Meet the Pups
In Xavier & Vic’s home there are three living creatures who are referred to as ‘the pups’. While Xavier often calls Vic a ‘pup’ it’s always singular. The ‘pups’ are a pack albeit they do tend to bite the largest, but sweetest of the pack, so Sara has been keeping Ham away from the other two since they’ve gone feral.
And why have they gone feral? Well, first the Wolf man left and went to live with Royalty. They were most fond of the furry fellow. Then Tubs got shot and Sara stopped taking care of them. Instead, she now spends all her time trying and failing to make Tubs well. Last week Dr. Connors warned Sara he didn’t believe Tubs would make it, but she refuses to accept that her fabulous Tubs will die. He is the strongest man in the world, he cannot die. He can’t!
While Sara struggles to keep Tubs alive, Delia, who doesn’t like the pups, is given the task of carrying for them: Cannon, Xavier’s & Vic’s child, who is nearly two-years-old and should be trying to walk by now, only he stubbornly refuses to even try and Arroo, who has been fighting with Cannon for top pack dog since he was brought home. He evidently believes because he is actually a dog, he should lead the pack, but Cannon adamantly disagrees. While they love each other, neither is ready to cede control to the other.
And where is Vic? Well, she’s been avoiding Tubs over the guilt she feels when he took three bullets meant for her. But her butler parent puts his foot down in the excerpt below, forcing Vic to face her responsibilities…
Chaos abounds in Late Victorian England. Xavier goes off on a mission without Vic because her protector, Tubs, is not well enough to keep Vic from harm right now. In fact, Tubs is dying and the doctor doesn’t expect him to live for more than a week. Upon discovering Tubs’ dire situation, Vic sets about rescuing him instead.
Good thing too. To all appearances the two strongest crime lords of London have declared war on each other. Only the two attempts on Vic’s life tells her this is all a clever plot by a third party—worse yet, a female villainess.
To stop the crime lords from destroying one another, leaving their territories open to the Russian spy, she must bring Seth and Samson together, share what is really going on, and get them to agree to work against this third party. Not an easy task since Seth Sojourn thinks Vic is nothing but a foolish sop. Unfortunately, Xavier has gone missing, so it’s up to her to convince the angry crime lord that her plan is best. Otherwise, this villainess will kill everyone who gets in her way and bring England to its knees.
“You agree with what Xavier did?” Vic yelled.
“No,” Gregory stated firmly. “But I understand why he did it.” He sighed heavily then sat down in a chair. “I wish he would have spoken to me first, for I fear his plan is doomed to fail.”
She nodded in agreement, but then worried Gregory’s reason for failure was not hers. “Why?” she asked.
“Because I do not believe Tubs will ever recover sufficiently to resume his duties.”
Vic felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her. “No…he has to get better. Sara and Ham need him. I need him.”
Gregory’s brow furrowed. “Then let us hope I am wrong.”
“Why do you think he won’t recover?” she asked softly, hoping she could find fault in his reasoning.
“Since he came home, he has made no improvement. He simply lies in bed playing with his son. Sara has tried to get him to rise and walk to the bathroom, but instead he continues to use a bedpan, which given his size is not optimal. Nursing him as become a full time job for Sara and a part time job for Casey and Fagan. They have to lift him from his bed so Sara can clean the linens.”
Now she knew why Cannon and Arroo were being so difficult these days. “Sara is no longer caring for the pups?”
“No, she hasn’t the time. Caring for Tubs is a full time job. I have given Delia full responsibilities of the pups…”
Vic opened her mouth to complain, but Gregory never gave her a chance to voice it
“But that is not working to my satisfaction. The pup and Cannon require a firmer hand.” He sighed. “Yours.”
Her temper rose. Was she to be nothing more than a trainer to pups now? Had her value fallen with the loss of Tubs to nothing but an ordinary mother?
“At least until I can find someone capable of being a firm trainer for the dog and a proper nanny for Cannon.” He sighed heavily. “Unfortunately, Cannon’s propensity to bark and growl is making this a difficult hire.”
“I thought we had broken him of both habits?”
Gregory raised his right eyebrow. “He’s regressed, which you should know. Why haven’t you noticed?”
She grimaced. She had thought on several occasions that there seemed to be an echo to her own growling. She stood up from the bed. “This is all my fault. My guilt for Tubs taking my bullets is the source of both my pups’ bad behavior and Tubs’ lack of improvement. I will see both corrected at once.”
The relief in Gregory’s eyes shamed her. He rose and kissed her forehead. “Thank you. Fixing those you love is far more important than chasing after Xavier in the middle of the night.”
“His mission was vital to the safety of the country,” she chided.
“And your mission is vital to the wellbeing of your family. In my opinion, that is far more important. There are probably a hundred men who could do whatever Xavier is doing, but there is no one but you who can motivate Tubs to get out of his bed. Nor can anyone else teach your son to grow up into an admirable young man. Without you, Tubs will succumb to pneumonia and die within the year. Meanwhile Cannon will turn into a feral dog and suffer a fate worse than Richard the werewolf.”
She almost objected that Richard was not a werewolf, merely a man with unruly hair follicles, but silenced her tongue. His point remained valid. If Cannon persisted in behaving like a dog, he would suffer ill-treatment much like Richard had.
The CrimeLords’ War
Gator Girl Extraordinaire