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The added "Mature" rating is just in case... probably for later chapters. I'll try to add an extra Warning in chapters with stuff young'uns shouldn't really read
EDIT: WHY I WAS BANNED FROM NING.
So since so many of you keep asking this, I got tired of seeing these questions and answering. So here's the scoop.
I had multiple accounts. I consider myself a somewhat/anti and had seen many of them unfairly banned. So I created a separate account on which I can express my views without the threat of my fanfic account getting banned.
This account ended up getting banned later because of my rowdy talk. I created another account and was much more peaceful. I kept this account for a few days. Then one day, I was randomly banned (I didn't even know what I did wrong). Since they didn't give me a reason and I found this unjust, I created another side account. Before I even posted anything, this account was quickly banned. I created another account. This was banned in the matter of a minute or so. I gave up trying to beat this system, so I just went back to my Fire account. A few minutes later, I was alerted that that account was now banned too.
There's my story. Have fun spreading it around NING and beyond.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
(Credit to NATIE!)
Chapter 1 - 29 Page 1
Chapter 30 Page 9
Chapter 31 Page 16
Chapter 32 Page 25
Chapter 33 Page 27
Chapter 34 Page 30
Chapter 35 Page 34
Chapter 36 Page 57
Chapter 37 Page 63
Chapter 38 Page 79
Chapter 39 Page 95
Chapter 40 Page 98
Chapter 41 Page 104
Chapter 42 Page 106
Chapter 43 Page 114
Chapter 44 Page 126
Chapter 45 Page 155
Chapter 46 Page 191
Chapter 47 Page 218
Chapter 48 Page 269
Chapter 49 Page 271
Chapter 50: Part One Page 272
Chapter 50: Part Two Page 273
Chapter 51 Page 276
Chapter 52 Page 288
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I never thought it would end this way. How ironic that my mother’s problems from her past would turn out to match exactly to mine? Flashes of my short life flicked in my mind and my grip on the strong hand in mine tightened. I fell into a defensive crouch as they approached with eyes red as blood. This is it.
I walked through the hallways of my new school, clutching my books as if they were my lifeline. I focused my gaze downward, ignoring the contemptuous sneers on the faces of my fellow classmates. Picking up my pace, insults were tossed my way.
“You don’t belong here!”
“Get outta here!”
Blinking away the burning tears, I was nearly free, my outreached hand grazing the front doors, when a huge figure blocked my path. I looked up, smiling in immediate reaction to the familiar face I saw. But my breath froze as my chocolate brown eyes swept across his facial features, so familiar yet so different. Dark eyes usually warm and crinkled into a smile were cold and emotionless instead. The huge wolf-ish grin gone, replaced by a disgusted grimace. I felt my eyes widen and my body tense in shock.
He glared down at me, his mouth twisting into a snarl at the sound of my quivering voice wrapped around his name. Looking around, I saw that his expression looked no different from my peers. Horror and fear filled me as I took a step back, but to no avail. They all lunged, teeth bared and nails outstretched, and I closed my eyes, waiting for the pain.
“Lock her up!”
Not going down without a fight, I struggled against the cold hands restraining me.
“No! No!” I shouted. “Get away!”
“Sweetheart, wake up! It’s a dream!”
I wrenched my eyes open and in a flash, I was in a defensive crouch across the room, a growl bubbling from my throat. Then my brain registered my surroundings. Three figures stood near my bed, faces twisted worriedly. One was a young woman with thick, hazel locks, her beautiful features currently arranged to show her anxiousness. Mom. The second was a striking young man with bronze hair tousled charmingly, his expression identical to the woman’s. Dad. As my eyes slid to the final figure, I felt myself relax as I gazed into the warm eyes of my best friend. His familiar long, shaggy black hair framed his familiar strong face and his familiar huge form was familiarly only clad in a pair of familiar shorts. Jacob. My Jake. A small smile couldn’t help but turn the corners of my mouth as I straightened up. Jake immediately followed suit and broke out into his grin. However, my mom, Bella, and dad, Edward, kept their expressions frozen on their face.
“Jake,” I breathed, and he instantly strode to my side and engulfed me into a massive bear hug. Burrowing my face into his chest, I inhaled his woody scent and could feel the serenity wash over me.
“Heya, Ness. Gave us the scare there,” Jake murmured into my hair. “Feel up to sharing?”
I sighed but gave in. I reached out with both of my hands, one to press onto Jake’s chest and the other to grasp Mom’s outstretched hand. My powers have expanded a few years after I was born and thus I did not have the need for contact with the face in order for my gift to work. I had to make sure I don’t accidentally communicate like this to a human at school. Daddy would merely watch from my or Jake’s mind.
As the images from my recent dream flashed through, I watched their reactions. Daddy looked strained, Momma looked worried, yet Jake was tranquil, fully content that I was safe. This made me smile.
“Oh, Nessie,” Bella crooned and in a flash she was next to me, pulling me into an embrace, her cold yet comforting hands brushing my bronze hair away from my face. “They’ll all love you.”
“I know, I know. It was just a dream,” I said exasperatedly. They were all so protective.
Dad claimed me next, hugging me tightly. “We have a right to be protective, sweetheart. And I’ll add that if you have any problems with anyone, even wolfy here—“ he nudged Jake “—then they’ll have to answer to me.”
Jake pulled me back into his arms and I shuddered from the sudden change in temperature. “And don’t worry, Ness, I’ll be there to protect you from all the bullies in the world. We’ll all be there. Not that you’ll really need it. You could probably take on the whole school in a rumble and win.” He grinned. “And besides, they’d all be too busy soaking in your beauty to hate you.”
I slapped his arm lightly but he still reeled back from my force. “Shut up, Jake.” I knew I wasn’t beautiful. Sure, I was probably better looking than the average human with my flawless rosy coloring, bright chocolate-brown eyes, silky and thick bronze curls, and my perfect figure. But I was nothing compared to my vampire aunts and mom: Alice, Rosalie, and Bella.
Edward gave me a look—he hated when I downgraded myself like that—and I smiled sheepishly. Hey, I couldn’t control my thoughts all the time.
“Come on, Ness! You got to go get ready for school if you don’t want to be late,” my pixie-like aunt Alice called from another room. I grimaced. There was no doubt that Auntie Alice picked out an outfit for me, assembled from the most expensive designer clothes. As if I needed that for my first day of high school.
Dad leaned into me and whispered, “She probably did, that crazy Aunt of yours. We need to control her sometime or she’ll continue this reign of horror.”
“I heard that!” her angelic voice rang out.
“You were supposed to!” he retorted back. I merely giggled and clutched my Jake to me tighter while Mom just sighed.
* * * * *
In a few minutes, I was on the back of Jake’s red Harley bike, my arms wrapped around his waist. It took forever to convince my parents to let me go to school on a motorcycle; at first I wanted to drive my own bike. But I compromised with the deal that I could ride to school, as long as Jake was the one driving. Alice was opposed as well, but only for the reason that my hair would be messed up, to which I rebuked by saying that it would enhance my look with the windblown effect. She bought it.
I let out a sigh and buried my face in Jake’s back. Though I knew he heard me, he did not act like he did which made me grateful. I was too deep in thought about my first day of school. Ever.
Despite the fact that I had been able to control myself for the past six or so years, I had been unable to go to school until now, when my growing has finally slowed enough to be nearly unnoticeable. My real age was six, but my mind was of a college-educated and my body looked in its high-teens, clearly able to pull off being a sophomore in school. I could have pulled off being a freshman, but I refused to be separated from Jake, including different grades, and he barely could be passed as a high school-er, let alone a freshman. So I was registered as a sophomore in Washington High School, attending my first day in the middle of the year. Jake would be a sophomore with me, Bella, Edward, and Alice would be juniors, and Emmett, Jasper, and Rosalie would be seniors. It made me feel better that nearly my whole family would be there with me.
I felt a little guilty about one thing, however. Taking Jake away from his pack in Forks. Though he can easily visit them anytime, it wasn’t the same as being able to be around them all the time. I knew he missed his pack, especially Quil and Embry (who were now under the charge of Sam once more), but he claimed that he would miss me more if he stayed. He would even joke that he’s glad to be rid of the pressure of having to lead a pack. He was such a sweetheart and my one best friend.
We arrived at the school, screeching to a halt in a parking spot. Edward’s silver Volvo neatly parked next to us and Emmett’s green monster Jeep stopped next to him. I quickly dismounted the bike and straightened my clothes nervously. After a brief moment of disagreement, Alice convinced me into wearing her picked-out outfit: a pink, sequined tank top with a short miniskirt and black, high-heeled boots. I also wore a feminine leather jacket for show; after all, I did not get cold. I carried a Prada purse with me and a designer backpack.
The forecast was currently cloudy—as it was nearly 95% of the time in this little town in Washington State, just a whiles away from Forks—and the diluted sunlight leeched off some of the brilliant colors direct light would bring. Of course, I did not have to worry as much about it being cloudy or not; neither did Jake for that matter. My skin merely looked more radiant in the sunlight, just a faint and subtle luminosity, unlike the rest of my family.
Jake turned off the engine and came to stand next to me as Edward, Bella, Alice, and Jasper floated out of the Volvo and Emmett and Rosalie emerged effortlessly from the Jeep. They all placed themselves strategically around me, their way of telling me that I was protected. Giving them all a smile, I led the way to the front doors, Jake right next to me and everyone else trailing behind.
Last edited by Fire (2010-06-09 00:28:34)
As we walked past, heads turned, mouths dropped, and eyes stared. I looked down, embarrassed, until Jake put a comforting arm around me. I felt Edward tense behind me then heard Bella whisper reassuringly so softly and quickly that even I had a hard time of understanding. I wasn’t quite sure what Dad’s problem was with Jake and my friendship. But he always seemed so disgruntled whenever Jake hugged me or had any physical contact with me. Don’t know what his problem is—we’re just friends after all.
Edward snorted lightly behind me. Briefly I wondered whose thoughts he was reading but was distracted when we reached the front office. I could feel the additional weight of my family’s gazes combining with the stares of my peers. Ignoring them, I marched into the small room, head held high.
The kind-looking lady sitting at the front desk glanced upward at the sound of a small ringing bell that sounded when the door opened. She seemed initially surprised and taken aback at the appearance of my family but quickly recovered.
“She’s a human,” Edward muttered too softly for mortal beings to hear. “They all react like this when they first see us. Be prepared.” I moved my head a minute amount down then up quickly. The only humans I really had much contact with were grandpa, Sue, Billy, and some people at the mall. But my family prepared me well for my coming to school, giving me tips and advice.
The human lady did not notice our exchange as she welcomed us.
“Hello there,” she smiled benignly. “I’m Ms. Jackson. You all must be the new students.”
“Yes, that is correct,” Edward replied smoothly, stepping forward as our spokesperson. Ms. Jackson’s eyes widened as they swept over his face and her breathing caught. My brow furrowed in confusion. Why was she acting so strangely to Daddy?
“It’s because vampires are so beautiful compared to humans, especially Daddy. So be prepared for when humans act like this, particularly when they first meet you,” Bella whispered in vampire-speed.
I reached out to touch the back of her hand lightly and showed her an image of me next to her in the sunlight; I only glimmered faintly while she sparkled like a million diamonds.
“You have enough vampire genes in you that you’ll take boys’ breaths away,” she replied softly.
I frowned a little. Me? Beautiful? As soon as I thought those words, I saw Edward twitch a little but he couldn’t chastise me for my belittling thoughts as he was still speaking to Ms. Jackson.
“My name is Edward Cullen. These are my siblings, Renesmee, Alice, and Emmett Cullen. This is Jasper and Rosalie Hale. And that’s Bella and Jacob Black.” He swiftly introduced us all and I tried to keep the surprise off my face at the sound of all these made up relations. All the “Cullens” were to be adopted by Carlisle and Esme, the “Hales” were siblings who lived with the Cullens, and Bella and Jacob were cousins and close family friends with the Cullens, also living with them. So complex. I hoped that I wouldn’t slip and make a mistake.
Ms. Jackson quickly handed out our schedules and maps to the school. “Sophomores Jacob Black and Renesmee Cullen.” I received my schedule and was relieved to see that I had some classes with Jake. Sadly, not all of them were the same. “Juniors Edward Cullen, Alice Cullen, and Bella Black. Seniors Jasper Hale, Rosalie Hale, and Emmett Cullen. There you go. Enjoy your first day of school at Washington High and if you have any questions, feel free to stop by.” She gave us a quick smile that faltered when we all smiled back breathtakingly, her heartbeat stuttering.
After a quick thanks, we left the office to stop by our lockers where our books would be, then to head off to our next class.
“Humans are so strange,” I muttered. I heard a collection of agreement behind me.
“You’ll get used to it,” Emmett said under his breath. “Just try and act human, too. Alright, kiddo?” He mussed my hair and stalked off to the senior hallway of lockers, grinning at the glares Alice was sending him and ignoring the threats she snarled under her breath about touching a girl’s hair again. Rosalie and Jasper followed after him.
“I swear, one of these days,” Alice muttered before turning to me. “Have a great day, dear. I wish I could see your future, but the little I can get tells me you’ll have a great day.” Smiling, she pulled me into a hug. My parents claimed me after her as she danced off to the junior hallway.
“Good luck, ‘little sister’,” Edward said before he and Bella left, hand in hand. I watched my family disperse to different parts of the school and immediately felt alone. Well, not completely alone. I glanced around at all the eyes still glued to me and Jake. What are these humans’ problems?
“Ignore them,” Jake said, watching my face as I took in all the gazes. “Come on, Bud, let’s check out our lockers. And we have English first hour, which I know you love.” I grinned at him, taking his offered hand and following him to the lockers. His was only a few lockers away from mine, so it wasn’t so bad. While stuffing my English supplies into my backpack, I took Jacob’s advice and tried to disregard all the turned heads and whispers that followed me. As if I couldn’t hear. Ha! But at least their words weren’t as hurtful as those from my dream… yet.
“Is that the new kid?”
“What’s her name?”
“She’s so pretty!”
“What an interesting name!”
“I wonder if I have any classes with her.”
“Ready to go?”
I turned to the familiar voice and smiled at Jake. “As ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s get this over with.”
Leading the way, he took my hand again as we headed towards the English wing. The whispers and seeds of gossip trailed along, particularly about what Jake’s and my relationship was. I chuckled at the thought of Jake and I together and simply shook my head at his curious look. I just couldn’t imagine Jake being anything other than my best friend. I loved him in the most brotherly way possible.
When we reached the doorway of my first classroom ever, Jake dropped my hand and motioned for me to go first, a huge grin on his face. Taking a deep breath, I stepped inside.
My eyes swept around the room and I felt myself relaxing. The huge windows on one wall gave the room a more open feel and the other walls were cluttered with posters of literature. Desks were stationed in neat rows and columns—nearly all of them had a student sitting at them—and a white-board at the front of the room, behind the teacher’s desk.
A scholarly man sat at the desk, scrawling a huge red B on a paper, and looked up when we entered. Smiling kindly, he introduced himself as Mr. Reed and told us to sit wherever there was an empty seat. Glancing around shyly, I saw how nearly all eyes were on me—again—while a few were staring openmouthed at Jake. Sadly, there weren’t two open seats next to each other—the only ones left were at opposite sides of the classroom—so I sat next to a girl who wasn’t staring at me so much. Hopefully she was nice. Jake took his seat and shot me a glance that told me that he wished he was sitting next to me, too.
The hour went by fast. They were in the middle of reading a book, Wuthering Heights, which was good since that was one of my favorite books. Thus I wasn’t so far behind having come in the middle of the semester.
The humans acted sort of strangely. But my opinion doesn’t count for much, I guess, since I haven’t been around mortals much. None of them really talked to me, preferring to just stare at me from a distance. One or two even looked a little disconcerted with my presence though they didn’t seem to know why. I guess I should have expected something like that since I was half vampire. But the most stares I got were ones that had a tinge of… awe. Maybe I was reading their expressions wrong though. After all, I haven’t had the most experience at this.
So the humans didn’t talk to me and I only saw it fair that I do the same; I kept to myself, head and eyes aimed downward. I tried to disregard the many eyes on me, thankful that Mr. Reed didn’t pick on me much because of my “new student” status. My fears from my dream almost seemed alive; it was obvious that these kids thought I was a freak (and I tried not to think that I WAS a freak thought that phrase kept running through my head).
I did glance over at Jacob a few times and his dark and anxious eyes were always on me, completely ignoring the girls around him trying to catch his attention (they were pathetic, really. Tittering and giggling and batting their eyelashes at him. Staring openmouthed with drool dripping off their chin. It was as if they had never seen a boy before. Pathetic. And no, I was NOT jealous. Just looking out for my best friend. Right?). Whenever I caught his gaze, he would smile at me comfortingly, making me feel better immediately. My Jacob.
Finally the bell rang. Thank god. The tension was killing me and I was ready to be out of here. Gathering my books, I got up and found my pathway blocked by a huge, muscular guy who reminded me distinctly of Emmett. With his dark hair swept into his appraising eyes, he lounged with one bronzed hand braced against a nearby desk and watched me with a cocky grin on his full lips. He could’ve passed for a star football player. I took a step back, immediately feeling nervous.
“Hey. You must be Renesmee, the new girl,” he said and his deep, bass voice caressed my name gently. My heart skipped a beat. Okay, I had to admit, he was gorgeous. Even if he scared me a little bit.
This was the closest a human had ever been since I got here and as his intriguing scent washed over me, I had to keep from biting him. But my self control rivaled Carlisle’s and so I merely smiled at him, baring my sharp, white teeth.
“Yeah, that’s me,” I said in my clear voice that my dad often said sounded like an angel’s chorus. Silly dad.
His grin grew wider. “Well, welcome to Washington High, Renesmee. My name’s Derek. Derek Coles.” He held out a tan hand which I shook gratefully. At least someone was talking to me. Then, grinning playfully, he lifted my hand to lips and brushed a soft kiss upon it. A tingle ran down my back. Holding my gaze in his startling blue eyes, he asked softly, “Care to let me walk you to your next class, O fair one?”
Before I could reply or smile or giggle, another deep voice cut across.
“Sorry to interrupt, but there’s no need for that. We both have the same next class, so you can get on your way,” Jake growled, his hands shaking slightly.
Derek turned towards the voice and found himself staring into the chest of a huge guy. Trailing his gaze upward, he took in a sharp breath at the guy’s blazing eyes. Looking intimidated, he stuttered, “Um, s-sorry. I’d better get to class anyway. See you later, Renesmee.”
“Bye Derek,” I said, but he was already gone, gathering his books and racing out of the room. I sighed.
“Oh, I’m sorry for being so protective, Nessie, but I don’t like that guy. He looks like he just wants to eat you up,” Jacob admitted, pulling me into a hug. “Sorry.”
“Aw, it’s alright Jake. Can’t stay mad at you for long.” I pressed my hand to his arm, showing a picture of Derek running away. “Anyway, he’s probably still running,” I laughed and glanced up to see a grin playing on his lips. Grinning as well, I took his hand and tugged him towards the door. “Come on, let’s go to Chemistry.”
In Chemistry, Mr. Martin made us split up as well. He usually lets the class sit where they want with whomever they want, but he didn’t want two new kids to be partners so gave us to Chemistry ‘veterans’. At least our blacktop, science desks were next to each other.
My partner was a kind-looking girl with straight black hair and dark green eyes. She seemed shy and quickly mumbled that her name was Rachel Wender and gave me a soft smile. But we didn’t have much of a chance to talk more as today was movie day and spent the day watching GATTACA.
Jacob, ironically, had to sit next to that guy who talked to me in English, Derek. He sat in a rigid posture, jaw clenched and fists tight. On the other hand, Derek seemed to have gotten over his initial shock over Jake’s sheer height and ferocity, and decided that he wasn’t a threat. He spent the whole hour with his chair balancing on two legs, sending me winks every now and then. Curse my blushing. It was at times like this that I wished that I was a full vampire.
Nobody else, spare Jacob, Rachel, and Derek, acknowledged me—besides the occasional stare. It was at times like this that I wished I was a full human.
Third hour was Art for me, but Jake had Sport Skills. If it was up to either of us, we would’ve taken the same class, but Bella and Edward suggested that we take classes that interest us instead. I liked Art immensely; just letting the creativity flow freely as my wrist flicked across the padded paper, forming intricate designs with the slim paintbrush. Also, more people got the courage to come and talk to me; even it was just to say their name. Maybe it was just Jake’s intimidating presence that kept the humans from speaking to me earlier. Or maybe they were just getting used to my strangeness. Either way, a tall girl with cropped dirty-blonde hair introduced herself as Sophie Langston and sat next to me (thrilling!). In the middle of the hour, a boy with brunette hair and cute dimples walked past on his way to the sink and paused next to my desk, commenting on my artwork. He gave me his name as well; Kevin Quinn. When he walked away, Sophie giggled and muttered to me how ‘hot’ he was. And at the end of the hour, while we were all washing out our brushes of the paint at the sink, the rainbow of colors streaming into the drain, a boy with dark skin welcomed me to Washington High, calling himself Jay Dalton.
I was beaming brightly when I walked out of the art room, nearly skipping to my Creative Writing class. I knew I wouldn’t meet Jacob since his third and fourth hour were both held at the opposite side of the school.
Kevin had offered to walk with me to my next class since he also had Creative Writing and I consented gratefully, glad that the humans seemed to be accepting me.
I never realized how talkative a human can be. The ones I have met so far seemed so shy and withdrawn (well, Derek not so much, but even he didn’t babble like this). But Kevin’s chattiness exploded on me once we stepped out into the hallway. He talked about everything, especially about art and writing. I argued playfully with him on the finer points of sketching and found that I was enjoying his presence. He just radiated excitement, and though I was no Jasper, I felt it burning into my moods as well.
I was laughing at a joke he told me when I realized he had fallen silent. Turning to him, I raised an eyebrow, scrutinizing his expression. He looked… nervous.
“What is it, Kevin?” Did he notice my weirdness? Was he going to tell me that it was a mistake walking me to class and never wanted to see me again? Was he going to run screaming that I was a monster? I repelled the shudder that threatened to shake my form and turned towards him.
“It’s… nothing.” My brows rose higher and he chucked lightly at my expression. “Nothing. Really.”
I shrugged and turned back to the front. “Alright.”
We were quiet now as we neared out destination.
“Can I ask you something a little… personal?” Kevin suddenly asked.
“Sure,” I said on reaction, slightly surprised.
“That big guy you were with in the hallways before, who seems so protective of you—”
“Yeah, him. Um, are you two… like… uh…”
I caught his gist and laughed. “Oh, no, we’re not together in that sense. He’s my best friend, that’s all.”
“Oh,” he sighed, seeming relieved and grinned at me. “Right.”
We had walked a few more steps before he asked me about my family and the rest of the people I moved here with from Forks.
“Well, there’s Carlisle and Esme who are my adoptive parents. Then there’s me and my blood brothers Edward and Emmett. Then Alice was adopted by Carlisle and Esme. Jasper and Rosalie are siblings who came to us next. They just live with us. And finally, Jake and Bella are cousins and close family friends.”
“Why’d you guys move here?”
“Carlisle is a doctor and he got a job offer here, so yeah. Here we are.” I shrugged nonchalantly.
“And… Jacob? Why did he come with you guys?”
I smiled a little at his continuous curiosity about Jacob. “Jake came because he’s almost like family to us. He basically lives with us and he’s my best friend and a great family friend. Plus, Edward and Bella are together and couldn’t bear being apart.” I grinned at the truthfulness behind that statement. “So Jake came with Bella, in a way.”
“Edward and Bella are together? Are they the bronze-haired guy and the girl with long, dark hair?”
“Yup, that’s them.”
“What about the rest of them?”
“What about them?” I asked, slightly confused.
He flushed. “Well, are they together with anyone, or…” He trailed off, looking flustered.
Chuckling at his embarrassment, I filled him in. “Emmett and Rosalie, Alice and Jasper, Bella and Edward.”
“What about you?”
I felt a twinge of emotion at the thought of Jake with a girl, but I couldn’t place what it was. “Nope.”
We finally reached the classroom. As we walked in, my eyes were immediately drawn to Edward and Bella sitting in a corner, watching me come in. I forgot that they were taking this class as well. Bella smiled at me as I headed towards them, but Edward’s narrowed eyes were on Kevin. Kevin fidgeted under my father’s glare.
“Um, well, I’ll go sit over here. See you, Renesmee.”
I watched Kevin take the furthest possible seat away from us. Hm, looks like humans are intimidated by full vampires, even more so than they were of me or Jacob.
“As they should be,” Edward muttered under his breath to me, still eying Kevin. I grinned.
“Geex, Dad, what’s wrong? You look like you’re about to pounce on Kevin. Does his blood smell as good as Mom’s did when she was human?” I joked and I touched his hand to send him a picture of what he looked like to enhance what he could already read in my mind: tight jaw, deadly eyes glaring, radiating danger. I heard their story of how they met millions of times.
“No,” he gritted. “I just don’t like his thoughts very much. They way he thinks about you…” Edward trailed off, his teeth clenched. “Great job keeping up appearances though, Ness. You’re doing wonderfully.”
Mom took my hand and squeezed it reassuringly. But my attention was caught by another figure walking into the room—more of strutted in than anything else.
“Derek?” I said in surprise. I never took him as a writing-guy. He turned towards my voice and grinned widely. He froze in place at the sight of my parents but recovered quickly.
“Hey, Renesmee. What’s shakin’?”
I shrugged again and he laughed.
“So who’s this?” he said, gesturing towards my statue-like parents.
“Oh, this is Edward, my da—brother, and Bella, his girlfriend and my close friend.”
“Hey dude and dudette. Welcome to Washington High.” Derek stretched out a hand to Edward but he merely smiled a little at him. He dropped his hand, looking awkward. “So…”
“So. I didn’t think of you as the creative one. Just more of a hands-on type of guy,” I mused.
Derek grinned widely and I saw Edward tense out of the corner of my eye. “I can be extremely hands on if you prefer that. Catch my meaning?” He winked at me and I swore Edward was ready to lunge at him. Thankfully the bell rang then, signaling the beginning of class hour.
“I don’t like that Coles kid at all,” Edward muttered, glaring at the back of the head of Derek. Mom just laid a hand on his and he relaxed immediately. Strangely, I saw Kevin give Derek the exact same look as my father did. Huh. Weird.
As the final bell rang, releasing us for lunch, Derek approached me again, inviting me to sit with him and his football buddies at lunch (football; totally called it).
“Ah, sorry, Derek,” I apologized while watching Edward out of the corner of my eye. “I’m sitting with my family today.” And I don’t want my dad to rip your throat out, I added silently. I saw Edward’s lips curve up.
“Oh, rejection!” he clutched at his heart dramatically, causing me to giggle. “The pain!” He straightened up with a twinkle in his eye. Winking at me once more, he sauntered out with a wave. How did I ever find him frightening? The notion amused me now.
Lunch was… interesting. We all sat together at an isolated table away from the other humans (Uncle Jasper still had a little problem controlling his thirst and some of the others did as well). All the vampires had trays of food with them—props—while Jake and I had food with us to actually eat. Jake shoveled pizza into his mouth hungrily while I nibbled on an apple, one of the few human foods that I liked. I still preferred to hunt if possible.
As soon as I had spotted Jake after fourth hour, he had pulled me into a hug, muttering something about phasing on any boy that looked at me again. I figured that he didn’t like many of my human friends, especially the males.
While we sat at our table, talking and laughing to keep up appearances as eyes were constantly drawn to us, I saw Kevin heading towards us. I smiled and started to wave but he changed his direction abruptly and headed the other way. Hurt, I glanced at my family and saw the reason behind his strange behavior.
Jacob’s fists were clenched so the knuckles showed white and his eyes were narrowed and dark with hatred. I actually leaned away from him unconsciously in shock: he was that scary. My father had nearly the same expression on his face though not as extreme. I had to smile a bit at their overprotective-ness.
“Come on, Jake, Dad. People are staring at you even more than usual,” I muttered lightly.
“These humans, these boys,” Edward snarled between his teeth, “keep tempting my self control. I wish I could rip out their minds so they never think these thoughts again.”
“Aw, Dad, how bad can it be?”
His teeth clenched. “They fantasize about us, about you in particular since you don’t trigger their instinctive fear of vampires.”
I was briefly shocked; they were fantasizing about ME and not my beautiful and perfect vampire mom and aunts?
“Yes,” Edward hissed, his eyes darting to each of the perpetrators. “You.” Without taking his eyes off them, he continued to explain his theory. “Because you are half-vampire and half-human, you are more appealing to others. Even when you were a small child, we had a hard time taking you anywhere public because you would draw crowds from miles away.”
I rolled my eyes at the exaggeration. I knew the only reason I attracted that much attention when I was younger was because every living thing is drawn to child-like vampires. Much like the Immortal Children my family once told me about.
“What about that Kevin Quinn boy?” Bella asked. “Why was he headed over here before you two scared him off?”
“He was going to ask you to sit with him and his friends,” Edward answered and I felt Jake tense beside me.
“That’s not bad,” I replied and Jake looked at me incredulously. “What I meant was, there’s no need for you two to act like that against him.”
“His mind was drifting, too, Ness.”
“Oh.” I paused then turned to Jake to put my hand on his and sent him a picture of his face with the unasked question clear: how did he know what the human boys were thinking?
“I can see the lust in their faces, Nessie. And that one guy’s face was pretty clear on his intentions.”
I frowned, still not believing that I was the most interesting out of the rest of my family.
Edward looked like he was about to say something, probably about my thoughts, but was cut off by Alice.
“Stop fighting, guys. I’m trying to see around Nessie and Jacob, and I can tell that nothing’s going to happen anytime soon. Let’s calm down. The humans are getting suspicious.”
We all felt ourselves relax and the tension lessoned. Jasper.
“So,” Emmett said, trying to make light of things, “what else is on these humans minds?”
“Just us. All revolving around us.”
“Not that I can hear.”
Alice got up and flitted to the trashcan with Jasper by her side to dump her tray right as the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch period.
“Ness,” Edward called just as I was about to get up. I turned towards my father and saw him gazing above my head at the humans. “I’d tell you to stay away from them, but I don’t think you’ll listen. So I’ll just say be careful. Don’t let your guard down.”
“I second that motion,” Jake muttered. “And I’ll rip apart anyone that even thinks of hurting you in any way.”
“Come on, boys,” Rose interrupted as I was about to speak, “let the girl be.” She turned to me and kissed the top of my head tenderly. “Bye, Nessie, sweetie. Enjoy the rest of your day.” Then she gracefully strode out after Emmett who just winked at me.
I hugged Edward then turned to snuggle into Jake’s warm chest. “Don’t worry about me. Like you said, I could take on the whole school in a rumble and win.”
“I’ll be listening,” Edward said, placing a hand on my head before departing with my mother.
Jake squeezed me once more then sighed and let me go except for one hand. “C’mon Ness, let’s go to Pre-calc.”
Pre-calculus was a breeze for me though it was supposedly advanced for my grade. I had already done all this when I was four years old. The rest of my school day was much like the first half; the kids spoke to me if Jake wasn’t in my class, but if he was, they strictly stayed away. The only exception was a few of my newly made friends. I was glad to see that Rachel from Chem, Derek from English, and Sophie, Kevin, and Jay from Art were in a few more of my classes. I did make more friends, which excited me.
After school, Kevin invited me to hang out with a group of friends, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to test Jake’s temper (he was so protective today), so I declined. He looked a little downtrodden, but I was probably imagining it.
It was raining when school let out; everyone was hurrying to get to their cars but I stood in the middle of the torrent alone, my face raised towards the heavens and arms outstretched. I loved the feeling of the miniscule drops pounding against my granite skin. I was alone because my seventh hour was empty of my family, even Jake.
I felt two hands wrap around my already-closed eyes and the strong scent of human and rain filled my nostrils. Jerking away from the touch, I turned to face the hulking form of Derek grinning down at me, his dark hair dripping. In the back of my mind, I appreciated what the wet look did for him.
“Hey there, new girl. How was your first day?”
I took a step back to put more space between us and merely shrugged. I cringed slightly when he reached out and trailed his forefinger gently on my cheek, racing a raindrop to my chin. When I took another step back away from him, he laughed, dropping his hand.
“You don’t like physical contact much, do you?” he asked, eyes dancing with mirth. I couldn’t help but smile back at him.
“No, I’m fine with contact,” I replied truthfully. “You just surprised me.”
Derek’s eyes jerked up then to something I couldn’t see behind me and I suddenly felt another pair of arms, this time warm ones, wrap around me. I instinctively relaxed into the familiar form and leaned into him.
“Hey, Ness,” Jake murmured into my ear. “Sorry I kept you waiting in the rain.”
I smiled and glanced up at him to see that his gaze was the opposite of his soft and warm voice: it was hard and cold as they locked onto Derek’s. Derek’s gaze flickered away from his face and settled on something to the right of me as he took a step back, eyes wide. I suddenly felt the presence of six cold forms standing around me protectively.
Derek’s eyes seemed dazed as he took in a sharp breath, shaking himself from his reverie. “Um, see you tomorrow, Renesmee.”
“Bye,” I said but he was already turned around and walking away.
I pivoted to the right and smacked Edward on the arm. “Quit scaring my human friends!”
“I did nothing of the sort!” he defended himself but I caught the guilty look behind his innocent demeanor. “Anyways, you’ve known him for less than 24 hours. How do you know he’s your friend?”
I sighed. “You guys, I’m trying to be somewhat normal here and I can’t do that if you keep making vampire faces at the humans!” I turned to Jake. “Or werewolf faces!”
Bella walked towards me and put an arm around my shoulders. “I think you should let Ness be. She can protect herself.” My gaze flickered to my mom’s face and I smiled; I was sure she was defending me because she knew what it was like to be in my position, constantly being overprotected.
Jake sighed and draped an arm around me. “C’mon, let’s go home,” he said, steering me towards his bike.
After one long glare at my family, I got on the bike behind Jake and wrapped my arms around his waist once more.
* * * * *
I wrinkled my nose at Emmett, who had his celebratory huge grin of victory on his face. I briefly debated tackling him, but my dad gave me a look so I settled with flicking my king at his head. The little chess piece shattered upon impact and I was satisfied to see him tumble back off his seat. Darting around the table to kneel next to him, I placed my hand on his cheek to fill his mind with a picture of me triumphantly on top of a sprawled Emmett. I dashed back to my seat as Jake howled with laughter beside me.
The sun was beginning to set; our homework had already been done for hours and we were now awaiting a new day to begin. It really sucked sometimes that I still succumbed to the bodily needs of sleep while the rest of my vampire family did not. I just took comfort in the fact that Jake had to sleep, too.
Carlisle was still at work; the nurses and orderlies already loved him, but that wasn’t much of a surprise. Esme was flipping through an interior designer magazine at inhuman speed, occasionally pausing at a page to scrutinize it. We had brought most of our stuff with us from Forks, but seeing as how our house was now bigger than before, she jumped into the task of intricately designing our new home. Edward and Bella were by the piano—Dad has been working on teaching Mom how to play; she’s improving, but Edward still takes the cake in piano-playing—and he was now caressing the keys in Bella’s lullaby. Alice was sketching a new line of clothes while cuddling with Jasper on the couch; he was watching our chess match before it ended and was now commenting on her designs. Rosalie was helping Emmett up from his tumble, trying to keep the smirk off her face; she was watching the game, too.
I glanced at the clock and sighed. I still had a few hours before I would crash. I suddenly thought of an idea. Turning to Jacob, who raised his eyebrows at my sudden excitement, and pressed my hand to his cheek, my favorite method of communicating. He saw the picture of him in his wolf form and me darting around the trees after some unidentified animal and grinned.
“You want to go hunting, Nessie?” he asked excitedly.
I nodded and looked at my parents who paused on the piano. Edward looked a little hesitant but Bella just nudged him and nodded to me, giving me the go ahead. As I leapt from my seat towards the front door, Alice called out behind us playfully, “Ness is going to catch the biggest elk so don’t even bother, mongrel!”
Jake and I raced into the woods but I had the advantage since he wasn’t in his wolf form so I eased up. Once we reached a little clearing, Jake ducked behind some bushes to phase and a huge russet colored wolf lunged at me. Giggling, I side-stepped his attacked easily and crouched into a lunge. Just as he landed where I was a millisecond ago, I pounced on his back, wrapping my arms around his furry neck and placing my lips on his jugular.
“I win,” I declared quietly into his ear and, grinning, I hopped off. Jake the wolf gave me a look and rolled his eyes, as if saying that he let me win. I laughed. “You wish.” I reached out a hand to bury into his thick coat to give him a picture of me taking down the biggest elk. “Let’s hunt.”
We both took off into the forest, letting our senses take over. I caught a whiff of something and pivoted to the right. From my peripheral vision, I saw Jake turn and follow me as well. I raced towards the scent, dodging trees and boulders effortlessly. Jake was gaining on me (he always went easy on me; he could totally beat me in a race any day) so I pushed my body harder until I reached the top of the hill. I caught sight of the small herd of elk then and zoning onto the biggest one, I lunged.
The poor creature didn’t even have time to flinch as I lightly landed on his back and buried my teeth into his neck, snapping it instantly. I was vaguely aware of a huge wolf jumping on a nearby elk and taking him down. I grimaced and tried not to think about animal blood as I drained the body; I had to be weaned off of human blood a few years after I was born since at that rate I would rid of all the donated blood supply in the state and that was needed for humans. Once I learned that dying humans needed the blood to live, I switched to animal blood fully.
When I got off the carcass, wiping my mouth on the back of my hand, Jake was cleaning his muzzle in the dewy grass. I walked over to him, smug, as I showed him a picture of my elk then his; mine was obviously bigger. He play-growled at me then head-butted me so I fell down.
“Jake!” I cried out while he coughed up a laugh. He walked over to me and flopped onto his belly, looking pointedly at me then twisting his head to point his nose at his back. Confused, I pressed my hand on his head, sending him a vision of my riding on his back tinged with uncertainty. At his vigorous nod, I complied.
Swinging my leg over his back, I leaned forward and wrapped my arms around his neck, burying my face into his soft fur. When he got up, I tightened my grip. He jolted forward and I lifted my face to feel the wind slapping at my hair. A surprised laugh escaped my lips as I watched the trees dart past. Jake bounded up a huge hill, his giant paws thudding softly against the dirt and I felt him slowing. He reached the top of the hill and stopped, dropping back to his stomach. I got off his back, still grinning widely from that amazing experience then watched bemusedly as Jake trotted off behind a tree.
“Jake!” I called out. “Where are you going?”
He reappeared as a human, adjusting his clothes and grinning at me. “C’mon, up you go.”
“Up… where?” I asked, bewildered.
He pointed up the gigantic tree that dominated the crest of the hill. “Up there.”
My gaze trailed up the length of the tree and my lips pursed. “You want me to climb up the tree?”
“Race you to the top!” he laughed before lunging at the tree and weaving his way up.
“Hey!” I cried out before following in pursuit. Instead of aiming at the trunk like Jacob was, I lightly landed on the outermost branches, hopping from branch to branch so quickly it had no time to bend to my weight.
We both reached the top at the same time, laughing, each claiming victor. We collapsed against each other, leaning on the trunk of the tree.
“Okay,” I said once I could form coherent words, “what was that for?”
“So you can see this.” Jake pointed at the sky. From below, it was unnoticeable that the sun neared the horizon, but here at the top of the tree, the sky dominated, expanding from corner to corner. Midnight blue slowly transitioned into an array of colors until it reached the western edge where the bright white globe slowly made its way below sight. I could pick out every single color of the rainbow from the sunset.
“Oh,” I breathed, leaning into him. “Jake, it’s beautiful.”
“Like you,” he murmured into my ear.
I blushed and pushed at him. “Shut up.”
We both fell quiet as we watched the sun’s journey until it was no longer visible. Sighing, I got back up, balancing on a thin branch. “So… how do we get down?”
“Um…” he looked sheepish. “I hadn’t thought that far actually.”
Laughing—that was totally what Jake would do—I glanced down and estimated that it was maybe 90 to 100 feet from the ground. “I know. Let’s jump.”
Before he could finish, I jumped off, laughing wildly from adrenaline. The fall down was mind-numbing with the wind deafening my ears and whipping at my dark curls. I spread my limps wide so the air friction would slow me down slightly as I watched the ground getting larger until I touched down in the forest floor, crouched on all fours to spread impact. There was a dull thud and I felt the ground give way slightly under my hands and feet and the trees shuddered. I glanced up to see Jake hopping down from tree to tree, face screwed up in concentration. I held back my laugh until he reached the floor, landing with a light thump.
“Don’t… do that… again,” he panted, eyes filled with anxiety. “You scared me half to death.”
“Aw, Jake, you know I’m indestructible,” I said, breathing heavily from excitement. Watching Jake calm back down, I felt my heartbeat lower to my normal tempo and my breathing steadied. I suddenly felt a wave of exhaustion as my adrenaline faded completely. Teetering back, Jake steadied me quickly, eyes radiating worry. “’M okay,” I muttered, burying my face into his warm chest. He gently picked me up and I snuggled into his warmth, inhaling his lethargic, woody smell. My eyes fluttered close, my last vision Jake cradling me anxiously. “Sleepy,” I muttered before falling fast asleep.
When I woke up, it was still dark out but as I glanced out the window, I detected that the sky looked a shade lighter than it was at midnight, a dusky midnight blue color. I estimated that I had about an hour before having to get ready for my second day of school. Stretching like a cat, I was about to get up when I heard a glimmer of voices below me on the main floor. I strained my ears until I could make out a few words.
“Nessie still asleep?” Bella’s voice drifted up the stairs.
“Yeah,” Rose murmured back. “Dumb mongrel for exhausting her like that. Climbing trees and jumping off them! Trying to kill her, I think.”
“Rose,” Alice warned, “he wasn’t trying to harm anyone. She had a tiring day at school and was probably already exhausted even before going hunting. It was her idea to jump, too.”
“Just like her mother, isn’t she?” Emmett chuckled. Mom? What did he mean by that?
“I think Nessie’s awake,” Edward spoke then called up the stairs. “Honey, if you’re awake, come join us.”
Groaning softly, I hopped out of bed. Scrutinizing my clothes, I came to the conclusion that my parents changed me into my pajamas before placing me in bed. Wow, I really must’ve been tired to sleep through that. Yanking on a pair of jeans and a plain green t-shirt, I raced down the stairs before a second even passed.
“How’d you sleep?”
“Like a rock. Probably because of school,” I hinted. Edward smiled at me, knowing I was listening into that part of the conversation. I figured the rest of them knew I was eavesdropping, so I continued, “And don’t blame Jake. It was all my fault.”
“That filthy dog is the one that brought you to the tree in the first place though,” Rose snarled.
“Rose, come on. Be nice,” I pleaded and I saw her expression soften as it landed on mine. She always had a soft spot for me. “So where is Jake?” I asked, looking around and only seeing my parents, Alice, Rose, and Emmett. “And Carlisle and Esme and Jasper?”
“Carlisle’s at work again. Emergency call in the middle of the night. Esme and Jazz are hunting for a quick bite. And Jacob is still out.” Alice pointed up to where his room was in the house. My gaze followed her and right on schedule a thundering snore shook the ceiling.
We all lived under one roof; it was a lot more convenient and easier then trying to explain to the humans why Bella was living with us while her supposed cousin Jake wasn’t. In inventory, there was: seventy-two steps, fifty-six windows, forty-seven doorways, nineteen sinks (doubles are counted as two), twelve couches (some are in bedrooms), twelve cars (and counting), eleven bedrooms (one for each of us and a guest bedroom), eleven bathrooms, eleven closets, eleven beds, ten lab-tops, eight televisions, seven loveseats, four hot tubs, three floors, three computers, two grand pianos, two acres, two pools, one house, one attic, one basement, one kitchen, one living room, one family room, one game room, one party room, one gigantic garage, and a partridge in a pear tree. Okay, not a partridge because we probably would’ve eaten it by now. No joke.
All of our bedrooms were on the third floor. In order, it goes from Carlisle, Esme, Alice, Jasper, Emmett, Rosalie, Bella, Edward, Jacob, and me. Dad always jokes that he’ll always be listening for Jake.
As my gaze lingered on the place where Jacob’s form would be, my lips curled up wickedly as a thought came to mind. I turned to Edward and he instantly saw what my idea was. His golden eyes sparkling with mirth, he nodded, holing back a laugh. I raced up the stairs in a flash, my bare feet padding on the floor soundlessly. I heard Alice ask, frustrated, about what I was up to (she was still bummed that she couldn’t see werewolves though she was definitely working on it) and Edward’s chuckling response.
Cracking open Jake’s bedroom door a sliver, I peeked inside then silently threw the door open. He was sprawled on his king-sized bed, limbs tangled with sheets and pillows. His mouth lolled open as a rumbling snore ripped through the room. The warm, woody scent that was unique in this home assaulted my senses as I crept in. He was clad only in a pair of worn sweatpants, bare-chested as usual. It rose and fell in huge motions as his feet twitched in his sleep, much like a dog’s. I vaguely wondered what he was dreaming about.
When I was a few feet away from the edge of the bed, I crouched then threw myself into the air in a graceful arc, twirling until I reached the crest then dive-bombed him. Cannonball.
I landed with a smack on his rock-hard stomach and he merely oomph-ed a little from impact. Darn wolf-genes mess up my fun. Cracking open one eye, he blearily searched for the source of his tumble back to earth until his gaze locked with my amused one. I sprawled on top of him, propping myself up on my elbows and bringing my face inches from his.
“Wakey wakey, Jakey,” I crooned and was taken aback when he placed a big, sloppy kiss on my cheek. “Ew, Jacob!”
He grinned wolfishly at me and just wrapped his arms around me as I complained. “Your consequence for waking the wolf: You are now my prisoner.” His arms tightened in an iron-like grip. As much as I struggled, I couldn’t get lose.
“Jake,” I complained before realizing he wasn’t letting me go. I fell silent and stared him down, daring him to break eye contact. He didn’t. After a few minutes, I became conscious of the fact that Jake was looking at me strangely, his brow furrowed in deep thought. Before I could place what emotion swam behind his dark eyes, he lurched up into a sitting position, taking me with him.
“I’m hungry,” he announced and gathered me in his arms without looking me straight in the eye. Kicking the door open, he carried me like a baby to the kitchen where Dad was already preparing eggs, another one of my favorites. But as I was nibbling on the plate of food in front of me, my mind couldn’t help but wander back to that strange emotion in Jake’s eyes.
When I woke up one morning, I suddenly felt that something had changed. When I opened by sleep-weary eyes, I immediately realized what it was.
“It’s snowing!” I cried out and hopped out of bed and was at the window in a fraction of a second. Pressing my hands and nose to the window pane (and beginning to fog it up with my body heat), I gazed at nature’s transformation. Everything—the trees, road, grass, dirt, roofs, tops of cars—was blanketed in a thick layer of untouched snow. The paleness of the snow would have blinded me if I was a human, but with my special half-vamp eyes, I could see the semi-dullness of it. It was not nearly as bright as my family’s skin in the sunlight.
Speaking of sunlight, there was another surprise awaiting us: the sun was shining brightly, reflecting down on the microscopic crystals of water. I could compare the snow to vampires, since they both dislike being here and are not always doing this for others. The one bad thing about this is that none of the pure-vampires can go to school with me. Carlisle and Esme told me before that I could skip school with my family if I wished, but Edward and Bella were a little reluctant because they wanted my first year of school to be as normal as possible. I quickly made up the decision to go to school today; after all, it’s only been a few weeks since I started school, and I didn’t want to lose any moment of school. Or give my human ‘friends’ any chance to realize that I was a freak and that they didn’t want to be friends anymore.
