Chapter 1

"I'm not going to lie to you I think we should go out," I told him with as much courage as I could muster up.

This was entirely embarrassing, but I knew that it was with good reason; it would be worth it in the end. Bryce has been my best friend for as long as we have known each other and I know that this is seeming to come out of nowhere. It wasn't until recently that I noticed him in that type of way myself, so I'll understand if he's overwhelmed or it takes him some time but we are mates. We're made to be together, so it'll all work out, eventually, right?

I stood there holding my breath waiting for his answer hoping that he would give me a chance. I watched his face contorted in confusion, his beautiful brown eyebrows slowly crashing together. His face was the epitome of perplexity and his mouth fell open but his reply was rebelliously fighting against all odds to stay in his throat. Finally after an excruciatingly long pause he snapped his mouth closed before answering,

"Um… Alyssa I wouldn't want to hurt you. You mean a lot to me and I don't want to ruin-" I took a deep breath, its for the sake of us being together I told myself.

"Bryce, you couldn't hurt a fly, we both know that outside of football those muscles are useless," I joked attempting to lighten the mood. I counted it as success when he broke into a grin at least for a little while. I even caught a glimpse of that twinkle that only shined in his eyes when he was amused. It was almost as if someone had melted the happy expression off of his face as if it were chocolate by a torch.

"If only that were true for girls," he said sadly.

"Bryce you've never hit a girl before and if your ex girlfriends can complain of anything getting hurt it would be their pride." He sighed because he knew that I was right, I could see it on his face.

"I know but…" after some more arguing, which is a gracious way of saying begging, he finally gave in.

Even though I got him I was still second guessing and he just took it slow trying to consider me, to make sure that this was what I wanted. I was just patiently waiting on a day when he would just wake up and see. We didn't immediately rush in and start holding hands or kissing like I thought we would. Instead he wanted to 'hang out' so he could "get used to me as a girl" he had said. Although I understood that didn't stop me from being disappointed.

To say the least the first month and a half was kind of weird even our first day was awkward…

I had enlisted the help of Angelica, my female best friend, actually she found out about our date and she just came over. Together we picked out this red dress, I'd recently bought that was strapless, stopped about mid thigh, and displayed my figure nicely. It was a outfit that I had fell in love with when I bought it mainly because it had a way of making my chest look bigger without having it protruding out as if on a plate in offering to any guy to see. Just enough to impress but not slutty that's why this dress with the matching six inch heels were perfect. I just flat ironed my hair because my hair naturally just seems to 'fall in the right place' Angelica had told me. Since he wanted us to meet there Angelica dropped me off with the intention of forcing him to have to bring me home.

With a wish of good luck and my bundle of nerves in tow I walked into the restaurant. It was an old Italian diner that we both loved but seemed almost too formal for regular visits but with the familiarity of it that we always felt made it almost the perfect date spot for us.

I stood nervously at the entrance looking around trying to see if I could find him and hoping he wouldn't stand me up. Finally with a deep breath for confidence and a squeeze of my clutch for security I took a step in the glass doors. Making another visual sweep, I still didn't see him and turned to look at the doors, at the green 'Sanchianos' that had been painted across the glass.

I squeezed my clutch again reminding myself that Angie was only a phone call away just in the event of a worst case scenario. I imagined name parting as I walked out, this was my last chance to walk away, I exhaled instantly making a stubborn decision to stay for as long as I had too. I was turning back around to face my fate for the night,

"Alyssa," I heard Bryce's familiar voice. I turned to him, my heart pounding, I saw him looking me up and down, I even thought I saw a flicker of desire in his eyes but it was gone as fast as it appeared replaced by a coat of mixed emotions, determination at the forefront. He was smiling at me and I smiled back,

"Bryce," I was glad that he was there. He held his hand out me to take as I appraised his always creatively tousled brown hair, his broad shoulders and what I knew was a well muscled body clad in a black suit that subtly hinted at the muscles underneath, all the way to his shiny black shoes.

Finally my eyes came back up to his light, almost transparent, green eyes that always seemed to have a deeper darker green backdrop behind it that only came to the forefront when he was fervently under the influence of his emotions. I took his outstretched hand and his big, work-roughened hand folded in and consumed mine. He had a strong, firm grip though it didn't crush my hand I could tell it was achieved with some effort. He led me to a table and pulled out my chair with the graceful ease of a true gentleman before taking his own across from me.

