”You could at least look at it,” Derek said, slouching back on the couch. Friday night and he had absolutely nothing planned other than trying to convince his mother to do an interview for the magazine.
“Derek, I’ve told you – I have zero interest in actually being in the magazine! I’m perfectly happy in the background just doing the books!!” Talia flipped over the mock-up that the art department had done, smiling at the image. Anyone who really knew her would know that she was nothing like the image projected, even though the art department did not use Photoshop on their images unless humans specifically requested it. And sometimes not even then.
“It’s a prestigious award,” Derek said and Talia turned to her son, letting the magazine flop onto the table.
“I would much rather talk to you about Stiles – and Jackson,” she said slyly.
“I’m going to kill Laura!” Derek said, stiffening in his seat. Flopping her head onto her son’s shoulder, Talia forestalled his escape. Derek was too much of a softy to reject any pack member seeking affection, something Talia took ruthless advantage of when it suited her.
“She didn’t tell me much – she was actually talking to me about the new Left Hand of the Month cover,” Talia explained.
“And I just happened to slip into the conversation?”
“Yep,” Talia replied. “I asked who the photographer was on the issue and she explained how Stiles managed to get such an amazing shot of Peter.”
“What do you mean?” Derek asked, curiosity in his tone. Sitting up, Talia rummaged through the pile of magazines on the table before pulling up the appropriate copy.
“Well – have you ever seen your uncle looking like that for anyone else?” she asked and Derek took a serious look at the cover. It was true – Peter portrayed a predatory sexiness, but there was also a vulnerability in his pose with his exposed throat, an openness that even family rarely got to see. “It was obvious he trusts the photographer implicitly – I thought it was maybe Boyd or you initially. Then Laura explained about Stiles and it all made sense.”
“I’m not sure what you’re getting at,” Derek said, biting his lip and looking thoughtful.
“Bunny – if your uncle Peter isn’t at least halfway in love with the person who took this photo, then I’m not the Alpha of the most successful and cohesive pack in California,” she stated, quoting the magazine cover that Derek had brought her.
“You think he’s in love with Stiles?” Derek said a vulnerable expression on his face as he turned to his mother.
“Oh, most definitely. It’s all over for Peter bar the chasing – and if what I’ve heard about Stiles is true, it should be an interesting chase.” She cupped Derek’s jaw in her hand, looking at her son in his beautiful eyes that he had got from his father. “The relationship between the photographer and the subject – there’s an intimacy there that transcends just lust. They have a connection – Peter’s letting him see a side of him that he keeps hidden and the photographer is capturing it with respect. Do you see?”
“Maybe you’re projecting,” Derek protested half-heartedly.
“No, I don’t think I am. I want Peter to be happy – I wouldn’t just foist him off on anyone otherwise Deucalion would be dragging your uncle around Europe now!” She smiled at Derek’s hopeful expression. “Perhaps you’re the one who’s projecting? Too scared of what it might mean if Stiles is attracted to your Uncle instead of you?”
“Laura really did tell you everything, didn’t she?”
“You should know better than to trust your sister with such a secret – she’s like a leaky bucket when it comes to keeping things in her head!” Talia laughed and after a moment, Derek joined in.
“Maybe I told her hoping she’d talk to you,” Derek admitted.
“I would much rather you talk to me yourself, but if this way helps then do what you must,” Talia replied, pushing her son back onto the couch so that she could make herself comfortable on his shoulder. “Do I get to hear about this Jackson?”
“You want to?”
“Of course. If he’s got my son in such a tizzy, I would imagine he’s an extraordinary young man,” Talia replied, putting her feet up onto the table and getting comfortable.
“He’s actually a bit of an asshole,” Derek admitted, following suit and slumping further down on the couch. “But he’s also really loyal – and funny – and – yeah, he’s kinda extraordinary.”
“An asshole, eh? Sounds like he’ll fit right in around here!” Talia smiled. “Maybe I’ll think of this magazine article – if you’ll make a move on this Jackson boy of yours. Deal?”
“Yeah, deal,” Derek replied, dropping a kiss onto his mother’s forehead. “I love you Mom.”
“I love you too, Bunny.”