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Dreamcatcher

Summary:
Dream Jacob/OC. Post-Eclipse. Elizabeth Foster is your typical grad student. When she interns on a summer research project looking for dire wolves in the Olympic Peninsula, she finds more than she bargained for.


Notes:


17. Sister of the Pack

Rating 5/5   Word Count 2813   Review this Chapter

PART SEVENTEEN: Sister of the Pack

Jacob POV

I swear I wasn't gone for longer than five minutes. I went down to the office to get a cup of coffee for Beth. But in that brief window of time, we'd been invaded.

"Aw damn, I was really hoping she'd be ugly."

"Actually, I'll have to compliment Jake on his taste. I'm not much of a redhead fan, myself. But the whole package is nice."

"Excuse me! Maybe you didn't notice, but I'm standing right here."

I pushed the door the rest of the way open to find Beth glaring at Jared and Paul. The two knuckleheads were flopped comfortably on the beds, watching her avidly as they made their formal assessment. I really should have warned her about that. "Alright you mutts, lay off."

"Jake." Sighing with relief, Beth came to my side. Handing her the cup of coffee, I slid an arm around her waist and was pleasantly surprised when she leaned into me. "Quil let them in before he got in the shower." She sounded angry, not upset, and I couldn't fault her for that. I'd be pissed too if Quil had dumped me with strangers, especially the club bouncers from hell.

"It's okay, they're part of the pack." I caught the significant look that passed between the two of them, and they both sat up straight, eyeing Beth with renewed interest.

"Great, they're getting fleas on the bed," she replied without missing a beat. Paul frowned, but Jared just chuckled and flicked an imaginary flea off of his jeans.

"Well, I suppose we can talk to Sam about putting flea collars on them." That got a pillow bounced off my head. I caught it before it fell and lobbed it back. "The itchy one is Jared, the grumpy one is Paul. Kids, this is Beth."

"Itchy and Grumpy, got it."

"I like her," Jared said cheerfully. "I think Grumpy does, too." Paul smacked him with a pillow. I could see where this was going if I didn't intervene.

"So why the visit?" I plucked the pillow out of Jared's hand before it made another trip across the room.

"Sam's called a breakfast meeting. We were sent to fetch you since none of you have checked in recently." Paul yawned. "We're going to have to hurry or the puppies will eat all the food."

"You should go," Beth slipped around my back to set her coffee on the dresser. "Kat and I can fend for ourselves."

"Actually," Jared began casually, "Sam specifically told us to bring you."

"Me?" She looked up at me, startled. I shrugged and shook my head.

"Yes ma'am, it's not everyday one of us imprints."

Uhoh. I winced, I hadn't used those exact words with her, yet. Mostly because she seemed to have gotten the gist of things on her own. Why did I have a bad feeling that would backfire on me?

"Imprint?" She sounded thoughtful, but I made a point of not looking at her face. "That's a wolf thing, right?" It was, however, all but impossible to avoid both Jared and Paul's eyes. Jared lifted his eyebrows, giving me a 'dude, you've got to be kidding' look. I scowled back.

"Yeah, it's a wolf thing," I said finally, reluctantly. "It's the word we use to describe what's been happening between you and me." This was really not how I'd wanted this conversation to go. But it seemed like every serious talk we'd had in the past few days had become volatile before I could give her all the information. "Actually..." I took a deep breath and fervently wished we didn't have an audience. "It mostly has to do with me."

"I.. don't see what wolf stuff has to do with our relationship." Beth moved so that she was standing directly in front of me, looking up into my face with her hands on my chest. "Besides, Kat's the mysticism-junkie, Jake, not me." She was trying to play it off lightly, but I could feel the tension in her.

"Wolf stuff has everything to do with our relationship." Ignoring the others, I touched her face, cupping her cheek in my hand. "It's real, Beth," I said quietly. "Sometimes... we find our mates this way. The moment we meet them, we just know." I gently stroked the elegant slope of her cheekbone with my thumb. "You're my perfect match, Elizabeth. I knew it that first moment in the woods." My voice dropped to little more than a whisper, though I knew my pack brothers would still hear. "There will never be anyone else for me."

"Wow." She let out the breath she'd been holding with a low whistle. "You really don't let up with the revelations, do you?" I decided to take the fact that she hadn't pulled away as a good sign. "Wow. I'm not sure what to say... or that I like what you're telling me. I mean, I guess it makes sense in a way. This has all been so fast." She ran slim fingers through her hair. "So, are you basically saying that you wouldn't give a crap about me without the mystical matchmaking?"

