Keeper
Chapter 10

Copyright© 2021 by Charly Young

The next morning, the fixed stare of a little green-eyed girl a foot from his face awakened Quinn. He stared back at her, still groggy from a hard sleep. He grinned; his t-shirt looked like a tent on her.

She frowned and pointed to her mouth and then her tummy.

“All right, little one. Go into the living room and watch TV while I get dressed. Then we’ll see about breakfast. It’s Sunday, and that means it’s waffle day. I sure hope you like waffles.”

She gave him a solemn nod yes and ran out of the bedroom.

After a quick shower and shave, Quinn he got dressed and went out to make breakfast.

He spooned batter into his waffle iron, all the while eying his visitor, who sat at the kitchen table looking back at him holding a fork and patiently waiting for breakfast.

After closing waffle iron lid, he poured her a glass of orange juice and set the table.

“Just so you know, lots of people, even the King of Bulgaria are crazy for my world-famous sour cream waffles. You are so lucky you came to visit on waffle day. You are in for a treat. Do you like waffles?”

She stared back at him, deadpan.

“I know. I know. You already answered that question. Not gonna talk, huh? My waffles are gonna make you blab like a monkey or even a hippopotamus.” No grin, not even a tiny one. “Well, you’re a hard case, that’s for sure. My jokes are known far and wide—but I guess they’re wasted on sourpusses.”

As he waited for the waffle to bake. He sipped his coffee.

“I need to call somebody about you. Niamh would be perfect, but she didn’t think to leave her number. Maybe Gus knows some shifters in Oldtown I could talk to. I need to tell somebody in Emory about the blood-witch as well.”

“Well, hello there, ‘Mr. I talk to myself because I’m a nut job’,” a voice came from the doorway.

Gustaf Hope, his oldest friend, stood in the doorway with a grin on his face. Gus was a burly man with a big bushy brown beard who invariably walked around with a smile on his face. Packing an uncrushable sunny disposition, he figured strangers were friends he hadn’t yet met. He was a furniture designer, who like the other crafters in Emory, used the magic to enhance his considerable talents. They’d been best friends ever since the old man assigned him to old Finn’s furniture shop. Gus’ furniture graced rich people’s offices worldwide. The White House had one of his rocking chairs.

“Hey, Hopeless, you’re just in time for breakfast. I was just gonna call you. What are you doing down here in the big city?”

Quinn plated a waffle. Cut it in half. Handed half to the little girl and snared a plate and put the other on it and handed it Gus.

“Woah,” said Gus as he caught sight of the little girl. “You have a visitor. Who’s your little friend?”

“She’s my guest for a while an honored guest. She hasn’t laughed at even one of my jokes.”

“I gotta say, that isn’t the surprise you think it is, Lan,” Gus boomed out a laugh. “Let’s get some more waffles cooking and so your honored guests can get to eating.”

He pulled out a chair and made waggle eyes at the little girl.

“Damn Lan,” Gus said grandly, waving his fork after he had taken a bite. “You are the king of waffles. In fact, I’ll give this one a nine on the Gus scale of goodness. Don’t you agree, little one. Why haven’t you set the table with some of that strawberry jam you canned last year?”

Gus whispered to the little girl, “He hides the strawberry jam, can you believe it. Nobody likes a stingy strawberry jam hoarder. No wonder you don’t talk much, honey. I bet you’re appalled by his stinginess.”

“By the way, did you know that you have two apprentice guardians watching your house? You should let me talk one of the sisters into coming down and putting some wards around this place. Keep out the riff-raff.”

“No way. I’m letting those crazies around my house and besides, the only riff-raff that comes around here is you.”

Gus grinned and mimed stabbing himself in the heart with his fork. “Now that was hurtful.”

“Anyway, I spotted the girls a couple of days ago. Do you know ‘em?”

“Yeah, they belong to Althea, I think. Sabina Coven girls.”

“Huh. Well anyway I’m glad to see you. Surprised, too. What’s up?”

“I got a commission from one of Sven’s lawyer friends. Had to sign the paperwork. Also, Anna sent me to talk to you. She said you were to come see her right away. Personally, I am hoping she’ll convince you to get your head out of your ass and come home. I miss my fishing partner. By the way, if you come to Emory for a visit and don’t stop by the shop and see my mom, there will be trouble.”

Gus came from a big boisterous family. He had six brothers and sisters. Growing up, Quinn always thought that Gus’ house was what heaven must be like. Gus’ mother had been one of his teachers. She owned a bakery in Emory.

“Hopeless, there is not a single chance in hell of me moving back there. If I go, it’ll be for a day to get the old man’s will read and then I’m back here where nice normal people live.”

While he was eating, Gus had been giving the little girl speculative glances. His mouth dropped open.

“Sweet Mother of All. Your little guest is wolf-kin. What in the Hell’s name are you doing with a baby shifter? Are you insane? All you need is to have some pack’s alpha pair decide you have besmirched their honor by kidnapping one of their pups.”

“Quit yelling, Gus, you’re scaring her. That’s why I was thinking of calling you. I need some help. I had a visit from a woman last night. A shifter woman. She left her with me. Told me to take care of her.”

“Why you?”

“Don’t have the slightest idea. Anyway, next thing, there is a Hag in my backyard looking for her.”

 
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