Layla laid down in her bed slowly with a groan as her sore muscles yelled at her to stop moving or breathing or living. Layla had been training with the warriors for just under a week and she was now fully regretting her decision. Thankfully tomorrow was Friday and she would have all weekend to recuperate.
She was startled by a knock at her door, "Go awayyyy," she groaned.
"It's me. Are you decent?" Jace called out from behind her bedroom door.
"Jace?" Layla asked confused as to why he was here.
"Oh my gosh this is ridiculous, I'm coming in," Jace said irritated before walking into the room. He looked at Layla lying in her bed with her hair messy and bruises and dirt covering her arms and abdomen, "Wow Layla, you look like crap."
Layla chuckled, "Thank Jace, always the charmer."
Jace walked over and laid next to her on the bed, "Can I talk to you about something?
Layla closed her eyes, "Sure."
"How do you do it?"
Layla opened her eyes and looked at Jace, "What do you mean?"
Jace shrugged, "How do you fight like that? These are my people and I don't want to hurt them, and I can't seem to be able to get any farther in my training because of it."
Layla looked up to the ceiling, "Well I had a hard time with it too until my trainer in my old pack told me something. He said that your enemies will never hold back. They will never have love for you or show mercy. It's selfish of you to train as though you are fighting a friend instead of fighting an enemy, because both you and the pack member you love are now not receiving the training you need to protect your home."
Jace looked up at the ceiling and let out a long breath, "That makes sense."
Layla smiled, "Since then I train as though I'm fighting for my life, not as though I'm about to hurt a friend. Because if I'm not at my best, then that friend will die in the end anyway. I mean obviously don't kill anyone..."
Jace laughed and then nodded, "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Layla smiled, "You know if you were nice like this all the time we could be really good friends. I like you as a nice guy."
Jace nudged her, "Don't get your hopes up."
Layla laughed but was interrupted when there was a tap on the door. They looked up to see Hunter standing at the door. Jace waved him over, "Hey, what's up?"
Hunter squinted his eyes at him before answering, "I was coming to see if Layla wanted to go down to lunch. What are you guys doing?"
Layla sat up with a smile, "Jace was just asking my opinion on something." She hopped up off the bed and turned to Jace, "You coming?"
"Yep," he slapped his thighs before jumping off the bed. They walked down together and Layla could feel their new friendship forming.
Hunter watched Layla as she ate her lunch. She still hadn't changed from training and he chuckled at the state she was in. Layla looked up at him with curiosity, "What?"
Hunter laughed, "Layla, you're a mess."
Layla looked down at herself before laughing, "Yeah I am. I would have showered and changed but SOMEONE had to go and keep me from that."
Jace shrugged, "I would have been more than willing to talk to you in the shower."
Hunter and Layla both groaned with disgust before throwing chips at him.
"Okay, okay... I was just joking." Jace said defensively.
Hunter rolled his eyes at Jace before looking at Layla again, "Are you busy tonight?"
Layla shrugged, "Not yet, why?"
"I'm thinking of hiking up the west side of the boundary, want to come with?"
"That would be awesome," Layla smiled. She looked at Jace with hope, "You coming too?"
Jace looked at Hunter before shaking his head, "No, I have something to do with Anna tonight."
"Anna?" Hunter questioned, "What happened to Missy?"
Jace shrugged, "She started getting all clingy and weird."
Layla rolled her eyes, "Yes, how horrible."
Jace shrugged, "I have a system okay!"
Hunter and Layla laughed before taking their plates to the counter. Jace was a bit disappointed he wasn't going with them. But he could tell Hunter wanted to spend some time with her and he owed Hunter for what he did the week before.
"It's amazing out here!" Layla admired the woods on the west boundary.
"It's my favorite place in the pack territory,” Hunter smiled as he looked up at the trees.
They walked for a while before Hunter stopped and began taking off his clothes.
Layla looked away, equal parts embarrassed and turned on by the sight of a shirtless Hunter. "Hunter what are you doing?"
Hunter laughed, "Going for a run, you coming?"
Layla smiled before going behind a tree and stripping out of her clothes. She shifted quickly and stepped out from behind the tree to see Hunter had already shifted as well. Layla was a petite, chocolate brown wolf. She had never really been in the presence of an alpha wolf before and she was in awe of how big he was. Hunter towered over her, his black wolf muscular and powerful.
Layla lowered her head to show her respect before whining playfully and darting off into the woods. Hunter chased after her, nipping at her heels as they began to weave in and out of the trees. It had been ages since Layla had let her wolf out and she loved the feeling.
After a few hours of running and enjoying the freedom they returned to their clothes and made their way back to the pack house.
"Your wolf is amazing," Layla breathed.
"Thanks, yours is gorgeous. I've never seen such a deep brown like that," Hunter smiled. Going on a run with her had been amazing. All he wanted to do was kiss her or hold her hand, but he couldn't do that knowing she might not be his mate. So he settled for walking close to her, feeling the excitement every time his arm brushed hers.