C H A P T E R F I V E
I glance down at my phone in my hand pretending a reminder popped up. “Oh my gosh!” I say slapping my forehead. “I completely forgot. I have an appointment with a client in ten minutes. Shit! I am so sorry you guys. I have to go. It completely slipped my mind. I do not know how I did not think of it before.” I lie. I need to get out of this house and go for a run. I need to think. Right now, my brain is too dazed and I do not want to say or do something I may regret.
I give Chloe a quick hug and tell her I missed her and welcome home. She looks pissed. I give mom and dad and apologetic smile. They look disappointed. I just barely glance at Ryker out the corner of my eye saying it was nice to finally meet him. He looks amused with that little smirk on his face. He probably knows I am lying just to get away from him. Ugh! I say a quick “sorry” and go to dash out the door. Thank goodness my camera equipment is already in my car.
On my way out, I somehow accidently graze Ryker’s arm. I draw in a quick breath and momentarily stop moving as tiny blissful sparks shoot up my arm and spread throughout my body. The feeling is incredible. I feel warm all over. It is as if every cell in my body has been awakened, and fireworks are going off in celebration of finding my mate. It is unlike anything I have every felt before. I need to get out of here before I throw myself into his arms.
“It was nice meeting you too, Rylee.” Ryker says. Well that was a little delayed. “I look forward to getting to know you.” I bet you do. With that I run the rest of the way out the door to my car.
I am going to drive to my special spot. I always park right off the road, but my car will be hidden out of sight because I will nestle it just inside the woods. It is about a thirty-minute drive from the house, but that will give me additional time to think.
Twenty minutes later….
I finally reach my destination. I had to keep looking at my speedometer on the way here though, and slowing down. The drive took me twenty minutes instead of the usual thirty. Oops! I guess my anxiety was giving me a heavy foot. But ahhhh, so worth it. I am finally in my own little piece of paradise. I already feel a little calmer just by being here in the forest.
I have been coming here since I started driving, whenever I want to let my wolf loose. It is the perfect location to run. This is a no trespassing and a no hunting area, which makes it a lot safer for me in my wolf form. I never ran into another soul out here. Nor have I ever caught a scent alerting me that someone had been here before me.
As I slowly pull my car into my sanctuary, taking care not to be noticed by passing motorists, I see that my invisible path and hidden parking spot are now over grown with weeds, ferns, and a few small saplings. It has been quite a while since I have been here. I am honestly surprised it is not any worse. At least my car is not anything special. If it acquires a few new small scratches on it, it is not a big deal. I will have to bring pruners with me the next time I come so I can cut down the saplings though. I do not want them to grow much more and end up blocking my spot.
I slowly step out of my car, taking care to thoroughly sniff the air and check for any scents that I need to be aware of. Thankfully, there is none. The coast is clear, as they say. Or in this case, the forest.
I start pealing my clothes off and placing them in my car, along with my shoes and jewelry. So much for all the extra effort I put in to looking presentable today. Oh well, I did not go for my daily run this morning, and now I desperately need it. I need to clear my head.
I just cannot believe I finally found my mate after five years though! I am utterly stunned. Astonished really. Especially with having spent the last year traveling the world looking specifically for him. After not finding my mate, I eventually concluded that he must be dead, and that was why I could not locate him. I was heartbroken at the realization of never meeting my mate, but boy, talk about joy and relief in learning that he is alive and well! I swear my heart has swelled to twice its normal size with love and excitement. I am sure my eyes look like stars, and I have little hearts floating around my head.
However, I finally find my mate, and then I proceeded to run away from him. What a great first impression I am sure that made. I do think my reason is justified given the circumstances though. Ryker is engaged to my sister after all. I absolutely cannot believe my luck. Only I would be mated to my sister’s fiancé. I swear, if I did not have bad luck, I would not have any at all. Why is the universe so cruel to me? Could I not have just one thing go right in my life, or be somewhat easy for a change? Is that truly too much to ask? Ugh!
