My Highland Mate

Page 21

Anita considered, pausing while she topped up her coffee. “He’s an adult. I’ll text him if we don’t see him by lunchtime.”
“Maybe he met someone,” Edwina said. “You know I’m kind of envious when I see the couples. Saber told us we wouldn’t necessarily find our one, but a part of me craves the whole deal.”
To Anita’s surprise, Suzie nodded in agreement. When Anita tested her feelings about Edwina’s confession, she realized she wanted the same. Difficult when her fated mate had rejected her and was now playing confusing games. As far as she knew, a shifter didn’t have more than one fated mate, but who knew? Mating seemed a complicated business.
She chugged her coffee, praying the caffeine boost would jolt her awake. “What’s on today? I forgot to look.”
“A couple of mixer events and more contests, so we get to know other shifters,” Edwina said.
Before Anita could reply, the compere appeared at the door with the purple microphone that seemed an extension of his flamboyant personality.
“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you slept well because we have a busy schedule today. But before I remind you of the details, I want to let you know we have six shifter couples who’ve discovered each other. Six! That’s a record for this early in the gathering. Let’s give our couples a round of applause!”
Anita clapped with polite restraint, but several shifters around the dining room whooped and cheered, rising and stomping their feet in celebration.
When everyone settled, the compere said, “We’re hoping for more mates today, and with that in mind, those shifters who played musical kisses last night—if you kissed a woman on the cheek or a man kissed you on the cheek, we’ve arranged a special picnic for you. The waitresses have your picnic basket and taped to the top, you’ll find details of your private spot where you can get to know each other better.”
Anita issued a groan, and it was loud enough to make Suzie and Edwina grin.
“Snared,” Suzie whispered.
Edwina glanced across the room and back to Anita.“Rory is grinning and looking in this direction. He likes the idea of getting you alone.”
“Oh shut up,” Anita muttered, refusing to check on Rory’s reaction to the news.
“All those shifters who received kisses or kissed cheeks stand up. Don’t be shy. I have your names. Don’t make me read them out to get you hustling.”
With another mutter, Anita gulped the last of her coffee and stood. Across the room, Rory did the same, but she would not look at him. She would not. Anita shot him a side-eye before she could stop herself. He wasn’t smiling or smug. Instead, his posture was strong, movements precise, and he radiated determination.
“Good morning, Anita,” Rory said when he reached her. “I’ll collect our basket and destination.” He strode to the two perky hostesses and waited in line. One consulted her list and smiled at Rory. Anita couldn’t see his expression, but jealousy punched through her, hard enough to leave her breathless and in shock.
No, this wouldn’t do.
She had to control her feline before she did something stupid.
Rory returned and glanced at her strappy sandals. “Change your shoes. We have a bit of a hike before we reach our waterfall.”
“We could just not go,” Anita said.
“I considered that, but if we take a selfie of both of us in front of the waterfall, we’ll go into a drawing to win a tropical holiday,” Rory said. “We might as well enjoy a walk through the forest, get some fresh pine-scented air, have a delicious lunch in excellent company, and use the time to learn more about each other.”
“Don’t we know enough now?” Anita asked with an impatient shrug.
“We talked the other night, but I want to learn more,” Rory said easily. “I’ll meet you out the front in ten minutes. I’m going to grab another coffee.”
Anita stared after him. What the hell? She’d grown up around the pack. Sure, her appearance was different, but her scent would remain the same. Wolves were excellent trackers. Her claim on him had been very public. How could that horrendous day fade from his memory when the events burned into hers like a permanent tattoo of the worst moment of her life?