After my little “talk” with Stella, she stormed out of my office. At least she’s gone, Remus says with a laugh. “Well I’m sure I’ll get an earful from her father. He’s gonna be asking where Blaire is and why I haven’t brought her to the pack.” I slouch in my office chair. Ping. My phone goes off.
I pick it up and notice Blaire’s text. My heart picks up, but drops again when I read what she sent.
B: I can’t do lunch tomorrow.
WHAT?! I flinch at Remus’s outburst.
Calm down, I’ll figure out what’s wrong. Just don’t make me do anything I’ll regret.
I won’t do anything you’re not already thinking of doing.
Ugh, you’re so difficult. I sigh, thinking of what could possibly make her send me that. Probably just an emergency, it’s fine.
R: Oh that’s too bad, can I ask you why?
Maybe it was too straight forward. She hardly knows me.
B:Can we meet up tonight
I stare at my phone for a solid minute. I had not expected her response.
R: you sure? Where and when
Ho ho, so we will be seeing her, Remus says. I told you she’d forget about that other guy once she met us. I silently watch my phone waiting for her response. The little dots popped up and began dancing along with my anxiety.
B: Wilson’s Park, 6pm
I wasn’t expecting such a private place. You know what that means, Remus says with a sly tone and I know what he’s suggesting.
Get your head out of the gutter, Ryder. I meant you could more easily talk to her about me.
“Uh huh, that’s what you were thinking,” I say.
R: Sounds like fun, I’ll be there
Skyler, a mated wolf, suggested romantic ideas for tonight. The ideas included a picnic blanket, food, and flowers. He’s my second for a reason. I took him up on his advice and packed several different finger foods like crackers, cheese, and fruit and a blanket. Now my last stop before the park is a small flower shop where I get a small bouquet of flowers consisting mostly of poppies and other small flowers and leafy things. Hopefully she likes flowers.
What girl doesn’t like flowers? Ryder asks.
I drive through the pack and head south to Wilson’s Park. I haven’t been to this park, but then again the whole forest is my park. What’s the point of going to a designated public park meant for humans?
It’s ten minutes to six when I park the car. The park had a few families on the playgrounds and a team practiced baseball on one of the baseball fields. Trees line the park giving shade to those hard at play. I see a bridge across the open field and head to see what awaits on the other side. Picnic basket, blanket, and flowers in hand I cross the bridge over the rock bottomed river. The other side of the bridge has a smaller clearing with more willows and maples surrounding it. An old looking set of play equipment sat to one side: swings, a metal slide and monkey bars. Nobody seems to be back here, so I set up the picnic in the vibrant green grass.
Time to get to Blaire, Remus says. I look at my phone and see a text.
B:I’m here. Where are you
R:Across the bridge
I don’t get a reply back, taking that as a sign that she was on her way. Okay, Remus, we need to keep it cool and collected. Again, don’t do anything I wouldn’t normally do.
Again, I won’t do anything you aren’t thinking, he snickers. There are many things I may think that I’d rather not end up doing just yet.
I see her crossing the bridge, her head swiveling to find me. When our eyes meet, warmth spreads through my chest. A genuine smile forms on my face. She’s wearing ripped jeans and a denim jacket over a floral tank top. Her hair is pulled back in a half bun. The untied hair flows past her shoulders down her front.
I notice a small blush warm her cheeks and her eyes flicker down to the ground, trying to hide it. I take a few steps forward to greet her.
“Hey, I’m glad to see you,” I say, reaching a hand out for her to take.
“Me too,” she grins from ear to ear. Thankfully, she lightly places her hand atop mine and I guide her to our picnic.
“Welcome! This evening’s specials include crackers and cheese, a true delicacy, and for dessert, fruit and whipped cream. May I show you to your seat?” I say with a mock professional tone.
“It would be my pleasure,” she takes her spot in the center of the blanket and I sit next to her. I reach for the poppy bouquet sitting next to the basket.
