Roxanne has spent her adult life as a seeker, looking for fugitives for the guild. She is very good at her job, and she considers the trade of her mother’s medical care for her service to be fair.
When the shifter bride asks her to go to the Crossroads in exchange for some fey healers, Roxanne agrees. Cancer is relentless and forces her hand. She goes to the Crossroads to seek out a mate. She always finds what she is looking for.
Moriven is the best hunter at the guild, and he never misses. When he finds out that Roxanne is at the Crossroads, he heads there immediately, hoping to catch the bloodhound of the guild. There have been rifts between them, but he doesn’t want her marriage to another male to be one of them.
Roxanne made her way through the buffet, and she tried to keep her temper under control.
“So, how are you dealing with Moriven passing your capture record?” The elf next to her murmured it in a smarmy tone.
“I don’t keep track. That is for folks with nothing else to focus on. I have better things to do.” She filled the two plates she was working on and was trying to push past the elf when suddenly the woman left.
“Thanks for the save, cuz.”
Roxanne looked over her shoulder and smiled at Eilonwy. She was the only shifter around that could send an elf running.
Eilonwy smiled. “I saw her coming for you. She is a real bitch, but until my entire guard is properly populated, I have to put up with the fey that make up the numbers. How is your mom?”
“Weak. I am just bringing this to her.”
“I can have the fey healers take a look at her.” Eilonwy’s offer was sincere.
“The cancer is too firmly entrenched. It is just a matter of time now.” Roxanne smiled. “It is fine. We all come and go in our own time.”
“Can I come and have a chat?”
Roxanne grinned. “Grab some potato salad and come on over.”
She led the way through the path of cousins and aunts and uncles. Adele was sitting on a comfortable chair, but her expression was still pained.
“Hey, Mom. I got you some of your favourites.” Roxanne settled the plate and the fork on a small table next to her mother. She hated being fed.
“Thanks, sweetie. Hello, Eilonwy. You are looking well.”
Eilonwy knelt in front of her aunt, and she sighed. “You do not look so good.”
“Aw, I will make it through a few more months. It is a pity that Roxanne doesn’t have anyone to keep her company after I am gone, but my dearest Ralph went on quite a while ago. So, I won’t be lonely.”
Eilonwy smiled. “We all take our turns at life.”
“That we do. I was shocked when my family sent me to the Crossroads and even more shocked when I found Ralph. A bat and a hound hadn’t made a match before, especially not at our age, but when Roxanne came along, we knew why we had been shoved into that moment. It was all for her.” Adele smiled softly and picked up her fork delicately.
Roxanne ate and watched her mother and cousin have a nice chat about the future and the possibilities for Roxanne. She already worked for the shifter council and was an excellent hunter. A nose like hers managed to find a way in human or hound form. She wished she had come out of it with her mother’s wings, but that didn’t happen, so she made the best of what she had.
Her father had passed when she was fifteen. He had been seventy. Her mom wasn’t kidding when she said they were old when their clans sent them to the Crossroads. Her mom had already fallen into the position of wise aunty, but her longing for children of her own couldn’t be denied, so her family got together and paid for her trip to the Crossroads. Her father had had the trip burning a hole in his pocket for years when he finally threw everything to the wind and headed out to see if anyone would take on a well-worn hound. Adele had fallen for him the moment that she saw him, and the rest was history. Roxanne had appeared before their first anniversary.
Eilonwy looked up at Roxanne. “What do you think about that idea?”
Roxanne blinked. “What?”
“Would you be willing to head up to the Crossroads and try to find your mate? Your mom is worried about you being alone.”
Adele had a small smirk around her lips.
“Mom isn’t worried about me being alone. She just wants to see me with a man. It would give her hope for the family line.”
Adele shrugged. “Perhaps. Perhaps I could even hold out until you have a little one of your own.”
Roxanne frowned. “Eat your meal, Mom.”
“You are surrounded by eligible men, but you don’t make a move, dearest. I just want to see you happy. You used to be happy.”
Roxanne exhaled and focused on her own meal. “I used to be a lot of things. The world turns, times change, and I grew up.”
Eilonwy looked between them and frowned slightly. She waved one of the elves over, and the young woman chatted with Adele, holding her hand.
Eilonwy beckoned to Roxanne, and they walked together over to the quiet side of the porch.
“Why don’t you want to go?”
Roxanne sighed. “Every time my mom has had a dip in her health, I have been away from home. Going to the Crossroads isn’t worth it if she sinks while I am gone. I couldn’t bear it if she were to die while I was off trying to get laid.”