Colin sunk into his chair, praying that the leathery back would somehow open up and swallow him as his mother's voice pierced through the diner.
"Colin James Hemming! There you are! I thought I saw you through the window! Where have you been! Do you know I have been worried sick looking all over town!" They were not questions, they were demands, and Colin had no easy answers.
The matriarch of the Hemming family paid no attention to her son's dining companion, waiting for her son to say something before his attempts to blend in with the furniture became successful.
Colin stammered, sound that could not even be called syllables bursting forth in fits and starts as the words tried to coalesce in his mind.
Seeing an opportunity, and having gone unnoticed, Colin saw a chance for distraction, and was thankful it would not involve bloodshed.
Then again, she had never met Colin's mother, and had no idea how a conversation with this angry mother may turn.
Cole cleared her throat, and spoke. Her voice was soft, and sweet, dripping with honey and kindness. It was a tone Colin was unfamiliar with from her, and seemed to betray her femininty more than anything else about her. It was a stark contrast to hear such conciliatory tones coming from the person who had almost taken out three men much larger than herself single-handed.
"Excuse me, miss...Mrs. Hemming?"
Colin's mom stopped staring with white-hot anger at her son and turned to the woman her son was having breakfast with. She appeared to be surprised that there was anyone else in the room, let alone at the same table as her son. She had been so laser focused on her son, she had never even noticed the blonde sitting right next to him.
The anger in his mother's eyes may have rivaled Cole's own, but it softened as well when she adressed the other person at the table.
"What is it, dear?" There was still an undertone of anger, of this girl being paid the barest courtesies for the time being.
Cole continued to act like a quiet, small girl in the elder Hemming's presence. Colin wasn't sure how much of it was an act, though. He wasn't sure how much her normal personality was an act, either. Not now. He suspected the truth of this girl lay somewhere down the middle path of her soul.
"I am so very sorry about last night, and this morning, but don't be too angry with your son. See, it's all my fault."
The woman's eyebrow arched at the confession as she processed it. Her son had spent the night with a girl? This girl? Someone pretty interested in her son? Her son interested in...well, anything that wasn't a character on tv? This revelation alone demanded further examination.
Colin could tell his mother's anger was not abated, but it was subsided, or maybe just on pause. He prayed that Cole had the best explanation in the world.
The girl's mind raced to cobble together a story from enough truth to work, but with enough lies to hide the parts that needed to remain hidden. A skill she had become quite good at since being bitten.
Cole smiled, and it was like Colin was seeing a new person. This was the girl she might have been had she not been bitten. A sweet, normal girl, maybe she was a cheerleader in another life, instead of a motorcycle riding badass with a penchant for howling at the moon.
At last, Cole continued, "See, I'm new in town, and I met Cole a little while ago. He helped me out getting used to things in town. I ran into him yesterday while he was running errands for you."
So far, Colin thought, that was all true. Or close enough to it. Now things would get interesting.
"I needed some help with a few things at my place, some heavy lifting, and as much as I didn't want to admit it, I sure could use Colin's help."
Oh, now that was a lie. A big lie. Colin fought the instinct to wince at that one. He feared his mother would laugh in Cole's face right then and there for thinking her son could be of much help doing any heavy lifting.
Instead, she was thinking about how it was just like her son to offer help, even if he couldn't do much good. She knew Colin had a good heart, and she found it very believable that he would help a pretty girl batting her eyelashes and asking for help.
None of this was known to Cole, as she kept on with her story. "My place, I'm renting it actually, is way up in the woods, and there is zero cell service up there, so he couldn't call. I've not had the phone company out to set up the landline either."
Lies of circumstance, but truths of the area. That much should go over well enough.
"On the way back, Colin hit a rough spot on the back road and got a flat tire. The wind had picked up and the rain was coming down pretty fierce. I was behind him to make sure he got home okay, and rather than try and fix the tire under those conditions, with the light fading, I offered him a warm bed back at my place."
Well, that started out truthful, then veered into wild fantasy.
"Your son was in a panic all night long. I didn't think he would ever get to sleep, he was such a fright. But once his head went down, he was out for the night. You are lucky to have such a son, Mrs. Hemming."
Colin's mom seemed to soften, accepting the story for now. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief, and peeled himself out of the chair. He could hear the material crinkling behind him as it reformed back to its original position.
"And what about this morning, hmm?" And they were so close to getting away with it.
Colin took the ball with that question, and Cole prayed the trade off didn't end in a fumble so close to the end zone.
"We got into town, and Cole wanted something to eat. Some trees went down and knocked out her power. Since she had to get me home, it made sense to kill two birds with one stone. And I guess we just got to talking, and I lost track of time. That's all, mom. I am so sorry I couldn't call you."
His mom looked at her son. Her stern gaze was still filled with anger, but he could see behind that anger that she was more happy and relieved to see her son was okay. And unbeknownst to him, she was just as happy to see her son spending so much time with a girl.
Cole was at least pleased the kid had kept the story simple and believable. There may yet be hope for him yet.
"I mean, c'mon mom! It's not like we were out in the woods chasing monsters or anything, right?"
Or not, thought Cole.
But his mother just ignored her son's seeming fanciful comments, and rolled her eyes. She was more than accustomed to his weirdness. With all things explained, if not quite forgiven, she turned her attention to her son's companion.
"So, you must be the young lady who has captured my son's attention these last few months?"
Cole had taken the lull in conversations and explanations to make an opportunity to resume eating. That was a big mistake as she nearly choked on the piece of toast she had just bitten off.
She tried to say, "Excuse me?" but it came out rather more muffled than that.
"Oh please," Mrs. Hemming smiled, almost laughing it off. "You're new in town, my son has been acting seven kinds of weird for a few months now. You are sitting here enjoying breakfast with him, and making him forget all about phoning home? I can put two and two together. I'm a mother. I may be old, but I am not stupid, young lady."
Cole shot a confused look across the table at Colin, and he shared the same exact expression. They may have to be more careful around his mom than they had at first suspected. Just how much of their story did she believe, and how much did she suspect there was something more between the two kids?
"Well then, I'll leave you two alone to finish your meal in peace. Just make sure you get him home before the sun goes down! With those animal attacks, and the hurricane stirring things up, better to be home and safe, and not get eaten by a wolf."
It was Colin's turn to look surprised at Cole. He knew it was just an innocent statement, but there was still a moment of wondering just how much that woman knew.
Just as the woman was about to go, she smiled at the pair, "And since you did such a good job looking out for my son, Colin, why don't you ask her to join us for Thanksgiving? I'd love to get to know her more."
Colin just nodded, in a daze, and watched as his mother left the building. He wasn't sure what was making his head spin more. Sitting across from a werewolf, having watched a five foot tall blonde girl kick three guys collective asses, or having his mom acting like she was.
"I see the family resemblence," Cole commented as she finished off some coffee.
"What do you mean?"
"She didn't ask me what my name was either."
Colin just laughed under his breath, and took back to eating his own breakfast before it got too cold.
"And I'd love to come to Thanksgiving at your place."
Colin coughed, a little surprised. He wouldn't deny that he was thrilled, but he was surprised that she had accepted so fast.
"Why?" he inquired before he could stop himself and just accept it.
"It works well with my plans, with the whole reason I'm here."
Colin swallowed the food in his mouth, and part of him wanted to just let it be. He wanted to know the answer, however, and since the question was floating out there, just waiting for him, he spoke.
"So, just why are you here? What are these plans?"
Cole didn't even pause in her eating as she said, "I'm here looking for your brother."