Like the fact that most water based life forms at some point decided to boil plants in water and drink it, moving being a pain in the ass was one of those universal truths throughout the galaxy as I know it.
Especially when one’s sister and niece had followed a brawny vampire back to his home world, and thus were unavailable to help. I couldn’t blame Maude or Arland – the latter had duties to return to, duties he had neglected for the sake of my inn and his fascination with my sister, and the former, much as she tried to deny it, was falling hard and fast for the latter. I wished my sister happiness, and while I couldn’t say for sure that she would find it with the Marshall of House Krahr, I did know that she needed to decide that for herself. And only spending time with Arland would give her the intel she needed to come to that decision.
Who knew how long that would take, and in the meantime, we still had Sean’s things to get from his old place to the inn.
It’s another sad truth that honestly magic is no help at all for such tasks. Gertrude Hunt of course would be willing to do whatever Sean and I needed, and indeed on the back end, having the inn take charge of the furniture and boxes as soon as they came through the front door did make organizing his things much easier, but her help had to stop at the front door. The inn couldn’t even properly help at the edge of the property, not with the whole of the subdivision watching from behind their mini blinds.
And they were watching of course, very closely in fact. I should have expected the neighborly interest in Red Deer’s resident eligible military bachelor type suddenly up and selling his house, but really, I’ve had too much going on to keep up with the gossip the way I normally do. And, though I had missed the fact completely due to my grief over the loss of my tiny inn seed, half the subdivision had seen the ‘For Sale’ and subsequent ‘Sold’ signs go up in Sean’s yard, and they had, of course, told the other half what they’d seen.
With that many folks aware of the sale and Sean moving in with me, it was unfortunately impossible to hide an expedited moving process by shifting Sean’s possessions in the dead of night. While Officer Marais was a bit more tolerant of the odd comings and goings around my inn now that he was in the know, even he couldn’t ignore reports of suspicious looking folks sneaking into Sean’s house overnight accompanied by the odd lights and sounds of magic and intergalactic technology helping pack and shift furniture.
No, we had to go through the whole mess by hand, from boxing up his kitchen to loading all his furniture on a trailer and driving it from his side of the subdivision over to mine.
As I said: Pain. In. The. Ass.
Considering that, there was something to be said for having a crew of werewolves around when one needed to move an entire household.
Sean and I had debated on waiting a bit to get the move taken care of, but he got a call the morning after our Christmas celebration that the buyer had changed their mind and were hoping to move into his house in less than three weeks instead of the full month they’d originally planned on, and as a further bonus was willing to pay an extra ten grand if they could take possession in only two weeks. While I’d insisted it wasn’t quite his concern yet officially, Sean had decided that extra $10,000 would be a nice boost to the inn’s budget, and I couldn’t argue with that. Plus, the sooner we got his house taken care of, the sooner we could focus on the Assembly and Sebastien North, loathe though I was to deal with the former.
Once we were decided, Sean talked to his parents, and they talked to Wilmos, and well, the rest was all together taken out of my hands, and I certainly couldn’t complain. I did soothe my conscience by asking Gabriele if she was sure she and her husband could take the time to help, and she just shot me one of those “Mom looks” and said, “My son is moving in with the woman he loves. You’re damn right I’m sure. Now hand me the packing tape, will you?”
I was indeed glad Wilmos’s werewolves and Sean’s parents had decided to stay on as guests for as long as it took to move Sean, giving us a small army of stronger than human people to load the truck we had to rent for appearances’ sake. Gertrude Hunt, of course, would always benefit from extra guests even if they only stayed for a few days. And while Orro might rail at the challenge of an unexpected crowd, I knew my Red Cleaver chef was never so happy as when he had a crowd to feed.
Initially, I honestly hadn’t expected any of them, except perhaps Sean’s parents, to stick around after the Christmas feast. They’d all gone above and beyond to defend Gertrude Hunt from the Draziri, and anyone with a lick of sense would have left the scene of all that carnage and drama as soon as possible. But then, they were werewolves, after all; conflict was in their very genes. And it didn’t hurt that they were all still utterly fascinated by Sean, and by Sean’s parents, as well. As rare as a second generation Alpha strain might be, even the first generation clearly held a certain sway over the rest of their kind. It had come in handy as some of our guests had a harder time than others with the idea that they needed to keep their more than human strength and speed on the down low during the move itself. The other werewolves did their best to listen to me as the innkeeper and Sean’s love, but it was Gabriele that tended to keep them in line.
