Conflicted Affection

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I turn around and notice Alexa standing behind us.

My eyes widen, "Alexa! What the hell are you doing?!" I shout.

She looks at me, her smile fading, "But its.." She pauses. She looks over at Ryland then down at her feet.

"Yes?" I ask with annoyance.

"I just saw you leave and I wanted to come too." She says softly.

I grab her hand and begin to walk her back home. All three of us are silent, and I don't bother to scold her again. I know I should have, but the look on her face is unbearable.

I'm soon not angry anymore--more like anxious and irritated. She left the house when she knew she shouldn't have and I can only imagine what would have happened to her!

Tears begin coming out of her eyes and her sobs grow louder.

"Why are you crying?" I ask.

"Because you're mad at me. You're never mad at me, now you hate me!" She sobs.

I bend down in front of her, "I could never hate you, not in a million years. Don't ever think of something like that ever again! I love you and there is nothing you can do to change that, I promise."

She slowly holds up her pinkie, and I wrap mine around it, causing her to smile gently.

She looks over at Ryland, who is smiling at us.

"I want you safe, always, ok? You matter a lot to me and mom--even Ryland. Please promise me you won't do this ever again."

"But you-"

"Promise, Alexa."

She sighs, "I promise."

"Thank you. Now, lets go back to the house, okay?"

She just nods and the silence returns as we walk home.

We quietly come back into the window, along with Alexa this time--who is surprisingly quiet.

Alexa walks back to Maybelle's room, and me and Ryland talk together, sitting at his desk and looking out the window into the night sky.

"I wonder how she managed to sneak around that well. I wonder how long she was following us." I say.

"Me too," He says quietly, "I'm tired. I'm gonna get some rest."

He lays on his bed, pulling the covers over him and turning away from me. They brought a sleeping bag for me to sleep in, so I decide to sleep there instead of invading his personal space.

Even though I assumed Ryland wouldn't want me around at that moment, he whispers to me, "Is it ok if you come up here?"

A small grin sneaks up on me, and I struggle out of the sleeping bag, making Ryland snicker as he tries to quiet his laughs.

"Shut up!" I whisper-shout to him, quietly laughing along and slipping in beside him on the bed.

He turns around to face me, which results in a pretty calm staring match.

I don't know what it is, but looking into his eyes, even just staring at him, is enough for me to fall asleep.

Before I can fall asleep completely, he rests his hand on my cheek, caressing it softly. I reach up to touch his skin as well, caressing it the same way.

He has the softest skin that calms me even more. He just has that effect on me; he helps me sleep.

I had never had trouble sleeping, but I can instantly fall asleep when I'm near him. Maybe he just has a calming vibe?

Ryland's POV:

I have a feeling Maybelle told Alexa our secrets, but the hopeful side of me tries to convince me that's not true. The thing is, though, I could smell Maybelle's scent around. I kept wondering if she brought her here and told her things. Its definitely possible but I'm hoping I'm wrong.

I wonder what she told her if she did tell her anything. What if she told her about mates, me and Dillan and how we are "meant to be" because he is my "mate".

I still don't know what to do about that. I want him around but at the same time, I can't stand this feeling. I want it to go away. The sweet smell every wolf gets when they find their mate--a unique smell that catches their nose and takes only one whiff of it to calm you down and makes everything ok--seems to make my situation worse.

I hate the feelings I get, the urge, the desire, the need. I can't take it, but I love it. I need it. Even as I sit here, still staring at him, letting his hand stay on my cheek and caressing his soft skin, the confusion only worsens.

I wanna scream to him--to the world--that I love him and I need him. I need him around me, I need him in my world. But, that would be creepy, and I'm still not exactly sure I want this.

I hate to say it, but when the pack kept telling me how hard it was to deny a mate, they weren't joking.

Dillan's mom knows about the pack, and I wouldn't be surprised if my mom told her about me finding my mate and telling her it was Dillan. I would have told her not to, but I refuse to admit out loud that I can't be without him, that he's my mate.

I keep thinking back to the first day I saw him. I felt a pull to him, I smelt a scent of honeysuckle and vanilla. Honeysuckle and vanilla: his special scent.

Yet, to get the full mate experience, you must really look at them in the eyes. I didn't think that scent was my mate, I didn't think it meant anything, I thought maybe it was a perfume that one of those girls at the table were wearing.

Then, the first day our eyes met. It scared me, and I think I know why.

Something inside me happened, like this feeling of knowing, then the pull came back.

After that, the smell was stronger but I tried my best to ignore it. I didn't really look in his eyes, but I remember him staring at me as I walked away.

