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...
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My mind was racing as Jacob sat me down on the couch. I curled up, my legs against my chest inside of the Seahawks sweatshirt and my arms tight around my legs. Jacob sat across from me in a recliner, and Bella dashed to my side, slinging an arm around me in an awkward hug. My eyes snapped to the door where a large man in his early twenties slipped inside, snapping it shut behind him quickly. He didn't shut it quite fast enough to keep out the angry snarls, barks, yelps and growls from outside.
Jacob had scooped me up almost as soon as I had skidded to a halt where Embry threw me, shuttling me to the living room with Bella on his heels. There had been a succession of ripping noises and I tried to turn my head to look back, but instead got an eyeful of Jacob. My right hand was inflamed and I was clutching something in my left. I wasn't quite sure what it was, but I really didn't care. I didn't care about anything at that moment, I just wanted to get the hell out of the house.
I was beginning to see why Edward was so anti-La Push. There were freaky mutant wolves running free around here.
The man who had stepped in loped toward the three of us in easy strides, taking a seat beside Jacob in another recliner. "My name's Sam," he said, cautious and reserved.
I stared at him over my knees. "Emme."
"I know," he said, grimacing slightly. Unconsciously, I shied away from him, toward Bella at my side. As far as I could tell, she was the only normal person around here. Jacob might have had some degree of normalcy if there weren't mutant wolves running around in his house. My eyes snapped back to the door as it shot opened, a worse for wear Embry stumbling in, dazed and shirtless in a pair of athletic shorts. His chest was covered in puckered pink scars and he had a particularly nasty one across his cheek. I gasped a little and he shot me a grin.
"Sorry about that, Emme," he said in a carefree and natural voice as he stumbled his way to the couch beside me. He opened his mouth to add something to his apology, an explanation, I hoped, and instead hopped nimbly to his feet when Sam gave him a glare and settled himself on the floor instead, still grinning at me cheekily. The scar on his cheek crinkled unpleasantly when he smiled and I turned away, finding myself face to face with Bella.
I looked her dead in the eye. "What's going on here?"
Bella shook her head in a ‘not now' sort of motion and I slunk back against the couch, hugging my knees closer to me. Something was seriously not right here. I replayed what I had seen in my head, watching the silvery gray beast sail over my head and attack Embry. I recalled the piece of white cloth fluttering onto my face and grimaced. Finally I uncurled out of my fetal position and sat Indian style, staring at my left hand, which was still clutched in a vice like grip. I was aware that they were all staring at me as I started prying away my fingers angrily.
My breath caught in my throat. "It was him," I whispered, staring at the tattered bit of shirt in my hand. My memory flashed back to the angry boy, who I now realized shared none of Jacob's looks but skin tone and cropped black hair, and I completely stopped breathing for a moment. I clearly saw his white shirt, then peered back at the strip of shirt in my hand.
"It was him." I stated plainly this time, head snapping up and my eyes finding Embry's. "That... thing that attacked you? That wolf... it was him, wasn't it?" I shook my fistful of bleach white wife beater in their faces, barely noticing how they all flinched as I spoke with such venom about the monster that attacked Embry.
"It's not like that," said Jacob hastily. "Not at all."
I shook my tatter at him again, "Oh really?"
"Really," he said not so convincingly, glancing at the ceiling. A tell, I smirked. The ceiling doesn't have the answers, Jacob, I thought harshly.
"What you saw in there..." began Sam smoothly, appearing far less nervous than the others in the room. Beside me Bella fidgeted but didn't say a word.
"No bullshit," I snapped quickly. "Or horseshit, or wolfshit or whatever. Just give it to me straight."
All three of the Quileutes opposite me started to protest, my cousin clearly on their side by her sounds of disapproval. There was a babble of voices, all four of them speaking at once, all of them giving me painfully uncoordinated excuses. I sighed, arching a brow habitually and cutting my eyes at the door, expecting another of the boys from the hall to come flying in at any second and explain away everything. I turned back to those who were actually there with me, all of them still flubbing their lines.
