Fane had to admit he was a little nervous about meeting her. He had never been nervous with girls. Then again, he hadn’t really dated much. No one ever seemed to catch his eye so he'd figured, why waste his time? The few girls he had dated never produced even a quarter of the attraction he felt for Jacquelyn.
He wished now that he'd gotten up earlier and called his father to talk to him about this whole mate thing. He had learned a little growing up, but he still felt very unprepared to handle it. Especially since she was human and knew nothing of his world.
As Fane came to the bottom of the stairs, the doorbell rang. He heard Mrs. Henry coming from the right side of the house. As she came around the corner, she saw that he was there and smiled at him warmly.
“Good morning, Fane. Did you sleep well?”
"Bună dimineaţa," Fane said gracefully. “I slept very well, thank you.”
“I take it that 'bună dimineaţa' means good morning?” Mrs. Henry asked.
“That was a very good pronunciation. And yes, it means good morning,” Fane explained.
“Oh, I guess I better get the door,” she said just as the doorbell rang again.
As Mrs. Henry opened the door, Fane felt his stomach tighten in anticipation. What am I going to say to her? he wondered. Well, naturally he couldn’t very well declare her his mate in front of all these humans – they would think he was mad.
So he settled with a simple, “Hello my name is Fane.” Yes, he thought. That's a very normal thing to say. And normalcy was what he wanted, after all.
The four ladies were standing at the threshold of the door.
“Lilly, how sweet it is of you to come over to meet our guest!” Mrs. Henry announced kindly.
“We come bearing a homemade southern meal for the newcomer,” Lilly responded.
“Come in! Let me introduce you to Fane. He's from…well, here. I’ll let him tell you. He can speak for himself, after all,” Mrs. Henry said as they all filed into the entryway.
“Sara, why don’t we set this food in the kitchen? Then we can sit in the living room to make our introductions. That suit you okay?” Lilly asked.
“Oh, of course, of course. You all can’t stand here in the front door holding all that food. You would think I’ve never had company before. Come on, girls, and let’s set it on the counter in the kitchen,” Mrs. Henry said, sounding a little flustered with herself.
Sara, Fane thought. So that's Mrs. Henry’s first name. He hadn’t even thought to ask when he'd met them last night.
Once the food was left in the kitchen, they all met in the living room. Lilly sat on the rocking chair by the fireplace, while the three girls sat on the couch next to the rocking chair. Mrs. Henry and Fane both sat on the love seat across from the couch. There was a wooden coffee table in between the couch and love seat that had various magazines and some coasters sitting on it.
Fane realized that while he'd been cataloging the room, the five ladies had all been looking at him expectantly. He noticed Jacquelyn’s gaze linger on the markings on his neck. His wolf liked that she noticed even though she didn’t know what they meant.
He cleared his throat and started speaking. “Good morning, doamnelor (ladies). My name is Fane Lupei and I am from Romania. I am seventeen and I will be a senior this year.” Fane looked at each of the ladies, pausing briefly on Jacquelyn. “Should I say more?” he asked.
Lilly looked at him quizzically. “What does dome-na-ler mean exactly?”
Fane tried not to grin too much at her poor pronunciation. Romanian, after all, was a very difficult language to speak.
“It means 'ladies'. I was saying good morning. I have a bad habit of mixing my native language with my English, I beg your pardon,” Fane said to Lilly.
“I don’t mind. It’s actually pretty neat to hear you speak Romanian. It’s not a language one hears very often, if ever,” Lilly assured him.
There was an awkward pause for a moment, and then the blond-haired friend of Jacquelyn’s looked at him poignantly and asked “So why Coldspring, Texas?”
Fane cocked his head to the side, just like he would do in his wolf form. “Scuzaţi-mă (excuse me)?” he asked. “I do not understand the question.”
“Why did you choose to come to our little blink-of-an-eye town?” Jen asked, speaking slowly, as if to a child.
Jacquelyn elbowed her, which made Fane smile.
“Oh, I see. Well, honestly, I’m not sure. When I applied for the exchange program they sent me several candidates for my host family. I read about them and something about the Henrys felt right. I don’t know if I explained it right, but that is only how I know to say it,” Fane answered.
“Your English is very good,” Jacquelyn’s other friend, the brunette, stated.
“Da (yes), my parents have always spoken both Romanian and English to me. They thought it would be foolish to think I would only need to know Romanian language and culture,” Fane explained to her.
“So you have studied American culture as well?” Mrs. Henry asked.
“Da. American culture is quite different from mine. What I have been taught by teachers has not always stood true in real life.”
“Okay,” Lilly said firmly. “Enough of the Spanish inquisition. Girls, let’s briefly introduce ourselves and be on our way so Fane can get settled in.”
Lilly simply introduced herself from where she sat. “Fane, my name is Lilly Pierce and I’m Jacque’s mom. I own a bookstore on the square downtown to which you are most welcome anytime to study or chat. Please call me Lilly, as I am not my mother. She was Ms. Pierce. I am so glad to know you.”
“Meu doamnă, acesta este un onoruri,” Fane said, bowing ever so slightly.
“In your language I said,' my lady, it is an honor',” Fane translated.
Jen stood up and held out her hand. “I’m Jennifer Adams, a.k.a. Jen. I am also seventeen and a senior. Glad to know ya,” she said as he took her hand.
To her surprise, he did not shake it. He simply brought her hand to his lips, just barely laying them on the top of it.
Fane looked up at Jen after lightly kissing her hand and said, “Sa o placere sa te cunosc.”
Jen looked slightly dazed and confused.
“It is a pleasure to meet you,” Fane translated.
Sally stood up, gently pushing the hazy-looking Jen back down to the couch and then held out her hand.