19 Confessions

Cassia and Ivan got as far as the path leading to the house when the door flew open and a pair of golden colored bear cubs came scrambling out and running towards them. Smiling, Ivan bent down and scooped them into his arms with a grunt, "You girls are getting heavy," he said kissing them both on the tops of their bear hears. Cassia giggled as the girls made little noises of excitement. He put them down and told them to go dress for dinner. The cubs went tumbling back into their house. Cassia worked to calm her nerves. As if sensing it, Ivan gave her a pat on the back before heading toward the door.

Agatha stepped out, wiping her hands on a towel, "Huck is down at the river. Nico helped him down there. His leg is quite swollen so I told him to let it soak in the cold water."

"He didn't want me to stay," Nico said apologetically, coming out behind his mother, "I told him he shouldn't stay there on his own but he said he'd be fine and he wouldn't take any other answer. He said he wanted us all to leave him alone."

"That sounds like him," Cassia gave a sad smile, "I'll go get him."

There was just enough light left to see as Cassia made her way down the little path towards the river. She wondered what it had been like for Nico and Ivan to drag a frozen polar bear and wolf all that way. She couldn't remember any of the trip. She was getting closer to the river when she heard a noise ahead and instinctively moved behind a tree along the path to hide. She peeked around when she heard the sound again and this time saw where it was coming from.

Huck was a bit farther down the path but she knew he hadn't seen her. He had a hand propped against a tree, eyes closed, his face twisted in pain, gripping his leg with his other hand. Black hair hung down and looked damp. Cassia wondered if it was from the river or sweat from the energy it was taking him to move his injured body. The arm that was holding him up was starting to tremble so he pushed himself upright and stared at the ground in front of him. His square jaw was clenched and his breaths were coming quick and short. Cassia didn't know what to do. She hated seeing him struggle, her heart was breaking, but she knew he would be embarrassed and angry if she revealed herself now.

Before Cassia could decide what to do, Huck took one step and cried out in pain when his weight landed on his injured leg. He tried to quickly shift the weight to his other leg but it was too late and he lost his balance, falling to his knees. He let out a roar of anger making Cassia jump before he pulled back and punched his fist into the tree trunk. Immediately, he pulled it to his chest and cradled it there. He rested his forehead against the tree for a moment before slowly working to turn around and stretch out his injured leg. Sitting now, he leaned back against the trunk and let his head fall back against it, eyes closed. He was breathing hard and she knew he was angry.

Not able to take it any longer, Cassia stepped out from her hiding place and hurried towards him. At the sound of her, Huck snapped to attention and looked shocked to find her walking towards him. "Cass?" his voice was hoarse and as she came to him she saw how exhausted he looked. "What are you doing here?" he asked in confusion, "I told Nico I was fine on my own." Cassia quickly knelt down over him, a knee on each side of his legs, and didn't wait to explain. Instead, she took his face in her hands and tilted it up, before she closed her eyes and kissed him.

Cassia had kissed Huck many times in their lives but never a real kiss. Never on his lips. Now, kissing him, she was happy to find such soft lips on someone who, otherwise, wasn't very soft at all. She moved to pull away but was pleasantly surprised when his hands locked on her hips and held her in place. She smiled against his lips and he moved one hand up to the back of her neck, letting his fingers weave into her silver hair. He pulled her closer to him and kissed her deeply now, with a passion that had been locked away for too many years. Cassia breathed in his familiar scent and now, tasted him, something she had never imagined she would do. Very gently she caught his bottom lip in her teeth and a groan escaped him. She giggled as she let go and now rested her forehead against his as they always did. "I love you Huck," she whispered.

"I love you Cass," he replied, his deep, rumbling voice making her hair stand on end. He wrapped his arms around her pulling her down into his lap and hugging her to his chest. "What's happened?" he asked, "When you left you were so angry and..."

"You were pretty angry too," she giggled, sitting back to meet his golden-green eyes in the moonlight.

Huck looked away, embarrassed, "I'm sorry about that. I shouldn't have given away your secret. I was just so mad I..."

"I was being stupid Huck and cruel. I just didn't...I didn't realize what I was doing..."

"You didn't know how I felt," he shook his head, frowning as he studied the ground, "I never told you. I should've. I guess I just thought you'd know. You had to know how I felt."

"How do you feel?" she asked anxiously, needing him to tell her exactly.

He looked up and Cassia was surprised to see there was worry in his eyes as he studied her face. "I love you Cass," he said quietly, watching for her reaction, "I've always loved you but then, I don't know, at some point it was just different. I thought about you all the time and I wanted us to always be together and I...I wanted to kiss you. I wanted to make you my mate I just... I was worried maybe you wouldn't feel the same way so I just didn't say anything. I thought if I told you and you didn't feel the same then things would get uncomfortable and you probably wouldn't want to keep being around me and I just couldn't risk it. I would rather be in love with you but spend my life as just your friend then risk trying to tell you and losing you."

Cassia kissed him again then, a long slow kiss, just enjoying the feel of him like this.

"I want to protect you from everything Cass," he whispered pressing his forehead against hers after their kiss, "I want to go everywhere and do everything with you. You're my best friend but I want you as my mate."

"I want all that too," she smiled, "I've just always thought that it wasn't what you wanted and that's why you never brought it up."

"I'm an idiot," he sat back, shaking his head, "I always thought you would be able to tell from the way I was acting so you must not have wanted the same thing or you would've asked."

"You are an idiot," Cassia giggled, "But I should've noticed too. I just didn't. So when I was leaving with Nico and when I told everyone we weren't mates it was just because I thought that was what you wanted."

"Well, so you know now, I never want you sneaking out while I'm asleep to go running with another man," he laughed, "That was driving me mad. And when you were telling him things I just panicked you were going to leave me so I shifted."

"I know. I'm sorry," she said sadly, "You're in a lot of pain now?"

He grinned mischievously, "I am but kissing you makes things much better."

Cassia laughed and shoved against his chest, "Well let's go home and tonight I will kiss you a lot more."

Huck raised his brows in surprise, "Ivan is letting us stay? Did you tell him everything?"

"I did and he said we can stay. Now, we should get home before he comes looking for us. I'm going to shift into a horse and take you back so you don't have to be on your leg."

"That was probably one of the hardest things about being in love with you and not telling you," Huck gave her a lopsided grin, "Every time you shift I see you naked right in front of me and it would make me crazy but I couldn't do anything about it."

Cassia blushed so deeply Huck could see it even in the moonlight and he laughed. "I'm going to shift in the trees" she said in embarrassment.

"What?" Huck demanded, hand flying to his heart as if she'd wounded him, "I just admitted I'm in love with you and I want you to be my mate. You can't stop shifting in front of me now!"

Cassia rolled her eyes and giggled and stepped back. Back to him, she pulled off her clothes and, before Huck could argue, shifted straight into a horse to take him home."