Monday, May 21, 2012
A Decent Proposal
Vernon MacMahon did a double-take when he saw who’d just walked in and taken a seat at the Grease ‘n’ Grill. “Elly? Don’t take this the wrong way, sweetie, but what are you doing in here?”
Elly scanned the all-meat-dishes menu, then laid it aside without even shuddering. “Thought I’d come visit. You’re in my place half the time, and I’ve never once been here. You still carry fruit, right?"
“Some,” Vern said, and tossed her a fresh apple to prove it. Elly bit into it, chewed, and gave him a thumbs up. “Coffee?” he asked.
She shook her head. Vern shrugged and poured himself a cup. He took the seat at the table opposite Miss Elly. “Are you going to tell me why you’re really here, or do I have to guess?”
“Curiosity,” she replied once she’d swallowed her bite of apple. “I saw you changed your hours. You open at eleven now. Not serving breakfast any more?”
“What’s the point? I can’t compete with your flapjacks. Even carnies eat breakfast at the Bighorn. I know when I’m licked. Lunch is my busy time anyway. Go with the flow, like they used to say back in my cubhood.”
“Maybe if you were here more often during breakfast instead of at the Bighorn, you’d do better.”
“I like to be where the action is. During breakfast, that’s your place. So now I do lunch and dinner, and I still get to eat your tasty flapjacks.” He flashed his charming grin at her. “And the pleasure of your company.”
“I’m not giving you any discounts, Vern.”
“Not even if … ” He combed back his luxurious mane of silver-gray hair with one hand.
“If what?” Elly prompted.
Vernon gave his trim moustache a quick lick for good measure. “I was going to save this for tomorrow morning, but as long as you’re here … Eleanor Quickfoot Ewing, would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”
Elly stared at her half-eaten apple. “I think your fruit’s gone bad. I could have sworn you just proposed.”
“I did indeed. Elly, will you marry me?”
Elly set the apple aside and crossed her arms before her on the table, the better to look Vernon square in the eyes. “What’s the catch?”
“Elly, I’m hurt.”
“You’re a wolf. There’s a catch.”
“All right, you’ve got me. I’m tired of being a lone wolf. I want to settle down. That’s easier for betas. No pressure to have cubs. Your children are grown—”
“And dangerous. The boys are going to stomp you when they hear about this. Then Mary will shred the remains. You sure you don’t want to reconsider?”
“I was hoping you’d intercede on my behalf. Come on, Elly. I enjoy waking up in the morning next to a beautiful woman. Wouldn’t you like to wake up in the morning next to a gorgeous man?”
“Sure. Point him out.”
“Ha ha. I’m serious, Elly.”
“I know you are. That’s what’s got me wondering. This isn’t about that stupid election, is it?”
“I swear on my pack I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Pull the other one, Vernon. People like their leaders mated. Especially wolves. A wife would give you a leg up, pardon the pun.”
“I won’t deny I thought of that,” Vernon admitted. “A well-liked and trusted businesswoman in the community, mother of two pro football stars, daughter overcame personal challenges, a pillar of shifter society—”
“And a herbivore,” Elly finished. “You know what could happen to your political career, not to mention your life, if you married a herbivore?”
“Yes,” Vernon said. “I thought about that too. You know what makes a lone wolf lone? They don’t give a rip for the rules.” He took Elly’s hand. “So how about it, Elly? Will you marry me? You might as well say yes, because I’m going to keep coming over to the Bighorn every morning anyway. It’s not like I have anything better to do in the morning. And there’s truly nothing better than gazing upon your beautiful face, even with the flour smudges.” He brushed one such smudge from beside her nose. “What do you say?”
“You big bad wolf,” Elly said fondly. She squeezed his hand and smiled.