I was taking out the last batch of fudge brownies from the oven when I heard the customer talking to Derek who was manning the counter, for the time being. Well, he hated it on principle, but our regular girl Julie who managed the shop almost single-handedly was down with flu. After hearing her sneezing for about the fiftieth time last evening Derek couldn’t take it anymore and flung her out semi-growling that she would not be allowed within fifty feet of the shop until she had recovered.
Julie had smirked at him and said, “I always knew you are a mush at heart boss,” to which Derek had almost bared his fangs at her, but thankfully had held back until she had left.
Chatting up to the strangers was still a pretty obnoxious concept to Derek which was a pity for I knew for a fact he could be a charmer if he put even half the effort to it, and that face and that body and those smooth muscles under the ever-present Henley and that bone structures – they didn’t hurt either. In fact, rumour had it Devils’ Own was fast becoming the favourive cake shop for the people of Beacon Hills because of the dark and broody owner, who sometimes deigned to appear in the shop, lurking in the background. More often than not, people were disappointed for Derek’s appearance was a rare event and even when he did appear, he usually lurked in the background or escaped into the kitchen for God forbid somebody could try to talk or horror of horrors flirted or batted their eyelashes a little at him. I had tried and failed to convince him a little flirting would go a long way to have the people of Beacon Hills queuing up outside our little shop.
The shop was my idea and I kind of goaded Derek into buying an old establishment off the cross-road and renovate it with modern interiors with black ceiling and red and silver walls. He certainly hadn’t lacked the money. I reasoned there was no harm in a good investment to multiply his money, since he was not quite warm to the idea of holding a regular job. The real reason behind my insistence was of course I figured it would help him rejoin with the rest of the humanity. Derek used to attend college in New York like any regular guy. Laura’s murder and the resultant mayhem had changed him for good. I was not naive. I knew it was not possible to expect he would go back to become the relatively carefree person (Derek was never fully happy or carefree after Paige or Kate) that I could only guess he used to be. But I would keep on trying to tug him out of his shell as much as I could.
That was the reason I was surprised to hear him sound like that.
“Interesting name.” The female voice was effortlessly seductive. I chuckled while placing the brownies on the cooling rack. There were some specialty items which I liked to prepare myself. The fudge brownie and oatmeal and raisin cookies were a few of them. We had a regular pastry chef who came at five in the evening and left around 9.30 when we closed the shop. I would come when my classes were over and hang out or work in the kitchen.
“Thanks.” Derek said and my ears perked up for he didn’t sound his usual grumpy self.
“But how does it reflect on the owner?”
“That the owner is interesting?” I almost dropped container of icing sugar. Derek was flirting back with a customer! I was overjoyed and a tiny hope began to bloom at the corner of my mind that there might be a possibility he was getting over his – everything!
The woman laughed, the sound was like the waterfalls, pleasant and all natural. I resisted an urge to take a peek. Derek would sense it and might immediately hand her over to me to escape into the kitchen. It had happened before. For a man of his commanding personality and occasional flashes of wit and humour I really didn’t see why Derek was so averse to talk to strangers.
“I missed it the last time I came down to Beacon Hills.”
“It’s been open only a few months.”
“Well, that explains it. I was wondering how I could possibly miss this,” there was a potent silence after that. “I mean the cookies.”
“Of course you do.” Derek’s voice carried a smile and I could picture him, standing behind the counter, clad in a soft blue t-shirt, a dimple on each cheek peeking out of the sexy stubble and I could almost picture the woman hyperventilating.
The woman laughed again, and this time it sounded nervous.
“No really. Smells really good in here.”
“I mean the cookies, God.” The woman sounded breathless in embarrassed laughter.
I rolled my eyes.
“Thanks. I have it on good authority that they are pretty awesome along with the person who makes them.” My grin reached my ears.
“I would take a tin of those and the chocolate gateau.” The woman said.
“What does the chef recommend?”
“Well, I am not the chef.” Derek was still smiling. “I am just the boring owner.”
“You mean you are the devil?”
“Depends on my mood.”
“Cool. I will have a devil then.” I dropped the empty baking tray and this time it fell on the floor with a clatter.
Silence greeted me.
