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Finished. Six years after Breaking Dawn, a brutal murder is committed near Forks. When called in the middle of the night, Charlie Swan rushes off to do his civic duty and protect the public. Three hours later, he returns home with a new ward: the only survivor of the double homicide. From the beginning, it is clear that the poor thing needs a new start, a new life- and someone to save her from her old one, especially when ghosts from the past resurface. And, with Nessie determined to overcome her own demons, the two realize that friendship can come from the strangest places.

All of this belongs to Stephenie Meyer. Duh…

20. Chapter 20

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Chapter Twenty––

Iris hit the ground running. Quickly, she realized that the backpack was too heavy, and that she would not make it far with it on. So she dropped it behind some tree and ran even faster. She knew that the wolves would eventually figure out that she was gone, and would track her scent. Ergo, she tried to stay on the main roads as much as possible and not stray into the woods. They were familiar with the woods; she rarely went there. Her scent would stand out. In the tiny town, near places she went every day, it would be much more difficult to track her.

Soon, but not soon enough, Iris was out of La Push. It had not taken nearly as long as she thought it would, for which she was grateful. Arms folded, and the night surprisingly cool, Iris trudged along Highway Nine, going back to Amsterdam. Yes, she knew that that was probably going to be the first place they looked for her when they figured out that she was missing, but Iris was confident in her friends. She could stay with Kacey while A.J. and Miles tried to divert the cops, and Seth. Seth would probably help search for her too. Just because it was his duty to the stupid tribe to find the stupid shaman and bring her back safe. Because she no longer had any control over her fate.

It sucked, falling for some stupid guy who turned out to not care. Iris huffed loudly, trying desperately to keep the tears back. Only the stars and the trees would see her cry, but they talked, and words whispered into the wind could spread like wildfire. Before long, everyone would know if she did. So she walked straight ahead bravely, determined not to let anything break her spirits.

“Oh, tut, tut, Iris,” a voice sprung from the darkness. Iris jumped, despite the cold, familiar tenor. “A quivering chin is not becoming on an Amazon such as yourself,” he called to her.

“And creeping around in the dark it nothing new to you, freak,” Iris hissed back, not intimidated in the least.

Laughing, Nahuel emerged from the obsidian line of trees, suddenly breaking free from the shadows. It looked like he had materialized out of thin air. Maybe he had. Iris hadn’t paid too much attention to the Cullen’s explanation of vampires. Hadn’t seemed important at the time.

Who knew?

“I suppose that that is true,” he agreed. “Though it can get much darker in South America,” he told her. “Especially near my tribe,”

Iris rolled her eyes, “Fascinating.”

Nahuel pursed his lips for a brief moment and then grinned at her, exposing his feral white smile. “I suppose it isn’t all that grand,” he admitted. “Your world is far superior to mine,”

“Indoor plumbing can do that,” she agreed. “So why are you here?”

“I was hunting,” Nahuel confessed.

“Alone?” Iris arched an eyebrow.

Nahuel shrugged his broad shoulders as he continued to slowly walk towards her. “I prefer to hunt alone. The solitude is settling; alone, the brutality of the act is lost,”

Iris snorted. “Yeah, screaming and all isn’t brutal in the least bit,”

“I try to be gentle,” Nahuel said. He stopped in front of her and looked down. He was taller than her, but not nearly as tall as Seth. It was much easier to look up at him; her neck didn’t hurt at all. That tiny fact made her happier than she had been in hours. It almost distracted her from the ugliness of his words. “But it is not always possible. Especially with humans. Now, with animals, on the other hand, I can snap their necks easily and end any misery they might have. Humans…fight up to the bitter end. It isn’t pleasant, but it can be necessary,”

Iris frowned. “Were tonights campers particularly docile?”

Nahuel smirked. “I do not hunt man while I visit your relatives,” he told her. “They request very little of me, so I honor what they do.” Nahuel cast a glance at the twining highway over her shoulder. “I would hate to offend your wolves as well,”

Iris glared. “They’re just pets,” she said with a dismissive sniff. “Nothing more.”

The burning pain in her gut said otherwise.

The dark vampire hybrid nodded his head. “If you say so,” he said.

“I do,” Iris interrupted him. “And that’s final,”

“Very well,” Nahuel nodded. “So where are you going?”

Iris started walking down the highway again. The vampire hybrid had distracted her with its freakiness and its jibberjabber. She had to keep going. There were only a few more hours until sunrise. There was a lot of distance that needed to be put between her and La Push. Standing there and talking would only increase her chances of getting caught.

