Chapter 4 ~~ Meeting Ethans’ Parents~~
Kia stood under the strong hot stream of the shower, letting it beat down on the back of her neck where the tension seemed to be building at the base of her skull.
Yesterday she had known where she was going, had a pretty good idea of what was ahead of her, now she had no clue. Now all she could think of was “What’s going to happen to me now?” She wasn’t really afraid of Ethan, something about him told her that he would never hurt her but she couldn’t help the queasy feeling in her stomach.
Tia just had to put in her two cents and told her “If you will be totally honest with yourself you’ll admit that you want to stay with him. Heck, you want more from him than just a place to stay. He’s ours so don’t be a fraidy cat and run away from him. He will protect us and keep us safe but you are going to have to prove yourself worthy of being his mate.”
Kia was surprised by this. Mate? What is that supposed to mean? Kia had never been able to trust a man since her daddy had died so she was thinking that Tia had to be crazy or maybe it was just because she was hungry.
Kia finished her shower and dried off then wrapped her hair in the towel. She hoped there was a blow dryer but if not she would just braid it wet. She combed her hair out, thankful that she had braided it last night or it would be a real chore to get the tangles out this morning.
She brushed her teeth and then pulled on her clothes. She couldn’t find a blow dryer anywhere in the bathroom so she hung up her wet towel and after taking a deep breath, opened the bathroom door to find Ethan standing on the other side holding a blow dryer in his hand.
“Thanks. If I don’t blow it dry, it will still be wet when I go to bed at night.” Kia blushed as she accepted it.
“You have lovely hair and wow, is it ever long.” Ethan said with a grin as she peeked through her lashes at him.
“A lot of my foster mothers wanted to cut it but I’ve always refused more than just a trim.” Kia said, lifting her chin defiantly. “You have nice hair too.”
“Thank you. Well, let me get a fast shower and then we’ll go get something to eat. My parents are very anxious to meet you.” Ethan said.
He needed to get away from her before he did something he would regret. Her blushes were causing his pulse race and his libido to kick into overdrive. “There is a plug next to the dresser where you can plug that in.”
Kia walked over to her duffel, found her plastic bag and stuffed her dirty laundry inside as Ethan closed the door to the bathroom and went to get his shower. Kia plugged in the blowdryer and began drying her hair.
By the time Ethan was finished, she was done and was standing in front of the mirror putting the finishing touches on the small amount of makeup that she normally wore of mascara, eyeliner and some pink lip stain. If she was going to be meeting his parents, she wanted to look her best.
Ethan stood watching her for a moment when he came out of the bathroom. Her hair flowed all the way down her back to just below her bum and Ethan could tell it was thick and looked so soft that his fingers itched to bury themselves in it.
Ethan was dressed very similar to what she had on except his jeans fit his long, muscular frame as if they had been sewn to fit his body. He wore a black muscle shirt that made his chest and arms look huge as well as showing off his flat, hard stomach.
Most of Kia’s clothes came from thrift stores or the goodwill bin at the group home and even though she would have preferred clothes that fit a little better, she had always chosen things that fit loosely to hide her figure to keep boys from looking at her too closely. She didn’t want their attention. She just wanted to finish school and then to get out on her own.
But there was something about Ethan that was making her wish she had something that made her look more like the woman she was becoming instead of the tomboy image she had always tried to project.
“Are you ready for breakfast?” Ethan asked as he grabbed some socks out of the dresser drawer next to her.
“Sure. I have to admit, I am kind of hungry.” Kia replied. She had already put on her socks but still had to put on her shoes. Her sneakers were kind of beat up and she knew they would need to be replaced soon since they were already kind of tight on her feet and the sole was just about worn out. She puffed as she pulled them on and then tied them.
“We’ll get you some new ones. Those look like they have seen better days.” Ethan said.
“Yeah, I've been wearing these for a long time but they are all I have in the way of shoes.” Kia was embarrassed to admit. She was dying to ask about a million questions but didn’t know where to start and had to admit to herself that she was almost afraid to hear the answers. Should she ask or just wait for him to offer information?
“Kia, there’s some things I need to explain to you but I don’t want to scare you. Please trust me when I say this is the way things are meant to be. There is a very good reason why I found you last night. But before I try to explain, can you tell me what you remember of your parents and your life before they died?” Ethan said.
