Lydia caught herself before she could fall, the spiked heel of her Christian Louboutin bootie impaled on… a potato?
“Language, Miss Martin,” crowed the voice on the other end of the phone.
Rolling her eyes, Lydia surveyed the pile of produce on her porch. “Shut up, Stiles.”
“Someone’s feisty this morning.” there was the sound of a page flipping, then, “So what happened? You don’t normally scream profanity on your way to do whatever you were doing. What were you doing again?”
“I was supposed to meet with Dr. Hastings this morning.”
The woman was an acclaimed cryptozoologist, well known for her lectures on the intersection between psychology and mythology. She had her own show, focused on creating a positive impression of the things that went bump in the night. Normal (or as Lydia liked to think “oblivious”) humans loved her easy humor and endless knowledge of weird and intriguing legends.
But in the supernatural community, she was a powerful emissary and had created a network of information exchange spanning the entire globe. Lydia was working with her to translate ancient texts and archive the resources of the former Hale pack. At some point, they planned to launch a database compiling all of the information they could find on hunters, packs, and supernatural creatures.
“Oh, right. Tell her I have an appointment with the archivist here at Columbia next week,” Stiles said, distracted.
Lydia leaned against the porch railing, tugging the potato free from her shoe. Luckily the leather was fine. It’d be a shame to have to restyle her outfit just because she’d ruined a heel.
In the meantime, Stiles’ brain was still catching up with his ears. “Wait. Why was? Are you not meeting today? Did something happen?”
“Stiles, calm down. Everything is fine.” Lydia contemplated the assortment of vegetables. Corn, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and some kind of squash. Most still had dirt and leaves clinging to them, like they’d only recently been liberated from someone’s garden.
It was almost like…
“Fuck,” she said again, this time with more feeling.
“Ooookay? That does not sound like everything is fine? Lydia?”
Even from across the country, she could see the worried expression pinching Stiles’ forehead. He was going to get wrinkles before he graduated.
She sighed. “We appear to have another bunny situation.”
“Cora finally made her move?” Something crashed, or maybe Stiles dropped the phone. Or fell out of his chair. It was hard to say. “Derek owes me-” Stiles cut himself off, probably remembering Lydia’s last lecture about keeping his sex life between him and the person he was having sex with.
But Lydia was too busy choking on air to care about the potential overshare. “What? Who said anything about Cora?”
“Duh,” Stiles said, like the overgrown pre-teen he was. “She likes you. Like, like likes you.”
“Right.” Lydia turned on her (now potato free) heel and marched back into the house. “You need a hobby.”
“I have a hobby, I’m basically-”
“For the last time, you are not Harry Potter, Stiles.” Lydia grabbed one of the canvas bags she used for her trips to the farmer’s market. “Or Gandalf. Or a Jedi.”
Stiles blew a raspberry into the speaker. “You’re no fun.”
Pinching the bridge of her nose, Lydia took a deep breath. She was not freaking out. Nope. She was just trying to wrap her head around the fact that she was now being courted by Cora Hale.
“…Lydia? Hey, are you okay? Talk to me.” Stiles sounded worried again.
“Seriously, everything is fine,” Lydia crouched down and grabbed an ear of corn. “I just was a little caught off guard.”
She followed the corn with the squash, then a head of cabbage. And were those blueberries? Blueberries were her favorite. And most definitely not in season in California.
“Remind me to ask your dad for your goblaki recipe,” she said as she finished gathering up the last of the produce.
Stiles snorted. “Let me guess, she brought you the entire greenhouse.”
“That’s how she got the blueberries,” Lydia realized.
For some reason, Beacon Hills High School had built a greenhouse behind the main building. Maybe they were going to start teaching botany or something, Lydia could honestly care less.
The canvas bag was heavy, so Lydia left it inside the front door. She’d look up recipes on her lunch break. Digging through her purse, she unearthed her keys that had fallen to the bottom and locked the front door.
Her phone pinged, interrupting Stiles’ one-man debate about global climate change and its effect on the timing and duration of growing seasons.
Thing 2: ?
She shook her head at the single question mark. “Your boyfriend is sending me one-character texts. I should get going before he comes over to glare at me.”
Stiles laughed, but the sound was almost sad. “Tell him I say hi?”
“Of course. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
The distance was hard on everyone in the pack, but it was especially difficult for Stiles, since he was the one all alone on the other side of the country. Lydia and Derek took turns flying out to keep him company, but six years was a very long time to be separated.
“Love you Lydia!”
Seconds after he hung up, Lydia’s phone pinged again.
Thing 1: give cora a chance, she was super nervous <3
Lydia pocketed the phone and slid into her car. She’d pick up Derek, meet with Dr. Hastings, come up with something to make with vegetables, and then she’d worry about Cora.
A twig snapped and Lydia froze, one hand still buried in her purse. She really needed to get the garage door fixed so she didn’t end up eaten by the monster of the week. But then, Lydia’s eyes landed on a familiar light brown wolf.
“Hello there,” she pulled out her keys, smiling slightly. “Do you want to come in?”
The wolf hesitated, teeth clamped onto a branch from an apple tree.
It was the second week of food arriving on Lydia’s porch. She’d become a pro at sidestepping melons and tomatoes on her way out the door in the mornings. And Stiles had helped find recipes for everything from ratatouille to mushroom frittata.
Then again, he owed her for all of the game dishes she’d helped him with. Venison chili, squirrel meatballs, rabbit kabobs. Even venison bourguignon for his and Derek’s first date.
“There’s still some raspberry pie left if you’re interested.”
Cora finally stepped forward out of the trees, climbing up the steps to lay the branch at Lydia’s feet. After a moment of fumbling with the door, Lydia ushered the wolf into her house, pausing to pick up the apples as well.
She tossed her purse onto the nearest surface and turned to her guest. Time for her to put herself out there.
“If you shift back, we could even call it our first date.”