The family had been made aware of Jax’s decision to stay with his uncle for the time being. Julie believed he wanted to get away for the holidays because he missed their mother most this time of year. That may be true but it wasn’t the only reason he was gone. Only Ariana knew that.
As the days went on everyone went about their business, their routines, no one seemed to miss Jax’s presence. No one noticed either how badly Ariana wanted him closer.
Christmas came and went, at midnight they had all exchanged gifts and took Jax’s down to the basement for when he returned. With each passing day she wondered if that wouldn’t be the case. He was eighteen and finishing high school, it wouldn’t be far fetched for him to move out all together. She feared it.
She thought a lot about what Marc has explained to her. She couldn’t forget how he warned whatever choice she made would be final. She had to be all in or all out. She wasn’t ready to decide yet.
There would be times she missed him so much she didn’t care what she had to do to get him back but that cracked spot inside her heart where trust should be reminded her why it wasn’t that simple.
Before she made any choice she had to first decide if she could forgive him or not. If she was ready to take on what his life demanded. If they became a couple, if she agreed to be his mate, she’d never simply be Ariana anymore. Her life wouldn’t revolve around school and studies; there would be much bigger fears than a passing grade.
Then she had to consider her mother. She needed to know the truth about what she was already involved in. If a hunter came after Mitch and Julie she would be caught in the middle clueless. That wasn’t fair.
It was New Year’s Eve and Ariana and Julie were helping Mary with dinner. She was cooking a feast, it was their first year together as a family and Mary wanted it to be memorable. In a lot of ways it was a party for just the four of them, there were decorations, later they’d all get dressed in fancy clothing to bring in the New Year.
Ariana was seated at the counter working on the bread for the stuffing. Her mom brushed her shoulder and flashed a dazzling smile. “You look a little green.”
She forced a smile past her lips. “I’m ok mom. I just….” She missed the man she was in love with. “I think I’m having withdraw from school.”
Marcy howled with laughter. “Sweetie, come Monday you’ll be at school. Enjoy your freedom from it and have fun with me tonight.”
Ariana couldn’t remember seeing her mother so happy. The memories of her farther were toward the end of the marriage and there was always so much animosity between her parents. After that she spent many years alone until meeting Mitch.
“You got it.” she made a mental note to be better with her expressions; she didn’t want her mother worrying. “What kinda fun are you thinking?” she was a good girl in every sense of the word but that didn’t mean she didn’t know how to tease her mother. “Can I drink?” the smile that tugged at her lips was very real. “I’m joking relax.”
“Shoot, I was actually considering it.” She pinched Ariana’s cheek before going back to the stove.
Julie chuckled from her spot in the dining room as she set the table with their holiday china. “It’s New Year’s Eve so we can stay up really late.” She began. “I bet I can stay up longer than you.”
Mary shook her head, kids were odd at times. “Then tomorrow you’ll be delirious from exhaustion. I say we ring in the New Year and tomorrow….I might have a surprise for you.” she said to Julie. Ariana already had plans to visit with her father.
Mitch stepped into the kitchen. “Speaking of surprises, Julie there’s someone here to see you.” he stepped aside and motioned for the person to come in.
Ariana felt her blood run hot with anger as she laid eyes on Marc.
“Uncle Marc!” Julie ran into his arms, he had kneeled to catch her. “I heard Jax is staying with you.”
“Yeah.” Marc stood with her cradled in his arm as if she was a toddler rather than a thirteen year old. “He’s driving me crazy.” His eyes drifted to Ariana, he smiled as he noticed her seething. “So I convinced him it’s a good idea to ring in the New Year with the whole family together. He’s outside doing that whole loner thing.” He meant sure to have Ariana’s attention as he said it.
“You’ll be staying too?” Julie excitedly asked.
“Of course.” Marc promised. “Bro, I think it’s time you introduce me to this beautiful woman you call a wife.”
Mary giggled and blushed. It was obvious Marc knew how to interact with the opposite sex. Ariana tried not to be embarrassed for her mother as she slipped through the basement door.
She was careful as she headed downstairs, she didn’t want anyone to notice her departure. She followed her hunch, once in the basement she then slipped out the door and into the freezing weather.
Jax was waiting in the spot he had showed her weeks ago past the trees behind the house. The area looked just as magical in the dark moonlight.
She looked at him, her heart raced with every different emotion under the book. She wanted to yell at him for leaving the way he did and not contacting her over the last two weeks. She had the words ready to burst from her mouth, her hands were tight fists at her side and yet the words never came.
She threw herself in his arms and kissed him with passion she was normally too shy to express until he hade the first move. She took comfort in the warmth pouring from his body. It wasn’t snowing out but it was pretty chilly.
“You idiot.” She whispered against his mouth before kissing him again, she hungrily sought out his tongue; all the anger she had yet to express was laced inside the kiss. She pulled back before he could touch her. She shoved him. “How dare you leave like that?”
“I thought it’d be easier.”
“Right, sure.” Ariana let the sarcasm drip from her words. “I know I have a lot to consider and a choice to make but you leaving wasn’t the answer. I love you, you ass.” Tears pricked along her eyes as she stared at him.
He smiled, his own hectic emotions showing along his beautiful blue eyes. “I love you too. I couldn’t stomach being here with you pulling away. It nearly killed me the first time. I love you too much to just be your friend.”
Deep down Ariana could understand that but she was still furious. “You should’ve talked to me. That’s our whole problem; you make all these big decisions and don’t tell me a damn thing.”
“I’m sorry. I honestly thought it’d be easier on the both of us if we weren’t in the same space. I don’t think I could’ve hid what I’m feeling from our family. I don’t know how to lie about this anymore.” Tears dripped free as he stepped closer to her. The strength of what he was feeling surrounded her like a powerful gust of air.
“I don’t know what to do anymore.” Ariana confessed. “Two weeks have passed and I feel just as lost. I don’t know…if I can be…”
“Be?” Jax pressed.
Ariana hastily wiped her hands over her wet cheeks. “If I can be the mate you deserve. I don’t know if….I can really be all in.”