Happy New Years 2011 (open to all)
(FYI - this is an open thread, but not an event meaning that the three open thread rule will still apply. Once I get to the ball dropping and fireworks, that'll end for any type of unofficial-official moderation. In the next few posts I will be giving minor descriptions of the ballroom, but you are more than welcomed to change anything up, other than the basic design. Waiters, buffet table, your seats...that's all you. Please also assume that the ballroom itself is gigantic, so feel free to attend the party unnoticed by prying eyes. Enjoy!)
Vivienne climbed the spiral staircase that led to the Grand Piazza's ball room and prayed to god that she would not trip herself on her four inch heels. Running her free hand over her hip, she slightly grimaced over how expensive her dress was, and more importantly, who had sent it to her that afternoon.
Reaching the top of the stairs, her hand on the rail had her embossed invitation and she handed it to a smartly dressed Grand Piazza employee wearing a black tuxedo with flourished gold GP emblems just below his left lapel. He took it with a perfectly manicured hand and laid it on top of the stack of cards in his other hand. With a nod, and nary a peek at her invite, he held a hand out toward the ball room doors where two more tuxedo wearing employees were waiting for her. With a murmured greeting, they opened the doors for her and Vivienne did her best not to gasp out loud.
Vivienne walked in with her long brown hair pulled back and pinned up in a crown of curls. She was wearing a charcoal gray, beaded and banded cocktail dress. A sweetheart neckline dipped deliciously low, pushing her ample cleavage up and out. It glittered with bugle beads and sequin detail at right strap, bust, bodice and skirt which dropped to mid thigh. The banded straps were undeniably high fashion, and although he'd never admit to it, he knew what designer she was wearing and he let out a long, wolf whistle, making her turn.
Grabbing another flute, he held one out to Vivienne as she walked over to Red with an unimpressed expression, but the curve of a smile pulling at her lips. "Red, you scoundrel," she said, taking the offered flute.
"Ma'am," he said looking down at her dress, down her legs, to her stiletto bandaged heels. "Herve Leger?"
"I'm stripping at night," she replied and smiled as she sipped her drink. "You know your designers, Red. I'm impressed."
Red pushed his lips to the side and held his flute chest high. "So am I." He could not help flirt with her and he felt himself blush even attempting to do so. That was until Vivienne reached out and playfully pinched his cheek.
"You know I think of you like a brother, Red."
Slumping his shoulders, he abandoned his attempts to woo her and whined, "Now why did you have to say that? That's just mean." Hooking his arm out, Vivienne took it with a goofy giggle and he led her into the ballroom.
Walking with her arm tucked into Red's large one, he guided her to the far right side of the room where the food was being served in the classiest buffet style she had ever seen. The trick seemed to be that you approached the table, picked out what you wanted, and then later your food would be delivered to your table. No fuss, no muss, and especially no carrying your own food around. The people there were just too rich for that, Viv figured.
There were dozens of waiters moving expertly through the crowd, slowly growing in number, with various hors d'oeuvres. Viv reached out and grabbed something small and it tasted like spicy asparagus making her wonder if the vegetable was a staple in all high end events. Red put down his empty flute glass and grabbed another for himself, but Viv shook her head, holding her still nearly full glass.
"So who's here?"
She assumed the Pipers and leadership were present, but so far she had only seen Red in his one button tuxedo, a glimpse of Marthinus looking utterly amazing, oozing class and style in his Armani tuxedo, even Hammer was there looking dapper in his tuxedo which had to have been custom made to even fit around his shoulders.
"We're all here. Commander, LT will be here shortly with Carol," Red pointed past Viv, making her turn around, "and here comes Charlie."
Viv turned and watched as Charlie made his way through the crowd wearing a HUGO virgin wool suit without a tie, but an open starched white shirt that exposed enough of his collarbone to make her swallow hard and concentrate to maintain her friendly smile to keep her jaw from dropping. Two-button jacket with notched, slim lapels made in pure virgin wool, he stood out in the crowd being one of the few men not wearing a tuxedo and wearing it like a rock star. He slipped a hand into his pocket, further accenting his handsome good looks, making the women around him take notice, but he kept his eyes on Viv with a hint of a smile on his lips.
