C H A P T E R E L E V E N
After running for what feels like forever, we finally arrive at my safe haven, the same beautiful hidden lake I paid a visit to yesterday after I ran away from Ryker.
As I stop and stare at the lake for a moment, I realize I am nervous for what is about to occur. My heart is thumping wildly in my chest.
I decide to change, and quickly make my way behind a nearby tree to shift and get dressed. Ryker follows my lead and goes behind a tree opposite of mine. When we both step out from behind our respective trees, I look at Ryker as he gazes around and takes in our surroundings. He was in awe. I could see the twinkle and astonishment in his eyes. The towering pine trees, massive boulders, and pebble bank that borders the lake and pristine blue water is a remarkable sight. I know I will never tire of seeing it.
“This reminds me so much of home.” I hear Ryker say as he turns his head and to look at me. He is smiling so wide it almost reaches both his ears. God he is so freaking adorable. I cannot help smiling back at him. His smile is contagious.
“How did you happen upon this hidden gem?” Ryker asks me still smiling and looking deep into my eyes. “One day I was out for a run and just happened to come across it. I was about 17 at the time. I like running in this forest as it is a no hunting zone, and I have never caught anyone else’s scent here. Since that day, it has been my favorite spot to be alone, relax, and reflect.” I answer truthfully. He nods in acceptance of my answer or in agreement, or both, I am not quite sure which.
Ryker then surprises me by taking my small dainty hand in his large rough one, and leads me over to the enormous rock I sat on yesterday along the water’s edge. I do not fight it as I am enjoying the tingles and warmth his touch provides, and follow his lead. We both sit down on the rock as silence envelopes us. We continue taking in the beauty of nature around us for a few moments, unsure how to start the conversation off. My heart is still thumping in my chest and I can hear Ryker’s as well. I am sure he is just as nervous as I am.
“So,” Ryker finally breaks the silence, “we are mates.” More a statement then a question. I simply respond with, “Yup and you are my sister’s fiancé.” Again a statement. Ryker counters with a “yup” of his own. He then hangs his head, turns towards me with a look of sadness on his face. He then raises his head and looks into my eyes, holding them captive with his own. I can see a bunch of different emotions flickering through them.
Ryker is still holding my one hand, but proceeds to grab the other as well, and holds them in his, still gazing deeply into my eyes. Feeling the tingles and sparks erupting all over my body is so amazing it makes me shiver. I am sure Ryker is enjoying the feeling too as he smirks at my reaction. Thoughts of last night flash through my mind. Flustered and flushed, I quickly withdraw my hands from his and look away.
After a few moments, I regain my composure and slowly turn back towards Ryker, keeping my hands in my lap. I cannot help twisting them about nervously, as I am unable to meet his eyes. Ryker softly chuckles and shakes his head.
“What?” I ask a little perturbed. Ryker gazes into my eyes again, with a look of amusement and longing. I catch those emotions before he quickly blinks them away and glances at the lake before looking back at me yet again. Then he responds with a big ass grin on his gorgeous face, “You are so cute when you are flustered.” I cannot help but to blush at his statement, and turn away quickly until I compose myself again. I feel like we are a bunch of kids trying to flirt with each other, and that thought makes me giggle quietly to myself.
Finally, I clear my throat, and look back at Ryker. He looks back at me, still grinning. “We need to have a serious discussion and find out where we go from here,” I exclaim. Ryker nods in agreement.
“I searched high and low for my mate for eight years. I had lost hope. That is why I finally decided to propose to Chloe. I thought my mate was gone and I would never meet her. So I figured I might as well settle down and move on with my life.” Ryker offers as an explanation to the situation we currently find ourselves in. All the while, a remorseful look marring his beautiful yet troubled face. “I truly am very sorry for my actions complicating our mating process.”
I slightly nod my head in understanding, because I truly do understand his reasoning. I can tell he is really beating himself up over it though, so I tell him, “I spent the last five years waiting for you. The entire past year I did nothing but search all over this planet looking for you, using my photography career as my excuse for traveling. I went to every pack I could find, but obviously, I had no luck. Truthfully, I had accepted the fact that I was mateless, and I was actually planning to settle down now that I was back home. I was determined to live the best, happy life I could without my mate.” I offer a small apologetic smile for giving up on him too. “So, we actually found each other just in time, before this could get even more complicated. For that, I am thankful. Who knew you were in reality, so close. Honestly, your relationship with Chloe is what brought us together. It is a big complication, but it played an essential role in our meeting. So I am grateful for that. At least for that aspect anyway.” I take a deep breath, and look at Ryker. He nods his head in understanding and agreement, giving me a half smile. So I continue, “I have some questions though. You are from Colorado, right? The Blue Lake Pack? Why were you not there when I visited your pack? I met the beta, Carter I believe it was. He was very welcoming.”
Ryker gives me a warm and loving smile before he answers my questions, and it makes my heart flutter and my stomach flip. I am pretty sure I am blushing as my face feels like it is now on fire. “Yes. I am from the Blue Lake Pack in Colorado. The pack actually gets its name from a lake, very similar to this one in fact, that lies within the pack boundaries. As to why I was not there when you visited last year, you must have visited my pack when I was here with Chloe visiting your parents. I remember Carter telling me that a she-wolf came around looking for her mate. That must have been you.” He states sorrowfully.
“Oh” is all I manage to squeak out, lowering my eyes to the glistening water. Suddenly, I am feeling disappointed. Ryker and I had missed meeting each by just a few days, a year ago. If we would have met then, many of our current issues could have been avoided. Ugh! I sigh, but Ryker does not seem to take notice.
He continues our conversation by asking, “Did you happen to meet the alpha while you were there?” Ryker’s eyes sparkle with mischief as he smirks, confusing me. I furrow my eyebrows, surely causing my forehead to wrinkle, and shake my head no. Then I look at him and squint.
“Wait a second. Your wolf’s fur is white and black, the two colors only alphas have.” A light bulb went off and my eyes widen with realization. I make direct eye contact with Ryker.
“Y-you’re the alpha?”
“Yes, and Carter is my beta and best friend since we were in diapers” Ryker says, smiling his brilliant smile, his eyes shining bright and crinkling in the corners. Cute. “My wolf’s fur is both white and black because both of my parents come from alpha blood lines. My father’s wolf is black. My mom’s is white.”
“That is remarkable!” I say with a genuine smile on my face.