He had been racking his brain trying to find a way to start this conversation and figured that first he needed to know if she has any clue as to what she is before he just dumped his life in her lap. But he promised himself that he would not lie to her. He would not start their life together with lies between them.
“Well, I was only 7 when it happened. We used to live in a big house in the woods. There were lots of other families that lived around us but not many of them had kids my age so I used to spend a lot of time with my mom. We were really close.
My dad worked a lot but during my summer break, we had gone on vacation to a place by the ocean. We had such a wonderful time going fishing and finding seashells on the beach. My dad helped me build a big sand castle and he told me that I was the princess. My mom made me a crown out of a paper plate and some tin foil that she had wrapped our sandwiches in. It was wonderful and didn’t last nearly long enough.
We had been driving all day and it was almost getting dark when I fell asleep on the back seat. The next thing I knew I was in the hospital and I heard the policeman tell the nurse who was watching over me that another car had crossed the center line and hit their car head on and it flipped our car over. I was thrown from the car but they had been trapped inside when it exploded killing both of my parents.
I didn’t know anything but my first name and didn’t know the name of the town where we used to live or my parents’ names. To me they were just mommy and daddy and I knew we lived in a house in the woods but I didn’t know where that was.
So as soon as I was able to leave the hospital, I was put in foster care. I’ve been there ever since. No one has ever even told me my last name for sure because I’m not sure they even know but when I turn 18 next week, I will be considered an adult and will be able to hopefully get more information about them and maybe find out my real last name at least.”
“So it’s just Kia? No last name at all?” Ethan asked.
“Well, the placement agency picks names out of a hat when kids come in with no name. The name the placement agency gave me was Sheridan because the accident happened just outside of Sheridan Wyoming.”
“So you were from around Omaha?” Ethan asked.
“I don’t know. I was in the hospital in Sheridan but I was sent to the Family Services Department in Buffalo when I was released from the hospital. I moved to Omaha when I was about 11 or 12 with a foster family that came here for the man’s job. I thought they were going to adopt me and then about six months later, he got sick with cancer. They already had 2 kids of their own so I went back into the foster care system. I think they were the best family I ever had while in the system.” Kia said with a sad expression on her face.
“Well, it’s not going to be easy to find out any information but I’ll help you in any way I can.” Ethan said as he dropped his arm around her shoulders and gave her a comforting hug. “Come on. Let’s go get some breakfast.”
They left the bedroom and walked through the house. Kia was surprised that it was so big but was very impressed at the richness of the place. There was dark wood on the floor and door frames and what looked to be very expensive wallpaper on most of the walls.
The large portraits on the walls had dark wood frames but what struck Kia as strange was that while some of the portraits showed pictures of humans posing like you would expect for a painted portrait, several of them were of wolves or other forest animals but they weren’t really landscapes. They were all beautifully done and looked more like family portraits.
Ethan would explain it to her one day but right now, he wasn’t sure what to tell her. If they could just get through the next two days, it might be easier to explain. She would be 18 and her wolf would be ready to come out and while that in itself was going to be enough of a shock, it would sure make explaining who and what he was much easier for her to accept.
They went down a large and very grand staircase to the main floor and Ethan led her into a large dining room where his parents sat waiting for him along with his Beta, Jared and his wife, Lily. His Gamma Chris and his lead warrior, Josh, who had the biggest shit eating grin on his face.
“Good morning everyone. This is my ma...ah, Kia. Kia, this is my mother, Angela, my father, Marcus, my Beta, Jared, his wife, Lily. My Gamma Chris and my lead warrior, Josh.” Everyone nodded at her as he introduced them but she wasn’t sure she fully understood the titles.
“Good morning. Very nice to meet you Kia. Why don’t you go ahead and make yourself a plate and come eat and then we can get to know each other.” Angela said with a smile.
“Good morning and nice to meet you all too. Thank you. I am rather hungry.” Kia said with a small smile as she tried to swallow her fear. Something about the names he had called them seemed very familiar but in her nervousness, Kia couldn’t remember where she had heard the terms before. All she knew for sure was that meeting new people, especially so many new people at once, made her uncomfortable. Tia was on edge but didn’t seem to be overly worried.
“Help yourself to anything you want.” Ethan said as he handed her a plate then smiled as she began to help herself to waffles with fruit and whipped cream, scrambled eggs and a big pile of bacon. Well at least she has a healthy appetite. Kia waited until Ethan had filled his plate and then followed him to the table. Ethan pulled out a chair next to Lily for her and then sat down next to her.