Outwardly Viv tipped her head and smiled at him. Inwardly she melted like butter.
"Looking very double O seven there, Charlie," Viv said easily.
With a polite nod he took a flute of champagne from a passing waiter and let the smile spread across his lips. "Ma'am," he said politely, never breaking eye contact with her.
Feigning a bored sigh, Viv fought to look away and stood on her tip-toes looking for the others. "Where's your Commander? Is he off somewhere desperately seeking out some pretty young thing's virtue?"
Charlie turned and looked around for himself. "Probably," he said in an unimpressed voice which was uncharacteristic for the Sergeant. Even Red noticed as he disengaged himself from Vivienne, flashing an annoyed look but shrugging it off.
"Ah well, let's mingle then."
Viv had decided they should probably show up separately and maybe find each other closer to midnight. Secretly he worried what she might think finding him on the balcony surrounded by women barely one quarter of his age, but this was the norm for him. Beautiful women, charming smile, and Hammer hovering somewhere nearby looking sour. Looking across the balcony, he saw his cousin exit the ballroom, grimace in place. Catching his eye, he lifted his chin and Hammer returned it by leaning against the railing and snorting.
The women cooed around him, each trying to garner favor over the other, and he realized all he had to do was pick. The sport just wasn't there and it was hardly worth his time. Craning his neck, he looked back into the ballroom, hoping to see his mate, if not catch a whiff of her alluring scent.
It had been Lily's suggestion and Xeph couldn't argue. Literally. He didn't have a good excuse that he was able to voice openly. It would be a short trip; Nikhila wouldn't be staying out late and Xeph wouldn't leave her. So he grumbled and went along with it and put on his pretty boy face while the eager photographers did their thing and then moved onto the next poor semi-celebrity.
It was a relief to enter the lavish ballroom, which was big enough to swallow them all up. With Nikhila on one and arm Lily on the other Xeph looked around for his father. It wasn't that he was eager to ditch his mom; just that he'd feel better about things when he located all of the Pipers. It was natural. They were werewolves; they moved in Packs. Xeph was capable of handling anything that might arise, but didn't like being by himself with his pregnant mate and his mother. Wolves always felt more safety in numbers. He knew this wasn't a work thing; they were all just here to enjoy the celebration. He wouldn't put that pressure on the Pipers... but they were his family too. That made it doubly good to be nearby.
"You're this happy over me wearing a tuxedo?" Carol thought she heard just a bit of sadness in Lothias' voice and she quickly hurried to rectify it.
"Oh don't get me wrong, I'd rather have you naked, but admit it...you know you look yummy."
Lothias blushed slightly and then pulled Carol away from him to look at her dress as they waited to enter the ballroom. Carol twirled slowly with a giggle, showing off her ivory Grecian inspired, one sleeved jersey gown by Donna Karan. It was tight around her body but flowed down from the one sleeve while the other bared her creamy shoulder. It was suppose to be floor length, but Carol could not resist showing off her legs and she had the dress hemmed up to just above her knees. Somewhere, a fashion designer screamed and died, but paired with her strappy heels and glimmer body lotion, she looked fucking hot and knew it.
Lothias pulled her close and let his lips hover over hers, making her swoon. "You like the dress," she asked in a breathy whisper.
"I do," he said, close enough to kiss her but held back.
Carol put her hands on his chest, her fingers lightly pulling at his lapels. Pulling her bottom lip into her mouth, she gave him a soft smile and then whispered, "Let's find a closet."
Lothias immediately turned her and said, "Ok." They rushed off away from the staircase and entrance, happily in search of somewhere semi-private to fuck.
Man, Carol thought, she was so dirty.
She knew what it must feel like for him, a dominant werewolf in a crowd of people who appeared to be ready to jump his pregnant mate any moment. But he had to let the world see her sooner or later and he may as well have done it here where there would be no question who she was. He had been oddly reluctant though and Lily wasn't sure of the reason. She didn't think he doubted his commitment to his mate; there was something else bothering him. It wasn't her business to pry however, so she had let it go.
