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Monday, February 29, 2016

Completed: Chapter Twenty-Four

Completed: A Devoured Novella
Chapter Twenty-Four

I’m a bundle of nerves as I walk into the restaurant my mother picked for our meeting, but I do my best to hide my anxiety as I approach the table. My family is already here and the closer I get to the table, I’m shocked when I realize that they’re smiling. Granted, those smiles seem slightly forced, but it’s still enough to make me pause a few steps from the empty seat I was headed for. When my mom spots me, she lifts her hand and motions me to sit down.
“Come on, Sienna. Might as well get this over with.”
Hesitantly, I take the empty seat beside Gram, which is opposite Mom’s chair. My grandmother covers my fingers with hers, and when I shoot her a questioning look, she nods reassuringly.
“It’s fine, sweetheart,” she says softly.
“I didn’t think you’d show up,” Mom says, drawing my attention back to her. She looks good, with her strawberry blond hair in a high ponytail and an oversized sweater that I’m sure belongs to me. She drums her fingernails on the table and then shrugs. “I’m glad you did come, though.”
“So … what’s going on?” I ask. I glance around the table and when nobody rushes to comment, I focus my attention on my brother. “Seth?”
“Rebecca’s leaving Nashville until May and wanted us all to get together for lunch before she left,” he says.
I twist my lips to the side as I turn to my mother. For a moment, I struggle with what to say since the last few times I’ve seen her have been nothing but pure drama, but then I nod slowly. “Thanks for inviting me to your … ‘farewell until May lunch.”
Mom smirks. “Like I said, I’m surprised you came since your asshole’s lawyers have let me know just how unwelcome I am in both your lives.”
I groan but hold back any argument until after our waitress stops by our table to bring me a glass of water. As soon as she’s gone, though, I release a deep breath. “Please, don’t start. Especially if this is supposed to be the last time we see each other for several months. Plus, you know exactly why you heard from his lawyers.” There’s a part of me that’s relieved that Lucas followed through on letting his lawyers handle my mother’s demands instead of throwing money her way just to keep the stress out of our lives.
Mom’s lips twitch into a frown. “I just wanted a loan, Sienna. And obviously he’s in a good financial place where he could’ve made that happen.”
I take a sip of my water and swallow hard. “You threatened him, Mom. And you threatened me. You never even said why you needed the money.”
She’s silent for a long pause and then she rolls her eyes. “Guess I just wanted to start over.”
“You picked a pretty shitty way to ask for help doing it,” Seth mutters from his spot next to her, earning a glare from both Gram and my mother.
“It doesn’t matter now because I’ve got a job. And I won’t ever ask that prick you’re dating for another dime.”
“Oh?” This is definitely news. I flip open the menu, pretending to be interested in the assortment of handcrafted cheeseburgers as I ask, “Where did you get a job?”
“In Indiana, nosy ass. And … I’ve met someone.” And now, the reason for this meeting starts to make a little more sense. When I give my mother a pointed look, she narrows her green eyes at me. “Look, I’m not looking to introduce the two of you.” She looks back and forth between Seth and me. “And I really don’t give a damn what you might think of him, but I did want to let all three of you know where I’m going.”
“We want you to be happy,” Gram says, and from the look on her face, I can tell she’s known about Mom’s new job and boyfriend for a while. “And I know Seth and Sienna appreciate you caring enough to let us know where you’ll be.”
When Mom leans over to give my grandmother a kiss on the cheek, it’s obvious this meeting isn’t for Seth and me, but for Gram, but I’ll take it. I’ll also cautiously take mom’s promise to not ask Lucas for a loan again. “Is he nice?” I look up from the menu to meet Mom’s smirk. “The guy you met, I mean?”
“Meaning is he a drug dealer or on his death bed or any other type of man you probably think I’m drawn to?”
I sigh. “Dammit, Mom—”
“He’s very nice. Much nicer than Lucas-Fucking-Wolfe.” Before I can stop her, she grabs my keys from the table and smoothes her fingers over the key fob belonging to my new car. “A gift before he decides to ditch you?”
“Rebecca,” my grandmother warns as I shake my head.
“No. A Valentine’s gift. He wanted me to have a safe vehicle for when the baby arrives.” I hadn’t planned on announcing my pregnancy, but damn if my mother didn’t bring out my defensive side.
For a long, drawn out moment, everyone at the table sits in silence, and then Gram leans over to wrap me in a tight hug as my brother offers me a stunned congratulatory grin.
I stare my mother down until she finally lifts her shoulders and her drink. “Nice going away present, Sienna. Making me a goddamn grandma.” But she smiles and then, I smile. “Congratulations.”
“We should get married soon,” Lucas says in a low voice a few nights later as I lay curled against him in our bed. His rough fingers stroke the smooth, bare skin of my hip. “What do you think?”
When he came home earlier tonight, we briefly talked about the wedding after I told him all about the lunch date I had with my family three days before. He hadn’t seemed surprised that my mother was doing a 120—I couldn’t exactly call her change of heart a 180, not yet at least—and he’d simply said that everything was slowly working out for the best.
“Don’t tell me you fell asleep before round two,” he says, his lips tickling my ear, and I shiver. “Didn’t think so. So what do you think about what I just said?”
“Trying to make an honest woman out of me?” I look over my shoulder to look into his eyes, noticing the amusement crinkling the corners. I can’t resist grinning myself. “Didn’t realize you were so old fashioned, Mr. Wolfe.”
He snorts. “I’m not old fashioned. My reasons for wanting to marry you soon are entirely selfish.”
He kisses my shoulder blade. “I want you to have my last name, Red.” I feel his hand move over my hip until it rests on my outer thigh. “When I give interviews or talk about you, I want to be able to call you my wife because then we’re complete. See, I’m fucking selfish.”
“At the risk of sounding like Sinjin—you sound totally pussy-whipped,” I tease and then gasp when his fingers splay between my thighs. “What do you think you’re doing?” I ask in a hoarse voice.
His thumb strokes my sex before I feel the lips on my shoulder move into a smile. “Doing? Feels like it’s already done.”
“Don’t be cocky,” I groan. “Okay … how soon is soon?”
“Next week. Tomorrow. Tonight,” he says and I laugh as he rolls on top of me and pins my wrists to the bed. “What’s so funny, Sienna?”
“Your sister will kill us if we get married next week and she can’t play party planner. You know that, right?”
“She’ll just have to schedule her own crazy ass wedding.” His hazel eyes stare down at me appreciatively and emotion tugs at my chest. “But what would you rather do?”
I look up at him, into the eyes of the man I’m crazy about, and I release a heavy breath. “There’s nothing I want more than to be your wife. The sooner, the better. But not tonight so we can at least give our families a little notice.”
“I love you, Sienna Jensen. So goddamn much.”
“I love you too, Lucas.” 
His grin softens as he lowers his mouth to mine, and I arch my body against his. When he starts to pull away, I draw him back against me, not caring that I’m dizzy and breathless and on fire. Because in this moment, I’m completed.