“I see.” Edwina popped a piece of sausage into her mouth and chewed.
“Stop teasing us,” Anita said, sliding into the seat Rory had pulled out for her. “Thank you.”
“What’s up today?” Rory asked. “Where is everyone?”
“Last night, they organized an impromptu run in the mountains. Most shifters took advantage to transform and tear around the great outdoors. We stayed here for the peace,” Suzie said.
“Enough about that.” Edwina pushed her empty plate away and topped up her tea. “I want to know about you two. The last time I saw you together, Anita was bristling like a porcupine. What’s changed?”
Rory glanced at her, and when she didn’t leap into the conversation, he answered the question. “We’re mates.”
“Anita?” Suzie asked.
“Yes, that’s true,” she said, focusing on her meal.
“Obvious to anyone with eyes,” Suzie said. “What does this mean for your future? What happens next?”
Rory placed his hand on Anita’s knee. “We’re taking this one day at a time. We have history, and we’re trying to work past the issues this has caused.” He met Anita’s gaze. “We haven’t had a chance to discuss this yet, but that’s what I want. A future with Anita.”
“But what—” Edwina broke off abruptly with a yelp. She glared at Suzie.
Anita grinned. “Thank you, Suzie. What are today’s activities?”
“This morning is a lazy one since the group stayed outdoors all night, and they were organizing a breakfast for them. Edwina and I were talking about the treasure hunt. We need a team of four, so join us. We have to find clues, and they’re all outside. The prize is another tropical island holiday. If we win, Edwina and I might donate the vacation to you.”
“What do you say?” Rory asked. “How do you feel about a holiday in the sun? Drinks. Swimming. Lazy nights. Good food.”
“Enough!” Edwina clapped her hands over her ears. “I can’t take hearing about your sex life when I don’t have one.”
“What she said.” Suzie nodded emphatically.
“So we’re a well-oiled team, intent on a mission to get Anita and me a holiday?”
Edwina and Suzie shared a glance. “We are,” they chorused.
Even though most attendees had gone on the overnight run, there were still fifty or sixty shifters waiting to receive instructions at the starting point.
The compere arrived, resplendent in a red-and-blue tartan suit. Two scantily clad women trotted after him.
Beside her, Rory released a snort.
“Not your style,” Edwina murmured.
“Give me a kilt anytime,” Rory said.
Suzie winked, her gaze dropping to his feet.“You make a fine figure.”
“Enough perving at Rory’s legs.” Anita didn’t think she’d ever experienced this bubbling happiness before. A small voice warned her this wouldn’t be easy. They had obstacles ahead. Right now, the trouble seemed less significant, so she’d try not to worry about it. She’d simply enjoy spending time with Rory and stress about the future once the gathering ended.
“I bet you’re eager to get started,” the compere shouted and cupped his hand to his ear. “What? I can’t hear you!”
“Yes!” everyone shouted.
“Right. My lovely assistants have the first clue to distribute to every team. Once you solve the puzzle in the first clue, you’ll find the next one. There are ten clues, which will have you exploring the castle grounds, the loch shoreline, and the forest beyond. You won’t find any clues hidden inside the castle. I’ll tell you that now. The deadline for the hunt is midday, when we will have a delicious barbecue lunch, followed by the prize-giving. I’m sure I won’t need to give you any clues to discover our lunch location since you’re all shifters. If you fail this, please hand in your shifter card as you leave.”
Laughter followed this comment.
“Please form your teams of four and select one person to collect the clue from our lovely assistants. Keep it orderly, please. No pushing and shoving. We have enough clues for everyone, and no one can begin the hunt until I fire the starter’s gun.”