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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…

9. Chapter 9

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Chapter Nine––

She refused to answer him, so he let himself in. He knew it was rude, but he was past caring. All Seth needed to know was that there was a girl on the other side of the door who needed help. If no one else was willing to give it to her, then he would. They wanted her to talk about it, to lay all of her dark secrets out before them so they could judge her. While he might have been just as curious as the rest of the vultures were, he was willing to wait. If she wanted to, she would tell him when she was ready. He would wait until then.

He knew that she heard him come in, but she did not acknowledge him. She sat on her bed, head bowed. The light poured in from the wind, bathing her in gold. She glowed ethereally, like a lost angel. Her shoulders sagged from the strain on her body, and her face was tear stained. Her waist length has was tied back from her head in messy knot; long tendrils fell haphazardly out of it. She was holding a worn Bible in her hands, reading but not seeing.

“Hey,” he whispered as he sat down next to her one the bed. He was sure to leave her plenty of room. The last thing he wanted was for her to go ballistic and try to run away again.

She sniffed. With her wrist, she gruffly rubbed her dripping nose. Turning her head so that her burning eyes met his warm ones, she whispered, “I am so tired of crying,” she said. “It seems like all I ever do is cry and runaway. I’m sick of it. But no one seems to know that,”

“I know it,” he replied comfortingly.

She sniffed again. “You only know because I told you. If I hadn’t, you would have been just like the rest of them. They stare,” she whispered with malice, “that’s all they do. They stand there like gawking idiots, looking at me like I’m some exhibit at the zoo. I’m not, you know. I’m not crazy,”

“I never said you were,” Seth answered. Scooting over, he slowly lifted his arm. When she said nothing, he wrapped it around her. Rubbing his hand up and down her arm, he gave her all the comfort he knew how to give.

“But you think it,” she whispered. “You all think it,”

Seth shook his head. “No, we don’t. Give us some credit, Iris. You might discover that we aren’t really all that bad. We don’t think you’re crazy,”

“But you look at me like some mythical animal. I see it in their eyes. Bella…Edward…Dr. Cullen…I confuse them, and so they keep me back at arm’s length. They prefer to observe and not say anything,”

“Funny,” Seth chuckled, “Because that is how you seem to be most of the time,”

“I know what they’re thinking,” she confessed. “I won’t be treated like a freak; I won’t let them near me so they can call me one. I’m too good for that,”

“You are not a freak,” he told her sternly. “Never think that, do you understand me? You are beautiful and perfect, not a freak.”

“Why are you telling me this?” she whispered. “You barely know me,”

“That’s true,” Seth admitted. “But I know you better than most people. I certainly know you the best out of every one else here. I’m just telling you what I know,”

Iris gave him an atomizing smile. “Thank you,” she whispered. Only this time, she did not try to hide it.

“It’s the truth,” he replied.

Iris paused. Her fingers reached out suddenly. His breath hitched when she touched his blood stained shirt, just to the left of his adams apple. Her fingers pushed ever so slightly against the crusted blood, feeling it. “I did this to you,” she whispered.

“Yes,” he managed to gulp out, “You did.”

“But you’re face,” she said softly. Those same fingers gingerly reached up to brush against the corners of his lips and cheek. They were icy cold against his burning skin. “I can’t tell that it was cut. You’ve healed already.”

“I’m a fast healer,” he said.

“Are you like the Cullens?” she asked as she withdrew her fingers. “Are you a vampire too?”

“No,” Seth shook his head. “I’m not a vampire, not that I have anything against them.”

“Then what are you?” she asked.

Seth let out a deep breath. “I don’t think you want to know,”

“I do,” was the confident but quite answer.

“I’m a werewolf,” he said. “A shape-shifter,”

“Are you a true werewolf, or are you a man who turns into a wolf?” she delved deeper into his confession, seemingly unperturbed.

