Two Wolves and a Candy Seller [Werewolf Castle 1] (4 page)

BOOK: Two Wolves and a Candy Seller [Werewolf Castle 1]
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“Look them in the eye and tell them to fuck off,” suggested Grigori.

“Or ask them if they have permission to be out themselves,” added Jairus. But there was something he really needed to know. “And you are human not wolf, yourself?”

“Yes. I didn’t get the gene. I’ve sometimes wondered if that was what my dad was trying to check the time he was playing with me in wolf form. I don’t recall ever begging to have a companion animal or anything like that.”

“How old were you?” asked Grigori.

Jairus watched the road for a moment as they turned from the castle access road onto a wider secondary road.

“I can remember bits and pieces of it, so I think likely I was four. It was before I started school, and that was a huge drama. Mom wanted to homeschool me, and Dad refused to get into a fight over it. Fortunately her friends talked her out of it and I started school just like everyone else. They wouldn’t ever let me go to college though, and I argued about that for months.”

“Where did you want to go? What did you want to study,” asked Jairus.

“I wanted to study music, but Mom was never going to agree to me going to a college a long way from home. I was prepared to settle for something in the business line at a community college, but she wouldn’t even agree to that. Still, I finally managed to get this job, which is awesome.”

Grigori laughed as he pulled into a parking lot.

Jairus was sad that the conversation had ended, but eager to be sitting where he could see her every expression and learn all about her. He jumped out of the car and opened her door for her. He wanted to know everything about her. What were her favorite foods, what music she liked, and what kind of music had she wanted to study. Even if she’d like to go to a university somewhere later and study then. Everything. He had to know all about her. And then he’d kiss her and learn about her curvy body.

 

* * * *

 

The problem with dining in a human restaurant, Grigori thought, was that the conversation had to be kept off werewolf topics. That was why some of the older wolves had objected so loudly to turning the castle into a tourist venue. But since no one had been able to think of any other way the entire pack could earn a living without moving from their own lands they’d had very little choice in the matter. At least come winter the castle was theirs all week to relax and be at peace, and even on the weekends the crowds were never as big as in summer. Mostly it was coach loads of tourists who stayed for a set two hours and followed a strict pattern. A guide took them through the public rooms, then they’d have a quick peek in the dungeon, before visiting the village traders and wandering through the maze.

Still, this was their very first date, and they should probably just get to know each other in a general way, sort of form the basis for a deeper relationship. If only his dick would agree with the plan. Ever since he’d first seen her he’d had a permanent hard-on. She was everything he considered true female beauty, and he wanted desperately to hold her and kiss her. Which likely wasn’t going to happen tonight.

Grigori watched Damask’s face as they first sat down at their table. She really did look all around her as if she expected her mom to come and tell her to go home, but then she relaxed and settled into her chair, so he guessed she saw no one she knew. Which was only to be expected. This area wasn’t a huge tourist center like Venice or Paris or the Riviera, but there were plenty of people who enjoyed the blue sky, mild climate, and fresh clean air. People came here to do some not-too-demanding hiking, relax, and spend half a day at Werewolf Castle.

Grigori was so busy watching her sparkling eyes as she ordered her meal and took in the ambience of the restaurant, he was almost surprised to see the server waiting for him to order. He hadn’t even looked at the menu. He’d been too entranced watching Damask.

He snatched the menu and read through it quickly, choosing the Hungarian goulash. Jairus had ordered a burger, and he was pleased Damask hadn’t ordered a salad but moussaka. “In some places they make moussaka with eggplant instead of potatoes, but I think it tastes better the way they do it here,” he said.

“And with cheese and breadcrumbs on top, not either yogurt or custard,” added Jairus.

“Do people really put custard on top? On a savory dish like moussaka?” asked Damask.

“Yes they do. Some people try to make goulash without the paprika, as well,” added Jairus.

“That’s crazy. It’s the paprika that gives it the flavor.”

“Exactly. Although the peppers help. A good cook uses both red and green peppers for added taste.” Grigori didn’t really know a lot about cooking, but he’d eaten enough food in his almost thirty years to know he liked his meals a bit spicy.

They talked about their favorite foods for a while, then their meals were served and the conversation became sporadic as they ate. Finally Grigori sat back and smiled. “That was really good. So, tell me, Damask, what kind of music did you want to study? Do you play an instrument or what?”

Once again Damask looked all around them cautiously, but then she smiled and said, “Oh, I probably wasn’t good enough, but I always hoped to get in somewhere, even if it was only a second-rate music school. I sing mostly, but I can play keyboard and guitar—” She scanned the room again as if she expected her mother to jump out from behind a potted plant and drag her away. Then she smiled broadly and said, “And drums.”

“Did you ever imagine yourself as the drummer for a girl band?” teased Jairus.

Grigori was impressed when she laughed then answered seriously. “I wasn’t even allowed to sing in the school choir for a long time because my mom wanted me home on the school bus with everyone else, and they practiced after school. It took me two years to find someone else whose mother did pick her up after choir practice, and who lived close enough to us that she’d agree to transport me as well. Then my mom decided she’d pick me up after all as she didn’t want me spending too much time with the other girl. That was pretty much the story of my childhood. Did I say before I was the most overprotected kid ever?”

“However did you convince her to let you get this job?”

“I’m twenty-one. It’s taken three years of constant nagging. Everyone my age went to college after school and now they’ve gotten themselves jobs or are studying. People had started to ask my parents why I was still living at home and not studying or working. I think they were starting to imply I must be too stupid to do either, and finally my mother broke down and let me come here. Also, my dad knows your A—boss, and trusts him. Which isn’t a gold-plated guarantee with Mom but likely she did some asking around about the…company as well.”

