Alpha Province: Puppet Strings(10)By: Becca Van
“You were never adopted?”
“No,” Sage replied. “As soon as I was old enough to be out on my own, I left and haven’t looked back. Once I got my high school degree, I enrolled to get my culinary arts certificate. I’d vowed when I was younger that I would never go hungry again and the only way I could see to achieve that goal was to learn to cook, and here I am.”
“I’m glad you applied for the job,” Elsa said. “I like you, Sage.”
“I like you, too. Why do you call your men ‘mates’? I heard the other women do that, too. Is that a local term?”
“I can answer that,” Bladen said as he entered the kitchen, glancing at both the women. His brothers came in behind him. Daxon went straight to the coffee pot, poured six mugs of the dark brew, and then his brothers started carrying them over to the table. Bladen was glad that Elsa had bought an industrial-sized coffee machine. Sage was frowning while Elsa looked relieved. “Where are your men, honey?”
“They’re outside fixing up the gardens.”
“Preston, Liam, Gabe, can you come in here please?” Bladen asked.
Sage looked at Bladen before gazing at Elsa and back to him. “They won’t be able to hear that. Do you want me to go—”
“What’s up?” Preston asked as he, Gabe, and Liam came into the kitchen. They walked to the sink to wash their hands.
“Hey.” Sage shoved to her feet, frowning at the three Louis men. “This is a kitchen where food is prepared. Since I’m now the chef of this place, I consider the kitchen my domain.” She hurried toward Elsa’s mates. Bladen bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing. Even though their mate was small, she had fire in her eyes, and she was moving more than a little aggressively. “There are other places to wash up in. No one.” She turned to glare at him, Cason, and Daxon, pointing a finger toward them. “No one washes dirt from their hands in my kitchen.”
“Uh.” Preston looked from a scowling elf of a woman before gazing at his dripping hands.
Sage sighed before digging into a drawer on the other side of the counter before shoving a clean dishtowel into Preston’s stomach. “Here. Take that so you don’t drip dirty water all over my clean floor, and find a bathroom. Or better yet, go clean up in the laundry. You do know where that is, don’t you?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Preston replied sheepishly as he and his brothers hurried out of the room.
Daxon sprayed coffee all over the dining room table. Cason tried to turn a laugh into a cough but failed miserably. Elsa giggled before she started laughing loudly. Bladen chuckled as he tried to quell the urge to go over to Sage pull her into his arms and hug her. She was a fierce little thing when she wanted to be. He was glad that her spirit hadn’t been broken after spending her life in an orphanage and foster care. He hated to imagine what she’d had to deal with. They’d all heard the horror stories of some of the people fostering children on the news.
“That was awesome,” Elsa said breathlessly once she had her mirth under control.
Sage met Elsa’s gaze, the frown clearing from her face before the corner of her lips curved up. “I hope you don’t mind. I know this is your business, but I’m really particular about what happens in a kitchen.”
Elsa held her hands up, palms out. “You don’t have to explain yourself to me, and you’re right. This is your domain, so you make all the rules.”
“No worries.” Elsa giggled before clearing her throat.
“So, what’s up?” Liam asked as he, Preston, and Gabe came back into the room, taking a seat at the large table.
Bladen sucked in a nervous breath before exhaling. He was about to explain about the men in Ambrose being shifters.
This moment could end up backfiring on him. He just hoped that Sage had a backbone of steel and an open mind.
He didn’t want to even contemplate the results if she didn’t.
Sage wandered back to the table taking her seat beside Elsa again. When she gazed at Bladen, Cason, and Daxon, she could tell they were nervous and wondered why. Bladen was clenching his jaw so hard the muscles in the sides of his face were twitching. Cason’s relaxed pose was deceptive. He was leaning back in his chair, his arms folded over his chest, but his hands were clenched into fists. Daxon had his big hands wrapped around his coffee mug so hard his knuckles were turning white.