Seth chuckled softly. “The second one,” was his answer. “Jacob is, too,”

“I see,” she whispered. Her hand fell down to her side.

“You don’t seem very shaken,” he remarked.

“I’m past the point of caring,” she confessed. “You don’t seem like you want to eat me, so I don’t care what you are. To me, you’re the only person in this house who’s not a complete dick head.”

Seth chuckled. “Thanks, I guess,”

“It was a compliment,” she stated.

“That’s good to know.” He paused for a moment, unsure if he should continue. “You know,” he went on speaking against his better judgement, “the Cullens really aren’t so bad. They just aren’t sure how to act around you.”

“I’d rather not talk about them,” Iris said.

“Then we won’t,” Seth answered.

“Then what do you want to talk about?” she asked. Her tone was softer, more delicate, almost friendly. She wasn’t shying away, and she wasn’t screaming at him to leave her alone. It seemed like things were going pretty well to Seth. But he had learned not to judge the girl’s moods too lightly. Rather than offer her a cute smirk or a boyish joke as was his nature, he remained light but solemn. He was rewarded with Iris’s growing responses.

“Whatever you want,” he replied.

Iris’s bark of laughter made the vampire’s listening downstairs cringe. It was harsh and unforgiving, like she had not laughed in a long time. “That seems like a very broad subject. So many things and no directions. Chaos,”

“Not really,” Seth shrugged. “Everything is the easiest thing to narrow down,”

Iris looked at him through her stubby black lashes. “I don’t feel like asking you how,” she warned him, “So I guess I’ll just have to trust you.”

Trust. Now there was a funny word. The last person she trusted was Micah. Before that, it was her father. At least her trust in Micah was well-founded.

Now was the time for Seth to offer her one of his infamous grins. It was small though, and not overpowering. It did not scare her this time. “That’d be cool,”

She almost smiled back. Almost. With a sigh, she set her Bible down. Tucking the wisps of hair behind her ear, she looked down at the floor. “You’re not trying to make me talk,” she stated, not asked. Chewing on her lower lip, she looked at him with black rimmed eyes. “I really appreciate that,”

“No one sent me,” Seth answered the question that hung weighted between them. He watched the fearful suspicion die in her dull eyes. “I’m just here because I want to be,”

“Hn,” Iris murmured, “That’s nice of you, I suppose.”

Seth chuckled, “Well, I am here to help.”

“You’re doing an abysmal job,” Iris told him. “But,” she softly added, “I am glad you came,”

He gave her that goofy grin she would come to love. “Glad to be of service, milady,”

Iris pulled out of his embrace. Those perfectly arched eyebrows shot straight up with skepticism. “Milady?” she reaped dubiously. “You are such a dork. However, her eyes sparkled and she offered him the faintest of smiles. Slowly but surely, she found Seth worming his way into her heart. Iris found that she liked the idea of getting close to someone, though she feared it with equal trepidation.

“Hey,” he said as an idea struck him. “Do you wanna get outta here? Go somewhere fun?”

Iris looked around the room that she was slowly making her own. “Yes,” was her immediate response. “Please. Anywhere but here,”

“Anywhere but here,” Seth agreed. Standing up, he stretched his long, lithe body. With a satisfied groan, he popped his neck and offered her his large hand. “Ready?”

For a moment, his question hung in the air. It was heavy and ominous. The simple statement, so plain and so ordinary, suddenly seemed life-changing. If she took his hand, nothing would ever be the same again. Instantly, he fingers locked around his. Seth gave her a warm smile and Iris flushed as she returned the favor. There was an outburst downstairs, a cry of alarm, but Iris could not understand whatever was said. It did not seem to bother Seth, so she let it pass.

“Where to, milady?” Seth teased.

“Some place fun,”

“As you wish,” Seth answered. She squealed loudly when he scooped her up in his arms. Her legs splayed everywhere, awkwardly hanging over his thick arms. She did not know what to do with her arms, so she pulled them tight against her body.