Interestingly enough (unlike the human students who constantly complained about going to school), I actually somewhat enjoyed it. Yes, it was boring at times. Yes, I already knew all the material. But that was nothing compared to feeling accepted by my peers.
Gradually, the humans got used to me and tried to befriend me, to my surprise. They would ask me to hang out with them after school or during weekends, sit with them during lunch, etc. The most insistent ones were the kids I met on my first day, particularly Derek, Kevin, Sophie, and Jay. Rachel, the quieter one, was not as persistent, but I could see in her eyes how much she wanted to befriend me as well.
I did not want these humans to come to the conclusion that I was different from the others… too different. I did not want to come back the next day after skipping school to a scene like the one in my dreams. I was too insecure about myself.
I did reject every invitation they thrust at me, each time hoping it wasn’t the last. One, because of my insecurity, I wasn’t sure how the humans would react if they got a chance to be around me for extended periods of time (though my family and Jake repeatedly told me that I had no reason to worry; they were all infatuated with me). Two, I was unsure if I had the ability to control my vampire traits in front of them (though Alice constantly told me that nothing would happen if I left; but I wasn’t certain if I could rely on her visions since I was still just a blur to her). And three, I had the inkling that Edward and Jacob would tear out the throats of any (male) human that I accepted an invitation to (though they refused to admit it). And the rest of my family was just as protective (though maybe not as extreme). It was thus lucky that their ‘infatuation’ with me did not fade.
Interestingly enough, the humans still avoided my vampire family members. I thought that they would have to fight off the hoards of people wanting friendship, but it seemed that it only played affect for me. I didn’t know what the humans were thinking in their strange minds to decide that I was more fascinating then my family.
Jacob, however, was a little bit like me. Except for the fact that only girls pursued him. Giggling, drooling, flirting girls. Every time another one of them clawed at him, begging for attention, something inside me squeezed painfully and I felt the need to rip him away from all of them. He was MY Jacob. So it pleased me to see that every time, he would politely pull himself away from them. My Jacob.
As I continued to watch outside, mesmerized, a swirl of snowflakes swept past the window on its descent down, and I felt the urge to try to catch all of them.
I loved winter; it was my favorite season, especially with games in the snow. It becomes very interesting in games played between vampires (or half vampires… or werewolves for that matter). I laughed, thinking of our last snow rendezvous. I’ll have to remember to ignite a snowball fight later tonight.
Changing quickly, I bounded down the stairs to the living room where most of my family was gathered.
Alice flitted to my side instantly. “I can see something about a snowball fight. Nice. I’m in.” I grinned at her and her visions; she couldn’t see me exactly, but could tell what was going on in a general sense. “And I also see you not with us today, so I’ll take a guess and say you’re going to school today?”
“Yup.” I looked around. Carlisle and Esme looked content with my answer. Edward and Bella looked pleased yet slightly worried. Probably because they wouldn’t be able to ‘protect’ me today at school. Rosalie acted nonchalant with my decision, smiling at me with I locked eyes with her. Emmett’s expression caught my attention the most. He looked downright disappointed. I laughed.
“Don’t look so blue, Emmett. I’ll be sure to beat you in a snowball fight after school.” At my words, he perked up immediately, a sly grin on his face.
“Don’t be too sure of that, shorty.”
* * * * *
Minutes later, I was on the back of Jake’s bike once more. I had wanted to run to school in order to enjoy the beauty of the snow-crested forest, but my parents reminded me of the need to blend in. Right.
Jake skillfully maneuvered over the poorly plowed roads, weaving between lanes and cars. Though he was not a vampire, he sure drove like one at times.
Today’s day at school was pretty much the same as always, except there was a little hype about the snow. Especially it being Friday, it seemed like everyone was making plans to go sledding, skiing, or host a snowball fight.
Kevin had bounded towards me like an excited puppy, babbling about the snow. I grinned at him, sharing his excitement. Jake seemed a little tense at Kevin, but tried not to show it.
Right before lunch, Kevin asked me to sit with him, Rachel, Sophie, and Jay at lunch. I had already explained to him how the rest of my family decided to start the weekend early and go on a skiing trip in the mountains and twisted a story about how Jake and I were to catch up with them later. Not really wanting to sit alone at a table with just us two, I agreed. He seemed to have an extra bounce in his step when we left the classroom.
I caught up with Jake by our lockers and told him about the invite at lunch and how I agreed. He tensed up immediately and I saw a flash of something in his eyes.
“And of course you’re sitting with us, right?” I finished.
He noticeable relaxed, perhaps coming to the conclusion that with him there, I’ll be safer. Slinging his arm around my shoulders, he whispered in my ear, “I go wherever you go, Ness, remember? Like your personal watchdog.”
I pushed him away jokingly and crossed my arms in mock-anger. “I do not need a watchdog.” Then I hugged his tightly. “But I do need a friend.” I felt his arms wrap around me gently and sensed that I was forgiven for accepting to sit with Kevin.
* * * * *
Lunch was… awkward. No other word for it.
I didn’t think it was because of me (I hoped), but rather because of Jake’s attitude.
When I entered the lunchroom with Jake trailing behind me, I scanned the room for my human friends and saw Kevin stand up and wave to me to catch my attention. I made my way over to them.
“Hey.” I smiled but then my smile faltered when I realized that they were staring. But then it registered in my mind that they were staring at something behind me. Turning, I saw Jake, all tensed up and fists clenched. I nudged him as gently as I could and that seemed to take him out of his reverie. We sat down, me next to Kevin and Jake on my other side. Conversation flowed once more but I overheard Jay muttering to the guy next to him, “I didn’t know he was invited, too.” Too bad he didn’t know we had ultra-sensitive hearing. I peeked at Jake—if I heard that, then he most certainly did too—and saw him shaking slightly. I discreetly place my hand on his arm, sending him tranquil pictures—rainbow, waterfall, quiet meadow, a little creek trickling in the woods—to help him calm down. Maybe this was a bad idea.
I turned to Kevin who gestured to the empty spot in front of me. I smiled. “No, not at the moment.” Realizing that Jake didn’t get any food either—poor thing must be starving—I asked him, “Do you want to go get something to eat?” He surprised me by shaking his head stiffly. Hm, strange. Maybe he was too concentrated on not exploding into a wolf to think about food.
The chatter around me continued as I was pulled into different conversations. I recognized a few faces that were sitting here, all of them kids I’ve seen before in class or in the hallways. Even Jake started to loosen up, even more so when Jay mentioned cars. They both launched into a deep and intricate discussion about the different engines and which was better.
I eased up as well, deciding that maybe this wasn’t a bad idea after all. Jake seemed to like Jay a lot; maybe he would make some friends too. But I spoke a little too soon.
“Hey, new girl.”
Jake froze immediately at the voice and his eyes hardened into black stones as he pivoted to face the newcomer. I turned as well, worrying about Jake’s reaction, but smiling at the figure that towered over me. After all, I saw no harm in him.
“Hey Derek,” I replied nonchalantly and I noticed that all conversation had paused, eyes on us. Sophie and Rachel looked a little awed while the boys had disgruntled expressions on their faces.
“What are you sitting with these losers for? I have a seat saved especially for you at our table.” He glanced at Jake and the others. “Sorry, only one opening.”
My eyes narrowed; what gave him a right to talk to them like that?! I tensed to get out of my seat and wrenched my arm from Jake’s restraining grasp. Glaring at him straight in the eyes, I stood up, my vision blurred slightly from my rage and tinged with red on the edges. I could feel the vampire instinct to lunge at him taking over, but I squashed that need. Though I only reached up to his shoulders, I could feel him shrink back a little from my murderous gaze. With my index finger, I jabbed him as gently as I could in my anger, though it still send him reeling back.
“What the HELL is that supposed to mean?” I growled at him, hands now on my hips to keep from hurting him physically. Faintly, I felt all the surprised gazes that were drawn to our confrontation, but I was too wrapped up in my annoyance to notice or care. “What in the world gives you the right to talk to my friends like that?” Derek opened his mouth to speak, a little worried crease in his brow, but I cut across him. This stupid mortal needed to be put back in his place. And I would gladly do it. After all, how could he insult the people who accepted me? I felt a strange sort of motherly instinct to protect them from harm. “What, you think you’re better than others just because you run around on a field, rolling in mud? That makes you cool?” I spit the last word out. My mind subconsciously reaching out for the information my parents once told me about bullies, I continued furiously, the red tint in my gaze growing darker. “Just because you think you’re so hot and athletic and charming and witty, you think that makes you better than others? It doesn’t! You’re just insecure about yourself and how you feel about yourself that you need to put others down to make you feel better! And that just makes you a bully!” I took a deep breath, huffing crossly. I then became fully aware of all the eyes that were locked on us. I leaned forward to snarl softly in his ear, “You are nothing but scum. And I am quite fine sitting with my friends who will always be better people than you. Leave with what little dignity you have left.” I straightened back up and crossed my arms as my blood-red vision faded, watching him stumble backwards, bewildered, then put himself together before turning and marching back to his lunch table with his head held high. His football buddies were shaking with silent laughter.
I looked around, and seeing everyone now staring at me, I smiled angelically, silently berating myself for drawing all this attention to myself. “Sorry for the disruption. Continue with your lunch activities.” And sat back down.
I waited for a few seconds, staring a hole into the middle of our table, listening to the roaring silence. I could feel my cheeks growing warm from all the attention. Then whispers broke out, easing the tension. A full forty-six seconds later, the lunchroom was as loud as it normally is. I ignored the occasional stares from around the room. Great job, Renesmee, I thought sullenly. Way to fit in normally.
Not sure if I wanted to see the expressions of my tablemates, I peeked up and cringed. They were all staring and gaping at me like I had sprouted antlers. I felt a warm hand grasp mine under the table and I looked to my left, smiling tentatively at Jake’s reassuring grin.
Looking back at my human friends who had not moved a muscle, I relaxed and grinned, and trying to melt the tension, said nonchalantly, “What? You’re staring like I grew wings or something.”
That seemed to take them out of their reverie but they still had expressions of shock mixed with… awe.
“Um, Renesmee,” Sophie choked out, “you just told off the hottest and most popular guy in school. He basically owns the school.”
I shrugged. “So? Is that supposed to mean something to me? He had no right to speak of you guys like that.”
Their gazes turned to ones of pure awe now. Kevin gave me a tight hug (Jake tensed next to me).
“You are so amazing,” he whispered.
I felt my cheeks growing warmer and so I pushed away from him as politely as I could. But as I grinned at my friends around me, I could have sworn that another flash of dark emotion crossed Sophie’s face. Almost like… dangerous envy.
Conversation flowed once more at the lunch table, and the topic was changed to that of the snow outside.
“Hey, are any of you doing anything this afternoon?” Kevin asked. I felt his eyes on me, but I avoided his gaze. “If not, we should totally meet to go sledding!” Everyone’s interest perked up at this and Kevin, pleased, continued. “There’s this really good sledding hill by my house. We could all meet there right after school.”
There was a collective agreement to this plan, smiles breaking out on all of their faces. Except for mine and Jake’s.
Kevin looked at me hopefully. “What about you, Renesmee? You in?”
I hesitated. “I don’t know… I have to get ready to go camping,” I added, playing on my lie.
“Just for an hour or so,” he pleaded. “Please? Jacob is welcome to come too.”
I looked at Jake and he shrugged in an offhand way but I thought I hinted a dash of sorrow in his eyes. “Do whatever you want. If you want to go, I’ll go home and, er, call them to let them know you’ll be a little late. And I’ll pack for you, Ness. Go if you want.”
I smiled—Jake would do anything for me—and placed my hand on his arm in what was supposed to look like a thanking gesture to the humans though I was really just sending him a quick image and adding that I’ll move the snowball fight to tonight. “You sure you don’t want to come?”
Jake shook his head, smiling, but his smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. This time, I was sure I sensed a little bit of worry mixed with sadness in them. I wrapped my arms around him, smothering myself in his calming scent. “Thanks, Jake,” I whispered softly. “I’ll be okay.” Then I turned to my awaiting friends and announced, “Alright. I’ll come.” And I laughed when they erupted into cheers.
* * * * *
I knew that my parents would be worried sick about me, so I hoped that Alice could see something about me being totally fine and returning home in one piece. After all, I was indestructible. I couldn’t help but be excited; it would be the first time I hung out with human friends outside of school. They certainly seemed to like me now, maybe even more so after my brief verbal beating I had given Derek.
Speaking of Derek, as I exited my last hour of the day, he blocked my pathway. Renewed anger surged through me, threatening to paint my vision red once more, as I thought of the guts he must have to face me again so soon. I crossed my arms defiantly, and my chin jutted out. “What do you want?” I asked harshly and tried to maneuver around him. “Get out of my way.”
“Just hear me out,” he pleaded. At the tone of his voice, I looked up, surprised. He had an earnest look on his face. I couldn’t tell the intent of him stopping me in his eyes, so I gave him a sharp jerk of my head for him to continue. He took a deep breath and plunged in. “I’m really sorry, Renesmee. Everything you said about me at lunch is totally true. I didn’t realize it until you confronted me like that. It was so different because nobody ever talked to me like that before. I did a lot of thinking this afternoon and decided you were right. I had no right to act like I did. I’m sorry. I’ll try to change. Forgive me?”
I frowned at him, not sure what to make of this. Certainly people didn’t change this fast… did they? What if he was just fooling me, but if he was, I couldn’t see his motive behind it. Maybe he really was sincere. Again, I couldn’t clearly read his emotions on his face or in his deep blue eyes. There was something of remorse there, but was it true or fake? I couldn’t decide. I wish Edward was here to help me decipher his meaning.
“Please, Renesmee. I want to be your friend. Please,” he begged. I couldn’t help but smile at him—he looked so downtrodden, even if it may not be real.
“Hooray!” he shouted and swung me around in a circle, causing a giggle to burst from my lips. I pushed away from him once he put me down.
“Try to contain yourself. People are staring,” I laughed.
He shrugged. “I can’t help it. I act so spontaneously whenever I’m around you. You just seem so different from the other girls.”
“You have no idea,” I murmured under my breath.
“What was that?”
“Nothing,” I shot out instantly, chiding myself silently.
He watched me, a little thoughtful frown on his face.
“What are you thinking about?” I asked, curious. Okay, I really wish Edward was here. Or at least that I had his power.
A grin spread across his face. “I thought of a way to make it up to you for being such a butthead earlier. Why don’t you let me buy you dinner tonight? I’ll make it worth your while.” A sly grin slid on his lips and I merely rolled my eyes at his innuendo.
“What about everyone else you acted like a butthead to? I don’t think you have enough money to pay for dinners for the entire school,” I teased. I surprised myself in how easily I was getting along with a guy who just moments before infuriated me.
He lifted his arms and shrugged his shoulders in a helpless motion. “Sorry. Admit One Ticket only. I figured if I made it up to you, the rest of the school would quickly follow.”
Part of me urged me to say yes, but I quickly squashed it. “Sorry, Derek, I can’t tonight. I’m going sledding with Kevin, Rachel, Sophie, and other friends, and then I’m hanging out with my brother Emmett.” His face fell and I blurted it out before I could think of the consequences. “Hey, why don’t you come sledding with us this afternoon?”
A flash of what looked like disgruntlement ran across his face, but it went by so fast, I couldn’t tell if that’s what I really saw. After all, I was still no pro at reading human expressions. But he looked so gleeful at my invitation, I put that thought aside. “Absolutely!” he crowed, eyes sparkling. He leaned in towards me, adding softly, “See you later, Renesmee Cullen.” After lifting my hand to his lips while gazing at me with his clear blue eyes—such a tease—he walked away towards his black truck.
As I watched his strong form climb into his truck, all sense seemed to rush back to me. What the hell did I do? I shook my head vigorously. I must be crazy. First agreeing to go sledding with my humans friends. Now inviting Derek, a guy I was just seen screaming at a few hours ago, along for the ride? What has gotten into me? I thought back, wondering when I had lost all sense. Derek just had a little charisma about him, making people want to please him. No wonder he’s so “popular,” as Sophie put it. Maybe just the fact that though hundreds of girls are pinning for his affection, he was showing interest in me made me throw out my common sense. Maybe just the fact that he made me feel special, almost loved. And loved in a non-family, non-brotherly way. Like a girl should be loved.
* * * * *
Jake pulled into the Quinn’s driveway, leaving the motor rumbling as I climbed off behind him. He had kept quiet during the ride over here and it seemed like he was, once again, worried about me. He was also probably a little angry that I invited Derek along with me. Just as I turned to leave, he called out my name and found myself smothered in a huge bear hug. His warmth was so comforting, as I wrapped my arms around his waist.
“Jake, what’s wrong?” I whispered into his chest.
He sighed and pulled apart just enough so he could stare me in the eyes. I felt a jolt of worry as I saw the deep sadness in his dark eyes. I held my breath. “Nessie,” he murmured gently, contradicting the pain in his eyes, “please be careful.”
“Or course, Jake,” I said, bemused. “I’ll always be careful. Anyways, I’m indestructible, remember?” I added jokingly, trying to make him laugh. His expression remained pained.
“No, Nessie. I meant be careful with who you let into your heart and mind,” he said lowly in all seriousness.
My heart skipped in fear at his tone. “Jake?”
He pulled me into another bone crushing hug. “Oh, Ness. Why do I feel like I’m just about to lose you? That as I leave you here right now, when I see you next, you won’t be my Nessie anymore?”
“Jake, that’s silly,” I murmured into his warm chest. “You’ll never lose me. I’ll always be your Nessie as you’ll always be my Jacob.”
He nodded dejectedly and climbed back on his bike. As I watched his form shrinking in the distance, my mind mulled over what he just said. What did he mean by losing me? How could he? And why would he ever lose me? It all sounded like rubbish. I would always be his Nessie after all. Right? But as I walked towards the front door, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe it was some extra wolf-sense that made Jake believe this. And I also couldn’t help but feel a little troubled. Was I saying the truth when I told him I’d always be his Nessie? Or was I just trying to convince and fool myself as well as him?
Chapter 9: Part One
At my knock, Kevin threw open the door and crowed, “Renesmee! You made it!” He looked so much like a hyperactive puppy that I couldn’t help but smile and try to put my troubles aside.
“You’re the last one to arrive, so if you just want to head out back…” Kevin trailed off as the doorbell rang. Looking confusedly, he opened the door and froze in shock as he saw who it was. “Derek? What are you doing here?”
I turned and found myself facing five feet ten inches of tanned skin, toned muscle, and pure gorgeousness. My breath caught and I chided myself silently for thinking that way of him; after all, it was only a few hours before when he made me furious.
Once I found my voice, I deliberated faced away from Derek, apologizing to Kevin, “Sorry, Kevin. I forgot to tell you that I invited Derek over, too. I know I had no right to do so since this isn’t my house, but he apologized for how he acted at lunch. And. Well.” I shrugged, not knowing how else to put it.
Kevin looked slightly miffed that I invited another guy, especially Derek Coles of all people, but quickly rearranged his features to look joyous. “Come on,” he said, grabbing my hand. “Everyone’s waiting outside.”
I tried to find a way to reattach from Kevin without hurting his feelings, but couldn’t think of one, so I just let him drag me to his backyard. Derek followed closely behind. I could smell his strong human scent mixed with some light cologne. It suited him.
Everyone showed surprise at seeing Derek trailing behind me, especially after the verbal abuse I gave him earlier, but they all seemed to accept him quickly nonetheless. I had forgotten to bring a sled with me, so I just shared with the others.
I had to admit, hanging out with humans could be fun. I had to control my strength and acted like the climb up the hill was tiring and had to keep myself from moving too fast. It was easy to control my vampire thirst, but at times when a human came by too close and unexpectedly, I had to bite down on my lip to keep from sinking my teeth into them. But overall, it went well.
I mainly rode with Rachel, the quiet girl, but also rode down a few times with Kevin, Jay, and Derek. Sometimes Rachel would ride with Jay. Every time one of the guys would talk to me or offer to share their sled, I noticed from the corner of my eyes the dirty looks Sophie gave me. Seems like I was right about her at lunch.
I didn’t want any antagonism between us, so I tried to keep away from Kevin, whom she obviously had an attraction for. But the feeling was only one-way, as I soon found out when Kevin approached me when I had just finished sliding down the hill.
I didn’t give him much notice as I was busy getting up and swiping at the clumps of snow that managed to get into my hair. “Hey Kevin,” I greeted absentmindedly.
“Hey Renesmee. Um, I have something to ask you…”
I looked up when he didn’t continue. “Yeah?” As I watched him, he squirmed, seeming nervous. But what about? My answer was answered when he went on.
“You know about the Winter Dance coming up, right?” he started hesitantly. My mind floated back to the millions of flyers and daily announcements about the annual Holiday Dance. It was semi-formal (whatever semi meant) and was fast approaching. I immediately got the gist of what he was about to ask and quickly cut him off before my friendship with Sophie could be ruined completely.
“Yeah, I heard about that. It was all Sophie could talk about.” I looked around obviously (and caught sight of Sophie watching me mutinously) then leaned in and stage-whispered in his ear. “You know, I think she really wants to go with you. She’s just to shy to ask you herself,” I lied convincingly. I felt a little guilty about playing with them this way since she said nothing of the sort to me, but since I was absolutely positive Sophie would be thanking me (and it probably wasn’t a lie; I bet she really was wishing that), I brushed it aside.
“Really?” Kevin asked, looking taken aback. All thoughts of his previous motive vanished. “Hm.” He glanced over at Sophie who, right on cue, smiled flirtingly and waved at him. He grinned back at her.
“Yeah, really,” I persuaded. “You should go ask her right now. But don’t tell her I told you that because she’ll get pissed at me,” I added.
“Okay,” he agreed and headed her way. I could see the way she perked up and felt better about myself for helping her this way. Even if she was an envious excuse for a friend.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as Kevin said something to her, she just about shrieked and threw herself at him, and he laughed. My lips twitched, begging to smile, but I contained it until she bounded towards me moments later, a huge self-satisfied smile on her face.
“What?” I asked, playing along.
“Guess who asked me to the Winter Dance!” she continued, eyes glowing with mirth and smugness.
“Kevin!” she squealed.
I pulled her into a hug. “Oh my God, that’s great! I’m so happy for you!” I squealed along with her. And I was truly happy for her. Maybe I could put aside her jealous demeanor and evil glares she gave me and be real friends since she got her beau.
While we waited in line to go down the hill again, she continued to gush about how gorgeous and amazing Kevin was. I listened with half a mind, nodding in all the right places. The other half was currently occupied, eavesdropping on Rachel and Jay’s conversation, who were both at the top of the hill, ready for the journey down.
Now that I understood better the actions of humans, I really paid attention to the way they acted around each other. Rachel would stare into his eyes then look down, embarrassed. And he would continue to try to hold her gaze. They were both unconsciously leaning in to each other at the moment, in deep discussion. Occasionally, Rachel would let loose a soft laugh and Jay would smile triumphantly. Huh. I wondered why I never noticed all this before. It seemed glaringly obvious now.
Jay gazed down at Rachel with pure affection on his dark, handsome face, cracking jokes to make her laugh. He was so rowdy and acted like a clown while Rachel was so quiet and so smart, it almost seemed like they had no chemistry. But apparently the saying “Opposites attract” takes affect here. I wondered if one of them was going to make a move and ask the other on a date since it sure seemed like it was heading in that direction.
They both climbed onto Jay’s bright red sled and flew down the hill, laughing loudly. I watched with a critical eye as the sled seemed off balance to the right and I had to stop myself from flashing forward to stop it. Just then, the sled veered to the right and tossed the two off, Rachel screaming. All the humans froze at the sound (I was already frozen in fear) and whipped their heads towards the source. But the scream turned into laughter as she and Jay rolled to a stop, their limbs entangled and covered in snow. Jay chuckled and heaved himself up, grinning widely, while offering a hand to her which she accepted. Once they were both on their feet, Jay tugged her closer to him and leaned forward to graze her ear with his lips. Still holding her hand, he whispered something into her ear and I chuckled as I heard his words a split second before Rachel’s face broke out in a shining smile and she nodded joyfully.
He pulled her into his toned body, wrapping his arms around her. Her dark green eyes sparkled as they gazed into his dark brown ones, her glossy black hair slightly covering part of her face shyly. Jay reached up and tenderly tucked her hair behind her ear, murmuring softly (my half-vampire ears catching his words clearly), “I want to see your beautiful face when I do this.”
Her bemused expression morphed into shock then pleasure as he leaned forward and affectionately pressed his lips to hers briefly. Her cheeks flushed when they broke apart to wolf-whistles and cat-callings.
Jay and Rachel turned to face us, Jay looking proud as he slung an arm around her shoulders and Rachel looking embarrassed. I gave her an encouraging smile. It was ironic that both Rachel and Sophie got asked out and to the dance on the same day during the same event. Maybe it was some human thing to ask people to dances while hanging out together and when things were a little more intimate. Maybe just the ask-girls-to-the-dance mood was in the air. It surprised me when I realized that I felt a little empty twinge inside me: No boy had yet to ask me to the dance (though I’m sure Jake wouldn’t mind taking me; and I think that was the plan. But still, that’s different from a guy actually asking me. I know, so self-absorbed. But I can’t help what I feel). The malicious side of my mind quickly blurted out the reason why it was so before I could repress that thought; I was too plain, too strange, too inhuman. I would never belong.
* * * * *
After half an hour in the cold, my cheeks and nose had been painted a bright red. I stood off to the side of the slope, watching as Jay went shooting down the hill, standing like a surfer on a surfboard. Everyone roared with laughter at his antics and I grinned as well. How silly these humans were.
I had wrapped my arms around me as a habit when I felt another presence approaching me from behind. I tensed as I felt a pair of arms overlapping my own.
“You look a little cold and lonely, standing here all by yourself,” Derek murmured in my ear.
I repressed a shudder as his warm breath washed over my neck (shudder of disgust or pleasure, I couldn’t tell). “No, I’m fine.”
“Really? ‘Cause I could warm you up real quick if you’d like…” He pulled my tighter to him and I felt his body heat caressing me.
I felt Sophie watching me, her face figuratively green; I guess having Kevin to herself still didn’t satisfy her envy. I self-consciously pulled away from his embrace. “I’m fine. Really.”
But Derek didn’t relent. Instead, he took another step forward to match mine and pulled me to him once more. No words spoken this time, he merely pressed his warm, soft lips to my…
Chapter 9: Part Two
No words spoken this time, he merely pressed his warm, soft lips to my neck.
I sucked in a sharp breath at this new feeling and my eyes shut immediately. His hands caressed my abdomen while he continued to trail kisses up and down my neck. I never felt this before. No human male or immortal male had ever kissed me with lust, even if it wasn’t on the lips.
I felt the familiar burning in my throat at the smell of his blood so close, and I was surprised that how quickly and forcefully I was able to squash that thirst without much effort. All I knew was that I wanted this feeling to continue and biting him would ruin that. But it was so effortless to control myself that I could do it without thinking. This was good, considering my brain had turned to mush from the vampire emotions that were assaulting it.
“God, you smell good,” he whispered against my warm, granite skin, pressing his nose to the hollow of my neck and inhaling deeply.
I wasn’t sure why I was reacting this way to him. The sensible side of me argued that it was because vampires had such a stronger sense of emotions. This was a new feeling and was thusly heightened by my vampire senses. It really didn’t have anything to do with Derek, just that he was the first male who kissed me.
My non-sensible side merely told me to shut up and just lose myself in the feeling.
He pressed another kiss to the edge of my chin and murmured, “Renesmee.”
“I decided to follow the trend Kevin and Jay set today.”
He paused, feathering light kisses down my neck.
“You know about the Winter Dance coming up?”
“Mm hmm,” I answered absentmindedly.
“You want to go with me?”
I paused, slightly surprised. I was even more surprised when I found myself actually considering his offer. It was assumed that I would be going with Jake since Bella was going with Edward, Alice with Jasper, and Rose with Emmett, but he hadn’t formally asked me. A quick surge of delight hit me: a guy wanted to go with me to the dance! Before I could think about it fully, I replied on impulse. “Sure.”
As soon as I spoke this word, a few things happened instantaneously: Derek’s face broke out in a huge grin, he leaned in towards me, cat-calling broke out once more among the teenagers, and my cell phone wildly vibrated in my pocket. And the most vital thing: Derek pressed his soft lips to my own.
That rush of extreme vampire emotions increased tenfold. It confused me, muddled my brain. I couldn’t think, couldn’t respond. I could only vaguely realize that I was kissing him back.
There was only me and him in the world now; nobody else mattered. My ears heard the giggled and wolf-whistles that erupted around us, but my brain didn’t register the fact. The sensitive nerves in my cheeks felt the cold breeze caressing them, but I did not notice. The phone in my pocket continued to vibrate insistently, but that fact was lost on me. I couldn’t even remember my name at this point. These new emotions were that overwhelming. I merely lost myself in the feeling, succumbing to what my emotions were telling me.
His lips were soft and gentle against my hard, stone-like ones. Though I could smell his blood pulsing through his veins even more strongly now, it did not faze me. One hand was pressed on the small of my back, pulling me to him, while the other was at the base of my head, keeping me locked in this embrace. My arms moved with a life of their own, shifting to tangle themselves in his thick dark locks. Slowly, his mouth grew more insistent as he felt me respond back and his tongue lightly tracing my lips.
Before I could react to that, a mournful sound pierced the sky, causing me to jump back from Derek as if I was shocked. Everyone looked around them in alarm, trying to find the source of the sound. It sounded pained, like the howl of a wolf-mother who had lost one of her pups. It pierced my fluttering heart sharply. I recognized the howl immediately, though I had never heard that voice so sorrowful before. His name slipped through my lips like the whisper of a breeze, too low for any human to hear.
I took a step forward towards the edge of the forest that bordered Kevin’s house. Jake’s pained howl stopped. I took another tentative step and the sound restarted, this time sounding much nearer. The ground softly trembled – thump-thump, thump-thump – as each giant paw padded the ground closer and closer. Of course, only I could feel this through my ultra-sensitive skin.
“Renesmee?” Derek called out, reaching for me in confusion to my actions, but I disregarded him. I cocked my head, listening harder. It sounded as if the howl was getting softer, as if the source was moving away from us now.
“Oh, God,” I muttered, burying my face in my hands. I would be dead when I got back. No, scratch that. [/i]Derek[/i] would be dead when he got back. Dad and Jake would personally tear him apart. After all, Jake even demonstrated his feelings about me kissing Derek—the protective brotherly side of him must have taken over once he realized what had happened. He must have phased immediately in his anger and was on his way to rip Derek away from me. Someone must have stopped him from his rampage. Dad? No. Mom? Maybe, if she caught him and forced him to listen to sense. But how would she do that while he was phased? Maybe Quil or Embry. Or Seth. One of them must have been in their wolf forms when Jake phased and heard his thoughts and plans and talked him out of it.
Either way, I was sure I would be in tremendous trouble when I got home too. And I could see Dad or Mom giving me a lecture on how risky that was to kiss a human, how I could have killed him, how I could have exposed us all. I would have to convince them to leave Derek alone.
I should probably go home now and face the music.
I turned to leave but then felt a hand wrap around my wrist in an attempt to hold me there. I could have just pulled myself out of the weak, human grasp, but my semi-consciousness screamed, “Human! Careful!” so I relented and let myself be restrained. I swiveled around to face the culprit: Derek. He looked bewildered.
“Where are you going?” he asked, his brow furrowing in confusion and worry.
“Home,” I replied simply.
Derek cocked one dark eyebrow at me, crossing his arms with a haughty air. “What if I don’t want you to go?”
I snorted. “I don’t think you have that much power over me.”
The arrogant demeanor vanished and I was shocked to see the vulnerability that peeked underneath his armor. His eyes, rounded and pleading, begged at me, and his facial expression softened. “Please? Stay with me for a little bit longer.”
I hesitated, feeling myself falling into the depths of his deep brown eyes.
He noticed my uncertainty and pressed onward. “Besides, I don’t want you out and about when a crazy wolf is on the loose. Didn’t you hear that howl?”
I grinned inwardly at the blunt truth behind his words.
“At least let me take you home if you’re absolutely set on that. That way I can be certain you get home safely.”
His sincerity touched me; it sounded like he actually cared! I felt my lips curling into a smile. I was just about to agree to his last offer when my phone let out another unrelenting shudder in my pocket, demanding attention. I sighed, pulling it out of the pocket. “Hold on a sec, Derek. Let me take this.”
Walking a few steps away, I glanced at the screen. Alice. Of course. She probably had a blurry vision of me with Derek, groping at each other. A shudder ran down my back. Then Edward saw her vision and freaked out, half because I could’ve killed him and half because I was his daughter. Jacob found out and he freaked as well, and him being so impulsive, just phased and ran off to me. That made about sense.
I glanced over my shoulder as I flipped open my phone to answer it. Derek was watching me with anxious eyes, giving me a reassuring smile when our eyes met. Rachel and Jay were watching me with equally worried expressions while Sophie was giving me a glare of death (I could almost see puffs of smoke blowing out of her nostrils). Kevin and the others were gazing out into the woods with a bewildered expression on their faces, unsure of what just happened. Apparently wolves were rarely heard in this region.
“Nessie!” Alice yelled into my ear. I wrenched the phone away with a small squeak of surprise. When Derek made to run over to me, I merely shook my head and smiled apologetically. I placed the small phone back at my ear.
“Please don’t yell. It hurts my ears.”
“Ness! What happened? What did you do?” Alice bombarded.
I sighed and replied softly and with vampire speed to ward off eavesdroppers. “You know as well as I do what happened. What did you see?”
She hesitated. “I… saw your future change,” she replied simply.
I could feel my brow crinkle in confusion. “How did it change?”
Alice paused once more, uncertainty blossoming in the silence. “I don’t know. You sort of… disappeared. Not like usual or like when you’re with Jacob. More of… uncertainty in your future. You’ve reached a fork in the road and you haven’t quite decided which path to take. I keep seeing different flashes of different futures, each unclear. It almost reminded me of when Edward couldn’t decide what to do when he first met your mother,” she added like an afterthought following her rapid monologue.
“Was that it? You didn’t see anything closer in the future?”
“Well…. no. I saw something else.” She faltered, guilt trickling into her voice.
“What did you see?” I asked, bracing myself for the verdict.
“I saw… you and Derek… together. Holding each other. And kissing,” she finished. “I guess that should be in past tense since it already happened now, right, Ness?”
I groaned. Great. “Is Dad and Jake mad?”
“Edward isn’t really… mad, per say. Not really,” she finished lamely. I could feel the silence coloring with my skepticism. “Okay, okay, he is furious. But not at you. He has it in his mind that Derek is taking advantage of you. You can’t blame your father for being so protective like that.”
I sighed. I suppose I couldn’t. I’d have to talk to him about that and convince him that I had as much of a part in it as Derek did. “Tell him I’ll talk with him once I get home.” I hope that doesn’t mean the snowball fight will be canceled. “Wait, what about Jake?”
“Jacob’s not mad either.” I hinted a bit of another emotion behind her words, but I couldn’t figure it out.
“Really? Huh. I thought he’d act all protective like Dad. After all, he did towards all the other boys that talked to me during school.”
“It’s not quite the same, Nessie,” Alice said almost curtly. “But I’m not really the one you should be talking to about that.”
I heard voices in the background.
“Get away, Edward.”
“Give me the phone, Alice.”
I heard a rustle over the phone and pressed it closer to my ear, trying to hear better.
“Yeah, it’s me.” I could hear the restrained anger in his voice. “Listen, can you give the phone to that Derek boy? I want to talk to him.”
“Um… I don’t think that’s a good idea. You don’t want people to find out we’re not human, do you?” I half-joked.
“Ness, I won’t say anything to him that’ll give away what we are.”
“Also keep in mind that you’re not my dad, you’re my brother.”
“Big brothers can be protective, too.”
“I don’t think you fit the ‘big brother’ stereotype very well.”
“Give the phone to him, Ness.”
I could hear him sigh exasperatedly. “So stubborn. Like your mother.”
“I hear I get my stubbornness from you, though,” I shot back cheekily.
“Fine. Don’t give him the phone. But we’re having a serious talk when you get home, young lady.”
“Okay, now you definitely don’t sound like a big brother.”
I giggled. “Alright. How’s Jake?”
A tense silence echoed from his end of the phone.
“Really. He’s just… in a weird mood. Can you stay there for like an hour? I’ll come and pick you up.”
“Alright. Be careful, Ness. Bye.”
“Bye,” I replied back, but he already hung up the phone. Okay, things were definitely weird. As I slid my phone back in my pocket, I sensed someone approaching me from behind and tensed up. My body relaxed when the semi-familiar touch embraced it.
“What’s up?” Derek murmured into my ear, his warm breath washing over the side of my cheek and he wrapped his arms around me. “You look… sad and confused.”
“Nothing. Just something at home,” I tried to reply back lightly.
“Oh.” He crinkled his eyebrow. “Anything I can do to help?”
I laughed tensely. “Don’t ask. Really.”
“Okay. So about that ride home…”
“Oh yeah! Um, well, my da—brother banned me from the house for about another hour and said he’d come pick me up, so.” I shrugged.
His grip tightened around me. “That works for me, too. I’ll keep you hostage for an hour until your bro comes to get you. We could play some games.” His tone of voice made a light shiver run down my back.
A/N: I know this was supposed to all be in Nessie’s POV, but I thought it’s be good to see what exactly happened with Alice’s vision and all and what Jake’s exact reaction was. I will rarely move away from Nessie’s POV in this story, this is just an exception.
I was lounging on the couch, staring with glazed-eyes at the flickering television. The strong, cold stink of vampires wafted around me, but I took no notice; after years of hanging around them, I was nearly immune to the smell now. Doc and little delicate Esme were out hunting at the moment. Muscles, Psycho, Seer, and Emo-vamp were outside, hosting a snowball fight—Emmett couldn’t wait for Ness to come home. Bella and the mindreader were upstairs in their bedroom—I was trying not to think about what they were doing, but the constant banging on the walls didn’t help any.
I was trying to dull my mind with the mindless television shows so I wouldn’t think about Nessie. I could barely keep myself in this seat and from rushing out the door to her. I couldn’t help how I was drawn to her like a fly to a fire—and that analogy fitted so well; I was just like an average, nothing-special pest of a fly whilst she was like a fire, burning bright with the liveliness within her, beautiful yet dangerous, powerful yet dependent. When she first agreed to go to Kevin’s get-together, then invited Derek along for the ride, I felt even more worthless. I could never compare to her.
All I knew was that I loved her and couldn’t live without her.
If only she felt the same way.
I wanted to protect her from those human boys, whose vile thoughts might one day defile Nessie as well. I could tell that she felt drawn to them, especially that Derek character, but it was only because she could tell that they felt something for her and she returned a fraction of that emotion. But she didn’t know that that emotion was just teenage lust, that once Derek got what he wanted, he would discard her like a useless tissue. I tried warning her from that, but the stubbornness in her wouldn’t listen.
I couldn’t even explain that inexplicable feeling that came over me when I was driving Ness over to Kevin’s; it was like a cold dread, similar to what I felt that terrible day years ago when we faced the Volturi. The feeling that we wouldn’t all emerge alive. It was the feeling that I was about to lose something or someone very important to me. Maybe I’m just crazy. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything to her. But I couldn’t help it. When I saw her walking away from me, I felt like she was taking part of my heart away with her. A part I wouldn’t get back.
I wrenched my mind away from those thoughts and tried to concentrate on the glowing people on the screen. The low voices murmured to each other meaninglessly.
Huh. Weird. It seemed strangely quiet now. I realized now that the muted thuds of ice hitting stone had ceased, along with the constant banging from upstairs. I glanced out the glass window-wall to where the four bloodsuckers were having their snowball fight. The field looked nearly abandoned—the four vampires were gathered at the edge of it. Three of them were surrounding a fourth, and with a jolt, I recognized that glazed expression—Alice. I strained to hear what they were saying.
“I can’t see!” Alice’s voice drifted, smothered with worry.
“Well, I thought you normally couldn’t—”
“It’s different than that, Emmett! I mean I can’t see her future anymore! It’s like she’s having a huge indecision after I had that one vision.”
What? What happened? Who were they talking about?
A flicker of movement caught my eye and I looked up to catch a glimpse of the mindreader—Edward—rushing down the stairs and out the door. Bella was trailing after him and I caught her expression—wild bewilderment.
The feeling of cold dread filled me once more but I pushed that thought out of my mind. It couldn’t be.
I pulled myself out of the couch and followed Bella out the door.
As soon as I glimpsed everyone’s expressions, my heart sank. Something’s definitely happened.
Edward had his hands on Alice’s shoulders, her eyes familiarly dazed like she looked when she was getting a vision. Bella was next to the mindreader, wringing her hands in frustration and worry. The pained emo-vamp—Jasper—was behind Alice looking ready to throw Edward off of his girl if he showed signs of hurting her. The Psycho Rose and Muscles—Emmett—stood off a little to the side, snow layering their hair and clothes. None of them noticed me yet.
Bella finally exploded in her frustration. “Okay, someone tell me what the hell happened.”
Alice’s eyes refocused, but she didn’t seem to have heard Bella. She merely shook her head at something and whispered, “I still can’t tell. It’s all moving so fast.”
Edward’s hands tightened on her shoulders and Jasper let out a warning growl.
“Tell me what’s wrong with my baby girl!” Bella just about shrieked. I felt like an arrow pierced my already-broken heart. Something has happened to my Nessie.
Edward’s eyes were still locked with Alice’s when he answered her in a low voice. “She can’t see Nessie’s future anymore. It’s all mixed and jumbled as if she’s extremely comfused or overwhelmed. It started after she saw Nessie… kissing Derek.”
Did I think my heart was broken before? Well it was nothing compared to how I felt now.
I could vaguely hear Bella and Rose letting out a low snarl and Edward joining in, his eyes flashing. I faintly heard him say, “I’m going to tear his throat out for touching her.” But my brain heard none of it with the blood churning in my ears. “Call her,” Edward commanded a million miles away.
I saw little Alice pulling out a silver phone before my vision wavered. Everything became fuzzy and blurry as wave after wave of grief hit me. I had lost her. What I had said to her before was true.
Suddenly, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get away.
I knew the one place I could get my solitude. As I crouched, I was vaguely aware of Bella’s eyes flickering to me and her mouth opening in horror to call out to me. Too late.
Ignoring my clothes, I forced a ripple of fire down my body and I exploded, shards of clothing snowing everywhere. I fell down onto all fours, lowering my muzzle to the ground and glaring out with slit eyes.
Ah, so much better. No more complex human emotions.
I pivoted, dodging the familiar vampire form of Bella that came at me, and threw myself into the forest. I knew they would be easily able to follow me, especially with the soft paw-prints my feet made in the powdery snow. But I didn’t care. I had a head start and the only one that had a chance of catching me would be Edward.
I concentrated on my wolf instincts, blearily watching as tree after tree whipped past me. My mind was somewhere else. I could faintly hint two other minds with me. It took me a long second to recognize them as Seth and Embry. Though I had alpha-ordered them to go with Sam’s pack, their hearts were with me; thus I still had a connection with them and Sam. I could only talk directly with Sam, like usual, since distance did not affect our connection. With Seth, Leah, Quil, and Embry, I could vaguely tell their thoughts when they were in their wolf forms and I only heard what they said if they spoke directly to me as well.
Right now, the two were on patrol and their thoughts had a hint of surprise at me—they could taste my anguish.
Jake? Seth’s thoughts called out to me tentatively. I ignored him.
My feet buckled from underneath me as another lance of pain shot through my heart. I stumbled, flaking myself in the snow. Ahh. There it was. My tie to the one I imprinted on gave me a strong connection to her, and now that instinct told me I was on a verge of losing the one I could not live without. On the cold ground now, I writhed, lashing out at the flora around me with extended claws. Make the pain stop, I moaned to nobody in particular.
I heard a heartbreaking howl pierce the still air and I was shocked to realize that it came from my throat. Without breaking the howl, I thrashed my head repeatedly against the snowy forest floor to concentrate the pain to something I could control.
Jake?! Seth panicked. What happened?
I disregarded him again. Embry’s faint, worried voice joined in with Seth’s.
I felt another’s presence nearing. My wolf instinct took over again as I hopped to my feet, teeth bared and a growl erupting deep in my throat. I recognized the form as little Alice, but it didn’t matter. I lunged back into the depths of the forest, this time following my nose. The familiar scent will always be imprinted within me.
I concentrated on my running now—thump-thump, thump-thump—and let out another pained howl as I caught the dim scent of that other boy—Derek—mixing with Nessie’s. I didn’t know what my plan was; I just knew I had to get to her.
A shot of clarity attacked my brain. You can’t just barge in there, the sensible side of my argued. She’ll hate you forever if you kill him or do anything to hurt him. And you might not be able to control yourself and end up hurting her too.
I stopped in my tracks, unable to control my continuous howling, and swiveled to run the other way. I had to get away from her now. I couldn’t be here while she was with another man.
I plunged my mind back into primitive thoughts, paying no attention to the alarmed thoughts of Embry and Seth. I was vaguely aware of the fact that three more thoughts joined them—Quil, Leah, and Sam.
If Ness doesn’t love me, there is no point for me to live.
This thought ran through my mind on a loop. My mind flashed to years ago, when Bella jumped from that cliff. There was a cliff a mile away from here that would work nicely. I briefly wondered what would happen if I broke all the bones in my body. I wondered if throwing myself off a cliff could even break my bones. Might as well try.
I altered my course slightly, energy pumping into my limbs with the thought of a mission. The other wolf-minds in my head went berserk as they distantly saw the outlines of my plan.
NO! Embry yelled.
Jake, DON’T! Seth crowed.
Jacob Black, think of what you’re doing! Sam said in a panic.
I cut them all off by phasing back into my human form a few feet from the edge of the cliff. The new silence was blissful and I closed my eyes for a moment, savoring the peace. Then my thoughts turned back to the one I had lost and I felt hot prickles in the corners of my eyes. I took a step forward, eyes still closed and arms outstretched. The wind pulled at my hair, whipping it at my face. I took another step.
A form of cold stone rammed right into me, knocking me away from the cliff’s edge. I could’ve struggled and taken down the form that pinned me to the snowy floor, but all the fight in me vanished. I merely groaned and rolled into a tight ball, fighting the tears away.
The figure that attacked me seemed to know of my surrender and got off me.
“Looks like you got here just in time,” a high voice chirruped and I was faintly surprised at the new arriver. My mind worked to match voice to face and finally came to a conclusion. Alice.
“Yeah,” a low voice replied. My mind worked faster this time. Edward. “He was just about to jump off when I got here. Kind of a déjà vu moment, huh?”
I sensed someone crouching down next to me and prodding me. “Is he okay?”
“Of course not.”
There was a pause.
“Of course he’s not wearing any clothes,” Edward replied and it took me a second to realize he was responding to Alice’s thoughts. “Didn’t you see him explode out of them when he phased?”
“I don’t think he’s cold.”
Cold? Huh. Nope, didn’t feel any of it. All my nerves were numbed.
Something heavy covered my body. A jacket?
“Yeah, my jacket,” Edward murmured. “Is she picking up yet?”
“No,” Alice replied.
Oh. He was talking to the bloodsucker.
I heard a faint ringing now that must be coming from the other end of the phone. There was a click.
“Nessie!” Alice yelled into the phone. Edward seemed to have stopped breathing. There was a brief pause and then I heard her voice coming through the phone, slightly muffled.
“Please don’t yell. It hurts my ears.”
“Ness! What happened? What did you do?” Alice bombarded. I cracked open an eye to see Edward holding out one hand for the phone but she waved him away.
“You know as well as I do what happened. What did you see?”
She hesitated a moment, her eyes flickering to Edward’s face. “I… saw your future change.”