How is it possible to be this happy and devastated at the same time? My brain feels like it is at war with my heart. I definetely need this run, more than any run I have ever needed before.
I finish stripping my clothes off and lock my car. I hide the keys up under the back bumper since I cannot carry them with me. I shift into my wolf form, and bound off through the forest.
After an hour of mindless running, I decide to go to my favorite spot to unwind a little more before heading home. It is a tiny hidden treasure among my vast paradise. I am in no hurry to face Ryker, Chloe, or even my parents anyway. Stalling sounds like a good plan.
The crystal blue lake sitting in front of me that I love so much is as pristine as ever. I have missed it terribly. The area surrounding the lake is breath taking in its own right. The lake is bordered with a small gravel bank made from the rocks that have eroded and broken down over time, and enclosed with towering pine trees that sprawl throughout much of the North Carolina forests. I absolutely love it here, my own private oasis, my little slice of hidden heaven. I have never caught another’s scent here, which is a reason why it is so relaxing along with the picturesque views. Cannot beat the view.
I shift back to my human form and lay down on a huge rock that stands along the water’s edge. I stare up at the beautiful blue sky littered with big fluffy white clouds. The rock is warm from the summer sun, and feels amazing against my naked flesh. ‘Not as amazing as when Ryker’s arm grazed our arm though’. Of course, my wolf decides to put in her two cents. Que an eye roll from me, along with a huff of frustration. What she says is true though. I can only image how a much more substantial physical contact will feel. ‘It will be mind blowing and body enlightening.’ I am sure it will be. I just wish we could have been a normal mated couple who gets to run into each other’s arms at first sight. I groan and tears prick the corners of my eyes. What am I going to do?
I slip my feet down the rocks smooth surface, and dip them into the chilly water. I take deep calming breaths, allowing the fresh air and the contrast of the warm rock and chilly water carry my brain away into a tranquil state of nothingness. I stay like that for a while. Not thinking, just feeling. Relaxing.
Eventually my brain decides to kick back on, and I go from relaxed to anxious all over again.
The run helped to clear my head, but now that I am lying here, thinking, I have a million thoughts and questions swirling around my mind. My stomach feels like it is twisting and churning, being tied in to knots. I still cannot believe I am mated to Chloe’s fiancé, to Ryker of all people. Seriously, why can my life never be simple? Why oh why out of everyone on the entire planet is he the one destined for me?
Sure, at only a quick glance I could tell he is an exquisite specimen, representing the male species well. Any woman would be blessed to have him as her mate. That is easy to see. His eyes are a golden brown syrupy deliciousness with gold flecks floating throughout. What marvelous pools to get lost in. His beautiful golden brown hair swept slightly across his forehead, hanging slightly above his eyes giving off a boyish charm. He’s tall too, around six foot 4 to my five foot eight, so he still towers over me by roughly eight inches. Also, that smirk! Oh my god, that is going to cause trouble. It made me feel things that my body never felt before. That smile of his is a show stopper too with his pearly white perfectly straight teeth. Do not even get me started on that body. Woo-eeee those muscles that I saw outlined through his thin t-shirt...6 pack, 8 pack? Definitely packing something. And those defined arm muscles with bulging veins. Mmmmmmm. I am getting warm and blushing just thinking about it. Definitely all man. I can tell he holds a higher rank in his pack too. I am just not sure which. Alpha or Beta would be my guess. He has a confident aura that screams leader. Furthermore, his earth shattering scent, he just smells like home. Screw love at first sight, it was definitely love at first smell.
He is positively the most gorgeous man I have ever laid eyes on.
I shake my head trying to clear those thoughts away. I sit up and stare out over the calm waters of the serene lake. Not so much as a ripple can be seen across the glassy surface.
He may be my mate, but he is Chloe’s fiancé. What is going to happen? What can I do? If Ryker and I get together, it will devastate Chloe not to mention how my parents will react. I will be disowned I am sure of that.