"Just shut up," I said sharply, highly surprised when all four voices ceased. I stared hard at Jacob, expecting him to crack the easiest. I bluffed. "I know what's going on here. I know what you are. So why don't you just explain all the messy details?"
The whole room relaxed, the tension I hadn't noticed before disappearing. My grip on the shirt loosened as Sam took a deep breath then launched into a story so wild I could never have even imagined it. I flashed between being painfully curious and slack-jaw shocked.
Every person I had met in the last hour was a frickin' werewolf.
I cackled inwardly. What was next? Nymphs? Spectres? Oh, I know, how about a good ol' witch? I cut my eyes at Bella, instantly suspicious. She could be a witch, I decided. Maybe even a demon. I edged away from her slightly and shook away her arm. She glanced at me and shrugged, scooting away herself when she decided I was stable enough to sit by myself like a big girl.
"So let me get this straight," I said, fiddling with my strip of cloth and not bothering to look at the door when it burst open. "You all grow a fur coat and run on all fours when you're angry, right?"
Sam nodded, "Right."
Two more boys entered the room and made themselves comfortable, one small and skinny the other short and buff. I didn't pay them all that much attention, my eyes locked with Sam's as I processed what he told me. They both wore their hair short and cropped, the preferred style of the pack, the name by which I now recognized Jacob and his friends. The skinny one shared Jacob's taste for blue jean cut offs, the buff one Embry's for athletic shorts.
I continued. "And you turn into deranged flea ridden beasts because of your bazillion times great granddaddy who decided the human species wasn't good enough for him."
"Not exactly, but basically. We're not deranged and I at least don't have fleas, " said Sam, casting a warning look at one of the new comers who tried and failed to stifle a laugh from where he had sprawled across the open floor between the recliners and couch. I'm pretty sure it was the buff one. I wasn't looking.
"Had me fooled," I muttered, spreading the tattered cloth out on my thigh. I caught a slightly offended look in Sam's eyes, like I had just taken a jab at his hygiene or lack thereof. "I don't think you have fleas, Sam," I teased. "I meant the deranged part." I gestured at the white cloth on my leg. "He didn't seem entirely in control."
The buff boy popped up from the floor, his head nearly level with mine despite the fact I was sitting on the couch. "He wasn't," he said simply, holding out his hand. "Name's Quil."
I shook his hand, expecting the warmth now, "Emme. Let me guess, you know?"
He laughed. "We all do. Pack telepathy." Quil tapped his temples in a serious manner. I snorted. Serious was all wrong for him. It was etched on his face. I felt sort of stupid for not realizing that was why they were all ‘psychic' before now. Sam had explained the whole pack dynamic to me, and I should have caught it. He might have even outright said it, and I just didn't register it.
"You okay?" asked Bella, genuinely concerned. I looked at her, snapping out of a daze I didn't know I was in, and nodded. Maybe this whole supernatural thing was affecting me more than I thought. I peered down at my lap, scooping the bit of shirt up again and cradling it to my chest. Somehow in the past hour or so of getting my world rocked, a tatter of cloth had become precious. A shred of a bleach white wife beater. I chuckled. The only proof that I had seen was real. That it had actually happened.
It was at that moment that angry scowl boy made an appearance, complete with an angry scowl and a stream of impressive profanities. I jumped to my feet, my gaze locked on him, and hiked up the Seahawks sweatshirt, shoving the bit of his shredded shirt into my pocket. He stopped in his furious little tracks when he saw me, his steady curses slowing to a stuttering, gurgling end, arms swinging at his sides. I watched as he turned on his heel, exiting as swiftly as he entered. I noticed another boy who had trailed in behind him shrug his shoulders at the rest of the pack, then follow him back out. I sat down, untroubled and rolling my shoulders.
"Wonder what's got his knickers in a twist," I directed to the room at large, chuckling as I did. I stopped when I noticed all the dumb looks I was getting from the boys. "What?" I think Quil was even drooling out of his dropped jaw a little bit.
