“I’m Dizelde,” I said timidly. Something about the way he stood, no matter how approachable he seemed, made me feel the urge to curtsy. He was in some way noble. It must be the same leadership quality that Luke had, although it was definitely more developed in Larkin’s father.
Before I had the chance to flinch, he had crossed the space between us and his big arms were wrapped around my shoulders. He squeezed me, hard, and then drew back, placing his hands on my shoulders. He looked me up and down and smiled happily, the crows’ feet deepening to make him appear amenable. “It’s good.” He gripped my shoulders tight and then swivelled his head to look back at Larkin. “She is strong and pretty.”
I nearly choked on air and blushed. Larkin was nodding agreeably. “Yes, Da, she is.” He switched his gaze to me and his expression turned slightly predatory. “When I first saw her I didn’t know whether I should protect the house or seduce her.”
His father chortled and turned back to me. “I’m Connor, Dizelde.” I couldn’t even bring myself to do anything as he bent down and kissed my forehead. He patted my shoulder and straightened. “Welcome to the family.”
He stepped back. I frowned. Welcome… to the family? I shot a look at Larkin who pretended not to see. I smiled, trying to look unfazed, but I could feel the strain of my eyebrows trying to draw together. “Thank you, Connor, but I’m not marrying Larkin.”
There was silence for a moment and Larkin and his father shared a look that I couldn’t decipher. And then they both burst out laughing. I stood there awkwardly, wishing I knew what was so funny. Had they both been teasing me? Was it an inside joke? I felt a pout forming and held it back, folding my arms. Connor recovered first, wiping his eyes and giving me another hug.
“Well, it’s nice meeting you anyway.” He let me go and strode over to his son, giving him a one handed hug and whispering something in his ear. They both looked at me and I felt like a mouse in a science experiment. Helpless to something that I didn’t even understand.
“I’ll be here for the week,” said Connor, “for the Clan leader gathering. You’re both coming to the dinner on Friday, right?”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” said Larkin, “but I don’t know if we’ll be going together.”
Connor frowned and pointed a finger at Lark. “You’ve got to be kidding yourself if you’re allowing her to attend with someone else, someone who won’t be able to help themself and steal her away.”
Larkin laughed, shaking his head. “She would be escorted by Garth, so I’d be safe. My point is that Luke doesn’t know about this relationship and I’m not entirely sure he’d approve. The military guy I told you about, Liam, told me not to take advantage of her when she’s at a vulnerable point.”
Connor’s brows rose and he looked at me. “You can take care of yourself, can’t you lass?”
I nodded back without registering what I was agreeing to. It was hard to follow their speech. With his father, Larkin’s brogue had thickened and they both were barely understandable.
“I say you tell Luke. I’ll back you in saying that you’re not going to hurt her.”
Larkin twisted his mouth as he thought about it. I wanted to tell Luke. It’d be like telling a family member and I don’t see how he wouldn’t approve. I could see Liam being irritable about it but that was simply because I could tell that he wouldn’t like knowing his orders weren’t followed.
“I suppose I’ll have to tell him,” Larkin said, patting his father’s shoulder, “seeing as you’ll be staying in my room and I don’t want to have to pretend to sleep on the couch. Come on in to the kitchen, both of you. It seems like the guys are over Luke’s for dinner so we might as well call take out.”