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.
7. Josh Wolfe
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PART SEVEN: Josh Wolfe
A nurse came in around dawn to check Beth's vitals. I woke up as she entered the room, remaining still but watchful. She arched an eyebrow, but didn't comment, taking the numbers she needed and quietly retreating. I suspected Cullen had let it be known that I would be staying the night, and not to bother us. Assuming I was right, it was just one more thing I owed him for.
Settling back, I stroked Beth's long, strawberry-blonde curls, pleased that she was completely relaxed against me. When she'd woken up last night there were moments when I'd sensed she was upset. Moments when I had doubts about pushing my luck. Imprinting was not an easy thing for anyone to accept. I had the benefit of drawing on the experience of three pack brothers. She'd been caught completely unaware. I knew better than to expect miracles overnight but, I won't lie, I was elated she'd let me hold her.
Yawning, I let my head fall back, my fingers still sliding through Beth's hair. When I woke up yesterday morning, the first thing I'd thought about was Bella. Should I feel guilty that today was different? I hadn't suddenly stopped loving Bella. That wasn't true at all. The feelings were still there, still strong. But the empty place she'd left when she made her choice had been filled with something wonderful. The gaping wound in my heart was finally beginning to heal. Best of all, I knew that would make her happy. So I put away those thoughts for now and let myself doze.
I have no idea how much time passed before the commotion started. One moment I was a wolf, chasing a lovely golden she-wolf through the woods, the next I was jolted out of sleep by the sound of raised voices.
"You left her alone with him last night? What the hell were you thinking?!" That was a female voice, suspiciously familiar.
"He wouldn't do anything to hurt her!" Embry protested, defensive.
They were at the door now. Embry, a nurse, and with them a petite, dark-haired girl. "Okay, he's obviously biased," the girl said angrily, then turned on the nurse. "What were you thinking?" The nurse sputtered, taken off-guard, and the girl gave up with a growl of frustration. She swept into the room and headed straight for the bed, glaring down at me with vivid green eyes. "Jacob Black, I presume?"
"Maybe... Who wants to know?" I already had a good idea, but I wanted confirmation.
"Katrina McAllister, Elizabeth's best friend." She touched Beth's cheek, smoothing back red-gold hair from her forehead. "Great mother, Betts, you look like death warmed over." She scowled at me like it was all my fault and I glared right back, making no attempt to untangle myself from Beth.
"Kat..." Beth's soft voice ended the glaring contest. Her lashes, the same honeyed color as her hair, fluttered and then parted.
"Hey B." Kat stroked her face again, immediately softening. "How you feeling?"
"I've been better." I could sense the tension in Beth. With her friend there she was uncomfortable that we were sharing the bed. Yeah, not liking this Kat-person. She struggled to sit up, and we both reached for her at the same time. After a moment's hesitation, I reluctantly helped Kat support her. Beth was hurting, but she never made a sound, not even when her face went ghostly pale and she trembled. "You didn't have to come up here."
"Of course I did. You were hurt and surrounded by a bunch of strangers," the look Kat gave me then was withering. "What, did you think I'd just cast you to the wolves?" I was glad she didn't realize how close to the mark she'd just hit.
"Casper's fine. He's got food and water, Mrs. Carter has a key and she's going to look in on him." Kat was trying awfully hard to be reassuring about it.. I still wasn't entirely sure what 'Casper' was, but apparently he was important to Beth.
"Okay." Beth seemed doubtful, but didn't press the point.
I got a whiff of leech just before someone cleared their throat discreetly from the doorway. "Mr. Black, if you and Miss McAllister could step out for a few minutes, I need to check on Elizabeth's injuries." Cullen stepped into view, a polite smile on his face.
I frowned, but I didn't see a way around leaving the room, especially not when both of the girls were eyeing me expectantly. Carefully extricating myself, I took a chance and brushed a soft kiss across Beth's forehead. She looked surprised, then thoughtful. Kat looked like she wanted to skin me. It was worth it.
