Becky’s arrival interrupted Emma’s thoughts about Hunter and the treehouse. Becky had become like a sister to her, and Emma rose to give her a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. The gentlemen he was, Hunter also rose, which spurred Coby to rise as well. Hunter gave Becky a peck on the cheek, and then Becky gave Cody a quick peck on the lips.
Emma grinned at them.
“Uh—you wanna drink?” Hunter asked, offering to go to the bar since Holly seemed busy.
“Sure,” Becky said, tearing her eyes away from Coby with seeming difficulty.
Emma grinned a little wider. It looked like Becky really liked him, and Emma was glad for her. Becky had had a crush on Coby for years, and he was a nice guy; plus, Emma preferred him being off the market.
She’d caught some of the looks he’d spent on her throughout the years; thus, though she’d always tried to be nice to him, she’d never allowed herself to be alone with Coby Bellefleur.
Mostly, she’d not wanted to get in the way of Hunter and Coby’s friendship, for Coby was the closest “contemporary” male friend that Hunter had ever had.
However, now that he was with Becky, Emma felt like she could relax.
“Your usual?” Hunter asked, even as Coby looked at Becky curiously. He probably hadn’t hung out with her enough to know her usual.
“Yeah, but have them make it with Dr. Pepper,” she reminded.
Hunter bowed a little. “Of course, milady,” he said gallantly. “One rum and Doc coming up.”
Emma melted a little when he looked at her. “Do you need a refill, min raring?” She nodded. “Just the Doc part for me though.”
Hunter grinned his lopsided grin—the one that made her wish that he was already eighteen! “I’ll have Sam make us a pitcher of the Doctor.” He winked.
Yep. March 30 couldn’t come soon enough for Emma, which reminded her. She needed to talk to Dr. L. and get on the pill.
LATER THAT NIGHT
Coby stretched a little. Becky was tucked in next to him, but he couldn’t sleep. The scent of her hair—though not bad—was not quite right. He wished that they’d gone back to her house now. At least then he could have left inconspicuously, leaving her a note explaining that he had to work early or run an errand for his mom or something. But he wasn’t able to do anything now, for they were in his bed.
And that meant he’d be stuck with her until she woke up, and since the next day was Saturday, she would likely want to eat breakfast with him.
At least, since the next day was Christmas Eve, he could give her a family excuse to get her to leave earlier in the morning. And he wouldn’t look like a bad guy when he did it either. Who knew? He might even get in the mood to fuck her again between now and then, and Becky really wasn’t that bad of a lay, Coby rationalized.
She was enthusiastic both to please and to learn.
And he had needs—after all.
Oh—he planned to be faithful to Emma once they got married. He’d even stayed a virgin until he was 20 because he’d wanted for their first times to be together, but hormones and college girls had gotten the best of him, and he had never been wanting in looks or in charm.
He closed his eyes and stifled a growl—as he thought about how his “charms” had become second best.
For several years, he’d noticed that girls tended to look at Hunter first—and then at him—when they were in a room together. However, Coby comforted himself with the fact that he was still considered quite attractive to most girls. Naturally, he was at least an 8, but his brain and his job made him a 9 or a 10.
Hunter had simply been given good genes, along with the gift of confidence—thanks to Eric and Sookie’s upbringing.
Coby heard his phone ding with a text message, and he slowly disentangled himself from Becky’s arms. He covered her body with a blanket and bent down to kiss her on the cheek when she stirred. She had grown lovelier and lovelier with age, but she still wasn’t whom he truly wanted.
That was Emma—only Emma.
Coby put on his jeans and left his bedroom, closing the door behind him.
Just as he’d figured, his phone had signaled a text from Robin asking for a progress report. The warlock was aware of each and every meeting that he had with Hunter.
Coby quickly texted back that he was with Becky. He also informed Robin about an interesting piece of information he’d gotten from her—one that solidified Coby’s timeline and his urgency. Emma and Hunter were planning a vacation at the end of March—a week-long trip that would correspond to both their spring break and Hunter’s birthday. Coby didn’t know where that trip was to, but he had learned from Becky—in confidence, of course—that it would be where Hunter and Emma gave one another their virginity.
That thought—even the possibility of it—made Coby’s temper boil. The idea of Hunter stealing something so profound made Coby want to kill his “friend” even more than before. However, Coby was also made very happy by the news that Emma was still a virgin; that meant that he could still be her first.
Would be her first.
Robin texted back that Coby should continue to try to undermine Hunter and Emma’s relationship.
He scoffed. He’d been trying that for years! But it was difficult given the fact that it seemed to be quite impossible for him to get Emma alone!
