Cade closed the distance between us in two steps. Our chests nearly brushing together with every breath but we just stared at each other for I don't even know how long. The entire family is so quiet you could probably hear a pin drop.
His deep brown eyes search my hazel ones like he has never seen me before this moment.
"Mate," he whispers in awe, raising his knuckles to skim across my cheek.
It's not a secret that I always thought Cade was cute with his soulful eyes and chiseled jaw. But he was my best friend and I knew nothing would come from it.
I knew we both had mates out there and I never for a second thought he would be mine.
His hand is warm against my skin but it's not how I thought a mates touch would feel. I imagined sparks, fireworks maybe, just based on what everyone talks about.
"MATES!" our mom's scream in unison jumping into each other's arms, but I keep my eyes on Cade.
"Do you feel it?" he whispers, his eyes lighting up and a breathtaking smile pulling across his face.
The hopeful look he's giving me makes me want to say yes. To lie and tell him I feel the tingles and the pull as I throw my arms around his neck.
But I can't lie to him. Aside from the attraction I've always felt for Cade, I don't feel anything else.
I close my eyes, focusing on his palms that are now cupping my cheeks, but there is nothing but warmth.
Tears pool behind my eyelids and spill over when I open my eyes to see Cade smiling like he has won the lottery.
I try to open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes out. I shake my head no before a sob overtakes me.
"What's wrong with me?" Cade wastes no time pulling me into his strong frame.
His hands make comforting circles down my back as I cry into his chest. His voice is soothing as he whispers that there is nothing wrong with me, but even I can hear the worry in tone.
"Alpha?" I feel Cade turn us so that we are facing our families.
His scent invades my nose as I bury my face deeper into his chest. It's woodsy, manly and I can't lie it smells absolutely amazing.
I grip tighter to his waist hoping to feel some spark of the mate bond. Cade is comfortable and I am attracted to him, but there is still no spark.
"Hailey?" my dad calls gently and I can feel him place a soft hand on my back, "Honey, you don't feel anything? No spark or pull?"
I pull away from Cade, much to his disappointment and wiped the tears from my cheeks.
"I feel an attraction, but I always have." my voice is hoarse from crying and when I look at Cade's heartbroken face, I feel like crying all over again.
I can't feel the bond, but he can. He feels everything that he should feel and I'm the broken one. Guilt consumes me because I know this isn't what he hoped finding his mate would be like.
I stand on my toes and press a soft kiss to his cheek. I know it won't make things better but when he lights up like a kid on Christmas, it eases my guilt a little.
"Could it be because she's human?" Mason askes but my dad shakes his head no.
"Ellie feels the bond and the sparks, just not as strongly as I do." My dad says looking at me like I am a science problem that needs to be solved.
Mason starts talking to my dad in hushed tones as mom and Sam rush to hug us anyway. Cade's smile is wide like this whole thing doesn't bother him, but I know it has to.
"Well Hails, Maybe you have a wolf in there after all," Jake says pulling me into his chest and high-fiving Cade.
Everyone goes quiet as we stare at Jake like he's grown two heads.
"I mean it's obvious, isn't it?" a tint of red rises on his cheeks from all the eyes that are suddenly staring at him.
"What you mean, Jake?" My mom asks, walking into my dad's waiting arms.
"A human can feel the bond with their mate but Hailey can't. So maybe she has a wolf but can't feel her mate because she isn't of age to meet them yet." Jake shrugs like it's the most obvious thing in the world, making my jaw drop.
Since when does Jake make sense?
"He's got a point. Even if her wolf is dormant, she would still have to be of age to feel her mate." my dad gives me a small smile as he pats Cade on the shoulder.
"So when she's eighteen she'll feel the bond?" Cade reaches out and intertwines our fingers and it makes my heart beat a little faster.
"Well, It's a theory. One that will be tested in a month." Mason says sadly before he leads Sam to the table where Hannah has been eating pancakes.
Cade pulls my hand gently, turning me back to face him. So many emotions play across his face that I can't keep up with them.
"I always hoped it'd be you," he whispers, tucking a loose strain of hair behind my ear.
"You did?" I stare at him in shock.
I never thought that Cade saw me as anything other than his best friend. I would never have thought he had a crush on me!
Cade chuckles at my expression skimming his knuckles against my cheek again. A burst of jealousy flits through me that he is enjoying the sparks that I can't feel.
Just have to wait a month.
"It's such a chick novel cliche, falling for your best friend. But how could I not? You're amazing, Hailey." Cade rests his forehead against mine and I keep waiting for it to feel weird but it never does.
It feels amazing. It feels right.
Fangirl giggles erupt behind us and Cade let's out a small groan moving to glare at our moms.
The sound of feet shuffling away fills the room but soon Cade and I are left alone.
"My wolf wants to mark you so bad," he closes his eyes for a brief moment, "But I want you to feel the bond too. So I'll wait. But be my girlfriend?"
My heart skips a beat and I nod my head before I even think about it. His smile causes my already shaky breath to catch in my throat.
My hands reach up to cup his cheeks, holding him there. It feels like a dream.
"Is this a dream?" I whisper, staring straight into Cade's eyes.
"If it is, I never want to wake up," he moves slowly but before I can take another breath, his lips are on mine in a gentle kiss.
I respond immediately and my arms find their way around his neck while his settle around my waist.
Cade feels amazing pressed against me and I can only imagine what it will feel like with the bond. My birthday can't come soon enough.
I break away for oxygen, laughing a little at his adorable pouty face.
"Happy Birthday, Cade." he swoops in and captures my lips again, his arms tightening around my body.
"Happy birthday indeed." he whispers with a laugh.
"Come on," he grabs my hand and starts pulling me out the back door.
"Where are we going? Everyone is waiting to celebrate." I laugh as we jog across the backyard towards the line of trees.
"I just want to spend alone time with my girlfriend. They'll understand I'm -" Shouts flood the mind link cutting him off midsentence and stopping us in our tracks,
"Dammit!" he curses under his breath, turning quickly to face me.
He cups my face in his hands and pulls my lips to his.
"We're being attacked. Get to the safe house."