He would stare at me nearly all the time after that, mainly when I would smile or laugh. Thinking back, I know he didn't mean to make me feel insecure, but that's what it did. I just thought my laugh was weird and freaked him out or my smile was gross, but maybe that's not what he thought.

I would find myself next to him often. Somehow, it wouldn't stop happening. I was kind of terrified of him, but mostly of Michael. Yet, I denied that a deep part of me kept wanting him to be around me.

Then, the coffee shop moment. It scared me how nice he was being, how he bought me a cookie, offered me coffee.

I remember getting lost almost, like looking into his eyes put me into a dream. But, I never expected to feel what I felt.

The scent of honeysuckle and vanilla hit me like a bowling ball, and then reality hit me and I knew the smell was from him. The wolf inside me was excited, screaming at me that he was the one, that I need him. I couldn't handle that feeling, I felt like I would lose control and look like a crazy person.

I knew I had to get out, so I did. The wolf inside wanted to go back, run back, but I had enough control not to and I told myself there is no way I would accept him as my mate.

But, I think I'm losing it, losing control and losing that promise. I can't stand it! I need him in my life.

The scent is too strong, almost like it's taunting me. My father always told me that once you try to deny a mate, everything becomes more intense.

I never understood it, and I refused to believe it until now.

Then, his scent hits me again, right at this moment.

What the fuck is happening, make it stop, I think as my heart begins beating fast. My breathing begins speeding up and everything seems blurry in my mind.

Mate, my wolf growls. I hate when this happens. I want to scream! I want to hit my head on the wall!

Mate, my wolf growls louder, now with more aggression. Each second it got louder, it wouldn't stop. The only thing I can hear is my wolf screaming at me in its deep voice.

I feel a burning in my chest, a stabbing pain throughout my whole body.

It wants control, it's trying to get out, I think to myself, nearly panicking.

I jump up, not caring if Dillan wakes up or not. As I run down the stairs I feel a pain under my fingernails, knowing the beast is already winning.

Go back, I ignore it. There's no way you're gonna win. You've been controlling me for days now and I'm done!

Sean is downstairs, still awake and eating more pizza. His smile fades when he sees me, his eyes widing. I don't bother to listen to his calls after me which sounds muffled and almost not even real.

I know he is going to follow me, but right now I don't care. I just need to get as far away as possible. Something keeps stopping me, trying to make me turn around but I still have enough control not to.

"Ryland!" I hear Dad shout behind me with a growl in his tone. I turn around and notice the whole pack--excluding Maybelle--looking at me. Everyone looked scared--except Dad and Max. Dad has a calm but ready-to-fight look and Max looks ready to tackle me if needed--but he always has that look.

"What?!" I shout, my voice sounding deep and threatening.

"Calm down, you're just having confusion and I know what's going on. This happened to someone else who tried to deny-"

I know what he is gonna say, and I refuse to hear it. I run up to him, getting in his face, "I get it, you want me to be safe but I don't need your goddamn help. Its not gonna win! I will win!" I shout.

"Ryland-" Sean begins.

"Shut up!" I shout, then lower my voice and turn back to Dad, "Get. Out. Of. My. Way."

I notice I am now running. I can't stop, but I don't want to. I just want to run until I could no longer feel my feet.

Dillan keeps popping into my head, making me run faster and faster.

I am stopped abruptly by someone tackling me to the ground. I know that scent: Max.

His wolf was growling and beating me, but I know what to do. I bite his shoulder, making it bleed. He jumps back, yelping in response.

I said get out of my way before I tear your head off with my bare hands, I growl at him.

He gets the message; running away fast and far, but limping with each step.

Mate, I growl in my mind calmly.

It doesn't feel like I have control of my limbs any longer as I begin running the other way, my feet and legs burning. My vision becomes blurry as well as my thoughts. Before I know it, I am back at the house.

I see Dillan in the window, eyes widening as he sees me.

"Good wolf.." He says softly.

Oh no, I think to myself.

His scent hits me again and my wolf form reacts instantly, running towards him and pouncing on his body.

Dillan screams, but calms down when all I do is sit there, sniffing him and nuzzling his face.

"The fuck?" He whispers to himself.

I chuckle inside.

Adorable, I think. His scent calms me, bringing me back to awareness.

I feel everything calm down, even as I see his eyes widen in shock as he jumps away from me.

"What?" I ask, eyes widening as well when I realize I can talk aloud again.

I cringe and make a "whaaaah" sound out of fear. We just sit there, staring at each other in shock and fear.

I grab my blanket, covering myself up as quickly as possible. But other than that, no movement is made.

The door opens, but we still don't move a muscle. "Is everything o-.. Oh." Said my mom, slowly closing the door back.

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