Moving toward Iov she smiled, wrapped her arms around him, and stood on her toes to kiss him. He would also be unhappy, she reasoned, because there were cameras involved tonight. There were always cameras though; he knew that. The Stafford family was not an insignificant one, and while Gavin was content to hide away in Scotland it was Lily who had become the family face over the years.
"Your son needs a few drinks," she said softly to Iov with a grin, "or he's going to stuff Nikhila into the first closet he finds and guard it with his life from the imaginary rampaging mate-stealing horde."
Aidan could be forgiven his protectiveness... he'd never had a mate or a baby before. He was doing well for a first-timer, she thought. Really. No one was bleeding yet.
He caught his cousin's eye on the balcony and nodded toward the door. Hammer had already received the message that the Alpha had arrived. Silently he moved back into the ballroom just as he saw Brig disengage himself from the ladies and come up on left.
"The others?" Hammer asked.
"Oh come on, just because you can't see them, doesn't mean they're not here."
"Hi!" Lewis and Marko slid up to Hammer's right and then moved gracefully through the throng of people to take up the flanks of the entrance.
"Charlie and Red are on your six," Brig murmured with a smile.
Hammer rolled his eye and muttered, "Show off."
"Of course!" Brig said happily.
As he and his cousin made it to the entrance, the Alpha, Hammer's fiance' and the Alpha's mate came in through the door. With a smile reserved only for Lily, he held out his arm to her, happy to feel her warmth.
"You guys are so cute," he heard Brig say behind him.
"Shut up. Son, Nikhila." Looking down at Lily he softly said her name as she embraced him and gave him a soft kiss. "Lils, you look beautiful."
A waiter immediately walked by offering everyone champagne and gave Nikhila a smile and asked what she would like instead.
It had taken some fancy internet searching but she'd managed to find a dress suitable for the occasion. Her hair was curled and pinned back from her face but other wise hung down her back and other than a pair of shiny earrings the only jewelry she wore was her engagement ring.
The small gauntlet of cameras was irritating. It was her first honest to goodness experience with them and she was just as glad Aidan had moved them through it quickly.
"That was fun."Â?
She said rolling her eyes. Although, it was moderately better than Christmas shopping, at least it ended faster.
Nikhila never took her arm from Aidan's but she smiled warmly as Lily and Hammer embraced. She happened to agree with Brig, they were cute.
Deciding she wanted something with bubbles too she asked for a sparkling water. At least it would be pretty to look at.
"Hammer, Brig."Â? She said with a smile. "I would, however, prefer not to be shoved in a closet. If it comes to that maybe we can just escape out the back door instead, maybe you can suggest that when the time comes."Â?
The Pipers would keep an eye on the Alpha and his pregnant mate until they departed, then Brig figured the men would get stupid drunk and make a mess somewhere. He would tell them to at least wait until after Hammer left for that. Turning, he looked back at Red and Charlie who were standing near the edge of the crowd leading into the ballroom and inhaled deeply.
Brig instantly caught traces of Viv's scent on them, making his eyes narrow suspiciously. His Sergeant picked that moment to look over at him and Brig caught the flash of annoyance on his third-in-command's face. It was gone as quickly as it appeared. Charlie lifted his finger and pointed to the right.
Before Brig's eyes made the trek, Vivienne's scent hit him like a freight train. Holding his hands behind his back, he watched his mate weave herself in between the crowd and approach the Alpha and his group. She gave him one lingering look but let disdain color her face as she looked at Hammer. Their confrontation after their return from Siberia had been awkward, as well as painful to watch, but that was another story.
"My, my," Brig said with a half smile, letting the sarcasm roll off his tongue as he looked at Vivienne. "You do clean up mighty nice." Viv's dress was beaded with bright crystals, but charcoal in color. He had never seen it before, but he appreciated the shortness in its length as it showed off her brown legs. The dress fit her curves perfectly, and although he wasn't the dress connoisseur Red apparently was, Brig recognized money when he saw it. It wasn't Viv's style at all...so whose was it?
"Meh," was all Viv said to him, her eyes sparkling with a hidden smile just for him. "No highwaters on you? Color me surprised as well as grateful."
Rolling his eyes, he looked back at Hammer who took notice of Vivienne just then, but she bypassed his look and greeted the rest of them. Brig took a step back and let Viv move in front of him, letting the scent from her hair engulf him, making him blush with arousal.
