The first thing I always noticed when I walked into Lucas house was the smell of fresh laundry and a whiff of old spices and herbs, especially in the kitchen. Lucas dad was busy at a council meeting but his mum was there. She shot me a concerned look the moment I entered. Jesus, how many of them had known and how long? Was I really that ignorant? Then again, I'd seen Bryan flirt with other girls at parties, what reason did I have to suspect he actually like me? Though I usually had a guy with me, so maybe it did make sense. If you were using stupid guy logic anyway. Guys! So dumb sometimes.
“Is Bryan-” The sound of footsteps on the stairs answered my question. I guess I shouldn't be surprised he knew I was here already. Advanced senses and all. Or maybe it was the bond? I decided not to think too much about that as he padded down the stairs barefoot. He was wearing plain jeans and a plain green shirt. His hair was out of its pony tailed, just touching his shoulders and ruffled, as if he'd just woken up. It did not look cute, it didn't dammit. It seemed like ever since I'd found out I couldn't help studying him differently, and it was freaking me the hell out big time.
“Hey,” he said casually. I was so not fooled, his shoulders were way too tense.
“Hi,” I said. “I'll talk to you later,” I said to Luca before turning and walking outside. I could see Lucas surprised expression. I wasn't leaving though, as much as that would be easier. I walked to the benches near the forests edge and sat down. I knew Bryan would know I hadn't left and turn up eventually.
“Any reason we're outside?” he asked, taking the seat opposite me. He was far away from me, and yet his musky smell reached me across the distance. I needed a switch off button for my brain right now, seriously! There had to be one out there.
“I need fresh air,” I answered. In more than one way. “Will you turn again?” I asked, surprising him.
“I could, why?” he asked.
“Because I'm asking you to,” I said, meeting his gaze directly. It was so weird looking at eyes just like Lucas and not. He didn't say anything, instead he just watched me steadily.
“Fine,” he said. He stood up and this time he didn't tell me to look away. I caught a flash of chest before I could rip my eyes away. I felt a blush build and internally cursed myself. I wasn't his soulmate, this was just hormones. Yes, hormones and frustration, it had been a while. That was it. Something wet touched the back of my neck and I yelped, standing up and turning fast. I'd forgotten how huge he was in wolf form. His wiggled his nose after having poked me.
“That's kinda gross,” I muttered, wiping subconsciously at my neck. It was more the shock of something cold than any wetness, but still, hygiene. He snorted at me and sat back on his hunches, waiting for me to talk.
“Well, at least now I can talk knowing you won't interrupt,” I said. I thought I saw him raise both eyebrows, though I thought wolves didn't have those. I stared at my feet, kicking the dirt a little as I gathered my thoughts.
“I'm going to the blue moon, but for Luca,” I began. “I still don't know what to think of what you told me,” I added. His ears lowered a little, but I ignored it. No cute wolfy face was about to change my mind. “So that's that. Thanks for listening. See you,” I said in a rush. I wasn't ready to say all the other things on my mind. I spun in a half circle and started walking back to the gravel pathway. Bryan's arm round my waist out of nowhere stopped me. I could feel his warmth bleeding into me through my clothes.
“Are you naked?” I asked, putting on my best annoyed tone. Bryan took a few seconds to answer.
“Maybe, but you were moving too fast,” he said. “If you'll just quit running away I'll change, then you can listen while I talk.” His dropped his arm before I could reply and I snapped my open mouth shut.
“No need to be rude,” I muttered.
“As opposed to whatever you were doing? You knew I wasn't going to shift in front of you then,” he threw back sharply. I blinked at the tone, I'd never heard him sound mad before, mildly irritated at idiots in bars and clubs, sure – but this was different. I listened to the shuffling sounds of him getting dressed and then he was stood next to me. He turned to face me side-on and so did I with a quivering apprehension.
“You think I get to choose anymore than you?” He asked. I blinked at him, not expecting that.
“Gee, thanks,” I said, crossing my arms.
“Just returning the favour,” he said, throwing me a grim smile for a split second. “I don't expect you to be okay with it overnight, but at least entertain the possibility.” I starred at him, my breathing growing heavy.
“I can't,” I said quietly. “I'm eighteen Bryan. As far as I was aware I had years of doing whatever I wanted, whoever I wanted before finding the 'one'. Now you're telling me I've known him my whole life. That's just a bit too crazy for me to accept,” I ranted, making so gestures I lost track. “You can't expect me to be okay with. How am I meant to be okay with it? You weren't okay with this at first. Luca said you've known for years, but you're choosing now to tell me? I bet it would've never happened if it hadn't been for Gregory!” I finished loudly. I licked my dry lips and tried to calm my breathing and emotions. Bryan was watching me intently, understanding dawning.
“You're right, I probably would've never said anything if you hadn't found out about us,” he admitted quietly. “I went through everything you're going through. I ignored it and figured if I lived my life how I wanted it would just fade away. It doesn't though Diane. You can distance yourself, but the moment that person is near you? It's come back to life, as strong and new as the first time,” he explained, eyes shining. I felt my chest heaving with my unsteady breaths and tried to order my thoughts. I didn't want to know this, it was too much information. It was his problem, not mine dammit.
“The moment you're near me,” he said, stepping so close we were almost kissing. “There's nothing I can do. All I'll see is you. All I'll breath is you. All I'll hear is your racing heartbeat. I'm aware of every slight touch Diane. All I can think about is everything you are.” My eyes widened at the rushed words, my body shaking.
“I'm not ready,” I whispered, backing away quickly.
“I'll take thing as slow or fast as you want,” he said, frowning and misunderstanding my words.
“No Bryan. I'm not ready for what you're talking about,” I whispered, feeling my eyes water a little. “You're talking about -. Everything you're saying just-” I couldn't grab my words right. “What you're describing - that's love,” I finally said.
“Is that so scary?” he asked, matching my quiet tone. I took a deep breath, realising I was going to have to talk about something. Something I hadn't even been able to talk to Luca about.
“I remembered the nights of crying when my parents split,” I began. “He wasn't even my real father but it hurt. I swore there and then that love was worthless, what was the point if it broke so easily?” I said, Bryan opened his mouth to talk but I cut him off. “I don't want to fall in love Bryan!” He watched me for a few moment before nodding slowly.
“Fine,” he whispered, the hurt clear in his tone. I never thought a word could sound so painful in my life, and I had caused it. I wanted to hold him, but I didn't dare. Instead I turned and left. I could see Lucas bedroom light on. He had been watching from the window, his gaze was on Bryan right now. Was he going to hate me forever over this? His sad gaze moved to mine. I looked away and kept walking. I didn't want or need any pity.