After making love in the shower to his mate, Jace got dressed quickly and made his way to the kitchen in the Alpha’s quarters for some water and snacks. He turned the corner to see Layla sitting on the couch, wiping a tear away.
Layla turned at the sound of Jace’s voice. She saw the worry in her friend’s face and broke down immediately.
Jace rushed to his friend’s side, wrapping his big arms around her as she cried.
“Hey! What’s taking so long? I’m starving!” Ryann hollered as she entered the room to see Jace and Layla. Her expression dropped, “Oh Layla...” she said quietly as she sat on the other side of Layla and wrapped her arms around her as well.
Layla wiped her face and took a deep breath, “I’m sorry, it’s just been an overwhelming day.”
Ryann ran her hand through Layla’s hair, “It really has, are you okay?”
“Yes,” Layla replied with a half hearted smile.
“Where is Hunter?” Jace scowled.
“He’s in his room licking his wounds, please don’t tell him about this.. it would only make him feel worse,” Layla pleaded.
Jace let out a long breath, “Fine.”
Layla gave them both a smile and a pat on the knee, “I should head home and get ready for the party. I’ll see you guys in a bit.”
Jace and Ryann watched their friend walk away with worried looks. Hunter had never been the type to push her away like that and it irritated Jace that Hunter had done something to make Layla feel she couldn’t show him how vulnerable she felt.
Layla walked into her room, mentally exhausted from the day’s events. She looked at the clock and realized she still had two hours before the party. She laid down on her bed and dozed off immediately, hoping the evening would prove better.
When she woke to the alarm she had set, Layla showered, dressed, and did her hair and makeup. It was a simple semi-formal party so she slipped on a navy blue beaded dress with short sleeves that hugged her nicely before ending just above the knee. She threw on some flats and curled her hair before looking in the mirror with a smile. Layla arrived early and walked upstairs to the alpha quarters to meet Hunter only to not find him there. She knocked on Jace’s door and was met by Jace, “Hey! Do you know where Hunter is?”
Jace rolled his eyes, “He moved upstairs to the Beta apartment. I told him he didn’t need to do that yet, that he had time. But he insisted.”
Layla let out a sigh, “Okay..”
Layla walked up to the third floor and walked in, “Hey Hunt, you ready?”
Hunter grunted before walking past her and down the stairs. Layla tried to hide her disappointment and followed her mate downstairs. As they entered the ballroom Layla took Hunter’s hand and held onto it tightly, hoping the contact would calm him. She could feel her own anxiety melting away at the warm feeling of her mate’s hand in hers. Layla looked up to Hunter with a smile, “Hunter, please don’t push me away.”
Hunter looked down at Layla and for a moment his anger subsided, “I’m sorry Layla, this party should have been for us. You should be my Luna, not the mate of a Beta.”
Layla chuckled, “Hunter I don’t care if we were Omegas, I would still care for you.”
Hunter took a deep breath and kissed Layla’s cheek coldly before walking off toward the buffet. Layla stood by herself for a while as Hunter pouted in the corner, stuffing food in his mouth.
Jace and Ryann entered the ballroom and the pack erupted into cheers. Layla smiled at her friend. He was so happy and the title of Alpha seemed to suit him well.
“Where’s Hunter?” Ryann asked as the commotion calmed down a bit.
Layla nodded over her shoulder, “The storm cloud is pouting over there.”
Jace frowned, “Still?”
“Still,” Layla replied, sadness slipping into her tone.
“Well, Layla you look amazing!” Ryann smiled, stepping back to look at Layla’s dress.
Layla struck a pose, “Thank you! You look absolutely beautiful Luna.”
Ryann smiled, “Oh please call me Ryann, we are friends after all.”
Finally Hunter sauntered over, “Alpha, Luna.”
Jace smiled brightly, “Hey brother, how are you doing?”
Hunter grumbled, “Been better..”
Jace shook his head with a frown, “You need to accept this Hunter, the elders are already uneasy about you being the Beta.”
Hunter growled, “Then maybe you should have submitted.”
Jace let out a low growl and Layla rushed between them, “Alpha, I’m sure he didn’t mean it. Hunter, come dance with me.”
Layla placed her hand on his arm in an attempt to break Hunter from the glare he had plastered on Jace. Hunter reluctantly walked away with Layla but looked down at her with irritation as she wrapped her arms around him.
“Why did you do that?” Hunter asked quietly.
“Because you were about to challenge your Alpha. Do you WANT to get exiled?” Layla whispered harshly.
“He won’t exile me,” Hunter muttered as they swayed around the dance floor.
Layla frowned, “You and I both know he will if you challenge him Hunter. It’s the law. You already had a challenge and lost. You have to decide if you’re going to accept it and be the best Beta this pack has seen or if you’re going to try and challenge him again and get us exiled. Or worse, get yourself killed.”
Hunter scowled and pushed away from Layla. “Don’t follow me,” he said loudly as he stormed out of the ball room.
Layla stood in the room as the entire pack stared. She was embarrassed and hurt and she could feel the tears pricking her eyes. Jace stepped forward and placed his arm around her shoulder, “Let’s go Lay.”
Layla lowered her head and walked out with Jace. He spun around once they left the room, “Just give him a little time.”
Layla wiped away a stray tear, “I know. It’s just hard, we just found each other.. he hasn’t even marked me. I’ve never seen him this angry before.”
Jace looked at her surprised, “He hasn’t marked you yet?”
“We only found out we were mates two days ago...” Layla replied.
Jace laughed, “I barely lasted a day.”
Layla shrugged, “Yeah but you’re a more physical person. Hunter is the talk it out type.”
“True. Okay Layla, why don’t you head home. Hopefully his mood will improve by tomorrow,” Jace offered before hugging his friend tightly and walking her to the door.
Layla didn’t sleep much that night. She was still worried about Hunter and their future.