Originally posted on Patreon at the $1 tier back on October 6, 2018.
Red walks into her grandmother’s kitchen to find a werewolf at work cooking dinner. It’s not what she’d been expecting to happen during her vacation from work.
Red isn’t expecting the wolf that she finds in her grandmother’s sunny kitchen. It’s not like she’s never seen a werewolf before, this part of the country is lousy with them. However, Red has never seen a werewolf in her grandmother’s house before. Not with how… complicated the relationships are between her grandmother and the local packs.
Hell, Red has even worked with a few werewolves at the zoos she’s been working at across the years. They’re the best people to have at your side when dealing with the natural wolves that many zoos have, and they can handle the heavier predators.
The werewolf bending down in front of the oven doesn’t look like any of the werewolves that Red has worked with before. For one thing, Red thinks to herself as she watches the werewolf straighten up to a not-so intimidating height, this is the shortest werewolf Red has ever seen. She barely comes up to Red’s shoulders and she seems like such a tiny little thing.
Gold eyes meet green ones.
At some point during Red’s distracted observation, the werewolf has turned to face her. Oh, and what a face. Deep brown skin, high cheekbones and an uptilted nose.
Full lips quirk up in a smirk.
“See something you like?”
“I’m R-Red,” she says, stammering and not even close to answering the werewolf’s question.
“I know,” the shifter says, still smiling, “Your grandma told me all about you.” Her smile softens and then she sticks out one flour-dusted hand for Red to shake. “You can call me Lovie.”
Lovie’s handshake is short, practically perfunctory. She pumps Red’s hand once and then draws back, barely seeming bothered by the scratch of their calluses.
Red finds herself longing for a way to draw out the contact that wouldn’t seem creepy. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. So Red settles for trying to satisfy her curiosity.
“What are you doing here?”
Lovie shrugs. “Baking a pie for dinner.”
“Dinner?” Red parrots.
“Part of the deal for staying with your grandma,” Lovie says, “I do dinner and lunch in exchange for a safe space where no one from my pack can track me.” Her smile turns devilish, teasing. “’sides, I’ve tasted your grandma’s cooking. I’m doing her a favor.”
Red… isn’t sure what to tackle first because nothing makes sense. Red’s grandmother – once famous for the bounty work she did for the alpha werewolves across the company – has a werewolf cooking dinner for her. A Cute werewolf on the run for her pack.
Instead of all the questions that Red should be asking, she asks, “What kind of pie are you making?”
Lovie blinks those big gold eyes, clearly taken aback by the unexpected question.
Red licks her lips. “My favorite.”
Lovie doesn’t relax. In fact, Red’s answer only serves to get her back up. The look on her face is wary,
“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to ask me? Not about my pack or your grandma?” At the end of her last question, her rough voice ratchets up in volume. Not quite yelling, but it’s close.
Red shrugs. “I’m not gonna lie and say I’m not curious,” she says. “But Granny raised me to mind my own business. I just met you; If you’re not comfortable sharing your business with a perfect stranger, I don’t blame you.”
Red knows that she can sometimes come across as a little… overbearing, even when she doesn’t mean to. She’s six feet tall, give or take an inch or two, and she’s visibly strong. She’s gone toe to toe with werewolf alphas (“for fun” arm wrestling matches to build camaraderie) and has carried her fair share of unconscious apex predators to and from her examination tables.
The last thing Red wants is to make Lovie feel threatened or pressured into answering uncomfortable questions.
So, she offers Lovie a smile that feels tight around the corners of her mouth and reaches for the nearest hard-backed kitchen chair. The yellow and blue monstrosity creaks underneath Red’s weight, a testament to how long it’s been since Granny’s last round of updating the furniture in this little-used room.
“Don’t you have anything more important to do than watch me cook?”
Lovie doesn’t wait for Red to actually answer her question, turning back to the ancient oven and fiddling with the knobs.
But Red feels as if she owes Lovie an answer anyway.
“I can’t remember the last time that someone who could cook used this kitchen,” Red says honestly. “Granny’s been burning breakfasts since I was a kid and before they left, neither of my parents cooked that much.
It’s the truth.
Red has been living off of microwave meals and take-out for far longer than she’s willing to admit to. So, to see Lovie puttering around the kitchen and actually making something aside from a mess –
It’s almost enough to make Red feel like swooning.
Red has a thing for women who can cook.
Always has, always will.
And when the woman in question is a short, too-cute, werewolf that looks as if she can’t decide what she wants to do to Red –
Lovie’s nostrils flare as she inhales deeply.
“You know, she says in an almost conversational tone. “I can smell you. Your… interest.” She doesn’t seem offended by whatever it is she smells on Red’s skin, just… intrigued.
Never before has Red wished so hard to be hit with a sudden case of spontaneous human combustion.
“I-I-,” Red stammers, feeling her face heat up with a flush that she knows shows on her peaches and cream complexion. So, she’s just red as her hair.
Lovie shakes her head, an exasperated smile on her face, and then plonks a potato peeler and a bag of Yukon Golds down on the kitchen table in front of Red.
“Let’s see how handy you are with a potato peeler before I decide what I’m going to do with you,” Lovie says, smiling so widely that the sharp points of her teeth are visible.
Barely, just barely, Red manages to resist the urge to fire off a salute, grabbing the peeler and the largest potato out of the ones that’d tumbled out of the bag.
“I’m good at being useful,” Red says, trying valiantly to ignore the blush setting her cheeks afire.
Lovie gives Red an unsubtle, lingering onceover.
“I’ll just bet that you are.”