"Well, this will be nice. I wanted to talk to you anyway," Kat said a bit too cheerfully, towing me out the door. I distinctly heard Beth sigh as we left, but I'm not sure if it was meant for me or for Kat. Fuck, this was going to be more fun than a root canal.
Kat towed me all the way to the lobby and out the front door, heading for a stand of trees on the edge of the parking lot. Embry and Quil followed, but kept a careful distance. I don't think she was fooled for a second.
"I don't care who you think you are, or what you think you're doing," she began fiercely. "But this is going to stop right now." She started pacing, her gauzy skirt swirling around slim legs. "Beth is not the kind of girl you can play games with. She feels things too deeply, gets too involved. Embry told me about the whole sweeping her up out of the woods, saving her life thing, please don't think I'm not grateful," that didn't concern me, I was too busy wondering when she'd done all this talking to Embry. When I turned to look at him, he studiously avoided my eyes.
"But she's still so fragile." Kat stopped and looked up at me, willing me to understand. "She can't even stand to be in Corvallis during the summer. That's why she took that stupid research project in the first place." Green eyes were suddenly intense. "I know you're thinking 'summer break, it won't mean anything,' but you're wrong."
"I'm not the only one that's got it wrong," I growled, her ranting and all of her assumptions were getting annoying.
"Excuse me?" I almost took a step back at the look on her face. Almost. I caught myself. "What the fuck do you call that little stunt last night? You know, when you hopped into bed with her?"
I flushed. "She was alone and in pain. I was trying to comfort her."
"Comfort her. Right. And of course it's easier to get in her pants if she's not wearing any to begin with."
I started shaking, my control beginning to slip. "You have no idea what you're talking about."
"Kat..." Embry had appeared at my shoulder and now he pushed past me. "You've got the wrong idea. I won't deny that Jake is a very forward guy, he's not being as cautious with this as he should be. But there really is more going on here than you realize." What he did then surprised the hell out of me. Stepping forward, he tentatively took Kat's hand, holding it between both of his. I was shocked to see her blush, but she was definitely listening now. "Trust me when I say that the last thing Jake would want is to see Beth hurt. Physically or emotionally."
The way they were looking at each other... "No way," I said softly.
"Not what you're thinking, no." Quil had come up on my other side, his voice pitched just for my ears. "But they did spend most of last night talking on the phone while she drove up here." He sounded deeply amused. "Em said it was to keep them both awake." From the tone of his voice, Quil didn't buy it, and neither did I. I would have grinned if the object of Embry's budding affection hadn't been intent on flaying me alive.
Still... I needed more information. The little bits and pieces that Kat had thrown out were worrying, but I couldn't quite put them all together. "What does JB4E mean?"
Startled out of their quiet conversation, Embry and Kat turned to face me. Embry was curious, Kat was stunned and heading towards angry again. "Where did you see that?"
"Answer my question."
"Not until you tell me where you saw it," she snapped.
"Answer the question, first." I crossed my arms and glared down at her. I wasn't giving ground on this. I just had a feeling it was important.
"You bastard," she snarled at me, furious. If she were a wolf, we'd be right on the verge of throwing down right now. Then she made a disgusted sound and backed off, obviously debating how to answer my question. "It means 'Josh and Beth Forever," she said reluctantly.
Okay, that didn't help much. "Just so you know...I saw it when the doctor was working on her back," I admitted, and she relaxed a little. Did she really think I'd stripped her down? "Now, who's Josh?"
She narrowed her eyes at me, but gave in with a sigh. "Josh is her fiancė." My heart stopped, and I heard Quil suck in a sharp breath. Fortunately for my health, she kept talking. "Josh Wolfe died three years ago. In a car accident over summer break."I blinked. Of all the things I could have expected, that wasn't one of them. I suppose it was a relief, and yet I couldn't make myself believe that. The girl I'd found myself inexplicably bound to was still a mystery, but a mystery steeped in sadness. "Tell me more?" I chewed my lip, and something in my expression seemed to melt away some of Kat's resistance. "Please, I need to know."
