“Duck. Duck. Duck.” Hannah makes her way slowly around the circle that consists of me and three pack warriors, Johnny, Eli and Miles, that our dad’s insisted be at our side for the time being.
How this little girl convinced these big warriors to sit down for a game of Duck, duck, goose I have no idea. Still it is pretty comical to see Hannah try to reach their heads, even with them sitting on their butts.
“Hannah, just pick a goose already.” I laugh as she continues to make the circle.
She goes around one more time before she stops at Johnny “GOOSE!” she squeals as she begins to run away.
He is quick to his feet but purposefully doesn’t run fast to give her the chance. I laugh but as Hannah skids into Johnny’s spot, the hair on my neck stands up. I can feel Thomas’s eyes on me and I can’t help the smile that crosses my face.
I look around, before I spot him walking over to me from the other side of the yard. The tight black V-neck he is wearing clings to him like a second skin and I can’t keep my wolf from thinking inappropriate things.
Not that I blame her.
It's been two days since we marked each other and although we still haven't mated fully, it has been amazing being with him.
“Can I talk to you for a second please?” I smile and nod but little red flags go up in my mind when his face remains blank.
He offers his hand to help me up, which I accept, but he doesn't try to sneak a kiss like he always does. He doesn't even wrap an arm around me. Instead, once I'm standing, he drops my hand.
He walks a couple of steps to a nearby tree, just far enough away that the warriors playing with Hannah can’t hear us. His hand reaches out like he is going to touch me but at the last second he just runs it through his hair slowly.
Disappointment floods through me, I wanted him to touch me. In fact I was so sure he was going to, why didn’t he?
“Thomas, is everything okay?” I reach my hand out to grab his, but he just takes a small step away from me.
“It’s time for me to go back to my pack, Hailey.” His eyes look everywhere but mine as he shoves his hands in his jean pockets.
“So soon? I thought we had a few days at least.” I can’t hide the shock in my voice.
He nods his head slowly, kicking a little stone with the toe of his shoe.
“My pack needs their Alpha. I’ve been gone longer than I was supposed to be.” I don’t like it but I can’t deny the truth in his words.
His pack needs him and just because I’m not ready to leave my home, doesn’t mean I can be selfish. Besides, is anyone ever really ready to leave home.
“Okay, when ar-”
“Hailey! Johnny goosed Miles and now they are fighting!” Hannah yelled, interrupting what I was about to say.
I turn to look and sure enough, Eli is holding Hannah out of the way and laughing at Johnny and Miles who are rolling around on the grass.
“Seriously guys?! You’re supposed to be the adults.” I laugh but Thomas cuts me off.
“Hailey, I have to leave tonight.” he says quickly and I turn to look at him.
“Okay- Wait. What do you mean I’m?” I ask cautiously, unease settling in my stomach.
Thomas doesn’t say anything. The longer the silence goes on, the more doubt roots in my mind. The hair on my neck is standing and I can feel goosebumps raising on my flesh. I don’t know where this is going but I don’t think I am going to like it.
“Don’t you mean we’re?” I can’t help the plea in my voice and I take a step closer to him, but he responds taking one back.
“If by we’re you mean my warriors and I, then yes.”
“Thomas, What -”
My voice disappears mid sentence and for the first time since he came to find me, his gaze meets mine and my heart shatters at what I find.
I can see it in his eyes. His resolve is absolute. There is nothing for me to do or say, but that doesn’t mean he is right and it doesn’t mean that I am going to just let him walk away from me. My mouth opens and closes like a fish as I struggle to remember how to talk in my confusion. Again he is quicker than I.
“This isn’t Goodbye. After all, we’re marked to each other.” He sways like he is going to kiss me or hug me and oh how I yearn for that contact.
Instead I am left disappointed and left standing alone after he gives me a small nod and walks away. My mind counting the steps he takes, each one echoing in the hollowness that is overtaking my chest.
This is wrong! Go after him!
My mind yells at me, but what do I say to him? How can I clean the mess that I have created? My hand reaches up and feels for his mark on my neck. What I was hoping would calm me and help me see his reasons, instead sparked life back into me. My heart takes off beating wildly in my chest, demanding to be tamed by the one who owns it.
“Hailey! Come back and play” Hannah calls for me and I turn to look at the little girl sitting in a circle with three strong warriors.
“Get her home soon.” I yell at the warriors before running off in the direction Thomas left.
My mind is spinning with what I could say to make it right, but none of it really seems right. I guess I will have to wing it. His smell is getting stronger when finally he comes into view, standing there talking to Jake, Alex and Ethan.
My emotions go haywire. I am angry at what he said. Happy that I found him. Sad he wants to leave without me and so many other emotion that I can’t tell which one to feel first. I slow down from my run to a purposeful walk.
I stop behind Thomas and grab his forearm, forcing him to spin to face me. The voices of the three guys around us instantly cut off when my eyes connect to Thomas’ and in that instant I see fire. So I do the one thing I can think to do.
I reach my hand up and slap him across the cheek.