They all quietly ate their breakfast, only making small talk at first but then Marcus said “Ethan, I want to hear your report on your trip as soon as you are done eating. Lily, if you don’t mind, could you show Kia around and introduce her to some of the other ladies while Ethan and I have our meeting?”
“Sure. Glad too.” Lily said and then got kind of a glazed look in her eyes as Ethan mind linked to her telling her that Kia doesn’t know about them yet and to please warn everyone not to say anything until he had a chance to explain. Lily glanced over at her and nodded to Ethan that she understood.
Kia tried to take her time eating because she didn’t want Ethan to leave her alone with these women that she didn’t know. They seemed nice enough but that was when the men were around.
Ethan could tell that she was nervous but figured it was just because she was meeting so many new people. He didn’t realize it was because she was nervous about being alone with all of the women until she whispered “How long will you be in your meeting?”
“Not long, I wouldn’t think. Why?” Ethan whispered back.
“Nothing, just wondering when you are going to be able to take me back to town? I’m supposed to work at the pet shop today and I really do need the money so I hate to miss the day.” Kia whispered.
Ethan was almost finished eating and quickly refilled his mouth to give him time to think before he answered. He was saved when his father pushed back from the table and said “Hurry up, Ethan. I’ve got lots of things that need attending to today and I’m going to need your help. Kia, I’m sure the ladies will be able to keep you company while Ethan is busy with his duties.”
“Well, actually I have a job in town and I was wondering if maybe someone could give me a ride?” Kia spoke up and was surprised when everyone seemed to become very agitated and they all looked at Ethan.
“Just let me have my meeting with my father and then we will talk about you going back to town. I shouldn’t be too long. OK?” Ethan said.
“OK.” Kia wasn’t sure what it was she had said or why everyone had reacted the way they did but it was not helping her to remain calm.
Edith came in with another young girl and they began to clear away the breakfast dishes and then the men started standing up to leave. Ethan bent over and told Kia “I won’t be long and then we’ll talk. OK?”
Kia nodded her head and watched him walk away, feeling like she wanted to run after him, to keep him close.
Lily watched her and had a smile on her face when Kia turned back in their direction. “So Kia, tell us how you and Ethan met?”
Kia quickly explained about being in the foster system and her current foster dad trying to rape her and running away. She had gotten so used to these questions over the past ten years but it still didn’t take away the pain of losing her parents. She explained that in two days she would be turning 18 and she would finally be free of the foster care system.
“What were you planning to do once you got out of the foster care system?” Angela asked.
“Well, Ms. Kay said that because it will only be another week until I graduate that she had made arrangements for me to stay with my current foster family. But now that I’ve run away, I’m not sure since they don’t allow kids to stay at the group home once they reach legal age.” Kia said thoughtfully.
It hadn’t really occurred to her that come Monday she might not have anywhere to live and would be sleeping on the street from then on and that thought frightened her. She had lucked out when Ethan had found her because she knew that most men wouldn’t be as nice as he was being.
“Well, you are more than welcome to stay here with us. What more do you have to do with school?” Angela asked.
“Nothing really. I took my final exams this past Monday and I’ve already got my grades. I just have to collect my cap and gown, turn in my books and then I was told there would be practice sessions for the actual graduation ceremony.
I’m kind of hoping that I will win one of the scholarships for college but they are not telling anyone anything until graduation day. We will get our letters at the same time we get our diplomas. Oh and there’s the big senior ball next Friday night but I didn’t get asked to go so I guess I won’t be attending that.” Kia admitted with a blush to her cheeks.
“Hmmm. It’s hard to believe that you don’t have at least half a dozen boys chasing after you. You are a very pretty young woman.” Angela said.
“Well, thank you but the boys at school just want to get in your pants. They are not interested in anything long term and if I’m going to get involved with someone, I want it to mean something, not just be a one night stand.” Kia said, her chin going up a notch.
That was all the information Angela needed. She was glad that she was still pure but was also worried. Her first heat was going to be intense and from what her wolf was telling her it was going to be very soon. She had no doubt that it would happen on the upcoming full moon.
“What time are you supposed to start at the pet shop?” Angela asked.