I know I will be spilling secrets to my family that I have hid from them my whole life if Ryker and I decide to give this a go. Anything to try to salvage my relationship with my family would be worth it. There is no way around it. It would all be in the name of love and the almighty mate bond.
But how can I hurt Chloe like this, by taking away her dream guy, her fiancé? My little sister that I spent my whole life protecting, and now I might end up shattering her heart. I am supposed to be the maid of honor, not the home wrecker who steals her sister’s man.
I quickly brush the tears off my cheeks, as if people are watching me cry in the middle of this deserted forest. I am so frustrated and overwhelmed. How could I take away the love of her life?
Nevertheless, Ryker and Rylee does have a nice ring to it, and he is technically my destined soulmate. He is supposed to be the love of my life, not Chloe’s.
However, there is the possibility of rejection. Will Ryker even want me? Will he reject me? Maybe he wants to keep Chloe over me. That would be the easiest solution. Nonetheless, I know that would absolutely break me. I would completely understand where he is coming from though. This will not be easy on any of us. Either way, someone(s) is getting hurt.
I shake my head trying to rid myself of all the maddening thoughts hammering through my brain.
What a freaking nightmare! This whole situation has left me feeling about half nauseous. Either my heart or Chloe’s will get broke, and poor Ryker is being thrown right into the middle of it all. A sister love triangle. I snort loudly to myself at that thought. Never in a million years did I think that would happen to me. This is such an impossible situation. I am absolutely devastated that this is how my mate circumstances have played out. Do not get me wrong, I am ecstatic I finally found my mate, but seriously WHY??? Why me? Ugh!!!!
One thing is for sure, Ryker and I definitely need to talk, privately, and soon. The sooner the better.
After spending roughly two hours at the lake, judging by the sun’s current position in the sky, thinking myself ragged, (so much for relaxing) I begrudgingly decide it is time to begin the hour long run back to my car and head home. I sluggishly remove myself from the warm rock and shift into my wolf form. She decides to take a quick dip in the lake to cool off and clean her fur, and then begin trotting back the way we came a few hours earlier.
One hour later….
I finally reach my car. I shift back to human form, find my keys and unlock my door. I dress quickly and hop into the driver’s seat. Before I start the engine, I decide to look into the mirror and check my appearance. I sigh. So much for doing my hair and makeup today. I humorlessly laugh, and try to redo my hair into a simple ponytail. My makeup is hopeless and all but washed off. Thankfully, I have a decent complexion, so I do not sorely miss the makeup. I slowly pull out of my hiding spot, making sure there are no other cars passing by to see me.
About a half hour of mindless driving later, I finally pull into the driveway and arrive back home. Time to face the music. Or, should I say mate, and the awkwardness of this whole conundrum. *SIGH….
I was gone for almost five hours, longer than I was expecting, and I know I will be questioned about how my “session with my clients” went, and why it took so long. I have no pictures to prove my whereabouts or doings today. I will just have to use some from another session if it comes to that.
I look at my cars digital clock. The screen tells me it is six pm. No wonder I am terribly hungry, I have not gotten the chance to eat anything all day. I am also in a desperate need of a shower. I turn off the car’s engine and step out onto the driveway, closing my door behind me. I can smell from outside that mom has dinner started, thank goodness. My stomach growls in agreement.
I can also smell...him. Oh my god! That fresh air and pine smell is enough to make me come undone. My Ryker, my sweet and sexy mate. Oh god, Rylee, you need to stop and pull yourself together!
This is going to be pure torture.
I trudge up to the door. I then proceed to barrel through the door, swinging it closed behind me as I make a beeline for the steps. I see mom and Chloe in the kitchen and Ryker and dad in the living room as I quickly pass through. Ryker was turned away from the tv and staring at me as I ran by. Uhhhhh... what? My heart begins to beat faster at the realization. I quickly scurry up the stairs to my bedroom for some fresh clothes, and promptly head to the bathroom for a shower. A cold shower. A loooooonnngggg, cold shower.