And his latest mystery was that he couldn’t figure out where Emma was living in Baton Rouge. He couldn’t figure out where Hunter was living either, for that matter!
Robin’s vampire contact had found no record of a dorm, an apartment, or even a house where either one of them was living. It was as if they appeared in their classes—all of which they shared—out of thin air, and then they disappeared.
Hunter and Emma were home on Saturdays and Sundays, but beyond that regularity and their class schedule, Coby could find out nothing of how they spent their time, except that they would usually meet up with him on Saturday nights at Merlotte’s.
He did know, however, that they were well-guarded in their classes. Because of a large endowment given by the Northmans, the administrators at LSU were more than accommodating, too. Coby was aware that Clovache and Breeta stayed right inside and right outside their classroom doors, while there was at least one Were inside of each class with them.
Coby sent another quick text to Robin, and his warlock friend and he arranged to meet the next evening—Christmas Eve. If all went as planned, Hunter would be getting a very unexpected present for the holidays, and though it would do nothing to hurt him physically, it would most certainly shake him.
Feeling better Coby went back to his bedroom, climbed into bed with Becky, woke her, and then tried to imagine that she was Emma as he had sex with her for a second time that night.
“What are you thinking?” Hunter asked, as he lazily stoked Emma’s arm with long patterns.
Though it was cool outside, the treehouse had a space heater, so the structure was relatively warm. Plus, the teens had put back on their clothing after fooling around, and they’d snuggled under a thick quilt.
“I’m just thinkin’ about wedding colors,” Emma laughed. “Nothing big.”
Hunter chuckled. “Big or small, woman,” he said in his best “cavemanish” tone, “I always wanna know what you’re thinkin’.” He pulled her into his side, just as she popped him on the stomach. She knew he would hardly feel the tap on his well-formed abs.
They were silent for a minute.
“So what color are you thinkin’—this week? Weren’t you set on blue?” Hunter asked playfully.
Emma scoffed, “Yeah, Einstein, but there are about a million shades of blue in the world, and I still can’t figure out which one I want.”
Hunter chuckled, “I think you’ve been hanging out with Pam too much.”
“When it comes to fashion, there’s no such thing,” Emma said.
“No comment,” Hunter said wisely.
“I’d tell you that our wedding will be beautiful no matter what, but I’m afraid that you’d just hit me again if I did.”
Emma giggled. “You’re probably right.” She looked up at Hunter. “So—are you glad that Coby said yes?”
Hunter nodded. “Yeah.”
“Hey,” Emma said, astutely pointing out the flash of doubt that crossed her “unofficial” fiancé’s face, “what are you thinkin’?”
Hunter sighed. “It’s just Coby. If he does have a little thing for you, I’m worried it might hurt him—you know? To have him in the wedding. But—worse—I’m worried you might feel uncomfortable.” He raked his hand through his hair. “Maybe I shouldn’t have asked him.”
Emma raised her hand gently to Hunter’s cheek. “We’ve talked about this. Even if Coby still has his crush on me, he’s your oldest friend in Bon Temps.”
Hunter shook his head. “No, you are.”
Emma kissed him chastely. “And you are my oldest friend, too, but Coby’s been around us almost as long, and he seems a little lost now that he’s back in town—like he’s tryin’ to find a way to truly fit back in.”
Hunter nodded. “Yeah. I’ve noticed that, too—even though we only see him once a week.” He smiled. “But it seems like Becky is really into him, so that makes things less potentially awkward—right?”
“Hey—you are the one who didn’t want me to match-make!” She playfully hit him again.
He laughed and tickled her side in retaliation. “It’s just that I want him to be happy, and it’d be nice if he . . . .” Hunter stopped midsentence.
“Didn’t study me so much?” Emma finished for him.
Hunter sighed and nodded.
“But you’ve said that his thoughts don’t give us any reason for concern,” Emma reminded. “And your mom hasn’t picked up anything wrong from him either.”
Hunter shrugged. “I know. Coby’s head just tells me that he wants to hang out with us—that he missed all of his friends in Bon Temps when he was living in the college dorms in Baton Rouge. That’s why he moved to Bon Temps instead of Shreveport after he got his job.”
Emma grinned and changed the topic. “I’m glad that we don’t have to live in the dorms. I much prefer living with you.” She put her arms around his neck and rested her head on his chest.
“Me too,” Hunter said as he kissed her hair. “And it’s nice that your mom and dad are letting you stay over tonight since tomorrow’s Christmas Eve—even if you have to use the guestroom.”