“I usually work from 11 till whenever Lydia says I can go on Saturday’s. I watch over the shop while she goes to lunch and does her errands, it’s usually around 3 or sometimes 4 before I get off.” Kia said.
“Well, I’ll tell you what. I have some errands I need to do in town today so why don’t I drop you at the store and you can fulfill your obligation to your job and then maybe we can do some shopping of our own and then you can come stay here. I’m sure this place is much more preferable to the group home?” Angela said.
“Oh yes, it is much nicer than the group home but are you sure you don’t mind? I mean I don’t want to impose on you.” Kia said. Tia was jumping around happy as she could be and it was making Kia feel light headed.
“No problem at all.” Angela smiled at her. “Lily, would you care to join us?”
“Sure. Can we go baby shopping? I need to get some things at the store too.” Lily said and as she began to push back from the table it became very clear that she was pregnant, her baby bump having been hidden by the table cloth while she was sitting down.
“Oh goodness. I didn’t realize you were pregnant!” Kia blurted.
“Yep, almost there. Can’t wait for this little pup to make its appearance.” Lily smiled.
“Pup?” Kia thought to herself. What a strange thing to call a baby.
Angela smiled at her and said “Maybe we can shop for some baby clothes as well as some new clothes and shoes for Kia and maybe a gown for the senior ball?”
“Oh my! I don’t have money for anything fancy like that but you are right, I sure could use some new shoes. These have definitely seen better days.” Kia blushed. She refused to admit that she had gotten them second hand at the Thrift store almost two years ago.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of the cost. I’m sure Ethan won’t want you to miss your senior ball. It’s a big event in a girl’s life.” Angela smiled at her as she mind linked Ethan, who she wasn’t surprised showed up in the dining room at a full run when she let him know that they were going to take Kia to town to work and go shopping.
“We’re going to take Kia into work so that she can talk to her boss and to get her some new clothes and shoes and a dress for her senior ball. You will be taking her, won’t you, Ethan?” Angela said, giving her son a look that let him know arguing with her could be dangerous.
“Sure. I’ll drive you. When is your senior ball, Kia?” He said, trying to calm the fear that had hit him when his mother let him know she was taking Kia away from him and back to town. He had been terrified that she had not approved of Kia and was going to get rid of her.
“Next Friday night. I wasn’t really planning on going but your mother insisted saying it’s a big event in every girl’s life.” Kia blushed. They were making her feel unsettled in making these kinds of decisions for her. She really didn’t care anything about going to the dance but if she was honest with herself she had to admit that it was because no one had asked her to go.
“She’s right and I was going to ask if you wanted me to take you but it looks like I got beaten to the question.” Ethan said with a glare at his mother.
“Will you please stay out of this and let me deal with Kia?” He mind linked his mother, letting her know that he was not appreciating her interference and Angela had the good grace to bite her tongue on the snappy reply she had started to think back to him when she realized that he was right. Kia was his mate and interfering with her might cause a rift between herself and her beloved son so she just thought “Sorry!”
“I’d like to use the restroom before we go and I need to get my purse. Your mom said I can stay here for at least the weekend since I can’t get in touch with Ms Kay until Monday. Is that OK with you?” Kia said to Ethan.
“OH YEAH! That’s great! Of course you can stay. In fact, I would like it if you would consider staying here past Monday.” Ethan said with a huge smile on his face and Kia didn’t know what to say but her heart leapt at the look on his face. She knew she had to be imagining it but she could almost see hearts rising above his head but she couldn’t remember the last time she felt so happy.
“I’ll just go get my purse and visit the restroom then I’ll be ready to go.” Kia said as she turned to leave the room.
Ethan turned to his mom and gave her a big hug. “Thanks mom. I was hoping you would like her and thanks for convincing her to stay here. I’ve been racking my brain about how to get her to stay until I can explain things to her.”
“Well, she’s going to figure it out soon on her own I think. She’s going to be in heat soon so you had better stick fairly close to her and once she comes in heat, you are going to have to mark her quick or some of the others might get ideas about laying claim to her. She’s a very nice person and I do like her. I take it she’s had it rough most of her life.” Angela told him and Ethan growled.
“No one had better go near her or I will rip their heads off. And you are right, she is a very nice person and has had it rough. That’s why I don’t want to just dump a whole lot on her all at once. She’s had enough to worry about.” Ethan said.
“Plus you already love her.” Angela smiled at her son and Ethan blushed and grinned as he nodded his head.