn't scream or cry but simply stared up at the sky just as they intended. They said that as I stared at the moon, a small front chunk of my hair began to ice over removing the black colour almost stripping it entirely. My mother said it was the moon that did so and it was only right they named me after it."
"Is that how you got your name?"
I nod at Claire.
"That's right Luna, Cassiopeia, Lyra, Stanley." I stand up tucking the sheets around Austin and Claire's frame.
"Is that why Abuela has let you into the pack because you were touched by the moon?"I rub the back of my neck as I think of a suitable response.
"I think so. Your Abuela doesn't do anything without the moon's approval. I wouldn't say she let me in, but the moon did."
"Then if the moon allowed you into the pack, why have you and Uncle Stephen been participating in the chase even after a year. Why aren't you married yet? Christian said his brother only had to do it for a month before he got married, and mum and dad only had three runs before they got married."
I look to Stephen as Austin asked some tough questions. Stephen steps in seeing how uncomfortable I am getting.
"Well, it's difficult Austin. Werewolves and humans rarely interact so intimately. Luna is right for our family, she's right for the pack but because she's not like us she has to prove herself more than female werewolves."
"Well, what if the moon decides that she isn't. What then?"
I place a hand on Austin's shoulder, he is clearly distressed and knows far more than we all care to admit. It won't be long before he underwent his first moon.
"I don't think the moon would let this go on without a good result. Don't worry, Austin, I'll be part of the family when the time is right." I stand up. Stephan takes my hand, squeezing it slightly.
It seems like everyone was asking the same question. Why am I not part of the family yet?"What's the scientific reason?" Austin asks suddenly. I smile slightly his thoughts directing him somewhere more pleasant.
"That I have Poliosis causing that part of my hair to be white."
Austin rolls over as he spoke, "yeah the other version is far more interesting."I laugh lightly stroking his head.
"I think so too, Austin. See you guys in the morning." I take Stephan's hand, leading us out the room.
A.N. Part 2, and Mae's (or should I say Luna's) other client is a werewolf. What is this suitability ritual everyone is talking about? Let me know what you think, and most importantly thanks for reading.