There was a pause on her end. “How did it change?” she asked tentatively. My heart wrenched at her voice. Edward’s eyes flickered down to me, full of pity. I slammed my eyes closed, not wanting to see his sympathy.
“I don’t know,” Alice said cautiously. “You sort of… disappeared. Not like usual or like when you’re with Jacob. More of… uncertainty in your future. You’ve reached a fork in the road and you haven’t quite decided which path to take. I keep seeing different flashes of different futures, each unclear. It almost reminded me of when Edward couldn’t decide what to do when he first met your mother.”
“Was that it? You didn’t see anything closer in the future?”
I looked up again to see Edward shaking his head at Alice. She hesitated. “Well…. no. I saw something else.”
“What did you see?” the voice from the phone persisted.
Alice shot Edward an apologetic look before replying. “I saw… you and Derek… together. Holding each other. And kissing. I guess that should be in past tense since it already happened now, right, Ness?”
I groaned emitted from the other end. “Is Dad and Jake mad?” My heart twisted at the sound of her voice caressing my name. Never again.
“Edward isn’t really… mad, per say. Not really.” Edward snorted. Alice glanced at him and rolled her eyes. “Okay, okay, he is furious. But not at you. He has it in his mind that Derek is taking advantage of you. You can’t blame your father for being so protective like that.”
“Tell him I’ll talk with him once I get home.” There was a pause on her end. “Wait, what about Jake?” I let out a pitiful whimper. Why was she torturing me this way and pretending to care? Edward shot me a look but I ignored him. He needs to get out of my head.
“Jacob’s not mad either.” Alice looked down at me, eyes full of sympathy.
“Really? Huh. I thought he’d act all protective like Dad. After all, he did towards all the other boys that talked to me during school.” I snorted.
“It’s not quite the same, Nessie.” I shot her a warning look to get her to shut up. She actually listened. “But I’m not really the one you should be talking to about that.”
It seemed Edward had enough. He held out his hand once more, motioning for her to give him the phone. When she refused, he swiped at it.
“Get away, Edward,” she snarled.
“Give me the phone, Alice,” he shot back and snatched it from her.
He merely turned his back on her, pressing the phone to his ear. Alice stuck her tongue out at him.
“Nessie?” he said softly.
“Yeah, it’s me.” He took a deep breath to stop his voice from trembling in his anger at Derek. “Listen, can you give the phone to that Derek boy? I want to talk to him.”
“Um… I don’t think that’s a good idea. You don’t want people to find out we’re not human, do you?”
“Ness, I won’t say anything to him that’ll give away what we are.” Alice let out a snort.
“Also keep in mind that you’re not my dad, you’re my brother.”
“Big brothers can be protective, too,” he shot back.
“I don’t think you fit the ‘big brother’ stereotype very well.”
He changed tactics. “Give the phone to him, Ness.”
He rolled his eyes at her stubbornness. “Ness…”
He sighed a sigh of defeat. “So stubborn. Like your mother.”
“I hear I get my stubbornness from you, though.” A ghost of a grin couldn’t help but pull at my lips. She was so amazing.
“Fine. Don’t give him the phone. But we’re having a serious talk when you get home, young lady,” Edward said sternly.
“Okay, now you definitely don’t sound like a big brother.”
She giggled. “Alright. How’s Jake?”
I moaned. Again with the fake concern. I turned my nose into the snow so I wouldn’t have to see the bloodsucker’s unwanted looks of pity.
“He’s… fine.” I could feel his gaze on my back.
“Really. He’s just… in a weird mood. Can you stay there for like an hour? I’ll come and pick you up.”
“Alright. Be careful, Ness. Bye.” There was a faint click.
“Why did you tell her to wait an hour?” Alice asked softly.
“Because,” he answered, “I don’t want her to see her best friend like this.”
Best friend? Ha! That’s all I’ll ever be. If even that. If he was giving me an hour to put myself together, he was crazy. I would never heal from this, even with my super-fast werewolf healing powers. I curled into a tighter ball, trying to ignore the stabs of pain in my heart and trying not to think about the feeling that I had lost the only two people I had ever loved.
“You warm enough now?”
A light shudder ran down my spine at the feel of his warm breath in my ear. “Yeah,” I sighed back, leaning my head against his chest. He had one toned arm wrapped around my shoulders, and the other was playing with the fingers on my hand.
All of us migrated inside soon after Alice called me. Kevin’s mom had come out, saying something about wolves and the cold and danger. We were now all sprawled around his living room, covered in blankets. The fire in the fireplace burned high and merry, the crackling snapping through the murmured conversations.
Derek and I were snuggled on the floor by the fireplace, to better to soak up the heat. I did not feel the cold very much, but his fragile human body does not work well with the cold, like all humans. Of course, he declared that I looked cold and needed to warm up, not himself—such a gentleman. He was leaned against the wall, a blanket around us both. I was lounged against him, my legs entwined with his. He was so soft, so fragile, so human, I had to watch every move I made around him. I was wondering how long it would take before he started sweating from my extreme body heat, especially while wrapped up in a blanket together.
Rachel and Jay were sitting together on the loveseat, Rachel curled on Jay’s lap. A single, blue blanket covered the two of them and we could see movement underneath as occasional bursts of laughter emerged from the two. A smile couldn’t help but creep on my lips as I watched them. Jay looked like he was currently poking her in the sides lightly, causing her to squirm and giggle. They were so cute together already.
Sophie occupied the other loveseat. She looked quite silly, all cocooned up in a huge fleece blanket; you could just barely see her eyes and nose poking out from within the mass of felt. Kevin was currently out of the room—he was in the kitchen, preparing cups of hot cocoa for us all. I had never had hot chocolate, but I figured that if I liked chocolate, I should like hot chocolate, too, right?
Everyone else was piled on the couch and on the floor. One of the girls—Kendra, I think her name was—had her dainty, pink camera out and they were all taking turns posing. Human behavior was so strange sometimes.
“Okay, everyone, the cocoa’s ready,” Kevin said from the doorway. We all looked up to see him balancing a huge tray of little Styrofoam cups, each one sending out a small curl of steam. Sophie rushed up to relieve him of his load.
“You just stay right here by the fire. I’ll go and get you a cup,” Derek whispered to me as he got up, gently detangling his limbs from mine.
As he strode over to Kevin to grab two cups, I couldn’t help but admire his form. We had all taken off our winter jackets, and underneath his, Derek had worn a form-fitting dark blue sweater that brought out the color of his eyes. I could see the muscles rippling beneath it from every move he made. He walked with such confidence that it just drew people’s attention to him reflexively. As he headed back to me, his eyes concentrated down on the cups in his hands as to not spill, my eyes traced the contours of his face, the strong jaw that showed signs of dark stubble, his full lips currently in a small frown in his concentration, his slightly pointed nose, his thick locks curled in waves of chocolate, his dark brows furrowed as he watched his step, and his eyes that were presently the exact color of his sweater. And were locked directly with mine.
I glanced away, feeling the beginnings of a blush as my cheeks grew warmer at getting caught staring. Damn it. Why did I have to inherit that trait from Mom?
Derek settled down next to me once more, handing me a steaming cup gingerly.
“Careful, it’s hot,” he warned.
I nodded, cupping it in my hands and taking a small sip. I yelped softly as the liquid scalded my tongue; I couldn’t even taste anything from that sip, just felt the burning.
“Are you okay?” Derek asked, turned towards me with a hand outstretched to stroke my cheek. I nodded, looking away and feeling silly. He pulled my chin back to him, smiling gently. “I told you it was hot. Here.” He then took my cup and blew gently over the top of the rim, his eyes locked with mine the whole time. He handed the cup back to me, repeating the warning.
Wary this time, I lifted the cup slowly to my lips, blowing on it once before taking another sip. This time, it wasn’t as hot and I could taste it better now. It tasted similar to regular chocolate, though not quite the same. It was thick, foamy, and sweet. “Hmm. Yum,” I burst out in my surprise.
He laughed softly. “Yeah, it is.”
As I lowered my cup of cocoa, Sophie locked eyes with me—I still sensed a little venom in her gaze—and giggled. “You have a cocoa ‘stache,” she pointed out.
“You do,” Derek murmured, turning my attention back to him. His gaze was directed slightly downward, focusing on my lips. A light shudder trembled my body. My tongue peaked out from between my lips to lick off the mustache. “Wait. Let me help you with that.”
I pulled my tongue back between my teeth and my eyes fluttered closed as he leaned forward and pressed his lips at the upper right corner of my mouth, his warm tongue darting out to lick off the cocoa remains. He continued this across my upper lip then paused. “Yum. Tastes better on you,” he whispered. He finally pressed his lips to mine for a second kiss.
It began as a soft peck on the lips but then his mouth grew hot and hard quickly. I could taste the sweet chocolate flavor on his tongue. He tugged at my bottom lip with his teeth then crushed his lips to mine. When I tried to return the favor, I bit a little too hard. A trickle of liquid slipped between my lips and I subconsciously swallowed. Ah. So sweet. So much better than that human drink. My tongue darted out to where my teeth had punctured skin, tasting the sweet, rusty tang of blood. Delicious.
He let out a small groan as I pressed myself to him, licking at the cut. But my inhuman force was too much for him and I sent the both of us toppling toward. My head smashed against the brick wall—fortunately, not hard enough to crack it—and clarity zoomed back into my mind. What was I doing?! I shook my head like a confused dog and pushed myself away from Derek, who lay on the ground still, breathing heavily. His eyes sparkled as his gaze held mine.
I looked away. I couldn’t believe what I was about to do. I had to stay away from him and his blood.
Scooting away from his form, I glanced towards my peers and a rush of blood filled my face at the sight of their amused expressions. They had been watching our make-out session with bursts of giggles and hooting, none of which had penetrated our occupied minds.
“That looked intense,” Sophie giggled, throwing out nonchalant when I saw furious.
“Get a room!” one of the other boys, Chase, called out.
“Encore!” another rowdy boy, Hunter, shouted with glee.
Rachel and Jay grinned at me, but Kevin looked a little putdown.
“Hey, leave them alone,” Kevin muttered. Of course, nobody listened.
I glanced away from my crowd, looking at my hands. No encore could happen. Not while I could lose control like that. It was lucky I could wrench myself away from him. It was lucky that I had a lot of self-control. But apparently not enough. I was a monster among these humans. Thank god my venom was faulty.
A body pressed itself to mine and I instinctively froze though I immediately recognized who it was.
“Hey, hey, hey,” Derek murmured soothingly into my ear. “Don’t listen to those idiots. You shouldn’t be embarrassed for what we feel for each other.”
I couldn’t help but frown a little bit. I wasn’t sure what I felt for one. And how could he still feel something for me when I bit him and was sucking his blood? And knocked him over like some bull?
He placed a kiss to my neck but I remained unresponsive stone. I couldn’t lose control anymore. “Why don’t we go find a room like they were suggesting? I’d like to finish what we’ve started.”
I shuddered, thinking about what exactly that was—his death—and pulled away. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” At his downcast look, I hurriedly continued. “Because that’s moving too fast for me. It was good that we stopped like that. Anyways, I don’t think we’ll get much privacy here,” I added jokingly, making him grin.
“Alright,” he agreed almost grudgingly. He pulled me back to him and merely draped an arm over my shoulders. I relaxed into his form but my mind stayed alert. I could still smell the blood from the cut I gave him.
“Hey, sorry for biting you too hard,” I whispered, trying to turn it into a joke.
“No problem. I thought it was…” he trailed off, apparently not finding a good adjective to describe it and merely grinned at me suggestively. I rolled my eyes. At least he didn’t suspect what I was.
I tried to ignore the cat callings that continued from the other humans but failed. As I let out a sigh, Derek looked down at me and seemed to hint what was bothering me.
“Hey! Shut up if you know what’s good for you!” he called out and the room fell silent. “Thank you.”
I smiled up at him. “Thanks. I have to say I admire your skills to get them all to listen to you.”
He nuzzled my neck. “And not my other skills?”
I pulled away, giving him a warning look.
I settled back into his form. “It’s alright.”
We spent the rest of the time talking, to each other and the others. Too soon, though, a harsh knock came at the door.
Kevin got up to answer it, but I knew instantly who it was—I could smell him a mile away.
Kevin backed away from the door, looking sort of shell-shocked. That didn’t surprise me. Of course, he didn’t really know what he was frightened of, just that Edward seemed a little… weird.
He stood, tall and imposing, in the doorway, hands clenched into fists in his pockets. His jaw was set; it almost looked as if he was restraining himself from biting everyone’s necks by locking his teeth together. His eyes—a beautiful shade of gold—flashed with anger. Yet he still looked like a Greek God. Yet he looked so cool and composed. Yet no human suspected him.
I could see from the corner of my eyes as Sophie’s jaw dropped slightly and Rachel’s eyes bulged. I had to hold back the urge to roll my eyes at all the girls’ star-struck expressions. Meanwhile, all the boys had mixed expressions of awe, fear, and jealousy.
I watched as my dad’s eyes zeroed in on me and Derek, cuddled together on the floor. I could hear his teeth grind together. I shot him a warning glance. Dad… Calm down, I thought.
His nostrils flared slightly before turning back to the frozen Kevin. “I’m here to pick up Ness,” he said smoothly and I swore that all the human females melted at his voice.
Kevin slowly began to thaw out, his brow furrowed in confusion. “Ness? Oh. Renesmee. Yeah. Um. Come on in?”
“I’ll just wait out here, thanks.” There was some restrained fury in his voice, but none of the humans seemed to notice. I hurriedly got up before his control shattered.
Derek got up with me, pulling me into one last hug. “Ness. I like the sound of that. It’s kind of catchy.” He lightly brushed his lips over my cheekbone, a ghost of a kiss. “I’ll see you later, Ness. I’ll give you a call.”
“M’kay,” I agreed. “Bye everyone,” I called out to the rest of them as I strode towards Dad. “Thanks for having us all over, Kevin,” I said to him, giving him a small smile. He merely nodded, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. “Let’s go, Edward.”
I followed him out the door to his Volvo, shooting one last look behind me. Everyone waved, but my attention was drawn to one lone figure, still standing by the fireplace. He raised a single hand and winked before blowing me a kiss.
“Dad,” I complained as I climbed into the passenger side, “you are totally scaring all my friends. What could they have been thinking to make you put your scary vampire face on?”
“It wasn’t all of them, sweetie. Most of their minds were occupied with trivial human nonsense,” he replied softly as he pulled out of the driveway and zoomed towards the roads. I watched as the trees and houses whipped past.
Then what was it?
“Derek. And Kevin a little bit. And that Sophie girl. If her thoughts could kill, you would be dead by now,” he joked lightly.
“Ha ha. Well, I already know about her envy but I still want to be her friend. Or try to be.” What about Derek and Kevin? I asked internally.
I heard his teeth grind together again. “Their impure thoughts of you… especially Derek. I half wish to turn around and—”
“Dad,” I said warningly. “I can take care of myself. Besides, I like Derek. And Kevin,” I added. “I would be devastated if you killed my newly-made friends.” I turned to face him and grinned angelically.
He faced me, driving with ease, and crinkled his nose. “Why must you use your devilishly angelic charm on your poor father?”
“You just totally contradicted yourself, you know?”
“Again with the attitude.”
“Sorry Dad. I’m supposed to act like a normal teenager, and I am.”
“Too bad I’m not your father in that case. I’m your brother.”
“Good thing teenagers can have attitudes against their overprotective older brothers too,” I teased back.
Edward reached for my hand and squeezed it. “I just want you safe, sweetheart. Is that too much to ask?”
“I’ll be fine, Dad. I’m indestructible, remember?”
“Only physically,” he said so softly even I had to strain to hear it. “Just to let you know, I don’t approve of Derek.”
“Just to let you know, get over it,” I joked. “But really, Dad, give him a chance. He’s actually really sweet.”
“On the outside, maybe, but his thoughts aren’t so sweet,” he retorted.
“Whose thoughts ever are? I doubt yours or Emmett’s or Jasper’s or Jake’s ever are,” I shot back.
He grinned at me. “So sharp-witted.”
You know it, I crowed in my mind.
We fell into a silence as Edward weaved up our long driveway to our home.
“Hey, why didn’t Jake tag along to pick me up?” I asked suddenly, realizing why it seemed so weird on the ride home. Jake always tagged along whenever he could be with me. It was very unlike him to pass off an opportunity to hang out with his best friend.
Dad didn’t answer for a long second. “Because he’s not here.”
A chill tickled my spine. “What do you mean? Like he’s out hunting?”
Another long pause. “No. I mean he left. He went back to Forks.”
Chapter 13: Part One
I stared up at the ceiling in Jake’s room as I lay on his gigantic bed, not really seeing anything. My mind was too deep in thought.
Why did Jake leave and go back to Forks?
My parents had assured me that it was just a visit, that he would come back soon. Alice even confirmed it, saying that blotches of my future disappeared as it only could when a werewolf was by me. Of course, she couldn’t tell when exactly that would be.
What also didn’t make sense was why Jake left without me or any other member of the family. Dad claimed that he was just homesick and wanted to see all his La Push friends again, but that was no reason not to take me along. I loved everyone there too and would’ve loved to visit. It just didn’t make sense. I had an inkling that there was something they weren’t telling me, but every time I tried to bring it up, the subject would be quickly changed.
It’s been a whole week. No word from him yet. Billy did call to let us know that Jake arrived safely, but that was all. It was almost like he was avoiding me. I asked Dad if it was because of me and Derek and because he was mad at me, but he assured me that “No, he’s not mad at you sweetheart.” I almost believed him, but there was something deep in his eyes that told me that wasn’t the whole truth.
I let out a long sigh, flipping onto my stomach and burying my nose into Jake’s pillow. Ah. It smelled just like him. My heart tightened. Things just weren’t the same without him.
School definitely wasn’t the same. True enough, Derek tried to keep my mind occupied and away from Jake, but he only did it half-heartedly. He didn’t understand why I was making such a big deal out of it. In those classes that I had with Jake, I couldn’t help but glance over at the empty seat, hoping that he would just suddenly appear, grinning that wolfish grin at me.
My family supported me as much as they could, taking me out hunting and snowboarding and biking. But everything just reminded me of him. Of course, there was one moment when Jacob was the last thing on my mind.
~ ~ ~
It was the day I found out that Jake left and I was on the couch, staring mindlessly at the television. I was trying to get Jake off my mind and not think too deeply about what had happened—to keep from exploding into tears—so I thought back to that afternoon with Derek and our kiss—
“Renesmee Carlie Cullen!”
I was jerked out of my reverie at the sound of my father’s voice. “Yeah?”
“What is the meaning of that?”
I glanced around, bewildered. “The meaning of what?”
Mom rushed to my side, smoothing my dark curls out of my face. She glared at her husband. “Edward, at least tell her what she did before exploding! That’s hardly fair for anyone.”
Uncle Jasper was in the room in a flash and a wave of calm floated over us all.
“Stop it, Jazz,” Edward snapped and the tranquility vanished. My eyes grew wider. I had only seen my father yell like this once or twice and that was when I had done something really bad. I flipped through my memories, trying to figure out what Dad had seen in my mind to make him this angry.
Alice flitted into the room, followed by a worried Rosalie and an annoyed looking Emmett—the banging upstairs had ceased. Esme and Carlisle also entered the room, having heard the disruption.
“Edward, calm down or else this will end badly,” Alice warned lightly, bouncing to sit next to me on the couch.
“Sweetie,” Esme said softly, “why don’t you tell us what’s wrong?”
Dad took a deep breath through his nose, eyes flashing, and Bella was next to him in a split second, her hand on his shoulder. She looked at him with such concentration I knew she must be forcing her mind barrier out so that she could berate him silently. He noticeably relaxed. I caught him giving her a loving glance before turning back to me.
“Ness,” he began and I knew things had calmed down since he used my nickname, “haven’t we told you before that you need to be careful around humans?”
“Um, yeah.” I was still lost. Was this about the kiss?
“Yes and no,” Dad answered my thought. “It began as that but what scares me is more than that. Though I would much rather you not kiss him,” he added under his breath.
Bella smiled. “Is this you being all overprotective again?”
“No! And I am not overprotective!” he protested.
Mom slid one finger down his cheek and I grinned as I saw him melt at her touch. “Oh really? I happen to recall some moments when I was human and you seemed quite overprotective then.”
“Hey!” Emmett broke in, looking impatient. “Can someone just tell the rest of us what’s going on so we can get back to our lives?” His hand trailed up Rosalie’s waist and she slapped him away playfully.
“Right.” Dad wrenched his gaze away from his wife reluctantly and locked his eyes on me forcefully. I gulped. “Ness, you need to be more careful when you’re around humans—”
I was still flipping through my memories when I landed on one. Ah. Now it all made sense. I gave Dad a guilty look and he gave me an exasperated one in return.
“—because you almost put that Derek boy in danger, biting him like that,” Edward finished.
“Sorry, Dad. But at least I’m not venomous and have super self-control.” I smiled as innocently as I could.
“Wait, what?” Bella burst out. “What exactly happened?” I bit my lip. “Come on, Nessie, show me.”
I sighed before going up to my mom to hold her outstretched hand.
I turned to Carlisle at the sound of his voice, confused.
“Maybe we should all see what exactly happened.”
I flushed slightly at the thought of my whole family seeing me and Derek make out, but shrugged it off. No secrets in this household. I held out my hands for each of my family to place a finger on my skin.
Taking a deep breath, I shut my eyes and went over the events of this afternoon in my mind’s eye. When I thought about how our lips touched, I could hear Emmett chuckling then a thud sounded and he groaned. I fought off a grin as I silently thanked Rose for hitting him while trying to concentrate on what happened.
When I reached the part when I bit down too hard on his lip, several stifled gasps broke out in the silence and I tensed up. However, I continued through my narrative with my eyes screwed tight and jaw clenched.
Finally, I let out a breath I didn’t even know I was holding and opened my chocolate brown eyes to blink at the concerned faces of my family. I gave them a guilty smile.
“Oh, Nessie,” Esme crooned as she rushed forward to gather me in a hug. “That must have been horrible for you.”
‘I don’t know, it looked like they were having a pretty good time,” Emmett chortled, grinning at me wickedly. I felt my cheeks grow warm. Rosalie slapped his arm lightly again.
Carlisle looked worried. “Honey, do you know what could have happened? You shouldn’t have taken a risk like that, especially so soon. You know you haven’t been around humans enough. You’re lucky you’re just naturally resistant against blood.”
“I know, I know,” I murmured. I had hoped to dodge the lectures.
“Nessie, sweetie, I know you think we’re lecturing you—” I rolled my eyes at my father but he continued, unperturbed “—but you need to understand that you shouldn’t have pushed the limit that way. You could have killed him and gave away our secret.”
“Edward, I don’t think it was fully her fault,” my mom came to my rescue. “I seem to remember another certain someone who had a hard time keeping away from a human girl.” Her eyes twinkled and Dad noticeably softened. Yay Mom.
“I personally don’t think that it was Nessie’s fault at all,” Rosalie injected. “I think it was that Derek boy. He seduced her into kissing him and pushed her over her limit.” Her eyes gleamed. “I don’t think we should let him get away with it. I think we should—”
“Rose,” my dad muttered warningly, “don’t go there. We don’t want any bloodshed.” Rose pouted, crossing her arms.
Jasper didn’t say anything, merely crossing his arms with a little frown on his face.
Alice, who looked unconcerned during the whole conversation, sighed exasperatedly. “Hey! Stop talking for a moment.” The room fell silent and she smiled angelically. “Thank you. Now, I think you should stop making such a big deal out of this. Nothing happened, nobody was in danger. And I mean that,” Alice said forcefully when Edward opened his mouth to argue. “Nothing was going to happen. Even with my blurred vision, I can tell that she had it all under control. And really, what was the harm? A little cut for him? But I’m sure he didn’t mind that at all considering the circumstances…” She winked at me and I flushed again.
Edward frowned at his adopted sister. “I hate when you use logic like that. But I’m still going to worry. And I’m keeping an eye on that boy.”
“Daaaad,” I complained but I was relieved on the inside that I wasn’t going to get in trouble.
“Who said anything about not getting in trouble?” Edward said mischievously.
I felt my eyes widen. Mom placed a gentle hand on his arm. “Edward, don’t be too hard on her. This is all new for her, remember?”
Dad’s eyebrows furrowed in thought. I braced myself for impact but Emmett butted in. “How about you have to ride with us to and from school? You can’t bring your bike. At least, until Jake comes back.”
Everyone froze at his words, eyes zooming onto my face. I couldn’t move a muscle as my heart clenched tight. I had forgotten about Ja—him. Until Jake comes back? What if he never comes back at all? Why did he leave in the first place? Was it because of me? Does he hate me? The questions and feelings that I had tried to hard to repress before rushed on an onslaught. I felt my lip start to quiver and I focused on stilling it. Mom broke the stillness, rushing forward to engulf me in a hug.
Rose glared at Emmett, who looked guilt-ridden, and punched him in the shoulder. “Idiot,” she muttered before pulling me into a hug as well.
I forced the burning in my eyes away before plastering a smile on my face. It felt more like a grimace. I mustn’t show weakness because I didn’t want this pity. I wanted to forget about him for the time being—it hurt too much. But I knew I would be fighting a losing fight—it would be impossible to forget. Thoughts of him would creep into my mind at every waking moment.
“I’m alright,” I declared, pulling away from Rose and Mom. “I’m okay.” Everyone was still staring at me, as if they expected me to implode. It was nerve-racking so I quickly excused myself to my room where I could mourn in peace.
Chapter 13:Part 2
I sighed, clutching his pillow tighter to my face as the onslaught of this week’s memories without him continued. My lips curled into a little frown as I realized that his scent was not as potent as it was the first night I came here to sleep. I was tossing and turning all night, unable to melt into unconsciousness. When I crept into this room and collapsed on his mattress, his comfortingly woody smell engulfed me, sending me into a dreamless escape. After that night, I always slept in here, needing some way to be closer to him. But now my smell was mixing with his and his was beginning to fade. Soon it would all but disappear, just like he did a week ago.
I wish I could confide in Derek about my depressed state, but I knew he didn’t approve of my longing for him. He had said enough about that on Monday at school…
~ ~ ~
I trailed behind the rest of my family that Monday morning as we strode into the school building. I couldn’t help but glance around me, searching for that familiar face with dark eyes crinkled in a smile. I had to fight off the urge to break down right here and sob my heart out—Where are you?!—and Dad kept shooting pitying looks at me (which I ignored). Without Jasper’s help, I was sure I wouldn’t have made it to the door. I was so out of it that I bumped into someone in the hallway, sending him stumbling back. Of course, with my half-vampire strength, I was unmoved.
“Sorry—oh, Derek!” I recognized him before launching myself at him and wrapping my arms around his toned waist. I felt a lone tear roll down my cheek and blinked it away furiously.
“Hey Nessie,” Derek greeted me, somewhat bewildered. “I’m fine, really. Though I’m liking the welcome you’re…” He trailed off as he realized that I was crying. Pulling away from me slightly, he cupped my face, looking worried. “Nessie, what’s wrong?”
“Oh, Derek, he left!” I choked out, closing my eyes.
“Jake!” I wailed and my heart twisted when I said his name. “He went back to Forks Friday night and I don’t know why! He didn’t say good-bye or anything and I think I did something to make him leave! But I don’t know what I did! I just wish he would come back because I miss him so much!” I blabbered, eyes still closed, until I realized that Derek went very still and quiet. I peeked under my long lashes to see his confused expression. “What?”
“You’re crying like this because Jake left?” His voice sounded funny; I couldn’t place the emotion in it.
“Well, yeah! He’s my best friend and it’s my fault that he left!” I explained. His expression didn’t change.
A small frown formed on his face as he studied me. I pursed my lips as I tried to figure out what he was thinking. I gave up.
“Okay, why are you looking at me like that?”
A look of compassion and sympathy quickly masked his previous emotion. “No reason. I just want you to be happy.”
I was suddenly aware of all the eyes locked on our encounter—we really weren’t the quietest people in the world—and slightly pulled away, twisting my fingers with his. “Just distract me,” I suggested. “Come on, let’s go to class.”
Throughout the day, he tried his best to distract me from my thoughts of him, but he didn’t always succeed. I always caught my mind wandering and would rearrange my previously disheartened look to one of content. But I knew Derek caught me thinking about him as well because he would have that strange look on his face again.
As the last bell of the day rang, I met Derek at my locker. My mind was wandering once more as I mindlessly plucked the books I would need out of the locker. Would he come back? Was Alice telling the truth? When would he come back? Did he hate me now? Why did he hate me? What did I do to make him go back to La Push—?
“Nessie, are you listening to me?”
I shook myself out of my reverie and gave an exasperated Derek an apologetic look. “Sorry. My mind has been wandering a lot lately.”
He frowned. “I noticed.”
There was a little silence as I zipped up my backpack and shut my locker door. I turned to him and saw a contemplative look on his face.
He seemed startled and glanced down at me. “Okay, don’t get mad, but…” He hesitated before the words tumbled out of his mouth. “I don’t really like that you’re making such a big deal out of this. You said he’s going to come back but you’re acting like he’s not. I think he’s just jealous of you and me so he left to make you just think about him all day long. But you’re my girlfriend now and, truthfully, I don’t really like that he has more attention in your mind than I do. I’m not saying stop caring about him completely,” he added, probably on account of my shell-shocked expression, “I’m just saying maybe let him do what he wants and stop worrying about him so much. He’s a big boy and can make his own decisions.”
I silently closed my mouth—I hadn’t realize I had dropped my jaw during his tirade—and turned away from him to head outside and wait for the rest of my family. I felt his hand on my shoulder and briefly considered wrenching away from him but gave in to the little pressure of his hand.
“Oh, Nessie, I’m sorry. There I go, getting all jealous again.” He sighed, pulling me in with his dark blue eyes. I felt myself melt. Okay, I couldn’t stay mad at him for long.
I fell into his open arms, inhaling his human scent. “It’s okay. It’s my fault anyways. I’ll stop talking about him so much.”
“Now you make me feel bad,” he murmured into my hair. “I should let you mope around for your best friend. And I should attempt to distract you from your depression like a good boyfriend. I’m such a doofus.”
I giggled. “Doofus? Nice.”
~ ~ ~
I pulled myself out of that memory, pressing my nose deeper into the pillow I clutched.
Though he gave me permission to ‘mope around’ about him, I tried to refrain from doing so around him. I didn’t want him to get angry at me.
He did go by his word and try to distract me for the rest of the week. On Friday, he even had an attempt to entertain me during the weekend by taking me out for dinner tonight…
School had been released for the weekend and I was strolling down the parking lot with my family to our cars when a familiar voice called out behind me.
“Hey Ness, wait up a sec!”
I turned to see Derek running after me.
“Come on, give them a little privacy,” I heard Alice mutter behind me. “Come on, Edward! It’s not like you can’t hear them in the car. At least give the boy a notion that we’re leaving them alone.” I had to keep a smile from sliding on my face as Derek approached me.
“Hey,” he returned, a little out of breath. I waited a moment to let him catch his breath.
“What is it?” I asked, curious and confused at the same time. What did he want?
“I was just thinking, maybe I should distract you this weekend, you know?” He waved a hand in front of him to emphasize what he said. “So I just came up with an idea, and I wanted to ask you—” I heard the distinctly familiar growl of my dad muffled behind me followed by a thump and the growl ceased “—if you wished to honor me with your presence for dinner Saturday night,” Derek finished in a fake English accent with a flourish. I had to giggle at him and his fancy words.
“I’d love to.”
A huge smile broke out on his face. “Great! I’ll pick you up at seven then?”
“Sure,” I agreed and quickly gave him my address before kissing his cheek good-bye—another growl from Dad—and walking to Dad’s silver Volvo that waited in idle. I slid in the backseat and ignored Dad’s icy glares he was giving me and sending out the window to Derek’s retreating form. Mom had a restraining hand on Dad’s shoulder.
We stayed silent the whole way home, Dad fuming while Mom kept patting his arm to calm him. Emmett trailed behind us with the rest of the family in his Jeep.
~ ~ ~
As I pulled myself out of that memory as well, I glanced at the clock on the small nightstand by his bed. I had two hours before Derek would come. With a sigh, I hopped out of his bed, taking one last whiff, before bolting out the door.
“Alice!” I called out. She was by my side in a split second, looking eager.
“Really, Ness? You’re really asking me to dress you?” she burst out, eyes dancing. “At least, that’s what I think your blurry butt was asking me.”
I laughed. Her visions were useful sometimes. “As long as you don’t go overboard.”
“Yay!” she squealed before embracing me. “Come on! We only have two hours!” She half-dragged me to her room.
Last edited by Fire (2009-11-28 20:59:16)
I stood in front of my floor-length mirror, eying the outfit that lay on my bed as if it would jump up and bite me. Alice had ruffled through her enormous closet while I waited by the door nervously, having some second thoughts. I mean, after all, I could just fling on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. But before I could mention that, she had thrown me a pair of glossy black heels with criss-crossed straps and yanked me away. I glimpsed some black lace and something else in a white dress bag in her arms before Alice shoved me into my room, tossing me what she was carrying. “Put it on. All of it,” she ordered sternly before slamming the door shut.
As soon as I figured out what exactly that black lace was, I grabbed at the door handle, only to find it immoveable under my fingers.
“Alice!” I yelled, but all I got in return was a giggle.
“Just put it on, Nessie! He’ll love it! Trust me,” her high, musical voice floated from under the door.
“Mom!” I shouted, deciding to change tactics. After all, she hated being dressed up by Alice almost as much as me. “Alice is holding me hostage!”
“I know how you feel, sweetie,” Bella replied and I jumped as it didn’t come from outside the door, but in the room next door—my parents’ room. “She’s holding me hostage, too.”
“I’m taking your mom out on a date,” Dad’s voice came from the same room, “or at least that’s what Alice told me.”
Harrumphing, I immediately thought of the third party that would always side with me. He would surely rescue me and convince Alice how crazy this was. I opened my mouth and his name was on the tip of my tongue before I realized what I was about to say. I clamped my mouth shut and shook all thoughts of him away.
After a brief moment to collect myself, I sighed exasperatedly. “Fine, you win,” I muttered. I distinctly heard a gleeful shout.
I slipped out of the tank top and pajama bottoms I had on throughout the whole day and picked up one of the dangerously black lace pieces. I wrinkled my nose at it, debating not wearing this part.
“Renesmee,” Alice’s voice came warningly. Damn her visions.
I pulled on the lacey lingerie quickly, averting my eyes from the mirror, and plucked out the dress from the bag. Oh, wow. Alice, I’m going to kill you, I thought murderously, and I heard Dad’s laugh from the other room.
It was a silky black dress, simple, yet totally Alice. Trying not to judge it too soon—and to humor Alice—I slipped it on, loving the way it just floated down my body easily. Okay, I had to hand it to her—it was definitely comfy.
I swiveled to face the mirror. Okay, changed my mind. I am going to kill her.
The edge of the dress barely skimmed my fingertips—way too short for a first date. Two flimsy straps held the dress up and the neckline plunged dangerously low, exposing too much cleavage. I turned to criticize the back and groaned, wondering the best way to make Alice’s death slow and painful. The back of the dress was basically nonexistent; it dipped low to expose the small of my back, criss-crossed with small black straps. At the top of it, there was a two-inch strip of cloth to cover my bra-strap.
A rogue thought nearly slipped into my mind—I wonder what Jake will think of this dress—but I stopped it before it reached the fourth word, chiding myself silently. Luckily Dad seemed to be a little occupied at the moment or he would have burst in here to comfort me and I didn’t want to pull more attention to me because of that.
I sighed again, slipping my feet through the glamorous heels that gave me an extra three-inch boost to my height. I glared at my reflection, trying to hate it. I had to admit that I did look good, but still, for a first date? Way too overboard. A devilish smile crept on my lips. Dad would never agree to let me wear this. Jake would never either.
I froze, slamming my eyes shut as the ambush of pain at the thought of his name began. Oh God. Why did I think that? I silently reprimanded myself. He’s not even here anymore. Stop thinking about him. It won’t change anything. This was planned to distract me from him, not make me think on him more!
I took a deep breath and exhaled, imagining that I was releasing all thoughts of him as I did so. Before I could move another muscle, the door to my room flew open and Alice pranced in, wearing a glittering deep-purple dress. Taking over in my moment of brief surprise, she pulled me to her room, forcing me to sit in front of her vanity desk.
I was too distracted to protest. “Are you going out too, Alice?”
“Yup. We’re all going out,” Alice answered, pulling out a case full of bobby-pins, hair ties, etc. “Rose!” she called over her shoulder. “Want to help?”
“Sure,” Rosalie’s sugary voice agreed and she was behind me in a flash. I took a moment to take in the image of her: she looked gorgeous as usual, wearing a tight, thigh-length, fire-red dress. Her blonde locks were piled on her head in an intricate fashion. I felt myself shrink in the sight of my aunts’ beauty—my half-vampire genes would never live up to their full-vampire ones.
I pouted in my seat. “Alice, it’s all too much for a first date,” I declared but she ignored me. “Alice!”
“I heard you,” she replied, concentrating on my hair. She and Rose were pulling it up to settle on the top of my head.
“Dad will never agree to this,” I stated triumphantly. “He won’t let me wear a dress this revealing.”
“We’ll see,” was the simple reply I got from her. “Now hold still and stop talking.”
Even with their super-speed, it took them nearly an hour to finish me up; to keep my thoughts from wandering back to my absent best friend, I amused myself by composing another song in my mind. I would title it “Taken Against my Will.”
“There,” Alice’s proud voice floated into my consciousness as their movements ceased and I pulled myself out of my mind to focus on the glamorous creature that stared back at me in the mirror. Wait, was that me?
The creature’s plush, dark red lips fell open as I took it all in. Wow. Deep, dark eyes rimmed with thick lashes and black eyeliner gazed back at me and my naturally rosy cheeks added to the effect. My bronze hair was piled on my head with curly little ringlets escaping its grasp. Purposeful strands of hair framed the heart-shaped face.
I should be thinking about how much this would impress Derek. So why was my first thought not about my boyfriend, but my missing best friend? I squashed that thought, not letting my inner turmoil show on my exterior—I should be enjoying myself right now, especially with all the hard work Alice and Rose put into me.
My eyes flickered to the grinning reflections of my aunts behind me. I rolled my eyes.
“Okay, okay, you guys did a good job,” I said exasperatedly and couldn’t help but smile as they exchanged high-fives.
I made to stand up but was stopped by Rosalie.
“Wait. One last thing,” she said then dashed out of the room. She returned a second later holding up a glittering silver necklace with vertical strands hanging downward. She fastened it around my neck then stood back to admire her handiwork. “There. Perfect,” she declared.
I stroked the soft metal in awe, touched by Rose’s actions; she rarely ever volunteered her own jewelry to others’ uses.
“Derek will eat you up,” Alice added smugly. “He’ll love it.” Her eyes glazed over briefly before focusing back on my face with a small smirk. “Yup, he’ll love you. Oh, and he’s coming a little early because the restaurant’s reservations are at seven.”
“Early? How early?”
Alice stilled for a quick second before replying, “In about five to ten minutes.”
“Idiot human,” Rose muttered then asked Alice, “What if she wasn’t ready yet? How did that human expect her to be ready that early without a little heads up? So tactless,” she added to herself.
“He called her cell phone,” Alice said confidently.
My hand flew to my pocket instantly before realizing that I was wearing a dress and didn’t have my phone on me. I flashed to my room and grabbed my silver phone from my drawer. Oh, purse, I need a purse to put my things in that matched my outfit. I looked around my room wildly.
“Here,” Alice’s voice came from behind me and I whirled around just in time to catch the tasteful, black purse she tossed at me.
“Thanks,” I said gratefully before stuffing my phone in it and throwing in a few other necessities. With one quick look at the mirror to make sure I haven’t messed anything up—and hoping that Derek liked my look—I dashed out the door and leaped over the staircase to land gracefully on the main floor.
Straightening up, I glanced around me. My family all stood around the front door to form a half-circle, waiting to welcome in my boyfriend. Carlisle was closest to the door, wearing a black suit and blue tie. Esme was next to him, her fingers entwined with his, and she looked beautiful in her simple, vanilla dress. Rose, in her deep-red dress, and Emmett, looking roguishly handsome in a white vest, red button-up shirt, and white tie with his arm thrown around Rosalie’s shoulders, stood next to Esme. On my other side was Jasper, clad in an outfit similar to Emmett’s, except that the colors were dark violet and gold. He had an arm wrapped around Alice’s petite waist. And finally, opposite of Carlisle and Esme, were my parents. Mom wore a long, midnight blue dress that skimmed the floor. It had a slit up the right side to her thigh. She looked stunning. Dad wore a dark tux with a button-shirt that matched Mom’s dress. He looked dazzling as well.
A wave of self-consciousness hit me as I gazed at my perfect family—they were so beautiful and I was not. What would Derek think when he sees me—absolutely ugly in comparison to these vampires—standing next to my attractive family?
“Nessie,” Dad said softly and I turned to face his beauty reluctantly. “Stop thinking that. You are way more beautiful than you give yourself credit for. I love the dress by the way,” he added, his eyes skimming the black dress. Alice chuckled. He leaned in towards Bella to whisper in her ear (though we can all hear him anyways). “I’d love to see you in that outfit.”
I smothered a snort at his words, though I did roll my eyes are Alice’s smug expression. I glanced once more at my golden-eyed family members. An arrow of longing hit me as I subconsciously picked out the one face that was missing from this picture. I saw out of the corner of my eye as Dad shot Jasper a look and my pain was clouded with a feeling of content. I half wished he wouldn’t—I needed to be strong enough to master my own emotions—but I was also glad that he did so. I didn’t want to feel the sting of my emotions anymore.
“So,” I said, trying to distract myself and everyone else; they were all staring at me with unnecessary concern, “where are all of you going dressed up like this? You can’t be going out to dinner or anything involving food. Where do vampires go to go out on a date? The butcher-shop?” I joked.
Mom smiled at me. “No, sweetheart. As tempting as that sounds, more blood isn’t on our agenda tonight. We’re going ballroom dancing.”
I cocked an eyebrow. Really? Ballroom dancing? I didn’t know my family liked to dance.
“Oh yes,” Dad said fluidly. “Us vampires love to dance.”
Emmett winked at me, trailing one finger down Rose’s side. “Yeah, we love to dance. Especially ballroom dancing. He grabbed Rose’s bottom. “Sexy.”
Rose slapped him away lightly. “Maybe if Derek’s up to it, you two can come with us sometime.”
Emmett muttered, “How do you know it’ll be Derek and not—”
“So!” Dad butt in, glaring at Emmett. “Where are you two going?” He tried to sound interested, but I could tell he still didn’t like the idea of me going out with Derek.
“No idea. He wouldn’t tell me.”
“We’ll find out soon,” Alice murmured, her eyes flickering to the door.
We all followed her gaze and distinctly heard the low rumble of a motor driving up the long road to our home.
Butterflies fluttered in my stomach and I involuntarily searched for that familiarly comforting face among the faces of vampires before jerking myself out of it. Stop it, I thought firmly. You will not think of him throughout the rest of the night.
I ignored my father’s worried expression, staring the door down.
The deep rumble died down near the front of the house and there was a soft creak. We were all deathly silent and frozen, listening carefully.
I jumped at the sound of the car door shutting and Emmett snickered softly.
Soft steps muffled slightly by the dirt led to clacking footsteps on the wooden steps leading to the front door. The steps halted.
There was a slight pause and I briefly wondered why he wasn’t knocking or anything.
“He’s preparing himself,” Dad muttered softly to me. Oh. From what?
Before he could answer my thought, there was a tentative knock on the door. With one look at me, Carlisle placed a pale hand on the doorknob and twisted it open gracefully.
“Hello, Derek. Come on in.”
“Hello, Derek. Come on in,” Carlisle said softly, stepping aside from the doorway.
Derek seemed frozen in his place, mouth slightly open as his bewildered blue eyes flickered from face to face over each of my family members. I flinched inwardly; he must have noticed something strange about my family, how none of them looked alike yet some connection could be derived from them—their unnatural stillness, their pale white skin, their burning golden eyes, their uncanny beauty. He also must have detected how I had none of these characteristics.
Wondering if Derek was making the connection in his mind, I glanced at my father, but he looked completely indifferent and unconcerned—though there was a hint of hostility in his posture; clearly he would hold the overprotective father role too high.
Not my dad, you’re my brother, I thought, emphasizing the last word. Brother. Edward’s eyes slid to mine subtly and he jerked his head down a fraction of a centimeter. His pose relaxed and all hostility vanished, apart from in his glowering eyes as they turned back on the motionless Derek. Our conversation only took a split second.
Derek’s eyes were now focused on Bella and were switching from her to Edward repeatedly. A little crease formed on his forehead, coinciding with his lips turning downward slightly in confusion. I held my breath as I silently chided myself in putting the three of us so close together for scrutiny; did he now notice how I looked way too much like Edward to just be a sister? Did he see how Bella, who wasn’t supposed to be related to me, shared some of my features as well?
I shot Dad a concerned look—he must have seen my worries—and questioned what Derek was thinking. He did not look at me, merely stared at Derek. However, his gaze grew more hostile, if that was possible, as if he didn’t like his thoughts. Dad didn’t seem very anxious, though, as he would have been if Derek noticed anything strange.
With a little frown of my own, I looked back to Derek and felt a little wave of relief—mixed with jealousy—as his gaze was rested on Rose. Emmett tightened his grip around her shoulders. After a brief moment, Derek switched his stare to Alice then Esme, something like awe on his face. Hm, all the females. I glanced back at Dad to see if my hypothesis was correct and his gritted teeth verified what I suspected.
Clearing my throat, I stepped forward, not wanting to give Dad the chance to act out on his dislike and jump Derek. Though only a few seconds had actually passed since Carlisle opened the door, it stretched out to forever for me and the stare-down that occurred between my family and my boyfriend had gone on long enough.
At the noise I made to break the tense silence, Derek jumped slightly and I caught Emmett snickering noiselessly. As his gaze turned to me for the first time since he arrived, his expression transformed to one of wonder and… lust? His smoldering eyes caressed my body as his gaze slid down then back up, and the desire in his eyes increased. Feeling self-conscious at his assessment, I decided to move this little interlude to the living room.
“Don’t just stand there like a stranger, come on in,” I urged, stepping forward to grasp his hand and tugged him away lightly. He still seemed a little dazed as he stumbled after me, my family trailing behind.
“He’s stunned by our beauty,” Dad muttered to me, too low for human ears. “And yours especially.”
I crushed the urge to snort—when would he understand not to edit out people’s thoughts for my benefit?—and plopped down on a loveseat, pulling Derek down with me.
Carlisle took a seat in the armchair next to us while Esme retreated into the kitchen (did they watch movies on how parents were supposed to act when their daughter’s dates came over, or something?). Emmett sprawled on the couch, dragging Rose down with him, and she slapped him away, sitting up straight and nudging him to do so as well. Mom and Dad sat at the other end of the couch, so Dad could have a clear view of Derek—I could feel his penetrating gaze on the arm Derek had slung around my shoulders. Jasper hesitated at the doorway, Alice by his side. When I looked at him, I saw how tense he was and felt a wave of pity that he still had to struggle with his thirst more than all of us. I was sure he could control himself well, but apparently he had no trust in his self-control—he wasn’t breathing.
Alice stroked his cheek softly, silently urging him to take a seat, but he held his stance, shaking his head minutely with an apologetic look. With a grim smile, she sighed and turned to us.
“We’re going to head out early. We’ll meet you guys at the dance-room. Nice meeting you, Derek,” she called out in her tinkling voice and Derek melted slightly in his seat. Turning, she pranced towards the door. “Come on, Jasper.”
