A week had passed, and I hadn’t seen or spoken to Shawn. Not face to face anyway. There had been texts back and forth most days, but something happened after that conversation about Vicky at Joe’s. Something unspoken, but it was loud and clear. To me anyway. I missed seeing him when I came out of class, or in a morning waiting for me outside my house with a fresh coffee and muffin.
We hadn’t said anything to each other about it, but I had the feeling we both knew why we had pulled back. It was me. I was getting attached and that wasn’t good for either of us. He didn’t want another partner and I sure as hell didn’t want to be interested in a wolf. No, I needed to distance myself. He still messaged everyday asking if I was okay, how my run had gone that morning, but it wasn’t the same. I hated to admit that I missed him. I missed his friendship, but most of all I missed the security he provided. I didn’t realise how much I depended on him. My runs were always cut short, I left class and came straight home, I didn’t want to be outside by myself.
It was something I needed to work on. I didn’t want to be dependent on anyone and I didn’t want to go back to being the girl I was a few months earlier. So I made a decision that after class today I would go to the mall just outside of town and maybe buy some new clothes and get a coffee, have a little me time.
Several hours later and hand full of bags I slumped down in the first coffee shop I could find and took a sip of my drink. I felt good, good that I had accomplished what I had set out to do; and I did it by myself. Something new to tell the therapist.
Flicking through my phone, trying to follow what was going on in the world of social media, a smell floated past, that almost caused me to drop my cup. The stench of rotting rubbish and dirt, lingered in the air and I looked around me, trying to find the face that I would forever put with that smell. My hand shook as I scrolled through my phone, searching for the number I needed. As I was about to hit call a hand landed on my shoulder causing me to scream and the hand immediately lifted as other customers started looking me way.
“Hey, hey sorry it’s just me. I didn’t mean to startle you.” I looked up into the face of the intruder and relaxed slightly, still clinging to my phone.
“Ryan, hey sorry. I feel so stupid. You just scared me is all.” I stammer out, while still looking around me, which causes Ryan to look around too.
“You sure you’re okay? You look like you’ve just seen a ghost. I’m about to order a coffee, let me get you a fresh one?” I nod my head a smile and he heads to the counter to order. I feel so foolish, but that smell, I know I smelt that smell. His smell. I try to think back to what Shawn had said about Clayton not being able to stay away if he were my mate and panic starts to slowly set in again.
“Here you go, hazelnut latte and double choc cookie, you look like you needed the sugar. You sure you’re alright?” Ryan sits on the other cushioned chair that’s around the small circle table and studies me. It’s been so long since I’ve seen him. I almost feel guilty for not going to the café.
“Yeah, I just thought I saw someone, from my past. I’m okay. Really, thanks for this.” I say, lifting the cup to my lips, aware of Ryan’s eyes on me, not fully believing me. My shaking hands aren’t helping my case, so I put the cup down.
“I’ve not seen you in a while, how’s school?” he asks politely, his hair is still shaven, and his t-shirt looks to fit him a little snugger, like he’s been working out. He looks good, he always did. I smile a little thinking what Alex’s nickname would be for him now. He seems to have outgrown the cute look and was just… more.
“Schools good thanks, busy, but going good. Listen I’m sorry I haven’t been in recently. I… I don’t really have a reason why, but how’ve you been?” I do have a reason, Shawn never really wanted to go there, and I wasn’t too bothered as long as there was coffee. A guilty feeling washes over me, it’s almost like I forgot about him and the friendship we had started, if it could’ve even been called a friendship.
“I’ve been good. Been waiting for you to come by, I would’ve called but I never managed to get your number.” He smiles at me, while I feel a blush creep into my cheeks.
“Well, I… I don’t remember you ever asking for it. How are the cookie sales going, these aren’t as good yours. Must be a different supplier.” He just laughs and sits back more in the chair.
“They have actually gone down in the last few weeks. We have some new flavours though. I’ve also gained a little weight as now I have to eat all the left overs at the end of my shift.” I raise my eyebrows, not commenting on how he hasn’t gained fat, just muscle. The smell drifts past me once more and my eyes dart around, and it doesn’t go un noticed by Ryan.
