Tiff would just bitch about blood on her Pradas.
“I’ve already agreed to go back to Oregon in Ryan’s place and wrap up some final business.” Eric poured himself some coffee. “Thanks, man.” Ryan relaxed. Now that he knew for certain he wasn’t going to leave Halle any time soon, he could take the same step Bunny had. “I should look for a house.”
“What a good idea.” Stacey wrapped an arm around Glory’s shoulder. Ryan knew from experience how amazingly strong her grip was. She’d used it more than once to discipline him and his cousins. “What kind of house do you like, dear?”
Ray chuckled. “I think we can handle the landscaping, so don’t worry about that.”
“She wants to be between Tabby and Cyn, and she loves the look of Max and Emma’s house, so maybe a Craftsman style?”
Deer, meet headlights. Glory looked ready to pass out, and not from exhaustion.
“Not as easy to find here as it is out west.” Eric grinned. “You have enough money. Buy a plot of land and put up your own.”
He nodded, thinking Eric might have the right idea. That way, they could build something that would suit both their tastes. Maybe he could find something that faced the forest just outside the city limits. “I could do that.”
The strangled noise his mate made was going to make it all worthwhile.
“But I don’t have a lot of money.” Glory looked panicked. “Ryan, I can’t afford a house that size. It will be years, if ever, before Cynful makes that kind of cash.”
“You’re mated to a Bunsun-Williams.” Eric sounded frustrated with Glory’s lack of understanding, but a single glance at his expression revealed nothing. “Despite what Bunny says, our company takes care of us.”
Ray and Stacey nodded, but it was Ray who spoke. “We’re not stinking rich or anything, but we do well enough.”
“Ryan can afford a home for you, don’t worry about that.”
Oh, there was that strangled noise again. “Sweetheart?” Glory turned to him with a panicked expression. Ryan needed to get that look off her face, so he suggested the one thing he figured would ease her mind. “We should make sure there’s a room for Hope.”
Her panic was suddenly mixed in with something else, something he couldn’t quite put a name to. Gratitude, maybe? “That…sounds so good.”
“Glory.” Her tone, and her expression, both were off. She’d been hit with far too much tonight. Ryan extended his senses and felt his mate’s pulse racing. Her heart was beating far too fast as her adrenaline levels rose. Her pupils were dilating as the panic set in. He strode to her side and pulled her tight against him, using his healing gifts to calm her. “I’m here, sweetheart.”
For just a second he thought she’d fight him, but in the end she leaned against him, hard. He took her weight, loving the fact that she felt secure enough with him to give him this gift. “I’m okay.” She squinted up at him. “You’re using your power on me, aren’t you?”
He shrugged. What was he going to do, lie to his mate? “You were starting to panic.” In fact, he was monitoring her closely, keeping her body from its fight-or-flight response. Her adrenaline was still a little high, so he adjusted it slightly.
She blew out a breath and snuggled close, burying her face against his chest. “It’s just so much all at once.”
“I know.” Ryan rubbed his hand up and down her back, hoping to soothe her. When she leaned into the touch and practically purred, he smiled. “But we’ll get through it, I swear.”
Everyone was silent as he got his mate’s panic attack under control. Finally, she relaxed in his embrace, her arms tight around his middle. “A house, huh?”
He nodded, pressing his chin against the top of her head so she’d feel it.
“Hmph.” She was quiet for a moment. “I want all the trim-work and details you’d see in a really old house, but with all the modern amenities.”
Her fingers were on his lips, shushing him. “I want to make something that belongs just to us.”
That was what he wanted too. “With a lot of stone on the front.”
“And one of those big, wrap-around porches that can sit, like, twenty people.” She grinned up at him. “If I’m gonna spend your money, I’m gonna spend it all.”
“Uh-huh.” Sure she was. And, hell, if she really did, it was their forever home, so he was okay with that.
“You think Hope will want to live with us?”
He sighed. “I don’t know, but we’ll make sure she knows she’s welcome. It will give her options. Just being safe, being able to make her own decisions will be huge for her.”
“I can’t even imagine…” Glory’s shoulders sagged. “I don’t know what to do for her.”
“We’ll figure it out.” He kissed the top of her head. “I promise.”
When she rested against him again, he took it for the gift it was.
God, she was exhausted. Ryan’s family left soon after breakfast, and Glory had gotten maybe four hours of sleep before she had to join Tabby and Heather at Cynful. There was a time when that would have been plenty for her, but it had been a couple of years since she partied till dawn.
I’m getting too old for this shit.
She huffed out a laugh and drained her soda can dry. No coffee meant sleepy Glory, but she didn’t dare make a pot. Tabby’s sensitive nose would sniff it out, and then Glory would have Technicolor yawn to clean up.
She scratched absently at her arms, the itch that had been building all morning becoming unbearable. Her vision kept blurring in and out as her muscles jumped and quivered.
Glory scratched grumpily at the top of her head, hoping to ease the itch at least a little. Ugh. The itchiness was driving her crazy. She’d already snapped twice at Heather and once at Tabby, who’d actually growled at her in that big, bad Wolf voice of hers. The only bright spot of her day so far was Ryan, and Ryan’s family.