The door closed softly behind their retreating forms but I was getting distracted at the moment. Derek was trailing his fingers up and down my bare arm like a ghost of a feather. I felt my eyes slide shut.
“Oh, what horrible manners we have!” Carlisle said in his gentle voice with a touch of remorse and I opened my eyes. “We haven’t introduced ourselves. I’m Carlisle and that is my wife, Esme.” Esme stepped into the doorway of the kitchen and waved. “That’s Edward and Bella—” Bella smiled softly but Edward just gave him a stiff nod “—Emmett and Rosalie—” Emmett waved raucously while Rose waved her fingers elegantly “—and Alice and Jasper were the ones who just left.”
“H-Hello,” Derek said softly, looking like we were sending him to his death. I had never seen this timid side of him. He was always boasting around at school, laughing loudly, and acting like nothing could touch him. But I actually saw nervousness with a touch of fear in his gaze now.
“So, where are you taking Nessie?” Dad asked roughly and I saw Carlisle shoot him a look; he would give away our cover if he kept this up.
“Um, well,” Derek stuttered, facing Carlisle, “I am planning on taking her out to dinner and maybe do something afterwards, sir.”
Carlisle opened his mouth but Dad cut in. “Do something afterwards?” he said through his teeth. I’m sure he was imagining something… not very appropriate.
“Yes,” Derek replied, his voice getting stronger, speaking to Carlisle again. “Maybe a stroll on the beach or just laying out to watch the stars. Maybe a movie. It depends on what Ness wants to do.”
Dad looked furious as his use of my nickname but I just shot him an exasperated look. Did he really expect only my family to use my nickname? Renesmee was a mouthful after all.
“And what time will you have her home by?” Carlisle asked gently, taking over the father role before Edward could.
“Not too late, sir.”
Carlisle smiled at his formality. “That’s good. Now you take good care of her, alright?”
“Yes, sir!” Derek said, grinning. I could almost see him saluting Carlisle.
We stood up to go, feeling relieved that this hadn’t gone as bad as I had expected, but I had thought too soon.
“Wait,” Edward called out. Closing my eyes, I turned with Derek, thinking furiously in my head, Dad, keep it calm. Please. Calm. Act like my brother, please. Please. Be nice. Don’t hurt him.
He ignored me as he got up as well, pulling his arm out of Mom’s grasp, and came to stand in front of Derek. Derek took a step back, surprised.
“How old are you?” he shot out.
“Um, sixteen,” Derek replied, looking confused.
“How long have you been driving?”
“A couple of months now. My birthday was in August.”
“Have you gotten any tickets before in your life, boy?”
“Um, yeah. I got one for speeding.”
“What?” Dad said, indignant. I could see him swelling up, ready for the take down. I shot Mom a panicked look and she got my message.
“Sweetheart,” she said softly, rushing to his side at human speed and pulling him away. “Leave your little sister’s boyfriend alone.”
Of course, Dad couldn’t resist something Mom told him to do, so with one last glare at Derek, he followed her back to the couch. “Not too late, boy,” he gritted out and fell silent at last.
I blew out a breath I didn’t know I was holding and tugged Derek towards the door. “Bye, everyone! Have fun dancing!” I called over my shoulder while I pulled on my matching black cover-up and barely heard the replies of my family. I shouted in my mind playfully, Dad, how can you get mad at Derek for speeding when you are the worst speeding vampire ever? I heard a low chuckle that told me his good mood was back.
We walked out towards Derek’s sleek black Audi A6. He opened the passenger door for me to get in before striding around the car to the driver’s seat.
“Nice car,” I said softly to him and he grinned.
“Thanks. It was a birthday present from the parents.” He put the car in reverse, placing an arm around my headrest and glancing back to turn the car around. Setting it back to drive, he commented as he pulled past the house, “Your brother, Edward, sure scared me. He acted a lot more like the typical dad than your dad did.” An Emmett-like snort emitted from the house, but, of course, Derek couldn’t hear it.
“Yeah, he’s a little crazy,” I said loudly and I caught the sounds of laughter mixed with a low growl from Dad. I grinned. But I love him lots and lots! I crowed in my mind.
There was a small silence as Derek turned onto the main road, the engine purring softly.
“So, where are we going?” I asked, trying to get conversation going.
“You’ll see,” he answered with a small smile.
I pouted. “No fair.”
“Who said life is fair?” he shot back with a grin. I grinned as well. He had no idea how true that statement was.
I stared out the window, watching the trees whip past. I blinked and suddenly saw something that looked large and furry running alongside the road. With a stifled gasp, I pressed my nose closer to the window, but when I blinked again, the form was gone.
“Are you okay?” Derek asked, sounding worried.
I turned back to face the road, not meeting his anxious eyes. “I’m fine. I just thought I saw something.”
His gaze kept flickering to my face every couple of seconds but I ignored him. It couldn’t be him that I saw. He was in La Push. If he came back, he would have gone back to the house, right? It must have been a deer or something.
I tried to convince myself of this, but I couldn’t shake off the knowledge that the creature was too big and too furry to be a mere deer. Deep in my mind, I knew exactly what it was—a werewolf.
* * * * *
We pulled into a parking spot, and the abrupt silence that filled the car after the engine died jerked me out of my reverie.
“We’re here,” Derek announced tentatively—the ride here was mostly silent after my occurrence with the wolf. Of course, he didn’t know what it was that freaked me out, but I think he got the gist that it was about him.
Derek got out of the car and came around to my side while I sat in my seat, taking a deep breath. Don’t think about him, I ordered myself sternly as I accepted Derek’s hand and exited the car.
I glanced up at the building and took in a sharp breath. This was the most expensive restaurant in town! Derek offered his arm and I gratefully slid my hand through the crook of his arm. I finally took notice of his attire: a cozy and soft blue sweater that fitted well around him, a pair of snug dark jeans, and a thick leather jacket to ward off the cold. I briefly wondered if he had a job or some sort of income to pay for this but I was distracted. Out of the corner of my eye, I could’ve sworn that I saw a pair of glowing eyes staring at me through the brushes. As I turned to get a better look at it, we stepped inside the building and a burst of warm air hit me.
Blinking at the sudden light—though it was dimmed—I glanced around. I had only been in a restaurant a few times since my family consisted of vampires, and never one this fancy. Usually Jake, or Grandpa Charlie, or Billy, or Seth, or the other werewolves just took me to a small, local diner.
I subconsciously let Derek slid my jacket off my shoulders and hand it and his jacket to the doorman. Soft, pleasant music drifted through my ears amidst the low sounds of conversation. I barely noticed Derek leaning to talk to the hostess and then we were off, following her through an array of tables.
The building was delightfully decorated, giving it a warm feeling. White tablecloths adorned the tables with candles, plates, and a mixture of silverware on top of it. Calm, welcoming waiters and waitresses in black and white weaved through the tables, catering to every whim of their guests. And the guests were all dressed up in beautiful, expensive clothing. I suddenly felt insignificant.
“This place looks expensive,” I whispered to Derek as I hurried to catch him.
He smiled at me, catching my hand and squeezing it lightly. “I thought you’d be used to things like this. Anyways, don’t worry, I have it all covered.”
We sat at one of the small tables, thanking the woman who seated us. It was quieter on this side, and a lot more private. I twitched my nose at the mass amounts of smells that drifted around me—I nearly forgot that I would have to eat human food. Ick.
A waiter was at our table in a flash with a jug of water, filling our glasses. He looked in his low-twenties, with his slicked-back auburn hair and dark green eyes. Straightening up and whipping out a pad and pen, he asked, “What would you like to drink?” His eyes flickered to mine and held there, a slow grin melting on his face.
Derek cleared his throat, looking irritated, and said coldly, “I’ll have a Coke, thanks.”
The waiter nodded, scrawling something on his notepad, while keeping his dark eyes on me. “And for you, miss?”
“Water’s fine, thank you.” I didn’t want to have to force down any other vile human drink.
“Are you sure?” he urged. I felt the need to look away from his piercing eyes, but I held.
“She said she didn’t want anything else,” Derek snapped, eyes narrowed.
I frowned a little bit, remembering a drink that I actually did enjoy. “Wait, do you have hot chocolate?”
The waiter smiled widely, looking smug. “Yes, we do.” Derek shot him another glare.
“I’ll have one of those, then.”
“Alright. I shall be out in a jiffy with your drinks and to take your order. If you need anything, just ask for Hunter,” he said in a low voice and finally broke eye contact with me.
I looked down, relieved to have that little staring contest over with. Waiter Hunter certainly made a little chill run down my spine. I picked up the cloth napkin folded intricately in front of me and unfolded it, settling it on my lap. When I glanced up, Derek was watching me with a strange expression on his face.
“What?” I asked, and he quickly rearranged his features.
“Nothing, nothing,” he said quickly and chuckled as I raised one curved eyebrow at him. “Okay, okay. It’s just that I was thinking of all the guys who will give me a hard time. They’re all going to try to steal you from me, so I’m going to have to put up quite a fight to keep you.”
I pursed my lips at his comment in confusion. What was he talking about?
He seemed to take my reaction the wrong way. “Not that you’re an object to be won or anything,” he said hastily. “You’re just so beautiful that all the guys will be pinning for your attention.” He reached across the table and grasped my hand, lifting it to his lips and brushing a light kiss on my fingers. “And I don’t want to lose you,” he said softly, his eyes darkening as they pulled me in.
I bit my lip, smiling a little. “I’m not that great. I personally think all those guys who are ‘pinning’ for me need a vision check,” I joked.
Derek chuckled, shaking his head. “Didn’t you see the way that waiter dude was drooling at you? And the way that when you walked through the restaurant, all heads turned to stare?”
I sat back in my seat, pondering what he just said. Luckily, I was rescued from having to answer by Hunter, who arrived with our drinks.
“Here you are,” he said lightly as he placed them in front of us and slid two straws next to them. “Are you ready to order?” he asked, turning towards me.
“Um,” I hesitated, flipping through the menu. Ah, here’s something my stomach can handle. “I’d like a 4-pound sirloin with the house fries.”
Hunter gave me a puzzled look, but wrote it down anyways. I briefly wondered what I did wrong this time. “How would you like it cooked?”
“Rare,” I replied promptly. I hated my meat overcooked.
Derek shot me a raised eyebrow before claiming Hunter’s attention. He turned to him reluctantly. “And for you, sir?” he asked, pulling out the last word as a sneer.
“I’ll have the, erm, 10-pound sirloin with mashed potatoes, cooked medium-well.”
“Right away,” Hunter snapped at Derek before turning to me with a little bow and smile. Derek stuck his tongue out at him behind his back and I stifled a giggle.
“I really don’t like that guy,” he muttered as Hunter left towards the kitchen.
“I noticed,” I replied, smiling.
“So… four pounds, huh?” he asked, slightly intrigued.
Still unsure of why that was wrong, I merely shrugged.
“And you like your meat rare?” he continued, twirling one of the many forks around his fingers.
I blushed. “Yeah, it’s weird, I know.”
“Naw, you’re just special. And that’s a good thing.” Derek winked at me, placing a warm hand over mine (okay, not warm to me, but warmer than usual). “And you’re the first girl I’ve taken out that hasn’t ordered something ‘healthy’ like a salad.”
I looked away, chiding myself in my mind. Was I breaking my cover already? Did I mess up this whole human charade?
“I didn’t mean it like that,” he said apologetically and reached over to tilt my chin up to face him. “I like a girl with an appetite and doesn’t think she needs to go on a diet since she is perfect the way she is.”
I felt my cheeks warming. “You and your compliments,” I muttered and he laughed. “So, have you taken lots of girls here before?” I asked cheekily.
“Honestly, no. You’re the first one.” I looked at him and saw the complete honesty in his eyes. “You’re the only one I felt is special enough to be treated like a princess.”
I laughed softly, thinking that he wasn’t going to stop with the compliments. And turns out I was right.
The night wore on quickly, filled with much laughter and enjoyment. As the waiter brought our four-pound and ten-pound steaks, we could see the other diners’ eyes bulging at the sight of the huge chunks of meat. Ah, so I suppose humans don’t normally eat this much, then? Whoops. Then why did Derek order ten-pounds to my four?
Hunter seemed to be struggling on keeping the weight centered and I caught Derek giving him a smug smile. As he placed the plates in front of us with a loud clunk!, I watched him twist his wrist in circles as if checking that they still worked as he walked towards the kitchen.
After a moment, I admitted on accidentally saying pounds instead of ounces (which I suspected was the normal amount) and playfully berated him on not correcting me. It was then his turn to admit that the only reason he ordered this much meat was so that he wasn’t “outdone” by a girl. That set me to fits of laughter.
We talked a lot over the steaks, and he declared that rare steaks aren’t that bad after I fed him a bite. I forcefully swallowed part of my food, promising my stomach something more… liquid when I got home, though the hot chocolate did settle my stomach. Though I could have easily finished it off, I decided that real humans wouldn’t be able to eat four-pounds of food, especially one that looked as small as me. Derek only ate a fraction of his huge amount, but I didn’t blame him. I did feel a little guilty about making him pay for the over-indulgent amount of food because of my lack of knowledge, but he brushed it off easily, saying money was no problem and that he could just take the steak home and feed the family for a week. Again, I wondered what his source of income was.
Throughout the night, Hunter interrupted more times than completely necessary and I think he finally gave up on me when I totally ignored him the last time he came around. I found myself enjoying Derek’s company, glad for the distraction away from my missing best friend. I was surprised when I realized at the end of the dinner that I only thought about him a few times during the night.
After the last bite of the chocolate cake Derek and I shared for dessert—this one I didn’t have to force down my throat—Derek waved at Hunter for the check and a lot of boxes. He politely declined my offer of paying for my half—though it was only two steaks, the price was hefty at this restaurant for a regular amount of steak and for the enormous amount of food we ordered, it seemed like a small fortune to pay for it all—and slid a shiny silver credit card in the black folder, handing it back to Hunter.
After receiving his card back and slipping it back into his wallet, we got up. Derek tossed a couple dollars for a tip, muttering about bad service and wrapped an arm around my waist to head out, the other arm straddling the five boxes filled with cooked meat. But I turned around as a voice rang out behind us.
“Miss! You forgot your purse!” Hunter called out, holding up the small black bag. I felt my cheeks warm at my idiocy for leaving my purse behind and with a quick word to Derek to go ahead and start the car, I rushed back. I reached for my purse, thanking Hunter, and he placed it in my open hands, along with a small slip of paper.
“What’s this?” I murmured as I examined it. A row of numbers was scrawled on one side, along with his name. I glanced up to see Hunter’s face inches from mine, eyes blazing. I stepped back in shock.
“Just in case you get bored of your man over there,” he whispered in a low voice, giving me a suggestive wink. “Call me, darling.” He trailed a finger down my cheek.
Getting over my shock, I narrowed my eyes at him, red tingeing my vision. The nerve of him! I’ll show him!
Taking a step closer to him with a sly, seductive grin and gazing at him from beneath my thick lashes, I took pleasure in the victorious smile on his face. It was even sweeter as I rubbed it off by slamming my foot on his foot. He gave a howl as he hopped on one leg, curses flinging from his scowling lips.
“Watch your mouth,” I hissed in his ear. “And don’t you ever touch me again. Just be glad I didn’t hit you a little higher.” With a final glare at him and flinging the crumpled paper with his number at his head, I huffed and turned around with my head held high, ignoring the astounded stares of the diners. I gave them a quick angelic grin and said, “Have a great night, everyone!” before curtsying and bowing out the door.
As the cold air welcomed me, my head cleared of my anger. I realized that I had left my jacket inside but I didn’t want to go back in after the scene I pulled, so I started walking around the building towards the car. After all, I didn’t feel cold very much with my overheated temperature and I’m sure Alice won’t mind—she rarely lets us wear the same thing twice.
It was all silent out here, broken only by my soft, clacking steps on the concrete and the gentle wind billowing from the north. It was too silent.
I froze mid-step, cocking my head. It was strange that all the wildlife was quiet. Even with my wide radius of hearing, I couldn’t hear a single bird chirping or owl hooting or squirrel chattering. Something was near that was scaring them off.
I thought perhaps it was me and my strange, half-vampire scent, but it usually didn’t bother most animals for long. That means it’s either a vampire or a werewolf, something supernatural.
I inhaled deeply. I couldn’t smell anything out of place. As far as my senses told me, nothing human was out here. They were all either inside, except for Derek, but he was at the other side of the huge building in his car. I could faintly hear his breathing and a small click as he started the car to warm it. My sixth sense tingled; something was watching me.
I readied my stance for an attack, a shiver of fear running down my back. I silently apologized to Alice for the chance that I might have to ruin my outfit.
I could hear it now, coming from the south. It was a soft padding from the woods, a crinkle of leaves and dirt under its paws. I still couldn’t smell it though—the wind was blowing my scent to it instead of its scent to me. Friend or foe?
I turned to face the direction of the sound, hoping it was the former. My mind briefly ran through the self-defense lessons my dad had given me after Mom’s urging. Speed, quick actions, aim for the neck, be sly and tricky, take it by surprise. I tensed, ready to lunge, when the wind finally favored me and blew the creature’s scent to me just as the small, quivering, grey body appeared in my line of vision.
I inhaled the familiar scent and I instantly knew who it was, but as I saw that furry form, I couldn’t help the name that burst from my lips.
The grey wolf snorted a laugh as she strode out from the cover of the trees, her grey tail twitching. She shook her head at me, as if disappointed that I didn’t recognize her. She kept to the edge of the forest, pacing where the grass meets pavement. Her eyes glinted in the moonlight, like two pinpricks in the dark.
“Sorry, Leah. I’ve just been thinking a lot about him since he left,” I spilled out before clamping my mouth shut. Okay, that’s something I shouldn’t be telling someone who sometimes shares a mind with said person. At the knowledge that someone who has been around my best friend for the past week is actually standing in front of me, I had to summon my self control. My anxious questions rolled around in my mind, but I suppressed them, putting on a mask of nonchalance. Relaxing my pose, I stepped forward to rub her ears. She snorted again, leaping out of my reach, while giving me a strange look at my words.
“What?” I asked, perplexed. “I’m sorry; I’m not liking this one-way conversation much. I can’t read minds like my dad can, remember? Would you mind phasing back into your human form if you want to talk?” I requested, feeling slightly awkward around her. Leah and I have never gotten along very well. She always seemed to hold some grudge against me, especially giving me a cold shoulder when I was hanging around Jake. She was also very overly protective of him, as if I would tear him to shreds. Crazy, I’m telling you.
She shook her massive head but did as I said. Retreating back into the cover of the woods, her eyes locked on me the whole way. As soon as she was out of sight, I took a deep breath with hands curled into small fists and imagined the air in my lungs forcing back the questions that threatened to tumble out. I then waited for the familiar feeling in the atmosphere when one of the pack phases and was not disappointed as I felt a faint shimmer. Human Leah emerged a second later, clad in a pair of tattered jersey shorts and a faded tank top. Her straight, black hair was cropped short again, and it was currently matted and full of twigs. She still had a wolfish stance, full of wariness.
Her dark eyes looked hard as she stared at me. “So,” she spat out, her voice rough from lack of use.
“So,” I repeated, cocking an eyebrow. I was full to bursting with questions, but I withheld them, waiting to know why she came here. Did something happen with Jake?
“You and Derek, huh?” She sneered his name, crossing her arms. I blinked once in surprise; she came to talk about Derek? I imitated her movement.
“Yeah, so? Did you travel all the way here to discuss my love life?” I copied her stare, unblinking. She flinched slightly at my words, but held her ground. Huh. I ran my words through my mind, wondering what it was that caused that reaction from her. Was it ‘love life’? Ah, yes, I remember Jake telling me about Leah’s uniqueness as the only known female wolf and how she thought she was—what was the word?—a genetic dead end. I felt a tinge of pity for her.
She stepped forward until only a foot separated the both of us. I briefly noticed how I was as tall as her now. Our eyes matched in height as we stared, each waiting for the other to break first. Her slightly angular eyes held pools of black hostility, but I hinted another deep emotion in her eyes. Affection? But this emotion was not aimed towards me. She was here for someone else’s sake. But who?
Seconds stretched out, full of echoing silence. My questions threatened to burst out of me, but I forced them back, clenching my teeth tight. They rammed against my teeth, looking for any sign of weakness. I inhaled deeply, trying to empty my mind of these questions while keeping my eyes locked with Leah’s. I will not break first.
But my curiosity and my need to know about my best friend overcame my desire to stay strong. The words exploded out of me like a torrent of sounds.
“Why are you here? Is Jake coming back? Where is he? Did he come, too? Why did he leave? Is he coming back? Is he alright? Did something happen? Why did you come and not him? Is he coming back? Does he know you’re here? Is he coming back?”
I stemmed my flow of words, and I could feel the hope in my eyes, waiting for the answer to my last, desperate question. Leah merely stood there like a resolute rock during my tirade, unblinking and unmoving. I watched her, the hope slowly ebbing away from my heart, replaced with annoyance. The least she could so is tell me how he’s doing! Why was she just standing there?
A long second passed as she scrutinized me, and she finally blinked. I caught a touch of sadness in her eyes before it was masked under a hard, pokerfaced look.
“Oh, puh-lease,” she snarled, rolling her eyes. “Drop the whole innocent-doe-eyed sham. Stop acting like you don’t know what’s going on. As if you can pretend that you’re not slowly tearing Jake apart emotionally.”
I just looked at her incredulously. She was accusing me of what? My vision pulsed red for a split second before I pushed it back. Calm, stay calm, I told myself. “Okay, I really don’t know what you’re talking about, Leah,” I said exasperatedly.
She snorted. “Fine. Keep the act. Like I care. Just know that I’m not here for you,” she spat, “but for Jake. He’s the closest friend I have and I couldn’t just sit at home watching him waste away because of some stupid freak bloodsucker.”
I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath, trying to clear my vision of the angry red. Okay, this dog is officially nuts. Calm, calm, I recited. “Okay, is the name-calling really necessary?” I said in an even tone. “Why don’t you just tell me what’s going on?” I felt confusion etch my face, chasing away the anger briefly; what was she talking about? Why would Jake be wasting away at La Push? He went there to visit his friends, didn’t he? He went there because he wanted to? The confusion was followed by a stab of pain and worry for his anguish. What happened? Is he alright? And why was Leah blaming me? I wanted to ask these questions, but I also wanted her to explain herself first.
“To answer some of your questions, I came alone,” she said contemptuously. “Jake is still back at the Rez. He doesn’t know I came here,” she added. “In fact, nobody knows. I’ll be back before they realize I’m gone.” She paused. “And I’m here to beat the crap out of you for being so selfish and causing Jake pain,” Leah concluded simply, as if she was just stating the weather. I cocked an eyebrow. Okay, now she completely lost it.
Leah took a step back and crouched low, eyes flashing angrily before she closed them and inhaled deeply. I hopped back as I realized that she was readying herself to phase. Oh, crap monkeys. A rush of apprehension filled me. I had to stop her from attacking me, especially right in front of the restaurant. Didn’t she care about exposure?
“Leah, Leah,” I said earnestly, hands raised and backing up. “Hold up. I really don’t know what you’re talking about. And are you actually going to phase and attack me right here in clear view of everyone?”
She barked out a laugh but, to my relief, she straightened, approaching me once more. “Okay, let’s enlighten the little bloodsucker,” she jeered then shoved at my shoulders abruptly. Taken by surprise, I actually stumbled back a step before I caught myself. “I don’t know what kind of thing would ever try to hurt their imprint like you are to Jake,” she hissed.
“What’s an im—?”
She cut across me, growling and prodding me with an accusatory finger. “How could you be with that boy and not feel the need to go to Jake? Are you trying to cause him pain?”
I shot her a skeptical look. What kind of question is that? “Of course not—”
“’Of course not,’” she mocked before laughing derisively. My vision flashed crimson at her cruelty. “Do you know what you’ve done to him this past week? You two are tied together and it physically causes him pain when that bozo kisses you or touches you or whatever the hell you two do together.”
I let out a frustrated groan. My God, this girl was driving me crazy! She’s making no sense. “What do Derek and I have to do with—?”
“Everything!” she exploded. “God, how dumb are you?” I snarled at her insult—I was the dumb one?—but she continued as if I didn’t. “Ever since he came back, he’s locked himself in his room, not even leaving to eat, ignoring us when we try to talk to him. It’s only when he phases after he looses control of his grief that we can all see in his mind and feel his pain. Even the fraction that we feel through his thoughts is too much! And he has to endure something a thousand times worse! The pain of how much being away from you and knowing you’re with another man is breaking him inside! It’s ripping him apart and you don’t give a monkey’s uncle about it!”
I shot her another disbelieving look. She didn’t think I cared about him? “I didn’t even know—”
She laughed scathingly. “Like that excuse will work. ‘You didn’t know.’ Ha!”
Okay, this mutt better stop herself or I won’t be able to control my anger any longer. My fury was burning at me, begging me to let it loose. She leaned forward so that her nose was nearly touching mine. I glared at her, teeth bared.
“You don’t deserve him,” she hissed. “Not if you’re going to pretend like this isn’t tearing you apart and doesn’t bother you. Not if you keep pretending that he isn’t the love of your life. Not if you continue to hurt him like this.” I exasperatedly opened my mouth to repeat again—and maybe it’ll go through her thick head this time—that I did not know what the hell she was talking about, but she gave me one last scornful look before spitting at my feet and pivoting around. “You are just like your mom,” she muttered lowly, not even bothering to face me, as she walked away while I stood frozen by her unexpected behavior. “Selfish. Whiny. Needy. And sucking the life out of everything around you. You don’t care about anyone else’s pain as long as you are happy. So screw you and I hope you and your bloodsucker family all burn in hell.”
Okay. That was the last straw. She insulted my family.
With an infuriated roar, my vision exploded in red as I lunged at the back of Leah’s retreating figure. But she moved quickly as if she expected my attack, side-stepping in a blur and whirling while simultaneously bursting into a grey wolf. Shards of her cloth scattered around and she snarled angrily at the loss of her clothes. Once I touched the ground from my leap, I twirled to face the mutt, crouching for another pounce. We circled each other, each looking for the perfect moment of weakness to attack the other.
“Now,” I growled, “since you can’t interrupt me as a dog”—she gnashed her teeth together angrily—“you are going to listen to me. I don’t know what the hell are you talking about. I’m causing him pain? How?! He’s the one that chose to leave! He has no right to be hurting right now! I’m the one that’s suffering here from his abandonment! He left me!” The wolf feinted to the left and lunged to the right, but I leapt away. “And now you come here and insult me and my family. Get it through your thick head! I don’t know what you’re talking about! I don’t know what imprinting is! And Jake doesn’t love me! He’s my best friend! So you want to beat me up? Come and try.”
She stood still with a vague look in her eyes and I took my chance to lunge at her neck. I knocked her down easily and landed on top of her, holding down her limbs. I bared my teeth to snap at her neck victoriously when I realized that she wasn’t struggling. Okay, something is wrong. She’s not fighting.
Common sense flooded back to me as I grasped what I was about to do. Oh, crap. As much as I would love to snap her neck right now, I would definitely regret that in the long run. Besides, my werewolf friends would hate me forever, especially Jake. My crimson vision faded and I leapt off Leah’s frozen wolf-form.
She got up slowly, looking dazed and guilty as she stared at me. She flinched as if someone screamed at her, but I heard nothing. She flinched again before she collapsed onto her belly, nose touching the ground and ears flattened against her skull. Her eyes were unseeing, reminding me of when Dad was listening especially carefully to someone’s thoughts or when Alice got a vision.
Confused, I took a tentative step forward. “Leah?” I said uncertainly. “Are you okay?” What was wrong with her? Panic filled me at her strange behavior. “Leah!”
Suddenly, she jerked onto her feet robotically, causing me to leap backwards in surprise. She dug her feet in the ground and threw herself into the woods, billowing out a cloud of dirt behind her. Her heavy paws padded away, their sounds fading before I could dart out and reach the trees.
“Wait! Leah!” I called out as I peered past a trunk of a tree. “Leah! Come back!” I strained my ears, trying to catch some sound of her running so I knew which way to chase after her. Damn, that girl can run. She was already out of my hearing range.
I sighed in defeat, still trying to make sense of her words.
“Nessie?” a voice called out faintly behind me and I whipped around.
“Leah?” I burst out unintentionally then clamped my mouth shut, grinning sheepishly at Derek’s approaching figure. I had to start thinking before I said things.
“Um, no, I hope not. At least I don’t think I’m a ‘Leah’,” he said playfully. I stepped away from the forest into his open arms. “Where were you? I was waiting by the car for like ten minutes and you never showed up. I started to get worried, thinking that maybe that Hunter jerk did something to you.” He glanced at me up and down and a little frown appeared. As I looked down, I realized too late that my dress was skewed slightly and a thin layer of dirt and dust covered the once-black dress. “What happened?” he asked worriedly, looking around protectively. “Who hurt you?”
I smiled at his human weakness, yet he was trying to protect me. “Nobody hurt me. I just, um, thought I saw something out here,” I made up wildly. “And I tripped and fell while I was trying to reach it.”
He raised an eyebrow at my last statement and I realized that he might have noticed that I rarely trip and fall. “Leah, you mean? Who is she?” Derek asked, leading me towards the car while patting away some of the dirt.
“She’s, um, my dog. Yeah, she ran away about a year ago and I thought I saw her out here. But it was only some shadows,” I concluded, proud of my quick thinking. Leah wouldn’t be very happy that I called her ‘my dog,’ but what she doesn’t know can’t hurt her. Besides, it was a little comeback for the rude words she spat at me.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Nessie,” Derek empathized. “I know what it’s like to lose a favorite pet.” He hugged me close and I felt a stab of guilt at my lie.
“Yeah, but I’m getting over it,” I muttered softly and couldn’t help thinking back on something I wasn’t getting over. Didn’t Leah say something about me loving Jake? And what was that word she used? Imprint? At the thought of that word, a ghost of a memory whispered past me but it disappeared before I could see what it was.
An automatic shudder trickled down my back. Something secretive was going on that I didn’t know about. But I would find out.
“Oh, Ness, are you cold?” Derek asked, shrugging out of his jacket and draping it over my shoulders before I could refuse. “Where’s your jacket?”
“Oh, um, I left it inside. But let’s just go. I’m tired and not feeling very well,” I lied swiftly. I still didn’t want to face Hunter quite yet. And I had some questions I wanted to ask my family. I pulled my arms through the sleeves of the leather jacket, pretending that I really was just cold. If only I could ward away the unknown as easily as fending off the cold.
“Alright,” he said unsurely but opened the passenger door for me anyways. I slid in and waited for him to walk around the front to get in the driver’s seat.
During the ride back home, I felt another creeping shot of guilt at ruining Derek’s night. He had so much other stuff planned for our date, and I crushed it with my stupid selfishness. I should just sit it out the rest of the night so that he would enjoy himself, at least. I could wait a couple more hours to question my family.
But before I could claim complete revival from my sickness and fatigue, we were pulling into my driveway. Huh. Time sure flies when you’re deep in thought.
He idled the car then slid it into park. I fiddled with my fingers, looking away from his strong gaze.
“Sorry for ruining the night,” I muttered, hoping he would forgive me.
After a brief pause, a gentle hand cupped my chin, lifting it so that he could gaze into my eyes. “What are you talking about? That was about the best night of my life,” he said softly, a small smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
“Really?” I choked out. Our faces were so close, I could taste his fluttering breath on my lips. His human scent filled my head, his blood pulsing faster in his veins, but I crushed the weak desire to sink my teeth into the fragile flesh.
“Yeah,” he breathed, eyes swirling into a dark blue. He leaned in to close the gap, his hand switching to cup the base of my neck and press me closer to him.
Our lips touched, tentatively at first, but then he put more force behind the kiss. Our breathing grew heavier simultaneously, mingling with one another. My eyes slid closed as my fingers, with a life of their own, tangled themselves in his dark locks. My lips parted slightly at the pressure of his tongue, with a small voice in the back of my mind reminding me to keep control.
I was totally and completely at this moment with Derek. The face behind my closed lids should be the one I am kissing, right? So why was it that as Derek pressed me against the car door with his hard body, a different face popped in my inner eye? Dark brown eyes slightly angled instead of blue and straight, hair closer to black than brown that was a lot longer and straighter, skin a natural bronze instead of one reached from sunlight, a stronger jaw and cheekbones, a wolfish grin, a minutely smaller and rounder nose…
With a gasp, I jerked away from Derek as if I was electrocuted (not that I would necessarily feel that very much), eyes flying open to rid of that picture. Derek slowly pulled away, breathing deeply and eyes darkened with desire. He closed his eyes as he leaned back in his seat, rubbing his temple. I cursed silently. I was messing things up again. I opened my mouth to apologize but he beat me to the punch.
“I’m sorry,” he muttered in an angst-ridden voice. “I went too far and lost control of myself. I’m so sorry.”
“What? No, no,” I said quickly and grabbing his hand from his forehead, not wanting the added guilt of him blaming himself for something that was completely my fault. “Don’t apologize. It’s my fault. It’s just that… my dad is probably watching for me and, well…” I trailed off, giving him a small shrug.
“I get it. The protective father. Though I think I’m more scared of your big bro Edward,” he joked softly, apparently still beating himself up. I grabbed his face in my hands forcefully, making him look me in the eyes.
“Stop blaming yourself. You didn’t do anything wrong,” I said strongly. After giving him one last look, I released his face to slip off his jacket, but his hand restrained me.
“No, you keep it,” he said, pulling it back on me. “At least for now.”
I gave him a thankful smile at this thoughtfulness. I leaned forward to give him a small peck on the lips. “Goodnight,” I whispered, sliding a finger down his cheek and winking. I heard his breathing catch and I stifled a laugh. Letting myself out, I strode to the front door and waved at his departing car before I let myself in.
The immediate silence that engulfed me told me that I was the first one home. Huh. Strange. I guess that my family thought that I would take a few more hours on my date. But I’m sure Alice would get some vague vision about me at home alone and they would be here soon enough.
With a small yawn, I realized how tired I actually was. I settled on the couch, willing myself to stay awake for my parents to get home so that I could get some answers. I turned on the television, hoping to distract myself, and blearily watched the glowing figures moving on the screen. But my brain gradually muted the sound and my senses as my consciousness threatened to leave. My eyes drooped and drooped and drooped… until they slid shut and dreamland became my reality.
I stood in the middle of a semi-familiar baseball field on the red dirt of the pitcher’s mound, hands limp at my sides. I wore a faded, white nightgown that whipped by my ankles in the slight breeze. In one hand was a tattered baseball; the other lightly held my old, frayed Quileute bracelet that I had when I was a baby. Thick fog swirled around me, blocking my vision to a few feet in front of me. All was silent. Even the thin cloth of my outfit brushing against my skin made no noise. It was as if something muted my hearing.
Something vague in my mind told me I was supposed to be pitching the ball. I peered through the thick mist, searching for the batter’s plate. I couldn’t see a thing. I hesitated in place, a prickle of fear tickling my spine. Someone was watching me.
The faint crinkle of grass under feet sounded like a bomb going off in this strange, muted world. The sound came from my right. I turned my head in a flash, watching for the newcomer through calculating eyes. I could see its dark shape now, and as the fog suddenly parted, I recognized the figure immediately.
“Derek?” I called out in surprise but my voice didn’t come out right. It sounded frail and faded. Is everything just soundless here? I clutched my hands tight automatically and was surprised to feel that they were empty. Where did the ball and bracelet go? I thought wildly.
He showed no notion of having seen or heard me, merely stared straight ahead with chillingly blank eyes that were a pale, pale blue. He was wearing a black robe of some sort that hissed against the ground as he walked across the yellowing grass. Derek abruptly stopped ten feet away from me, hands open and hanging loosely at his sides.
He suddenly parted his lips and whispered, “Come to me…” His voice came out like a deadened hiss, sending chills prickling my skin. He slowly raised one hand, palm up, until it froze parallel to the ground. “Come…”
I shuddered at his strange behavior but took an automatic step towards him. After all, he was my boyfriend and just a mere human. I had vampire genes in me and could easily take him down if he moved to hurt me. And I had to make sure he was alright. I didn’t trust this place and I would more easily be able to protect him if I stood closer to him.
“Ness!” another familiar voice called out behind me, and my breath caught at the nostalgic sound. I hadn’t heard his voice in a week and my ears nearly burst in giddiness at hearing his voice. I whipped around and felt a wave of relief at the new figure.
He stood about ten feet to my left, feet spread apart. A bristle of bafflement tickled my spine as the knowledge came to me that he hadn’t been standing there a second ago. But it was overcome by a sense of thankfulness and happiness that my best friend had returned to me. He was clad in thin, white clothing that accentuated his darker coloring. You could see the darker tint of his skin painting the almost see-through cloth and my ultra-sensitive eyes could discern the hard lines of his abdominal muscles and the light layer of thin, black hairs shadowing his broad chest. His ink black tresses ruffled in a small puff of wind as his dark eyes gazed at me with anxiety.
“Jake?” I whispered, not believing my eyes. Did he actually return to me after all this time of hoping and waiting? “Is that really you?”
“Nessie, don’t go to him!” Jake said in a low voice, not having heard me, with eyes full of concern. “Don’t, Ness! Come to me instead!” My thin brows pushed together in confusion at his request; was he being all overprotective again? I was about to tell him exasperatedly how he is my boyfriend now, when Derek’s voice interrupted.
“Ness,” the soft, eerie voice feathered out from my right. I shuddered involuntarily. “Come here.”
I hesitated; who was I supposed to go to? My boyfriend, Derek, or my best friend, Jake? My head whipped back and forth between the two. Am I supposed to choose between them? I felt a longing to rush to Jake to make sure he was actually there (and beat him up for leaving in the first place without explanation to me), but my boyfriend-girlfriend set of morals told me I need to go to Derek. If I go to Jake, Derek would see that as a sign of betrayal in our relationship, wouldn’t he? And even if I go to Derek instead, Jake would still be my friend, right? My relationship with Derek was still building while the one with Jake was already sturdy. He would understand. I gave Jake an apologetic look. I hope.
“Nessie!” Jake begged from my left. “Please! Don’t trust him!” What is with him? Why doesn’t he trust Derek? I frowned a little at his dislike of my boyfriend. Well, he would have to get used to it, now, wouldn’t he?
“Ness,” Derek said softly, taking a step towards me. “I would never hurt you. Trust me.”
His voice wrapped around me, compelling me to listen. Hoodwinked, I turned towards my right, raising a hand to reach for Derek’s outstretched one that still hung as if dangling by a wire, a few feet away.
“Ness! No!” Jake cried out. “Not him! Don’t trust him!” I felt a small burst of annoyance at his overly mistrusting attitude. He didn’t even know him, for cripes sake!
I swiveled towards him, hands on my hips crossly. “He’s my boyfriend, Jake! Why shouldn’t I trust him! God, Jake, stop being so protective!” I defiantly strode the rest of the distance between me and Derek and snatched his hand from the air (no wires). I turned back towards Jake with my other hand perched on my hip. “See? Nothing bad happened.”
But that was a lie; something was happening. Mist swirled once more between his form and mine as if someone was stirring a pot of soup. The strange clearing at appeared was now fading. Jake’s form was steadily being coated by the mist until the fog blended in with his white clothing so that only his dark head and bared forearms could be discerned.
Still holding Derek’s hand, I took a step towards him, instantly worried of him disappearing completely. He isn’t supposed to disappear! That was way too soon to lose him again! “Jake?”
His voice floated through the thick mist as it layered and covered his figure. “My Nessie…” I was shocked by how faint it sounded. I couldn’t see him anymore. My eyes darted wildly around where his voice drifted from indistinctly. “My imprint…” His voice faded away.
Through my worry, I felt a jolt of irritation. Again with that word! Confusion filled my features as I took another step forward. “Jake? What—?”
I made to rush forward with arms outstretched to grope in the blinding fog—I need to find out what that word means!—but was lurched backwards in my attempt. I was still anchored to Derek. I yanked my arm but his grip was iron-tight around my wrist. A pinch of fear hit me—how is he, a human mortal, able to hold on to me, a half-vampire?
“Derek! Let go!” I shouted, turning to stare with panic at the spot that I last saw Jake. “I have to find him! I can’t lose him again!” I faced Derek again with impatience at his hold on me. He still didn’t release me. “I said let go!” My voice faltered when I saw his face. It was completely blank, even more so than before, with no emotion at all. It was nerve-racking. I reached out to cup his cheek tentatively. Oh, God, was I going to lose both of them? “Derek?”
Suddenly another hand that radiated heat wrapped around the wrist touching Derek’s cheek and jerked it away. Turning around, I was shocked to see Jake’s dark and worried face inches from my own.
“Jake?” I breathed. How did he get there so quickly and silently without me hearing?
His eyes stared at me intensely as he spoke in a voice just as intense and serious. “Nessie. Run.”
He vanished as suddenly as he arrived as if his presence was never there. Only the feeling if his warm hand wrapped around my wrist gave me the knowledge that it actually happened. Run, did he say? From what?
“From me,” a sweet-sour voice hissed and I whipped around to stare at Derek. He still grasped my hand. As I furrowed my brow at him in mystification—run from Derek? Why?—his features twisted and morphed as if watching someone age at high speed. His dark hair faded to a pale white, his tanned skin became translucent and pale and wrinkled, his face twisted so that it was much handsomer and older yet scarily so, and his blue eyes changed into a milky and burning red.
I yelped and tried to yank my arm away from this familiar monster’s grasp but it was futile. “Aro!” I gasped. Aro grinned evilly, flashing sharp, white teeth, as he bared them, leaning towards me. With a strength that seemed impossible for someone who looked so old, he tossed me over his shoulder and took off into the mist. The fog whipped past me at blinding speed, causing little droplets to form on my face. Why wouldn’t this fog clear! I can’t see a thing!
“No! No!” I cried out as I thrashed at him. His run seemed a little too lumpy for a graceful vampire’s as I kept being tousled around. “Let me go!” I heard one last wispy cackle and then soft voices murmuring faintly before everything faded to black.
Everything seemed fuzzy as my brain struggled back to consciousness. Bits and pieces of the nightmare plagued me and I fought to release myself from it.
“I think she’s having a nightmare,” a familiar voice murmured close to me. The scent of wet dog tickled my nose. My heart lurched, but knew that it wasn’t him. That wasn’t his voice or his smell. I melted into the new body nonetheless as his slightly clumsy steps rocked me in his warm arms. It felt like we’re going up steps. His muffled, nearly-silent footsteps told me he was shoeless.
“You really didn’t have to carry her, Seth. We’re more than capable of doing that ourselves,” another familiar voice chimed softly and suddenly from my right. Mom. No sounds called for her arrival, which made sense since she was a vampire.
“It’s no problem,” Seth replied. We stopped for a brief moment as a creaking sound occurred—a door?—and then we were moving again. He jostled me around in his arms again before I was sunken into something soft and silky—my bed? “It’s the least I can do after what Leah did.”
Everything was silent for a moment as those words melted into my mind. Shadows still fell across me and I sensed other presences in this room, so they didn’t leave yet.
Leah? Leah? Her name brought forth a torrent of recent memories. Her confrontation, my confusion, her blaming, our near-fight…
Another presence appeared in my room as Dad’s voice drifted in. “She’s about to wake.” As soon as his words left his lips, my eyes snapped open and I gasped.
Mom was by my side in a flash, smoothing my curls from my face. “Oh, sweetie,” she crooned, “we should’ve been there. I can’t believe Leah attacked you!”
My eyes wildly flickered from face to face: concerned Mom, unreadable Dad, guilty Seth. I blinked and suddenly the room was full of Aros. I gasped and leapt to my feet but when I blinked again, they were gone. My other family members stood in their place, worry etched on their faces.
Dad stepped forward, concern flashing across his features. “Nessie, was that—?”
“It’s nothing,” I cut across him, not wanting everyone else to worry more. “Nothing. Just remnants of a dream.” Of course Dad would see everything I’m thinking, even my delusions. He still gave me a look, but kept his mouth shut.
I ignored the numerous eyes on me and turned to the newcomer. “Seth!” I said in what I hoped was a joyous manner. The dream still lingered in the back of my mind. “What are you doing here? Are you alone?” The implied question rang out in the short silence that followed: Is Jake here too?
“Yeah, I’m alone,” Seth answered with a grin. It looked a little stiff though. “And we all heard about Leah back at La Push so I was sent as an… apology, I guess.” He spread his arms wide, shrugging. I smiled back at him with affection in my eyes. Seth was my second favorite werewolf and he always made me feel welcome whenever I visited the Rez back when I lived in Forks. He was no longer as gangly-looking as he was a few years back. He had filled out nicely and his playful eyes now held a tinge of seriousness. But, all in all, he looked the same.
“Well, don’t just stand there! Come here and give me a hug, you big buffoon!” I said teasingly, opening my arms to embrace him. He chuckled and wrapped his arms around me as well. Now I had a little part of my past with me.
Though I hated to break up this lovely reunion, there was still that little topic I was dying to discuss with my family—the word imprint. I saw a little movement out of the corner of my eye and saw Dad fidget. He had obviously seen what I wanted to talk about and it wasn’t making him very comfortable.
I decided that I could hold it off for a little while. Dad noticeable relaxed, to my amusement.
“So, how’d you hear about Leah? Tell me your story?” I asked with an air of nonchalance. Mom had known, so that meant that the rest of the family did. And Seth obviously knew.
Seth glanced back at my parents—I followed his gaze but they showed nothing away on their faces—before replying. “Well, Jake and I were on patrol—”
“Wait,” I interrupted, a memory of Leah’s voice floating in my mind. “Leah said that J-Jake refused to leave his room.” I stumbled over his name and was grateful that everyone pretended that I didn’t. “Was she lying?” I asked with a small glimmer of hope. Maybe all of this was something in her imagination and she had a need to get back at me for…something I did to her in the past? Okay, that even sounded stupid in my head. I caught Dad holding back a grin and stuck my tongue out at him.
Seth shot me a brief pitied look, which I ignored, before he regretfully answered, “No; that was true. I had just finally convinced him to escape his… thoughts by running on patrol that afternoon.” He obviously looked uncomfortable talking about this; he didn’t want to cause me or him any more pain, especially after what Leah had done. Another wave of affection for my wolf-friend ran through me. Jasper gave me a confused look, probably wondering why I was feeling that, but I just minutely shook my head. Geez, you can never have anything private to yourself, can you?
I smiled encouragingly at Seth to show him that this didn’t bother me—yet. A ghost of a grin feathered his face and he continued, his voice a tad bit stronger than before.
“So we were running and Jake was kind of in a zombie-mode—” I flinched and Dad gave Seth a murderous look “—so I had to be extra alert. And I noticed that there was another mind with me and realized that it was Leah. She was in complete wolf-mode, so her thoughts were very primal. All I could get out of her mind was that she was running.”
“And this wasn’t strange to you?” I asked. Leah did tell me that they wouldn’t notice that she was gone until she had returned.
“Well, no,” Seth said in a guilty voice. “Leah sometimes goes on random runs in wolf-mode to just clear her mind. I just thought it was one of those. I’m sorry, I should’ve known.”
Aw, poor Seth. He’s beating himself up over something he couldn’t have controlled. “It’s fine, Seth. I understand. And nothing really happened back there, so stop looking so guilty,” I said playfully, trying to lighten the mood. They were really making a big deal out of this considering no one was hurt. I was just a little confused.
“Anyways, at a point, I noticed that Leah had stopped running. I still couldn’t tell where she was but her thoughts sounded like she had a goal and was determined to reach it. But she kept concentrating on the wildlife, so I couldn’t see much deeper into her mind. But she did seem a little irritated that I was trying to figure out what she was doing, now that I think about it.