“Amber, are you okay? If you’re in trouble…” I grab my bags, and stand up, bumping the coffee table as I do.
“I’m really sorry Ryan, I need to leave. I’ll come by the café soon, I promise.” He looks confused and stand too, reaching out to my elbow, which I flinch away from. Something I haven’t done in a while.
“I’m sorry, I just need to get home.” I grip my phone to my chest and practically run to my car. When I reach it, I check the back seat before getting in, and then quickly lock the doors when I am in.
I want to call Shawn, I know he has some ability to take away my worry, it must be a werewolf thing but I don’t want to be dependent on him; but I also know they need to know. If I learnt anything from what happened before with Alex and I, it was to just always say something when you needed to. Somethings you can’t handle by yourself.
I pull up Alex’s number on my cars in car system, and hit call.
“Hey Amber. What you up to?” Alex’s cheerful voice comes through my cars speakers while I navigate my way home.
“He’s here Alex, I know it. I’m not…” I blurt out as quickly as I can.
“Hey slow down. What do you mean? Who?” she asks sounding worried.
“Him. Clayton. I could smell him. I’m not imagining it. I smelt it twice.” Twice, I did smell him twice; so I couldn’t have imagined it, could I?
“Where? Where are you now?”
“At the mall, I’m on my way home.”
“I’ll meet you there.”
By the time I had reached my house, two cars were parked there; Logan’s and Shawn’s. They were already out of their vehicles and waiting for me. Alex ran up, yanking my door open as soon as I put the car in park. I climbed out and fell into her arms.
“Tell me everything.” She said as she held me in her embrace. I didn’t allow myself to show my true feelings. Not even to my best friend. I needed to show I was strong.
I needed to be strong.
“Come inside.” My voice came out calmer than I expected it to and I walked to my house, giving Shawn a grateful smile but not going into his arms like I wanted to.
“Are you okay?” He asked, looking concerned, coming closer but still keeping a distance.
“I’m fine, I think I just panicked is all. My memory bringing up memories. I’m sure its nothing.” I’m not sure who I’m trying to convince, them or myself.
I had time to think on the way back home and in reality, that smell could have been anything. A homeless person could’ve just been walking past, or someone emptying the bins at the coffee shop. Someone with really bad body odour. I overreacted.
I relayed what had happened to them, leaving out talking with Ryan, I’m not sure why, but I didn’t want Shawn to know. Stupid I know, but I knew he wasn’t anything to do with this. I was sat by him and the smell wasn’t from him, so there was no need to even mention or involve him.
After a while of Alex fussing and Logan assuring he would put out extra patrols just to make sure, they left, but Shawn stayed behind. Seemingly like he had no intention of leaving.
“Shawn, I’m okay really. You can go home. I’m sure you have plenty of things to be doing other than babysitting me.” He just frowns at me and scoffs.
“What else happened?” He stands arms folded over his chest, just staring at me.
“Nothing happened. I told you everything.” I walk into the kitchen to get myself a drink, but he just follows behind me.
“You’re a bad liar Amber. What did you not say?” He asks again.
“Shawn, I’ve just told you, there was nothing else to tell. I went shopping and got a coffee.” I don’t know why he is pushing this, but I also don’t really understand why I don’t want him to know.
“You got coffee… By yourself?” He questions with a crease in his brow.
“What is this? The third degree. I’m allowed to…” I reach up and take a mug, knocking another from the shelf, sending it crashing to the floor.
“Damn it…” I bend down to pick up the broken pieces and Shawn bends down with me. Crouching eye level with me, but I push away from him.
“Just go Shawn, I’m fine. The mighty Alpha has said so hasn’t he. I don’t need you here.” I do need him here, that’s the problem.
“I’m just trying to help Amber, I’m just…”
“Well don’t… I’m…”
“You’re fine, yeah I get it. You said.” He stands up and starts to pace. While I continue to tidy up the broken mug.
“Amber…” He says quietly, but I don’t answer him, or look at him.
I just keep my head down. He takes a step towards me and then quickly turns the other way and leaves without saying anything, slamming the front door as he goes.