We didn't immediately start speaking to one another and our waiter took advantage of it to receive our orders. We were still silent a moment even after the waiter had left our table in our nervousness we both struggled the entire evening seemingly without success to fill the voids. Until the food came then we allowed ourselves to believe that it was okay to be silent as we ate. We didn't risk another failed attempt instead we'd taken advantage of the opportunity at a break. However after a while I tried to be subtle just to get him talking a little,

"Mmmm, this is as good as ever," I said as if to no one in particular but loud enough for him to hear.

"Yeah, we hadn't been here in a while I almost forgot how good the food was," he replied. I couldn't help the smile that spread across my face at his flawlessly unforced reply. He stopped, his last forkful of food halting midway to his mouth, he stared at me a moment,

"Why are you smiling like that," he asked distracted.

"Don't worry about it," I teased, I knew I was goating him but I couldn't very well tell him what it was, that was just too embarrassing.

"Come on, Alyssa," Bryce tried to pry the truth from my lips. Before I could refute him or give in the waiter returned,

"Dessert," he asked me and I offered my acquiescence.

We continued with our typical affable banter until after dessert was done and by a slip of the tongue I abruptly cut into our genial atmosphere. We were at the end of our date and I had kind of ended it on an awkward note. Knowing that he had to drive me home I hoped for that time to set to rights my blunder however things didn't go according to plan. We had walked outside and I had turned to him, in front of the entrance, opening my mouth to speak.

"Bryce, I-" as soon as his name was out of my mouth his ringtone cut me off and his desperate search for his phone took his attention off me completely. I shut my mouth when he triumphantly pulled it out and I would have laughed at his unnecessary show of victory but even the beginnings of the smile that was still laying out on my face died quicker than it had started when I heard,

"Hey man we're having a party at my house, you should totally come over," I heard Todd's voice through the phone. I was puzzled by the invitation because the two were barely friends and had only talked to one another a handful of times, but then Bryce answered,

"Yeah, I'll be right there,"

"Come now, its in full swing and it's so crazy over here it'll definitely take the edge off," he said, my chest tightened, I ignored it and pretended as if I didn't know what his implication meant.

"I need it," it took everything I had in me to bottle up all that I felt in order to look oblivious as I opened my clutch when Bryce, almost immediately, sent a remorsefully guilty glance my way to see if I way paying attention. I dug out my phone and fought back tears,

"I'll see you guys in a bit," he said trying to end the call but not before I heard the final blow,

"Yeah yeah definitely but you better hurry though cause I don't if they'll be any girls left to ease your mind if you don't," I turned around to go back inside, thoroughly ashamed, just as he hung up.

"Alyssa-" Bryce, knowing it was already a lost battle, didn't fight when I cut him off,

"I'm heading back inside for the restroom before heading out, I'll see at school on Monday." Not waiting for a response I went back inside without another word. I headed straight for the restroom whilst dialing Angie's number. She picked up halfway through the first ring,

"Hey Lyss, how'd the date go," she asked aiming for a casual tone in case it had went bad. I took a deep breath to steady myself from freaking out in the restroom of my favorite restaurant, how ironic is that?

"Angie can you come pick me up," that was I could manage pass the growing lump in my throat but that's all I needed to say. That was enough; that alone said everything,

"I'm on my way," her voice was clipped and upset, "just wait there, I'm coming," then she hung up and I waited there, too embarrassed to go back out there.

I felt like a ticking time bomb by the way all of my suppressed emotions were struggling to get out. Luckily I held it together until she dropped me home, despite her immediately wanting to know, she didn't push it when I didn't jump to answer but instead opted to stare blankly out the window. She had asked our moms for permission to stay over at my house so she came up with me and there I finally released.

In the comfort of my own room, I sank to the floor and just let the tidal waves of emotion hit me. Angie didn't hesitate to step in and try to comfort me but her words were an echo in my mind as the memory of all that went wrong tonight flashed before my eyes. Eventually I calmed down enough and told her everything.

"So he told Todd and the rest of those idiots at school," she screamed and I shushed her. I didn't need my parents to get involved because the only way to save him would mean my telling them he's my mate but that still may not work. I nodded sadly though,

"Most likely, from sounds of it, because Todd and Bryce aren't exactly close. So you know if even he knows all of the rest them must know and God only knows what exactly he told them but from what Todd said it had to have been really bad." I didn't know what to think or what to do, I just felt helpless and a hopeless wreck when I cried myself to sleep that night.