It had been a week and they were still no closer to catching Hunter. They had caught his scent a few times, but it was always faint. Jace was getting frustrated and even though the warriors from Blue Moon had been extremely helpful, he really wanted to send them home. James was becoming just a little too comfortable with Layla and it was driving Jace crazy. He thought about it and decided if Hunter hadn’t been found by just before Christmas he would just send them all home so they could be with their families and pack. That was an understandable reason, not that he was becoming jealous of James’ closeness to Layla.
Jace walked out of the office after having a short day of work. It was Thanksgiving and the whole pack house was filled with pack members. A lot of the males were in the rec room watching the game on the TV while most of the females were sitting in the dining hall or outside in the back watching the pups run around and play. The cooks were bustling in the kitchen, finishing up the food.
“It smells amazing in here,” Jace winked to one of the cooks as he stole a marshmallow off the top of the yams.
The girl giggled with a smile, “Thank you Alpha.”
He walked to a table where there was a grueling game of Candyland going with Layla against a few other pups. She would pick up a card and be overly dramatic when it was something she didn’t want. The pups ate it up. Jace smiled and placed a hand on her shoulder, “Having fun?”
Layla laughed, “They’re kicking my butt!”
Jace sat down beside her and watched as she played. Layla was bright and cheery today. She obviously loved having everyone around. Jace smiled and held back the urge to kiss her. Even though the mate pull was telling him he needed her and wanted her, he didn’t know if he was ready to take that step. He felt like he was betraying Ryann if he officially mated Layla. But the harder he fought it, the stronger the urges were becoming.
When the game ended Layla laughed and subconsciously placed her hand on Jace’s thigh. She felt Jace stiffen under her touch and she quickly removed it, “Sorry...”
“Don’t be,” Jace replied with a smile. Layla looked at him with a small smile and he could see the brightness in her blue eyes.
Dinner was loud and chaotic and delicious. As the evening ended, Jace watched with a frown as Layla and James sat at a table talking happily. Once in a while James would touch her hand or her arm and it took every ounce of self control Jace had not to jump across that table and punch his lights out. Jace walked over and touched her shoulder, “I’m heading up, you want to come or are you staying longer?”
Layla yawned lightly, “No, I’ll come up with you.” She turned to James with a smile, “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight Layla,” James said smoothly.
Jace and Layla made their way upstairs and as they walked down the hall of their apartment to their room Layla took Jace’s arm and leaned her head against his shoulder as they walked.
“Tired?” Jace chuckled.
“Exhausted. Today was a lot of work,” Layla muttered.
“Yeah but everyone had so much fun. You and the cooks did an amazing job.”
Layla smiled up at Jace, “Thanks.”
Jace looked down at Layla with a smile.
what the heck... he thought to himself before leaning down and placing a soft kiss on her lips. He hadn’t expected her to be so soft or to taste so good. Layla froze for a moment, shocked at what was taking place. When her brain finally caught up she leaned into him, letting his strong hands run up and down her arms. Jace kissed her deeper before finally releasing her.
Layla looked at him in shock. “Jace...” Layla whispered.
Jace shrugged, “Goodnight Layla.” He walked into the bathroom and closed the door. Jace leaned against the door and took a deep breath to calm his racing heart. He had given in and now all he wanted was more.
Layla stood in the middle of their bedroom unable to function. She had been waiting for months for him to show the slightest interest and now he had just kissed her. Layla could feel her wolf pacing and her head spinning. She shook her head clear and walked over to the closet to change before climbing into bed. She rolled over and went to sleep, still hung up on that kiss that sent tingles all the way down her spine.
Jace woke in the morning after sneaking into bed after Layla had fallen asleep. When he opened his eyes he saw Layla still asleep next to him. Jace knew better but he reached his hand to her face and brushed her cheek with his fingers. Layla stirred before her eyes slowly opened.
“Hmmm...” Layla mumbled sleepily, a small tired smile spreading across her lips.
“Good morning,” Jace whispered, “Want some breakfast?”
Layla looked at the clock to see that they had slept in and it was almost eleven. Layla shot up in bed, “Oh my gosh!” She ran her hands through her long, brown hair before chuckling and laying back down.
“So.. breakfast?” Jace asked again.
“Breakfast sounds good. None of those nasty protein pancakes you make though,” Layla said as she squished her nose.
Jace scoffed, “Those protein pancakes are amazing and are what keep this finely tuned machine running!”
Layla shook her head, “They taste like cardboard.”
Jace smiled, “Yeah they do a little, don’t they?”
