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...
8. Step Forward.
Rating 5/5 Word Count 3222 Review this Chapter
"It's not funny, Jake. Stop laughing." I was awarded with howling laughter. "Fine. Do whatever you want. I hate you."
Jacob stopped laughing. "No you don't. Do you?"
Gullible. That was Jacob's middle name. "No. I don't. But you're really not being helpful, buddy."
There were some disgusting noises on the other end of the line. I suspected Jacob was eating, my assumption gathered from the loud chewing I was hearing. He gulped. "Well what do you want me to say? ‘Gosh, Emme, I'm sorry. Let me get you out of the rendezvous you initiated with Paul. How dare that stalker take you up on the offer you suggested!'"
He resumed chewing and I bit my lip. Jacob had a point. I hated it when he had a point. "... It sounds bad when you put it that way."
"It sounds bad period." I scowled.
"It does not," I protested. "Besides, it's not like I asked for any of this!"
"Uh, yeah ya did, Em. You invited him over."
"Not the point!"
"Just calm down, Emme. I don't know what your problem is. Paul really isn't that bad..."
I scoffed. "The problem is that I don't get a choice in the matter."
Silence. Even the chewing stopped. I twisted my ring around my finger, balancing the phone between my ear and shoulder.
"That's it? No ‘he‘s a monster, he'll kill me' business?"
"That's your problem, Emme?" He sounded a little pissed.
"... Well, yeah. I guess so." That was the issue, after all. My suffocation. The fact that I didn't get a choice over who I got to love. The fact that everyone just expected me to go starry eyed over him. I wanted options. I wanted to be allowed to choose.
"You didn't have a choice? What about Paul? You wrenched his life apart, Emme. Destroyed it." I closed my eyes, images of the first night I met the pack creeping back to me. "Paul's practically crucified himself over you in the last couple of weeks, Em, did you know that? And all you can say is ‘I didn't have a choice! Blah blah blah.' That's bullshit Emmette and you know it."
I felt a tear stream down my face as Jacob spoke. I had never heard him speak quite that harshly about anything before. Especially not to me. "Jake..."
"Just shut up, Emme." He was quiet for a long minute. I wiped my face with the back of my hand, smearing makeup across my cheek. "Look, I'm sorry, Emme..."
"You're right though," I admitted sheepishly, cutting him off. "I've been awful to him, haven't I?"
"Well, yeah, and I wasn't apologizing for what I said. I never apologize for what I say, you know that." I cracked a slightly broken smile at his ill timed humor. "I meant my tone. You're probably crying now, aren't you?"
I took another swipe at my cheek defiantly. "No, I'm not."
"Whatever." He laughed. "Let's just not talk about this anymore, okay?"
I nodded, even though he couldn't see me. "Okay. Works for me."
I hung up the phone about thirty minutes later when Jacob had to go. Feeling more than sufficiently disgusted by myself, I vowed never to call Jacob Black again as long as I lived. Or to doubt his guilting powers. I stared at the phone a moment, finally chucking it across the living room at the couch. I slammed my head back against the recliner. Nothing in my life was fair. And the monsters were real. That really sucked.
"C'mon, Emme, get yourself up!" Mother bopped me on the head as she walked past my chair. "We're going to your uncle's for dinner, remember?"
Shit. The last thing I wanted to do was see Bella. Of course that would be the perfect climax to the Hollywood horror that is the life and times of Emme Fenway. I groaned, peeling myself from the recliner and going upstairs to find my shoes and jacket. I slipped into some flats and shrugged on my gray coat, the one that hung close to my knees. I glanced at the mirror, cutting some choice words at Jacob for the raccoon eyes I was sporting.
"EMME! LEAVING!" Thanks for the warning, mother. I hastily wiped my face, removing most every trace of my ruined makeup. I looked like death walking, black smears under my eyes fading to purple. After making a few zombie faces at myself in the mirror I grabbed my purse and went down stairs, finding mother had already herded Lissy to the car and buckled her into her seat.
