• "God damn it!" Aiden slammed his fist onto the table. Running his hand through his hair, Aiden closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

    "You screwed up again, didn't you?" Aiden looked up to see Bella lazily leaning against the doorframe. Her eyes were narrowed and critical. Her voice, sharp and laced with poison, deepened his mental wounds.

    "Go away Bella, I don't need to hear about how I messed up again." He looked down again intently studying the wood grain of the table.

    "You just don't understand, do you?" Shaking her head, she started walking towards him. Taking an open stance while staring at him, her look changed from anger to pity.

    "Understand what?" he said with a sigh, head remaining down.

    "She loves you, dumbass. You're just too blind to see it." His head snapped up and he glared at her.

    "No, I see it. I just don't want to hurt her. Bells, I'm not the right guy for her; she deserves better than me. She deserves a guy that will treat her right and who can make her happy."

    Bella stood her ground and stared right into his eyes, never flinching. "Is that truly what you want? For her to run to some other guy? Please, Aiden, I'm not stupid. You love her and she deserves what she wants. Do what will make you happy. For once, just be happy!"

    He stood up straight and started pacing. "That's the thing though. I will be happy if I'm with her. But the Counsel would punish us! My parents… they would be so disappointed that I defied them. None of them would understand. But what worries me most is that someday she'll realize there is a better guy out there. She'll leave me. Then I'll have no one. I'll be alone and I'll regret ever meeting her."

    Bella chuckled at the statement. "You know what? I bet she's doing that very thing right now. She feels rejected and you're the cause. How does it make you feel, knowing she's miserable because of you?"

    He stopped pacing and faced her, his voice rising with every sentence. "What do you want me to do? Run up to her and hold her, telling her pretty lies? I have nothing to give. Her life will be miserable with me, all rules and regulations. I can only love her. She needs more than me."

    Bella, too, was yelling now, perplexed at his stupidity. "What more is there? That's all she wants, your love. Just give up Aiden; you're going to realize you made a big mistake and go running back to her on your knees, begging she take you back. But she won't, she'll have moved on. Then you will truly be alone." She left the room, slamming the door shut.

    Aiden just stared after her and fell to his knees. He spoke aloud to the empty room, “What should I do? How can I tell her I love her? What if she leaves me? What will I do?”
    Bella opened the door to Stephen's and walked in. "What did he do this time?" Bella turned to see Stephen on the couch. He was stretched out and had his eyes closed.

    "Hey to you, too, Stephen."

    "Hey. So, are you going to tell me?" Bella walked over to him and pushed his legs off. He sat up and she stretched out; he pulled her legs onto his lap and looked at her, expecting an answer.

    "He and Anna Lee had another argument."

    "I know, but what happened? Details, lady, details!"

    "Ok, ok. Well, I think they had a "Moment" and this morning he told her he regretted it. She obviously walked out, and that’s I walked in. He thinks he doesn't deserve her."
    "Can't disagree.”

    "Stephen!" She slapped him on the shoulder.

    "What?! He doesn't if he's going to keep hurting her. He's like a brother but I'm going to punch him."

    "Stephen, you are so sweet." Bella started to stand up, "C'mon, we need to get to school. I better go tell Aiden."

    "Wait; give him a few more minutes." He stood up next to her. "Bella, before we leave, I want to say..."

    "Shut up, I know." She pulled him close and kissed him lightly on the lips.

    She pulled away, "We better go." She took his hand and they walked out the car.

    I finally reached the school as the bell rang. Quickly grabbing my books, I ran to the front steps. Walking into first period I sat down next to Bella, and I happened to notice Aiden wasn't there. First period started.
    The rest of the morning went by and lunch had arrived. I sat with the group and I must admit, I was jealous. Everyone had someone else they were cuddling with; it made me feel so alone. "Hey, Anna Lee!"

    "Huh?" I snapped out of my reverie and looked up. Bella was pointing toward the door and I turned my head. There he was walking in like he owned the place, you guessed it, Aiden. To my surprise he had Brianna on his arm. I looked away when he caught my eye. They walked over to the table.
    And there he was, walking in like he owned the place. Yeah, you guessed it, Aiden.
    "Hey ya'll, I'll catch up with you later." I stood up and left.
    "Hey, I need to go and talk to her." Aiden said. Bella just nodded her head and said nothing. He followed after me. Brianna looked like she wanted to kill me at the moment.

    "Aiden! What about me? What am I supposed to do?"

    "Just hang out with them for a while, I'll be back."
    "Anna Lee!" He called, and I kept walking. He quickened his pace and reached for my hand. He grabbed it and spun me around.
    "Hey! Didn't you hear me calling?"

