The next week was quiet. No sign of Hunter and no leads on where he might be meant Jace was going to let the warriors from Blue Moon head home for the holiday. He called them all into the office for the announcement.
"I want you to know how grateful I am to you and your pack for offering to come help us with our situation. We haven't had any leads on Hunter in a while and with the holiday coming up I'd like to send you all home to be with your families. Again, thank you for all of your hard work and help in making sure our Luna is safe."
The warriors all talked with each other before deciding they would leave after patrols that morning. Jace tried to pretend he didn't see the sadness in James' face after hearing they were leaving, but he knew they needed to get back to their pack.
Jace didn't have anything going on this morning after his meeting, so he decided to take a walk down to the training grounds. He smiled as he saw Layla yelling to keep the pace as everyone did sit-ups in the field. He took his shirt off and joined her up front.
"Almost done with the warm ups?"
Layla smiled, "Almost."
She hollered at the warriors who all stopped their exercises with a groan before standing up and circling around Layla, Lead Trainer Mitch, and Jace.
"Alright, we're going to pair off for sparring. Who wants to take a whack at the Alpha?"
A few ego-driven pups raised their hands with smirks and Mitch laughed, "Apparently the only ones not afraid of you are the new guys who don't know better."
Jace chuckled, "That's alright, better they learn now than later." Jace pointed to a large looking rookie and they headed to the field. Jace flattened him in a split second.
Layla laughed, "Alright, let's find you someone worth sparring with."
"Why don't we go a few rounds like before? This time I won't go easy on you though," Jace winked.
Layla laughed, "You and I both know I gave you a good fight last time and almost beat you."
Jace shrugged, "I guess you'll just have to prove it."
Layla smirked as she took her stance. Jace and Layla danced a bit, flirting shamelessly as they were punching and dodging. After a little while Jace decided to take it up a notch and shifted, lunging toward Layla. Layla grinned before shifting as well and they collided as each wolf tried to gain the upper hand.
"You know it's pretty hot how good you are at fighting," Jace huffed through the mind-link.
His comment caught her off guard and Layla hesitated for a moment, letting Jace take the advantage and he finished the fight. They shifted back, sweating and panting as they put on their clothes.
"Good thing you messed me up, or I would have beat you," Layla teased.
Jace laughed, "Well as Alpha I don't mess up. So my win was inevitable."
Layla scoffed, "Yeah. We'll go with that."
They walked back up to the house together and once again Layla felt herself pulled to the side of the house.
"Jace!" Layla exclaimed as he pushed her against the side of the house. Jace crushed his lips to hers, keeping her pinned against the side of the pack house. He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close to him. Layla wove her arms around his neck and she could feel the warmth of his body close to hers as they kissed deeper. Their tongues explored each other's mouths as their hands moved up and down their bodies. Jace released her mouth and Layla let out a quiet moan as he kissed across her jawline and down her neck. Layla gripped his strong arms as they held her and she shivered when Jace sucked on the spot that would hold his mark. Jace met Layla's mouth again and kissed her gently before pulling away, his breathing hard and shallow.
"What was that for?" Layla looked into Jace's eyes with happiness and curiousity.
"I've been wanting to do that since I kissed you two weeks ago," Jace whispered, his face still only inches from Layla's.
Layla inhaled sharply, "I thought you weren't..."
Jace pressed his forehead to hers, "I gave up the fight. Every inch of me is telling me to love you and now I'm deciding to listen."
Layla smiled as tears filled her eyes. She leaned up and kissed his lips gently.
"I'm sorry it took me so long," Jace whispered into their kiss.
Their moment was interrupted when they heard rustling in the trees. Jace and Layla turned to see James walk out of the bushes with a surprised look on his face that quickly turned to a scowl.
"James..." Layla said quietly, knowing how hurt he was. James walked away, back to the pack house. "James!" Layla called out but he ignored her.
Layla took a deep breath, "I should probably go talk to him."
Jace frowned, "He shouldn't be upset, we are mates. It's natural for us to kiss."
Layla shrugged, "Yes but he was still holding out hope that you would never think of me that way, that I would reject you and love him."
Jace looked down and gave Layla a deep kiss. He released her lips with a smirk, "He should know better. Nobody can look at you and not think that way."
Layla laughed and smacked Jace's arm, "Quit it." She pulled away and began walking toward the house, "See you at lunch?"
Jace nodded, "Yep."
"James?" Layla said quietly as she approached him in the dining room.
"So that's it then.." James muttered to Layla as she sat beside him.
"James, you already knew I wasn't going to leave him. He's my mate. I'm as surprised as you are that things have actually progressed. I'm sorry you had to find out that way," Layla said with warmth in her voice.
James took Layla's hand, "I'm glad you're happy Layla, I just wish it was with me." James took a deep breath and released her hand, "We are leaving today to head back to Blue Moon for the holiday. I'm thinking I'm going to leave now, since I'm done with patrols."
Layla exhaled, "Thank you for your help James, I'm glad you came."
James grumbled before standing from the table, "Goodbye Layla," he said quietly. She could tell he was heartbroken that she wasn't leaving with him.
"Bye James," she replied with a smile, trying to keep back the tears that pricked at her eyes.
As James left the house Jace walked into the dining hall. "I was going to go to the office but I figured you might need some company," Jace said as he walked to Layla. He sat beside her, straddling the bench, and pulled her close to him. Layla rested her head on his chest and wiped away the stray tears that fell. After a while Layla sat up and ran a hand through her hair.
"You okay?" Jace asked as he brushed a strand of hair away from Layla's face.
"Yes, thank you," Layla smiled. "You go to work."
Jace stood and took her hand, "Only if you come with me. Besides, there are a few things we need to talk about before the party."
Layla held his hand as they walked to the office letting the warmth of her mate's touch comfort her.