“Home,” she answered stiffly.

“Don’t you live in La Push?” Nahuel asked, easily keeping stride with her. It was a brisk walk for her. For him, he was probably limping on one foot with a broken big toe. She hated being so slow.

“No,” she snapped with a clipped tone. “That place can’t be home,”

“Why not?” he asked. “You’re house is there,”

“People make home,” she answered with the same heat.

“But your father is there. And your lover,” Nahuel answered.

“First of all,” Iris stopped dead in her tracks, wheeling to scream at Nahuel. “Seth isn’t my lover. We haven’t done anything sexual at all. Nothing could possibly constitute him as my lover because he is too much of a stick in the mud. I’ve tried, trust me, and he doesn’t want it.

“Secondly, who the hell told you Chief Swan was my father?” she yelled the last part. Her voice echoed off the mountains and the trees, reverberating her anger.

Nahuel shrugged. “Did you not know? Your sister, Bella, was speaking with Nessie about it. She would be your niece,” he added, in case Iris was too stupid to figure it out for herself.

She threw her hands up in the air. “Thank you! But I already know! I already know!” she continued storming down the highway.

“Did you not know?” he prodded, easily catching up.

Iris barked out, “No!”

“But your sister––”

“Yeah, I know,” she snapped, uncaringly interrupting him again. If he was going to hang around, he’d get used to it. “Everyone in the whole world but me apparently knew. Go figure. It’s my life, he’s my dad, my world’s ruined and I’m the last to know. My family sucks,”

“You don’t seem that surprised,” Nahuel pointed out.

“I don’t think that it’s any of your business,” Iris snapped.

“You need to talk to somebody,” he told her. “Why not me?”

“Because your a stranger,” she incredulously snorted. “You don’t know anything about me! You don’t even care!”

“Excellent reasons to tell me,” Nahuel said. “I am unbiased, and I won’t try to spare your feelings for the sake of our relationship,”

“We don’t have a relationship!” Iris cried indignantly.

“Exactly,” Nahuel bobbed his head. “I am the perfect person to tell,”

“At least you’ll listen,” Iris huffed.

Nahuel nodded. “Exactly,”

The lonely girl sighed. “Aren’t you going to leave? Don’t you have somewhere more important, more interesting to be?”

“Where in the world could be more interesting?” It was his turn to sound incredulous.

His stride never broke as he walked comfortably beside her. She was breathing hard already and sweating. Jeans hadn’t been the best idea in the world.

Iris rolled her eyes. “What about the Cullens? I’ll bet darling Nessie is waiting for your return,”

Nahuel shrugged. “She is with her fiance,” he said. “I always hunt for days at a time, and am always alone. Occasionally, I will simply leave without saying farewell. They shall never know or suspect,” he informed her.

“Is there no way to get rid of you?” she reluctantly, almost fearfully asked.

“You look like you need some company,” was his elusive answer.

She correctly took it as a no. “Fine,” Iris snapped. “You can come along. Just don’t slow me down,”

Nahuel smirked. “I promise, in this relationship, I will not be the slow one.”

Iris rolled her eyes again, tired already of his wit.


“So are you ever going to answer the question?” Nahuel asked, sometime later. They had been walking in comfortable silence for several minutes. Up until then, Iris had been content to ponder her own thoughts and seethe within the safe confines of her mind. Sharing her anger with a stranger was intimidating, especially one that was such good acquaintances with her estranged surprise family.

“What question?”

“The one about Chief Swan,” he reminded her though they both knew she had not forgotten. He was just making sure she could not get out of it.

“You promised you would answer,” he informed her a minute later when she slipped back into evasive silence.

Iris wrinkled her nose. “No, I didn’t,” she answered truthfully.

“Ehh,” Nahuel dismissed her with a brief wave of his hand, “You as good as did earlier,”

“You are relentless,” Iris told him begrudgingly.

“I know,” he said. “It’s one of my less endearing qualities,”

Iris laughed. “Mine too,” she said fondly. She found herself liking this hybrid more and more. He certainly wasn’t hard to look at. “But yeah,” her tone turned from jolly to morbid quickly. “I always knew my mom had an affair. She was too guilty all the time. It makes sense now,”

“What does?” Nahuel asked gently.

Iris blinked back tears, determined once more in her life not to cry. “Why she always hated me. Loathed my entirety. Because I was constant proof of her infidelity. I was her lie, her sin. And no matter what I did, I couldn’t make it go away or stop reminding her of her guilt. She truly hated me,” Iris ended in a whisper.

