Layla snapped out of her daze and looked up to see Grace, Parker’s mate, standing above her.
“Grace, what can I do for you?” Layla smiled.
“Well actually I have a bit of a request,” Grace smiled sheepishly.
Layla motioned for Grace to sit beside her. As she sat she began to speak, “So tomorrow is Parker’s birthday and I was wondering if there is any way I can make a little surprise party at dinner. Nothing too crazy, just some streamers and noise makers.”
Layla smiled, “Of course! Do you need help with anything?”
“‘No, I have it all handled, I just needed to make sure it was okay,” Grace said.
Layla smiled, “Of course it’s okay, we love Parker and appreciate everything he does for the pack. If you go speak to the pack cooks I bet they wouldn’t mind whipping up a cake for him. They love Parker.”
Grace nodded, “That’s a good idea. I was just going to get one from town but whatever they make will probably be ten times better. Thank you Luna.” Grace skipped off leaving Layla smiling as she turned back to looking at the business of the pack from the front porch.
“You look happy,” Jace said as he sat down in the chair beside Layla.
Layla closed her eyes and leaned back in the chair, “I am.” She sat up again and faced Jace, “Oh! By the way we are having a last minute surprise party at dinner tomorrow for Parker. You should probably find him some type of gift.”
“Why?” Jace prodded.
“Uhh, because he’s your Beta?” Layla replied snarkily.
“No. I mean yes, I’ll get him something. I mean why are you happy?” Jace fumbled.
“No reason, I’m just feeling good today.” Layla turned to Jace with a smile. “Want to go for a run with me?”
Jace shook his head, “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not with Hunter somehow finding his way onto the territory.”
Layla frowned, “Fine. We better catch him soon, I have an itch.”
Jace cocked an eyebrow at her and she gasped as she pushed at his arm, “Not that kind of itch!!” Layla turned to face forward again, “I wouldn’t even know what that itch felt like..” she mumbled.
Jace turned to Layla with shock, “No... surely you and Hunter...”
Layla shook her head at him, “We never officially mated. We got close but when he went off the rails it just didn’t happen.”
“And you never had a boyfriend or anything?” Jace asked, unable to hide the surprise in his voice.
Layla shrugged, “Nope. I was a firm believer in mates for a long time. There was a point at Blue Moon when I thought about making James my chosen mate.. but then you showed up.”
Jace felt his blood boil at the thought of Layla choosing anther mate. He knew he didn’t have a right to be upset about that, but it still irked him. He shook the thoughts away as he thought about what she had said before that. “You WERE a believer in mates? So you’re not anymore?”
Layla shrugged, “Not really. If mates are such a big deal then fate is playing a cruel trick on me giving me two mates who don’t want me.”
Jace’s face sunk as her words hit. “Layla it’s not..”
Layla looked at him with concern, “Jace, no! I’m not saying that to make you feel bad. I understand your reasons. I’m just saying that I’ve come to realize that for me, it’s not going to be about love and passion and forever. For me it will just be mutual respect, a professional relationship of sorts.”
Jace faced forward and watched the bustle of life on the pack grounds. Layla didn’t mean to but her words made him feel horrible, knowing he was making her think she wasn’t loved.
“Anyway, I should head in. I have some things to do before dinner,” Layla said before walking into the house.
Jace gave a tight smile as he watched her walk away. He thought about what he had lost, how much love he’d had for Ryann. Layla had never felt that. She might have begun to care for Hunter like that but then he went crazy. Jace thought about what she said about chosen mates. Maybe he should just let her go and find some other she-wolf to be his Luna.
Jace walked up the stairs, knowing Layla was probably sitting in their room, not working like she said she was. He opened the door to find Layla sitting in a chair by the window looking at some papers. Maybe she really was working. She looked up with a smile as he approached her. Jace knelt on the floor in front of her and took her hands in his, trying to ignore the sparks flying through him.
“Layla, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you felt that way.”
Layla smiled warmly, “Dont worry about it Jace.”
Jace looked into her eyes and exhaled deeply, “Do you want to leave?”
Layla looked at him with hesitation for a moment, “I don’t know.”
Jace lowered his face as he gripped her hands tighter, “You deserve to feel wanted and loved. I don’t know if I can ever give that to you Layla.”
Layla inhaled sharply as she took in Jace’s words, “Jace?” Jace looked up to see her eyes filled with tears. “How about we just settle for friends right now. All I want is my best friend back,” Layla said quietly.
Jace felt tears prick the back of his eyes. He knew it was time to forgive her.