Thomas walked silently beside me through the trees. I got the feeling that he wanted to say something to fill the silence but never did.
It took twenty minutes to get to where he wanted to take me. We were in a clearing along the edge of the border and I can honestly say, I have never been here before.
Wildflowers covered nearly the entire clearing except for a small patch near the cliff.
In the distance, I could see the lake sparkling in the light of the stars.
“Wow.” my voice a breath in the air, as I took a couple of hesitant steps into the flowers.
I lowered myself to the ground, letting out a startled gasp as the cold grass touches the bare skin of my legs.
I should have grabbed sweats.
I wiggle in my spot adjusting to the coldness before reaching for some wildflowers.
I look up to see Thomas watching me with an intent look in his blue eyes. I bet that his blue eyes could give that lake a run for its money.
“Are you just gonna stare like a creep or are you gonna join me?” I start twisting the stems of the wildflowers together, trying to make a crown like I’ve seen on Pinterest.
“I’m not a creep, I’m your mate.” he huffs before lowering himself next to me and resting his elbows on his knees.
Another patch of silence surrounds us and I can feel his eyes watching as I continue with my crown.
My mind races with things that I should say but none of it reaches my lips. I don’t even know where to start. I don’t know that I’m ready to confront the Cade shaped cloud above us.
“I love the stars,” I lay the flowers in my hand beside me and lay on my back looking up, “In another life, I would have loved to be an astronomer, I think.”
Thomas shifts next to me and I can tell without looking that he is laying down next to me. Our arms almost brushing each other.
“What about you?” I turn to gaze at him, wanting to watch him look at the beauty of the stars.
Instead, I find him already looking at me. A very small part of me is scared by the intensity in his eyes but the other part is giddy. I can’t help the small smile that pulls at my lips and the butterflies in my stomach are full of life.
His smile takes my breath away before he turns to look at the stars.
“I’d want to be a pack doctor.”
“Really? I had you pegged more as a warrior type,” I can’t hide my surprise.
“All I ever want to do is help people,” the seriousness in his tone is disrupted by my laugh as I look back to the stars.
“Cade use to say the same thing growing up,” as soon as the words leave my mouth, my smile drops and my eyes close.
I sit up quickly, trying to swallow the thickness in my throat away.
I don’t know why I said that when I didn’t mean to. True, the thought had popped into the back of my mind but I had tried to avoid the topic but walked right into it.
I heard Thomas sit up next to me, but was careful to avoid his eyes.
I'm scared at what I'll find.
"Are you going to reject me as your mate?" his voice was hard and my neck cracked with how fast I turned to look at him.
He doesn't look at me as the silence stretches on. Instead, his eyes stare straight ahead at the lake, where the sun will soon be rising.
"N-No. I -"
"Don't try to sugar coat this for me," he stands so quickly that it took me a minute to even realize that he was now pacing in front of me.
"I'm no-" I try again, but he cuts me off with a sharp glare.
"Don't lie to me, Hailey." I stand and step into his path, forcing him to look at me.
The anger that radiated off him confused me. He won't even let me speak, explain my hesitation.
He's just jumping to conclusions about me just rejecting him not even listening to me when I try to tell him that I don't want that.
His hands shake and his blue eyes swirl with black. He's trying to reign his wolf and I slowly reach my hands towards him.
He tenses under my touch and the action hurts me.
"Thomas, I don't -"
"I can't handle lies. I can see them swirling in your mind. Don't. Lie." I drop my hand from his arms and cross them over my chest.
"I was planning on telling the truth, but you are too much of a stubborn ass to listen!" I shouted.
His face softened a bit but whether from my words or my pissed off expression, I'm not sure.
His hands reach for me, but I step away. It's my turn to be pissed off this time and damn right I'm gonna use it.
I don't know what the hell got in his Wheaties, but I know what, or should I say who got into mine.
"I'm sorry," he sighed, running his hand through his hair, "It's just that that thought of someone loving you before and you're clearly still not over him. I just have this feeling that you're gonna reject me."
My wolf whimpered in my head at the very thought of rejection. It was never even a thought in my head.
"He never marked me, you know," I said quietly, letting my hands fall to my side.
"Why wouldn't he mark you?" he asks slowly, tilting his head like a confused puppy.
"I didn't feel the bond when he did. Everyone thought that maybe on my eighteenth birthday I would. But Cade didn't -" my heart clenches and my throat tightens.
I can't even get the words out as my eyes water with the pain of the memories.
"I was a forced shift," I don't know why that was easier to say, but it came out naturally.
My eyes meet Thomas' and I can see my pain reflected back at me, just as clear as water.
A thought strikes me like lightning causes my heart to stutter.
If I'm his second chance, does that make me his?
Jealously ripples through me, followed by a tsunami of guilt. I have no right to feel upset about his life before when I, myself, have a life before I'm trying to get him to understand.
"You're so beautiful," his words catch me off guard but my heart races immediately.
Slowly, he brings his right hand up and pushes some hair behind my ear before sliding his hand down my cheeks. His fingers trace the corner of my lips.
His eyes flit to my lips before moving back to my eyes. Our noses skim together and I know he wants to kiss me.
I want him to kiss me.
But apparently, my jealousy has control over my brain.
"Did you have another mate?" I inwardly curse as he tenses again under my touch.
He steps out of my grip, running his hands down his face with a heavy sigh.
My heart drops to my feet. I watch him but it feels like a knife being pushed into my heart. Each breath hurts more than the last as I wait for the final blow.
"No," he says quietly, "that's why I ran."
"What?" my mind races with thoughts. If he didn't have a mate before, why is he so upset?
Thomas sits on the ground, staring out towards the sparkling water.
"I realized quickly that if I'm your second chance, that means one of two things is true." he takes a deep breath, watching me as I sit slowly next to him.
"First, that I had a mate and for whatever reason, she would never be mine. Or second, I never had a mate and was only an afterthought for you when you lost Ca- erm... yours." he looks so heartbroken and I know that I probably look the exact same.
I never thought of it in that way. Should I be considered lucky that I had Cade as a mate for even a small amount of time?
Or would it have been easier to just meet Thomas as my mate and never know?
No. I can't bring myself to ever regret Cade. I can see why he is would be upset at the idea of having a first mate he never met.
And with how I've been acting, no wonder he thinks I don't want him. I just need him to understand.
"You're my mate. I just can't go as fast as normal mate do." his eyes meet mine and I take a deep breath before continuing. "Please, you have to understand that, Thomas."
"I love the way my name sounds coming from your lips," his knuckles drag along my cheek before his hand curls around the base of my neck.
I forget how to breathe when his warm lips press against my cheek. Butterflies dance in my stomach and I can't even tell if my heart is beating at all.
"Slow as you need as long as you're mine at the end of each day." his lips meet mine, so softly, tenderly, that if I didn't have my hands gripping his shoulders, I would have thought it was a dream.