Tempeh for Two is the final novel in my Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series, and is currently under contract with MLR Press. No release date has yet been set.
When we finally broke for lunch, which would last two hours, I walked over to the Anax. “Honored Anax, may I have a visit with my mate, please?” The words tasted like sand, especially the “honored” part, but if I hoped for permission I had to play subservient.
He blinked at me as if he couldn’t quite see me. “And why would I allow that, Tobias? When I know full well you can speak with him through the mate bond as you please? You can conspire without even being in the same building, let alone the same room. And my guards are disturbed when you touch your so-called mate.”
His upper lip curled into a sneer. I clenched my fists. I had to respond from intellect, not emotion. He was trying to get a reaction from me. I didn’t know if he was truly prejudiced, though given his age and the times in which he’d been born it was possible, or if he simply wanted to see how far he could push before I broke.
I refused to break. “I am sorry if we’ve caused your guards any distress by touching each other’s fingers through the bars of the cell in which you hold Kyle. For him, as for all of us, touch is comforting.”
My tone stayed perfectly calm and level, and he didn’t like it a bit. “You don’t have to be near him to speak with him,” he said.
“No, Anax, but being near each other is comforting to both of us,” I replied. “If he must be confined, having visitors will help him remain calm. You know how it is for a wolf to be confined, particularly as the full moon draws near.”
The look he gave me was sheer hatred. Lowered eyebrows, twisted features, and a gleam that would have stabbed through me if he’d had such a power. “You know nothing of being confined.”
“I apologize if I’ve spoken out of line, Anax.” I did know how being confined felt, but arguing with him at this point wouldn’t have been wise. I wasn’t afraid of him. Even in an unfair fight, I would be able to defeat him. But I didn’t want it to come to that quite yet.
For several long seconds, he stared at me. I didn’t meet his gaze, because he would have seen it as a challenge, but I didn’t look away.
“Your apology is accepted.” He glanced around. Not all of the arkhons and alphas had left the room yet. I suspected that was why he held himself back. He didn’t care what he said or did to me, but he had to keep up appearances. “You may have ten minutes with your mate before your lunch. No more, because time will run short. You should have enough time to eat, shouldn’t you?”
“Yes, Anax.” He wasn’t doing me any favors, but he phrased it as if he were. Another piece of maintaining his control.
Inside me, sheer black fury obscured everything else. I gave absolutely no sign of it. I held onto it, though, rather than trying to push it away. This anger would be needed.