“Then I saw an image of a car in her mind and I got a little confused. I was asking her why she was near the roads, but she didn’t answer. She just started running again.” Ah, yes, so I wasn’t imagining that wolf I saw in the woods while we were driving to the restaurant. That was sort of comforting to know I’m not crazy.
Dad had a bewildered look on his face, and I didn’t have to read his mind to know that he wanted to know what I meant. So I said out loud, “Yeah, I think I saw Leah on our way to the restaurant.” I didn’t mention that the first thought I had when I saw her was of Jake.
“So I just kind of ignored my sister too, just thinking she’s being all moody again. But after a while, her thoughts became more… calculating. It reminded me of hunting, so I thought she was hungry and wanted to eat. I didn’t think of the fact that she didn’t feel hungry or that she preferred to eat human food.” Again with the blaming. I rolled my eyes at sweet little Seth.
“Jake got some gist of my thoughts about Leah’s thoughts and he mentioned that he was a little hungry and wanted to hunt, which made sense since he hadn’t eaten anything since…” Seth trailed off, catching Edward’s warning glare. For his sake, I pretended not to notice. “Anyways, we caught scent of some deer and we took the biggest guy down. While we were eating, I noticed that Leah’s mind wasn’t with us anymore. I remember thinking that it was weird that she phased so soon after eating, but I put the thought away. Stupid,” he muttered to himself and I comfortingly put a hand over his.
“Stop beating yourself up,” I murmured to him. “You’re making this a much bigger deal that it actually is.” He gave me a strange look of mixed emotions: incredulity, doubtfulness, and something else. But he continued before I could question him further.
“Right. Anyways, Leah phased back after a moment and I was shocked by the pure rage in her head. Jake felt it too and we both dug in her mind, trying to find out what it was that made her so angry. She put up a pretty good wall, thinking of the most random things to keep us out, but her fury was too much at one point and she broke. We instantly saw everything she was doing and planning to do, and everything she said to you. Jake freaked and commanded her to stop attacking you. Since he’s technically still our alpha, she had to listen, but not before lunging at you once. We were both screaming at her, of course, and she tried to struggle but eventually had to give in.” Ah, her strange behavior made sense now. She stopped attacking me because her alpha commanded her to, and she was all glazed-eyed because she was having an internal argument.
“And then J-Jake told her to come home so she did,” I finished out for him, things falling into place.
“Yeah, that’s right.”
“Yeah, when your future completely disappeared back when we were dancing,” Alice chirped in, “I kind of freaked out. Jake wasn’t here so either another werewolf had come to visit or something bad happened to you.”
“Then Seth called us,” Rose continued, “and told us about Leah and what she did and that he was coming, so we left and came home. So here we are.”
There were still a few holes in their story. “Okay, but I don’t get why Seth is here. Not that I’m not glad that you’re here, Seth,” I added quickly. “I just…” I trailed off, shrugging.
Seth copied my movement. “Jake sent me,” he said simply, but something in his tone told me that there was more to it.
I asked the one question that bothered me from his explanation: “But why didn’t he come?” After all, wouldn’t my best friend want to come and see me? Didn’t he miss me? Was it because of the imprint thingymajiggy? I waited to see if they would answer me.
Everyone looked at each other with an infuriatingly knowing look, which sent a pulse of annoyance through me. There was still something they all knew that I didn’t. I felt a wave of calm and turned to glare at Jasper. “Leave my emotions alone, Jasper,” I hissed. “If I want to be angry because you all are keeping something from me, I will be angry.” The tranquility vanished. “Thank you.”
I sent everyone a glare individually, and each one looked away guilty. Oh, there is definitely something going on. And I would find out what. “So. Who’s going to answer my question?” There was a silence. “Okay, maybe my other questions will be easier to answer then. I thought of them when Leah visited.” A collective flinch ran through everyone, and a flash of red hot anger burned through me. Why was my family hiding secrets from me?
I decided to show no mercy. It might be the only way that I would get some straight answers. “Leah mentioned something about an imprint? What is that?” I gazed at each of them and found a source of weakness. “Mom?” Bella flinched, a pained look crossing her face.
“I can’t tell you, Nessie. It’s not my business to tell,” she whispered regretfully.
I was too pissed to feel bad at my harshness. “What, did Jake make you promise not to tell?” She looked guilty and Dad put an arm around her. “Because I remember Leah saying that he was my imprint or something.” I recalled my dream, when he had whispered ‘my imprint.’ “And I am his imprint. Since it involves me, don’t I have a right to know?”
Dad came to Mom’s rescue. “Ness, it’s not our secret to tell. It’s Jake’s. Now stop talking to your mother like that. What we did was because that’s what we thought was best for you.” Ha. Yeah right.
“And you didn’t think I had to right to decide for myself whether it was best for me or not?” I spat out. I don’t know why I felt so angry all of a sudden. Pulse after pulse of anger beat through me, blurring and reddening my vision. Why do they want to hide things to me and lie about it?
“I think we should just tell her,” Alice’s voice tinkled, totally without a care. “Either way, there’s hell to pay, and I personally think she has a right to know.” She sent me a wink and I smiled at her gratefully. At least I have an ally in this, and Alice was a strong one. No one would dare go against Alice’s word.
True enough, I saw the sagging of defeat in each of their faces. “Jake’s going to kill all of us,” Mom muttered resignedly.
Dad kissed her cheek tenderly. “I’ll take him out before he can hurt you, love,” he murmured in her ear.
“Aw, get a room,” Emmett complained. Both he and Alice were the only ones who didn’t seem to care too much about what was going on.
“So, you’re going to tell me what’s going on?” I said hopefully, the anger and irritation fading away.
Dad sighed. “Yeah. Ask your questions, sweetie.” Ah, sweet success!
“What’s an imprint?” I shot out. This one was bothering me the most and I had a strange feeling that if I knew the answer to this one, everything else would fall into place.
“I’ll answer this one since it’s a werewolf thing and I’m a werewolf,” Seth said bravely. “You know Sam and Emily? And Paul and Rachel?”
“Yeah,” I replied, not knowing where this was going. “Sam and Emily have been married for a couple years and Paul and Rachel got married last year. So?”
“What about Quil and Claire?”
I furrowed my brow in confusion. “Quil acts like Claire’s big brother. They’re inseparable. She’s like eight now, isn’t she?”
“That’s right.” Seth took a deep breath as if readying for impact. “Well, imprinting is when a werewolf falls in love with someone who is like their other half. When you first see your imprint, it’s like the only thing you can think about is her. She’s your life now and you’ll do anything to protect her and make her happy. It’s not always like a partner love. The werewolf will fill the part of whatever their imprint needs, whether it is a position of lover, caretaker, or best friend.” The whole room seemed to hold their breath, calculation my reaction.
I shook my head, trying to grasp this concept. I didn’t know there was a magical werewolf ‘love at first sight’ thing. “So… Emily is Sam’s imprint, Rachel is Paul’s imprint, and Claire is Quil’s imprint?” Everyone nodded, waiting for me to get the revelation. “And… I’m… Jake’s imprint?” I said tentatively.
“Yeah,” Seth said softly, watching me carefully. I could see Dad concentrating hard on my thoughts and Jasper monitoring my emotions carefully. But I couldn’t even feel my own emotions. All anger trickled out of me. I was numb and in shock.
“Is that why he’s always on my mind?” I asked quietly. “Why whenever he’s away from me, I feel like he’s taken part of me with him? Why being with Derek sometimes doesn’t feel right? Because I’m his… imprint?”
Everyone just nodded mutely. I swallowed self-consciously.
“Oh wow,” I exhaled, leaning back on my bed. “So you were all just waiting for me to fall in love with Jake. He was my caretaker when I was a baby, he’s my best friend now, and he’ll be my… lover in the future.” I tried to wrap my mind around that fact. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“We wanted you to have some freedom, sweetie. We didn’t want you to feel like you had to be with Jake, just because you’re his imprint,” Mom said softly. “We wanted you to have a choice.”
“Does anyone ever choose not to be with their imprint, Seth?” I asked emotionlessly.
“Well,” he hesitated. “No. Who could refuse the amount of love and dedication someone gives to them like that? And when someone imprints, it’s because they’re meant to be together. It never fails.”
“So I don’t have a choice,” I said bluntly. I don’t know why I was being stubborn. Inside, I was relieved and joyful that Jake would always be mine.
“You do,” Seth said earnestly. “People just choose to be with their imprints.”
“Does Jake love me?” I asked brusquely.
“Now that’s something you have to talk with him about, Nessie,” Dad answered quickly.
“I don’t know if I love him,” I said softly, mostly to myself. “I don’t know what I feel anymore.”
“Don’t feel like you have to love him, sweetie,” Mom murmured. “That’s why we didn’t really want to tell you. Because then you’d feel like you have to love him. Just follow your heart.”
“What if your heart is lost,” I muttered stubbornly and there was a weak chuckle. I thought of something else. “So Jake is in pain because he’s away from me,” I stated.
“Kind of,” Dad answered. “It’s also because of you being with Derek. It hurts him.”
I frowned. “I don’t want to cause him pain. So I have to break up with Derek,” I decided.
“Oh, Nessie, don’t break up with him just because you feel like you have to—”
I cut across my mom. “It’s not. It wasn’t feeling right anyways. When I kissed him after our date—” Dad grimaced “—I could only think of Jake. And that’s not very fair for Derek.”
“Oh,” Mom exhaled. “Alright then.”
I turned to Seth with hope inflating my heart. “So, is Jake going to come back now that I know everything?” There was a tense silence and a trickle of worry ran down my spine. What weren’t they telling me now? “What?” I asked in a panic. “What happened?”
Seth was the one who answered. “Jake… left.”
I felt the panic growing. He left again? I felt a needle stab my heart, deflating it. “Where?”
Seth looked at me sadly. “We don’t know. He left as soon as he screamed at Leah. We couldn’t follow his thoughts because he submerged himself in primal ways of thinking. It sounded like he thought that after your confrontation with Leah, you would find everything out then hate him for keeping this from you. He’s not thinking right and he’ll come back soon,” he tried to convince me. “I’m sorry, Ness.”
I sat frozen in my seat. I had lost Jake, my best friend. I found out that I had feelings for said best friend. I discovered that said best friend had feelings for me too. And just when I thought that I would be reunited with said best friend, it turns out that I lost him again. Wonderful.
All Sunday morning and half of the afternoon, I mourned once more for the loss of my… I don’t even know what he is to me anymore. I was so close to getting him back and then he disappears again. Why? Why? Why? It felt like someone was taunting me with a delicious piece of chocolate and pulling it away from me just as my fingers brush it. Except a million times worse. Yanking my hair out one strand at a time would be less painful than this. At least I only have so many hairs to lose. This felt infinite. It felt like an everlasting fire licking at my heart, slowly roasting it to a charred rot. It felt like a million knives stabbing into me. It felt like… I’m running out of metaphors to compare my pain to.
I couldn’t sleep again that night. I just lay in my bed, crawled up in a little ball, trying to ignore the conversations below. I know that at least my father knew I wasn’t sleeping, and I was half-grateful that none of them came up to bother me. I knew Dad would be cringing at the harshness of the thoughts in my mind, but I didn’t care at that moment. I was in a deep depression and nothing could touch me.
Eventually, even feigning sleep was too much for me, so I just padded downstairs and sat in the armchair by the window, watching the dark sky lighten with painted colors of the rainbow then fade to a clear blue. It was as if nature was mocking me by looking so beautiful: birds chirping their songs loudly, the sun sparkling brilliantly off the patches of snow-ice, and miles of the brightest blue I had ever seen. Even the leaf-bare trees and frostbitten grass looked cheerful.
My family would tiptoe around me as if waiting for a bomb to explode. I felt a twinge of regret at having affected them like this and ruining their day in the sun to worry about me.
Seth returned back to La Push, promising to keep us updated on Jake’s travels. Someone was always in wolf-form now with him, trying to convince him to come back. Of course, he would either ignore them, be in too much pain to reply, or be thinking in too basic thoughts to understand. I preferred the first or last choice. Occasionally, he would slip with the formidable wall he had built around his thoughts and they would feel a punch of pain or hatred for himself. Once, they caught sight of a sign in English then French and guessed that he was somewhere in Canada. It was slightly relieving to know some general area of where he was. But only slightly. I heard my parents talking something about following the same path he took seven years ago before their wedding, but none of that made sense to me. And I was too deep in thought to care at the moment.
Seth stayed phased as a wolf ever since he left our home. He tried to make Jake understand that they explained the whole imprinting business to me and I didn’t hate him for hiding it, but it didn’t affect him. He was too far ahead in his animalistic thoughts.
I talked to his dad, Billy Black, and he told me his theory on why he ran away. He did think it was partly because he was worried that I would hate him for keeping that information away from me, but he also thought that he was nervous about facing me—he wasn’t sure if I shared the feelings. Apparently Jake thought that he was cursed with love and that this would be the one case when the imprinted one doesn’t love the imprinter. Why would he think that he was cursed?
Though I was worried about him and agonized that he left once more, I also had a tad bit of anger at him for his actions. I thought he was being a little selfish for leaving without thinking about how anyone else—especially me—was feeling. He needs to start acting like a man and face whatever consequences his actions may have brought him (though in this case, there probably won’t be any bad consequences… from me anyways). I really just wanted him to get his head straight and come back to me.
There was also the little thing about Derek. I couldn’t very well continue to go out with him when I found myself with blossoming feelings for another guy. That wasn’t fair for him. I certainly didn’t deserve him and he would find another girl who did. And I had to give him that chance by breaking off this relationship. The problem was putting those words into actions. And it was much easier said than done.
I wasn’t sure how I would do that. Though Derek holds a mask of indifference and cool on the outside, he really is sweet and kind on the inside, maybe even sensitive. He treated me like a princess ever since we first started going out and was courteous to me whenever we hung out. How could I explain to him why I was breaking up with him when things seemed to be going so perfectly the day before? He really didn’t do anything wrong; I just changed. And I didn’t want to hurt him, but I knew I would end up doing so in the process. Argh.How frustrating.
My family and werewolf friends did try to give me some advice, though some of them weren’t so helpful.
“Just… tell him you don’t feel anything for him anymore,” Mom had guessed then shrugged innocently at the incredulous looks everyone else sent her. “What? I don’t have much experience in this field, if you don’t recall. Edward was my first boyfriend and seeing as how I ended up marrying him, I don’t know how to break up with guys.”
“Oh, yeah?” Emmett had muttered. “What about J—?”
But he was cut off with a look by Dad. I briefly debated asking them what they meant, but I was still in a silent, mourning phase.
“Just tell him the truth, sweetheart. That you developed feelings for someone else and don’t think it’s fair to keep going out with him,” Dad had suggested softly. Of course he would pull the ‘truth’ string. But I can’t just tell him the truth… can I?
Emmett had scoffed at this as well, saying, “Oh, that would totally work. ‘I’m sorry, but I like someone else. But don’t worry, I decided to break it off before I cheat on you with him.’” I didn’t even respond to his mocking words.
“Just dump him,” Rosalie had said while painting her nails a luscious red. “Tell him he’s not good enough for you and that you found someone else.” I frowned at her harshness.
“Ouch, babe,” Emmett had murmured in her ear. “I wouldn’t want to mess with you.” He planted a sloppy kiss on her cheek and she swatted him away with a drying hand. How could he be so casual in a dire situation like this? Oh yeah, because he’s Emmett.
“But that’s so harsh,” Esme had injected gently. “At least let him down easily. What do you think, Carlisle?”
Carlisle had shrugged, smiling benignly. “I’m sorry, Nessie, but I really don’t have much to say on this subject as well. I’m more of an information-guy, not an emotions-guy,” he joked badly. I tried to smile at his attempt but it felt more like a grimace.
“Be courteous of his feelings,” Jasper had said quietly. “That’s as much as I can give you.” And of course Jasper would say something about feelings. At least he was trying to help by slightly numbing my feelings. I know I snapped at him earlier for doing that, but I didn’t have the strength to tell him off. I don’t know how long I would last without his help.
Alice didn’t give me any advice. She just said in her tinkling voice, “I can’t see you very well, obviously. But I see your extended future disappearing completely, so obviously that means Jake will come back in your life. But you’re still so undecided on what to do that your immediate future keeps changing rapidly. I just think that you need to get this over with before school tomorrow.”
After they had given me their pieces of advice and unable to find my voice, I just ended up touching each of their faces and flashing them a grateful look to show my gratitude for their concern. Of course, to Emmett, I just showed him an image of us arm wrestling and me slamming his hand into the table to shatter it to pieces. To that, he grinned with anticipation and muttered, “Bring it on, little girl.”
When I was talking on the phone with Embry, who was giving me the update on Jake, he just told me torrents of random advice. “Be firm to get your point across. But not too firm that you hurt him. Don’t avoid the subject, but don’t just straight out say it either. Don’t say any of those cheesy lines from movies, like ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ That’s really annoying. Don’t say ‘I’m sorry’ a whole lot either because it’s like ‘You’re breaking up with me. Why are you saying sorry?’ And try not to start off with ‘We need to talk’ or something along those lines because that’ll get him freaked out in a hurry. Oh, and try to do it face to face instead of over the phone or something. At least give him that much courtesy.” He ended up rambling after a while, but I found it sweet that he was so into helping me. Though it was probably mostly for Jake’s sake, I still appreciated it.
But really, all this advice that everyone was throwing at me was making me more nervous. I agreed with Alice; better to do it today than tomorrow at school or something. So after mutely showing everyone me walking into a cage full of ravenous tigers—“I think they should be scared that you’ll eat them instead of the other way around,” Emmett joked—I shut myself up in my room (though I knew that everyone in the house was listening carefully, Dad was reading my mind, and Jasper was feeling my emotions to help me out), flipped open my little silver phone, and dialed out his number. I nearly jumped out of my skin at the ringing on the other end. Geez, I told myself. Calm down.
The whole house seemed to hold their breath as there was a small click.
“Hello?” Faint sounds of talking and laughing buzzed in the background. What’s he doing? A party?
I took a deep breath and smiled, trying to sound normal. “H-Hey Derek! It’s me, Nessie.” I cursed myself for stuttering but tried to keep a smile on my face—Mom told me earlier that you can tell over the phone if a person is smiling or not when they’re talking and I didn’t want to alert Derek that something was wrong… yet.
“Oh, hey Nessie! I was actually going to call you!” Derek sounded jubilant and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach knowing I was going to take all that happiness away.
“Oh, really?” I tried to sound interested. “What for?”
“Hold on,” Derek’s voice shouted over an increased level of background noise. There was some rustling sounds then Derek’s muffled voice shouting, “Hey! Keep it down for a sec, will ya? I’m on the phone with my girl!” The talking and laughter toned down a bit though some giggling and cat calling erupted at his last sentence. I bit my bottom lip in guilt. I can’t believe I’m doing this to him. “Sorry about that,” Derek’s low voice floated through my receiver. “So why’d you call?” Okay, this is it.
“Um, I just… need to talk to you about something. Preferably in person,” I stated lamely. Oops, already broke one of Embry’s rules. At least I’m doing it face to face though. Ah, screw his rules. I’m bound to break a million of them anyways, I thought viciously and heard a muffled snort from downstairs.
He didn’t seem to suspect anything. “Oh, alright. Well, I was going to call you to see if you can come over anyways. My parents are out of town for the night, so I’m throwing a little party. Shh, don’t tell,” he added slyly.
I heard Mom and Dad’s disapproving growls while Emmett muttered, “I’m starting to like this guy.” Ugh. Can’t you guys at least pretend that you’re not listening to my whole conversation? It’s kind of nerve-racking, I requested and heard Dad repeat my thought under his breath. Thank you.
The exchange all took less than a split second.
“Oh, a party!” I tried to enthuse. “Sounds like fun.”
“Yeah, so just come on over as soon as you can. As you probably can hear, some people are already here.” He lowered his voice into a seductive tone. “Can’t wait to see you here. Miss you already.”
I swallowed deeply, waves of guilt pounding at me. I distinctly heard Emmett mocking the last two sentences then a sharp thwack of rock hitting rock. I silently thanked whoever hit Emmett before steadying my voice to reply, “Yeah. Um, miss you, too. Bye.”
“I love you,” Derek said softly and then there was another break out of hooting and cat calling. In my short stunned silence—that was the first time we ever said those three big words to each other—I heard some of the voices as clear as a bell over the rowdy sounds of chatting and mirth.
“Ooh, boy, you are whipped!” one male voice cackled.
“Now we know who wears the pants in this relationship!” another hooted.
“Nessie and Derek, love, love, love!” a third sang in a childish voice.
I flipped the phone shut before more of their immature taunts could reach me. Ugh. Why did he have to make everything even harder with his words? Why did he have to be so perfect? It would make it so much harder to break things off with him. And why did he have to say that he loves me? Why? Why? Why?
I felt bad for just hanging up like that after he said those three words to me. But I just couldn’t handle it. And I couldn’t very well say it back to him then break up with him that same night, could I? Ugh, ugh, ugh. I threw myself on my bed and heard the delightful creak as the frame shuddered under my force.
I heard my family approaching but stayed silent until they reached my door. There was a soft knock.
“Come in,” I muttered, burying my face in my pillow and tossing my phone into the corner without looking. It clattered onto my desk.
My ears pricked at their invisible movements as they arranged themselves around me.
One cold hand gently smoothed my hair. “Oh Nessie,” Mom’s voice crooned. “My poor baby.” I frowned at her tone into the pillow.
“Stop making it seem like I have it all bad, Mom,” I nearly snapped, my guilt over-flooding my heart. “I’m the one who’s going to break this poor guy’s heart. Feel bad for him, not me.” Through the contact my mom had with her hand placed on my head, I shot her an image of me stabbing Derek’s heart out.
“Darling, you won’t be breaking his heart,” Dad’s soft voice murmured reassuringly.
I laughed derisively. What world do you live in, Dad? I snarled in my mind.
He dropped my comment and just explained. “He’s a human teenager with raging hormones. He doesn’t love you, not in the sense you’re thinking of. He just has a little crush on you and lusts after you. He’ll get over it soon enough and find himself in love with other pretty girl in a week.”
Though I could see the sense in his words, it still didn’t make me feel better. Whatever, I thought to him and scrunched up into a ball. Maybe they’ll let me smother myself in pity for a little while.
“Come on, Nessie!” Alice’s chirrupy voice broke the silence. Or not. “Let me dress you up for the party!”
I groaned. “Alice, I’m going to break this guy’s heart, not to party!” I grumbled futilely. She would win eventually, I just felt like being stubborn at the moment.
“Come on, Nessie! I know you’re going to give in because I see your little fuzzy butt in the most gorgeous outfit ever! And I can vaguely see you walking into his house and you will have all the boys’ eyes on you!” Alice declared victoriously. “Oh, and make sure you catch that expensive vase before Derek knocks it over or else his parents will kill him.”
Not unless I kill him first, I thought hopelessly. With my selfish horribleness.
“What else do you see?” Rose asked somewhere from my right. That’s a good question. I sat up to see Alice more fully, crossing my legs and resting my elbows on my knees.
Alice’s face was all scrunched up, as if she was trying to remember something that kept escaping her grasp. After a moment, she sighed and her features relaxed. “Sorry, I can’t see much after that. Either you get really fuzzy all of a sudden, or some other decision is affecting my vision. Maybe yours, maybe his. Maybe because we don’t know what your decision to dump him will make his decision be.”
I frowned lightly. I hope it’s the last one. I don’t like the idea of me randomly being fuzzier at times for unknown reasons, or the idea of another’s outside decision affecting this. I already have too much on my mind to worry about.
I sighed, looking up at Alice as she smiled smugly. “Alright, Alice. Make me ready to party.”
A/N: Just as a precaution, there are some references to drinking and stuff that may not be completely suitable for younger readers. =] But other than that, enjoy!
Chapter 20: Part One
I fidgeted once more in my seat, pulling at the dress Alice had forced me into. It was of a light blue color with spaghetti straps and a deep plunge in the front (what was with Alice and exposing cleavage? Geez…). It came to about mid thigh and there was a slight flair at the bottom of the dress. It clung to my skin tightly like another layer of skin, and it nearly made me feel as if I was nude—my eyes kept dropping down briefly to make sure I was still wearing clothes. Alice had pinned my hair half-up with a few strands framing my face. I really felt more like I was going to a school dance than a house party.
“Stop fidgeting,” Alice ordered in the driver’s seat of the flashy yellow sports car we currently were in. Though Dad insisted that he could drive me himself (with me insisting that I could drive myself), Alice really wanted to, so Dad gave in. She claimed that she wanted to hear what the humans say when I first walk in the door. She even promised to stay close by to pick me up in a flash—though I made her promise that she would stay out of hearing distance; I didn’t want an audience for what I was about to do. I would just call her when I was done breaking this poor guy’s heart.
I tried to still my movements but failed. “Alice,” I moaned. “Are you sure you can’t see anything else?” I’ve been asking her this question continuously ever since we left the house a minute ago.
An exasperated sigh was released from her lips as she rolled her golden eyes. “No, I can’t,” she tinkled softly in a forcefully calm voice. “I told you a million times before, something is blocking my vision. I can see you entering the house but then things steadily get blurrier until it’s like trying to watch television with bad reception.”
“But what does that mean?” I asked desperately though I already knew the answer from her previous explanations.
“That someone’s decision isn’t quite made up yet. Or maybe because it is yet unknown how he will react to your actions. I don’t know. Now please shut your pretty little mouth before I glue it shut. Thank you,” she threatened sweetly.
Grumbling mutely, I lightly placed a finger on the bare skin of her hand that rested against the wheel. A brief image flashed of me with my hands wrapped around her dainty neck and shaking her forcefully with my mouth sewn shut, courtesy of Alice. Her lips twitched once before succumbing to a brilliant smile as she gazed at me tenderly. Pulling into the driveway of Derek’s house—currently surrounded by badly-parked cars that displayed the talent of reckless teenage drivers—Alice’s hand moved quickly to put the car in park. Reaching over, she cupped my cheek gently.
“Oh, Nessie. It’ll all be alright. I promise,” she stated firmly but softly. Pecking me quickly on the cheek and gathering me into a hug—affection for my aunt swelled—she released me and waved me away. “Go on now. And knock them dead.” She winked and a grin spread on my face. “Looks like you already got started on that one though.” She jerked her head in one direction and I surreptitiously glanced in that direction. A small groan almost escaped my lips as I saw the two teenage boys frozen in midstep on their way to the front door. Their eyes seemed to be bulging as they took in the sight of two beautiful girls in an impressive-looking car. “Anyways, I think you’ll have fun,” she said cheekily. We could both hear the throbbing pounding of the music emitting from inside along with the murmur of talk. It seemed loud enough that weak human ears could even pick up the sounds; it was near to deafening to us so our ear muscles instantly modified to its new, loud environment.
Suddenly, as we inhaled, a strong scent of alcohol mixed with cigarette smoke invaded our lungs. Our noses simultaneously twitched at the unpleasant smell; why did humans insist on shortening their life span like this? I guess this was their version of a party. My lips turned downwards at the corners in disapproval; what was Derek thinking, hosting a party like this! I certainly didn’t know he smoked or drank. I’ve never smelt any smoke or liquor on him before, so I wonder why he started now. There must be a reason.
Alice glanced at me worriedly; apparently she didn’t trust me around drinks and smoking. I nudged her gently, giving her a grin. “Oh, come on Alice. I know how to say no. Not that alcohol or cigarettes even affect vampires, do they?” I frowned lightly, hoping it wouldn’t. My nose was already starting to burn slightly from the wafts of smoke concentrated with carcinogens. I would definitely have to talk to Derek about these bad habits… once he starts talking to me after I hurt him tonight, that is.
“I don’t know,” Alice murmured, a little crease in her brow. She really didn’t like not knowing things, always having been the omniscient psychic. “It might affect you since you’re part human.”
I could see her getting second thoughts about leaving me here—it must’ve been really bad if she was actually considering sending me back home after all the work she did on me. As much as I would love to avoid the confrontation with Derek, the urge to get this over with was greater. I had already worked myself up over this all day. Might as well get it over with.
“Come on, Alice,” I pleaded. “Don’t send me back home. I need to do this. I’ll be careful. Besides, you already went through all this hard work dressing me up and your wonderful work will all go to waste if you turn this car around.” I could see her weakening as I prodded at her vulnerable spots. She would give in soon. I gave one last shot with flattery. “By the way, thanks for making me look amazing. It’s great that I have such a talented aunt.” I touched her cheek to show her my gratitude and then an image of me striding through the doorway as boys dropped to the ground in a dead faint by my beauty. She cracked a grin; she knew quite well that I didn’t consider myself very beautiful, especially not enough to have that much of an impact on the opposite gender.
“Oh fine,” she sighed and I smiled victoriously. “But I’m going to stay close by, within hearing distance of a shout. So just yell if you need me. Don’t worry, I’ll be far away enough so I can’t hear you talking,” she assured me when I opened my mouth to argue about the promise she made.
I patted her cheek gratefully. “Thanks, Alice. You’re the best.”
“You know it,” she replied cheekily. “Now get out there. And be careful. And if Edward comes after me for leaving you in an environment like this—”
“—I’ll take all the blame,” I finished for her. I kissed her cheek lightly. “Thanks. Bye.” I got out of the car, wrapping the thin cover-up around me tighter. My vampire senses immediately zoomed on the thin sheet of ice that covered the driveway; my balance altered slightly to make up for the slippery surface and my spindly high heels. Slamming the car door shut, I leaned into the open window of the passenger seat. “Now remember, stay out of hearing distance. This shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes, so I should be out soon. Just come and get me when your blurry visions of me tell you I’ll be done. If you’re even capable of that anymore,” I said playfully. “I think you’re starting to lose your touch.”
She swatted me away, smiling impishly. “Oh, just get your fuzzy butt going. Have fun and good luck!” Fun? Really, Alice? Though I think I’ll need the luck.
I waved as she pulled out of the driveway then sped away into the distance, dust poofing up from behind her from her speed.
I turned to the front door, absorbing the soft clicking sounds my heels made against the pavement and ice. The pounding music got louder at every step. I bluntly ignored all the open stares of the partiers who had moved outside, little puffs of smoke trailing from their dropped mouths. One of their smoking cigarettes fell to the ground with a dull thump—to my ears anyways—and was left forgotten.
When I reached the front door, I rapped my knuckles gently on it as to not knock it down with my super-strength. The door opened immediately as if someone was waiting for people to arrive.
The deafening music emitting from the two large speakers in the other room engulfed me in sounds. A waft of heated, stale air hit me, bringing the unwelcome scents of smoke, alcohol, and writhing human bodies. Small, plastic red cups littered the floor already, mixing with the crushed buds of used cigarettes. Masses of humans overflowed from every room; it looked like this party picked up intensely since I called Derek. I crinkled my nose immediately in effect.
Everyone in the near vicinity froze and stared as I stood in the doorway. Some of their eyes seemed to have a hard time focusing on me. Smiling benignly, I swept inside, trying to ignore the overwhelming smell that made me want to retch. My ears adjusted once more to the vociferous music. I shut the door silently behind me as talk resumed gradually, eyes continuing to flicker to me occasionally.
My own gaze swept over each of the bodies, some swaying to the music, others just standing and talking as they downed their drinks, and even a few couples lip-locked on the couches. Even as my eyes searched for that one familiar form, my nose picked out his scent immediately. It seemed like it was coming from the other room.
I took a step in that direction but instantly flipped around when I sensed a human nearing me. He looked mildly surprised at my movement that was a tad bit too fast for a normal human, his hand outstretched to grab me. But I could see the dazed, unfocused look in his flat brown eyes, his blonde hair plastered to his forehead with sweat, as he swayed in his spot—obviously drunk. He looked old enough to be in college already. I turned my back on him, ignoring his slurred words.
“Heeeey. Wai’, babe. Dun’ run awa’. Com’ba…ck.”
I weaved my way around the numerous bodies easily—they seemed to instinctively move away from me as if repelled by my vampire genes. More than one repeats of the drunk scene followed me as other intoxicated and hormonal teens tried to get my attention. I resisted the urge to whack them upside the head; that would be a bad idea as I would probably behead them. I was here to break up a relationship, not someone’s skull, for god’s sake.
I entered the kitchen and spotted Derek immediately among the couple other forms teetering around the room. He was rummaging through a refrigerator, its yellowed light shining on his face. Small wafts of cold air drifted across the room from the opened door; as he pulled back, he slammed the door shut with a dull thud. He looked surprised to see me standing in the doorway there, nearly dropping the multiple bottles of beer he had sniped from the fridge.
“Oh. Hey, Nessie,” he slurred slightly, a slow grin growing on his face. I cocked an eyebrow at his appearance: his dark hair was tousled uncharacteristically, the dark blue t-shirt that accentuated his abdominal muscles was wrinkled and skewered, and I believe my strong eyesight detected a smudge of bright red on his cheek—lipstick? Another scent coated him, strongly feminine and unfamiliar. I felt a pang of jealousy and betrayal, my vision flaring red briefly—it seemed like I was getting mad a lot lately.
I repressed the emotion as much as I could. I couldn’t get too mad at him. After all, what I was about to do to him is horrible enough without me snapping at him. Still, I couldn’t stand the look of him juggling those beer bottles in his arms—at least there was no scent of cigarette smoke on him—so I stepped forward, swiping them away from him before his intoxicated brain even registered what I did.
“Hey. Give it back,” he mumbled, waving his arms at me. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of disgust and pity for him; he just looked so childish right now and so unlike the Derek I know. And his behavior is disgusting; was he cheating on me? And he’s so desperate to get the alcohol back from me, it’s sickening.
“No, Derek, I think you’ve had enough to drink,” I said firmly, stashing the bottles in the cupboard under the sink. “How many bottles have you had so far?”
“Jus’ one. I don’ drink much any’ays. Don’ tul-er-ate alcohol good.” He carefully sounded out ‘tolerate,’ leaning against the counter with a slap-happy grin on his face. “Hey, babe.”
Wow, he was out of it. But a small sense of relief washed over me at his words; at least he wasn’t a heavy drinker. And it was obvious that he doesn’t smoke.
“So why’d you throw this kind of a party?” I asked gently, like talking to a toddler. The couple, who were in the kitchen as well, let out a shrill giggle as they tumbled to the floor. I ignored them.
“Not me. B-br-bru-thuh did,” Derek replied, struggling with the word ‘brother.’
Oh yes. I remember him telling me about his older brother. He went to some community college in a nearby town; he’s twenty, I believe. The activities of this party suddenly made a little more sense. This wasn’t Derek’s idea, it was his brother’s. Though I was breaking up with him, I felt another shadow of relief that he wasn’t that bad of a guy. But there was still that issue of the lipstick… I would get the answer out of him before I throw the first punch. Figuratively, of course.
“So who were you here with earlier?”
He looked adorably confused, his big lips pursing and brow furrowing with his widened eyes. “Wha’?” I could see genuine perplexity on his face. Interesting.
“Weren’t you here with a girl earlier?” I asked slyly as if I didn’t have a care in the world. Hopefully he was drunk enough to not notice.
“No…” he slurred, now pouting as he struggled to remember.
“But you have lipstick on your cheek,” I persisted. I would get the answer out of him sooner or later.
He touched his cheek tenderly with one hand, confusion etched across his face. Suddenly, a revelation hit him; it looked like a sun fighting through the dark and gloomy clouds. “Oh. Tha’ was Penny, my bru-thuh’s gul-fernd.”
I was purely confused now. “You made out with your brother’s girlfriend?”
His brows pushed together even further. “Wha’? No! She alwa’s greets me by kissin’ my cheek.” Oh. I guess that made sense. And I couldn’t help but believe him; he just looked so vulnerable and innocent right now.
He was still the perfect boyfriend while I was extremely flawed.
As much as I would love to pretend that nothing happened yesterday, I couldn’t lie to my heart like that. I had to break up with him.
“Um, Derek? Can I talk to you? Alone?” I stressed, eying the fumbling couple that playfully wrestled on the floor. Humans act so strangely when they’re drunk.
“Sure. Hol’ on.” Derek reached under the sink cabinet and pulled out a half-full bottle of beer. I let out a sigh—would he never give up?—but decided not to say anything. Maybe being drunk will dull the pain for him. “Let’s go ou’side.”
I followed him as he stumbled outside, taking a big swig from the bottle in his hand. Okay, maybe dumping him while he’s drunk isn’t such a good idea. I kept close enough to be able to catch him quick should he trip or fall. I seriously felt like I was caring for a two-year-old.
We made our way towards the edge of his yard, where the woods began. A couple of drunken greetings were tossed our way, along with a handful of wolf-whistles. Derek seemed unperturbed as he finally reached the first tree trunk that bordered the forest, a good fifty yards from any human being in sight.
He slouched against the trunk, taking another sip and smacking his lips. “What’s up?” His voice seemed a tad bit stronger for some reason, as if the cool night air was clearing his head a little.
“Um…” I hesitated, glancing towards the snow-patched ground. Maybe it would be better to wait until he was completely sober. It wouldn’t be very fair to him to dump him while he’s drunk, is it?
“Wow,” he suddenly murmured. I looked up at him, wondering what made him say that.
His eyes were focused on me as if he just noticed I was standing there. Well, focused a little bit lower than where my eyes were. I watched as his eyes swept down slowly then back up. He wet his lips nervously with the tip of his tongue as his eyes finally met mine. I raised an eyebrow, waiting for him to say something.
“You look amazing,” he whispered, taking a step towards me. Hm, interesting. His lust seems to have chased his slurred speech away. He almost looked sober now.
“Thanks,” I said, trying to avoid him in human speed but too late. His hands grasped my own, eyes burning into mine. Strangely, instead of feeling desire for him like I would’ve yesterday, I felt a wave of disgust. Maybe because he’s been drinking, or because he finally showed the not-so-pleasant side of him that indeed wasn’t pleasant at all for me. Bewildered and not knowing how to handle this situation, I thought frantically, trying to figure out a way to maneuver out of this without hurting him more than I had to.
One cold hand trailed up my bare arm to my shoulder. As it itched back down from my shoulder to the top edge of my dress, I jumped away from him slightly so that his hand groped air. I frowned at his behavior. What was wrong with him? He’s acting so unlike himself. Usually he behaves like the perfect gentleman. The liquor must really be getting to him.
Unruffled about my movement away from him, he took another step forward, gazing down at me with pure lust in his bloodshot eyes. I stepped backwards again once more, trying to keep distance between us. My brain was still frozen, unable to pull me out of this situation. He would kiss me soon, and I couldn’t let that happen. It wasn’t fair for him. We continued this tango for a few more steps until I felt the bark of the tree pressing up on my back. Uh oh. No escape now.
Derek seemed to have that same thought at he closed the gap between us, hands braced on either side of me on the trunk. As he bent forward to brush my lips with his, I turned my head in a panic so that his lips landed on my cheek. He pulled back, slightly confused.
“What’s wrong?” he asked softly, his beer-breath feathering across my face. It now brought revulsion to my lips instead of desire.
This is it. “We are,” I burst out then bit my lip. He cocked his head, trying to understand what I’m saying. I sighed sadly before continuing on. “Things haven’t been going very well for me the past week or so. I’ve been distracted all the time and everything. I’m sure you’ve noticed. And I think I finally realized why. I’m in love with someone else,” I whispered sorrowfully. All repulsion vanished as I felt remorse took over. “And I don’t think it’s fair for me to continue to go out with you while I don’t feel the same way about you anymore. I’m sorry.” I closed my eyes in guilt, waiting for him to say something.
There was a brief silence while I waited with baited breath. What would be his reaction now? Suddenly, his cold hand pressed against my thigh, at the hem of my dress.
My eyes flew open in shock. “Derek! What are you doing?” I tried to gently pry his hand away from me.
“You’re so beautiful,” he murmured, eyes flickering drowsily across my face. “I want you.”
I frowned. “Didn’t you hear what I said?” Is he deaf or something? Didn’t I say that out loud or did I just say it in my head?
“Yeah,” he answered then ducked his head to kiss me again. I repeated my previous action so that the kiss was placed on my cheek.
Okay, I was really confused. “If you heard me, then what are you doing?”
“Kissing you,” he replied simply and then took me by surprise, pressing his lips to mine. His hand inched up my thigh once more before I pulled away, furious.
“Derek! What’s the matter with you?” I pushed him away so that he stumbled backwards from my strength. I wiped my mouth, trying to rid of the alcohol taste on my tongue. “I just broke up with you!”
“No you didn’t,” he said seriously, pressing up to me again.
I pushed him away again. “Yes, I did,” I said stubbornly. Okay, the alcohol must definitely be affecting his brain.
His eyes grew hard and his hand whipped up to grab my chin forcefully. If I was human, he would’ve bruised me. I was taken aback, so I couldn’t move fast enough to reject him again. “Oh no, you didn’t.” He growled. “No one breaks up with Derek Coles. Nobody.” I was surprised by his sudden change of mood.
“I believe I just did,” I snapped back, anger burning in the back of my mouth. “Now let go of me.” I could have easily forced him away, but I didn’t want any suspicion on what I was.
He didn’t budge. Instead, he smashed his mouth on mine harshly, his other arm pulling me closer to his body. I could feel his hardness pressing against my inner thigh and I felt another wave of revulsion and fury. I pushed him away forcefully this time, sending him tumbling to the ground. I resisted the pull of my burning red vision, pushing it back to calmness. Glancing around, I wondered why nobody came to interfere and saw that most everyone had gone inside.
At the soft sound of metal scraping on metal, I looked back down at Derek and my heart jumped to my throat. He was crouched on the ground, and in his hand was a long pocketknife. He has a knife? I thought wildly. Confused about what exactly he was going to do with that, I was too stunned to be able to stop him as he jumped forward and pressed the edge of the knife to my throat. My human instincts suppressed my vampire ones suddenly and I cowered, raising my chin instantly to the touch of the metal. What the hell?!
I could taste the alcohol on his breath as he leaned close to me, eyes looking bloodshot and half-crazed. “You b*tch,” he snarled, the slur returning to his voice. “Now you will do as I want.” I was still too stunned to be able to move any of my muscles. I could have easily thrown him off and I really should have no fear of a blade that can’t even cut my granite skin. But human-fear filled me, locking my muscles into place. If he pressed his knife harder, the metal would bend. What would he think of that?
Maybe I should try using logic. “Derek,” I pleaded softly. “You’re drunk. You don’t know what you’re doing. Just put the knife down.” I stiffened as my words only seemed to anger him more; he pressed the blade closer to my jugular. Okay, if this didn’t work, I would have to use force and knock him out before he would see anything that might ruin our cover.
He completely ignored what I said, just trailing his free hand down my side. I restrained the urge to snap his neck in my anger.
“Derek, please,” I warned him one last time.
He still didn’t show any acknowledgement, merely pressing himself closer to me. I closed my eyes, silently apologizing for what I was about to do.
Just as I was about to raised my fist to rap him in the head with enough force to knock him unconscious, a soft breeze blew in our direction, bringing with it a painfully familiar scent. A scent I hadn’t smelled in a week. A scent that made my heart lurch to life. His scent.
My gaze slid over Derek’s shoulder into the woods. My vampire eyes picked out a huge form approaching silently. My heart swelled as I recognized who it was. Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.
“J-Jake?” I choked out, my breath catching. It couldn’t be. I must be dreaming again.
This seemed to register into Derek’s mind as he paused. He looked up at my eyes to see that I was staring over his shoulder openmouthed. He turned to follow my gaze just as a huge russet wolf stepped out from the darkness of the woods into the faint light of the setting sun. The wolf growled, baring his glistening fangs with his fur bristling in fury. Derek stumbled backwards, dropping his knife in the process. Before either Derek or I could act, the wolf crouched then lunged at Derek, maw opened wide with fangs sharp as a needle.
I opened my mouth in a silent scream as wolf-Jake landed on Derek and snapped his jaws around his leg. A piercing scream ripped from within Derek’s throat as he was dragged to the ground.
Chapter 20: Part Two
I opened my mouth in a silent scream as wolf-Jake landed on Derek and snapped his jaws around his leg. A piercing scream ripped from within Derek’s throat as he was dragged to the ground. A loud crack rang out and he yelled even louder. If I felt stunned before, it was nothing compared to this. I couldn’t even feel my muscles anymore; it was numb. I couldn’t even feel the burning of my thirst as Derek’s blood dripped from where Jake’s jaw was latched on him. All I could do was stare.
The wolf slashed his claws at Derek’s chest, and as blood seeped from the four long gashes that formed, Derek let out another ear-piercing scream. A heavy paw smashed against his head, knocking him unconscious and cutting his scream short. Blood and feeling finally pulsed back into my legs to make it tingle uncomfortably. I felt a little lightheaded but a feeling of purpose focused me and I leapt forward before the furious wolf could deal the final death blow.
“Jake, no!” I yelled, tackling him to the ground. We landed a few feet away from Derek’s slumped form, me on top of him. I pinned him there, a mixture of emotions filling me. Shock, disbelief, joy, fear, anger, love…
As I stared down at him, I noticed that he grew limp under me. Panicked, I jumped off him. He pulled himself up slowly, not looking me in the eyes. Blood slowly dripped from his muzzle, dark red and tempting. But I still felt no pull of bloodlust towards the excess blood that draped over him or towards the free blood running from Derek’s limp body. Derek.
I moved my head so fast I almost felt like my head would crack off. Good. He was still breathing. A little shallow, but it would have to do for now. I could also hear his faint heartbeat, courtesy of his struggling heart working to replace the lost blood.
I turned my gaze back to the red-brown wolf. My examination of Derek only took a split second, yet I was still worried that I was imagining the whole thing. But he was still there, dark eyes aimed towards the ground. He lifted one heavy paw to wipe the wet blood off his maw. Though I told myself that it wasn’t true, I could help but feel that he was ignoring me. He was acting like I wasn’t standing there.
I reached out with a hand, confusion washing across my features. What was wrong now? “Jake?” I said tentatively.
The wolf shook his head as if trying to clear it. He still refused to meet my eyes, dropping his head instead. His fur, which was previously standing on end to make him look twice as big, was now pressed to his skin, shrinking his look. His ears were flattened back as well and bushy tail tucked under him. It took me a moment to realize that he look frightened or nervous. Or ashamed.
I took an automatic step forward hesitatingly—will he disappear into thin air like in my dreams?—and sure enough, with a shudder running through his body, he padded backwards towards the cover of the forest. Panic rushed through me; he can’t leave again! I don’t know if I could handle losing him a third time!
“Jake!” I called out in a panicked voice, reaching out with a hand. But he already disappeared into the trees. My heart twisted and pulled, and I collapsed to the ground, wrapping my arms around my stomach tightly. No, no, no, no, no, I moaned in my head. I realized that I should have gone after him and made him stay. At least to explain. But it was too late now. He was nearly as fast as Leah, and he was probably already out of any hearing distance for me.
I plopped onto my bottom, not caring about the grass-stains that would invade the cloth of the dress, and wrapped my arms around my knees. I slammed my head down onto my arms then kept it there. I could feel a wetness on my cheeks—tears? I don’t remember the last time I cried.
Sounds of partying still emitted from the house—how could life go on when it seemed like it all ended for me? Again? But all was quiet around me, spare for Derek’s shallow breathing and faint heartbeat. I really should go call Carlisle or Alice for him—how would we explain, when he woke up, what happened to him?—but I couldn’t move. I didn’t see the point in anything anymore if my heart was going to repeatedly get ripped in half over and over again.
Thankfully there were no human witnesses to the encounter, unless you count Derek. It seems like the party out here moved inside just in time. And Derek’s screams and my yells were just engulfed by the overpowering beat of the music inside.