"That's not it at all," Jared interjected, his voice firm. "It's more like a compass. It points us in the right direction. But you would have been his match regardless of whether or not he was smart enough to figure it out on his own." That was a good way to put it, better than I could have come up with. I reminded myself to thank him later.

"Hmm." She chewed her lip and looked up into my eyes. I could tell just how furiously she was thinking, the way her brow furrowed, her gaze turned inward. You could practically hear the gears turning. "I suppose it's no different than weird dreams, silver cords and crazy impulses," she muttered.

"Are you okay with it?" Did I dare hope?

"I'm not going to go back on what I said earlier, Jake." Her voice was soft. She plucked a bit nervously at the front of my shirt, but her hands remained on my chest. "If I keep running away from everything that scares me, I'll never stop."

"You're calm about the werewolf thing and about this, but you freak out over my age." I frowned down at her. "What am I missing?"

"I never claimed to be normal." She stuck her tongue out at me. Damn I wished we were alone. "Don't get me wrong, I'm still working on the imprint thing. But my dreams all but showed me the wolves." She raised an eyebrow. "The age part came out of nowhere. You don't look sixteen."

"He acts twelve, it evens out," Jared said cheerfully. "By the way... where's Embry?"

"Em spent the night boning the chick next door." Quil was done with his shower. He emerged, fully dressed, a towel draped around his neck. "He's still over there."

"Aw man! Embry got laid?"

"Boning a chick?"

"Kat is not a 'chick'!"

I blinked at the sudden chaos, and quickly snagged Beth around the waist before she could go after Quil. "Chill out, guys." I raised my voice enough to carry. "Embry's a big boy, he can make his own decisions."

Quil shrugged, rubbing at his damp hair with the towel. "I didn't say he couldn't. Although, does that change things? Do we bring her with us?" Jared lifted his eyebrows, exchanging a glance with Paul before looking at me.

"You're the boss man here, bro."

I frowned and looked down at Beth, who was glaring balefully back. "No Kat, no Beth," she growled.

Okay, apparently a compromise was in order if I wanted to keep my life simple. "We'll bring her along for now. I'll need to talk to Sam before we decide anything beyond that." She still wasn't completely satisfied with that, I could tell she still thought Kat should know about the pack, but at least now she seemed less inclined to skewer me.

After we collected Embry and Kat from next door, I sent Quil, Jared and Paul back to La Push ahead of us. Kat was still suffering from all the vodka the night before, leaving Beth to drive the Xterra while Kat stayed in the backseat, her head in Embry's lap. I have never, in all the years I've known him, seen Embry Call look that smug. I think it annoyed Beth, she kept frowning at him in the rear view mirror. It was cute.

Approaching La Push by car felt strange, I was so used to traveling on four legs now. No one did much talking, but as we neared the reservation I dared to reach out and take Beth's hand. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth and she curled her slim fingers through mine. Settling back in my seat, I wondered if I looked as smug as Embry.

Emily's small house was crowded when we arrived. The entire pack was assembled, puppies included, and Kim was with Emily in the kitchen, helping dish up food for the hungry masses. As we stepped through the door, every eye was on us. I slid an arm around Beth's waist, trying to reassure her. The tension vibrated through her slender body and I could tell she was unprepared to find so many curious faces turned her way. Kat stepped up on Beth's other side and quietly took her hand.

Looking every inch the pack leader, Sam rose from his place at the table and stepped toward us. His eyes went to Kat and back to me, eyebrows lifted, asking the obvious question. I shrugged in answer, now was not the time to talk about that. When he looked at Beth, he smiled. "Hello Beth. It's nice to finally meet you. I'm Sam Uley."

A furrow appeared between her eyes and she looked up at him intently. I have no idea what passed between them, but if I weren't positive he was happily, permanently bound to Emily, I'd be jealous. Especially when Beth abruptly smiled and offered him her hand. "Hi Sam." They greeted each other like old friends, a fact that had Kat puzzled, too. Although Kat did a better job of hiding it when Beth turned toward her. "Sam, this is Katrina McAllister, my roommate and best friend. Kat, this is Sam." She smiled and made with the polite, I stood there and looked dumbfounded.

"I understand you're a friend of Embry's too, Kat." Sam was the perfect gentleman, but I heard a few snickers from the rest of the pack. Around here, a secret was only a secret for as long as it took someone to think it.