"Alpha, ladies." Viv looked at Hammer and gave him her brightest smile. "Hammer," she said through gritted teeth. Her pseudo-adopted brother merely flicked an eye in her direction and they shared a tense moment before she turned away again.
The last time she had spoken to Hammer was just after their return to Siberia. The incident had been painful, to say the least, but he had kept his distance from her and she had did the same. But he was her Beta, unofficially or not, after all and he was due the show of respect whether or not she thought he deserved it.
Suddenly she felt Brig's warmth breath on her back and her arousal was instantly kicked up a notch. Part of her wanted to accidentally step back on his foot to stop him from breathing on her, but then that same part wanted to back into him just to feel his body against hers. Dismissing the thought, she held her hand out toward the crowd and pointed in the direction of their table.
"Table's all ready if everyone else is? We can have the food brought directly to us if you want to pick something out first. Otherwise it's asparagus and amuse bouches till then."
"Sitting with us, Viv?" Brig asked as he put his hand on the small of her back, escorting her to the table. Instinctively she bowed her back, turning to look at him and his hand with an annoyed glare.
"I don't think so..." she started to say before Hammer interrupted her.
"Please do sit with us, Vivienne. Regale us with your tales of Siberia."
"Oh really, Hammer? Boy, I'd love to! Thank you," she said without a trace of sarcasm and without even looking at him.
She rolled her eyes up to the crystal beads that was dripping from the ceiling and took a deep breath. It was going to be a long night.
"God stop staring," Red said quietly to him.
"I'm not staring," Charlie replied, still staring at Viv.
"There are literally hundreds of women here. Hundreds, Charlie. Yet you look at the one that you can't have."
Charlie looked away and glared at Red who looked back at him with a raised eyebrow. "Fine, I'm not looking at her."
"She does look pretty tonight," Red said in passing.
"She always looks pretty."
"Yeah I suppose that's the problem, then." Red said with a chuckle.
"LT should be here with Carol shortly. Let me know if you see him first."
Red nodded. Charlie went from love-sick idiot to all business in a heartbeat, which was his style, but it still gave Red great concern over Charlie's obsession with Vivienne. It could only get worse, he sighed to himself.
Simon produced their invitation and handed it to the tuxedo wearing employee without looking at him. He took it and the other two employees opened the doors immediately, ushering them in. Finally he turned and looked at Ellis who was searching the crowd with her watery green eyes.
"You look beautiful," he said with a smile. He allowed a bit of the arousal he was feeling into their aura and she smiled brightly at him, genuinely flattered.
Ellis wrapped her arm around his and purred as her response.
Simon moved them into the crowd and they mingled with a few faces she seemed to recognize, but he mostly kept to himself, letting his eyes search the crowd until he found her.
Vivienne was sitting with the werewolves - her lover, the one she called 'Brig', Hammerthynn and his Alpha. Concentrating, he stared at Vivienne and decided to try something.
"Excuse me a second, E," he said to Ellis to let go of his arm begrudgingly.
Moving toward the balcony, Simon kept his eyes on Vivienne and concentrated one word to her. His mind began yelling it in her direction, focusing on her until finally she looked up. She immediately excused herself and stood. Satisfied, Simon exited to the balcony and slipped his hands into his pants pockets, looking across the skyline. Viv's distinct heartbeat grew louder and he moved away from the doors and further away from the ballroom itself.
"Ok, that was weird," she said coming up behind him silently.
Turning he looked at her. Viv was beautiful in the beaded dress he had sent to her that afternoon. Her hair was done up in soft curls and her gold brown eyes looked curiously up at him. Smiling he leaned on the rail and asked, "What is weird?"
"The world 'balcony' suddenly hit me like a hammer in between my eyes."
Simon laughed, pleased with the results. "If I concentrate, I can send to you. I wondered if I could by now."
"God," Viv said with an very unladylike slump of her shoulders, "you folks can do that, too?"
"Folks," he murmured with a roll of his eyes. "Only because we're bonded."
Viv reached out and shushed him. "If you don't say it out loud, it may not be true."
"It's not the same, not like with me and Ellis." Viv shushed him again. "Oh stop, it's not that bad. Have you told your Brig?"
