A conversation with Xander from Courted by Discipline

Today, in continuation of helping you to get to know the heroes and heroines from In Hyacinth, I asked Xander for an interview and instead of doing it online like Kathy did, he came over for a visit.

Xander strides into the room, intense and watchful, his bright blue eyes snapping to Bree's the moment he enters. Stepping forward, he reaches out his hand, "Ms. Cariad, I presume?"

Gulping, as for a moment she feels timid and awkward in his presence, Bree stands up and shakes his hand. "Mr. Covington?"

He flashes a warm smile: "Please call me Xander." After waiting for her to sit down, he takes the chair opposite. Even sitting, he feels imposing. And yet, his warm eyes are anything but.

"So, Xander. That's an interesting name."

A low chuckle resounds in his chest. "It's short for Alexander. My sister Cami couldn't pronounce my full name when she was a little girl, but Xander came to her easily enough. It stuck."

Finding it hard to think as Xander is exceptionally good looking with his bright eyes, firm chin, and dirty blonde hair, Bree takes a breath to steady herself. "So, Hyacinth. What can you tell me about it?"

Leaning back in his chair, he consideres the question thoughtfully. "I grew up here so I guess I know more than most," he says slowly. "Hyacinth is a great town. Strong traditional values, family ties, and a tight community. Growing up, I figured I would come back here, settle down, and live here for the rest of my life."

"You sound like you don't believe that anymore."

He shrugs. "I moved to Chicago, went to school, and found out there's a real world out there. In fact, my law firm's back there. I'm having a hard time figuring out whether to go back or stay to be honest."

"Why did you come back if you love Chicago so much?"

"Dad became deathly ill and I came home a year ago to help run the family farm. Now that he's better, I had thought to head back to Chicago. Now, however?" A grin spreads across his face. "I'll probably be here for at least the summer."

"What changed your mind?" Bree asks, completely forgetting about the interview questions she had written down in her fascination.

"The Hyacinth Courting System has always been of interest to me. I was raised to be head of my house and to take care of the woman I love. But I never actually expected to meet a girl I wanted to court. That's changed. I met a girl the other night. She's new in town and absolutely stunning."

Frowning, Bree shakes her head. "You only want to date her because she's pretty?"

Affronted, he sits up straight. "No, Bree, that's not the only reason. Yes, it's a major consideration for asking to get to know her, but I also like that she has a bit of an independent spirit. And this isn't about dating. It's about courting."

"Courting. Okay, so let's go there," Bree says, looking down at her interview questions in an attempt at looking away from his eyes. "What is courting?"

Leaning forward, he puts his elbows on his knees. "Courting is a unique system Hyacinth has set up. It isn't dating the way the rest of the world looks at it. A girl enters her courting year when she turns eighteen. As I'm sure you know, girls mature emotionally much faster than boys do. In Hyacinth terms, at the age of eighteen, a girl is mature enough to find the right man for her. For a man, it's different. He has to be not only mature enough to take on the mantle of head of house, but he also has to show that he can support the girl he courts so the men cannot court until in their late twenties." He grins at the expression on Bree's face. "It isn't as barbaric as it sounds. If you had a daughter, wouldn't you want to be sure the man dating her would be able to take care of her?"

"Well, yes, but ten years? At eighteen, that's a huge gap."

"Not for the girls of Hyacinth. It's expected. And I'll admit, at any younger of an age than I am now? I wasn't mature enough to marry. I might have thought I was at the time if I'd considered it, but I most definitely was not."

Glancing through her questions as she feels his eyes boring into her, she grabs for the first one that pops out. "So what do you do?"

"For a living? I'm an attorney."

The intense concentration of the man sitting across from her makes her fidget in her chair. "So what are you looking for in your future wife?"

"I want a woman who can think for herself and yet who also wants to rely on me at times. It's a dichotomy I need. Intelligence, quick wit, kindness, and the ability to love and get along with my family."

"How big's your family?" This is a direction that makes her more comfortable. The natural dominance in Xander is a bit unnerving, especially as it is focused entirely on her.

"I have one sister and one brother: Camille is seventeen, Drake twelve. Both of my parents also have siblings so I have cousins galore."

Nodding, Bree gives a quick glance over her questions, electing to toss out most of them. "So, what's this picnic I hear all about?"

He raises an eyebrow. "It's something of a tradition. The largest get-together of the year. It isn't just the beginning of summer for us, it is considered the official beginning of courting season. All the new courtable girls will be out in their best dresses, showing off their best side to any man who is looking for a wife."

"Now that does sound barbaric," Bree says, aware of her acerbic tone.

"It's not," Xander responds in amusement. "Can you tell me what girl doesn't want to look her best when out to attract the eye of a man?"

Flushing, she looks down at her list, not used to a man who makes her so flustered. "Okay, well, umm, that's about all I had," she says, sure she needs to conclude this interview now before she makes an absolute fool of herself. "Was there anything else you wanted to say?"

After giving her a long, slow look, his eyes fill with compassion. "You need not fear me, Bree," he says in a gentle voice. "I'm not an ogre. In fact, I'm considered a really good guy." Standing up, he reaches forward and takes her hand again, looking deeply into her eyes. "Don't be afraid to be who you are, Bree Cariad. The Hyacinth lifestyle intrigues you, doesn't it?" At any other time, she might have denied it, but right here in this moment, she can't lie so she nods. "Then stay in town for awhile. Come to the picnic. Fantastic food, games, and you can meet the entire town." Squeezing her hand, he holds it for a long moment before letting her go.

"As for final words for our interview? Something tells me you will come up with something better than I would," he says, a glint of amusement returning to his voice. "Now, I must be off. Need to help my folks before going to the picnic. Have a great day, Bree." With a definite wink that makes her weak in the knees, he turns and strides out the door, just as intimidating as he had been when he came in. And yet...she likes him.

Taking a couple breaths, Bree calms down. "Okay, well, to get to know more about Xander - and believe me, you will want to get to know Xander - stay tuned for Courted by Discipline which will be out later this summer." Lifting up her list, she fans her flushed face. "These interviews with the heroes just might kill me if they're all like him."

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