"About time," mother teased. I shot her the best smile I could, slipping out the door and climbing into the front seat. Mother found her way to the drivers' seat a few minutes later, looking distinctly flustered. "Lissy hid my keys," she explained. I nodded.
The trip was silent apart from Lissy singing to herself in the backseat. It was always quiet now. I fished my ipod out of my purse and shoved the earbuds in. I turned the volume up obscenely loud, leaning back in my seat and closing my eyes. Simply stated, I felt like crap. I felt crappy from my nice little crying jag. I felt crappy for being a total bitch on so many levels it wasn't funny. And I felt crappy that Jacob had been forced to call me out on it. He shouldn't have had to. It shouldn't have happened. And then, after brooding a little bit over how mean I was to Jacob, I felt decidedly crappier for feeling worse about Jacob than about Paul.
I just couldn't win. Case closed.
The car slowed to a halt, mother parking behind Edward's Volvo. Just what I needed. An entire night between Romeo and Juliet. Gag. I swung open the door of the van, sliding out of the seat and heading inside without so much as touching the ipod that remained in my ears. I was just going to be ignored. I might as well be entertained. Bypassing the usual, courteous knock, I let myself in, bee lining to the living room and plopping on the couch and spreading out. I shrugged off my jacket. There was no need for it indoors.
Uncle Charlie said something to me, his cheesy smile spread on his face. All I heard was Aerosmith. "Ipod," I said, gesturing to the cords connecting me to my musical device. Charlie nodded and returned his attention to his game. I watched blankly along with him. It was ESPN Classic, some Yankees versus Red Sox game from yesteryear. It was mildly interesting, but then again, so was everything on TV when you took away the sound. I closed my eyes, a sore attempt at forgetting I was in the Enemy Lair. It didn't work well. I had hardly found my happy place when Bella and Edward came bouncing in from the kitchen and forced me to sit up. One of my earbuds fell out in the process, so I left it there, turning down the volume finally.
"I didn't know you were here, Edward," mother said cheerily, playing with Lissy on the floor. "It's wonderful to see you again."
Edward shot her a beautiful smile. "The pleasure is mine, Mrs. Fenway."
Ugh. Polite, I gagged a little inwardly. Mother looked flattered. "Oh, please. It's Susy or nothing, sweetie. Besides, technically I'm not even a Mrs. I'm not sure if Emme told you but we lost Emmett last summer..."
I interrupted. "No, ma. I didn't. I usually don't tell people about my dead father." Mother glared at me. I stared back. Edward looked uncomfortable. Bella fidgeted. Uncle Charlie couldn't take it and left the room. I considered following him.
"As I was saying, Edward, we lost Emmett last summer and technically I haven't been Mrs. anything since," mother continued on pointedly. Edward nodded.
"I'm sorry for your loss." Ooh! Cliché! "I have a brother named Emmett, it would be terrible to lose him or anyone in my family." A sharp nod at my mother from the Cullen.
"My name's Emmette," I piped, pulling my legs under me Indian style and craftily changing the subject. Edward raised a brow at me. "It's a family thing," I explained. "Every generation it's always Emmett Alexander or Emmette Alexandra."
"McCarty. You forgot that part," mother corrected, seemingly forgiving my outburst.
I rolled my eyes. "McCarty. Apparently I forgot that part. Mom's a little psycho about the family name thing since no one in her family uses the same name twice."
"McCarty," Edward repeated, his face approaching translucent as he paled. It always amazed me that no matter how white he seemed he could always manage to become even paler. It was almost like a talent for him. Bella caught the faraway look in his eyes,
"Okay!" Bella chirped. "Let's go eat dinner. I made lasagna."
Ew. Gross. Italian. Italian was probably the nastiest food ever invented, with the exception of pizza, and then only the pineapple kind. I popped up from the couch, filing my way to the kitchen along with everyone else. I was almost out of the living room when someone grabbed my arm.