“A kind and, may I say, rather handsome gentleman had these pre-delivered to your spot,” I say as I flourish the bouquet and hand it to her.
She giggles. “Give that humble gentleman my thanks.” She emphasises and I can’t help, but laugh along with her.
When our laughter dies down, we begin snacking on the foods in front of us. Truly enjoying the exquisite cuisine and company. “Can I ask why you changed your mind about lunch?” I ask.
Blaire sighs. “I needed to get out of the house,” she pauses. “I had an argument with those I’d normally hang out with, leaving me with no one to get out of the house with, and I wanted to get to know you, so I’m killing two birds with one stone.” She shrugs like it’s not a big deal, but I can see her conflict.
“I see,” I say. “What do you want to know?” I change the subject, hoping to talk about something that will bring a smile to her face.
Her face does brighten up. “I’m not sure where to start,” she exclaims, before taking a minute to ponder. “Give me a simple introduction. Full name, age, things like that,” she says. Her eyes twinkle with wonder, so I dive in.
“Joseph Ryder Woods, but I go by Ryder because Joseph is my father’s name. I’m twenty,” I say. Her eyes widen.
“Twenty and running a hotel chain?!” She interrupts. I grin and place my index finger on my lips. “Oh sorry, continue.”
“Yes, twenty and co-running the Woods’ Hotel chain. My father and best friend are helping me with certain aspects of the business. I have no siblings, but I’m close with my parents and my best friend, Skyler, is basically a brother,” I say. You should be introducing me too, Remus pouts. I laugh to myself. “Hmm. What else would fall under simple introduction?”
“Give me a favorite. You know, like a color or food or place,” she says. “Like in high school when you go to a new school and the teacher has you introduce yourself with a “fun fact”.” She giggles.
My favorite smell is warm vanilla, you. My favorite person is you. My everything is you.
“My favorite color would have to be poppy red,” I grin and point to the bouquet, which closely resembles her hair. She looks down at the poppies, then at me. Blaire searches my face thinking about things I may never know.
“What?” I ask her.
“Nothing, just enjoying this amazing picnic,” she says, her beautiful stormy eyes looking down as a small blush comes to her cheeks.
“Alright your turn,” I say, excited to get to know her.
“Oh man where to start. We’ll start with the obvious. I’m not nearly as interesting as some young ceo, but here’s me. Blaire Iona Haynes, twenty-two. Finished out culinary school and now work as a chef in a small town restaurant, not exactly as big and fancy as I had hoped to get into, but everyone’s gotta start somewhere,” she pauses thinking over what else to say. “I have a sister, she just moved in with me and my two younger twin brothers are still at home with my parents. My favorite pass time would be reading on my back porch,” She finishes and grabs more crackers and cheese.
“Well nice to meet you, Blaire Haynes,” I say genuinely grinning. She brings her hand to her mouth to keep her crackers and cheese in as she begins laughing. She swallows.
“Nice to meet you too Ryder Woods,” she says. Her beautiful smile lit up her face. How can one person be so amazing? She is an angel fallen from the mighty skies above. The moonlight in the darkest night.
Blaire and I enjoy laughing and talking about all sorts of different things. I try to listen to her words but her lips distract me from what they’re actually saying. That’s when I see them curl up into a smile, the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen. They say more words, but then a hand swipes across my line of sight momentarily blocking my view.
“Ryder,” Blaire says. I love my name coming out of her mouth. I hum in response. “What are you doing?” She giggles. The haze dissipates and I realize how much closer I have shifted towards her. I bring my hand up to my face and rub my eyes.
“I’m sorry, I’m not normally like this,” I apologize.
“You feel it too then?” she asks curiously. In wonder, I meet her gaze and see genuine curiosity shimmering within the stormy depths. I’m surprised she’s noticed the bond as quickly as she has, considering she’s already in what seems to be a committed relationship and human. Answering her question, I nod my head.
“Can I ask you something?”