I kept my head rested against my knees. Okay, I really should call Carlisle to make sure that Derek is okay. His breathing sounded more strained. The thought of him and what he did to me send a twinge of disgust through me; I still didn’t understand his behavior. Perhaps he has a low tolerance for alcohol and didn’t know what he was doing. I do remember in one of my lessons about humans on how drunks act a lot on whims and end up not remembering what they did the night before or regretting it heavily. But it would take me a while to look at him the same.
There seemed to be a little change in the atmosphere, like a shimmer. Wow, I was really going mental. Imagining that Jake was here, phasing back to his human form. Ha! My imagination must really be running wild again: I could even hear the familiar footsteps approaching me, and could smell the woody scent of him. I clenched my fists tighter; would I ever get over him?
I could almost feel his presence crouching next to me. Stop imagining things! I nearly shouted to myself. But then a warm hand tentatively brushed my hair back and I jerked my head up, my heart stopping momentarily in surprise.
It was him. I wasn’t imagining those sounds or that scent. He had come back to me.
Jake was crouched close enough to me that I could feel his body heat radiating from his skin; he was the only one that ever felt warm to me at all. He looked about the same: same warm dark eyes, same black hair, same bronzed skin, same nose, same mouth, same face…. Though it was freezing out, he only wore his usual pair of tatty shorts, and my heart clenched at the sight of his bared upper body—how had I not noticed before how beautiful he was? But some things were different about him as well; subtle, but still there. His mouth wasn’t curved up into that familiar wolfish grin, his eyes had a pained look in it that I hadn’t noticed before and some other hidden emotion, small bags shadowed his eyes, his hair was longer and matted. He looked like he went through hell.
“Jake,” I whispered, still not believing my eyes, part of me even waiting for that moment when he would leave me again. But he didn’t. He was still there when I closed my eyes and opened them to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
He lifted the hand that was touching my hair and I felt an immediate sense of panic—he was leaving now! But no, I was wrong again. He just slowly and unsurely moved his hand and rubbed away one of my stray tears. My eyes fluttered closed at his touch. Oh, my Jacob was back. All thoughts of everything else—Derek, calling Carlisle, the party—emptied my mind. But then he jerked his hand back and my eyes flew open.
“Don’t leave again,” I whispered, terrified of losing him again. His mouth tightened and shame filled his eyes. He was hurting as well.
Jake pulled me into his arms and pressed his face into my hair, inhaling deeply. I wrapped my arms around his bare abdomen and locked them there—he wasn’t leaving me again if I could help it—and breathed in his calming, woody scent. I felt all my fears disappear. He was with me now, that’s all that matters.
“Oh Nessie,” Jake whispered in a slightly hoarse voice from lack of use and guilt. “I was a coward. I shouldn’t have left. And then when I got here and saw that piece of scum hurting you, I couldn’t control myself. I’m so sorry for hurting Derek. I almost killed him.” His voice was extremely pained and full of remorse. Was he really beating himself up for saving me from Derek?
Oh God. Derek. I need to get him to Carlisle right away.
I reluctantly pulled away from Jake gently, and felt a pang as a flicker of grief and pain ran across his features from my movement. He thought I was rejecting him.
“I need to call Carlisle for Derek,” I explained softly to him and his expression relaxed slightly. “But then I think we should talk.” He nodded hesitantly in agreement.
“No need to call me,” a calm voice said from behind and we flipped around to see Carlisle, Edward, Alice, and Bella approaching from the covers of the trees. “I’m right here.”
Carlisle turned strictly professional as he rushed to Derek’s side and began inspecting his wounds. He opened the small black bag he had with him and began taking out supplies. I watched him for a moment before turning to the rest of my family.
Alice looked ashamed and worried, giving me an apologetic look. I guessed that she was feeling bad for not seeing this happening. Mom just looked worried; she rushed forth to make sure I was okay, ignoring my protests. Dad looked plain furious, shooting glares at Derek’s still form than at Alice’s cowering figure. Was he really blaming her for all this?
“No, I’m not, Ness,” Dad said in a controlled voice. “I just wish that she had seen this before it happened. It would have saved us a lot of trouble.” Well, that’s not fair. Jake was here and affecting my future. And I was already blurry to her. And I’m sure that Derek’s drunkenness made his future actions unsure since alcohol makes you act on whims.
Alice looked so downtrodden and so unlike herself. Is she blaming herself?
“Yeah, she is,” Dad replied softly.
Oh. My brow furrowed. Why?
“Because she thinks that she should’ve seen this coming. You know she hates being blind. She feels useless without her sight.”
“I would appreciate it if you two would stop talking about me,” Alice murmured softly, looking towards the ground.
I rushed to her side and hugged her tightly. “Oh, Alice, don’t go blaming yourself. You didn’t know.”
“But I should’ve. I should’ve stuck with my instincts. At least I know who was messing with my vision.” She glared at Jake who looked extremely uncomfortable. “Little wolf couldn’t make up your mind?” She teased. At least she was becoming more like herself already.
Jake frowned. My heart lurched again. I still couldn’t believe he was actually here. “I actually didn’t even know I was coming here until I reached the city limits. I was just running mindlessly. I guess I was just drawn, especially since some part of me felt like something bad was going to happen. Turns out I was right.”
Dad suddenly hissed, turning towards Jake with intense eyes. “He did WHAT? Derek was threatening her?” he snarled. I was briefly confused. What just happened?
“Yeah. I thought you knew everything,” Jake said bewilderedly. So did I.
“No, I just heard remnants of both your thoughts. I heard something about Jake attacking Derek, nothing about why. I guess I should thank you,” Edward murmured lowly before continuing. “And then I just saw Jake’s thoughts about the ‘bad thing that was going to happen’. I knew we shouldn’t have trusted that human,” he spat.
“Then how’d you know to come?” I asked, completely lost. I kept glancing at Jake to make sure he didn’t disappear and this time his gaze slid to mine. I looked away, blushing at being caught.
“Alice saw Derek lying on the ground, bleeding. Everything else was blank, so we assumed that a werewolf came for a visit. It was confirmed when she caught his scent. So she called us and we got here a few minutes later. I wish we had gotten here before so I could snap his head off,” Dad hissed under his breath, glaring daggers at Derek’s body. “Threatening my daughter.”
“This shouldn’t excuse his behavior,” Mom injected, “but he was drunk. I can smell the alcohol on him. And alcohol makes humans do some pretty bad things. He wouldn’t have done any of that if he was sober.”
I glanced at Mom and was shocked to see the strain in her darkened eyes. “Aw, Mom, you’re hurting.” She was the least experienced around blood out of all of us, having turned vampire about 6 years ago. The scent of Derek’s blood was strong and causing her agony as she tried to ignore it.
Dad was by her side in a flash, rubbing the dark circles under her eyes gently. “Go home, love. Go hunt,” he said softly.
She shook her head and opened her mouth to protest, glancing at me, but I cut across her.
“No, Mom. Dad is right. You need to go hunt. I’m fine. Really. Go,” I urged, giving her a smile. She frowned a little, but nodded in agreement. She plunged into the forest and was gone in a flash.
Once Mom was gone, I looked closely at the rest of them. They all had dark eyes, not quite black but a deep, deep gold. It didn’t even seem like they were breathing much. I knew Carlisle could completely control his thirst, so I turned to Dad and Alice instead.
“You two should go hunt, too. We can talk at home once you guys are done.”
They both started protesting but were interrupted by Carlisle’s calming voice. “No, she’s right. We’re fine here. I’m almost done and then I’ll take him home to finish patching him up. We need to discuss what we should do about him. And since he will be in our home for a little while, there is no point in paining yourselves like this anymore than needed be. Go satiate your thirst.”
Seeing the wisdom behind his words, they nodded them took off into the forest. Dad gave me one last look before they both disappeared after Mom.
I turned to Carlisle now but before I could even open my mouth, he spoke, knowing what I was about to ask.
“Yes, Derek will be fine. A broken leg and rib, some bruises, and the obvious cuts. He may also have a slight concussion. But I believe he will heal completely.”
I let out a relieved sigh as I relaxed. He would be okay. I couldn’t help but feel a little responsible for happened, and though I did break up with him and he did try to hurt me, that didn’t make me feel any better. And Mom was right; he wouldn’t have done any of those things if he had been sober.
“Carlisle, you should go hunt, too,” I said softly, ready to argue with him, but he was already nodding.
“I will as soon as I drop him off at home. I’ll let the others know so that they can go hunt as well.” Wow, he sure made things easier since he was so agreeable. “But I’ll have to stay with him a bit until one of them gets back from their hunt. We shouldn’t leave him alone in case he wakes up, which I don’t think will be happening very soon. I’ll give him a sedative just in case,” he muttered to himself. He finished taping Derek’s leg then tossed everything back into his bag. Gingerly picking up his limp body so that no more harm would be caused on him, Carlisle straightened up. “I’ll see you two at home,” he said firmly before dashing off into the woods while cradling Derek effortlessly in his arms, his medical bag swinging in the wind.
I turned to Jake who was watching me with his arms crossed. I couldn’t detect the emotion in his eyes as he stared at me. My heart lurched as I forced myself to look him in the eyes, not at his beautiful, sculpted, bronze body that just urge me to run my fingers across his abdominal muscles—
I wrenched myself out of that thought, trying not to blush. I looked away, toeing one of the blood splatters on the grass. “We should clean up,” I muttered softly. Jake silently mimicked me as we both went around, pulling out the bloodstained grass stalks and tossing them into the dark forest and out of sight. I pulled off my cover-up to soak up some of the excess blood off the ground. Not knowing what else to do with it, I dug a quick hole in the ground and buried it.
When I straightened up, satisfied that nobody would be able to guess what happened here, I looked up at Jake to see him staring at me, his Adam’s apple bobbing nervously. His eyes shot up to meet mine, away from my cleavage; though Derek had basically done the same movement a little bit ago, this time, it didn’t bring revulsion but a strange tingling feeling instead.
Clearing my throat uncomfortably—when did things get so uncomfortable between us—I said, “Um, we should get home.” I wondered if he was just going to take off again and felt a wave of relief when he nodded.
I pulled off my high-heeled shoes and held them in one hand, ready to take off, when Jake’s voice tentatively said, “Can we talk real quick before we go?” I looked up at him to see him close to me, gazing deep into my eyes with his pained ones. My legs felt like jell-o.
“S-Sure,” I stuttered.
Jake looked around once before holding out one hand for me. “Maybe we should go somewhere a little more private. In case some of the party-goers decide to come outside.”
I looked down at his hand, unsure, and when I glanced back up into his eyes, I could’ve sworn that I saw a flinch of pain cross his face. But it was gone before I could make sure.
I placed my free hand gently into his offered one and as our bare skin touched, a shock ran through my body. I looked up at him to see if he felt it as well, but only saw a mask of indifference. I frowned lightly to myself—maybe all this imprinting stuff is just made up or maybe ours is faulty, because it sure doesn’t seem like he holds any attraction to me.
Downhearted, I followed Jake at a run, our hands swinging between us as the trees whipped past. After a few seconds, he jerked us to a halt in a small clearing. It was quite dark now; the branches blocked any of the remaining rays of light emitting from the setting sun.
He released my hand and stepped off towards the side, facing away from me. My hand felt empty without his warm and comforting one in it, and I dropped it to my side.
Did he take me here to talk about the imprinting stuff? Was he about to declare his love for me? As much as this next step frightened me, I was also impatient for the moment when I would be able to call Jake mine. It’s so strange how quickly my feelings changed.
I watched Jake as he strode back and forth in front of me, eyes aimed towards the snowy floor. I could see his hands fidgeting in his pockets and he would occasionally kick up a chunk of snow. I took the moment to admire him once more. Though his eyes weren’t gazing at mine, I could still see the deepness and passion in them. I knew that every time I looked at him, it was like everything else in the world disappeared. His mouth was currently in a grim line, but I remembered that wolfish grin he would wear and how his eyes would crinkle at the edges when he smiled. My eyes traced his golden face, his sharp chin, his neck. I watched the veins flexing in his muscular arms and could pick out every small, black hair that layered his forearms. I finally turned my eyes to his bared chest and could feel my breath hitch slightly. Oh, this creature was so beautiful. I admired his clenched abdominal muscles that made me want to reach out and trace each one with a finger. His small waist flared out into a broad chest. His dark skin accentuated the line of black hair on his belly that disappeared into the hem of his shorts.
I felt a gaze on me and jerked my eyes up to meet his slightly amused ones. I tried not to blush but could feel the warmth of my cheeks at being caught staring. Though I could hope that the darkness would hide my blush, I knew that his night-vision was just as good as mine, and I could see him clearly and easily.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” I asked, trying to pretend that I wasn’t just staring at his perfectly sculpted body. I was half-waiting for the moment when he would tell me that he loved me.
All amusement vanished from his eyes as he looked at me somberly. “Ness, I’m sure you’ve already figured out what exactly Leah was talking about last night—”
“Yeah,” I interrupted, “my family and Seth explained it to me. I know about imprinting now and how you… imprinted on me.” He seemed to flinch at my words. I opened my mouth to say how I understood why he kept it from me, but he beat me as words tumbled out of his mouth.
“Oh Nessie, I’m so sorry. I didn’t want you to know because I didn’t want you to feel like you had to love me. I wanted to give you some freedom, maybe go out with some other guys. Not that that went well with me anyways since I was hoping that that wouldn’t happen,” he almost muttered to himself. I again opened my mouth but he rambled on. “I shouldn’t have run off like that when I found out you and Derek were together. I know I just said that I would let you have your freedom, but it was too much for me. And I was a coward by escaping my problems instead of confronting it.” I opened my mouth a third time but Jake still continued. How much stuff does this boy need to say, for god’s sake! “I know you probably feel like you have to return my feelings now, but I’d hate to take away your free will this way. So I decided to pretend that none of this ever happened, that this imprinting business doesn’t exist. So you can go out with other guys and I’ll just be your best friend.” He tried to smile at me but I could tell that it was forced.
I just stood there, staring at him. Wait, was he rejecting me? He just wanted to be my friend now? It felt like I took a blow to the stomach as I gaped like a fish out of the water. My brain was in jumbles; nothing else was absorbed except for those last six words: I’ll just be your best friend.
He doesn’t love me. He just wants to be my best friend. He doesn’t love me. I had all ready what I was going to say to him once he declared his love for me, but that all vanished into thin air now.
Well, I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable by saying how I felt about him now—I LOVE YOU I mentally screamed—so I just smiled back, hoping it looked real. “Okay,” I said simply. I felt like my heart died yet another time. But I didn’t want to scare him away with my declaration and if by just being his friend meant that he would stay with me, I’ll take it.
He smiled back at me, but I thought I saw something deeper in his eyes when I agreed to his proposal. Like a flinch of hurt. But I just told myself I was imagining it, just hoping that he regretted what he said and that he wanted to kiss me like I wanted to kiss him.
He went forward and engulfed me in a hug. I returned the embrace, little shivers of pleasure running down my spine as I told myself that he was just hugging me like friends, like we used to do. I adored the feeling of his bare back under my fingertips, and though this was nothing new, it certainly felt that way. I pressed my face into his chest, inhaling his deep, musky scent as his hands rubbed my back. He smelled like the woods, sweat, and dirt all mixed together. This was my favorite scent.
“Ness, say you forgive me for leaving without saying good bye. Say you forgive me for attacking your boyfriend,” he murmured in my ear in a low voice. His breath feathered across my cheekbone and I resisted the urge to turn my head and capture his lips with mine. Wait, did he say boyfriend? Derek’s not my boyfriend anymore. I decided to tease him a little.
“I forgive you for the first one, but I can’t forgive you for the second,” I said playfully and pulled away slightly to watch his face fall with shame. I couldn’t stand seeing that look on his face, so I continued onward. “I can’t because Derek’s not my boyfriend anymore. I broke up with him before he started going crazy at me a little bit ago. So I should thank you for coming to my rescue.” Feeling a sudden rush of courage in my veins, I stood on my tiptoes to daringly place a light kiss on his cheek. He looked slightly shocked as I grinned, pleased. “Thank you, my knight in furry armor.”
He recovered quickly from the surprise, his eyes protected, as he grinned. “No problem at all, my fair lady.”
My grin grew wider at the sight of his smile on his lips. I had missed that for a week. It almost felt normal between us now. Except for that hole in my heart that could only be filled by one person. But I put on a mask of happiness, hiding my sorrow. I would go by his words. Friends only.
As I gazed up at him, his eyes seemed to grow darker with some emotion. I could feel and hear his heart thumping faster. Wondering about the sudden adrenaline rush, I leaned in to bury my face in his chest once more but he suddenly moved away from me. Hurt and wondering if that wasn’t in the friend contract anymore, I hid it with indifference.
“So since you and Derek aren’t together anymore,” he said lightly, completely unperturbed, “you don’t have a date for the dance, do you?”
I looked at him with confusion now. Dance? What was he talking about?
He saw my bewilderment and grinned. “Aw, did you forget already? The dance coming up next weekend, remember?” Ah, yes. I remembered now.
I nodded, smiling. “Yeah, I don’t think that he’ll want to come to the dance with me after I dumped him like that. He probably won’t even be healed enough to.” He frowned a little at my statement, clearly regretting his actions.
I hit him lightly. “Oh, don’t go feeling sorry for that bag of scum!” I scolded him teasingly. “He was threatening me and all, remember? I don’t know what I ever saw in him.” Jake seemed to like my last words as he smiled at me.
“Now a pretty girl like you shouldn’t go to the dance alone, so why don’t I take you? As friends, of course,” he said nonchalantly. My heart inflated at his first sentence but was brought back to life by the second. God, I hate that word now. Friends.
Pretending that this didn’t bother me, I agreed. “Sure. As friends.” His eyes seemed to grow harder at the last word but I must have imagined it; I told myself to stop imagining that he loved me more than a friend.
I held out a hand to him, eager for more skin contact with him but hiding my eagerness with a mask. “Let’s get home, shall we?”
He grasped my hand and it felt like, with that touch, everything in the world was right again. “Home,” he stated simply before we took off.
I had to slow down to his human pace; if he was in wolf form, he would be the one who had to slow down for me. Of course, he was still much faster than the average human, but I wished to feel the wind whipping at me at amazing speeds. Though the skin contact of our linked hands, I showed him an image of a tortoise then a picture of me running with him in wolf form. Grinning, he stopped and went behind some trees to phase.
A second later, a huge russet wolf lunged at me, and I dodged him easily, sprinting at full speed towards our home. He caught up with me easily and kept at my pace. I pushed myself to pump my legs harder and I could hear the increase in tempo of his paws. A sound of cloth ripping broke the quiet of light steps and breathing, but I ignored it. My mind was set on this race, and I was determined to win it.
Jake seemed to get caught up in the moment as well and as the sight of the home came into view, he took off, claws digging into the dirt and snow. He stopped in the clearing a split second before I did.
For revenge at him beating me, I slammed into him, sending us both tumbling to the ground laughing. He ended up on top of me, tongue lolling from his muzzle happily. I grinned at him, reaching up to push him off of me—with my heart stuttering at the closeness of our bodies though he was still a wolf—when he suddenly licked my face.
“Ew!” I squealed before pushing him off. Deep down, I had to admit that I felt a tinge of affection, but I squished it away. “Gross, Jake!”
Barking a laugh, he loped off into the woods once more and reappeared as a human, adjusting his shorts on his slim waist. I grabbed for his hand automatically and yanked him into the house.
“You haven’t been in here for so long!” I said teasingly. “Do you need a tour?”
He merely shoved me gently before opening the front door.
“Hello!” I shouted in what seemed to be an empty house. “Marco!”
“Polo,” a voice replied from upstairs. Carlisle. “I’m in the guest bedroom with Derek.”
We raced each other to Carlisle, shoving and laughing along the way. I was relieved that the tension from before seemed to have vanished. Even though I wished for our relationship to be different, I would accept this with open arms.
“Hey Carlisle,” we said in unison once we reached the doorway, partially out of breath.
Carlisle smiled at us from aside the bed. In the bed was Derek, clearly still unconscious. He looked horrible, I had to admit. His leg was in a white cast except for a small section where it was bandaged instead—the bite—and white bandages were wrapped around his chest. His bloody and torn shirt was gone, along with the bloody section of his pant leg. His head was bandaged as well. He looked so peaceful asleep, I almost felt sorry for him.
When I looked up at Jake, I expected to see a look of shame on his face for having inflicted this on him; but instead, he was glaring at Derek’s still body with gritted teeth. Okay, apparently even after ripping him to pieces, he still hated Derek.
“He’s alright. No concussion, so he’ll make a full recovery,” Carlisle stated. I noticed that his eyes were still very dark and he looked tired, almost.
“Oh, Carlisle. You haven’t hunted yet,” I said. “You should go. Jake and I will watch Derek.”
Carlisle nodded with appreciation. “Alright, but I’ll try to be quick. I gave him some sedatives, so he should stay asleep for a while, but if he shows any signs of waking up, call me. I’ll have my phone on me.”
I nodded in agreement and he was gone in a flash. I was relieved to notice that I could barely smell Derek’s blood; Carlisle must have really covered it up. I could just smell the slight burning of cleansing alcohol. At least that would help with the others once they returned, especially Mom and Jasper.
“So, do we have to stay in here with him?” Jake asked with disgust. He was still glaring at Derek. “I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t, but I still hate that guy.”
I laughed. “I know you do. And I don’t think we have to stay in here. After all, we would be able to hear if his breathing or heart rate changes to show any signs of him waking up,” I reasoned. I really wasn’t in the mood to sit here and stare at Derek either.
Jake grinned, relieved. “Good. Let’s go downstairs and do something.”
My heart jumped hopefully at his words, but I quenched it quickly, hoping he didn’t notice. Oh god, it was going to be hard to pretend I had no feelings for him. But I had to. He obviously made it clear earlier that he just wanted to be friends. And I didn’t want to scare him away with my feelings.
“Okay,” I said and shivered as he placed a hand on my bare back to maneuver me out of the room. Okay, it might be easier said than done to ignore my feelings.
We left the door open so that we could better hear Derek from downstairs.
“Do you want to maybe get changed out of that dress? I’ll meet you downstairs,” Jake said in what seemed to be a nonchalant voice but showed some signs of strain in it. I glanced down to see that the hem of it had ripped to reveal my left upper thigh. There were some other tears in the material and was dotted with dirt and snow. It looked about ready to fall apart.
Blushing slightly, I nodded and made my way to my room, feeling the gaze of Jake on my back. I tried not to think about Jake downstairs as I pulled off the dress and searched for something else to put on, but his face kept floating to the front of my mind. Being alone with him for a few hours would certainly test my will power. Let’s just hope I have enough of it to control myself before I ruin the rebuilding relationship between the two of us.
Last edited by Fire (2009-02-10 23:54:00)
Chapter 21 – Jake’s POV – Part One
Jake! Listen to us!
Jake, come on!
I forced myself to block the words out of my mind, concentrating harder on the rhythm of my steps.
Thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump, thump-thump
One-two, three-four, one-two, three-four
Soon, the unwanted shouting gradually had faded out until it was nothing more than a faint murmur. Ah, silence. It was nearly quiet in my head. Too quiet. I could hear myself thinking now. The even more unwelcome thoughts slammed into my mind: Nessie, oh my Nessie, she’ll never be mine.
I might’ve even welcomed the distraction of my pack shouting at me compared to these morbid thoughts, but I knew how to rid of both. I pumped my legs faster, forcing them to push off the ground harder, opening my stride wider. The wind roared in my ears and whipped at my fur. Watching each tree whisk past, I counted them, giving each more focus than completely necessary.
I just let my legs take control, let my instincts dominate, and soon, I was not a man anymore. I was a wolf.
All other thoughts left my mind. I only concentrated on the basic things: my senses. I was hungry, thirsty, and tired, but I didn’t relent. Instead, I pushed myself harder, weaving around the jutting trees and branches.
I continued at this, forcing my mind into primitiveness. I just used my senses as different sights, smells, sounds, and touches reached me.
Tree. Tree. Bush. Bird. Squirrel. Food? Hungry. Tree. Tree. Water. Thirsty? Tree. Tree. Tree. Tree.
But then things started looking familiar.
Tree—hey, I’ve seen that tree before. Boulder—that looks familiar too. Log—okay, I definitely have been here before.
I briefly wondered if I was running in circles when a sudden gust of wind blew a particularly concentrated scent to my sensitive nose.
Ahhh… I would recognize that scent anywhere. It was quite unique after all; a mixture of human, freesia, lilacs, honey, strawberries…
Before I knew what I was doing, I changed my direction, aiming my nose towards that wonderful scent. My brain was struggling to catch up to my instincts and my instincts told me to follow this smell. It was like someone had a rope around my neck and was dragging me towards them. I couldn’t resist. And it turns out I didn’t want to.
I pushed my legs harder than ever as this new goal took over my mindset. I didn’t think of what would happen when I got there. Only that I wanted to.
I still tried to keep my mind from wandering too much from this new destination by continuing to focus on my rhythm. But I couldn’t completely block out my pack’s thoughts and felt a sense of their feelings: joy and relief. They must’ve seen that I was running towards her now.
I wrenched my thoughts away from them as the glorious smell increased in amount. She was close. But why did I feel so worried? It felt like something bad was about to happen.
I slowed down to a trot as my eyes made out the edge of the forest that opened into a clearing. No, not a clearing. Someone’s backyard. A wave of another’s scent hit me and a low growl erupted from my throat. That piece of scum Derek was with my Nessie. My vision flashed red briefly as I considered tearing him apart.
Then I heard the sounds.
“I believe I just did,” an achingly familiar voice snarled in her high, tinkling voice. Ah, Nessie. I didn’t even think about why she was just angry, just that she was so close. My heart floated high. “Now let go of me.” Her next words brought confusion to me. Was someone hurting her?
Suddenly a sound of a body hitting the dirt reverberated the ground under my ultra-sensitive paws. After a brief panic that it was Nessie, I reasoned that it couldn’t have been because a human wouldn’t be able to budge her if she didn’t want it. It must’ve been that scum Derek. A sinister pleasure at his pain filled me.
I trotted closer, curiosity bringing me in. The other wolves displayed their curiosity as well. Why did Nessie push Derek down? Were they having an argument?
There was a faint scraping sound that my ears prickled at. I didn’t like that sound at all. I picked up my pace, worry flashing through me now. I didn’t know why, but it felt like something bad was going to happen.
“You b*tch,” Derek slurred and I snarled lightly. Oh, he did [n]not[/i] just call her that! He was definitely going to lose a couple limbs now. I sped up even faster as wave after wave of worry and anger hit me. “Now you will do as I want.” Not if I have anything to say about that! I nearly screamed and I would’ve, had I been able to use my voice.
“Derek,” Nessie’s voice pleaded softly and I felt my heart break at the helpless sound of her voice. Oh, my Nessie. “You’re drunk. You don’t know what you’re doing. Just put the knife down.” Knife? I bristled immediately, taking the last lunge to near the edge of the woods. Cautiously, I peeked out behind a tree trunk, and nearly tripped from the intense wave of fury at what I saw, quadrupled by my connection with my pack as they watched with horror through my eyes.
Nessie was pressed up to a tree trunk, chin raised. She was facing me but didn’t seem to see me yet. And I didn’t blame her for being focused elsewhere. That scumbag was up at her, one hand wielding a knife which he pressed against her slender neck while the other trailed down her side perversely. I could see the fear and irritation in her eyes. I started shaking from anger as my vision flared red. I gnashed my teeth furiously, my instincts urging me to lunge and snap his head off. My body tensed, claws digging into the dirt. Oh, he was definitely going to die now.
The rush of my pack’s thoughts hit me hard as my wall crumbled in my pure fury.
That son of a— Leah snarled, her feminist side kicking in.
How dare he?! Sam howled, thinking of his imprint, Emily.
Give him a few good shots for me, Jake! Embry growled, imagining a russet wolf ripping apart a screaming human.
Nessie! Oh God! Seth whined in terror.
I screwed my eyes, trying to see past the blood-red that blurred my vision and the flurry of yelled thoughts being hurled at me. Nessie was speaking again. I listened past the yowling, straining my ears.
SHUT UP! I roared and they fell silent. Geez. I tried to calm myself, inhaling deeply through my nose., but I just got a nose-full of the most wondrous smell in the world. Her scent swirled in my brain instead, clouding it more as my need to protect her from this monster overtook my common sense. Edges of my vision painted a bright red, shudders running down my limbs from my fury, I slid forward to get a better aim at his throat. My lips curled over my teeth, a snarl nearly ripping from my throat. But taking that excuse-for-a-human by surprise would be so much more satisfying so I kept quiet.
“Derek, please,” Nessie begged again, but this time there was a warning in her tone as well. I could tell she wasn’t going down without a fight. Oh, my Nessie.
My fur bristled onto its ends as I crept a few more steps forward, furiously alert eyes glued on my beloved. She had her eyes closed with a little frown on her face, as if she was concentrating. How I wished to smooth out those lines between her beautiful brows. One of her hands slowly clenched into a fist and it twitched just as a light breeze ruffled through my fur.
Nessie froze suddenly and her eyes snapped open. After a brief wild look on her face, her gaze zeroed in on me and her gorgeous brown eyes grew wider. My scarlet anger slightly faltered as our eyes connected, and for a moment, there was nobody else except for me and her.
“J-Jake?” she stuttered, gaping wildly. My heart lurched at the sound of my name wrapped around the silkiness of her tone, even as stunned and fearful as it was now. Oh, my darling Nessie.
The scum paused when she said my name, bluntly bewildered by the events. My rage flared once more as my gaze flickered to him. He was going to die; first by taking my Nessie from me, and second by trying to hurt her. Death wasn’t even a good enough punishment for him.
I wanted him to feel fear before I killed him. And he would definitely feel fear once I got through with him. Maybe a glimpse of me will give him a taste of the fear that would soon hold him.
The other minds in my head seemed to hesitate at my thoughts, unsure of my decision.
Are you sure that’s not going a little overboard? Seth asked tentatively. Death? He’s drunk after all. You can smell it on him.
Indeed I could smell the alcohol wafting from his person, but that gave him no excuse. He would pay.
Jake, Sam warned, but I ignored him. My furious mind was too far to be able to see any reason now. All I could feel was revenge.
I could almost see the musty cogs in the scum’s brain working slowly, telling him to turn around. This is it. I zeroed in on my target as his head turned almost as if it was in slow motion, everything tinted a hazy red. I timed it so that the weak rays of the retreating sun shone on my bristled red-brown fur as I stepped out into the open, just as his eyes slid onto my huge form. Ah, I can taste the victory now. My vision burned a brighter red as anticipation and adrenaline pumped in my veins.
A low snarl ripped from my throat as everything pulsed crimson, eyes now locked on the numbskull. I bared my teeth at him, soaking in the fear that widened his lifeless eyes at the sight of my deadly fangs with satisfaction. He was not a human anymore, as I was not either; oh no, I was the predator and he was my prey. I was a hunting wolf and he was the helpless deer. His fate would be the same as any that is hunted. Death.
Jake, control yourself! Sam howled in an attempt to order me like an alpha, but his authority did not touch me. My rage ran freely as I let the wolf in me take over. No mercy.
The scum stumbled backwards and my predatory side reveled in his weakness, grinning evilly. He would be easy prey. He even let his knife, the one thing that may have caused me some worry, drop to the ground with a dull thud. With that one sign of danger out of the way, I let my muscles coil into a crouch instinctively and lunged.
Through my heated wrath, I had calculated the distance between us a little off and instead of locking my jaws around his neck, I fell a little short. My fangs clamped down on his thigh and I felt a small jolt of malevolent satisfaction as my teeth tore past the denim and sank into his soft flesh. My primal animal side went wild as I basked in the helpless scream that tore from my prey, his hot wet blood flowing into my mouth. I was a man no more as the emotions, adrenaline, and thoughts of the hunt crowded my mind. I didn’t think of Ness watching me act like a monster like this. I didn’t even remember who I was defending anymore. Only that he completely deserved whatever I would wrought on him.
I jerked my head back, sinking my teeth deeper into his flesh, as I wrenched him to the ground—a much more vulnerable position than before and much more easily overpowered. His bones, brittle like a twig, snapped under my pressure with a resounding and pleasing crack! The pitiful screaming inched up a volume.
Releasing my hold on his limp leg with a shake of my head, I stepped towards my cowering and whimpering prey, towering over him with a growl. Blood pounding in my brain with a dull roar and vision pulsing a brighter red, I raised one heavy paw and swiped it at him. I basked in the powerful feeling of my claws ripping past the thin cloth and tearing at his feeble skin easily. Dark blood seeped from the wound, staining his shirt, as he let out another pathetic yell. Enough with all this noise.
I heaved my paw up, blood dripping from the tips of the claws, and slammed it against his head with a dull thunk. The screaming broke off instantly and the sudden silence startled me enough to hear the panicked yells of my pack.
Oh my God, Jake!
You’re going to kill him!
Shaking my head furiously in an attempt to rid of the intruding thoughts, blinking my red-stained vision wildly, I reared to deal the final blow that would end this pathetic life once and for all. He would never be able to hurt my Nessie any more.
“Jake, no!” the most beautiful sound in the world shouted in my brief pause of confusion and I felt something small and hard slam into my side, throwing us both into the ground.
I froze, bits and pieces of my humanity returning to me, as we tumbled in the dirt to a stop, the attacker pinning my limbs down. I didn’t even struggle.
Oh, God. Nessie, I moaned as I realized what I had done, especially in front of her eyes. She’ll hate me forever now. That was her boyfriend!
The other minds tried to be reassuring to me, but there was a hint of uncertainty beneath them as well.
I felt the pressure on my body rise up, freeing me, and I slowly got up, dipping my head towards the ground in shame. I didn’t deserve her. I was a monster.
I could sense her standing a few feet away from me, and I could sense her eyes digging into me. I didn’t look up, fearing the look of hatred and loathing that would surely fill them now. At least I didn’t kill him.
Jake, Quil’s thoughts came tentatively and I mindlessly listened. Um, there’s… blood on—
His words clicked immediately. Blood. Vampire. Not a good mix. But before I got a chance to start panicking properly, Seth’s voice cut in.
Hold up, Jake! he shouted. I don’t think she’s feeling very thirsty at the moment. If she was, then she would’ve been drinking his blood by now and it’s clear that she isn’t.
I saw the facts behind Seth’s words and felt a little bit of gratitude towards the little wolf—Little? he snarled indigently—for his observation skills.
Still avoiding looking anywhere near Nessie, I picked up a paw to rub off the excess blood off my snout. Disgusting. He tastes horrible.
I felt a little change in the air as something moved it minutely, and my ears swiveled towards the sound source. “Jake?” the angel’s voice quivered slightly and my heart tightened. She would never want to say my name again now. Never.
Jake, don’t think that way! Seth thought. Just talk to her. She’ll understand.
I shook my huge head back and forth woefully. No, Seth, I thought quietly and simply, those two words full of so much pain that the other minds winced.
Wave of pain after pain hit me, so hard that my knees nearly buckled under me. She found happiness without me when I only found agony without her. Now I took that one source of happiness for her in one fell swoop, almost revealing our real persona along the way. How could she ever forgive me? I couldn’t even forgive me. I had to accept it. Ness would never be mine. Never. I would always fail at love. Always. Just full of rotten luck. I might as well give up trying to find love and happiness. After all, every time I come close to reaching it, it just gets torn for my fingertips.
As this realization came over me, my body reacted to my mood. My fur flattened against my skin, my ears pressed against my skull, and my tail tucked between my hind legs. I waited for the moment when she would scream and yell at me, and tell me those heart-breaking words: I hate you.
That’s not going to happen, Jake, Embry whined helplessly.
A shudder ran through me—Oh yes it is—as Nessie took a hesitating step towards me. Oh, she’s going to yell at me now. I can’t take it. I can’t take her anger or disappointment in me.
Like the coward I was, I backed away, my belly nearly brushing the grass, towards the cover of the woods. As soon as the darkness engulfed me, forcing my eyes to adjust to the sudden lack of light, I turned tail and fled.
I thought I heard her lovely voice call out my name and I shook my head, trying to rid of the delusions. Why would she be calling for me, huh? Maybe to scream at me…
I weaved through the trees mindlessly, grief hitting me hard like a punch to my gut. I could feel the other flinching along with me as well and, with a sensation of defeat, each mind phased out until only one was left. I didn’t have to check to see who it was. I already knew. Seth.
Jake, go back, he begged. Just talk to her!
No point, I grumbled back softly, trying to get back into my pattern from before. One tree, two tree, three tree, four…. It was useless. My mind was too preoccupied by the events that I couldn’t just shut it down.
Just talk to her, Seth thought softly and I was surprised by the seriousness in his tone. Don’t you owe her that much to at least explain?
I flinched at the truth of his words hit me. Why didn’t he just leave me along and let me wallow in my self-pity!
Because I’m your friend and friends don’t let other friends wallow.
I thought the phrase was ‘Friends don’t let friends drive drunk, I mumbled irritably. For such a young and little wolf, he sure was annoying.
Seth snorted at me through our mind connection. And I’m Nessie’s friend, too, he said straightforwardly, ignoring the lance that pierced my chest at her name. And I think she deserves at least that much.
She deserves so much more than that. She doesn’t deserve me. That’s why I have to leave. It’s better if I’m just out of her life. That annoying little prick should just leave me along.
Go, Jake, Seth said firmly before fading out. I nearly stumbled with the sudden silence in my mind. Seth was always with me since I started my little trip. The absence of his thoughts gave me a strange feeling.
Now that I could think without the affects of interruptions of other’s thoughts, I could see the blunt truth behind Seth’s words. I really should go talk to her.
That little sneak. He probably planned this—leaving me alone in my pitiful brain—knowing that without him, I would see things more clearly. I sighed before making a sharp turn and sending dirt, leaves, and snow flying through the air.
In a minute, I neared her again, hesitant this time. Geez, when did I become such a fraidy-cat? I scolded myself before taking a deep breath and letting the fire release from my limbs. The familiar sensation ran through me until I was fully upright, furless, tailless, and completely human. Tugging my tattered shorts from the twine wrapped around my ankle—thank God I remembered it when I went hunting with Seth—I pulled it on.
I tentatively and quietly stepped towards the open and my heart twisted at the sight of my love on the ground. She had her knees pulled up to her chest and her slender arms were wrapped around them. Her head was rested against her knees. I took a moment to admire her—for this may be the last time I have the chance to.
Her gorgeous, bronze curls flowed over her face, some strands escaping from the hair-tie that held it up in a now-ruined half-up-half-down ‘do. My eyes traced over her slender figure, appreciating the skin-tight dress that showed off her curves. She just looked so helpless and small. But I knew she had the fire of a wildcat.
I padded towards her lightly, waiting for the moment when she would lift her head and see me, and send me a look of hate and disgust. My heart clenched. She seemed to tense up, but still didn’t move from her position. Huh. Strange. She must’ve heard me by now, right?
A brush of worry feathered over me as I stood over her balled-up form. She still didn’t move. Maybe something was wrong? Crouching down beside her, I made to stroke her hair but hesitated with my hand hovering an inch over her thick locks. What if she hates me? I don’t think I’ll be able to stand seeing that look of detest on the face of another that I love.
Stop being such a wuss, I scolded myself, and lightly brushed my hand tentatively through her hair.
She jerked her head up instantly at my touch and her eyes locked with mine. I froze in my spot from the rush of emotions that flipped through her eyes so fast, I couldn’t decipher them. The last one that hit and remained was disbelief. Why was she skeptical like this? Did she think I was going to leave again? Was it because she found things weird since she found out about the imprinting thing? Or was it because she is unsure of when I would start hiding things from her again? My heart tightened with pain and loss at the last two prospects.
My eyes caressed her face, sliding over each of her delicate features: thin arched eyebrows, small rounded nose, pale cheeks that were usually painted a lovely red, heart-shaped face, plush full lips currently parted slightly in shock, wide chocolate brown eyes full of depth and feeling. Ah, she was so beautiful, so perfect. So fragile while I was a hulking monster. A monster that she would never love; I had lied to her after all. How could she forgive me? Her cheeks were wet with tears—because of that scum? Did he hurt her more than I witnessed? A flash of anger molded into a deep protectiveness that wasn’t brotherly at all.
My hand still rested on her head; as much as I tried to lift it away, I couldn’t. It may have been a week since I last saw her, but it felt like forever. And this contact, as minor as it may seem, sent little chills and electric shocks from my fingertips down to my toes. I didn’t want to break contact.
When my name brushed past her lips, as if uncertain if I was actually crouching in front of her eyes, my heart fluttered again. I wanted her to keep saying my name, over and over again. I wanted to make her say it with more passion, as if I was the only man in her life. I wanted her to say it with love. But that would never happen.
She shut her eyes—did she imagine me disappearing? Did she not want me here?—and reopened them. There was still a look of skepticism in her eyes. She must be wishing me away, waiting for me to hand out more half-truths and lies to her. Maybe she just didn’t feel the same way about me and wanted to rid of the awkwardness between us. Well, I would help her with that.
I broke contact from my hand to her head, ready to dart back into the woods like a ghost, but when a flash of panic ran through her eyes, I couldn’t bring myself to do so. How confusing. She didn’t want me to leave after all. So instead, I smoothly transitioned my movement by bringing my hand to cup her delicate cheek. Another small shock buzzed through my body. With my thumb, I gently wiped away her streaking tears, wishing all the pain away. I would make things better. I will make her happy, even if that means just staying as her friend. If that’s what she wants, that’s what she’ll get.
I caressed her cheek and her eyes slid closed. I wondered what she was thinking about now—briefly wishing I could read minds like that Cullen could—and thought maybe she was wishing me away again. There was a blankness on her face that worried me; maybe my touch disgusted her so in order to not hurt my feelings, she was just going to her happy place in her mind as I stroked her cheek. I jerked my hand back at this painful thought.
But Nessie’s eyes flew open as soon as my hand left her cheek and I saw that they were filled with panic once more. Okay, this gal was seriously confusing me.
“Don’t leave again,” she whispered fearfully and the anguish in her voice was like a kick to my stomach. She was hurting too. She was hurting because of me. Because I left. I felt my mouth tighten—I was causing her pain. How could I do such a thing? Oh, my Nessie.
Going on a whim, I reached out and wrapped my arms tightly around her small body, pressing her to me. Her body heat radiated from her tiny form, warming me up more than I already was. I pressed my nose into her hair automatically and breathed in the most wonderful scent in the world. Almost tentatively, I felt her arms worm around my body and her face press against my bare chest. The air sizzled—for me anyway—through our contact. I never wanted to let go. The feel of her body in my arms just felt so right.
I felt a wave of guilt for causing her pain, though I only realized it a second ago. “Oh Nessie,” I murmured with sorrow and almost cringed at the huskiness of my voice. Then the words tumbled out. “I was a coward. I shouldn’t have left. And then when I got here and saw that piece of scum hurting you, I couldn’t control myself. I’m so sorry for hurting Derek. I almost killed him.” I did regret the extent of my thrashing of the idiot boy. Though he did deserve a little beating up, perhaps one in my human form would’ve been smarter. I just lost my head when I saw him holding at knife to her throat. Which really wouldn’t have hurt her, now that I thought about it with a clear head. God, I was so stupid. I probably ruined everything for her.
I felt Nessie wriggle in my arms, trying to escape and I immediately dropped my hold on her. Oh, way to get your hopes up, Jakey, I thought. She pulled away from you. She doesn’t think of you that way. She probably hates you, like you first thought. Idiot. I hurt her. How could she forgive me after that?
“I need to call Carlisle for Derek,” she said softly as an explanation and I felt some of the tension leave. Maybe she didn’t hate me. “But then I think we should talk.”
Hm. Yeah, I guess we need to, as much as I would like to avoid a confrontation by her. I would explain to her my motives and hope that she would forgive me. I nodded in agreement.
“No need to call me,” the calming voice of Carlisle spoke from behind and we flipped around to see four of the bl-Cullens—Carlisle, Edward, Alice, and Bella—approaching from the covers of the trees. “I’m right here.” I got up from my crouch uncomfortably—Edward gave me a warning glare as Bella and Alice seemed relieved to see me—and moved off to the side. I thought about escaping to the woods again—yeah, I must have some chicken blood in me as well—but dropped that idea as the mind-reader shot me another look. Never mind then.
Carlisle just gave me a quick smile before darting to the scum’s side with some sort of black bag. Edward had switched his glare to the lifeless body of the scum—he grinned at my nickname for the scum approvingly—and almost looked like he wanted to tear him up as well. Nessie seemed to have completely forgotten about me with the sudden arrival of her family; of course she would care more for them then lying me, even if they were hiding things from her too. I guess it was worse for me since I’m the one that told them to keep it a secret.
Her eyes were on the doctor for a moment before turning to the psychic—a little frown curled her lips from dislike of the apparent guilt that showed in Alice’s eyes; she was obviously blaming herself—then to Bella. Bells rushed forward like the typical worried mother—I ignored Edward’s exasperated glance at me—and looked over her daughter, despite her feeble protests. Nessie seemed to give up on her mother and glanced at her father who shot a look at Alice at that exact moment. Frowning slightly, her eyes followed his gaze to her aunt and her frown deepened. Oh, how I wished to go forth and smooth out that face—Mr. Mind-reader shot me another disapproving look, which I ignored again. I really wasn’t in the mood to deal with his fatherliness.
“No, I’m not, Ness,” the mind-reader spoke in a strained voice and after a moment of confusion, I realized he must be replying to her thoughts. “I just wish that she had seen this before it happened. It would have saved us a lot of trouble.” Oh, so she was worried about Alice. Of course, she would. Nessie’s lips pouted more at his words, brow furrowing. She glanced again at her aunt, who refused to meet her eyes.
“Yeah, she is,” Edward said softly. Geez, that’s really annoying. What’s going on now? Stupid mind-reader… Edward’s lips twitched slightly as his gaze flickered minutely to me with a smug look before saying, “Because she thinks that she should’ve seen this coming. You know she hates being blind. She feels useless without her sight.” I glanced at the psychic. She couldn’t see what was going to happen? Well, I didn’t decide to come here until well into their argument, so she should’ve seen something. So then why didn’t she?
“I would appreciate it if you two would stop talking about me,” Alice murmured softly all of a sudden, her eyes tracing patterns on the bloody, snowy, grassy ground. Huh. I didn’t blame her for being a little irritated. I can barely handle it for less than a decade and she had to deal with him for like half a century. The mind-reader’s lips twitched again at my thoughts.
Nessie rushed to Alice and embraced her; I felt a jolt as I suddenly wished I was in Alice’s spot. “Oh, Alice, don’t go blaming yourself. You didn’t know.” Oh, sweet Nessie. Of course she wouldn’t blame anyone for what happened. Nonetheless, the psychic still looked ashamed of herself. I nearly snorted. I would never get over these overly well-mannered bloodsuckers. Why were they blaming their selves for something they couldn’t control? If anything, this was my fault…
“But I should’ve,” little Alice moaned with guilt, “I should’ve stuck with my instincts. At least I know who was messing with my vision.” She shot me a glare suddenly and I realized that it really was my fault. “Little wolf couldn’t make up your mind?” I felt a dull flash of anger at her taunt but repressed it; she was just teasing. But still, I didn’t like it that they were blaming me, even though I did blame myself. It’s different when others blame you, too.
I thought about what Alice said and felt myself frown. What she said had me thinking. “I actually didn’t even know I was coming here until I reached the city limits. I was just running mindlessly. I guess I was just drawn, especially since some part of me felt like something bad was going to happen. Turns out I was right,” I said somewhat absentmindedly, more to myself than anyone else.
I thought back to the scene I had arrived on and felt a shadow of the fury deep inside me at that piece of scum. Okay, I guess I didn’t completely feel bad for attacking him.
Edward suddenly let out a furious hiss that jerked me out of my memories. His eyes, burning with repressed anger, locked with mine. “He did WHAT? Derek was threatening her?” he snarled. I felt my brows push together in confusion. They didn’t know?