Emma nodded against Hunter’s flannel shirt. She loved its softness against her cheek. “Since they’ll be here tomorrow night for dinner, it’s not like they’ll lose out, and I already said I’d spend several days with them after Christmas.”
Hunter wrapped her tighter into his arms. “But I’m gonna miss us time,” he grumbled.
She giggled. “You’ll miss it for exactly one week.”
“One week is too long,” he pouted.
“You’ve gotten spoiled,” she grinned.
“Yes I have,” he agreed with a little growl.
Hunter would miss what he and Emma had labeled “couch time.” It had become his favorite time of the day since they’d started at LSU.
Basically speaking, “couch time” involved him and Emma—together and alone—for several hours on the large couch in Hunter’s “apartment.” Of course, the definitions of “his” apartment and “her” apartment were pretty loose—since their hallway doors were never locked. Indeed, Hunter and Emma had settled into a routine of “almost” cohabitation that suited them both at college.
Both had made a few new friends, with whom they socialized together after their classes; however, by 5:00 p.m. each night, Hunter and Emma were always “home” and usually cooking together in Hunter’s kitchen since it was slightly bigger than Emma’s. Over the years, Hunter had learned quite a few cooking techniques from Uncle Lala, and cooking relaxed him. Emma, though not as “creative” in the kitchen, complemented Hunter’s work by being his sous chef and the table setter. Then the two would clean up the dishes and settle onto the couch for the night.
Often, they’d begin by studying together since they’d decided to take their classes together while they were doing their pre-requisites. Or—if they didn’t have homework to do—they’d relax on the couch and watch television or a movie. But eventually—inevitably—their hands would being moving over each other’s bodies. And their mouths would find each other.
It was as if magnets within them would draw them together.
Sadly—no matter what they were doing on the couch—when 11:30 p.m. came around, one of the “Brits,” Clovache or Breeta, would knock on the door to signal that it was half an hour before their curfew.
It was safe to say that Hunter was frustrated every time that knock occurred. And Emma often growled, her eyes glowing dangerously.
Both of them were looking forward to when Hunter turned 18—which was when the curfew would stop. It was also when the couple intended to begin sleeping together—and that didn’t just mean sex.
Hunter didn’t care what Sam—or anyone else said about the matter. In the days between his birthday at the end of March and his wedding day in June, there was no way in hell that Hunter intended to have sex with Emma just to leave her to go back to a separate bedroom.
Nope—Emma and he had decided that she was going to be “officially” moving into his apartment as soon as they were engaged.
“Have you talked to Claude and Niall about next year?” Emma asked Hunter, her mood clearly darkening a little.
Hunter tensed as well. “Yeah. Actually, Dad talked to them last week, and they’re gonna start helping out next semester.” He was silent for a moment. “Dad and I don’t wanna risk it.”
Emma sighed. “Okay. How worried should I be?”
Hunter was thoughtful for a moment. During the last few weeks of the previous semester, he’d picked up a few “unfriendly” minds at the edge of his range as Emma and he had been hanging out in the student union or shopping. The odd thing was that the minds didn’t seem as if they intended the couple harm as much as they were focused upon Emma and he a little too much.
As if they were spies.
Hunter had picked up the same minds trying to follow them back to their home too, though he was certain that Clovache, who’d driven them to the grocery store on that occasion, had most certainly lost them.
And none of the eggs had survived the trip either!
“I don’t know,” Hunter said honestly in response to Emma’s question.
“But you’re worried enough to change the routine,” she observed.
“Yeah. Whoever was following us picked us up at school—though I’ve never felt them close to home, so I’m pretty sure they don’t know where we live.” He sighed. “So it’s the car travel from school that makes us vulnerable. Therefore, Niall and Claude are gonna start taking turns “popping” us to and from classes. Dad’s gonna give us new Weres, in case our last ones were recognized, and we can’t socialize with our Were guards away from home anymore,” he added with some regret.
Both he and Emma had become friends with their current Were guards/fellow classmates.
“What will Travis and Miguel do then?” she asked.
“Dad’s agreed to pay if they wanna keep going to school, and they’ll be back-up on campus if our new Weres need it,” he responded.
The shifter nodded. “Anything else?” she asked with a sigh.
“No more trips to the grocery store,” Hunter said. “Our new Weres will go.”
Emma took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry, Em. I’m sorry I can’t give you a normal life,” Hunter said with regret.
She looked up at him with fire in her eyes. “Normal life?” She shook her head and kissed him deeply before pulling away abruptly. “You are a fairy-human hybrid and I shift into a cheetah.” She grinned. “What’s not normal about that?”