“Sorry,” Derek was still smiling. “This devil is already taken. You can have anything from the rest of the shop.”
“Be careful with what you offer.” The woman was smiling, but this time there was a false ring to it.
“Will that be all ma’am?” Derek was wrapping up the order and he sounded like he wanted to finish the line of conversation.
“Yes.” The woman said. “That would be all, thank you Derek.”
There was a startled silence from the other end.
“You know my name?” Derek was not smiling anymore. In fact, he sounded like he was frowning.
“Everybody knows the most gorgeous and desirable man in Beacon Hills.” She smiled. “For once the rumour mill is true. Well not quite true for it actually doesn’t do you justice.”
Derek remained silent and I knew he was feeling uncomfortable. It was one thing to harmlessly flirt with a customer and it was completely another thing to again be subjected to THAT kind of scrutiny that still made his blood run cold.
I was suddenly angry. I pushed off towards the door separating the shop from the kitchen. More than the stupid customer, I was angry at myself. I felt the shop was an idiotic idea when clearly Derek was not ready to handle this sort of exposure. He had been through hell and back and he had not recovered fully. Stiles and others didn’t see it for he had opened up, he actually cracked jokes and he smiled, a lot (the last one always left me breathless in an overflowing sense of joy). I knew it better than anybody that Derek was still his broken self and that it would take a long time to heal. I was a prime example of it. For while I was going to turn nineteen in a couple of months, I was still a virgin!
My father was of course delighted with this side-effect of Derek’s PTDS, cruel as it might sound.
He tried to give me the birds and bees talk barely three days after I had come back from dead as a werewolf. I ran out of the room with my ears covered with both hands and went running through the forest the entire evening. I took to climb through my window at night to avoid facing him.
He had cornered me at my room after a few days while I was still in my bed.
“Vi,” He said, opening the door of my room.
“Go away.” I covered my head with the pillow and groaned.
“Please, the sooner we get this over, the better.” He sighed.
“I don’t want to talk about it. EVER.”
“Well, as a father it is my duty...”
“Dad, trust me when I say this, but there is no need.” I growled.
“Of course, you are a grown woman and you know what this sort of things entail. But you have turned into a werewolf, who undoubtedly has an animal side. You have less control over yourself than before. You need to...”
“Dad, we are NOT having sex. At least for the time being.” I half-shouted at him.
Dad stared at me.
“Derek practically whimpered when I touched him. He WHIMPERED dad.” I suddenly had tears sprinkling out of my eyes and I squeezed them shut, trying to chase away the image of Derek flinching back from my touch, his face a mask of panic. It took me an hour of coaxing and cajoling to calm him down and then he had lain, fully clothed, with his head on my lap and gone to sleep with me singing a lullaby (one that my mother used to sing to me), carding my hands gently through his hair.
“I had to wipe tears from the cheeks of my sleeping boyfriend.” I sobbed into my hands. “Trust me when I say this, it did not do any good to my libido.”
Dad came down and sat on the edge of my bed.
“Vi,” He said softly. “Derek does love you, you know that, right?”
“I think I got the memo when he offered himself to Kate or Theo even when it terrified him.” I hiccupped.
Dad rested his hands on my shoulders, rubbing them gently.
“Oh sweetheart.” He sighed. “What are you going to do?”
“I would wait.” I said between my sobs. Then I looked at him. “Oh God, do you think I am crying because I cannot have sex with him?”
“Well, you are a teenager with raging hormones.” Dad quirked his eyebrows. “And Derek is...well...not exactly bad-looking.”
“No dad, fuck...sorry...no.” I pushed his hands away. “I cannot imagine a life without Derek. He is everything to me. I would happily forego sex my entire life if I needed to. I don’t want to hurt him any more than he already is. I want to be his solace, not a source of further torment.”
Dad smiled sadly. “That is like my girl, but it is a lot of responsibility.”
I wiped my tears. “Derek is not a responsibility. I love him. I am happy to be with him. I will take whatever he is willing to give and will be happy with it. Every time he smiles is a miracle, every time we kiss I taste the heaven, every time he as much as look at my direction with that warmth in his eyes, I feel my heart would burst...”