"I think you do, Emme," said Bella softly beside me. I cut my eyes at her, laughing again. I was the only one laughing. Everyone else looked like their best friend had just been shot. They all knew something I didn't. My eyes narrowed at Sam, a not so teensy wave of anger rushing through me. I hated being left out of things.
"Sam?" I said, exaggerating my vowel sounds. "What didn't you tell me?"
Everyone's gaze flicked away from me and to Sam, who shifted a little in his seat. He hadn't been expecting any of this, apparently, and that must have bothered him. I smiled a little; he looked like the sort of guy who liked to have a plan rolling. I blinked at him expectantly, tilting my head just the slightest bit. Sam didn't say a word.
"Imprinting," Jacob said softly. I quirked a brow at him, quizzical. "He didn't tell you about imprinting."
"It's another one of those wolf things, sort of like finding your soul mate," Jacob said, shifting my attention to him. He sounded like a loon, but I believed him. Maybe I was the loon in the picture, accepting the fact they were all mythical beasts but not the fact that they just waltzed around finding their soul mates and knew it immediately? I was definitely the loon here.
"Sort of?" protested Quil from the floor. "It is!"
"Shut up, Quil," said Embry, smacking Quil. "Let ‘em talk."
"Thanks, Embry," Jacob said sarcastically, rolling his eyes.
"Waiting here!" I interjected, flailing just a bit.
"Right," Jacob said, stroking his chin to imitate thoughtfulness. "Gravity."
"Gravity?" I repeated. This was incredibly stupid. Couldn't he just spit it out?
"Just spit it out, Jake!" Thank you, Bella.
Jacob's brow crinkled. "Fine. Basically, you're holding him here now. His gravity shifted when Paul saw you, and you're the center of his universe now. You're his gravity."
I was quiet for a minute or so, absorbing what I had just been told. Well. That's lovely, I thought. I picked at the edge of my sweatshirt, brow creased and drawn together. None of that really explained why he was wearing the pissy pants. I smiled to myself. I had a name to go with him now. Paul. I reached in my pocket pulling out what was left of his shirt and twisting it around my finger.
"Paul's going to be a little strange about things, though," Jacob said. "He's got a hot temper..."
"I know," I interrupted cheekily. I had been quiet too long. "I think we've all seen it tonight."
"Well, yeah," Jacob said with a grin. "I guess we did. So I guess you get it."
"Get what?" I asked warily.
"You can't come back to La Push," said Sam. "Not for a while."
"Why can't she?" Bella screeched, jumping to her feet infuriated. "It isn't like this is something totally new and unknown. We knew about this, didn't we?"
"We knew a strange werewolf with anger issues was going to imprint on Emme?" I snapped. "Aw, geez, and we brought her here anyway."
"I think she just meant imprinting," Quil stage whispered at me. I made a face at him.
"He's right, Bells," Jacob said firmly. "Paul needs time."
"Time," Bella repeated. "What for?"
"Because Paul doesn't want to hurt her," said Sam, looking physically pained. "We all saw it in his thoughts. Paul doesn't want her to wind up like Emily. He doesn't want to be like me. Just let him get things done on his own. He won't be able to stay away for long."
"Oh." That was all Bella said.
I glared at her. "Traitor."
"They're right, though, Emme," she said apologetically. "Besides, what about Hunter?"
"Ew, yuck!" I screamed, making a few choice gagging noises. The room laughed, those of whom had actually seen the furry browed creature laughing hardest of all. I looked at the piece of shirt in my lap. He won't be able to stay away for long. Sam's words were a broken record in my head, refusing to stop and never losing their edge. He made it sound so... bad. Cataclysmic came to mind. I wasn't sure if I wanted to meet Emily. I wasn't even totally sure that was possible, if she was even alive. I glanced at Sam through my eyelashes. He looked harmless enough... but so had Paul before he went all guerilla wolf on the rest of us. He won't be able to stay away for long.
I wanted Paul to stay away. For good.
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