Her eyes hardened again. "I don't see why it's any of your business."
"Do you believe in Fate?"
She looked startled, taken off-guard. "I suppose I do."
"Then believe me when I say that Fate is bringing me and Beth together." I hesitated. "I don't know where it will go from here. I don't know how to make this work, but... I think I need to know the whole story, Kat. For both our sakes."
The sincerity in my voice seemed to touch her as nothing else had. She stared at me for another long moment. Then, closing her eyes, she began her story. "Josh and Beth... they were that couple. The couple everyone knew would make it, that we expected to see at reunions with their grandkids. They were beautiful." She smiled sadly at the memory. "Beth was invited to a midsummer party by some friends from class. Typical frat party." She shrugged. "Josh didn't drink, his real dad was an alcoholic. They fought about it, and Beth went without him." Kat ran a hand through her hair, getting emotional. Embry shifted closer and quietly took her free hand. "Of course he wasn't going to let her drive. He picked her up... and on the way home they were hit by a drunk driver."
She paused for a moment and tried to get a hold of herself, tears shining in her green eyes. "She was pretty banged up. They think she was thrown clear. But when the paramedics got there, she was on the pavement with him. Holding him." Her voice broke. "He was already dead..." She took a shaky breath. "Beth won't talk about it. She's never actually told anyone what happened. But she blames herself. She thinks it's her fault that Josh is dead." When she met my eyes this time, hers were pleading. "Do you understand now? She has mornings when it's all she can do to get out of bed. You can't treat her like just another girl."
The information was overwhelming and I needed some time to process it. I wasn't sure how it would change things yet. We were a fated pair, nothing would change that, but I realized with a surge of guilt that I'd been pushing her way too fast. She'd tried to let me know, maybe in the only way she knew how, but the fact that I'd gotten as much of a response from her as I did was a testament to the strength of our bond. Not only that, I felt a sort of awe at Kat's revelations. Beth had lost someone too, she knew the same sort of pain that I did. Bella wasn't dead, but our lives had completely diverged. The loss was real. We needed each other, Beth and me, maybe together was the only way we could heal.
Gotta hand it to Fate, maybe it really did know what it was doing.
"I understand," I said quietly. "Thank you for telling me, it's information I need to have." I paused, trying to choose my words carefully. "I want you to know that I have no intention of treating Beth like 'just another girl'." I grinned ruefully. "I don't know how much Embry has told you about our customs here... But for now, all you need to know is that Elizabeth Foster is the most important person in my world." Kat frowned, looking at Embry, who simply nodded in agreement with what I'd said.
"Oh great." Kat rolled her eyes. "You're all as nutty as we are. It's a match made in heaven." She shook her head, but she was smiling. I was relieved that the tension was broken, at least for the moment.
His hand still holding hers, Embry started tugging Kat back toward the building. "I thought you said you were a Buddhist last month. Who's nutty now?"
"Hey, I have freedom of religion in this country, you know," she replied archly, bumping shoulders with him. Oh yeah, they were totally into each other. I let them lead the way, trying to control my eagerness to see Beth again, to make sure she was okay.
"You sure know how to pick 'em, Jake," Quil said quietly, falling in beside me.
"Sure, sure, this from the man whose soulmate isn't even old enough for preschool yet."
- Let Sleeping Wolves Lie
- The Magic Words
- Beware of Dog
- The Silver Cord
- An Uneasy Truce
- Constructive Insanity
- Josh Wolfe
- Now and Forever
- First Light of Dawn
- Stop the Bleeding
- Stolen Moments
- Waking the Dreamer
- Trouble in Paradise
- Almost Doesn't Count
- Morning After Cure
- Sister of the Pack
- The Caterpillar Mating Dance
- Practice Makes Perfect
- Sound and Fury
- Storm Warning
- Heavy In Your Arms
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- 29 Apr 08
- 22 Jul 10
- In Progress