"Cuz that's a great idea."
He shook his head, "You and that American slang."
"It's a gift."
"No, it's not," he said with a snort.
Simon gave her his best shocked look. "What, I don't get a thank you for the dress?"
"I thought my wearing it was thanks enough. I am quite hot in it," Viv said with every confidence it was true.
"So modest, but yes, you do look beautiful. So you're welcome."
"Thanks," Viv said with a smile. "Do I want to know how much this cost?"
"No you do not."
"I think Brig noticed. This doesn't look like I bought if off the rack."
"He can appreciate it later when he takes it off you, then."
"Please...no discussing sex with you. It's like talking to my brother about my period."
"You don't have to keep referring to my," Simon held up his fingers in an air quote, "designation of 'brother'. I do not want to have sex with you."
"Such a liar," Viv said leaning against the rail next to him with a smile.
"I don't. That dress was strictly my way of throwing a pity party for you. You have horrible style and taste."
"Such a charmer!" Viv laughed and nudged him with her shoulder.
It was odd, her relationship with Simon now. She genuinely cared for the vampire, as much as she cared for the Pipers, maybe a little more so. When he looked at her now, there was no rush of arousal, but a true and defined friendship. Their Siberian adventure had done more than find more questions than answers for their search, but it made her see him in a completely different light. Viv did not have many friends, not true friends, but she could honestly say Simon was one of her closest.
He was giving her a strange look when she turned and looked back at him. "Did you get that heart murmur checked out?"
"I do not have a heart murmur," she squealed with annoyance.
"Ok, but you should have that checked."
"Stop listening to my heartbeat, that's creepy."
"Would you rather I undress you with my eyes," he said with a lecherous grin.
Reaching out, she pinched his arm, making him yelp. "I'm heading back in. But honestly, thanks for the dress. It was sweet of you." She pulled the sleeve of his jacket and kissed his cheek, much like a little sister. "Did you get that - I kissed you like a sister would."
"Stop doing that!" he growled and tugged at one of her curls. "Have fun tonight."
"Look at me, I'm gorgeous. How could I not have fun?" Viv winked at him as she walked away, putting a little sway in her walk on purpose. She heard him sigh and she grinned as she entered the ballroom.
She could do worse than be escorted by these three. Eiryk looked fantastic, of course, because Eiryk never went anywhere without looking fantastic. Of the three of them he was the only one in a classic, clean-cut black and white tux. And, like usual, he made it look spectacular instead of the other way around. She was girlishly jealous ut she suspected voicing that to him would only make him laugh. He probably knew how good he looked already. Alexander had cleaned up stunningly well and although he looked like he might prefer to be in something more casual, Aishe didn't think he was even slightly hard on the eyes. His look was streamlined and tailored, a touch of satin on his lapels and a burgundy vest and tie under his jacket which looked good with his dark complexion. He reminded her of a cat with his fluid movement and quiet manner.
She could almost feel the female heartbreak in the room as it became apparent that Alexander and Eiryk weren't there alone, but with each other. All four of them were moving close together but, though discreet, if you looked you could see the two had their hands entwined. Alex never did anything overtly though, they'd all learned, so Aishe was pleasantly surprised to see him loosen up a little on this one occasion.
She wanted to be there although the moment they entered the room she felt the press of the crowd and began to tense up. She couldn't help it; ever since her turning, really, she'd become terrible in large groups. Aishe had her bond with Kem though, and between that and his glamour if it became too bad, she could handle it.
As they made their way to a table that was in a less-populated section of the ballroom, Aishe smiled up at Kem and squeezed his arm. It was he who had surprised her the most with his tux. Instead of playing down his unusual coloring he had played to it instead and he looked, in her opinion, almost entirely supernatural. His black jacket was mandarin-style, no buttons on it and no collar, open to show the silver-grey fabric of his vest and tie beneath it, and a white shirt beneath that. There was no color anywhere, yet it complemented his pale hair and silvery eyes perfectly.
Looking around her, Aishe fixed each man with her piercing green eyes. "You realize I'm stealing a dance with each one of you right? At least one. Maybe more."
She smiled up at her fiance. "Definitely more, in your case."