“Yeah. I thought you knew everything,” I said bewilderedly. Then how did they know to come?
“No, I just heard remnants of both your thoughts. I heard something about Jake attacking Derek, nothing about why. I guess I should thank you,” Edward murmured lowly before continuing. “And then I just saw Jake’s thoughts about the ‘bad thing that was going to happen’. I knew we shouldn’t have trusted that human,” he spat, baring his teeth at the motionless body of the scum.
“Then how’d you know to come?” Nessie asked before I could, looking confused as well. When I shifted my gaze to her, I caught her eyes on me already. She blushed before turning away. Huh. Girls are so confusion.
I turned my attention back to the mind-reader when he started to explain. “Alice saw Derek lying on the ground, bleeding. Everything else was blank, so we assumed that a werewolf came for a visit. It was confirmed when she caught his scent. So she called us and we got here a few minutes later. I wish we had gotten here before so I could snap his head off,” Edward hissed under his breath, glaring daggers at the scum. “Threatening my daughter.” Good thing I got here first, or there wouldn’t have been anything for me to rip off. Edward’s anger nearly matched my own, I think. He shot me a look. Okay, fine. Your anger does match my own. Happy?
“This shouldn’t excuse his behavior,” Bella interjected and I turned my attention to her, eyes flickering to Nessie briefly, “but he was drunk. I can smell the alcohol on him. And alcohol makes humans do some pretty bad things. He wouldn’t have done any of that if he was sober.” Phseh. But he would’ve done something. He carried a knife with him for cripe’s sake! I frowned at her.
“Aw, Mom, you’re hurting,” my angel said worriedly and after a quick glance at Nessie, I turned to scrutinize Bella more closely. She was right. Her eyes were a dark, dark tawny color, almost black. I should’ve figured that the spilled blood would affect her the most. She had turned only a handful of years ago. The scent of blood must be overwhelming and causing her agony. Again, her pain was all my fault. Why do I keep on inflicting pain on everyone I care about? My heart throbbed.
Edward rushed to his wife’s side and tenderly traced the dark circles under her eyes—I felt a wave of jealousy; not for him having Bella, but just the fact that he had the one person he loved most in the world right with him, while it seemed like I never would.
“Go home, love. Go hunt,” he said softly, eyes glowing with his love. I had to look away. I couldn’t take all their lovey-dovey-ness when I would never have that. After all, I was the reject for everyone I loved.
Edward seemed not to have heard my thoughts for once; either that, or he completely ignored them as he caressed Bella’s cheek—I’m going to hurl.
Bella shook her head, eyes tight and strained, but Nessie urged her. “No, Mom. Dad is right. You need to go hunt. I’m fine. Really. Go.” Her words made me think: was she actually fine? Or was that just another mask for her parents? Was she all jumbled up inside because of me instead? Because she didn’t know what to feel for me after the whole imprint thing? A new worry hit me: would things always be weird between us now, because I would love her and she would feel like she had to love me? Would it be strained?
During my internal argument, Bella had disappeared into the forest, so quietly that I didn’t even notice she was gone.
“You two should go hunt, too. We can talk at home once you guys are done,” Nessie told her dad and Alice, and at closer inspection, I saw that their eyes were darkened with thirst as well.
They both started protesting but were interrupted by Carlisle’s calming voice. “No, she’s right. We’re fine here. I’m almost done and then I’ll take him home to finish patching him up. We need to discuss what we should do about him. And since he will be in our home for a little while, there is no point in paining yourselves like this anymore than needed be. Go satiate your thirst.” Of course, Doc was right. But why does he have to take the scum home? Can’t he just patch him up here and leave him to rot? I have to admit, my thoughts for him haven’t lightened much, even after I nearly tore him apart.
Before the two left, Edward turned and gave me an infuriatingly knowing look. What did he know? But it was so brief that I couldn’t even tell if that’s what it actually was. And he was gone before I could ask him properly.
I gazed into the forest as their two speeding forms vanished and turned back to the remaining two just as Doc gave us his analysis of the broken scum.
“Yes, Derek will be fine.” Nessie must have been about to ask about that. “A broken leg and rib, some bruises, and the obvious cuts. He may also have a slight concussion. But I believe he will heal completely.”
Okay, even though I didn’t feel all too horrible for protecting Ness, I did feel a bit of relief to know that my prey would be okay. I didn’t want the death of a-not-so-innocent on my mind.
Nessie let out a relieved sigh that twisted my heart—she obviously still have feelings for him if she was that relieved that he was okay—and made me want to run again.
“Carlisle, you should go hunt, too,” Ness said softly and Doc agreed easily. Of course he was too levelheaded to argue about something he knew would be useless anyways.
“I will as soon as I drop him off at home. I’ll let the others know so that they can go hunt as well.” Right. Because the scum will be living in their home for a little bit. I refused to admit it, but I felt a little bit of jealousy at their care for this despicable human. He didn’t deserve all this. “But I’ll have to stay with him a bit until one of them gets back from their hunt. We shouldn’t leave him alone in case he wakes up, which I don’t think will be happening very soon. I’ll give him a sedative just in case,” he muttered to himself, finishing up his work. He picked up Derek’s slumped body cautiously then turned to face us. “I’ll see you two at home,” he said so firmly that I thought for a second that he saw into my mind and saw my half-formed plan to run again. Just to prove him wrong, I tossed those plans out. I would stay. For Nessie.
Doc sped off into the forest and also disappeared after his children in a blink of an eye.
I turned to face Ness, crossing my arms. She continued to stare out where Doc used to be a split second ago. She had an expression on her face that I couldn’t place.
Oh, Nessie. Will she ever forgive me? We were alone now, so I guess we had to talk. I had to convince her why I did what I did. I couldn’t lose her again.
She finally faced me, staring me in the eyes. I almost melted under her gaze but held strong, trying to display no emotion. Her expression seemed tense, as if she was struggling with something. Finally, she blinked and looked away, nudging one of the blood-stained grass stalks with her toe. She looked so adorable.
“We should clean up,” she muttered softly, avoiding my eyes.
I followed her lead and scrubbed clean the scene of any evidence of what happened. We tossed anything incriminating into the dark forest or buried them in quick-dug holes. After patting down a patch of dirt I just flipped to hide the blood, I straightened and glanced at Nessie. My heart dropped to my feet as my loins tightened.
She had pulled off her thin jacket and was currently burying it. But that’s not what had my attention. She was bent over slightly and my eyes couldn’t help but be drawn to her… cleavage. Her bared shoulders just begged for me to sprinkle kisses over them. I tried to wrench my gaze away from her body, but couldn’t, even as she stood up and looked at me. I swallowed compulsively and nervously before finally succeeding in drawing my eyes away from her chest to her gorgeous eyes that stared back at me with uncertainty.
She cleared her throat awkwardly as I silently berated myself—she must be feeling uncomfortable now that she knows how I feel and obviously doesn’t return those feelings—and she spoke, “Um, we should get home.” I promised myself that I would fix this awkwardness as I nodded. She looked relieved for some reason as she yanked off her death-trap shoes with one hand.
I then remembered that we were supposed to talk. Was she trying to weasel out of it? Or did she just forget? Either way, I had to make things better between us. I had to make sure she didn’t hate me for what I did.
Before she could take off, I hesitantly said, “Can we talk real quick before we go?” She looked up at me, surprised before replying.
“S-Sure,” she stuttered.
Chapter 21 – Jake’s POV – Part Two
My heart sank a little at the tone of her voice. She didn’t sound like she wanted to stay with me alone. That was understandable; she probably just wanted to get away from me and the monster I was.
I let my gaze run over the scene, resting slightly over the humming house full of partying sounds. Hm. It might not be a good idea to stay out here and talk. I kind of wanted a more private location anyways. “Maybe we should go somewhere a little more private. In case some of the party-goers decide to come outside,” I suggested, offering one of my hands to her. When she glanced down at it, an expression of doubt on her face, a sharp pang of sorrow filled my broken heart; she didn’t want to go with me. She looked back up at me and I forced my face into a composed look. Don’t show weakness, I recited to myself, adorning a poker-face.
This turned out to be harder than I thought. When she cautiously placed her hand in mine, I jolt of electricity sped through my veins. Ah, my attraction for her will be the downfall of me. I forced my expression to remain neutral as I took off in the forest, extremely aware of Nessie’s presence with her hand so warm in mine.
I could barely pay attention to where I was running, having some close calls with trees because of my diverted attention. After a few seconds, I stopped at a small clearing, the wise trees forming a small circle around us.
I instantly released her hand and took a step away from her. I couldn’t stand in that close of a vicinity with my hand in hers without having to struggle with the impulse to cup her cheek and pull her towards me so that our lips would meet—
I turned away from her so I couldn’t see her delicate and beautiful face watching me. How was I going to do this? I paced a line from one edge of the clearing to the other, eyes glued to the tracks that I made. I had to make things better between us. I couldn’t stand all this tension. I had to explain to her why I left—I’m sure she didn’t understand that—and tell her how I felt. But I knew she didn’t return my feelings, so I should let her be free. She shouldn’t have to feel like returning her feelings is a necessity. I would give her a freedom that she deserved; one that I promised to her when she was a child but this time I would keep it.
Nessie’s breathing hitched for a moment and I stopped pacing to turn to look at her bemusedly. Her eyes weren’t quite focused on my face; they were tracing the contours of my bare chest. I suddenly felt very self-conscious; did my half-nakedness bother her? Especially since she basically implied that my love for her disturbed her? I clenched my abdominal muscles out of habit and watched as her eyes slid across my lean stomach.
But her expression was so… full of awe with a stunned, blank look on her face. She looked almost impressed by my hardened abs. It was kind of amusing. She was so adorable when she was bothered by my half-nakedness. A small part of my mind vowed that I would be shirtless around her more just to impress her more.
Her gaze suddenly jerked up to my eyes and a slight redness filled her cheeks. Aw, now she was embarrassed. I gazed at her with a slightly repressed affection, trying to resist striding forward and tracing a finger over her forming blush.
“So, what did you want to talk about?” she asked nonchalantly and I felt my expression slide off my face. Goodbye, Nessie, I thought. I hope you are happy with whoever you choose to be with since it will never be me.
Here it goes. “Ness, I’m sure you’ve already figured out what exactly Leah was talking about last night—”
She interrupted me almost instantly, as if she was ready for this conversation to be over with already. “Yeah, my family and Seth explained it to me. I know about imprinting now and how you… imprinted on me.” An involuntary flinch attacked my face as her words sunk in. It made her so uncomfortable, the thought of my imprinting on her. She couldn’t even say that word without hesitation. The words exploded out of my mouth before I could stop it.
“Oh Nessie, I’m so sorry. I didn’t want you to know because I didn’t want you to feel like you had to love me. I wanted to give you some freedom, maybe go out with some other guys. Not that that went well with me anyways since I was hoping that that wouldn’t happen,” I muttered to myself, internally glaring at each of the human boys that looked at her in any way that displayed lust. “I shouldn’t have run off like that when I found out you and Derek were together. I know I just said that I would let you have your freedom, but it was too much for me. And I was a coward by escaping my problems instead of confronting it.” Now here comes the hardest part. I braced myself, telling myself to be strong for her. This is so that she will be happy. “I know you probably feel like you have to return my feelings now, but I’d hate to take away your free will this way. So I decided to pretend that none of this ever happened, that this imprinting business doesn’t exist. So you can go out with other guys and I’ll just be your best friend.” I attempted a smile, but I’m sure it only came out as a grimace. I half-hoped that the dimmed light will take away the fakeness of it.
I couldn’t read Nessie’s expression. Was she glad of my words? I bet she was. That’s the only emotion I would expect from her. After a moment, sure enough, a huge grin spread across her face—it was like an arrow to my heart.
“Okay,” she agreed lightly, a smile still on her face. Well, as long as she was happy, I was happy. A more genuine smile crossed my face though little shards of knives kept poking at me on the inside.
Okay, I can’t stay away from her anymore. A deep need to have our bodies touching—any sort of contact—was killing me. A hug should be alright, right? A hug between friends, of course. Nothing more. I made my promise and I intend to keep it.
Before I could let my reasonable self talk me out of it, I strode forward in two huge strides and wrapped my arms around her tightly. Ah, this felt so right. The feeling of her small body in mine was the best feeling in the world. She wrapped her arms around me in return and her fingertips began lightly tracing up and down my bare back, sending little shivers of pleasure down my spine. Ah, she was going to be the death of me. I hope my self-control is great.
“Ness, say you forgive me for leaving without saying good bye,” I whispered in her ear, blowing my breath across her cheek. “Say you forgive me for attacking your boyfriend.” I needed to hear, word for word—that she forgave me for my inexcusable actions. Well, almost inexcusable. I still thought that the scum deserved it.
“I forgive you for the first one,” she said lightly and my heart rose, “but I can’t forgive you for the second.” That was like a thousand needles puncturing my bruised heart. She didn’t forgive me. I felt my face fall as she pulled away from me slightly to look at me. A little look of worry crossed her face before she continued. “I can’t because Derek’s not my boyfriend anymore.” Hope bubbled in me before I crushed it. Just because she broke up with him doesn’t mean she’s mine. “I broke up with him before he started going crazy at me a little bit ago. So I should thank you for coming to my rescue.” Before I could react, she reached up and placed a light kiss on my cheek. Even when she pulled away, I could feel the ghost of her lips burning where they touched.
Shock, pleasure, and hope gave me a more optimistic feeling, along with a hint of annoyance—was she trying to make things harder for her purposely? That little peck on the cheek made my loins tighten involuntarily as the need to take her lips as mine filled me. I definitely needed heaps of self-control.
“Thank you, my knight in furry armor,” she said playfully, grinning at me with success.
Trying to hide my lust and passion, I grinned back at her, feeling much more confident about life. “No problem at all, my fair lady,” I mocked slightly, giving her a fake bow.
She smiled wider, eyes sparkling. The need to kiss her and touch her increased tenfold at the complete look of trust and adoration on her face—friendly adoration, of course. Ah, she was so beautiful. My heartbeat sped up as I fought the need to lean down at capture her full lips with mine. She moved towards me slightly—ah, too close right now. I need to control myself—and I took a step away from her. I needed to distract myself or else I would do something I would regret later.
“So since you and Derek aren’t together anymore,” I said lightly, “you don’t have a date for the dance, do you?” She looked so adorably confused at my words, I just had to smile. “Aw, did you forget already?” I teased. “The dance coming up next weekend, remember?”
A look of recognition crossed her face as she nodded with a grin. “Yeah, I don’t think that he’ll want to come to the dance with me after I dumped him like that,” she joked lightly. “He probably won’t even be healed enough to.” I frowned slightly at this; okay, now I felt a little bad for that piece of scum.
As if she could read my mind, she hit me lightly on the shoulder, though it still sent me reeling slightly from her inhuman strength. “Oh, don’t go feeling sorry for that bag of scum!” she teasingly scolded me. “He was threatening me and all, remember? I don’t know what I ever saw in him.” Oh, now that makes me feel a lot better. It added to my self-esteem slightly, knowing that she didn’t like the piece of scum. Another dose of optimism filled me, making me feel a little bold.
“Now a pretty girl like you shouldn’t go to the dance alone, so why don’t I take you? As friends, of course,” I added quickly, trying to sound indifferent.
She showed no sign of emotion as she agreed lightly. “Sure. As friends.” Argh. I truly hate that word intensely now. Friends. Ugh.
She held out one hand to me and my heart flared instinctively at her offer. “Let’s get home, shall we?”
Eager for a little skin contact now, I grasped her hand and another shock traveled across my body. “Home,” I agreed softly and we took off into the forest once more.
While we ran, I could tell Nessie was starting to get a little frustrated with my human pace, though it was still much faster than an average human. She would strain forward slightly before relaxing. Sure enough, a sudden image filled my mind: first a picture of a motionless tortoise then followed by an image of me running beside her in wolf form. I grinned at her—took the pictures right out of my mind—before jerking to a halt and stepping behind some trees to phase.
I pulled off my shorts and tied it around my ankle before letting the fire burn through my limbs.
Jake! Seth, Quil, and Embry crowed with relief. I could taste the worry they all had, not knowing what happened while I was in human form. The anxiety disappeared immediately as they saw where I was and who I was with, especially after my joy leaked to them.
Well done, Jake! Seth approved happily.
I ignored them as I fell on all fours then lunged out of the brushes to where I heard Nessie’s heartbeat; she dodged my playful attack easily. She took off towards the house at her full speed, but I caught up with her easily then slowed to stay at her pace. Now she was the slower one out of us two. The three other wolves watched without comment, just glad that I seemed to be in a better mood. I felt a pang of guilt at the way I’ve treated them the past week.
Ness hated being slow; I could hear her stride getting larger as she pushed off the ground harder. Grinning wolfishly, I imitated her. A sound of cloth ripping split the air but neither of us paid much attention. We merely pushed our speed faster.
Come on, Jake! You can’t let a girl beat you! Embry urged teasingly.
I could tell that she wanted to beat me; her mind was in a race-mode. I tried to suppress my competitiveness but before I knew it, I took off, as the sight of the white house came into view. I dug my claws into the ground with one final leap to land in the small clearing of our home.
And the winner is… JACOB BLACK! the three of them howled in their minds, my infectiously good mood touching them.
Watch out, Jake! Quil shouted at me.
I turned to face her just as her small, hard body rammed into me. We both flew in the air before tumbling to a stop, her giggles and my barking laughter filling the air.
I landed on top of her, panting hard with my tongue hanging from my mouth. I felt longing as I stared down at her beautiful face—Seth, Quil, and Embry tried to suppress their disgust at my lovey-dovey thoughts—and before I knew it, I leaned down and ran my tongue across her face in the typical way a dog shows affection.
She pushed me off immediately, squealing at me. My pack grinned at her reaction. “Ew! Gross, Jake!” she giggled.
That was like a déjà vu… Embry thought. Like mother, like daughter,.
I barked out a laugh at her hilarious reaction as I trotted into the cover of the forest to phase back.
Good luck, Jake-y boy! Quil barked, grinning at me.
Have fun! Embry teased.
Bye Jake! Tell us what happens! Seth thought.
Grinning at their responses, I let the fire release from my body as I reared on my hind legs. Tugging the shorts off the piece of twine around my ankle, I pulled them on as I strode back to the awaiting Nessie.
She grabbed my hand and yanked me towards the house.
“You haven’t been in here for so long!” she teased. “Do you need a tour?”
I repressed rolling my eyes as I pushed her lightly before nudging open the front door. Home sweet home.
“Hello!” Ness shouted in what seemed to be an empty house. “Marco!”
“Polo,” a voice replied from upstairs. Carlisle. “I’m in the guest bedroom with Derek.”
We raced each other to Doc, shoving and laughing along the way. I was relieved that the tension from before seemed to have vanished. Even though I wished for our relationship to be different, I would accept this with open arms.
“Hey Carlisle,” we said in unison once we reached the doorway, partially out of breath.
Carlisle smiled at us from aside the bed. In the bed was Mr. Scum, clearly still unconscious. He looked horrible, I had to admit. His leg was in a white cast except for a small section where it was bandaged instead—where I bit him—and white bandages were wrapped around his chest. His bloody and torn shirt was gone, along with the bloody section of his pant leg. His head was bandaged as well. He looked so peaceful asleep, I almost felt guilty for what I did. Almost. I still couldn’t get past the fact that he was hurting my Nessie. I felt my teeth grit together as I stared down at his motionless body with hard eyes. Extreme dislike burned at me.
“He’s alright. No concussion, so he’ll make a full recovery,” Doc stated. Whoop-de-doo.
“Oh, Carlisle. You haven’t hunted yet,” Nessie said with concern. I looked at Doc and indeed noticed that his eyes were still very dark. Good thing the scent of blood all but disappeared. It was now smelling overwhelmingly like cleaning alcohol. Ick. “You should go. Jake and I will watch Derek.” I frowned slightly at her offer—first because that meant I had to stay with that scum, and second because I didn’t know if I could completely handle staying alone with Nessie for an extended period of time.
Doc nodded with appreciation. “Alright, but I’ll try to be quick. I gave him some sedatives, so he should stay asleep for a while, but if he shows any signs of waking up, call me. I’ll have my phone on me.” Alrighty, Doc.
He was gone in a flash. Wow. He must’ve been really thirsty.
I looked back down at the scum and wrinkled my nose at him. “So, do we have to stay in here with him?” I asked with disgust. “I’m sorry, I know I shouldn’t, but I still hate that guy,” I admitted, hoping she didn’t think badly of me because I did.
She laughed. “I know you do. And I don’t think we have to stay in here. After all, we would be able to hear if his breathing or heart rate changes to show any signs of him waking up,” she reasoned. And I let out a sigh of relief. Thank God.
“Good. Let’s go downstairs and do something,” I suggested. Her heartbeat lurched slightly and I hoped that she didn’t think that I meant doing something to go against my promise. I know she must be still feeling a little uncomfortable about it.
“Okay,” she agreed. I gently placed a hand on her back, trying to ignore the feeling of her bare back under my fingertips, and moved her out of the room. We left the door open so that we could better hear the scum from downstairs.
My eyes kept trailing down her back and my heart jolted as I saw the tear up the side of her short dress. Every time she took a step, it would open to reveal her smooth upper thigh. I could feel the desire tightening my loins again as I swallowed nervously. Okay, I can’t be near her with her outfit like that. Her dress looked like it was about to fall apart any second.
“Do you want to maybe get changed out of that dress? I’ll meet you downstairs,” I said in a strained voice. She glanced down at herself and her cheeks grew pinker. She nodded before darting into the room and shutting the door. I watched her as she went, trying to keep my gaze from caressing her swaying body.
After she disappeared, I took a deep breath before making my way down the stairs slowly, trying not to imagine Nessie undressing. Stop being perverted, I scolded myself, glad that the mind-reader wasn’t in the vicinity. He would kill me.
Sighing, I sunk into one of the couches, sprawling over the whole thing. My feet dangled off one end with my head cushioned on the arm rest. Closing my tired eyes, I tried to chase away the improper images out of my mind. When was the last time I slept? I thought drowsily as I found myself unable to open my eyes again. Just resting my eyes a little, I yawned and my mind faded away, a picture of the more beautiful face in the world imprinted beneath my dark lids.
Last edited by Fire (2009-02-16 06:27:31)
I ruffled through my enormous closet, wishing for once that Aunt Alice was here for some fashion advice. Hoping that some of her taste might’ve rubbed off on me from living with her for six years, I pulled out a pair of dark, form-fitting jeans and a low-cut designer blouse. Tossing these on my bed, I darted into my bathroom, quickly washing the dirt off my face and arms and pulling out the hair-tie to run a brush quickly through my curls. I dashed back into the bedroom and pulled on my picked-out outfit and twirled in front of my mirror once. It’ll have to do.
Hoping that maybe Jake will notice me, I skipped down the steps, jumping over the last five to land lightly on the balls of my feet.
“Jake?” I called out, looking around our huge house for him. I followed his distinct scent and the sound of his heartbeat until I found him slumped on the couch, mouth lolled open and eyes shut. His leg twitched as he let out a rumbling snore. Aw. He was so adorable when he’s sleeping. His face was completely relaxed and lost all its strain from earlier. He looked so much younger. Just by looking at him, a couple of notes fluidly mixed together in my mind and words stumbled in to match my imagined music. Promising that I would try this newly composed song out later on the piano, I let the melody dance around innocently, swelling and fading back until it disappeared completely.
I hesitated, wondering if I should, but I just let my mischievous side take over. Crawling lightly onto his chest—he didn’t even flinch at my weight—I sprawled over his form, wrapping my arms around his bare body and resting my head against his rising and falling chest. Lifting my head up slightly, I shaped my lips into a faint ‘O’ and blew gently on his skin, tracing a line from the top of his pectorals, up his neck, to his face.
He shuddered slightly from the cool air I blew, a small smile forming on his face as his nose twitched. The snoring cut off instantly as he cracked open one eye. “Hey there, Nessie. Did I fall asleep?” he murmured, his voice still rough from the short nap he took.
“Yeah. You must be really tired. When was the last time you actually slept?” I asked, wondering if I should’ve just let him sleep.
He yawned widely, circling my body with his arms. “I dunno. A couple of days.”
I frowned at him and made to get up off of him, but he just tightened his grip on me. “I should let you sleep. Sorry for waking you.”
A strange look crossed his face quickly as he shook his head. “Nope. I’m all rested up.” He grinned. “Sleep is for losers.”
I pouted at him as I sat up on his chest, poking at him playfully. “Are you calling me a loser, Jacob Black?”
He gave me the most adorable innocent look that made my heart jump. “No, of course not! Never!” He grinned at me, pulling me back down to him and burying his face in my hair. “Ah, Nessie, I’ve missed you so much,” he murmured and my delusional mind believed that there was more than the brotherly affection in his voice. I slithered my arms around his body the best I could and pressed my nose into his bare chest.
“I missed you, too, Jake. Don’t ever leave me again.” My voice came out muffled as I inhaled his wonderfully woody scent. Ah.
We stayed in that position for a moment and I could’ve sworn that Jake’s heartbeat sped up to match my gradually racing one—I really need to stop with these delusions. And I really need to put some space between us before I do something I would regret and might push Jake away from me forever.
I pulled away from him gently—was that really a look of disappointment that crossed his face?—and moved to stand in front of him. “So, what do you want to do on your first day back home?”
It looked like he stopped breathing as his gaze slid from my bared feet, up my skin-tight jeans, up my stomach, rested briefly on my chest, then all the way up to my face. He swallowed loudly as a pained look came across his face, and made me feel extremely self-conscious. Maybe I shouldn’t have dressed like this. I’m sure he thought that I was madly in love with him—which I was—and so he was pained because he didn’t know how to let me down gently. I rambled on, pretending that I didn’t notice his strange look.
“We could watch a movie, or make something to eat, or play a game, or play the piano, or draw, or go on the computer, or just do nothing—” I kept my eyes averted from his own as I listed randomly.
“I can’t play the piano,” Jake mentioned—did his voice sound huskier than before or was I just imagining it? Probably just imagining it.
“I actually thought of a new song a moment ago,” I blurted out before I could stop myself then bit down on my lip. I didn’t really want him to hear it in case he figured out it was about him. Then I would be royally screwed.
He smiled gently, motioning to the grand piano in the corner. “Play it for me.”
I hesitated, coming up with a random excuse. “But… I haven’t practiced it yet so I don’t know how it’ll go,” I said lamely, knowing full well that I’ve played newly composed songs perfectly on the first try
Jake seemed to know that as well. “Aw, come on, Nessie. When did you get so shy with your playing? Come on. Please? For me?” He gave me the most adorable puppy-dog face—everything about him was just so adorable—that I melted in my spot immediately.
“Okay,” I faintly heard myself agree as I was lost in his gorgeous brown eyes.
Biting my lip from my hasty response, I grudgingly walked over to the gleaming, glossy-black grand piano and sat down, my fingers trailing lightly across the polished keys. I took pride in the fact that it only took me a few years to control my strength enough to keep from smashing the keys into pieces from every press; Dad took nearly a decade. Of course, there was the factor that the human in me helped, but I liked thinking that I was better at my dad at something. Well, actually not so much since he is still a much better player than me.
Jake took a seat next to me on the bench and I immediately grew aware of our gently touching bodies. Argh. I won’t be able to concentrate with him sitting right there. True, I’ve played for him dozens of times before, but this was different. Situations have changed.
Taking a deep breath, I gently pressed down with the pads of my fingers and my imagined song began. My hands darted around the whole range as the melody was tweaked as I played and the harmony flourished to match it. It was soft and gentle, each added note like a caress, as I imagined the complete tranquility on Jake’s face as he slept. I felt my eyes slid closed as I got lost in the music, only slightly aware of the burning body next to mine. It had a trickling melody that twisted around the other notes as I gradually changed bits and pieces of it until it matched so well. The music swelled, both in volume and passion, as I remembered what I felt when I saw him lying there. So beautiful, yet never mine. A hint of sadness weaved into the melody as it slowed, melancholy yet beautiful. Never mine. The melody continued to ritardando as a stab of pain twisted my heart. Never mine. So beautiful, so soft, yet so heartbreaking. Not able to continue any longer, I finished with one last minor chord, trailing my fingers up, before releasing the pedal and settling my hands back in my lap. I kept my eyes closed as my body grew aware of the gorgeous man next to me. I was too scared to see his expression and what he thought of my new piece. Did he figure out it was about him?
After a brief moment, I felt a pair of arms slither around my waist, pulling me closer to him. I rested my head against his bare shoulder, eyes still closed.
“Did you like it? It’s not done yet,” I murmured, tracing patterns blindly onto his bicep. A light shudder ran through him and I immediately stopped with my unconscious caressing.
“It was beautiful, Nessie,” Jake breathed in my ear, and I repressed a shudder of my own—though mine was of pleasure and his was surely of disgust. “Beautiful and sad at the same time.”
“Thanks,” I whispered, opening my eyes bravely to look him in the eyes. They were masked once more with some unknown emotion. I bet he figured it out and was just trying to act like he didn’t.
“Once you finish it, you have to play it for me again,” he murmured softly and I hummed in mindless agreement. I was too lost in his light stroking of my back and the musky scent of him. Ahh…. I could stay in this position forever. But my idea of forever and Jake’s was completely different as he suddenly jerked away from me, standing up.
I looked up at him, half-dazed, and saw the hard, controlled look in his eyes and immediately reprimanded myself. He was probably trying to figure out how to extricate himself from the tangles of my unwanted love. Ugh.
“I should, uh, go put on a shirt,” he mumbled as he darted into his room. It was good that he did so, because my face fell at his comment, and I didn’t want him to see that. I wouldn’t be able to admire his muscled abdomen or his sculpted chest or—
I shook my head, trying to rid of those thoughts. Stop, stop, I chanted to myself silently. Maybe it would be best if he covered up a little bit more. Jake lightly stepped down the stairs, now wearing a fitted black t-shirt and some jeans; okay, so the shirt wasn’t helping my cause much. It still accented his well-defined and completely drool-worthy abdominal muscles.
“Better?” he grinned, spreading his arms to display his new attire.
I swallowed with difficulty, trying to find my voice again. “Sure,” I muttered. Better? You look great in anything. Or without anything, I thought to myself as I bit my lip to keep from blurting it and ruining our just-put-back-together friendship.
“What?” Jake asked, his brow furrowing at my expression. I instantly smoothed my facial expression out to look calm and collected. The total opposite of how I was feeling right now.
“Nothing. I was just, um, thinking about Derek,” I made up quickly. Jake’s face seemed to tighten at the sound of his name—he obviously still hated him—so I went on. “Just about what we’re going to do with him.”
“Hmm,” he just said as a look of contemplation crossed his face. I realized that this random thought on my mind really was a big deal. It could affect our lives here.
“I mean, he did see a wolf attack him and he’ll call the cops to search for that wolf if we let him go. And you’ll be in trouble then,” I thought out loud. A mischievously evil look slid on Jake’s face as he grinned roguishly.
“We don’t have to let him go. We could just kill him like I was about to do earlier then all our problems will disappear,” he said in such a serious tone that I almost believed he meant it.
“Jake!” I cried out, though I did see a part of it that interested me. “Don’t say that! It’s horrible!” But I couldn’t stop the smile that grew on my face.
He chuckled wolfishly. “Hey, I can’t help the way I think. It’ll just be so much simpler,” he said playfully.
“Yeah, but then we would have to explain his mysterious death. What, are we going to tell people that a wolf killed him? Then they will be searching for a wolf anyways,” I reasoned.
Jake frowned at me, brow crumpled in thought. “Let’s wait until Doc and the others get back before we decide anything, shall we?” he suggested, playing the mediator.
I jutted my chin out at him jokingly. “You’re just saying that because you know I’ll win this argument,” I stated teasingly.
He raised an eyebrow. “Oh, we’re having an argument are we?” he growled playfully as he suddenly grabbed me and pulled me closer to him so that our bodies touched. A shiver of pleasure trickled down my spine as I looked up half-dazedly into his eyes. He seemed to have lost track of his train of thought as he froze as well, staring down at me with that strange expression in his face. My heart thumped faster from the close proximity of him. His lips were just a little bit away from mine; just a little lunge and I would be able to capture them for my own. As my eyes darted back to his eyes from his soft and slightly parted lips, I could’ve sworn that his eyes flickered back to mine from staring at my mouth as well. But I must’ve just been imagining it.
The air seemed to sizzle around me as we stood frozen in that position, bodies touching, heads inches apart, his arms cupping my body to his own, my arms folded against his chest with hands braced against his body. The need to stand on my tiptoes to reach his lips increased as the time went on. I really should pull away, but I couldn’t. I felt like my joints were locked. Even so, a deeper part of me didn’t want to pull away from his burning embrace.
Just as my body impulsively reached up to touch his lips with mine, a faint beeping that was before slow and drowsy picked up in tempo—a heart monitor machine?—just as a buzzing of a machine vibrated against my thigh. My phone?
As if we both realized what we were doing from those two sounds, we jumped apart, avoiding the other’s gaze. I reached into my pocket and flipped open my vibrating cell.
“H-hey Alice,” I said, biting my lip from the trembling. It didn’t seem like she noticed.
“Ness! Derek’s about to wake up!” Alice’s voice sped through the receiver of my phone. “We’re not nearly done yet but we’re on our way. Carlisle says to give him more sedative to hold him down until we get there. Here, he’ll tell you what to do.”
I glanced at Jake out of the corner of my eye as Carlisle spoke rapidly, telling me what exactly to do and how much sedative to give him. Jake stared out the window with a blank look on his face, clearly listening hard to decipher the speeded words of vampires talking. Judging by the semi-frustrated look that flashed on his face, he was struggling with that task. There was a brief rustling as Carlisle handed the phone back to Alice.
“You got that?” Alice zipped out.
“Um, yeah. How’d you know he’s waking up?” I asked, confused. She shouldn’t have been able to see him because of Jake and I, right?
“I don’t know. I just saw him waking up then freaking out. Not a good scenario. But the thing I don’t get is how I could see him when you two should be there to block his future as well.” My thoughts exactly. “I mean, since you’re watching him, your futures should be entwined. What exactly are you two doing right now?”
I bit my lip, not knowing how to reply. Did Alice see Derek because Jake and I were too absorbed in each other to notice him? Or, in reality, because I was too absorbed into Jake to do anything and Jake was too absorbed in trying to find a way to wriggle himself out of his awkward position?
“Hey, I should get to Derek before he wakes up,” I said hastily to put off that discussion. “Talk to you later.”
“Alright,” Alice’s voice came, sounding a little suspicious. “See you soon.” Click.
I snapped the cell phone shut, glancing at Jake again. The conversation took less than three seconds. “Did you get most of that?” I asked him, still avoiding looking directly into his eyes out of embarrassment. I’m sure he noticed how I was just about to kiss him. He was probably relieved that the phone interrupted.
“Bits and pieces. I caught the part about sedating that scumbag again—”
I cut across him before he could ask about what Alice said at the end. “Come on, we better hurry. His heart beat and breathing sound like he’s coming back to consciousness.”
I dashed into Derek’s room, Jake on my heels, and was slightly alarmed as I saw him stirring slightly. I didn’t want to deal with him, especially before we decide what we’re going to do with him. Following Carlisle’s instructions, I darted to the small desk by the bed and drew out the supplies I needed before injecting a small amount of the sedative into the tube that snaked into his forearm. We both watched as Derek’s movement faded and his breathing grew deeper as he disappeared back into unconsciousness. I let out a sigh of relief.
“When did they say they’d be back?” Jake asked, eying Derek’s motionless body warily.
I shrugged. “They didn’t actually say, but they did say they were on their way. They were just finishing up when Alice got the vision. I don’t think they went all too far, so maybe fifteen minutes or so,” I guessed.
“Hm,” was all he said. He sat in one of the empty chairs, facing Derek, and I joined him. He looked like he was thinking about something. “Hey, Nessie…?”
There was a pause. I turned to look at him; he looked a little uncomfortable. About what?
“What did you see in him?” he said finally, so softly that if I didn’t have vampire hearing, I wouldn’t have heard him. I was a little taken aback by his question.
“Oh. Um. I don’t know.” I didn’t know what to say. Because he noticed me as a girl for once? That he actually seemed to like me like me? That he seemed nice, up till that moment in the woods? I didn’t know what to say, fearful of Jake’s reaction. Why did he ask me this anyways? “He just seemed like a nice guy,” I said neutrally.
“What… do you like in a guy?” Jake asked me suddenly, turning to look at me with his deep brown eyes. I got lost in them for a moment, my breath catching, before I shook myself out of it. I almost hoped that he was maybe asking because he wanted to know if he fit, but that didn’t make sense. He had no feelings for me, remember?
I tried to make the subject light. “Why? Going to play match-maker, are you?” I asked playfully, grinning at him.
He chuckled lowly—his laugh sending chills of pleasure down my body—before saying, “Maybe. But seriously, answer the question, Nessie.”
“Oh, I don’t know. He should be strong, protective—though not overly protective,” I added, nudging him in the ribs. He grinned softly but it didn’t seem like it was there all the way. “Smart, caring, preferably good-looking. I think I’m more taken to dark hair. I like a guy with a healthy appetite. Also the fact that he has to be okay with my half-vampire-ness and my family of vampires,” I half-joked. “Oh, I don’t know.”
Jake half-smiled. “Sounds kind of like me.”
His words made me freeze. I hadn’t completely noticed that I was pretty much describing Jake. Did I ruin everything with my blabbing? I watched him with wide eyes, unsure of what to say now. Should I dismiss it, turn it into a joke?
Jake turned his body towards me so that our knees touched, his dark eyes locking with mine. Tucking a finger under my chin, he brought me closer to him as he leaned in. My eyes fluttered closed as I felt his warm breath feathering over my lips, so concentrated with his heavenly scent. My mind went blank as all I could concentrate on was his soft breathing that whispered over my face. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. What was going on again?
With an impulse, I started to lean all the way to close the gap when I heard the nearly invisible footsteps of vampires. As the door to the room swung open, we both leapt apart from each other. I could feel my cheeks burning as I saw my family enter the room, looking slightly suspicious. Carlisle went to Derek’s side immediately, checking his vitals. Mom and Alice eyed me and Jake curiously. Rose just glared warningly at Jake, though I did not understand why. Dad had a blank look on his face, as if he was trying to conceal something. I could’ve sworn that his lips twitched as if he wanted to laugh. Jasper looked a little confused, his eyes flickering between the two of us. Emmett just had a sly grin on his face.
I averted my gaze from Jake; had I gone too far now? How silly I was, getting caught up in the moment. Was he actually about to kiss me? Or was he just teasing me, to see what my reaction would be? Or was he just going to kiss me just because he knew that’s what I wanted? And he was hesitating because he was bracing himself before he did something he didn’t really want to do? The heat in my cheeks burned hotter; I really was pathetic.
I thought I saw Dad shoot me a strange look out of the corner of my eye but when I turned to look at him, he was fully involved in checking over Derek. Huh. Interesting.
“So, have we decided what we’re going to do with… Derek?” Jake asked softly, his voice twisting around his name like a swear word.
Everyone looked at me. Did they actually expect me to decide? I couldn’t do that! I looked at my dad helplessly and he came to my rescue.
“Let’s look at our options,” Edward spoke softly, twining his arm around Mom’s waist. “We could just wait until he heals completely and then let him go.”
Rose snorted. “Oh, yeah? First off, he could blab all our secrets. I’m sure he noticed something when the emotional dog here attacked him,” she spat, glaring in Jake’s direction. “And second, you’re just going to let him go after what he did to Nessie?”
“That’s true,” Jasper said quietly. “He would notice something strange about us. Plus, what do we tell his family and everyone else while we wait for him to heal? They are bound to notice something.” He turned to Alice, grasping her hand and kissing the palm. “What do you think, Alice? Can you see anything?”
Alice froze for a second as her eyes slid out of focus, all of us watching. Wrinkling her nose, she muttered, “I can’t tell. We’re so undecided that everyone’s future keeps flashing rapidly. I can barely catch bits and pieces of it. So all I can tell you is that this decision will affect everyone, not just Derek.”
Dad frowned lightly. “Okay. Choice number two. We kill him.”
Esme and Mom stifled a gasp, looking at Dad with horrorstruck eyes. He looked back at them apologetically.
“I’m just listing our options. I don’t really like this one either,” he admitted.
“Okay, the pros,” Rose began, a small malicious grin forming on her face. “No chance that he can give away our secret. Plus we get our revenge for him hurting Nessie.”
“I think I already got the whole revenge thing down, though I would like to wring his neck,” Jake muttered from the side. “Look at him.” Rose wrinkled her perfect nose at him and he stuck his tongue out back at her.
“Another pro,” Emmett butt in. “It’ll be good sport and fun.” He grinned raucously, clearly joking.
“That’s not funny, Emmett,” I mumbled. I still felt responsible for what happened.
“The cons,” Mom countered. “People will notice if he disappears. We will have to stay undercover for a while until this whole thing blows over. We will have to move again. Plus, I thought we were good vampires. Vegetarians.”
Rose rolled her eyes at Mom. “We’re not going to eat him after we kill him. Just snap his neck in two and all our problems will be over.” I noticeably flinched and all the blood left my cheeks, turning it an ashen color.
Jasper caught my mood and immediately diverted the conversation. “We shouldn’t joke about something as serious as a boy’s life,” he murmured softly.
“Why can’t we just tell him the truth?” I blurted out before thinking and everyone froze, turning their heads to stare at me incredulously.
“Are you serious?” Rose and Jake both snarled together. Strange how they both seemed to be on the same mind-wave now.
“After what that scum did to you, you want to tell him the truth?” Jake spat out the last three words. “He doesn’t deserve that. How can you trust him? He’s an alcoholic!”
“Jake is right, Nessie,” Mom said softly. “I don’t think that’s a good idea either.”
“Well, now what?” I sighed. “Every option has its pros and cons. How do we know which one is the right choice to make?”
“Are there any more options?” Esme asked softly, looking at Dad. A contemplative frown slid on his lips.
“We could twist the truth,” he said slowly. “I don’t know how well it’ll work though.”
“What do you mean?” I asked. I thought everyone was against truth telling.
“They are,” Dad answered me. “But if we just twist it, I think we would be okay. I’m pretty positive that he might have some memory issues anyway. He might not even remember what exactly happened, especially since he was intoxicated. We could tell him some other story about how he got hurt and we found him, so we brought him here for Carlisle to heal.”
There was a brief pause as Dad’s eyes flickered to Jake.
“Yes, we would have to be careful about what story we concoct. After all, it seems pretty obvious that some sort of animal mauled him. We might have to keep with the wild wolf story.”
Won’t people start looking for Jake in the woods then? A wolf? I thought, and Dad’s gaze slid to mine.
“Well, we could say that instead Jasper and I were hunting when we heard Derek screaming, so we rushed over to the noise and saw a gigantic wolf mauling the boy. So we shot it,” Dad made up, shrugging. “It could work.”
“Won’t you get in trouble?” Mom asked worriedly. “I think it’s illegal to hunt wolves, though I’m not completely sure on that.”
“We could just wound him some more,” Rose muttered under her breath and we shot her a look. She raised her hands in peace. “No, I mean, change his wounds so they don’t look like a wolf attacked him, but like something else.”
“No, Rose,” I said softly. “I don’t think I would be able to handle seeing him get hurt again.” I could have sworn I saw Jake flinch out of the corner of my eye. “Besides, I think that would still count against the whole ‘not hurting humans’ thing we’ve been going on.”
“It’s the whole ‘not killing and eating humans’ thing,” Rose muttered stubbornly, crossing her arms to look like a Cover-Girl model.
“Well, whatever we choose, we have to choose it fast. I’m not sure how much longer the sedative will—”
There was a gentle rustling and a soft groan from the near-motionless form on the bed, interrupting Carlisle. Everyone’s eyes immediately zoomed in on Derek as the heart monitor started beeping faster as he began to regain consciousness.
“—last,” Carlisle finished as he darted to Derek’s side. “He’s waking up. Decide. Now,” Carlisle commanded as his hands fluttered over Derek’s body.
I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I anxiously stared at Derek’s stirring body. What do we do? What’s the best choice? Why is everyone looking at me? Do they actually expect me, a mere 6-year-old, to solve this problem? To make this huge decision that will affect the fate of so many others? I can’t do that! DAD HELP ME!! I mentally screamed at him and I saw him flinch slightly from my silent scream.
“What should we do?” Dad said in a low voice, addressing the whole group. The words would have come out like a buzz to any normal human ears. We would have to speed this conversation up. Good idea, Dad. “We need to decide. Quick.”
Dad frowned lightly and closed his eyes as if he was concentrating greatly. Oh, he’s listening to our thoughts. I could see Mom straining as well to stretch the mental rubber band off of her shield so that Dad could hear her input as well. Dad’s expression softened slightly; he always loved hearing Mom’s thoughts.
“Okay, just cast a vote mentally,” Dad muttered quickly, eyes still strained shut. “Everyone.”
A democracy? Really, Dad? Anyway, I don’t know what I want to do! I can’t choose!
A full second actually passed before Dad snapped his eyes open, sighing dejectedly. “You are all way too undecided, except for Rose and I highly doubt anyone will vote with her idea.” She scowled at him. “Let’s just—” Dad stopped his talking suddenly, eyes flickering to Derek. We all followed his gaze as the clogging heartbeat sped back to normal and the pained breathing quickened. Derek stirred under the white sheets and his eyes fluttered open.
He looked momentarily bewildered, his eyes completely unfocused as they swept over the room and its occupants of ten statues.
“Let’s see what he remembers first,” Dad muttered so quickly and lowly that human ears wouldn’t have been able to catch a word. “His thoughts so far are jumbled up and I can’t figure out if he remembers anything about what happened. He’s not thinking about that yet.”
Dad, I thought and his eyes flickered briefly to mine before going back to Derek. I think you have to make the decision based on what Derek remembers. He frowned slightly before jerking his head down then up quickly.
That whole exchange took less than a second. Derek’s eyes were still making their slow progress across the room. They finally landed on me and a dim spark of recognition flashed behind his pale blue eyes. Dad clenched his teeth.
“Nessie?” he whispered weakly before wincing. I made to rush forward—even though he tried to hurt me, I couldn’t help but feel bad for him—but stopped myself. Carlisle was already there and was injecting a small needle of something into the tube that stuck into his forearm. Pain-killers? Sure enough, the pain in Derek’s eyes faded out gradually. “Ouch. What happened? Where am I?”
I glanced at Dad; what was Derek thinking? What did he remember?
Dad kept his eyes intently on Derek. “What do you remember last?” he asked him, a hard glint in his eyes and jaw clenched. Seems like he would never forgive him for his actions against me.
Derek frowned a little as he tried to remember. Dad’s expression cleared slightly with relief and I took that as a good sign. “Um. We were having a party. I think I got a little drunk.” I smothered a snort. A little??? “And then… Nessie showed up. And… we went outside.” His eyebrows scrunched together and he winced from the movement despite the pain-killers given to him. “Everything gets fuzzy from there. I think I remember some creature attacking me though. And then pain. I don’t remember anything else after that.”
My eyes turned back to Dad’s for a moment. What had he decided to do?
Dad’s eyes flickered to mine with a small reassuring smile before replying to Derek. “Well, after you and Nessie went outside, she broke up with you.”
“Oh, yeah, I think I remember that part,” he said softly and hoarsely, looking sorrowful. “Though I wish it was just a nightmare.” At his words, I couldn’t help but feel a slight pinch of pain and guilt. Poor guy. Jasper glanced at me, cocking an eyebrow at me emotion. I just shrugged minutely.
Dad’s eyes grew hard now. “Do you remember assaulting her afterwards with a knife?” he spat out harshly before controlling his emotions.
