“Amber? Is everything alright?” Ryan’s voice pulls me from my searching, and I push the thought from my head. I was imagining it; Clayton is dead, and the rogues aren’t interested in me. I smile and nod to Ryan, before climbing into his car.
“Feel free to choose some music, it’s only cd’s sorry. I haven’t had chance to update the stereo system yet. The engine seemed like it was a little more important a job to do first.” He seemed shy or nervous, like the first time we had met.
“You fixed the car yourself? Wow, that’s quite impressive. So where are the cd’s, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one.” I joke, and he asks shocked but laughs.
“Yeah, I know it’s old school, but I have priorities and music in my car, just isn’t one of them. They do still sell current stuff though you know.” He points to the glove box which I open to find a case full of disks. I flick through them choosing a band I know of. I push the disk in, and Ryan quickly reaches for the volume button as music blasts through the speakers.
“Sorry, I like loud music. So, what was that back there? You looked a little worried. Sort of like the time you bailed on me at the café.” He keeps his eyes on the road, but I take my time to answer and study his face.
“You’re very observant, aren’t you?” He simply shrugs.
“I’m observing that you haven’t answered the question. You’re very good at diverting aren’t you.” I mimic his own actions and shrug in response.
“What food did you pack?” I ask as I skip through the tracks, finding the song I want.
“There you go again… diverting… I bought some sandwiches, a mix… I didn’t know what you liked, some berries… got to have five a day and some cookies. I used to think you liked them and you haven’t been in to buy them recently so…” He leaves the sentence hanging there, waiting for me to finish. To say why I haven’t been in. But what do I say? I didn’t come in because I was spending all my time with another guy. I decide being vague is a better option.
“I know.” He looks over to me quickly before returning his focus to the road in front of us.
“I know? That’s all you’re giving me.” I smile, biting my bottom lip a little.
“I suppose I am. You never said earlier, if you would get in trouble for leaving Tara to lock up.” He winks at me and smirks, shaking his head.
“No, it’s cool. She just hasn’t done it before. So, I wanted to make sure she knew everything.”
We drove the remainder of the way, just chatting about the song choice or awkward customers in the café, we pulled into a parking area where a few other cars were parked and got out the car. Ryan retrieved the cool box and picnic rug from the trunk, and we walked for a while finding a nice place to sit.
It was quite a secluded area, and thoughts of wolves ran wild in my mind, but I had to push them aside. I couldn’t live my life, if I was always plagued by the demons of my past. I had to get past it. We weren’t totally alone out here, the other cars parked by us proved that, and we hadn’t travelled that far from the car.
Ryan laid the rug on the floor and sat down on one corner, I sat down opposite him and watched as he unloaded the picnic.
“You went to a lot of effort here? Did you make all the food yourself?” I say as I notice the abundance of sandwiches and snacks, he has pulled out.
“I did do it all myself. I can cook you know. I bake too.” He hands me the tub of cookies and I smile.
“You bake? You baked these?” He laughs.
“No, really? You’re the supplier for the cookies? You make them all yourself?” I open the tub and take one out, breaking it in two, I hand him one half.
“That would be yes. I make all the cookies. Some of the other stuff we sell too.” I relax a little as we talk.
“So, you know how to fix a car, you’re cute, you can cook… Why are you not dating anyone?” He blushes and hands me a plastic plate with a napkin on it.
“You think I’m cute?” I throw the napkin at him, not that it actually reaches him, but he takes it and hands it back to me anyway.
“Oh, you know you are. So… why didn’t you answer my question?”
“Why do you never answer mine?” He counters.
“Fair enough. Tell me something about you that I don’t know.” I ask him, while choosing my food.
“I was adopted when I was really young.” He says, while filling his plate with food too.
“Wow, okay I wasn’t expecting that. Do you remember your birth parents?” I assume he is alright with talking about it as he was the one who mentioned it, but quickly change my mind.
“Sorry.. forget that. I shouldn’t have asked that.” He just places his hand on mine, making me tense slightly.
“It’s fine. I’m good with talking about it. To be honest its sort of the only interesting fact about me. It’s usually my go to. But to answer your question, no I don’t remember them. I was told they both died, I was around three years old.” I slowly pull my hand out from under his and pick at my sandwich, he frowns but I feel like he is being honest and genuine with what he says. He passes me a bottle of water and takes one for himself.