    I yanked my hand away, angry at myself for liking the feel of my hand in his. I looked at him, "Oh hey! I didn't hear you." Lies.

    "Yeah, um, can we talk?" I could tell he was taken aback by my action and was a little nervous. His eyes were pleading, asking me to hear him out. I hate it when he looks at me like that; he knows I feel guilty. When his eyes have the look, I want to run into his arms and cry as if I was the one who had done something wrong.

    I closed my eyes to break eye contact. "Talk? Sorry, can't, I need to go." I was turning to leave.

    "Hey!" He grabbed my hand again.

    I pulled my hand away again but not as hard. "I'll catch up with you later!" I called as I started walking away.

    The bell rang and I walked to my next period. So far so good, I could do this. I didn't need him to make me happy. Thinking about it a weight on my heart came back. I suddenly wanted to feel his arms around me again. I wanted to run back, bury my head in my chest and cry my heart out to him. Wanting so much to turn back, I quickened my pace so I couldn't back out of my decision.

    My heart filled with lead while I thought about it. I suddenly wanted to just feel his arms around me again. To turn around, run back, and bury my head in his chest while crying my heart out to him. I quickened my pace so I wouldn’t act on my wants, so that I couldn’t back out of my decision.
    Back at the table, Brianna sat there scared out of her mind. The group was glaring daggers at her. Bella had to say something. "Look, Brianna, it's not that we hate you, wait maybe it is, but that's not the point. Aiden and Anna Lee like each other, but you being here complicates it.”

    "So what? Aiden was mine before she even met him." She began picking at her nails.

    Viola joined the conflict. "Really now? Then why was it he left you in the first place. He has no feelings for you; he likes Anna Lee. So back off. Because of you Aiden can't say how he feels for Anna Lee and he's hurting her."

    "Like I care, all's fair in love and war. You tell Anna Lee to back off Aiden." She turned her back on the group.

    "But that's the thing, Brianna. He doesn't love you, he doesn't even like you. You may be from old blood, but no matter how much power you have, he will never love you! Give up!" Bella was starting to get out of her seat but Stephen held her back.

    She suddenly spun around on her chair. "Listen, you can't tell me what to do! You don't know who you're even dealing with. I am your future..."

    "What are you yelling about now?" Aiden had reappeared next to Brianna, startling her.

    "Oh hey Aiden! Nothing, we were just having a friendly debate." She latched herself onto him.

    Bella wouldn't stand for that. "No! That's a lie. She was telling us, to tell Anna Lee, to give up on you and how you're hers."

    "What?" Aiden looked at Brianna, wondering what she would say.

    "That's a lie. Aiden who are you going to believe? Your future wife or your petty little friends." She smiled up at him.

    "Well, that's not hard. Them of course, you're the only thing that's petty around here. Just leave before I lose my temper." Her smile faltered but came back.

    "Fine then, I'm just going to drop by the house tonight. We need to talk about some things." She reached up to kiss him but he grabbed her arms and prevented her from doing so.

    "Just leave." He said with disgust.

    "Fine, good bye. It was nice meeting you." She left the cafeteria.

    "Please tell me you’re not actually going to marry her!" Viola exclaimed.

    "Viola, you know I have no choice, she was chosen for me before I was born. Unless the Alpha Counsel changes it, or there's some lost law that gives a way out, there's nothing I can do." Aiden gave a weary sigh.

    "There has to be a way out of this, we'll find it. We should go talk to the Counsel." Bella said with determination.

    "No! That will only make it worse. Just leave it alone, I'll find a way out of it." Aiden sat down.

    "Fine." Bella would take Viola and talk to the Counsel, even if they had to lie to do it.

    The rest of the day I was on auto-pilot, going through the actions but not knowing what I was doing. I didn't know what to feel. I drove home thinking about today. I was so confused; I was doing the right thing, right? Tears started down my face but I didn't know till I wiped them from my cheeks. I parked Stephen’s car and went inside. I dropped my things near the door and went to the couch. I curled up in a ball and wept, for what I don't know. I guess it was a number of things. Things like; my liking him, Brianna being his fiancé, him regretting last night, my jealousy for everyone else who was happy, and for me being this pathetic. I didn't know what else to do so I cried myself to sleep.

    Later, Aiden walked into the apartment to see me curled up and asleep on the couch. From the look on my face, he could tell I had been crying. He walked over to the couch and knelt down.

    When his fingers lightly stroked my cheek, a motion meant to wipe away the already dried tears, I woke up. I kept my eyes closed and breathing even.

    “I’m sorry.” He whispered. “I didn’t mean fo you to get hurt like this. I’m going to protect you no matter what comes our way.” He leaned forward to lay a kiss on my cheek then on my forehead. His fingers touched my cheek before the warmth of his presence left.