“Get in,” Jace called out to Layla as she sat on her front porch.
She eyed her friend suspiciously before shrugging and climbing into his Jeep. “What’s up?”
“We're going to go to the mall to find a present for Hunter," Jace replied.
"Oh yeah! It's your birthday next week!" Layla smiled.
"Yep, I need help finding him something since this is probably one of our last birthdays together."
"I was thinking about that the other day actually, how does that work?” Layla asked, her curiosity piqued.
“Well when I say our last, I don’t mean because one of us is leaving, more like once we find our mates we’ll have less time together,” Jace replied with a sadness in his voice.
“But what will happen when Alpha Marcus steps down?” Layla asked.
Jace’s jaw clenched at the thought, “When that happens, Hunter and I have to challenge for Alpha. Whoever wins the challenge will become Alpha, the other will be Beta Alpha.”
“Are you okay with that?” Layla looked at him with a worried look.
Jace shrugged, "Not really, but I don't really have a choice. There has to be an Alpha and last time I checked there can't be two- there would be too much fighting and plays for power."
Layla nodded as she looked out the window. She understood that. She had seen what happened when Alpha's tried to take more power than they needed.
When they reached the mall Layla climbed out of the Jeep and walked with Jace inside.
"So what are you thinking of getting him?"
"I don't know. That's why you're here," Jace smirked.
Layla nudged him before walking toward a store, "I guess we can just wander until we find something good."
A while later Jace called out to Layla,"How about this?!" He grinned wide while holding up a toaster for her to see.
"A toaster? Really?" Layla laughed.
"Yeah! He's so set on finding his mate, I figure a toaster would make for a good gift," Jace laughed before setting it down and moving on to other things.
Layla laughed at her friend before finding a nice picture frame and putting it with her things, knowing exactly what she was going to get her two best friends.
Jace found a gift for Hunter that made Layla laugh and they headed home, proud of their haul.
A few days later it was the twins' birthday. That morning there was a big pack breakfast at the pack house. Every breakfast food you could imagine was served and the twins were given a coffee cake with candles to blow out along with all of their gifts.
After opening their presents from their parents and random friends they opened the gifts they had given each other. Hunter and Jace both laughed loudly when they each saw what their brother had given them. They both pulled out a tee shirt that said "The better twin" with an arrow pointing to the other brother. Everyone laughed at the fact they had somehow given each other the same thing.
At the end, Layla approached them and handed them each a wrapped box.
"Oh wow.." Jace said quietly as he lifted the frame out of the box.
Hunter smiled up at Layla warmly, "When did you take this?"
In the frames she had given each of them was a picture she had taken at the river of the brothers sitting together laughing. It was candid but showed how much they loved each other.
Layla smiled, “A few days ago at the river. You like it?”
The boys looked at each other with a smile before getting up and squishing Layla between them in a hug.
“Best. Present. Ever.” Jace said as he hugged her.
Hunter smiled, “Thank you.”
Layla pushed them off, “Okay you two, don’t go crying on me. I just know that after today things are going to start changing and I want you to have a memory of when it was just you together.”
After cleaning up breakfast they all went their separate ways to prepare for the party tonight. Jace and Hunter were both nervous at the prospect of meeting their mates today or at any point from now on. Life was coming for the head on.
As they sat in Jace’s room, Hunter turned to his brother with a look of worry, “Are you as nervous about tonight as I am?”
Jace nodded silently. He knew there was a high chance with all of the packs getting together that it was extremely likely he’d meet his mate tonight, unless they hadn’t turned eighteen yet. “I’m nervous for sure. I’m glad Layla will be there to keep us grounded.”
Hunter nodded in agreement, “Do you even remember life when we didn’t know her?”
Jace laughed, “It was for sure quieter.”
Hunter frowned, “Everything is going to change. We won’t be able to hang out with her anymore, at least until she finds a mate herself.”
Jace shrugged, “Eh. My mate will just have to accept that one of my best friends is a girl. And let’s be honest, Layla can take care of herself.”
Their conversation was interrupted by a tap on the door. It opened and their mom walked in, “Hey boys, make yourselves presentable, the packs have begun arriving and it’s almost time for the evening’s events to begin.”
“Yes ma’am,” Hunter winked.
She rolled her eyes at her boys before heading back down the hall.
“Ready?” Hunter asked his brother.
“Ready,” Jace replied.
As they entered the pack ballroom it was filled with wolves and every single she-wolf from miles around.
“This is going to be a long night,” Jace mumbled.
“Yeah it is,” Hunter replied as he looked at the room wide eyed. All of those hungry females hoping to be mated to a future Alpha. It was going to be rough.
“Hunter! Jace!” Layla yelled through the crowd.
Hunter and Jace stared at her, surprised at how good their friend looked. She glided toward them in a gold colored gown that hung off the shoulder a bit and formed to her body like a glove. Layla’s long brown hair was curled and let down in waves, framing her bright blue eyes.
“Gosh Layla, give the other girls a chance!” Hunter stammered.
“Yeah Lay, you actually look like a girl,” Jace teased.
Layla smiled brightly and gave a twirl, “Thanks, you boys don’t look half bad yourselves.” She approached them and fidgeted with Hunter’s tie before looking them up and down with a critical eye.
“Well?” Jace questioned.
“Well what?” Layla laughed, “Get out there and go find your mates!” She pushed them further into the room and they were surrounded by girls vying for their attention. Hunter and Jace looked back to see Layla standing off to the side smirking. She was clearly enjoying this.