We're sitting at a small table, eating by candlelight, alone in the large dining room.
Aiden is quiet. I feel horrible but I don't know how to tell him without telling him everything.
I psyched myself out by thinking too much about how wonderful he's been. I shut down and got really quiet during our cooking session. I tried to play it off like I was just focused but I know he knows. He feels that I'm pulling into myself.
"What happened, Cass? You're pulling away," his voice is soft and I can hear the sadness in it.
"I'm... I'm broken Aiden. You should run far away from me."
"You're not broken and I'm not going anywhere."
"You will... eventually you will."
He puts his fork down and stares at me, his bewitching eyes holding mine. I want to blink and look away but I can't. I feel like a deer in the headlights, frozen and terrified.
"I won't. I'll spend as long as I need to proving to you that I'm here. We have forever. I know you don't feel it but... what I feel for you... it's not something that is going to fade away. Quite the opposite in fact, every second that we're together I fall deeper."
"I'm a closed, locked box. I don't let people in, Aiden. No one."
He looks so sure. I want to believe him.
I can still turn this date around, he was so thoughtful, I can fix this.
"What do you call a werewolf, who doesn't know he's a werewolf?"
He wrinkles his brow, clearly taken aback by my abrupt change in topic and mood.
"I don't know, what?"
"An unaware wolf."
He rolls his eyes but his lips twitch.
"Ok... what about this one, Dang boy, are you a werewolf...cause I'm lycan what I see."
He snorts and covers his eyes, "please, those are so bad!"
"I'm sorry I got so in my head earlier. This is by far the best, most thoughtful date I've ever been on. I recognize the effort you put into this. I hope I didn't ruin it."
"You didn't ruin it and it's not over yet."
"What else are we doing?"
I eye him suspiciously as we finish our food.
"It was easier to make than I was expecting it to be," he sets his fork down on his empty plate.
"It seems like that but I get the feeling it will be much harder to replicate without Valter."
After thanking Valter we head for our second destination. We drive for a few minutes in comfortable quiet. I notice Aiden fidgeting for a minute before reaching over and resting his hand on my leg.
My brain freezes but I let my heart lead. I reach out nervously and place my hand over his.
He inhales sharply and squeezes my thigh.
We pull up to a large lake in the middle of nowhere. I've never been here before but I feel a peacefulness wash over me.
"It's beautiful here!"
The large, fully dimpled smile that lights up his face takes my breath away.
"We're on my land," there is unmistakable pride in his voice.
"My packlands. My pack lives here. There was a gate we went through awhile back, I had the guards move out of sight, I didn't want to freak you out."
"You live here?"
"Well, not here at the lake, but beyond those trees across the lake is the packhouse."
He laughs and brings me to a small row boat. While he rows us out to the center of the lake he explains everything about pack life, werewolf hierarchy, mind linking, his inner circle, Alpha duties, his training, and rogues.
I can't believe there is so much to their society and so much of it is different from ours.
"So, other wolves, even one's that have never met you know you're an Alpha right away when they meet you?"
"Yes, they can sense it."
"And you guys can just...talk to eachother, telepathically."
"Well, we can talk to our own pack, we have a blood bond. I can't talk to all werewolves like that."
"I'm completely fascinated. I hope you don't take offense to this but I haven't been the biggest fan of you guys. The wolves that come into the club are usually... well... I guess they're like most of the men that come in."
"I know you're human so its hard for you to understand but I hate that you work there. The thought of men seeing you and touching you," he shudders and his jaw tightens.
"If it makes you feel better no one usually touches me. I don't do lap dances often."
His face scrunches up like hes in pain, "it doesn't really make me feel better."
"I plan on quiting as soon as I can switch to software work."
I can't believe I'm telling him this. Ordinarily, I would tell a guy to fuck off if he didn't like my job but I actually care that it bothers him so much.
His breath is shaky and slow, "you're incredibly good at it, I've dreamt about it every night since we met."
I blush furiously at his compliments, "what do you dream about?"
"Your body on mine, your ass grinding against me, when you dropped down into the splits."
He's gripping the oar so hard in his hand I think the wood is going to splinter and break.
My mind drifts back to my conversation with Crystal and Michelle.
I try to tell myself that we shouldn't. We're not on the same page. He wants me to be his mate. I can barely open up to him. Sex would complicate things.
I know this.
It's doesn't mean I don't want him, though.