"She is." Embry finally moved forward from where he'd been lingering in the open doorway. He looked sheepish, but made a point of taking Kat's hand, something that made both girls smile at him. I swear that women are the original pack hunters. Wolves learned it all just from watching them.

The rest of the introductions were less momentous, and we managed to make it in on the last batch of hot food. After chasing off the puppies, I sandwiched Beth and Kat between myself and Embry at the table; on display for the customary group gawking, but relatively safe from poking and prodding. Beth seemed content to munch on one of Emily's homemade muffins, Kat just hugged a cup of coffee and watched Embry demolish his overflowing plate in horrified fascination.

I savored mine for as long as it took to shovel it in, properly feeding my wolf-fueled appetite for the first time in a few days. "They feed you regularly, right?" Beth leaned her cheek against my arm, watching me eat with amusement. She chuckled, then poked me gently in the ribs. "Hmm... there's definitely flesh on those bones." I glanced at her way and just barely caught the wicked glint in her eye before she tickled me.

"Stop that." I snickered, scooting to the far edge of my chair. She giggled and pursued, lightly raking her nails along my side. She'd never been so openly flirtatious before, and I was startled that she was doing it now with an audience. Plotting my counterattack, I saw her eyes dart across the table... toward Leah. Leah, who looked like she'd just bit into something rotten, seething with jealousy. That stopped me cold. I couldn't quite wrap my brain around what would get Leah so hot and bothered over me and Beth. Sure, she'd all but followed me around after Bella and I called it quits, but it wasn't like we were a couple. Shifting closer to me, Beth's eyes narrowed, and she slipped an arm around my waist. "Everything okay?" I touched her cheek, making her look at me.

"Absolutely fine." She smiled, but there was an edge to it. I'll admit it, I was kind of enjoying this possessive streak.

I was right on the verge of teasing her about it when Sam stood, waiting until he had everyone's attention. It didn't take long, command came as naturally as breathing to Sam. I could never hope to match that, which was why I'd never made an attempt to take his spot as Alpha. "Embry, why don't you take your friend outside for a few minutes?"

Embry nodded and got to his feet, offering a hand to Kat. She looked at Beth, a question in her eyes. "It's alright," I murmured in Beth's ear.

Beth hesitated, but then slowly nodded to Kat. "Go ahead. I'll be fine here."

Reluctantly, Kat allowed Embry to lead her out into the early morning mist. I tugged Beth closer to me, pressing a kiss to her temple. "Thank you for going along with things for now."

"You owe me," she said quietly, but she leaned into me, accepting that for the moment things would be said that Kat couldn't hear.

"Beth, you know what we are," Sam began soberly. "But I don't believe you've been told what our purpose is."

I took a deep breath, this was the last thing I had meant to tell her, the last important thing that had fallen through the cracks. "We're vampire hunters," I said quietly, my eyes on my pack.

"Vampires." Her voice was wary. "I want to say that's impossible, but... so are werewolves." She sighed, rubbing her forehead. "I think my head is going to explode," she said softly.

"It's understandable, it will take some time to completely grasp what we've told you today," Sam said, his tone gentle. "All you really need to understand is that we exist to protect our people and our lands from any threat... but above all from the Cold Ones. What are commonly called vampires. The reason I've shared this information with you now is so you may understand what else I have to say."

His gaze swept us all, insuring that we were listening. "The Cullens have contacted us, they've let us know that the bloodsuckers known as Volturi have become active in our area again. They're not certain what the cause is, because the Volturi seem to have no interest in making contact with them. So. We'll be treating this as any other hostile contact. They come into our territory uninvited, they're fair game." He paused, and then looked at Beth again. "I do have one major concern. The research project that we've been monitoring... I can't help but think they'll become a target. The leeches will see an easy meal and go for it." Beth tensed again, and I rubbed her back soothingly. "What I'm hoping Beth, is that you may have some influence on them. We need to warn them away from the woods. As quietly as possible."

"If they're in danger," she said quietly, "of course I'll do everything I can to help."

"Thank you." Sam's voice was warm, and Beth seemed to take as much comfort from his approval as the rest of us. "You are a true sister of the Pack." Then he moved on and addressed all of us, talking strategies, patrol schedules and what we could expect if we encountered bloodsuckers.

As the discussion continued, Beth took a deep breath and rested her head on my shoulder, her voice a soft murmur. "I hope I don't regret that."

Pressing my lips to her ear, I held her close. "You won't, Beth. I swear it." The one thing I was absolutely certain of was that I would protect this woman with my life. No matter what.