[Because you look stunning,] he added silently to Aishe, who really did. The gown she'd picked out had looked pretty enough on the mannequin in the store but Aishe's curves were far richer in spite of her lack of inches. The deep indigo color beneath the sequins and beads looked luxuriant against her skin and while he was used to seeing her in far more casual attire, she looked completely at home in this too. He knew she'd gone through courses in etiquette and ballroom dance and all the things her mom in particular had thought proper, but according to her she hadn't taken well to them. Apparently she'd just meant she hadn't liked them.
He pulled her chair out for her and slid it back as she sat. A waiter came by when he saw them settling in, offered them champagne, and signaled to another man who delivered a tray of edibles to their table. The flow of conversation continued seamlessly though, even with minor interruptions.
"That's why we have stand-in dancers though," he said, flashing a grin at Eiryk and Alex. "If they don't wear each other out you can do your worst with them too."
He seated himself as Alex and Eiryk did the same, watching Aishe as he sipped at the champagne in the flute before him.
[Are you all right so far?]
She didn't like crowds. Not big ones like this. He couldn't blame her; he had had the chance to feel what she felt. But things being as they were, he could share his own calm with her as she had frequently done for him while he was learning to cope with heights. As always they balanced each other well.
Aishe's response was positive and cheerful, and while he could feel her tension he knew it was well under control. He'd told her it didn't matter to him if they came out or not. He'd have gladly spent the evening with their friends at home goofing around. But they'd all wanted to go out, Aishe included, so he'd try to make sure she enjoyed it.
"If you're stealing it, then you're going to take it with you when you go, right? And that means I won't have to do it?"
He looked at Aishe hopefully but he didn't really think he was going to get away with it. He didn't look at Eiryk, just clutched his hand tighter under the table. He did not want to dance. At all. It would be awful.
"If that's the case you can steal as many as you want."
Alex wasn't sure if his twist on words was going to work. If he'd learned on thing about Aishe it was that the woman was extraordinarily stubborn. If anything, he might just have made things worse for himself by refusing. He finally let his eyes flicker over to Eiryk's face, hoping for some support in the matter.
Kem cleaned up quite well and Eiryk was a little jealous of the man's coloring. It was rather exotic and then when contrasted with Alex's darker completion, well he might look good, but maybe a bit boring. Oh well. He wasn't about to worry. Besides Aishe put them all to shame and he'd told her as much already.
"I've always wanted to be a stunt dancer. I wonder if the band is insured."Â?
Eiryk cocked his head to thoughtfully considered the band before teasing Kem.
"If you don't dance with your fiancÃƒÂ© at least a few times, you'll have to dance with me."Â?
If he didn't fall flat on his face or take out four other couples Eiryk was a decent dancer. It was just he could... well it could end badly.
He squeezed Alex's hand as he tried to squirm out of dancing. It wasn't going to happen. While Eiryk hadn't planed to dance the night away he had planned on getting at least one dance in with his boyfriend and apparently Aishe had the same idea.
"You might as well relax and enjoy it. I'm sure Aishe won't let you come to harm."Â?
He turned to Nikhila. "The closet is pretty easy to defend," he said. Then he thought a moment. "Unless there are ducts. Then you're right, the back door might be better."
Everyone always got in and out via some sort of duct in the movies. He'd have to watch out for those when he was picking out Nikhila's closet.
Feeling much better surrounded by his Pack, he finally peered past his tunnel vision to take in everything around them. He smiled to Viv and inclined his head to her when she showed up, but ignored the byplay between the Pipers in general. There were many undercurrents happening there. Xeph was aware of some of them and in the dark about others. There was only so much he could control though; he had no right to pry into peoples' private lives. No matter how much they effected his.
Instead he watched his mother and Hammer interact. There was a softness about his Beta that only revealed itself when Lily was present. How had they avoided that all those years?
Turning back to Nikhila he helped seat her and bent attentively to her. "Can I get you anything? Something to eat maybe?"
The idea of leaving her side was not appealing but she would be here with her family ad he could step away if it meant providing for her.
She liked that he left his missing eye exposed. It was part of Iov like everything else and she silently disapproved of his hiding it. Whenever she looked at his face or spoke to him, she always looked at his entire face. She noticed people tended to focus on his remaining eye but Lily had known Iov for so long that if it had ever stood out to her, it no longer did.