Derek flinched and sank into the bed. “Oh God. I did, didn’t I? Oh, God, Nessie, I didn’t mean it. I was drunk—”
“Yeah, we know,” Jake snarled harshly. “Illegally, I might add. We should turn you in to the cops.”
Derek paled at his words.
“But we won’t,” Dad emphasized, glaring lightly at Jake, “as long as we never catch you doing that again. And we will find out if you do,” he added threateningly. Yeah, he would. Mindreader of a dad.
Derek nodded frantically, looking thankful, though he winced after that harsh movement, lifting a hand to his bandaged head and seeming surprised by the helmet of cloth that surrounded his temple.
“And being drunk gives you no excuse for your behavior, you bas—”
“So,” Dad cut in, shooting Jake a hard look, “do you remember chasing after Nessie into the forest after you threatened her?” So this was where the lies would begin.
Derek frowned slightly. “Not really. But I was a little out of it last night.”
“More than a little,” Jake muttered, too low for Derek to be able to hear. Ah, my Jake. My protector. I couldn’t help but have a small hope blossom that maybe he still cared about me, perhaps more than a friend. I squashed that notion down immediately. No need for more heartbreak.
“Well, seems like you ended up loosing Nessie somewhere within the forest. And you kept wandering around for a while,” Dad said persuasively. I even almost believed him for a moment.
A look of confusion crossed his face. “Really?”
“Yeah. You must have crossed paths with a bear or something because when we found you a little while later, you were all torn up.” Okay, Dad, elaborate ‘cause I think you’re confusing him, I thought.
“What?” Derek asked. “A bear? And who found me?” Told ya.
“When Nessie found her way back home, she was a little worried about you—” I had to keep from rolling my eyes though I could see that Jake didn’t bother to hold back that motion “—so she called your house and asked if you were there. You weren’t. So Jasper, Emmett, Carlisle, Jake, and I went into the woods to look for you. We found you ripped to shreds. Carlisle—our dad—is a doctor, so he patched you up as much as he could on the spot then took you to our home. Here.” Okay, I had to admit that that was a pretty good lie.
Confusion was still etched into his brow. “Did you ever catch what attacked me? I really don’t remember that part.”
“No, but then again, we only found you about an hour ago. It’s still Sunday night,” Dad answered. He really seemed like our spokesperson today.
“Did you tell my parents? My brother?” Derek asked hoarsely.
Dad hesitated. Whoops. “No, but we were getting to that. It was kind of just on the back of our minds since we were just working on fixing you up.”
“We should alert the police that there’s a wild bear on the loose,” he muttered softly, sinking back into the soft pillows.
“Already done,” Dad lied through his teeth. “And I even convinced them to let a few of us come, after reassuring them that we’ve gone hunting lots of times before.” Emmett snorted lightly behind us somewhere. Yeah, we definitely have experience hunting bears, especially Emmett. Though we really won’t be hunting bears with the police of course.
We all watched him as he soaked all this information in. I was unsure if he completely believed our story; there was still a look of confusion on his face, as if things didn’t add up. I looked over at Dad and he was watching Derek intently.
Derek suddenly turned to Jake. “When did you get back?” he asked abruptly.
Jake looked a little taken aback. “Um. This afternoon.”Thank God he did. I wouldn’t have been able to survive much longer without him. Dad shot me a strange look and I pressed my lips together. Oops. Dad, don’t tell. I know Jake doesn’t feel about me that way and I don’t want to ruin our friendship. Dad gave me no acknowledgement that he heard me though another strange look crossed his face.
Derek turned back away from Jake, settling back into the bed. “I really don’t remember much of that stuff actually happening,” he muttered.
Dad frowned lightly and gave Carlisle a look; at this, Carlisle stepped forward with a needle suddenly in his hand. “This is a sedative,” Carlisle explained soothingly as he gently injected it into the tube into his veins. “It’ll help you sleep pain-free throughout the night. We’ll call your parents to let them know where you are.”
Derek’s eyes began to droop from the drug. “M’kay,” he murmured. “Maybe I’ll ‘member what happened in the mornin’.” His body relaxed as his mind drifted back into Dreamland.
We all turned to Dad immediately.
“So?” I asked. “Did he believe us?”
He frowned lightly. “I’m not completely sure. His thoughts are still a little mixed up. He doesn’t really remember much of what went on, but I think some deep instinct is saying how my story was a little off. The question is, will he listen to that instinct of just ignore it like any other clueless human?”
“I can’t really see much either,” Alice piped up. “Partly because of Jake’s presence, but also because it’s not really known what exactly Derek will remember.”
“We will have to find out in the morning,” Carlisle said softly. “Come on, everyone. We should go call this boy’s parents.”
As everyone streamed out of the room—Rose and Emmett, then Jasper and Alice, then Esme and Carlisle, then Mom and Dad, then Jake—I stood still in the room, my eyes tracing over Derek’s still figure. I think he suspected something off about us. Something in our explanation didn’t make sense to him. Would Derek be able to piece it all together? Would his memory come back? Did we just ruin our cover because of this stupid event? Because of me?
“Nessie?” a comfortingly familiar voice called out in the doorway and I turned around to see Jake standing there, watching me with a sad look in his eyes, mixed with some other emotion that I would’ve loved to believe was passion. My heart leapt at seeing his beautiful figure standing there. Ah. But that emotion disappeared almost instantly as I turned to him. “Are you coming?”
“Yeah,” I replied, giving Derek one last look before striding out the door. “I’m right behind you, Jake.”
When we walked down the stairs to the family room, Carlisle was standing in front of the window, gazing out into the darkness as he spoke softly on his phone. The full moon was shrouded by purple-grey clouds layering the night sky. From lack of light both outside and inside, everything was leeched of its color, fading to colors of grey and black. Despite this, we could see every detail quite clearly.
Emmett and Rose were snuggled together on a single armchair, watching the flickering television dully. Esme stood at Carlisle’s side, grasping his free hand within her own two as she gazed out the window lifelessly as well. Jasper was perched statue-like on one side of the couch with Alice next to him. She was curled up like a content cat at his side, stroking his open palm absentmindedly. Dad was sitting at the grand piano with Mom next to him as he fingered noiselessly through a piece for Mom, similar to the position Jake and I were in a while ago. Dad’s eyes flickered to mine with puzzlement as I thought of that moment but turned his eyes back down to his hands so quickly that I was unsure I even saw that movement.
“Yes, he is fine, Mrs. Coles,” Carlisle was saying reassuringly into the receiver of the phone. “Yes, we have already contacted them and will even be taking a part in finding that beast. Yes, we will call you again in the morning to fill you in about Derek’s conditions. Yes, we will. Good night, Ma’am.” He snapped the phone shut and sighed. Ugh, I just made everyone’s lives harder with this stupid Derek business.
“I’m sorry about this mess I got us in,” I muttered suddenly and softly, though everyone would be able to hear. Everyone paused in their motions to turn at look at me incredulously. Jake’s face was twisted the most into disbelief.
“Oh, Nessie, it’s not your fault,” Esme crooned, by my side in a split second to smooth back my curls. “We’ve been through worse anyway.”
“You can’t seriously be blaming yourself, can you?” Jake said, his voice full of incredulity. “If you blame anyone, it should be me.” Ah, my darling Jake. Taking the blame for my stupid actions. How I wish that he returned my feelings.
Dad furrowed his brow at me before saying. “Ness, don’t blame yourself. Like Esme said, we’ve gotten through worse. This is nothing at all.”
“If we have to resort to it, we will leave,” Mom said quietly. “We’ve done that before as well when our cover was about to be revealed.”
“Derek will heal up soon,” Carlisle reassured, “and everything will be back to normal. This will all blow over.”
“Hey, at least things got interesting around here now,” Emmett yawned. “Completely unfair that the mutt can hurt a human and we can’t.”
“Emmett! Don’t joke about that!” Rose said, slapping him on his arm. Was Rose actually sticking up for humans?
“She knows you don’t like it,” Dad answered me. Oh, that made more sense.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could’ve have sworn that I saw Jasper’s eyes flicker to Dad with some importance in them. Did I also imagine Dad jerking his head up and down nearly unnoticeably?
The adults continued to converse about the past events, but my mind wasn’t connected to it anymore. A gentle blanket of lethargy was muffling my brain—one that I hadn’t noticed a second before. Why did the human-half of my body have to be so weak? I would miss everything that the adults would talk about if I went to bed now. I tried not to think about the creeping sleepiness so Dad wouldn’t notice, but the urge to yawn was building.
I tried to stifle the yawn but considering that I was in a room full of supernatural beings, it didn’t go unnoticed.
“Bed for the half-breeds,” Emmett claimed as Jake let out a groaning yawn in response to mine; they must be contagious.
“Oh, Jake, when was the last time you slept?” Mom empathized, looking just like a mother.
“I took a nap an hour ago,” Jake replied truthfully, grinning sleepily at her. I could have sworn he didn’t look so tired five minutes ago. Not that I’m saying that I was watching him all that time… okay, I was.
“For like five minutes,” I shot back to rat him out. If I had to go to bed, then I was taking him down with me. I muffled another yawn. Geez, why was I so tired all of a sudden?
Before I could think about that reason, Dad said softly, “Jake, why don’t you take Ness upstairs?” My mind jumped forward at his words, though a cloud of lassitude swam in my head, as my heart leapt before I quenched it. I shouldn’t be thinking thoughts like that. After all, Dad would never suggest that Jake take me upstairs to his room so that he could—okay, snap out of it. I tried to think of something else for Dad’s sake. “You both need some sleep.”
We both muttered tiredly in assent. Jake reached out one hand and I—with my heart skipping once more—placed my hand gingerly in his gigantic one. I reveled in the feeling of his gentle, warm hand engulfing my own before wrenching myself out of that thought. After all, I was in a room in which a mind-reader and emotions-taster was present.
After a brief moment of indecision, Jake stooped down abruptly to scoop me into his arms. My skin tingled where they brushed his bare skin; I could feel the built muscles from my suddenly overly-sensitive skin. I held my breath unconsciously as I stilled my motions to control the sudden need to taste his lips with my own. It built like a flood thundering against a weakening dam. I tried to clear my mind—sometimes it was extremely inconvenient that your dad can read your mind—as Jake carried me gently up the stairs.
Halfway up the stairway, when I shut the desire back in its cage and locked the door, I let myself tentatively bury my face in his chest. His body heat embraced me, warming me up from my toes to my nose. Ah. I could never get tired of his scent. So woody, so musky, so warm, so… Jake.
My mind was hazy with sleepiness and Jake’s warm smell as he placed me on my bed and left my room so I could get changed and ready for bed. As soon as I was in the midst of pulling my bed covers over me, Jake’s footsteps padded from his room to mine. A soft, polite knock echoed in the room.
Jake entered and—though I had seen him like this so many times before, it had a completely different effect on me now—my eyes slid over his body as my heart leapt. He was wearing only a pair of plaid blue pajama pants so his chest with all of its beauty and muscles and smooth, bronze skin was bared for my eyes.
As a tingling feeling settled in my stomach, I wrenched my gaze away from his body to look into his dark eyes as he approached. Trying to focus on his face instead of his body, I smiled softly at him as he began to tuck in the corners of the blanket around me, just like old times. As soon as I was wrapped into a cocoon-like figure, Jake knelt by my head to brush his lips lightly over my forehead. I fought at the urge to tip my face up to capture his lips with mine—if I wasn’t wrapped up like this, I might’ve even grabbed for his face to bring his lips into closer range, not that the cloth blanket would be much of a challenge for me.
All my nerves seemed to have rushed to that one spot of skin where his soft lips pressed against my forehead. He held that position for a moment before withdrawing. As he did so, I saw a flash of dark pain in his eyes before it vanished like a ghost.
“Good-night, Nessie,” he murmured softly, standing up straight to leave my room. But just before he did, he hesitated, a hand lifting tentatively to hover over my face. With a sudden yet gentle movement, he drew a finger down my cheek like the touch of a feather—my eyes fluttered closed—before running his calloused thumb across my parted lips. But then he jerked his hand back so that my eyes snapped open from the abrupt departure of his warm touch.
His eyes were shadowed once more with some unknown emotion as he backed out of my room. “Sweet dreams,” he whispered in what seemed like a controlled voice though a tinge of pain could be heard in his tone. Jake closed the door softly behind him, leaving me with just myself and the empty presence of my Jacob in my room.
I suck in a fluttering breath; what had that been about? I was utterly confused now. If I didn’t know better, I would think that Jake holstered some feelings for me. But I did know better. And I knew that Jake had no feelings for me besides that of brotherly-sisterly love. I sighed, digging into the rational part of my mind to explain Jake’s strange behavior.
He probably just went through the same motions of tucking me in because he was reminiscencing after being apart for so long. He always used to tuck me in and then kiss my forehead every night when I was younger. So that part was explained.
His lingering lips on my forehead… that must’ve just been something I imagined because of my unacceptable feelings for my best friend.
As for when he stroked my cheek and lips… was that again another selfless attempt on his part to see if he harbored any feelings for me, for my sake? Because he hated to disappoint me and he knows how much I love him? So he wanted to see if he could try to love me back, just for my own happiness? Ah, my Jake. So selfless. Always thinking about me and never his own happiness. How would I ever deserve such a guy like him?
And so he must’ve looked so pained because he knew that he could never love me the way I wanted him to. And this hurt him almost as much as it hurt me. Again, so selfless. My love for him deepened.
My brain cogs slowed to a soft wheeze as all this information plowed through it. The lethargy set in strongly after the explanation was given. As I drifted off to Dream Land, I couldn’t help but notice that Jake’s usual snoring had not started up yet and that as my mind settled into sub-consciousness, the adults’ voiced drifted up the stairs once more. An explanation for why I suddenly became sleepy occurred to me, but I lost it before I could get a strong grip on it as everything turned a fuzzy black and I faded away.
A/N: This scene may be a little… mature for young younger readers. Really, I am just being on the safe side because it’s really not bad. Only a little bit of suggestive content and one or two naughty words. =] Enjoy!
Everything was dark and fuzzy; blurred out in the edges just like when you are dreaming. The wide room that I stood in was painted a dark burnished red, darkening its outlook even further. It was windowless and doorless—I couldn’t even tell where the wall morphed into floor; everything was just a continuous scene—but I felt no panic, only a dim awareness. No other furniture presided, spare for the large four-poster bed in the center of the room.
The wood of its frame was a deep brown of mahogany wood, glistening from the faint light emitting from some unknown source. The tall posters of the bed were draped with light, gossamer cloths of a deep crimson. The bed itself was already turned down, its white, plush pillows beckoning me to fall into their grasp. The sheets underneath were also a pure white and were covered with a thick, expensive-looking down-blanket, its color matching the drapes.
Though the room seemed pretty soundless, my ears felt like someone had poured pudding into them. There was only a dull, muted roar coming from a source I could not find.
I was standing about three meters away from the bed in the middle of the immutable room of nothingness when I heard a voice cutting through the pudding-likeness that obstructed my hearing.
“Nessss…” the voice hissed, droning out the ‘s’ in my name. It faded out as I whipped my head around to where it sounded like it came from. “Ness….” it whispered again.
The voice sounded so familiar with the deep huskiness of it as it wrapped so lovingly around my name.
“Jake?” I called out; my own voice sounded somewhat muffled to my ears. I strained my eyes—this was a strange feeling as I never had to strain my vampire-like eyes to see anything before—around the empty, continuous room, trying to see his familiar form. My eyes darted around the unchanging, smooth red that surrounded me, unable to gain purchase on anything sticking out from the constant color. “Where are you?”
“Right here,” Jake’s voice rumbled softly from behind me—where the bed was—and I whipped around in a split second to face him. I drew in a sharp breath.
It was like a spotlight was aimed right at his figure. He was semi-sprawled over the length of the bed, propped up on an elbow, looking so damn sexy. His dark hair was ruffled to fall as thick locks into his capturing, shadowed eyes that pulled me in instantly. Dark stubble feathered his chin to make him look so much more dangerously handsome. His lips were pulled into a teasingly seductive grin. But that wasn’t all.
Clad in only a dark pair of hugging jeans, his dark skin glistened in the strange light as if he was swathed in some shiny substance like oil. My eyes traced over his defined muscles in his arms, his shoulders, his chest, and finally his abdomen. From broad shoulders to slim waist, his body just beckoned for me to wrap my arms around it. I couldn’t help the lingering gaze my eyes gave to the light down of small hairs that formed a line from his stomach to trickle past the waist of his jeans, disappearing into some unknown mystery.
Jake moved from his position on the bed, causing my eyes to snap up to meet his own heated gaze that trailed down before moving slowly back to mine. Feeling self-conscious, I glanced downward and was not completely surprised to see that I was wearing that same faded white nightgown from my other dreams. But it was slightly altered, its cloth clinging closer to my body and the neckline plunging deeper than completely necessary.
Jake got up silently from the bed, padding bare-footedly to me as I stood frozen in my spot, unable to tear my gaze from him. I didn’t even think I was breathing. When he was a foot away from me, he stopped, feet braced should-width apart and arms hanging loosely at his sides. My fingers itched to trail down his body but I restrained it as I turned up head up to keep his eyes in my gaze. His dark eyes smoldered as they locked with mine; I could feel myself becoming even more like I was floating unaware on a cloud.
Jake reached up with one hand, drawing a finger from my cheekbone to my chin. The touch felt muted as I felt a sort of numbness, but my eyes still fluttered closed. Tucking that finger under my chin, he lifted my face up until I dimly felt his breath feathering across my lips.
His other arm snaked around my waist to pull me to him until our bodies were lightly touching. A jolt of pleasure ran through my body as his hardness under his denim pressed against my thigh. Still, everything had the subdued touch of a dream. Nonetheless, I took the opportunity to wrap my arms tightly around Jake—even if this wasn’t quite real. And I knew this wasn’t real because there was no way he could look at me with that much love him his eyes.
Sighing, I fingered his toned back underneath my fingertips, marveling in the unnaturally silky-smoothness of his skin. Pressing my face into his bare chest, I inhaled and was disappointed that Jake did not have much of a scent here. What a bummer.
But then he pulled my face up to rest his forehead against my own, gazing deeply into my eyes to make me feel like I was the only girl in the world—which I technically was here. Cupping the back of my neck gently with his calloused hands, he pressed his lips lightly to the corner of my mouth, not quite a kiss. It hovered near the boundary of cheek—brother-like—and on the lips—not so brother-like—to linger for a while.
Just soaking in the feeling of his lips so close to my own—the dull senses of this dream world were really getting on my nerves now—I was quite reluctant to leave. But some deep part of me seemed aware of the heated discussion that was taking place a floor beneath me in reality and tugged me back from this sensuous dream.
As everything faded to the familiar black behind my eyelids, I became quite aware of the ever-familiar bed underneath me. It was just a dream. Though I already decided that halfway through it, I was still disappointed. If only that could actually happen in real life.
I was glad to have full control over my senses now. I could smell the mixed, lingering senses of my family members and Jake, particularly with my own. The faint, human scent of Derek swirled through the air as well. My ultra-sensitive skin was quite aware of the linen under me and the thick blanket around me. And I could hear Jake’s rumbling snore from next-door and the faint conversation of the adults downstairs. I must not have been out for very long. But their words took some time to register in my mind as it kept floating in and out of consciousness.
“Because she’s dreaming about him,” a voice—Dad—drifted up the stairs. “And this dream… it’s very….”
His voice trailed off, the suggestiveness behind it as blunt as a loudspeaker in the near silence. Were they talking about me? The haziness of sleep still smothered my mind heavily.
“As I said before, we should just let things fall naturally,” Mom’s bell-like voice chimed. “It’s not like we’re trying to rush anything.” Rush what?
“I think we should stay out of it as well,” Carlisle’s soft voice came. “It’s really none of our business.”
“I agree with Carlisle,” Esme said softly. Agree with him about what? My sleep-induced brain struggled to grasp these concepts.
“Are they both hurting?” Rose asked. There was a brief pause before she continued. “I don’t care so much about the mutt, but Nessie shouldn’t have to go through this pain and confusion. Just tell her.” My name jerked me harder back to reality. They were definitely talking about me.
“I think we should just let them suffer and squirm for a little bit,” Emmett’s voice boomed jokingly yet maliciously. “No need to rush things, right?” His deep chuckle was cut short by a dull crack of stone hitting stone. Emmett let out a complaining grumble before falling silent.
“What do you see, Alice?” Mom asked, a touch of apprehension and frustration in her voice.
Someone let out a deep sigh. “How many times do I have to tell you, Bella? I can’t see either of them because of who they are,” Alice said exasperatedly in her tinkling voice.
“Their emotions will eventually take over,” Jasper’s calming voice came. “I say we leave them be as well.”
“Sounds like we’re outnumbered, Rose,” Dad chuckled, a hint of sadness in his voice. “So be it. But if they continue to be oblivious, I will tell them. Agreed?”
They fell silent for a moment and I took the time to put my sluggish and jumbled thoughts together.
They were talking about me. And maybe Jake as well. But I could only grasp that much. Something about telling the both of us something. What? That our imprinting thing is totally faulty between us for some reason, as if we are the weird-o couple?
Gah. I can’t think right now. My mind continued to have a weighty hold on sleep, making thinking very difficult. What was I thinking again?
“Wait, her thoughts are conscious. Or, at least, close to becoming conscious,” Dad’s voice spoke up suddenly. “Jasper.”
I suddenly felt extremely aware of my tiredness as my brain slowly began to close down on me. I couldn’t even remember what just occurred anymore. The deep rumbling of Jake’s snore and the quieted sounds of conversation below faded and muted out. I drifted back into Dreamland, to wake up in the morning completely oblivious to the conversation that I overheard.
Can you believe that I still had to go to school the next day? Even after all that had happened the past 24-hours?
Dad claimed that it was because it would be too suspicious if all of us and Derek didn’t show up to school the same day. Rumors would circulate, especially after people find out about Derek’s injuries. Anyway, it was a chance for us to tell our version of the story before anyone else did. At least Jake was finally back.
Before I left for school, I tentatively visited Derek. I forced myself to do so; after all, it was partly my fault that he was in this condition. Even though I did break up with him and all, I still felt bad. And I don’t know why, but I felt the need to talk to him.
When I peeked my head through the door, I saw Carlisle fiddling with something medical over Derek’s peaceful body. When I gave it was closer look, I discovered that it was another syringe filled with a clearish liquid.
“Good morning, Nessie,” Carlisle greeted without looking up from his hands. Gentling taking hold of the thin tube, he injected the substance into his bloodstream. “Ready for school?”
“Yes,” I replied and opened my mouth to ask him how Derek was doing but Carlisle beat me to it. Sometimes I think Dad’s mindreading trait rubbed off on him.
“Derek’s doing fine. He’s stable and his body is responding quite well to the drugs and medicine I have been giving him. I just gave him another dose of sedatives; he kept waking up in the middle of the night from the pain and he really needs his rest if he wishes to heal up normally,” Carlisle said, giving me a status report. So talking to him was out of the question. Dropping the used-needle into the wastebasket by the foot of the bed, Carlisle looked up at me, his golden eyes radiated empathy.
“It’s not your fault, Nessie,” he said softly. “You did nothing wrong. The boy called it on himself from the moment he decided to take that first sip to that instant he threatened you with that knife.”
Though I knew he was just saying that for my sake, I still smiled back at him with gratitude. “Thanks, Carlisle,” I murmured as I strode forward to kiss his cheek gently.
Carlisle smiled at me kindly, patting my shoulder paternally as he made his way to the door. “You better get going before the others leave you behind,” he called over his shoulder with his hand on the doorknob. “Have a good day at school.”
“Bye, Carlisle,” I greeted, turning my head back to Derek’s still form. I faintly heard the door closing. Carlisle was giving me privacy. My heart swelled at his silent graciousness.
I eyed Derek wearily as he slept, his chest rising and falling slowly in rhythm to the faint beeping of the heart monitor. Poor guy still looked horrible with all the bandages and casts that covered his body. A slight feeling of revulsion swept over me as I remembered that night: his drunkenness, how he tried to force me to kiss him, how he pulled that knife and threatened me…
But as I looked down at him, I couldn’t feel that anger at him. He looked so peaceful, so full of tranquility. His facial muscles were lax and made him seem almost as if he were smiling. The feeling of revulsion was pushed aside by a strange fondness.
Why was I feeling this way?
Well, he was my first kiss. And my first love. I would always have a sort of connection with him.
Even though he had that bad moment last night, I couldn’t help but think that all the good he did overshadowed it. Sure, he was flawed. But everybody was. Throughout the brief time we were dating, he had been so courteous to me, so kind, so loving, and such a great boyfriend. Past the bad-boy impression he plasters on himself in public, he was full of compassion and sweetness. If I hadn’t fallen in love with Jake, I wouldn’t have broken up with him.
He deserves a special girl. Even though he tried to hurt me, I don’t think it’ll happen again. Dad will make sure of that. I think he really regretted what happened too. And it was clear that he only did what he did because he was drunk, and it was quite obvious that he was not a regular drinker.
One day, he would meet some girl, and they would fall in love. He wouldn’t drink anymore and would treat her with as much—or more—courtesy and respect that he showed me. His life would be rid of the flaws that meeting me gave it. He would forget about me and move on.
As I painted the perfect picture of his future, I couldn’t help but hope that it would actually come true. I didn’t want to have ruined his life because of me and because of what happened last night. I hoped that he wouldn’t ever remember the true details of that night. I hoped that he would just believe the fantasy that we planted in his head.
Even as I tried to convince myself of this, a slight feeling of dread coiled in my stomach. He knew something was up. He wasn’t stupid. He must have noticed something about the way we were acting. Maybe parts of his memory was even coming back to contradict with the story we told him. After all, not one bit of the lie could ring true to him, even with his amnesia.
Hell, maybe he even noticed something off about our family before the attack—their pale skin that was rock hard, how they avoided sunlight, the subtle changes in color of their eyes, how they kept away from humans, their strange actions, the primitive feeling humans got when they saw us that told them to run the other way—and the event that occurred last night just reinforced it. He could have even noticed the little off things about me as well: my unusually warm temperature, my hard skin, when I bit his lip, my lack of eating human food, my strange behaviors… the list was endless.
I scrutinized his form. Maybe he didn’t notice any of this. Maybe he was just as oblivious as the next human.
I stepped closer to the bed. I sure hoped everything worked out in the end.
I reached out with a hand unconsciously and left it hover over his slumbering face. He just looked so soft and peaceful and harmless. I let the hand drape over his cheek. He felt so cold to my over-heated body temperature.
Sighing, I glanced out the small crack between the two white curtains that adorned the single window in the room. I better get going if I didn’t want to make us wait. I could hear the idling engines in the garage below. Dad must’ve told them to wait or something—which was probably why nobody was bursting in here to ruin my moment.
Looking back down at Derek, an impulse took over as my eyes traced over his serene expression. Bending down, I brushed my lips lightly over his cheek. “Feel better,” I muttered softly as I straightened up and headed towards the door.
But as I turned back around once more, I thought I saw his eyelashes fluttering nearly unnoticeably and a faint, smug smile shadow his lips—a smile that I was sure of wasn’t there a moment before. But then I blinked that he returned to that nearly still statue he was before. My delusions must be leaking into other parts of my life now.
Closing the door quietly behind me, I zipped into my room to grab my backpack before zooming down the stairs and out the door. Looking around the driveway, I noticed that the Jeep and Volvo were already gone. Idling in front of the garage door was Jake’s red Harley bike, its occupant perched on the vibrating seat.
“Everyone left,” Jake stated as he beckoned for me to get on behind him. I was glad that he had his back faced to me as I blushed. Hopefully he didn’t know what I was doing inside.
“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” I tried to tease lightly as I wrapped my arms gingerly around his waist. The sizzling of the air around me made my head want to explode. My cheeks grew warmer as I remembered my dream from last night that starred Jake.
Jake chuckled softly as he revved the motor, kicking up the kickstand to send us zooming down the driveway.
If Jake knew what I was doing that made me late, then he was a good actor because he didn’t show. And being the courteous guy he is, he refrained from asking me as well.
The ride to school was short—too short in my opinion; I wanted to keep my arms wrapped around him forever. It was an excuse to hold him close to my heart.
Jake maneuvered the bike effortlessly to slide next to the Volvo in the student parking lot. Hopping off of the bike and reaching over to help me off—though I clearly did not need help—, we made our way casually through the mass of cars towards the school building. It felt like the first day of school again.
Everyone was staring at me and Jake; probably because we were walking so close together that our hands would occasionally brush and send a tremble of shock coursing through my body. Or maybe it was just the fact that I was walking with Jake instead of Derek. Word apparently hadn’t spread yet that we had broken up; after all, how could it when the only ones with that knowledge were my vampire family members, Jake, and a boy who was currently unable to get out off bed at this moment?
Or perhaps people stared because of Jake’s sudden return back to school. He had been gone for a week, after leaving abruptly and without word. I couldn’t help but notice that most of the eyes that lingered on Jake’s form were female. This sent a twinge of jealousy to stream through me.
I turned towards the familiar voice of Sophie Langston, Jake’s body turning along with me.
“Hey, Sophie,” I greeted half-heartedly in return. I watched as her eyes flickered to Jake and brighten.
“Hey, Jake,” she crooned, and a snarl nearly ripped from my throat. “Back so soon?”
Jake’s brow furrowed in confusion as he looked from me to Sophie. “Um, yeah.”
“Where’s Kevin?” I asked, cutting across Jake in an attempt to distract them.
“Oh, somewhere by his locker,” she said dismissively, her eyes locking on Jake with a sly smile on her lips. I bared my teeth at her while her head was turned. “So, are you sitting with us at lunch again?”
“Um, if that’s where Ness is sitting,” Jake replied bewilderedly. Poor guy was oblivious to Sophie’s frank flirting. Ha.
I watched with pleasure as Sophie’s face fell slightly at his mention of my name. “Oh, well, I’ll see you in class then. Bye, Jake. Bye, Renesmee.”
I wrinkled my nose at her retreating form. Is she seriously flirting with Jake? I wondered what happened with Kevin to make her obsession with him transmute to Jake.
“What was that about?” Jake muttered to me as we continued on our way to class.
I merely shrugged, not really wanting to talk about it. Catching his hand with my own, I sent him a replayed version on the scene from my point of view with Sophie’s blunt flirting clear.
I watched as Jake’s eyes unfocused slightly as he viewed my thoughts. I tried to keep the haze of jealousy out of the picture as I did so.
Jake blinked, his eyes refocusing on his surroundings as the video ended. “Oh,” was all he said.
I became aware of the doubled amount of eyes that we attracted and realized that I was still clasping Jake’s hand in my own. It felt so comfortable, holding his warm hand, that I didn’t want to let go. But I reluctantly did so, a twinge in my heart at the sudden emptiness of my hand.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if rumors spread about us ‘dating’ or how I’m ‘cheating on Derek’,” I muttered, just low enough for only Jake to hear.
He smiled slightly. “Not if word spreads about how you broke up with him first. Though maybe gossip will spread about how you beat up him so badly afterwards that he had to be admitted to a hospital,” he joked badly.
I punched him lightly in the arm, still sending him stumbling sideways a few steps before he regained his balance. “Don’t joke about that.” I wouldn’t be completely surprised if that actually happened.
Jake grinned at me. “Sorry.”
The first half of the day passed relatively smoothly. The only obstacles were when the humans would ask me where Derek was. I hated lying. The conversation would go similarly like this:
”Hey, Renesmee.” Most of the humans hadn’t quite caught on to my nickname yet.
“Oh, hey,” I would reply, half-hoping that they wouldn’t ask me that question. Of course, they would.
“So where’s Derek at? He’s not here, is he?” he or she would ask me.
I would hesitate at this moment, readying myself to lie convincingly. “Oh, no. There was a little incident over the weekend and he got hurt.”
Worry—whether it was fake or real—would cross the inquisitor’s face. “Is he alright? What happened?”
At this point, I would sigh, convincingly tired from having repeated the story so many times. “It’s a long story. But to put it in short terms, we had a fight, we broke up, I stormed off into the woods, he followed, he never came back home that night so we sent out a search party, we found him mauled by a bear, and so he’s currently under the care of my gr—father. He’s a doctor.”
From here, I would suppress the urge to laugh at their bewildered and amazed faces. “A bear?” they would say in wonder.
“Yeah,” I would say. “But don’t worry; we caught the beast.”
“A bunch of wildlife people from some organization and my dad, Edward, Emmett, and Jasper.”
That would basically be the end of our conversation. I must have repeated it about a dozen times already. It was becoming a lot easier to recite. The humans seemed to believe us, even as shocked as they were about a bear attacking one of their own. With a story as wild as this one, it was bound to circulate in this small school for quite some time.
Even as uncomfortable these moments were, it was a lot easier with Jake by my side. I kept checking to make sure that he was still there, half-terrified that he would suddenly leave again. The hole in my heart was currently patched, but it was done so messily—and mishandling and it would rip open again.
I tried to avoid skin contact with him, as much as I would love to just wrap my arms around his slim waist. It was just too much for my self-control. I was afraid that my senses would take over one time and ruin my friendship with Jake with some brash action, like kissing him.
It was hard to concentrate on the lecturing teachers; all I could think about was Jake and how his lips would feel moving against my own. I would have to remember to talk to Dad and make sure that he didn’t spill any of my thoughts to anyone else, especially Jake.
Lunch was an interesting affair. I didn’t know where I should sit: with my family or with my human friends?
I ended up choosing sitting with my family; they were a lot less likely to badger me. Plus, I didn’t want Jake anywhere near Sophie. As oblivious as he was to her advances, I certainly wasn’t and I didn’t want him anywhere near her. My jealous, protective side overruled on that case.
Of course, my human friends did ask me if Jake and I wanted to sit with them—already they seemed to get that we were a package deal—and I had to turn them down gently, saying that I was going to sit with my family for today. When I showed up at the vampire table, they all just looked at me, all confused except for Dad and Alice.
“Why don’t you go sit with your friends, sweetheart?” Mom suggested. “You don’t have to sit with us.” Oh. She thought that I was being forced to sit here. I looked at Dad and he shrugged. Apparently he hadn’t said anything about my decision to sit here. Weird.
“I want to sit here. If I sit with the humans, they’ll just badger me about Derek all hour,” I said half-truthfully, and Dad grinned at the other reason behind my actions—Sophie.
“Glad to have you back, shortie,” Emmett grinned. “Almost thought we lost you to the humans for a second there. Thought that you preferred them over us.”
“Well, they are so much better looking than you are, Emmett, and so much funnier,” I teased, sitting down and setting my apple on the table. Jake mimicked my action to sit next to me and slide his tray full of food on the tabletop. I saw everyone visibly grimace at the sight of the human food.
“Ha!” Emmett scoffed, snatching my apple and tossing it in the air. “Those humans can’t be funny even if they tried. I have more funny in the tip of my pinkie finger than they all do put together.”
I raised an eyebrow at his analogy, glad that I chose to sit with my family instead. It was so much more relaxing. “Did you just use funny as a noun?”
“It can be used as a noun,” Jasper offered up, his arm wrapped lightly around Alice’s waist. I felt a jolt of jealousy at what they had—what they all had—that I so wanted: that clear, devoted love. It was like everyone had someone who loved them so much they couldn’t live without him or her. Everyone except for me. Jasper cocked an eyebrow at me, tasting my emotions, and I just shrugged in reply, smiling sheepishly. I can’t help what I feel.
“I can’t believe we’re talking about grammar,” Rose grumbled from her seat on Emmett’s lap. “You are such a geek.”
“What would you like to talk about, Rose?” Dad shot at her playfully. “How beautiful you are?”
She scowled at him, crossing her arms and turning her nose up in the air.
Emmett kissed her bare shoulder lightly. “Aw, don’t take it hard, Rose. Little Eddie’s just jealous of your beauty.”
Dad gnashed his teeth at Emmett this time—he absolutely hated that nickname—with eyes narrowing. Mom just chuckled, stroking his cheek lovingly—another jolt of jealousy at the obvious display of affection between the two. Why must I always be the oddball? The odd one out in this family?
“I like that,” she whispered seductively though we could all hear. “’Little Eddie.’”
Dad visibly melted at her touch, turning his smoldering golden eyes that were so full of love onto her. As he bent forward to kiss her gently on the lips, I turned away, envy pulsing through my veins.
Jasper reached forward to snatch the apple from midair as Emmett gave it another toss. “Seems like Edward isn’t the only one jealous,” Jasper muttered as he leaned forward, just low enough so that only I would hear him since I was sitting next to him. I pretended to ignore that comment though it did stab me in the heart like a pin. I was jealous. And I hated that feeling because it just made me feel so selfish and shallow that I couldn’t be happy for other people’s happiness even when I did not have it myself.
The rest of the lunch hour passed with playful banters and teasing, though that taste of jealousy still wallowed deep in my heart. I tried to pretend like nothing was wrong, but I think Jake noticed—other than the obvious Dad and Jasper who could read my mind and emotions. But I kept my gaze away from him, feeling like I would completely break down and spill everything if I looked into his compassionate and worry-filled eyes. If only they were filled with the same love I felt for him. If only.
Wow, this page takes a very long time to load because of all the chapters I posted all at once. Sorry if that's an inconvience to anyone!
In case anyone didn't notice, this is the same fanfic from the old Twilight Saga forum. I am that same writer, just reposting it all here. =]
first of all: GREAT JOB DONE so far! I can hardly wait for your next posting, and I really appriciate your share // balance between highschool and writing
And yes, everybody who is here, is here because of you I guess, so, you are identified...
Good luck, and all the best to you!
BTW: cool - we are already members! is here no ranking???
post more plz!
post more soon fire!!!
Fire r u still gonna post on the old site 2 or just this 1?
yay! I love it!
Just waiting for more so please hurry!?
WoW!!!! That was alot of posting!!!! Post more soon please and also are you gonna be updating both sites now?
Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As far as I know, I will be on both this site and NING. =]
And I hope you will all be on NING too
A/N: Here's the next chapter! It's new. =] Enjoy!
As soon as the last bell of the day rang, I jumped up out of my seat. I had to use all the self-control I had to not zoom out of that classroom at high speeds and frighten the humans. But I was just so tired of pretending right now.
I had been asked twenty-nine times where Derek was. I had to retell that false tale twenty-nine times to twenty-nine different sets of human ears. Twenty-nine times people pretended to care about what had happened. Twenty-nine times people put on a mask of empathy for me. That was twenty-nine times way too many.
I strode out into the parking lot, keeping my eyes down as I walked as fast as I could at human speed. Hopefully if I don’t make eye contact with anyone, they will leave me alone. I could see the Harley, Jeep, and Volvo up ahead—I would be the first one there.
“Renesmee!” a mundane voice called out behind me. So much for leaving me alone.
I turned towards the voice, plastering what I hoped was a genuine-looking smile on my face. “Hey, Sophie,” I greeted, meeting her halfway.
“I know you and Derek broke up and all, but you’re still going to the dance, right?” Sophie asked, nearly bouncing on the balls of her heels.
Well, Jake had asked me. And I wouldn’t turn him down on that. “Yeah, I think I am going. With Jake,” I added, hoping she might get the hint.
Her eyes brightened instead. “That’s great!” I nearly hissed at her for her enthusiasm at hearing that Jake was coming as well. “Do you have a dress yet?”
I shrugged noncommittally. “I don’t know. Why?”
“Because if you didn’t, I was going to invite you to come dress shopping with me, Rachel, and Kendra.”
Ugh. I really didn’t feel up to hanging out with more humans at this moment, especially Sophie or Kendra who would most likely just bombard me with questions about Derek and the recent events. They were the most gossipy girls I had ever met.
I tried to put on a convincingly disappointed expression. “Ah, I just remembered. I can’t go. My, uh, sister Alice already bought us all dresses. She absolutely adores shopping and everything,” I explained. At least this was all half-truths. I’m sure Alice really did already pick out outfits for us all for the dance.
Sophie frowned with genuine disappointment—probably because she wouldn’t get her gossip for the day. “That’s too bad. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow. Bye, Renesmee!”
“Bye, Sophie,” I replied as I made my way over to the cars. By now, everyone had already arrived and was waiting for my conversation to end.
Alice bounced over to me immediately, her pixie-like face twisted with excitement. “Are you really going to let me dress you for the dance?” she asked eagerly.
I smiled at her reaction. Typical Alice. “If you promise not to go overboard,” I laid out and she let out an excited squeal that was too high for human ears to detect.
“Hooray! Now I can do all of you!” she exclaimed in her tinkling voice with his lips pulled wide with mirth as she skipped over to the Volvo, pulling Jasper along with her.
I eyed Mom and Rose. “You two gave in as well?” I prodded.
They both smiled sheepishly. “She was going to win anyway,” Mom said, cupping my cheek tenderly before telling me goodbye. Everybody else got into the respective cars until only Jake and I remained standing.
As we both hopped on the back of the bike, I leaned forward to whisper a challenge into Jake’s ear. Maybe this will make things less awkward between us. “Bet you can’t beat Dad and Emmett home.”
I could almost see Jake smiling in the prospect of some sort of a challenge. “Deal,” he whispered back before revving the engine and shooting off into the streets just a split second after the Jeep.
I clung tight to Jake’s waist as the wind whipped at my form, trying to wrench me away from this lifeline of mine.
The feeling of moving at nearly 100 miles per hour was absolutely exhilarating. It was even more so considering the fact that the only thing that kept me from being ripped off my seat were my arms wrapped around Jake’s body. Though the impact of the fall would not hurt me at all, some deep human instinct still pumped fear, exhilaration, and adrenaline through my veins.
We had a greater advantage. With our small, maneuverable bike, we could weave through the lanes far more easily than my dad or Emmett could in their bulky cars.
As we neared the bumper of Emmett’s Jeep—he was speeding a lot more than usual, giving me the inkling that Dad, who must have heard my challenge, called Emmett and told him about the race—Jake leaned back in his seat to murmur in my ear.
“So what are we betting with, Miss Renesmee Cullen?” he asked huskily. The way he said my name sent shivers coursing through my body. I like how he said it, though I must have been imagining the tone behind his voice. It caressed my name gently, flowing from his lips fluidly.
I smiled impishly though he could not see it. I leaned forward to brush my lips against his ear. “Are we putting on stakes, Mr. Jacob Black?” I asked coyly. I felt his abdominal muscles clench once under my hands at something unknown.
“What would you like if you win?” he just asked, his voice sounding slightly more strained than before.
I clamped my mouth shut before the obvious would spill from my tongue. I want you, I urged to cry out but I couldn’t. So instead, I just said something simpler and a lot more materialistic and silly. “How about if I win, I get to play dress up with you as my doll. You’ll get a complete makeover,” I suggested, trying to hold back the laughter. I knew I wasn’t going to win—we were on Emmett’s tail and still quite a few miles from home—but I just like the prospect of the bet I brought.
Jake chuckled. “You like playing dress up? How much did you change from the week I was gone?” he teased me. His mentioning of that week brought back the memories of losing him. Before this could show on my exterior, I suppressed it.
“I might get Alice to help,” I added airily, knowing that would make things a whole lot worse for him if he lost. But much funnier. “And what do you want if you win?”
I froze at the two words that flowed from his lips. His voice was so low and quiet that even I had to strain to catch what he said. I wasn’t even sure that that was what I heard.
“What?” I asked, trying to push the trembles from my voice. My imagination was running too far with this one. “What did you say?”
Jake stayed quiet for a split second before replying. “I said ‘a list.’ I have a whole list of what I want.” He chuckled, but it sounded a little forced and nervous to me. Probably imagining it again.
I internally beat myself up for thinking he actually said ‘kiss.’ I really need to rid of these delusions. “Well, just pick one thing from your list. You’re not getting more than one.”
“What about, if I win, you eat dinner with me,” Jake suggested. Trying to keep my mind from jumping to conclusions, I waited for him to finish. “You have to eat whatever human food I want, at whatever restaurant I pick. Deal?”
Oh, so it was going to be tortuous for me. Knowing him, he would pick the most disgusting human restaurant and make me eat pounds of it. Ugh. But still, even if he didn’t think of it this way, it would kind of be like a date. And the pathetic side of me clamped on anything that would give me more time with my Jake.
“Deal,” I agreed nonchalantly.
I could see the corner of a grin on his mouth as he leaned forward and sent us speeding faster than before. “No tampering with anything so that you win,” Jake warned as we passed Emmett. He and Rose glared at us, baring their teeth playfully. Emmett stuck his tongue out at us as Rose stuck out an obscene hand gesture at Jake before waving maternally at me. One down, one to go.
I guess either way, it would be a win-win situation for me. I get to spend more time with Jake. There was no way I could lose.
We were nearing the Volvo now and Dad seemed to know that. The Volvo sped up as we closed the gap between us, just as the long, narrow driveway to our house appeared, bordered by tall, menacing trees.
Jake seemed more determined to win this contest. Sending another jolt of speed through the Harley, we flew forward right as both of us reached the entryway.
Only a vampire and werewolf could maneuver a car and motorcycle through a pathway just big enough for one car without any harm coming to either one. Of course, if I wasn’t on the bike, I bet Dad would’ve rammed Jake into the trees by now—a snort came from inside the Volvo at this thought—but since I was on it, they both drove extremely carefully around each other. Still, they were both determined to win.
The house came into view.
“First one to pass the trees wins,” I called out, loud enough for Dad to hear. Both motor vehicles sped up. Who was going to win?
Both the Volvo and Harley exploded out of the trees into the open driveway, skidding to a halt before they ram into the house.
The driver’s door opened and Dad got out as Jake and I hopped off the bike.
“Who won?” I asked. It looked really close to me.
“I did,” both Dad and Jake said simultaneously. Boys. Always so competitive. I rolled my eyes.
“Mom?” I asked. “Alice? Jasper?”
The three of them climbed out of the car just as the Jeep pulled up beside us.
“Who won?” Rose called out as she gracefully exited the Jeep. Emmett said nothing, merely crossing his arms and scowling. He hated losing.
Mom, Alice, and Jasper all looked at each other before turning to the rest of us and saying in chorus, “Tie.”
Jake and Dad both frowned but didn’t argue. But this left a little problem about our bet.
Jake turned to me. “So… what about the bet?”
I shrugged. “You didn’t beat both,” I said airily. I really didn’t care either way, but I amused myself in seeing Jake’s lips twist to look indignant.
“But I beat Emmett and tied with Edward!” he protested like a two-year old.
“In a case of a tie,” Alice piped up, “both parties have to subject through what was betted, as if they both lost.”
I had to repress a grin. That was fine with me. I glanced at Jake who still had a small frown on his face that made him look so adorable. “That sound good, Jake?” I asked.
“Sure, sure,” he agreed absentmindedly. I furrowed my brow at his strange behavior, not noticing the sly grin on Dad’s face as he read Jake’s mind. Before I could react, Jake swiveled and shot a snowball at me.
It was still soft—not compressed into ice as Emmett would have—so that it splattered over my face, leaving me sputtering. “Jake!” I cried out indignantly as everyone laughed at my expense. “Oh, you are on!”
“Snowball fight!” Jake called out as he ducked behind the Volvo.
“Away from the cars!” Dad called out in a panic. “Move to the backyard! Now!” I let out a laugh. Dad was so overprotective of his cars. We all raced around the house into the woods to escape Edward’s wrath.
I felt another snowball pelt my back—well, more of an iceball—and turned to see Emmett grinning at me. Figures as much.
“This snowball fight is a week overdue, shorty!” he called out as he sent another iceball my way.
I just laughed again, mirth and joy filling me and pushing past the sadness and loneliness of being unloved. Scooping up a handful of snow and pressing it into a circular block of ice, I joined in on the fray.
Last edited by Fire (2009-02-10 23:45:46)