Jordan pulled into the daycare parking lot. He’d been called by the school about his niece, Daisy. She’d cried most of the day and wouldn’t nap. About two years ago, he gained custody of Daisy. Her mother died from breast cancer, and her grandparents were too old to care for her. His brother Scott was too drugged up to even be an option. No one had seen or spoken to him in almost ten years. The only reason he knew about Daisy was her mom had been a childhood friend of his. Daisy’s mom dated Scott on and off for years, moving wherever he lived at the moment to be with him. Jordan loved his niece, but lately, she’d become very emotional and he didn’t know what to do. He should take Eloise up on having Daisy spend her school breaks with her. Maybe she needed more female attention? Josie had been pushing for him to come to a Mate Me event, too. He might find his mate.
“Hello Mr. Howard,” Mrs. Jodi, the director, called. He knew it wasn’t good if she was waiting for him at the door.
“Hello, Mrs. Jodi. I’m here to pick up Daisy. Miss Hillary called to say she’d been crying on and off all day,” he began.
“Before you get her, can we talk?” He nodded and followed her into the office.
“Have a seat,” she said pointing to a chair in front of her desk. The room was small, it only had enough room for a desk, two chairs, and a bookshelf packed with child development books. He sat in one of the small office chairs. It creaked under the weight of his sizeable frame. Being a shifter, he was naturally larger than the average male.
“Do you know why Daisy has been crying?” Jordan asked he felt like a naughty child sent to the principal’s office.
“For you to be precise.” The answer took him by surprise. When he first became her guardian, she cried for her mom almost non-stop.
“Me?” he asked, and she nodded.
“You. I know being a single parent is hard. Might I suggest you cut back on your work hours? You drop Daisy off at seven and don’t pick her up until almost six. Eleven hour days are hard on any child.” Jodi gave him a sad smile, and he knew she was right. Daisy hadn’t gotten to spend much time with him lately. He’d been helping Eloise with her stalker case. William was finally getting a trial after over a year of appeals trying to get released from jail. The past two weeks Jordan had been working overtime to prepare for court.
“Thank you, Mrs. Jodi. I think I’ll keep Daisy home for a few days.” He stood and strode down the hall to get his niece.
Opening the door to her classroom, he saw her curled up in a small armchair. She looked miserable with her tear-stained cheeks. Her long-sleeved pink unicorn shirt soaked from her tears and one shoe dangling off her foot.
“Hello Mr. Howard,” Miss Hillary purred. Jordan gave her a half-smile. Daisy’s teacher was another jaguar shifter with blond hair and blue eyes. She hit on him every chance she got and it made his skin crawl. Not to mention awkward when he came to pick up Daisy.
“Daisy,” he called softly, her dark blond head popped up. The ponytail he’d put her curly hair in that morning was falling out.
“Uncle Jordan!” she yelled and launched herself into his arms. He wrapped his arms around her tiny frame.
“Tell me what’s wrong,” he instructed and her dark green eyes watered. Many people assumed she was his daughter because they looked exactly alike.
“I don’t like it here,” she told him. He gave her his best, tell me everything stare.
“Why?” he asked. Keeping her in his arms, he began collecting her things.
“Because I miss you,” she admitted, and he paused.
“Daisy, I miss you when I am at work too. How about we take a break from school and work?” he asked her. Her eyes went wide, and she bounced in his arms.
“For how long?”
“Let’s take a four-day weekend. Your favorite author Georgia Stevens is doing a reading at the library. She writes the Bethany and Felix stories you love,” he explained.
“Can we go?” Daisy asked, wiggling in excitement.
“Yes. She is reading her new book on Saturday. Put your coat on and we’ll go home and make dinner. Mr. Marcus, Mrs. Ellie, and baby Ava are coming for dinner,” he told her, holding out her purple coat.
“I love Mrs. Ellie!” Daisy shouted and quickly put her coat on. He crouched and helped her put on gloves and her hat. Virginia could get freezing in February.
“Thank you, Miss Hillary. We will see you on Tuesday.” Jordan took Daisy’s hand and walked her out of the daycare center.
Putting her in the car he asked,
“What should we make for dinner?”
“I want macaroni and cheese.”
“The white kind?” he asked. He’d found a homemade version without all the salt and preservatives like the boxed version.
“Yes, with chocolate chip cookies,” she replied, he let out a chuckle. She loved cookies, and chocolate chip was her favorite.
“We need a vegetable and meat. You know Mr. Marcus is an enormous man and needs to eat a lot.”
“Hmm, I don’t hate broccoli as much as other stuff. I don’t want meat.” Daisy scrunched her nose, and he stifled a laugh.
“Then I’ll make something for us grownups,” he assured her and got in the car to go to the grocery store and then home. He and Daisy lived in a small two-bedroom apartment. It was tight with all her toys, but with daycare costs, he couldn’t afford to move them into a house with a yard. He was doing his best to save for a home little by little.