Grigori couldn’t imagine parents so frightened of anything happening to their only child they wouldn’t even let her work until she was Damask’s age. “Even so, it was a big step for her to let you live away from home,” he said.

Damask frowned. “I think she almost felt she had to, to prove I wasn’t subnormal. And it’s only for four months, then she expects me back under her control again.”

“But you aren’t planning on going back are you?” Grigori glanced at Jairus. How had Jairus worked that out? From the way Damask kept looking around her all the time, she still seemed pretty much afraid to disobey what she thought her mother might want her to do.

Damask flicked a glance over her shoulder and lowered her voice. “I’ve been talking to some of the other women about potential jobs a little farther away from home.”

“If it were me, I’d be thinking of a lot farther away, like America, or New Zealand, or Iceland,” said Jairus.

They all laughed.

“When was the keyboard invented? I guess they had guitars and drums in the Middle Ages. The management has been talking about having entertainers walk around the inner courtyard during the peak times when the tourists visit. We’ve already got a couple of men ready to juggle and there are a few others who are planning a fencing bout. A musician as well would be good.”

“The harpsichord was about the seventeenth century, I think, so a bit later, but the lute was medieval and there were various drums and bells as well. There’s no reason why you couldn’t get a little band organized to play some medieval-type music.”

“Could you play those things?” asked Grigori. If she mated them she could work as an entertainer for the castle if she wanted to. Piotr had only needed a helper in the candy store this summer for the first time. It wasn’t very likely he’d want one for most of the year.

“I’d have to practice, but a lute is played in a similar way to a guitar and a drum is pretty much a drum. I’d need to look for time appropriate music to learn though. I don’t think it was usually written down back then. I’d have to find vocal music and transpose it.”

Grigori watched her become thoughtful, obviously puzzling out all the various issues associated with his question. That was another thing to like about her. She didn’t say it was too hard, or brag that of course she could do it. She was taking the time to identify the task and break it down into its component parts and answer him seriously. She was smart and talented as well as beautiful.

They ordered desserts and while they were waiting for them Damask turned to Jairus. “What’s your job? What do you do that requires you to drive on muddy roads?”

“I could say that I’m an interpreter and an advisor, but mostly I’m just a messenger collecting information from one company or group of people and bringing it back to our home office.”

Grigori hid a grin. Jairus’s answer had been both truthful and very clever, but he hadn’t fooled Damask. Her eyes were lowered and her jaw had firmed. “So where did the most recent message come from? Why don’t they use cell phones or Internet?”

“Living in the mountains you must know that reception always drops out when you need it most,” Jairus answered easily.

Grigori interrupted. “I work in IT. I update the website and our Facebook pages and even tweet for the castle. Today I spent an hour or more looking for medieval recipes for the chef.”

Jairus started to speak but Grigori was watching Damask, not listening to Jairus. Jairus stopped talking and she said, “You know that’s one thing the castle doesn’t do, but could. Hold dinner parties. Back in medieval times the main meal was in the middle of the day. Meat took a while to cook, so if the servants started work at daybreak, then the meat would be ready around twelve or one o’clock and that’s when everyone ate. Guests would have to book, because the chef would need to know how much to cook, but with modern stoves it wouldn’t take him four or five hours to roast some chickens or fish.”

“And he’s already got plenty of recipes for soups and pottage and sweetmeats,” added Jairus.

Grigori smiled at her. “That’s a very good idea. We could add in the jugglers and musicians to entertain the diners, and I’m sure some of the coach tours would want to book in for a meal. The chef would need to add some vegetables and roast his chickens and fish in the medieval way but that could be an excellent addition to our entertainments.”

“Where would you hold it, though? The inner courtyard gets very busy already with people coming and going,” asked Damask.

“There are two smaller rooms between the kitchens and the great hall. They used to be used for storerooms back before we got our huge new refrigerators and freezers. If we set up a long table down the middle of each room with benches on each side of it, we could easily fit in a busload of visitors.”

Grigori nodded at Jairus. “Good idea. Those rooms are authentic, and would only need a bit of a cleanup, not major renovations. It really would be like a medieval banquet.”

They talked about the suggestion for a little while longer, until they’d drunk their coffee, then Damask leaned back in her chair. “This has been wonderful, thank you so much, but I need to get back. I start work at eight each day.”

Grigori nodded. He set his alarm for every three hours during his nonwork times to check that no one was placing horrible comments on their Facebook page or making abusive tweets. He scrolled through his cell phone but everything was quiet on the social media front. There never had been any trouble but he knew all it would take was a disgruntled customer with a taste for the social media limelight and the castle would have to be on alert for bad publicity. After all, they were still nonhumans. Werewolves. Only not hidden anymore but out in plain sight. Fortunately the average human didn’t believe in them so they were still reasonably safe. But that situation could change in the blink of an eye. A grumpy customer’s eye. And the pressure was on him to make sure that didn’t happen.

 

* * * *

 

Damask had so much to think about she was quite certain she’d never go to sleep. First were the two wonderful men who’d taken her out to dinner. When they got to the restaurant she was certain she’d see her mother or her mother’s friends there, but finally logic had overcome her uneasiness and she remembered how very rarely the family went out anywhere for any reason at all. The chances of her mother being in town when she was were so small as to be ignored.

But the men couldn’t be ignored. They’d been totally kind and considerate, so polite and charming, yet the conversation had been fun. Not at all how she remembered some of the awkward conversations of her teenage years when she and an embarrassed young man had blushed, stammered, and ended up saying nothing much. She’d always been very happy to go home again, after those few disastrous dates.

BOOK: Two Wolves and a Candy Seller [Werewolf Castle 1]
13.03Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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