“Derek is my life now, dad. Don’t worry about us. We will figure things out. Together.” I said. What I didn’t tell dad was how unhappy Derek was with the situation. He was a wolf after all. I understood it all the more now. It was his instinct to take what was his and to possess and to mark and I was undoubtedly his. But I refused to let him try to do what was clearly hurting him. That was another reason he cried. He wanted me, but his body responded negatively, out of its own volition. He wanted me so badly but I had to push him away when I saw how he gritted his teeth and locked his jaw. I hugged him and caressed his back and let him cry...so much tears we had spilled together...it seemed they would fill up an ocean.
No, dad didn’t need to know all the details and Derek didn’t need the kind of predatory attention he was being subjected to right now.
I flung the door open only to see the backside of a tall brunette, wearing a scarlet pea coat and nude stilettos walking out of the shop.
“Hey,” Derek smiled at me and it looked a bit strained.
“I take back what I said. Don’t ever flirt with the customers.” I huffed.
“You said it is good for business.” Derek said, face carefully blank, but I had a feeling he was smirking at me.
“Our business is good enough.” Though I said ours, I was technically an employee. Derek paid me for my amateur cheffing. It did help with the college tuitions. He had my name included as a partner without my consent and I had been furious over it. But when he tried to share the profit with me, I had put my foot down. The shop came into being with Derek’s money and I had zero financial contribution. Derek then offered me part-time employment and I couldn’t refuse, because I loved to bake and it was something I was pretty good at.
“Yeah, thanks to your cookies.”
“Which smell really good.” I deadpanned.
“Not more than you.” Derek quipped, creeping closer.
“Nope. You mister, have the singularly most delicious scent in the entire universe.” I said and Derek predictably rolled his eyes.
“She didn’t stand a chance.” I sighed.
“Humans can’t smell a person.” Derek countered.
“Well, I will let you on a secret.” I whispered. “Women can and do smell other people.”
“Oh is that so?” Derek raised an eyebrow. “What did I smell like when you were human?”
“Green grass, forest, river and unnamed flowers.” I smiled at him.
Derek strode forward and drew me close encircling my waist with strong arms.
“And then you say those things.” His hazel eyes were smiling as he ducked his head. He lingered before touching my lips with his, nostrils flaring, scenting me.
“And then you smell like that...” he murmured softly and his lips were on mine, hungry, demanding. My lips parted as his tongue darted into my mouth, brushing over the tips of my teeth seductively. I felt the echo of the kiss straight into my groin and I moaned, pushing forward into it, my hands clutching at his hair desperately. I bit down on his lower lip and a strangled almost hungry growl emanated from Derek’s throat.
Somebody cleared his throat and we jumped back.
“Sorry,” Stiles stood awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck, looking at anywhere but at us.
“What?” Derek said irritably, not embarrassed in the least. We had seen him making out with Malia plenty of times. What was interesting though was the strong smell of arousal coming out of him. I didn’t know if that was the reason Derek was irritated.
“Um...we may have a problem.” Stiles was still not meeting my eyes. He knew with my werewolf senses I could now smell his emotions. This little problem with Stiles was refusing to go away and it had sort of begun to get on my nerves a little.
“What is it?” Derek was immediately serious.
“Oh no we don’t need your let’s-go-and-punch-the-problem-in-the-face face.” Stiles met Derek’s eyes this time and I giggled, involuntarily.
Derek turned his head to glare at me and then glared at Stiles.
“I don’t have a...whatever you called it...that face.”
“You totally do.” I nodded.
“I also have an I-want-to-punch-you-till-you-are unconscious face.” Derek said to Stiles. “Can you see me wearing it now?”
“Oh sourwolf, if only I had a dollar for every time you threatened me.” Stiles laughed.
“Stiles, flirt with Derek later.” I intervened. “What is the matter?”
Derek stared at me. “You are encouraging him. Do you know that?”
“The idiot makes you laugh.” I pointed out.
“Hey,” Stiles protested.
“Seriously though, what is wrong?” I asked my brother.
“Oh nothing to be alarmed about.”
I exchanged a worried glance with Derek.
“Stiles, you are killing us here.” I complained.
“I have a feeling we need to shop for formal wears, pretty soon.”
