Life has settled into an easy rhythm. I split my time between the pack and my farm, though there’s not enough it seems, as everything is getting away from me.
It’s noon on Friday and everything’s a mess. I have to get everything set for Trish to pick up for tomorrow’s market, not to mention catch up on this overgrown jungle of a garden. Oh and did I mention it looks like the lawn is being converted to a hay field!? When Chris said he needed me to stay for a while, I thought days, not weeks.
“What’s wrong, my elf?” Jace cuts in.
“Everything has gotten away from me. I need like a solid week to get caught up, easy. But somehow I don’t think Chris would want me gone that long,” I groan, the frustration clear in my voice.
“I’ve already texted Trish that I’m behind, she replied with a glove emoji so I don’t even know what that means, but I-” Jace cut me off there.
“Point me at something, Nate is running wild, he can link me if something’s off,” he says with a smile.
“Really? Playboy’s gonna try on farming today?” I can’t help but laugh.
“How hard can it be?” he laughs. “Besides, I look good no matter what I’m doing.”
I can’t help but roll my eyes at his cockiness. “Oh so humble, but I’ll take all the help I can get.”
“Noted, incoming,” Jace says, nodding to the driveway. Jude pulls in shortly followed by Trish.
“Sorry Trish, I’m nowhere near ready,” I apologize.
She furrows her brow as she looks at me in confusion. “I’m here to help, didn’t you get my text?”
Typical Trish, apparently a glove emoji was supposed to give me that heads up.
She eyes a shirtless Jace. “So that’s who’s been occupying all your time, eh?” She wiggles her eyebrows in approval.
Jace just grins, basking in the glory, not even attempting to correct her.
“In his dreams,” Jude cuts in, bursting his bubble.
Trish snaps her attention to Jude now, and raises an eyebrow at him. “Were you finally able to seal the deal, Jude!?”
I could die on the spot as everyone laughs.
“Chris will be by soon,” Jace cuts in. “Things finished up early and he’s on his way with back up.”
He leans in while Trish gears up. “It’s our fault you fell behind, let us help you catch up. You know he’s not gonna take no for an answer.” I just nod.
I can use the help, and Chris is as stubborn as I am.
Before long, two vehicles pull up.
Jace wasn’t kidding when he said back up.
Chris, Xavier, Claire, and Alexi are the only ones I recognize, but there are three other guys as well.
“The cavalry has arrived,” Alexi announces. I can’t help but laugh at her much-welcomed exuberance.
Trish comes up to meet the new additions. “Xavier and Claire you’ve met, Alexi played challenge with Jess, and Joseph, Allen, and Luke are our best groundskeepers,” Chris says.
“I don’t know much about gardening but set us to work and I’m sure we can take care of the grunt work,” he laughs.
“I appreciate the help but this is over the top,” I say directly to Chris.
“They volunteered,” he replies, shrugging. “Actually there was a good pool of volunteers to pick from, but I didn’t want you to think we were invading,” he laughs as his hazel eyes sparkle.
Before long, everything is well underway. Claire is working on making us all dinner, Chris, Xavier, Jace, and Jude tackle the lawn, leaving the rest of us to the gardens.
The work goes fast with so much help, Alexi has zero clue, but works alongside Trish picking and packing for the market. Allen is their gopher, running crates to the truck while Joseph and Luke take care of weeding and tilling.
I’m able to focus on pruning, thinning, and all the other finer things. In a few hours, we have the place tamed and looking back like it usually does.
It’s super hot by the time we finish, not a single guy had their shirt on and we are all drenched in sweat. Chris catches me checking him out more then once and I’m glad he can’t link me based on the looks he gives me. When we finish, I send everyone next door to cool off in the neighbour’s pool, they definitely earned it.
“You coming?” Chris’s voice comes from behind me. I’m just finishing my work on the last row. I turn and smile up at his godly form.
“Keep looking at me like that kitten and we’ll have a change of plans,” his tone has changed to seductive.
I stand up brushing off. “I can’t thank you guys enough, this would have taken me like all week.”
He pulls me close. “We’re happy to help, now let’s go cool off.”
Everyone is already in the pool by the time we walk over. Jace walks over casually though I catch a mischievous glint in his eye. “Don’t even think about it,” I warn as I lock eyes with him.
“Think about what?” He says flashing an innocent smile.
I try to run but I’m nowhere near fast enough, he picks me up and slings me over his shoulder as everyone else hoots. “My phone!” I shout out, trying to bargain for my freedom.
“Better toss what you don’t want to get wet,” he warns, stalking towards the deep end. I barely have enough time to kick my shoes off and toss my phone before he jumps in, dragging me with him.
The cool water is a welcomed relief, but being fully clothed feels so weird. We surface and Jace starts to laugh his ass off. “Now we’re even for that stunt at training.” I jump on him, pushing him under before swimming to the edge where Chris is standing laughing.
“Some protector you are,” I tease. “Letting some guy carry me off caveman style.” I throw my hand up dramatically as I fake hurt.
He bends down to say something but before he has a chance I jump up, grabbing his neck and pull him in. A new round of laughs roar out as he surfaces and shakes out his black locks.
The horse play continues for a while as I stay wrapped in Chris’s arms sitting on his lap on the steps. I can’t help but laugh as Jude throws Jace into the deep end. Everyone’s mood is so high, it’s hard to not be happy.