"Pull some shit like that in front of anyone ever again and you'll wish you'd been born a mute," mother hissed, her fake nails digging into my forearm. I stared at her with wide eyes, my brows knitting together unconsciously. "Don't give me that." She flung my arm away from her, hurriedly stepping in front of me and plastering a smile on her face.
I looked at my arm. There were five neat little crescent moons where her nails had wreaked their havoc. I rubbed them, trying to make them go away. No use. I back tracked to the couch and slipped back into my jacket. If I could handle being surrounded by three werewolves for hours on end playing video games, I sure as hell could handle wearing a jacket in a heated house. The latter was probably several degrees cooler, anyway. I sauntered into the kitchen and passed the table, opting to raid the fridge instead of pick at the nastiness of lasagna.
"You'll have to excuse her," mother said coolly. "She doesn't like lasagna."
"Understatement," I muttered, ducking out of the fridge with a fruit cup. I could have sworn Edward snorted. I glanced at the too small table with six chairs crowded around it for a moment then hopped on the counter beside the sink. I was not sitting between mother and Bella. That was like suicide.
"Don't you want to join us?" Uncle Charlie asked, gesturing to the empty chair.
I took a sloppy bite of a peach. "Nah, I'm good. I've been feeling a little claustrophobic lately."
A nod of general acceptance. I chewed silently. I wanted to go home. Badly. I watched my family as they laughed and talked, though Bella and Edward seemed a little ill at ease. My sister was perfectly comfortable, unaware that anyone in the room was remotely upset. I envied her for a moment, jealous that her four year old mind didn't allow her to see how the family was slowly falling apart in the absence of my dad. Things must be so simple in her head. I wish things in my head weren't quite so complicated.
I rested my head against the cabinet. I wanted out of here. And out was what I would have.
"S'cuse me," I said, putting my fruit cup down gently and trekking out from the room. I went upstairs, as if I was paying a visit to the bathroom. Instead I went immediately right to Bella's room where I would be able to sneak out from the upper floor. Of course, though, because my name was Emme Fenway I could not have luck that great in a single day.
"What are you doing?" a soft voice questioned from behind me. I turned around to face Edward, once leg already out the window. I blinked stupidly at him.
"What's it look like I'm doing?"
He chuckled a little. "It looks like you're sneaking out. You know they'll catch you though, don't you?" I glared at him. He chuckled. "But you want them to, don't you?"
"Not really," I piped. "That's sort of the point of sneaking out... being sneaky."
Edward laughed at me. I frowned, my low lip jutting out defiantly. Edward stared at me intently, his eyes never moving from where they were trained on my face as he sat down on Bella's bed. He was so still. He didn't even look like he was breathing. I sat down in the window sill, one leg dangling outside the house and the other swinging above the floor. I leaned back against the frame, cutting my eyes at Edward suspiciously. He still hadn't broken his gaze. I was beginning to doubt he had even blinked.
"Perhaps you should sit down, Emme," Edward said softly. Smooth as velvet. I cocked a brow at him.
"I am sitting down," I pointed out. I swear he rolled his eyes.
"Somewhere you can't fall two stories, if you don't mind," he said politely as ever, gesturing to the rocking chair. I grumbled but obliged, sitting down in the old rocker. Edward looked like had swallowed something sour and was deciding whether or not spitting it out was worth tasting it again. I stared at him. He looked like he needed a little goading.
"Spit it out." Simple enough, eh?
He glared silently. "It's not that simple."
Okay, maybe not simple enough. I rocked a little in the chair, waiting on Cullen to speak. Goading hadn't worked out so well, so I was attempting patience instead. It wasn't working well either. I just wanted him to spit it and leave. My brows knotted down. This was ridiculous. Oh ma gah...
"The boys at La Push," he said finally. "You know about them?"
I paled. Did he know about the wolves? "Sure I do," I said, faking a smile. "Of course I do. They're friends."
Edward nodded. "And you know everything about them? Everything?"
"I just said that," I snapped, uncomfortable with the conversation at that point.
