I flop back on my bed, throwing my hands over my face. It had to come out. He had to know.
I can’t describe how I feel. I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut. Like I could just curl up in the fetal position right now and stare at the wall regretting that I had to break this man’s heart; that’s already been broken so many times in his life.The part of me already bound to Ryder feels relief that I no longer have to stress about Michael, which then makes me feel selfish. I can’t decide if I want to be alone or to talk it out with Ivy.
I hear three small knocks at my door and sit up to see Ivy quietly approaching me. I guess I don’t have much of a choice. “So you told him,” she states. My silence is the only reply I can give. “Are you okay?”
I breathe out a sigh. “Honestly, I don’t know. I feel like the worst living being in the world, but also… free. Not that Michael was dragging me down, but, ever since meeting Ryder, I’ve felt my heart wishing to be elsewhere. I guess my mind never could fully accept that fact, that’s why I didn’t mention Ryder when I first met him. I loved Michael and didn’t want to break his heart, but look at me now,” I groaned.
When in my relationship with Michael, I never envisioned breaking up with him. He had been my everything. But with Ryder… I felt a completeness I hadn’t realized I was missing. Recently, I’ve continually asked myself why I had to meet Michael that day in the grocery store. I wouldn’t have to be the one to tear him apart again. Then I remind myself that I wouldn’t have saved Michael from himself, we wouldn’t have become best friends, and I may not have met Ryder.
Ivy stays quiet, looking like she’s contemplating her next move. “That’s tough.” I look up at her stunned. That’s all? She looks over at me and laughs at my expression. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know what to say,” she clears her throat and continues. “I’m sorry you feel like the bad guy. I would never wish to be in your situation, but I know the mate bond, and Michael does too, and I understand why you made the choice you did. I’m sure Michael will come around. He just needs his space now.” Ivy supportingly places her hand on my shoulder, giving it a small squeeze.
“Where do you think he’s gone?” I ask.
“The packhouse.” I think about her reply. The packhouse...
“With Ryder?!” I burst out. She looks at me confused for a moment, but softens her face in understanding.
She shakes her head. “No. Different packs, remember? Ryder is the alpha of White Paw Pack. Michael is head warrior of the western neighboring pack, North Mountain Pack, while James and I are beta and beta female,” she explains, which helps my sudden spike of adrenaline to mellow out. I thought Michael was going to have to face Ryder all the time, dragging up the fact that I’ve chosen Ryder over him.
“Oh, right… There is so much I don’t understand about this new world,” I whisper. There are a few notes I, mentally, take on questions to ask later. Right now doesn’t feel like the right time and I don’t feel like talking much anyway. “Ivy? Will you keep an eye on Michael for me?” I ask. I may not love Michael the way he loves me, but I still care and worry for him. With the new backstory I’ve received, I’m scared of what he could do.
“Of course,” Ivy says without hesitation. “Do you have anything else you want to talk about?” She asks sincerely; worry lacing itself among her beautiful features. I shake my head softly. I’ve talked enough tonight; it’s time to listen to my own thoughts and sort them out. My body slouches once Ivy leaves the room with one final glance in my direction. I hadn’t realized how exhausted I am. I stand to get ready for bed.
It’s past midnight and outside the moon highlights over the nocturnal world just beyond my window. My bedside lamp sends an orange glow through the room. A picture next to my lamp captures a moment of Michael and me. I sit on the edge of my bed and hold the picture in my hands. The fond memory of me jumping up on his back unexpectedly and throwing him slightly off balance, as we both laugh because of the pure happiness we felt in the moment.
I sigh as I pull open the top drawer of my bedside table and place the picture inside. Am I moving on too quickly? This all feels so rushed. Maybe being alone with my thoughts was a bad idea. I feel in my heart it’s right to move on; Michael can remain in my heart, but not how he used to.
The sheets are cool and silky as I pull them up to my chin. It’s time I got some rest. Turning off the lamp, I swear I see a flash of blue outside my window. Maybe my guardian angel is watching over me tonight. I turn over and find my eyes drooping close as my thoughts wander to the one person they always do. Ryder.
I dreamt of him again. More intensity, more passion. It’s hard to get any decent sleep when I, or we are doing so much... action. I woke up several times during the night, hot and flustered, never wanting to see the dream through past the making out. The human side of me is uncomfortable with the intimacy being had with a man I hardly know. Is this a side effect of the mate bond?
The final time I awoke, the sun was just beginning to peek over the tree tops. It’s still early. I think I’ll sit on the back porch and read... mmm, with a hot cup of tea and a cozy blanket.
As I walk over to the corner of my back porch where a rocker sits, the chilled air nips at my face and fingers. A wisp of steam can be seen rising from my mug. I wrap myself tight with my blankets and set to reading the black words printed on the pages of my book.
After some time of frustratingly struggling to keep my mind on the book in front of me, I’ve shut the cover. When will this stop?! I finally close my eyes and let my imagination continue to torture me in the sweetest way possible.
Ryder has straddled my waist. His hands on my upper arms, pinning them down to my sides. He leans in slowly, but his lips only brush my cheek. They haven’t started their assault of kisses yet. I’m trying to keep my breath steady as my heart flutters in anticipation. I can imagine his perfect, smooth lips now. The blush on my cheeks grows to match the color of his lips.
He skims his lips along my skin, down one side of my neck to my collar bone and back up the other side. He stops just below my ear and finally places a soft kiss in that sweet spot. My eyes drift shut as I concentrate on every placement of his lips. He’s trailing his kisses back over to my lips.
I’ve noticed his grip on my arms has loosened and I take the opportunity to get involved. I raise my hands from my sides to his, sliding my hands up and around his neck.
Mm, Ryder, I mumble his name against his lips. My fingers have wrapped in his hair and unconsciously give small tugs at the strands.
Hah, Blaire, Ryder huffs. Blaire.
“Blaire!” My eyes shoot open, this time not because I couldn’t watch the dream anymore. Rather, Ivy has rushed out the back door. “What in the world do you think you’re doing?” She whisper shouts. I’m sure James is still in the guest bedroom sleeping.
I shake the drowsiness from mind. “I was reading... then dreaming. Then waking up to you yelling at me,” I whisper back.
She looks at me astounded. “You have no idea what could’ve happened while you were out here.” She has a point.
I scan the tree line for potential dangers.
“Don’t bother,” she sighs. “Your wolf man is over there.” She says pointing to a clump of low growing vegetation.
As she says that, I watch the bushes quiver as something begins to emerge from them. Out walks my beautiful beast. His dark furs shimmering in the early morning sunlight and his brilliant blue eyes filled with a burning desire. He stares me down as he walks to us and I stare right back.
I wonder if he’s been dealing with the same problem as me all night.