“Catherine?” His voice reached my ears, and the loud thumping of my heart became louder.
It had been too long since I heard his voice, but I had memorized it so well that I would still know it was him, even in my sleep. I slowly turned around from the top of the steps and locked my eyes with the man who gave me my first heartache.
“Hi!” It was the only thing that came out of my throat.
“You came back early.” A broad smile was on his lips, which made the dimples on the sides of his cheeks appear. The same smile that would always make my knees weak
“I thought you were coming home in two weeks.” He began walking up, and the moment he landed on the top step, I moved backward, which stopped him from moving forward.
I saw pain cross his eyes, but I ignored it. “I want to surprise Amara.”
“I see.” He opened his arms and smiled widely again. “Welcome home, little tyke.”
Little tyke. Little rascal. He would call me that when we were younger, as I always ended up getting into messes, and he would always come to save me.
But surely things are different now.
And instead of scooting into his arms as I usually did whenever he offered a hug, I remained in my place. I smiled warmly at him, cocking my head to the side. “Thank you, Beta Tyler. I’ll go inside, as I want to check if they’re still awake.”
He nodded his head and slowly dropped his arms to his sides. “Sure.”
I grabbed my luggage and was about to turn around when he grabbed it from my hand, and his skin brushed against mine. “I’ll carry this to your room.”
I held my breath and did my best not to show him that he could still affect me. “Thank you, but it’s nothing big.” I answered and pulled it away from his hold.
I began walking toward the entrance of the packhouse, not giving him a second look, only to stop when I reached the door.
I turned around and found him still looking at me. “I’m sorry about Zoey and Garrett.”
I didn’t know why I said that, except that I was sorry that he was feeling pain. I’d been there, and I could only imagine his pain at losing both people he loved.
He just gave me a nod, and I immediately turned around and walked inside the house and up the stairs, hurrying to get out of his sight because one more second in front of him, I might end up rushing into his arms.
As soon as I reached the last stairs going to the fourth floor, where my room was, I held on to the railings before closing my eyes and trying to steady my breathing.
He could still affect me. And damn my heart, I still wanted him.
I wiped the tears from my eyes before I dragged my luggage to my room. I needed to be strong. I wanted Tyler, but I wanted him to like me because of me, not because I was the only one left available for him.
After I left my things inside my room, I headed to the new suite with double doors on this floor. I was sure this was Amara and Jace’s new room. As much as I just wanted to lay in bed and cocoon myself under my blanket, I couldn’t step back and start from zero again.
I was already doing so well.
Jace and Amara were surprised to see me, but after the initial shock, we hugged, and they let me carry my adorable nephew, Colton.
“Are you back for good?” Jace asked.
“No. I’m moving out. I’ll stay with Grandpa Jason. I want to go to university there.” I answered in a firm voice, letting him know that my decision was final.
“Are you sure? Does Mom know about this? We have a university near the territory.”
“I haven’t told Mom and Dad, but I think it’s for the best.”
“Zoey is no longer here, Cat,” he added. “There’s no more reason for you to move out.”
“But Tyler is here,” I answered almost immediately because it was the truth. I wanted him, yet I didn’t want him around me.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“We’re both healing from our own pain, and I don’t want the circumstances to push us together. I am okay now. I just need to be consistent. I will come home when I’m ready.”
“So there’s no chance for you and Tyler?” He asked.
“Are you pushing me into your Beta?”
“No, it’s not like that. I just thought there was a possibility….”
“Let him rest from his pain. He can’t enter another relationship just a few weeks after the last one. So only time will tell. His separation from Zoey doesn’t mean I will have a place in his heart. I don’t want to be someone’s rebound or because they no longer have a choice. I deserve someone who will choose me for me.”
“Cathy…” Jace wanted to say something, but I cut him off.
“And I have a mate somewhere. I just need to find him or for him to find me.” I was so impressed with the words coming out of my mouth as if I already had my life planned out. Maybe for some time, I did, but seeing Tyler tonight slowly crumbled my walls.
He was still my weakness, but I couldn’t do this again. I needed to be away from him.
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