“What?” Derek blinked.
“I think our dad is getting married.” Stiles flailed.
“What?” It was me this time. I was ashamed immediately after. Of course I should have known and of course I should have been happy for him instead of being surprised. My dad was awesome and any woman would be lucky to have him. I knew he was dating a mystery woman for a couple of months now. I knew for a fact he was happy for he positively radiated after those dates. So, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
“Isn’t it a bit sudden?” Derek said cautiously.
“No. It is practical.” I shook my head. “At his age, he tends to over-think. The only way he can do this is if he just lets go of his inhibitions and dives headlong into it. It is incredibly romantic and a bit foolish, but I get it.” I smiled at my brother. “I don’t think he would do this unless he is absolutely sure.”
Stiles looked dubious.
“We haven’t even met this woman yet.”
“Dad has met her. He trusts her. We need to defer to his judgement.” I pointed out.
“How did you find out?” Derek asked.
“Well, he might have borrowed my laptop to chat with this mystery woman. I might have taken a backup before deleting the chat, which he insisted I do and looked pretty intimidating while saying it.”
“And you might have taken a look, reading his personal chat. Totally accidentally of course.” Derek monotoned.
“Totally accidentally,” agreed Stiles.
“Yeah, right.” Derek rolled his eyes.
“What did you find?” I asked. Derek turned and glared at me.
“What? He has already read it.” I said innocently.
“Accidetally.” Stiles insisted.
“So just accidentally spill it. Or I might accidentally break your game console, the new one.” I grinned at Stiles.
“I am thinking of accidentally throttling both of you.” Derek said. “Do you guys have no sense of boundary?”
“Don’t tell me you are not tempted to hear what gems I have found in those chats.” Stiles wiggled his eyebrows.
Derek gagged. “I am calling John and giving him a heads up what the gifts of his loins are up to these days.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” I rounded up on him.
“I most certainly would.” He said.
“But dad is getting married. If that is true, we get the right to pester him about it. We should punish him for not letting us know sooner.” I whined.
“Yeah and an appropriate revenge would be to know how he gushes over his chat about...ow, ow, ow...”
Stiles was cut off by Derek who had grabbed him by his ear and dragged him physically out of the shop. The door closed behind him.
“He calls her his marshmellow.” Stiles peeked through the door and threw at us Before Derek could turn round and grab him again, he bolted.
I was laughing when Derek came back to stand with me behind the counter.
Two customers had entered, interrupting us and after we wrapped up the orders and took the payment I turned towards Derek who was standing at the background, quiet as a shadow.
“What?” I asked him as I felt him staring.
“Are you ok?” He asked, his face uncharacteristically soft. “Will you be ok?”
Derek knew how much I loved my mother and how close I was to my father. I was not thrilled with the idea of having to share his love with a stranger. I was surprised how Derek could sometimes read me like an open book.
“Dad deserves happiness Der.” I said, using my favourite pet-name for Derek for my heart melted a bit thinking how much he cared.
“You didn’t answer my question.” Derek strode towards me and looked into my eyes, trying to strain out the truth in them.
“I will be ok.” My voice shook a bit.
Derek drew me into a hug. I crushed his t-shirt with my fists and sniffled against his warm chest.
“I don’t want to feel jealous. I mean I have no right for I have you and Stiles has Malia. But the thought of sharing him with anybody...”
“I know,” Derek caressed the back of my head quietly. “But I also know, you would support him wholeheartedly, and you would respect his decision as well as his privacy.” He said, then he cupped my face upwards looking into my eyes. “Unlike Stiles.” He said and kissed on my forehead.
“But it is just harmless fun.” I whispered.
Derek cocked his head thinking. Then he said, “when your dad gave you ‘the talk’ about our relationship, how did you react?”
“I wanted the earth to swallow me whole.”
“Right.” Derek smiled down at me. “So you didn’t want your private life discussed openly with a third person.”
I sighed and buried my nose into Derek’s chest again.
He was right of course. We shouldn’t pry.
I would just have to wait until dad invited this mystery lady over to meet us.
Well, I so DIDN’T look forward to that moment and I already hated myself for feeling that way.
But right now, I was with Derek, and everything was right with the world.