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I Guess I Just Feel Like...

Song - I Guess I Just Feel Like by John Mayer

When we get to the door I can smell mom’s famous spaghetti. It’s Asher’s favorite, I should have expected it for dinner tonight.

Mom and dad are both looking toward the door when we walk in. I’m sure they smelled him.

Mom steps out of the kitchen and rushes toward us.

“Hi, welcome! I’m Sorsha, ” she takes his hand in hers.

He looks surprised. Dad gives him a nod before sitting down at the table.

“Can I carry anything to the table, mom?”

“It’s all here, we were just waiting for you,” she says quickly setting another place setting.

I know that my mom has some feelings about how Leo has treated me so far but I appreciate her unwavering ability to be warm and welcoming.

Most of the meal is spent talking and joking. I’m grateful that no one is putting him in the hot seat. Any questions directed at him have been easygoing, nothing overly personal or interrogating.

“So, how did you meet?” Asher asks making me wish my legs were longer so I can kick him under the table.

“His mom hired me to paint his portrait.”

“What? No way! That was his mom?”

Everyone was so excited for me that I didn’t have the heart to tell them I never got to finish the job.

“I still think that’s awesome, Bea, someone paid you for your art!” He sounds enthusiastic and genuinely excited for me.

I notice Leo shrinking in his seat, guilt etched into his face.

I reach over and run my fingers over his legs, trying to comfort him.

His body relaxes beneath my touch and it makes my heart flutter. My whole life has been spent watching my parents. They are the best example of mates I can think of. I’ve watched them, over and over again, comforting, supporting, loving one another.

Knowing that their relationship started out rocky then turned into what I’ve watched all these years fills me with hope. It doesn’t have to start out perfect, but it can get there.

When I look at Leo he’s already looking at me, a strange, almost sad expression on his face.

“Want to go for a walk?” I ask him quietly but I know dad hears because he nods, approvingly.

“Sure,” his voice is quiet. When he reaches over to take my plate, I’m surprised.

The action is small but it feels...different. He carries our plates to the kitchen and rinses them in the sink.

My mom has a small smile on her face and my dad hums lightly, apparently they both see the gesture as something, too.

“Dad, I want to walk up to the waterfall if he’s up for it.”

Whenever I was upset as a little girl dad would carry me on his back to the waterfall to swim. Then as I got older we would walk together, talking and before I knew it, I’d feel better. I would like to show Leo.

When we start walking through the woods everything is quiet but the occasional snapping of twigs under our feet.

He clears his throat, “um... your family is... I didn’t know that wolf families were like that...”

“Like...what?”

“Like that. Your parents are very open and loving. I wasn’t expecting it. You guys are very close, I just... I didnt expect that.”

He looks conflicted.

“What did you expect?”

“Just... everything I know about wolves is... your family, you, it’s not what I thought,” he runs his hand through his hair roughly, frustration evident in his body language.

“You can be honest with me, tell me.” My voice is soft and calm but my heart is thumping wildly, nervously.

“I was always told that wolves are savages. Morally bankrupt, unkind, liars and cheats. Sure the Alphas can act respectably in public but they don’t love their mates the way we love our beloveds. Wolf families are broken and unhappy, breeding more hate filled wolves set on destruction and chaos. Greedy for land and money, taking from anyone to get it...”

He stops when he sees the tear slip down my cheek.

We stand on the path in silence. Thats what he thinks of wolves? Who taught him that? I know his father was killed but... he thinks that about all of us? My family? Me?

“Bea, I’m...”

I put my hand up to stop him, “I told you I wanted the truth,” I try to smile but it makes another tear fall.

“Your family isn’t like that at all,” he says lowly, rocking on his feet. “Your parents weren’t being civil in front of company, your dad really loves your mom. I don’t even know them and I can feel it, it’s everywhere. They both love you. It’s obvious that you grew up in a home full all the things I didn’t know werewolves to be capable of. When you kiss me I feel... there is no malice in your heart. I don’t understand...”

“Who told you that we’re all like that? There are some bad wolves, some are greedy and self serving, cruel, but most of us, the majority of us, are extremely loyal and...”

I’m cut off by his lips on mine. His hands slide into my hair as he pulls me closer to him. He’s desperate, trying to anchor himself to something. Whatever the reason behind his way of thinking, learning the truth has him spiraling. I can feel the panic coursing through him, the mistrust.

“Leo,” I whisper and his body shudders.

“I... I don’t know what to trust,” his voice is raw and emotional, “I... what I’ve been told, what I knew to be true is... it’s not what feels real, it doesn’t match with what I’m seeing with my own eyes.”

I wrap my arms around him and hold him tightly against me.

After a few minutes, I feel him relax again me.

“Is Bea short for something?” He asks, taking me completely off guard

“Beatrice. I was named after my mom’s mom. Is Leo short for something?”

“Leopold,” he says and I jerk my head back to look at him.

He’s got a big stupid smile on his face, “I’m kidding, it’s just Leo.”

“Winter or summer?”

“It used to be winter but if you’re going to keep wearing shorts like these, maybe summer.”

I swat at his chest. My heart aches, in a good way. I wasn’t sure if I would get here with him but it feels so normal, relaxed and right.

“If we hurry we can make it to the waterfall just before sunset. It’s beautiful.”

He nods and we continue down the trail.

“Tacos or pizza?” He asks.

“It depends. Here? pizza. In California? Definitely tacos.”

He hums, “I’ll take you to a place when we get back. They have the best carne asada you’ve ever had.”

When we get back...my heart nearly explodes.

“How often do you drink...blood?” I feel awkward asking but I don’t know any vampires.

“We only need a little bit to survive. I had some before I came here. I can survive on regular food for a few weeks.”

“Where do you get the blood?”

“Donors.”

“Do you only drink human blood or... could you drink from a wolf.”

His eyes are dark and his muscles tense, ” I can drink from a wolf.”

“From me?”

A scratchy, needy growl claws up his throat. I’ve hardly noticed we made it to the water.

“If you would let me...”

“Do you want to?”

“I’ve never wanted to drink from anyone more than you.”

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