She’d explained once very clearly just why shenanigans were discouraged beyond the boundary lines of the inn, and woe betide those who made her repeat herself. There’d been one rather pointed discussion prior to renting the U-Haul as some of our guests felt it was an unneeded expense despite both her and my explanations, and another when Marcos, one of the older and more set in his ways weres, tried to saunter off on foot while carrying a large box of books on one shoulder because “It’s only a few streets away – what’s the harm?”
I’d made mental notes of Gabriele’s brilliant use of her “I’m disappointed, soldier” face, but I had a feeling I just didn’t have the gravitas she did to make it stick, that or the extensive military background spanning at least two planets and the birth of her son.
Still, as long as it kept our nosy neighbors from realizing Sean’s “military buddies taking advantage of leave for a get together at the B&B” were a little more than human, I’d take whatever extra help I could get.
Even with the pack of helpers we had on hand, a few of the locals did offer to help, that Southern “neighborly” instinct too hard to resist.
“You sure y’all don’t need any help with the furniture or anything?” asked David Henderson from a healthy distance down the sidewalk away from all the moving commotion. Kayley, his teenage daughter, stood next to him, eyes wide at all the muscles on display in tight sleeved shirts. She’d once called Sean “so hot it’s sick,” and I certainly couldn’t disagree. I imagined the rest of the werewolves, while much too old for her had a bit of that silver fox appeal regardless of their age. David was doing his best to ignore his daughter’s ogling. “We’ve got a dolly in the garage, I think, if you could use it.”
Sean paused next to me, a pair of kitchen stools in his hands that I was eyeing for our own kitchen. Gertrude Hunt was going to have so many new pretties to choose from for guestrooms I could hardly stand it. Sean shook his head at David. “We’re good. There were two in the U-Haul, and we’ve got enough people to just lift things if not.”
“Well if you’re sure, we’ll just get out of your way.” Barely hiding his relief that he wasn’t going to be taken up on his friendly offer, David waved and none too subtly marched his daughter away from the view.
I shook my head at her shenanigans, then swallowed a laugh at Sean’s quizzical look. “Nothing, just girl stuff.” He didn’t look convinced, but he let me have my fun and keep my secrets. I turned my attention back to the small U-Haul trailer. “Looks like this might be it for this load.”
“Told you we should have gone with the bigger size.”
“We still would have needed more than one trip, and you know it, Sean Evans. Don’t you try that you told me so bull.” I poked him in the abs, annoyed when it only hurt my finger. “Besides, it’s not like we’re racking up the mileage going a few streets over.”
He sighed. “I guess.”
Sean still didn’t seem convinced, but he dropped the subject. He closed the door on the trailer, and called back to the house that we were making a run to the house. A couple of our helpers grinned and waved and set off at a jog, getting in a real “run” while they could get away with it. I doubted they’d even be sweating by the time they got there, but at least maybe they’d get a little extra energy out. I hopped in the passenger seat for the short trip, well aware that unlike said werewolves, I’d need to save my energy for the rest of the day.
We pulled back into Gertrude Hunt’s driveway and began the familiar procession of unloading the truck in through the front door and “down to the basement” in case any of the neighbors bothered to poke there head in and wonder where all the boxes and furniture had gotten to. It wasn’t even totally a lie – it was just Gertrude Hunt depositing everything down there instead of us.
Sean and I each grabbed an arm load of the stools for me and a couple big boxes for him and followed the others inside. I skipped up the steps to get through the door ahead of him just on principle, and he shook his head, coming in right on my heels.
“Hey,” Sean said just past the door, looking just slightly up and over his shoulder. “Get the door, please. Don’t want to waste the heat.” Rolling my eyes a little considering he could just as easily have done it himself, I turned to close it only to find it sliding softly shut on its own. I blinked and turned back to Sean to find him smiling at me. He winked, then looked slightly up again. “Thanks.”
A brief memory teased at my brain of the lights in my – now our – bedroom the night of our Christmas celebration. The shock of a possible lead on Sebastien North had all but driven it out of my mind, but the lights had turned on when he’d asked for them then, hadn’t they?
Sean Evans was talking to Gertrude Hunt.
And Gertrude Hunt was listening.
Well, I’ll be damned. We’d make an innkeeper out of my werewolf yet.