“What are you thinking about,” Chris murmurs in my ear. His hot breath fanning across my neck makes me shiver in delight.
“Just how normal this is. Basically a Friday night pool party and BBQ. My best friend even met my boyfriend and didn’t kill him. Everyone’s getting along and happy, it’s just nice,” I trail off.
“You have that effect on people,” he says, kissing my neck.
“I think it’s more to do with the pool and promise of food and drinks,” I laugh.
“So I’m your boyfriend?” Chris teases, pulling back to look at me. I don’t miss the amused glint in his eyes.
“Is that okay?” I ask, raising a brow.
“Baby, I’ll take it,” he chuckles. “Claire says food’s up.”
I twist in his grip to straddle his lap and wrap my arms around his neck, pulling his lips down to mine. Our lips brush gently before moving in sync. All too soon I break the kiss pulling back before it heats up any further. “Thank you,” I said, smiling.
“Anything for you,” he smiles, lifting me out of the water and setting me down on dry land.
Once home, I change and join everyone else for dinner. Derek came over to bring some more supplies for Claire and more drinks. Having spent most of my time at the pack house, my kitchen is no longer well stocked.
My neighbours Linda and George are here as well. Jace insisted they come for dinner after letting us use the pool. Little did he know that their kids had all moved away and they are just happy to have someone swing by.
“It’s nice to see Jess has such nice and handsome friends,” Linda gushes while patting Jace’s bicep. Jace is just basking in it, flashing his winning playboy smile.
“Yes, I’m feeling particularly lucky today,” I say smiling at her.
“And you,” she makes her way over to Chris. “I think you may have something to do with her smiling more.” Chris beams, as I flush scarlet.
God, he’s beautiful when he smiles like that.
His eyes dance green and I just want to melt as he turns them on me. “I try, she means a lot to me. I just want her to be happy,” Chris says, taking one of my hands.
“Good, keep it that way and I won’t have to send George after you,” she teases, but the threat is there. George for his part tries to look fierce, but still looks like no threat even standing with the Omegas.
“Noted, though Trish already beat you to it,” Chris chuckles.
My eyes snap to Trish, who is trying to look innocent.
“What?!” I just glare at her response. “I just told him he better treat you well or they won’t find his body,” Trish says nonchalantly. Jace and Xavier look less than impressed by the threat, even if it was meant well.
“Really Trish!?” The frustration is clear in my voice.
“I let you down last time, I’m never letting that happen ever again,” she says with such guilt in her eyes.
“Thanks, but you really don’t have to worry, Chris is nothing like him. Everything’s good really,” I say, stepping into him as he wraps his arm across my shoulder.
“Good, it would be such a shame to waste such a-”
“Trish!” I cut her off, knowing exactly where that was heading based off of how her eyes were roaming.
‘Friend or not, she needs to keep her looks to herself.’ ‘Relax, that’s just Trish, she really should have been a guy.’
“Up for a round after dinner?” Trish asks.
“We could, I haven’t shot in like three weeks though so I’m a bit rusty,” I admit, stretching out my shoulder.
“Bout time you try your bow out,” Derek chimes in. “I brought it, just in case.”
And with that, dinner is done, Trish grabs her bow from her truck and I grab mine from Derek.
“Where are you going?” I ask him as he tries to follow us.
“Mack’s been on my ass about how it fits you. Besides, I want to see what you’ve got, without being on the receiving end,” he replies with a dark grin. He leaves little to no room for argument, or explanation of who Mack is, but he did after all give me it.
‘Sure, after breaking your last one…’
Before long, we’re squaring up at the target. Trish takes her shots, one bullseye and two just outside. She’s improved a lot since last time we shot. I square up, the bow floats in my hands and feels weightless.
Draw, aim, breath, release and the arrow hits hard but just off of dead center.
Shot two is dead center with the third right beside.
“Please give Mack my thanks, this bow is amazing.” I beam at Derek, who looks impassive.
“Handicap,” Trish yammers at me.
“Fine.” I take off to second position, further away from the target after grabbing my arrows and flipping it up to the three in one target.
I really shouldn’t split an arrow the first time out.
Another round and all three of my shots are on point. The form is easy and feels natural.
This is a perfect bow, definitely an upgrade from my previous second hand one.
“Fuck it,” she shouts and puts her bow down to grab the fly targets. “This is too easy for you.” She passes the foam balls to Jace and Jude, telling them what to do.
On the count of three, the guys toss the balls up. I fire as fast as I can, hitting three of the four, while she hits one and clips a second that I also hit. I love the peace shooting gives me, but already my shoulder burns.
“Think that’s it for me,” I say, waving off. “My shoulder’s done.”
I look up and everyone’s staring.
“The fuck, Katniss,” Jace teases. “I knew you could shoot but damn!”
I laugh nervously, “This bow is incredible.” Already I feel my cheeks heat up as I no doubt glow as bright as a tomato.
“Don’t lie, she shot like that with her crappy second hand bow too,” Trish cuts in. “Jess could have done well in competitions, but she’d rather help someone then beat them.” She laughs, but her pride shines clear in her blue-green eyes.
“Crowds aren’t my thing either. This is more fun to me, and I like teaching,” I say with a shrug.
“Do you think you could teach me some time?” Luke asks timidly.
“Sure, we can give it a shot, but maybe on a night we haven’t all been drinking,” I laugh.
For tonight I’m just going to enjoy the little things.