Edward smiled crookedly. "But do you know everything? All their baggage?"
My face stayed expressionless. "Actually, Edward, I do." He was really beginning to irritate me.
He showed up his hands in the universal sign of ‘don't kill me.' I scoffed. "Alright, so you know. But do you know why?"
I thought about it a moment. "Is this some sort of trick question?"
A soft chuckle. "No, Emme. It's not a trick question. Just answer."
I glared at him. "No."
Truthfully, I honest to God had no clue why Jacob and his friends sprouted fur. Edward, however, did. Or so it would seem. I fidgeted in my seat, the old rocker setting to creaking under my weight. Edward's eyes bored into me and I shrank back ever so slightly. I twiddled my thumbs and blew my bangs out of my face. Distracting myself while I waited on him to speak was proving far too easy for comfort. I had little faith in my ability to stay in the present.
Edward seemed to relax. "Good. Then you're not prejudiced."
"Wha?" I asked airily. "What're you talking about?"
Annoyance flashed over Edward's features, the angles of his face becoming menacing for a moment before relaxing to their usually angelic state. I smiled cheesily at him and motioned for him to continue. Annoyance again. I sniggered.
"They honestly haven't told you any..." his face crumpled slightly, as if he were looking for the perfect word, "...stories?"
I stared at him stupidly. "Well, yeah, but I don't see why..."
I cocked a brow at him, carefully noting the remorseless expression of his face, calculating stare in his eyes, and the serious tenor of his voice. I fought the urge to tilt my head and plead stupidness to get Edward to explain himself. Instead, I opted for the lesser quality show of my own idiocy. Repetition.
"They're true, Emme," Edward said again, unfazed by my extraordinary lack of understanding. "The wolves... the Cold Ones. The vampires. It's all real."
"Oh," I said simply, mouth forming a small ‘o' in surprise. So that's what he was getting at. Right. I crossed my arms over my chest, brows knitting together. I couldn't say in all honesty I wasn't expecting this revelation at some point. That the wolves weren't the only monsters in this world. That was part of my life, remember? The monsters were real. Now it just sucked nuts twice as bad. "So does that mean that... you know, they're around us?"
Edward looked quite like someone had slapped him in the face. "Didn't you say they told you the stories?"
I took up the defensive. "Well, yeah, they did. Is it really my fault that I stopped listening when they explaining the mechanics of pushing out fur to me? Is it?"
Edward looked a little drained from our conversation thus far. I cracked a small smile. "Sorry then, Edward. My bad."
He waved a hand at me dismissively. "It doesn't matter, anyway. Are you sure you stopped listening? You don't remember any of it?"
"No, Edward. I have amnesia for the whole night. I don't remember a damn thing." He looked like he had swallowed something sour again, so I clarified. "I remember a Cold Woman, but that's about it. Some suicidal wife, too. Thought she was crazy."
Edward chuckled. "That's better than nothing, I suppose. At least we don't have to start from scratch."
I eyeballed him warily. "...Start what?"
I regretted asking. Why, why did I always have to ask? Before I knew it I was finely educated in the realms of Cullenism, Generic Vampirism, and Quileute History 101. I felt perfectly eligible to write my own book, cleverly titled Why The Quileutes And Cullens Want Each Other To Drop Dead. Personally, I was rooting for both sides at that point. I held both parties equally accountable for the throbbing headache that was pushing me ever closer to homicide by the moment.
Edward finished his lecture and we sat in silence. "So does that mean you're all... Grr?"
"Yes. My family... Carlisle, my brothers, my sisters, Esme... We're all what you seem to like calling ‘Grr.'" He chuckled, giving me finger quotes for emphasis.
"Gotcha," I muttered, silently appraising my options, and whether or not it was safe to enquire why exactly I had just been the recipient of far more information than any one person should ever be subjected to in one sitting. Edward seemed to sense my unspoken question before I even had time to build up the words in my throat.
"Because, Emme. You're my niece."
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