Layla managed to avoid Jace for a week, hoping some distance would help her clear her mind and build up a thicker skin to deal with all of Jace’s attitude.
At breakfast Layla sat down at the table as everyone else was finishing their meals. She realized if she waited until the end of the meal she wouldn’t have to see Jace. She was eating her food when someone sat down across from her. Layla looked up to see Jace in front of her.
“Yes?” She asked, her voice dripping with sass.
“Have you been avoiding me?” Jace asked, looking at her sideways.
“No, maybe just actively spending time where you aren’t,” Layla replied.
Jace scowled, “You can’t do that, the pack will wonder why you don’t eat with us.”
Layla shook her head, “Leave me alone Jace. You’ve made it clear you don’t want me around and I have no desire to be near the old Jace.”
“What do you mean the old Jace?” Jace frowned as he prodded.
“I mean the doesn’t care about anyone, acts like he knows best, douchebag Jace. The only thing missing is a couple side-chicks and you’re the guy I met two years ago.” Layla replied. She knew it was harsh but she didn’t care anymore.
Jace scowled before standing up and walking away. Layla exhaled the breath she had been holding in. After breakfast she didn’t have any pressing matters and decided to take a walk. She walked to the East of the pack grounds and stumbled upon a little clearing. There were numerous headstones and she realized it was the pack cemetery. Layla walked reverently through the field until she found what she was looking for. She knelt on the ground in front of Ryann’s grave.
“I’m sorry Ryann.” Layla said quietly as tears began to fall down her cheeks. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to save you or to keep you safe. I shouldn’t have left.” A sob shook her body and she began to cry harder, “I thought I was protecting you guys. That if I left, Hunter would go away. I didn’t know...”
Layla sobbed at her friends grave, gripping the grass below her as she let her sadness out.
“You were my friend, and you saved me. You were the only one who knew where I was and you kept my secret. You helped me escape and because of that I wasn’t there when he hurt you. I’m so sorry.” Layla cried until her tears ran out. She sat in the grass for a long time thinking about how things had played out.
“What am I going to do about Jace?” Layla asked, hoping Ryann would send her some sign. “He hates me. I don’t blame him for blaming me. If I had been there maybe you wouldn’t have been hurt.” Layla sighed and leaned against Ryann’s grave stone, “But I miss my best friend. I feel alone and I’m afraid I’m going to spend the rest of my life unwanted. Is that just my fate? To have mates that don’t want me? Hunter didn’t want me.. Jace doesn’t want me..”
Layla sat in silence as she began to let go of her sadness, feeling lighter already after saying all of that out loud.
“Do you mean that?”
Layla looked up in shock and embarrassment to see Jace standing above her holding a pretty bouquet of daisies. He placed them on Ryann’s grave before turning back to Layla. “Did you mean it?”
Layla wiped her face, “Mean what?”
“All of it?” Jace asked.
Layla’s eyes widened, “How much did you hear?”
“All of it,” Jace replied, “I got here just as you found her.” He looked down at Ryann’s grave and placed a hand on it.
“Oh..” Layla said uncomfortably. She wasn’t expecting an audience to her confession.
“Layla, is that how you feel?” Jace asked quietly.
“Yes.” Layla replied coldly, refusing to cry again.
Jace gave a tight smile, “Thank you.”
Layla gave a nod before walking back home. She stood a bit straighter, determined to let go of her sadness and fear and begin living her life the way she wanted.
Jace sat at Ryann’s grave and smiled, “I’m sorry I haven’t been in a while. I miss you and I miss us. The universe played some cruel trick and made Layla my second chance. I know you probably think that’s hilarious, but I can’t. I’m just so mad. But now...”
Jace trailed off as he thought about what he had heard Layla say. She was so sad, so heartbroken. She blamed herself for what happened. Even though Jace wanted to blame her, he knew it wasn’t her fault. It was Hunter and the day Jace finally found him would be the day Jace killed him. Jace’s thoughts traveled back to Layla sitting in the grass, sobbing and releasing all of that pain. He didn’t realize she was hurting so much. And what she had said at the end. She had never been loved, at least not truly. Jace frowned, knowing he probably couldn’t ever give her what she wanted. He shook his head in an attempt to get the thoughts out of his mind. Layla had left him. He wasn’t ready to forgive her about leaving but he knew he wouldn’t be able to hold out much longer. His friend still warmed him and the mate pull was getting stronger, even as hard as he fought it.