“I meant a safe life—one without guards,” Hunter said seriously.
She shrugged. “I like our guards. I like that you have always been protective of me. And—to be frank—I’ve had enough honest conversations with your mom to know the traps I am not gonna fall into.”
“Traps?” he asked.
She smiled. “Did you know that your mom—at one point—almost rejected your dad because she was afraid she’d never have a ‘normal’ life with him?”
Hunter shook his head. “No. I didn’t.”
“She hated the thought of having guards all the time, too, but she got used to it, and so have I. Your dad was worth it, Hunter. And so are you.”
He leaned in to kiss her gently. “I’m so glad you picked me, Emma Merlotte.”
She shook her head. “How could I not, Hunter Northman?”
The couple was silent for a moment as they just looked at one another with love.
“So—our ‘commute’ is gonna consist of fairy transport next semester?” Emma asked.
Hunter nodded. “Yep. They’ll come to our house in Baton Rouge and just ‘pop’ us to some secure place on campus or another.” He shrugged and chuckled. “Dad and Claude are figuring it all out, so you know it’ll be cloak and dagger.”
Emma giggled and nodded. “Yep.”
“And, of course, our Brits can ‘jump’ wherever we go, so they will follow us, and our Weres will commute the old-fashioned way.”
“By car,” Emma grinned.
Hunter nodded. “Yep. And Mom and Claude are gonna do some spot-checking while we’re in our classes too.”
Emma nodded. She knew that “spot-checking” was their term for telepathic screening. Though Hunter had greatly honed his telepathic skills over the years, he wasn’t as powerful as Sookie or Claude. And she felt better knowing that the two would be keeping and “ear” on things—given the fact that someone was apparently trying to spy on them.
“You know,” Hunter started, even as he moved his hand to caress her hair, “I think we should just live here—on the ætt land—next year. If we’re just gonna be ‘commuted’ to school, it seems practical.”
Emma smiled against his chest. “I love that idea. I was already thinking about how weird it was gonna be to get a whole house from our parents in June when we get married and then have to go back to another house in Baton Rouge next year for school.”
Hunter pulled her tighter to him. “Even though I love our apartment, I miss this land—this home—when we aren’t here.”
“Me too,” she agreed.
“You know—it would be much more convenient if I could just teleport us,” Hunter sighed.
“Maybe you’ll eventually learn,” Emma said. “Meanwhile, we’ll manage.”
“Did you know that Adele teleported for the first time the other day?” Hunter asked with a chuckle, his mood lifting.
“You’re not jealous?” Emma grinned.
“Heck no,” Hunter said. “She’s more fairy than me anyway, and she lives in the Faerie realm, so it matters more to her.”
“Well you can teleport too—in a way,” Emma reminded.
“Yeah, but just directly to Dùraig.”
“It’s still something. You can visit Hadley when you want.”
Hunter nodded in agreement. Just like his mom—Sookie—he didn’t have the power to teleport unless it was directly to Dùraig’s pool; however, that was something—as Emma had said. From the time he’d learned, he’d been instructed to go straight there if there were ever any imminent danger. But he wasn’t sure if he would do that, for he couldn’t take Emma to Dùraig with him since she had no fairy blood.
Emma shivered a little.
“Cold?” he asked.
“Let’s go inside,” Hunter said.
“But curfew’s not for a while,” Emma responded.
“There’s an excellent couch in there,” Hunter grinned, waggling his eyebrows.
“But your mom and dad . . . ,” Emma started.
Hunter closed his eyes and concentrated. “I can’t hear them, so they must be in their bedroom behind the privacy spell.”
He got up and extended his hand to her in order to help her to her feet before turning off the space heater.
“You know them,” Hunter said, rolling his eyes. “They are likely in for the night.”
“Couch time it is then,” Emma agreed, leading her beloved into the house.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. I want to thank everyone who is following this story!
For the record, this chapter was hard for me to write-not the Hunter and Emma part, but the Coby/Becky part. I really liked Becky in the show (remember, she was the young Werepanther in Hotshot who helps Jason. In CBTM, she helped Eric, Jason, etc., when Quinn’s group attacked. Quinn had paid the Hotshot group to attack Queen Thalia and Becky warned Jason of the impending attack (which was meant to be a diversion to draw Eric out and make him vulnerable to Quinn and Hallow’s attack.
Anyway, Becky’s a sweet girl who sees Coby as a nice guy and a good catch-and he would be if he wasn’t obsessed with her “sister.”
Thanks for reading.
As always, many thanks to Seph for the art and Kleannhouse for the beta work!