Layla responded with a nod before sitting up in bed and watching Jace leave the room. She smiled thinking about yesterday. It had been an amazing day only to be ended with an amazing kiss.
A few minutes later Jace returned with a tray of assorted cereals, muffins, and yogurts.
“Did you just empty the entire pantry?” Layla laughed.
“I one-hundred percent emptied the pantry,” Jace said placing his hands on his hips.
Layla smiled and patted the bed next to her. Jace sat down cross legged next to her and they sat in comfortable silence for a few moments picking at the muffins.
“So...” Layla said, ending the silence as she picked up a yogurt, “Are we going to just ignore the fact you kissed me last night?”
Jace shrugged, “No, I just didn’t think it was a big deal.”
“Jace Beckett that was the first kiss you’ve had since...” Layla trailed off, not knowing if he was okay with her finishing that sentence.
“It was my first kiss since Ryann,” Jace said quietly finishing her statement.
Layla nodded, “And it was my first kiss since Hunter went psycho on me. So to say it wasn’t a big deal is a lie and you know it.”
Jace smiled at Layla, “Well at least we got it out of the way. Do you want me to take it back?”
Layla shook her head with a grin, “No, honestly I want you to kiss me again. But I know last night was just feelings that got through a crack in your wall, so I won’t push it.”
Jace leaned toward Layla, his face close to hers, “Who says I didn’t kiss you on purpose?” he asked as he grabbed a muffin and stuffed it in his mouth.
Layla laughed as she pushed him away. Jace grinned, his mouth full of muffin.
“Ewww stop,” Layla laughed, “Nobody is going to kiss you looking like that.”
Jace swallowed his muffin, “You’re saying if I were to kiss you right now, that you would push me off?”
Layla nodded, “Definitely. You’re disgusting.”
“That’s too bad,” Jace replied nonchalantly as he leaned back against the headboard.
Layla rolled her eyes as she took a bite of a muffin, trying to hide her disappointment that he hadn’t actually kissed her. Layla slapped her hands on her knees, “Well, I should probably get up and start my day. Thanks for breakfast chef Jace.”
Jace smiled at her warmly, “You need help in there?” He hollered as Layla turned on the shower.
Layla poked her head out of the bathroom door, “You couldn’t handle this,” she said with a wink before closing the door again.
Jace sighed as he sat back against the headboard. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed his best friend.
He waited until Layla got out of the shower before going in and taking one himself. He walked out to find Layla had already gone downstairs. He walked to his office and smiled when he found Layla sitting on the couch inside.
“Hey! Do you need something?” Jace asked as he sat down at his desk.
Layla shook her head, “Just a quiet place to work. I have a bunch of things to work out before the Christmas formal in a week and the dining hall was a bit loud this morning.”
“If you want I can get you an office, somewhere you can work when you need,” Jace offered.
Layla smirked, “Ahhh don’t want me in here messing up your Alpha vibe you’ve got going?”
Jace smiled, “That’s not what I meant and you know it.”
Layla frowned sarcastically, “Oh! You don’t want me here in case one of your other girlfriends shows up.”
Jace laughed, “Yep, that’s it. You caught me.”
“I knew it!” Layla grinned.
Jace shook his head with a smile, “You can be in here whenever you like Layla.”
“Thanks,” Layla replied, “Just let me know if I bother you too much.”
“Oh you’re definitely a distraction, but I think I can manage,” Jace winked.
They sat in silence for a long time, each one doing their work. Occasionally one would look up at the other with a smile. Usually it was Jace stealing glances at Layla. He had been wrong, she was a massive distraction. He couldn’t concentrate at all, her scent permeating the entire room.
Jace looked at his watch and gave a grateful sigh when he realized it was almost time for lunch. “Hungry?” He asked as he leaned back in his chair.
“Starving,” Layla replied as she stood. They walked out together and Jace frowned a little when James approached them.
“Hey! You missed training this morning,” James hollered.
“I know, we ended up sleeping in on accident. Yesterday was busy,” Layla replied with a smile.
“You.. both... slept in?” James asked, his eyes glancing over to Jace.
Jace smirked at his obvious jealousy, “Yep. Last night wore us out.”
James scowled, knowing exactly what Jace meant. As they walked away Layla elbowed Jace in the ribs, “Don’t think I didn’t hear that little innuendo you suggested to James. Watch it Jace, or you’ll sleep on the floor tonight.”
Jace hung his arm around Layla’s shoulder and spoke quietly, “You said I couldn’t beat him up before, this was the next best thing.”