Emme Fenway's life is heating up, spurred on by her father's death and an impromptu move across the country.
That heat isn't the problem, though. The problem is that Quileute boy, and he's bringing a heat all his own...
16. Mama Wolf.
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“Face it, Jacob, you’re a cripple,” I teased heartlessly from across the table, earning a cold glare from my friend with the casted up leg and slinged arm.
“That’s not funny, Emmette,” Jacob said finally, lowering his gaze to his pancakes he was trying to cut one handedly. “You and I both know I’m not really hurt anymore, that this is purely for appearances.”
I snorted, taking a bite of my own pancakes. “You’re still a cripple, you cripple.”
Jacob looked up from his food for a split second to give me a stare that could send me to hell and back, but didn’t say anything before returning his attention to his pancakes. He wasn’t overly talented at cutting with one hand.
“Geez, Jacob. You’re such a baby,” I said, snatching his plate as my maternal instincts set in and chopping away. “Literally. It’s so obvious you never had a baby brother or sister. You can’t even cut soft food,” I said, thinking of how often I cut Lissy’s food for her and how Rachel and Rebecca must have done that for Jacob all his life, making him into the pitiful knife wielder he was.
Jacob pouted and snatched the plate back with his good arm just as I finished. “If I’m such a baby, then why don’t I get a sippy?” He demanded, nodding at the toddler one table over devouring some apple juice from a Bob the Builder sippy cup.
“Do you want one? Lissy’s got a Princess Belle one she’s not too fond of, you know,” I said grinning. “She’d give it to you if you asked.”
I was promptly ignored as he doused the cut up pancakes in syrup and tucked in. Sniggering, I ate a bite of my own. This had been our usual Tuesday routine ever since Jacob’s “accident,” that is, dinner at the Calls’ shop, which included a little café with the best breakfast-for-dinner in town. Probably the only place you could get breakfast at night in La Push anyway, but still the best regardless. Besides, it wasn’t really routine yet anyway. It had only been two weeks. A twice doesn’t make something a routine. It doesn’t even make it a habit.
Jacob remained silent while he ate, and I wondered if by making fun of his cutting ability I had hit a nerve. Or maybe he really didn’t like Princess Belle… “Look, Jakey, babe,” I joked lightly. “You aren’t a cripple. I didn’t mean it.”
Jacob snorted and looked up. “Jakey? Are you serious?”
I stuck my tongue out. “Maybe. What’s it to you?”
“Nothing,” he said, looking back down at his food and continuing his dinner quietly. It was unnerving; it just wasn’t like Jacob. And it made me lose my appetite, whatever it was. I propped on my elbow, watching him eat. He’d be done soon. And by God, when he was, I was going to pry it out of him what was on his mind.
He glanced up again and caught my eye, keeping it with a look of confusion. “What?” he asked, syrup sliding out the corner of his mouth.
I held his gaze. “Alright, what’s up with you,” I demanded. It wasn’t actually a question, it was just phrased as one.
“Spill it,” I said, crossing my arms. “I know something’s up, little boy, and you’re going to tell me.”
“I’m not a ‘little boy.’”
“You’re the one who wants the sippy cup.”
“Touché. But nothing’s wrong,” Jacob said with a laugh.
I cocked an eyebrow at him. “I’m sure,” I allowed, though I really didn’t believe him. He caught it.
“You really wanna know what’s going on?” he asked seriously, as though he was contemplating telling me.
I made a little sound of disbelief. “Didn’t I just ask you that?”
“No one likes an attitude, Emme,” Jacob said testily.
“No one likes being left out of a secret, Jake,” I shot back.
Jacob shut up and ignored me again, and I really began to wonder if he was just werewolf PMSing or something near about. I sighed and took a gulp of my water and settled into ignoring him myself, whipping out my cell phone and rapid firing little text messages to everyone in my address book.
“You really want to know what’s up, don’t you?” Jacob asked at length. I closed my cell discreetly, paying attention. He sighed. “I think I’m going to have to leave for a while,” Jacob said finally.
I cocked my head. “What for? Like a vacation or something?”
He chuckled. “Not really. Not at all.”
Silence passed between us as it dawned on me what he meant. “You cannot be serious, Jake…” I said attempting at that pathetic pleading thing Bella does to control him from time to time.
“Dead serious,” said Jacob. “I need out of this, just for a while.”
“So your plan is to sprout fur and head for the hills?” I asked, trying to disguise my initial feelings on the idea. It sounded stupid to me.
“Northern Canada to be exact,” Jacob offered with a smile.
I sighed. “I don’t know why you’re doing this. I have other cousins, you know.”
Jacob’s turn to be confused. “What’s that have to do with anything?”
“This is about Bella and you know it. Admit it at the same time you admit to being crippled,” I suggested. “But I have other ones. Just pick another. There’s Josie and Kailynn…”
Jacob practically growled. “This isn’t just about that, Emme.”
“… Annabeth and Marilaine…. Oh, and then there’s the new one, Ansley! She’s the same age as Claire. You and Quilly could have a double wedding!!”
Jacob stared at me slack jawed. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t suggest that, okay? And we’re going to go back to eating dinner like we were before. And this conversation never took place.”
“Don’t I need to stare into the light or something? Super secret FBI memory removal and all that?” I asked, feigning innocence.
“You didn’t say that, either.”
“I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised, huh?” I said dully, sitting on the cold wet beach with Paul. We had been there a while, and I just knew when I stood up my butt was going to be soaked in Pacific Ocean that saturated the shoreline.
“Probably not,” Paul shrugged, shifting a sleeping Lissy from one shoulder to the other. I could see her face perfectly, barely-there blonde lashes fanned across her cheeks. I tapped her nose lightly and she sniffled in her sleep. “He did warn you.”
I shrugged and looked back out at the ocean. “He did. But I didn’t think he was this serious about it.”
“He was serious,” Paul laughed. “He’s running around pretending he’s not human. It’s actually not a half bad idea…”
“I think it’s a terrible idea, Balto,” I jeered, elbowing him lightly.
“Stop that!” he said, scooting away. “You’ll wake her up.”
“You are such a mama wolf.”
“I resent that.”
“Next thing we know, you’ll want your porridge medium warm.”
Paul shot me a harsh looking glance. “That’s the three bears, not the three wolves.”
“Carnivores are carnivores.”
“Some bears eat berries,” Paul said thoughtfully.
“Others eat people,” I muttered, pulling my knees to my chest and wrapping my arms around them. It was freezing.
I watched the ocean again for a moment, Paul moving around by the sound of Lissy’s rustling wind breaker. He scooted back over to my side and wrapped a heated arm about my shoulder, dragging me across the inches of sand between us to his side. Lissy was cradled in his other arm, still fast asleep, blonde hair and fair skin making her appear ghostly in the gray scales of the beach. I leaned my head against Paul’s shoulder and reached across his chest to pull Lissy’s hood over her head.
I glanced up, not really expecting to see much more than Paul’s chin as he stared into space like he did so often. So I wasn’t surprised when that was exactly what I saw, the underside of his jaw as he stared out over the ocean. I smiled softly and laid my head back down against his chest. A cold gust of wind hit me at that moment and I buried my face against his t shirt. It was going to rain soon, but when wasn’t it? This was La Push, close neighbor to Forks, rain capital of the world. Smiling to myself, I inhaled deeply, the woodsy smell a lot like the pines in Gatlinburg filling my nose. I lifted my head and kissed his cheek, catching him off guard, though he still managed to catch my lips eventually. I smiled against him.
This was what I wanted.
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