“I’m sorry Ryan.” He shakes his head and takes a drink.
“Don’t be sorry. I don’t really remember them, and they died. It’s not like they had a choice in the matter. I have two really great parents, who love me and want the best for me. They have supported me through my life. I had a great childhood. Just because I was adopted, doesn’t mean I had a bad life.” He smiles as he looks through his phone and shows me a photo of him with his parents, it reminds me of photos of myself with my own parents.
“Tell me something about you that I don’t know?” I didn’t think this through when I asked him that question.
“I don’t have anything to tell. Nothing as interesting as yours anyway.” He wags a finger at me.
“No way. You have to tell me something.” Okay, let’s see… I was kidnapped… I almost died… I was a werewolf’s mate… I’m friends with werewolves and a werewolf hunter. Nope, can’t use any of those.
“I can’t cook. Bake or cook. I can make a salad, that’s about it.” His eyes go wide, and he clamps a hand over his mouth. Obviously trying to hold in his laughter.
“You’re not kidding, are you?” He now looks absolutely horrified at the idea.
“I was a little spoiled, I’m an only child; but I worked hard at school, so I didn’t have to do the other stuff.” I pretend to be upset at his response, but he doesn’t fall for it.
“Okay, we can work on that. I’ll teach you how to cook.” He looks like he has just come up with the greatest idea in the universe.
“How do you know how to cook? Who taught you?” I question him, I don’t mind his idea.
“My parents actually both cook and so do my grandparents, we’re just a cooking family. I just copied whatever I saw them do.” When he talks about his family, I can see his love for them.
“You said they supported you through life? In what way, apart from the obvious? The way you said it… it sounded like it was more?” I hope he doesn’t mind my prying, to my amazement, he doesn’t seem to, and we just continue to eat and talk between bites. There’s an easy rhythm to our conversation.
“I finished school and went off to college, did two years of my course, then decided I didn’t want to do it. So, I left and came back home.”
“Wow, my parents are supportive, I’m not sure what they would say if I decided that though. What did they do?”
“They just talked to me, once they could see I wasn’t drunk or high, and actually unhappy there, they asked what I wanted to do and what they could do to help me.”
“You have a lot of love for them.” He smiles and blushes.
“Yeah, to be fair they are cool, my friends would always want to come hang at my house, because my parents were the cool parents. I think as long as I’m not hurting myself or anyone else or breaking any laws then they are happy as long as I am.”
“They sound cool. So, what is it you want to do now?” He beams at me, but I frown, not following.
“I’m doing what I want to do?” I’m confused, my face must show it as he just laughs at me.
“I have my own business, I work the hours I choose, it’s hard work but it’s mine, so I it’s not so bad.” Still not catching on, he continues to laugh at me.
“The Café, Amber. It’s mine. I’m the owner.” Finally, I understand what he is saying. My mouth dropping open in a moment of shock, but suddenly all the free drinks and cookies make sense.
“That’s very… very awesome. So, all the décor and menu, that’s all you?” It was pretty amazing that someone so young seemed to have it all sorted.
“Yeah, basically; I got someone in for the decoration, I knew some people, but yeah the menu is all me.” He looks proud, but not in a smug way, he just looks… happy… content.
“So that’s it now? You’re all set for life?” He takes a drink and pauses before answering.
“I wouldn’t say all set. There are still things I want to do, travel, things like that… but in time, a family would be nice, maybe more café’s, a restaurant. So, I would say set for now, but definitely not all set.”
“How do you do that? Just know what you want and just… just go for it? How do you just make it happen?” He laughs and lays back on the blanket.
“You make it sound like I have it all. I really don’t. I’m just about making even at the café, I can barely pay Tara, but the making it happen; I don’t know. I guess after working so hard at something that I didn’t want, it made me want to work even harder for the things I do want.” He turns and focuses on me when he says the last part, like there is a hidden meaning there.
“And what exactly… is it …that you want?” I ask the question, but immediately regret it, I’m not sure I want to hear the answer. He just smiles shyly at me and moves closer to me.
“I want you Amber. I have done ever since the first time you walked into my café.”