“Uncle Jordan,” Daisy called from the backseat.
“Yes, sweetie?” He pulled out onto the street.
“Do you like Miss Hillary?”
“Why?” he asked, his heart racing, did she say something to Daisy?
“Because she likes you,” Daisy commented.
“I like Miss Hillary as a friend, but not romantically. She doesn’t make my jaguar happy,” he explained, irritated Hillary put him in this position.
“Good,” she replied. He peeked in the rear-view mirror to see her sitting with her arms crossed and a smile on her lips. He suspected she didn’t want him to date Hilliary, neither did he.
“We need to stop at the store to get food for dinner tonight and this weekend,” Jordan announced pulling into the parking lot for the local grocery store.
“Can we have popcorn?” Daisy asked when they were making their way down the aisles.
“Yes, tomorrow we can watch one of your princess movies and eat popcorn. We will make it like we are at the movie theatre,” he said, grabbing a carton of strawberries and one of grapes. They went through a lot of fruit at their house. Daisy ate an extensive amount, but he also loved to eat fruit.
“Uncle Jordan, that lady looks lost.” Daisy pointed to a curvy woman with white-blond hair. She had a cart and was stopping to read each aisle sign. Jordan paused to look at the beautiful curvy woman, and his jaguar purred loudly.
“You purred! You are happy,” Daisy announced. The woman looked up and her dove gray eyes softened with a smile. Jordan didn’t know how to react to his jaguar purring without his consent.
“Thank you for your observation, Daisy. Do you need help?” he asked, turning to face the beautiful woman.
“I’m trying to find the spices. I’m making stew tonight,” she explained, her voice soft and pleasant to listen to. Jordan’s jaguar purred louder, her eyes opened wide at the sound.
“Spices are in aisle four with the baking things,” he replied, ignoring his jaguar’s incessant yelling she was their mate.
“Thank you,” she told him and turned her cart in the right direction. He watched her walk away, the gentle sway of her hips clad in dark denim catching his attention. He’d never seen her before and wondered if she’d moved into town recently. Josie would know she made it her business to meet anyone new who moved into the town.
“Uncle Jordan, are we done?” Daisy asked, pulling his attention back to her.
“Almost, we need a few more things.” He pushed the cart purposefully in the opposite direction of the woman. He couldn’t afford a distraction when he had Daisy to care for.
“Can we get ice cream?” Daisy asked, pointing to the display of ice cream cones.
“No, Mrs. Ellie is bringing dessert.”
“What is it?”
“I don’t know, but she always brings yummy food,” he told her and grabbed several boxes of pasta and sauce from the shelf. He’d decided on fried chicken with macaroni and cheese. Making his way to the meat department, he saw the blond woman again. She was comparing meat prices.
“Hello,” Daisy called with a wave. Her head snapped up, and her mouth fell into her soft smile again. She was the most beautiful woman he’d seen.
“Thank you for your help earlier,” she said and placed a package of stew meat in her cart.
“You’re welcome,” Jordan replied, reaching for a pack of chicken.
“Have a pleasant afternoon,” she replied with a wave. He watched her walk away again. His jaguar pushed for him to grab her and claim her as their mate.
“Uncle Jordan,” Daisy huffed, and he turned his attention back to his niece.
“Sorry, let’s go home,” he told her and proceeded toward the checkout.
“Fancy seeing you again,” a soft voice came from behind them. He turned to see the same woman again. He chuckled, trying to cover the purr emitting from his chest.
“I don’t mean to be rude, but are you part cat?” she asked, a twinkle in her eye. He knew she’d heard the purr coming from his chest every time they’d run into each other.
“I’m a shifter,” he answered, not sure how she would react.
“I thought so. One of my sisters is married to a gorilla shifter. His chest rumbles every time he is happy. I am Georgia.”
“Jordan. Are you new in town?” He shook her hand and a jolt of electricity passed up his arm and settled in his heart.
“I moved in a few weeks ago,” she replied. He released her hand and placed his items on the conveyor belt.
“How come?” Daisy asked Jordan noticed she’d taken an interest in Georgia.
“Well, my sister moved here to open Clover Leaf Inn, and I needed a break from the city. Too much traffic and noise. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina.” She leaned on her cart. The v-neck sweater she wore exposed the creamy skin of her breasts. Jordan deliberately looked away. He didn’t want to tempt his jaguar further.
“White Valley is the place to be then,” he remarked and paid for his groceries.
“Nice to meet you Georgia. I’m sure we will see you around.” Jordan waved and gave her a smile before bee lining it out of the store. Quickly putting Daisy in the car along with their bags, he drove home.
I hope you enjoyed the beginning of Jordan’s book. I will be updating once a week on Saturdays. Please let me know what you think so far.