( chocolate cheesecake – Dreamstime )
It is Mother’s Day here today. I’ve already had a visit from and meal with my boys, which was lovely. I also know I’m lucky that happens, and that not every mom is that lucky, so I am extra-appreciative for my own kids, and that they’re close enough to get here regularly.
I have a little story snippet from my first tiger shifter story to share with you today.
Harley tapped on the door before he turned the knob. “Mom?”
“In the kitchen, Harley.”
He moved inside, noting the drawn curtains in the living room and dining room. But bright sunlight came from the end of the hallway, and when he got to the archway, he saw his mother working at the wide island, rolling out a piece of dough.
“Hi, honey.” She smiled up at him while he stepped fully into the room. “How are you?”
He bent to kiss her cheek. “Okay. What are you making?”
“Chicken pot pie. I got hungry for it weeks ago, but it was too hot for the oven. Sit. I’ll get you some lemonade.”
He sat on one of the stools across from her. “I’m good, Mom.”
“So what brings you here today? Playing hooky?” She wrapped the dough carefully around her rolling pin to transfer it to her baking dish.
“Kind of.” He leaned his elbows on the counter.
“And you’re here and not stalking Tessa?” She slanted him a teasing glance.
Heat climbed the back of his neck. “Something like that.” He rubbed one hand along the side of his face.
One of her brows lifted. “What did you do?”
He frowned, ignoring the twinge of guilt in his belly. “Why does it have to be me?”
She smiled, a secretive, knowing smile. “Men are all very alike in some ways.”
“You know, if a man said that about women, we’d be called chauvinistic.”
Her smile widened. “What did you do, Harley?”
He stifled the impulse to squirm on his seat. “I might have pulled a caveman. But I didn’t do it on purpose.”
“Ah, an accidental caveman.” She didn’t look at him, instead chopping several potatoes swiftly, though her mouth twitched at the corners, as if she were stifling impulses of her own.
Harley sighed. “I wanted to take her away this weekend, but I should have gone about it differently. Then I went to her office earlier to take her for a long lunch. She told me to leave.”
“Because you demanded she just drop everything?” His mother’s tone was innocent, but her eyes gleamed with laughter.
“Something like that.” He sighed.
“Well, you’d do better to be there, trying to make things right with Tessa than sitting here in my kitchen, moping.”
“Easier said than done.”
“Did you come for sympathy or advice? Hand me the parsley.”
He handed over the cluster of green leaves. “Yes.”
She didn’t restrain her laugh this time. “Honey, you did this to yourself, so it’s difficult to muster up much sympathy. As for advice, well, I don’t think you really need that either. You know what you need to do.”
He watched her smooth, quick motions as she chopped the herbs into her chicken and vegetables. She was right. But he’d run out of patience, waiting to see if Tessa would admit to her feelings, would talk about a future with him. Instead, she kept talking about her new job, and he’d lost his grip on his patience.
His mother tapped his wrist, and he glanced over to see her holding a cookie.
“It’s not quite the same as a bloody knee or a fat lip, but cookies make everything better.”
He took it, smiling in spite of himself. “Not everything, you know.” He bit into it–chunks of chocolate and pieces of walnut. “Mm. I could be wrong.”
She laughed again and put another round piece of dough on top of her potpie. “Why don’t you bring Tessa by for dinner? If I don’t have company, this will be here forever.”
“If I can get her to speak to me again, I will.” He polished off the rest of the cookie. “Are there more of these?”
His mother put the baking dish in the oven. “Yes, but your issue isn’t dire enough for two.” She straightened up. “Go find Tessa and fix things, then let me know about dinner.”
“Can there be cookies for dessert?” He pushed off the stool.
“No. I’ve got something better for dessert.” She tilted her head so he could kiss her cheek. “I love you, Harley.”
“I know, Mom. I love you, too.” He gave her a quick hug, too. “I’ll call you later.”
She smiled, and he left the kitchen, thinking.
It wasn’t a matter of ‘finding’ Tessa. He knew exactly where she was. It was more a matter of finding the right way to apologize to her. He should be almost an expert at it by now.
He steered the car toward the zoo, his stomach tightening the closer he got. Nervousness. He’d never been nervous about a woman before Tessa. He knew she had feelings for him, but it seemed she had no intention of admitting to them.
That stung, but he’d deal with it. Eventually, she’d let her guard down. But right now, he needed to make sure she knew how truly sorry he was about that morning.
Flowers? Maybe not for this.
He frowned as he thought. Maybe if he crawled and begged, he mused darkly.
Then the sign at the next crossroad made him slam on the brakes and execute a quick turn. The gift shop at the stables had exactly what he needed.
# # #
When Harley strode into her office wearing donkey ears, Tessa laughed before she knew she meant to, then clapped her hand over her mouth, trying to muster up a glare.
He plopped down beside her desk on his knees, and she gaped at him. “I acted like an ass this morning,” he began, making her swallow back another laugh, “and I am sorrier than you can imagine. Please forgive me, Tessa.”
She still felt the urge to laugh, to at least snicker at how ridiculous he looked, but another part of her recognized what a big deal it was that he’d come here like this. She wondered if he’d signed in at the reception desk wearing the ears.
And he waited, not looking the least bit embarrassed about the tall grey ears he’d put on. Jackass, indeed.
Tessa sighed. “Oh, Harley.”
He held her gaze, patient, though worry lurked in the depths of his golden eyes.
How could she not? “Yes.”
He grabbed her arm first, then, when she tipped forward in her seat, her waist, to pull her into his arms, burying his face in her throat. “I am so sorry, honey.”
One of his fake ears rubbed against her nose, and she reached to move it out of her face. The entire headband came off, and she chuckled. “Where on earth did you find those?”
“Don’t lose it,” he mumbled, his lips brushing her collarbone, “I might need them again.”
Now I’m off to spend some time writing. I hope you’re all doing something you love today, too!