“I am sorry,” Nahuel told her.

Iris could hear the sincerity in his worlds. “Thanks,” she sniffed. “But there isn’t any point. You can’t change it. I can’t change it. We just have to move on,”

“It must have been difficult as a child, to not be loved,” Nahuel stated.

“I was loved,” Iris confessed with a slight smile. “Very loved. By my brother. And my dad.”

Her face fell as she realized her faux pas. “Well, by the dad who raised me anyway. His name was Brent. She,” she didn’t have to say who it was for Nahuel to know, “shot him. Twice. It was horrible. I think he knew, too.” She confessed the secret she never told anyone. “He would stare at me all the time, when he thought I wasn’t looking. He always looked so sad, so lonely. He treated me just the same as he did Micah. He loved me just as much. But, deep down, I think he knew,”

“He loved you as his daughter,” Nahuel gravely told her. “He was willing to die for you. He had to have loved you,”

Iris sniffed. She didn’t care about the tears that ran down her face anymore. She wasn’t strong; she should stop trying to be. Someone else always had to be strong for her, and it was irking. “I know,” she hiccuped. “And I loved him so much, Nahuel. So much. My world shattered that night when they all died,”

“I’m sure it did,” he said as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into a hug. Iris, sobbing into his chest, hadn’t realized they had stopped walking until then. But she did not flinch away from him or scream at him to leave her alone. Seth’s patience had helped her overcome that. Perhaps knowing him had done her good too, and not just broken her heart.

“Tell me your story,” she said when they resumed walking. “Tell me everything.”

It was so much easier to listen than to talk.

Whether or not he knew her true feelings, Nahuel easily launched into a long epic, dictating his life story as the trees fell behind them, melting into shadow. For miles, he spoke as they walked, holding nothing back because it was trivial or too gruesome. She truly appreciated his willingness to just talk, and let her forget the horrible truths of her life. In that respect, he was much better than Seth, who wanted to talk about feelings all the time.

She just wanted to fuck him.

Or so she had assumed. Their relationship at first was completely carnal, and Iris could not have been more content. She thought that that was all she wanted: a good fuck and someone to help take the pain away, give her a more pleasurable one to focus on. When she had become emotionally attached to Seth, she had no idea. It was not like she was looking for a boyfriend. She had happened to find one in Seth, and it was mind boggling. Sure, he was good looking, and sweet, and it seemed he was willing to put up with a lot. He was strong and firm too; no other guy would have withstood her assaults so successfully.

He had to have been attached just a little bit to her, too. He did seem to put up with her a lot, and he listened. In fact, he stayed with her many times when he could have left her alone. Times that really had not mattered to Iris until she started to miss Seth. Was it just because he was doing his duty as a member of the pack, ensuring the safety of their shaman, or was there something else? Until that day, she had suspected that there was something else, believed it with her entire heart actually. Iris had truly believed that Seth loved her. To even imagine that he might not feel that way shattered her soul.

Now, more than anything else, Iris desperately wanted her question answered. She was almost willing to turn around and walk straight back into La Push, knock on his door and demand an answer. Knowing Seth, he would just tell her what she wanted to hear, though.

“You seem rather distracted,” Nahuel was saying, though she wasn’t truly listening. “Are you sure you are not walking in the wrong direction?”

“I don’t miss him,” Iris said more to her self than to her dark-skinned companion. “I don’t,”

“Yet he seems to be consuming your thoughts,” he mused.

“I don’t love him,” Iris firmly, softly, reluctantly told herself. “And he doesn’t love me,”

“It’s a shame,” agreed Nahuel, “To find love and lose it,”

“It wasn’t love,” Iris repeated.

“Of course not,” he said just to be peaceable, “Of course it wasn’t. He didn’t deserve you,”

Out of everything, that was what caught her attention. Her head whipped up and around as her mouth dropped. She suddenly perceived the subject change of their conversation, and the depth of which they now spoke. It was a No-No subject, and still the hybrid had managed to worm it out of her. The bastard.

“What?” she shrieked, stunned. It was a very common consolation, but not one that she expected or wanted. It was the last thing in fact.

“The wolf, he didn’t deserve you,” Nahuel repeated, watching her face intently. It was not hard for him to see in the dark, she remembered. He was just like the others in that sense. She could not afford to be blinded by his natural, outstanding beauty or his warm, but not burning temperature. He was not normal like she was. “He was careless with something so precious,”

“Yeah,” Iris scoffed, as she stuffed her hands under her armpits, trying to warm them up. She went from cold to hot to cold again and it was beyond annoying. “Because you know so much,”

“I know more than you realize.” Nahuel shrugged off his jacket and handed it to her. Iris took it begrudgingly, happy for the warmth but not because she needed it.