Vivienne appeared and let them know there was a table ready for them. "Thank you," she said with a smile. She was sure by this point Nikhila didn't want to be on her feet any longer than she had to.
At Brig's greeting and nod, Lily simply watched him for a moment with cool eyes before nodding back. They hadn't interacted much in the months since the fight in Iov's apartment. Lily had a difficult time forgiving him for his harsh words. She couldn't command his respect as the wife of their dead Alpha or the mother of the current one. It wasn't in her. Her strength had lain solely in her ability to keep Liam in check. Aidan didn't need that sort of thing.
She finally returned his silent greeting, her eyes sliding away as quickly as they'd met his. She remained close to Iov and didn't look at his cousin again. She refused to let him cause her to feel shame when she had worked so hard to get beyond that.
Brig smiled realizing his cousin was thinking the same thing. "Probably with his girlfriend. I'm sure he'll sit with the men though."
"He should be here, with leadership."
Brig shrugged with a slight grimace, "Naw, let him have his fun...in whatever closet that might be in right now."
He shook his head, "Nevermind."
Just then Viv returned to the table and sat down. Her expression was softly humored as she ignored Hammer's inspecting glare. He felt his possessive Alpha rear in him as he detected another scent on Vivienne, one he immediately recognized. With a deep breath, he exhaled through his mouth and looked directly at Viv.
"Hungry?" Brig asked rising from his seat.
"A little, grabbing me something?"
"No," he said as he took her arm and pulled her back up out of her chair without looking at her. Viv pulled back away from him, but he gently applied more pressure with his fingers, encouraging her to stand with him.
"All right, guess I'm going with you," Viv mumbled as she let him pull her away. When they put distance between them and the table, she whispered with a concerned voice up to him. "What are you doing? Why are you being so grabby?"
"I can smell him on you." Brig felt the sneer on his face harden. He turned away so Viv could not see how angry he was getting. "He bought you that dress, didn't he?"
"Aw come on, Brig."
"Listen," he turned to her and did his best to rein in his anger. "I understand you're...friends...with him, but I don't have to like it. It goes against everything in me, Viv. You gotta understand that."
"I do. I know. I'm sorry," she said softly. He could see that she wanted to reach out to him and it placated his anger. Still, Viv was his and the need to show it was overwhelming. "And yeah, this dress is from him. It's Herve Leger, I couldn't help it!"
Viv gently stomped her foot and gave him a serious look. It made him laugh and he gently took her hand as discreetly as possible.
"I don't even know who that is, but you could have asked me to get it for you."
"I didn't ask him and you probably don't want to know how much this cost."
Brig rolled his eyes and guided her again toward the buffet selection, this time less aggressively. "Just...please ask him to stop. It's not that I can't compete, because I can...I have money you know," Viv rolled her eyes at him and smiled, "it's just that it's my job to spoil you. Not...his."
Brig sniffed again, smelling the tainted pheromones from Huntington on his mate. It enraged him all over again. Moving closer to the food and further into the crowd standing by the tables, Brig stood behind Viv and pulled her against his chest, doing his best to erase the vampire's scent and leave his own. The smell of the food helped some, reminding him he was hungry.
"Are you seriously rubbing up against me to leave your scent?" Viv laughed as she laid her head back against his chest. "Someone can see us all canoodlin' and then what would we say?"
Brig considered it. He and Hammer were back to the way things were, maybe with a greater understanding of each other, and Viv had been fully accepted into the pack, despite Siberia. But because of Siberia, Hammer might not react as positively to their relationship...and neither would Brig's father, Duncan. Both were immensely suspicious of Viv now and it wasn't Brig's place to defend her. Not as just the Commander, but maybe as her mate. What choice did they have now?
The realization of this made the item in his left jacket pocket make itself known. He had been carrying around the item since right before she left for Siberia unexpectedly, but he had resisted the urge to give it to her, even after reuniting with her again. Their short week apart made him realize how much he needed her in his life, he had just been waiting for the right time. But if there had ever been a right moment, this had to have been it.
"Fine. Let's tell them."