I held my breath as we stepped to the main table. Clapping and cheers filled the room. My eyes searched the room for someone familiar, anyone who could help calm my nerves. I found Kyle and smiled, where there was a Kyle, there was a Chloe. I locked eyes with her as she jumped and cheered along with the rest of the pack. I could hear Daniel’s voice, calming the pack down, but I didn’t know what he was saying. I couldn’t focus. My eyes didn’t leave Chloe’s, the comfort they brought me was unexplainable. I could feel my legs begin to shake from under me, my belly formed knots that made me want to throw up. I couldn’t handle all this attention on me, I wasn’t used to it. I broke my eye contact and looked at the door. With my heels it would take me longer, but I could probably weave through the workers and be out of this room in ten seconds. But it was as if Nick knew where my mind was, because a simple squeeze of his hand brought my attention to him. Daniel must have instructed everyone to sit because our pack started finding their seats. Nick nodded to the chair as he pulled it out for me, and I slowly took my seat with the thought of running now slipping from my mind.
Nick and I were served first, then the pack, a prayer to the Moon Goddess was said then we ate. My hands were shaking as I held my fork. I jumped at the sudden touch of Nick’s hand on my bare leg.
“You’re fine.” He assured me.
“I don’t like attention.” I admitted.
“No one’s paying attention to you anymore, except me. Once the food is brought, these things turn into a party instead of a meeting. When we’re done eating, we will mingle and thank them for coming, you can go talk to your friends, I’ll talk to mine and we’ll go home. Simple.” I nodded and began eating. The faster this is done the better.
Nick was right, as soon as the tables were cleared, the pack came up to us either one by one or by pairs to bow to us and we thanked them as a united pair ourselves.
“I know you’ve been dying to go to her, so now you’re free.” Nick smiled and nodded in Chloe’s direction. I did as I was told and went to my friend as he went to Daniel. I wondered if one day he would trust me with all his secrets as he did with his beta. But for now, I would take it slow and let him lead his pack as he did before.
“You look stunning.” Chloe hugged me and I breathed in her sweet smell of vanilla. I didn’t realize how much I missed her nagging. “Tell me everything.” She pulled me away from Kyle and he gladly took off with some males to chat about things more manly than the Mating Ritual gossip. “Did you know?” She asked, clearly talking about Nick volunteering himself. I shook my head.
“I think I was more shocked than anyone else.”
“But it’s good, right? The feeling is mutual? I mean, you accepted him.” If only it were that easy.
“I— um...” I trailed off and she took my hand.
“I don’t know.” I answered honestly. I looked across the room and watched Nick exchange conversation with his beta and another omega. He had a smile on his face while the two laughed. I couldn’t deny there were feelings there when I looked at him, I just didn’t know what they were.
“Give it time, don’t rush.” She squeezed my hand. “Come on, Natalie has been dying to know the details.” I rolled my eyes as she dragged me across the room to a group of males surrounding Natalie. She apparently wasn’t at all hurt that she wasn’t fought over at the Mating Ritual, she was back to her old tricks. “Excuse us.” Chloe’s sweet voice and tiny frame tried to push her way through, but until they saw me with her, no one would move. Eventually, Natalie was left alone, and she jumped down from a bar stool.
“Hey, girl.” She smacked me on the shoulder and tipped back her shot. “Which one do you like?” She asked me as she eyed the men who excused us for our “girl talk”.
“Not really my type.” I responded.
“Oh yeah, a girl like you goes big.” Natalie was clearly not sober.
“Natalie!” Chloe tapped her arm.
“Sorry, you should have come over four shots ago, I would have been a little more appropriate.” I never expected appropriate from Natalie whether she was sober or not. “Congratulations, by the way.” She smiled at me and it felt genuine.
“So, did you guys seal the deal yet?”
“Natalie!” Chloe tapped her again.
“No, we didn’t.”
“Really?” Chloe turned to me, obviously surprised.
“We had a lot to talk about.” I tried to defend myself, but I had no reason to.
“Like why you went to see Derek at the hospital?” Natalie asked.
“You did what?” Dammit. How in the hell does Natalie figure everything out?
“I didn’t go to see him, I just— yeah, okay I went to check on him. He was hurt and I just wanted to make sure he was okay, that’s all.”
“Oh, Emma.” Chloe put her hand to her head and shook it slowly.
“No wonder he didn’t want to rush to get you in bed.” Natalie laughed and this time it was me who smacked her arm.
“Ow!” She rubbed her arm. “I’m just saying, there’s probably a reason he isn’t here tonight.”
“You think Nick told him not to come?” I asked.
“He can’t.” Chloe answered before Natalie could. “Pack rules, everyone should be here.” Yet, no Derek. Even Emmett stood with the Omegas, bowed to us even. Derek was never one to follow the pack rules and I’m sure he didn’t want to see Nick and I together. “Hey,” Chloe grabbed my arm and brought me back to reality. “He’s fine. His pride is hurt, but he’ll get over it.” I hoped she was right.
The rest of the night was mostly relaxed, aside from a few of Natalie’s comments that made me want to tip her out of her chair. She went home with a tall, dark and handsome while Chloe and Kyle followed each other out. Nick slipped his arm around the small of my back and pulled me to him.
“Are you ready to go home?”