Iris scoffed as she shoved her shoulders into it––surprisingly, it wasn’t too big like Seth’s would have been. “You have no idea,” she retorted.

“I know that he let that brigand abduct you right out from under his nose,” Nahuel heatedly told her. “And I know that he’s abandons you most nights for his pack,”

“That’s because it’s his duty to the tribe,” Iris hotly defended the man she suddenly believed did not love her. Great. Now she was one of those pathetic women in the movies who defended her abusive drunk ass man even though he beat her and had cheated. Just when she thought she could not sink any lower in life.

“Really?” Nahuel stated in disbelief. “Do you really believe that Iris? Or are you angry that you never saw more of him? Aren’t you angry that he would tell you all those wondrous things, whisper sweet words into your ear, and then never once prove it?” He stared down at her now, intending to make her comprehend the full grievousness of Seth’s actions.

Iris licked her dry, cracked lips. “You don’t understand,” she shook her head. “It was never like that.”

“He was willing to let you go, Iris!” Nahuel cried. “He just let you walk out that door, and didn’t do a damn thing to stop you! Because he doesn’t care! How many times has he left you alone, wanting more, with nothing in the world? How often has he chosen to stay with his pack and not you, the woman he confesses to care about? You can’t even count them,” he told her, vehemently grasping her upper arms. “I’m not the one who doesn’t understand, Iris. It’s you,”

“You were never there!” Iris jerked out of his grasp. “You couldn’t know!”

“I was always there, Iris, watching quietly from the shadows, rarely speaking. You never needed to know I was watching an angel fall. I tried to help you in anyway I could, make your life as easy as possible. But I’m no miracle worker; I can’t fix everything.”

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. “You weren’t hunting tonight,” she drawled.

“Yes, and no,” Nahuel admitted with a shake of his dark head. “I watch your window almost every night now, but I was thirsty. I stole away for a quick snack when you ran away. It took me longer than I liked to find you, but thankfully you were okay. No vagabond has found you yet,”

“You guys aren’t exactly rampant predators in this part,” Iris said acerbically. She grinned with perverse satisfaction as her words stung the hybrid.

“Be that as it may,” said Nahuel, “I still wanted to make sure that you were safe,”

“Why do you care so much?” Iris yelled. “What? Are you a part of this family now? My long-lost fucking uncle or something?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Nahuel dismissed her questions but did not deny them, which startled her. “All you need to know, and trust is that I do have your best interests at heart,”

“You don’t even know me,” Iris sniffed. “That’s creepy,”

Why wasn’t she running? This man was obviously stalking her. Maybe that wasn’t the best term she could think of, but it was better than any vampiric alternatives that involved her getting eaten. That was not how she wanted to end her life. But, she wasn’t scared, Iris knew that much for sure. She trusted this hybrid for some stupid, inexplicable reason and she knew that he truly would not hurt her. Not now, at least.

Nahuel cracked a morbid, self-loathing grin. “I suppose it is,” he agreed. “But I know you so much better than you will ever understand,”

“I don’t understand,” she said.

He chuckled. “Told you,” he said. Softly reaching for her shoulder, he lightly, gently grasped it. “He doesn’t love you, Iris,” he whispered.

“Tell me,” she pleaded, “Tell me how you know that.”

“The proof is in his actions,” Nahuel summarized.

Iris shook her head. “No. That’s not good enough,”

Nahuel sighed. “Then return to him, and have him prove his love. Make him show you; do not rely on his words. I guarantee Iris he will fail to preform.”

And that picture made her burst into giggles that Nahuel would never understand. Maybe it was better that he didn’t. “I don’t want to go back,” she said through crying eyes, an aching smile and tight giggles.

“You will never be satisfied until you are certain,” regretfully, the hybrid admitted. “Returning to his arms, however briefly, should affirm any doubts you have.”

“You want me to have my heart broken?” Iris whimpered.

“Yes,” he said. “I want what is best for you in the long run. And I do not believe that child is it.”

“I don’t want to be hurt again,” she whispered the shocking confession that no one was ever supposed to know.

“I will be here with you,” Nahuel lifted her head so their eyes met. “You won’t be alone. I promise, a little pain now is better than death later.”

“Alright,” Iris nodded. “I’ll go back to La Push,”

Back to Seth.