Seth chuckled. “Hold on, tightly,” he warned her.

Instantly, Iris threw her arms round Seth’s neck. Not a second later, he was leaping out of her west window. The exuberant feeling of weightlessness encompassed her, though she felt much heavier in Seth’s arms. They landed together with a loud thud on the grass. Iris looked up in time to see the Cullens run out of the house with alarmed eyes. Nessie’s mouth hung open, shocked that Set would help Iris run away from her problems again. Dr. Cullen was furious that he would keep Iris from opening up. No one else seemed to care about the child’s emotional stability. Iris saw those shocked faces. Succumbing to the bubbling gaiety in her, she threw her head back and let out a darkly melodious laugh. This would teach them not to keep her in chains.

Seth’s grip on her tightened as he too laughed at the Cullens. Iris was suddenly very much at ease. It felt as if she had just found a companion, a friend with whom she could entrust her soul. While Seth could not know everything, he would know more than the average schmuck.


Her fingers glided slowly over the dirty rocks. They were hidden by a woven mass of moss and sand. No man had been here in a long time. She was loathe to disturb the this place, free of time, and man’s decaying touch. On the rare occasion that she found one smooth enough, she would gently pluck it from the ground, careful to leave the rest of the scenery pure. Then, with a might flick of her wrist, she would send that balance rock skimming over the reflective water. Her opaque eyes followed it until it slowed down, and sank beneath the sparkling water.

Behind her, Seth bustled around in the woods. He was breaking branches and stomping all over the ground. Though she was irked, Iris could not bring herself to admonish his blatant disregard for the serenity of the scene. She was very curious as to how Set found the secluded spot. It was so remote that it had remained undisturbed all these years by man’s prying fingers.

“Well, that’s quite serious look you’re wearing,” Seth said as he plopped down beside her. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Iris answered. “I was just thinking,”

“What’s so important the its got you looking so serious?” he asked as he wiped his dirty hands on his jeans. He looked at the brown trails with mild disgust. “Ew,” he muttered to himself.

Iris chuckled. “It’s nothing important, really,”

“Tell me anyway,” he said.

“I was just thinking about this place, an how untouched it is,” she confessed with a tinge of rose on her cheeks. “I mean, it is just so pure. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“I thought you would like it,” Seth grinned “It’s so natural and beautiful, but distant. Look, you see? The ocean is right there, tangible and you can see it…but you can’t touch it. It’s just barely out of reach.”

Iris nodded her head slowly. “yeah. I can see it.” She snorted. “That was really deep, you know,”

“Nah,” Seth shook his head no. However, his cheeks were flushed and he smirked proudly. “It’s something I just noticed,”

“Well then you are very observant,” Iris mused blandly. Drawing her legs up to her chest, she wrapped her scarred arms around them. Nestling her chin between her knees, she stared out across those specterly waters.

“Tell me about being a wolf,” she ordered. “Tel me what it’s like,”

“It is the most encompassing felling,” he whispered with revered awe. “You are aware of yourself, but you are acutely aware of the pack. You know their thoughts, their wants, their needs…you feel them as intensely as you do your own. It is impossible to distinguish your entirety from your brothers. In the pack, you are never just one, you all are one. We act as a single unit with one mind, and one heart. It is overwhelming.”

“It sounds like it,” Iris agreed. “i can’t believe you don’t stay like all the time,”

“It’s tempting,” Seth admitted. “But, if we do, we would loose all sense of our individuality. As cool as it is, we don’t want to loose ourselves. Does that make sense?”

Iris nodded. “Yeah, she answered. “It makes sense. That is really cool,”

Seth chuckled. “I’m glad you think so,”

“I do,” she whispered. “Can you show me?”

“What?” he asked, startled.

It’s almost nighttime.” Iris nodded to the setting sun. Red and gold painted the sky; the far away water scintillated from the warm hues. The air of romance clung to the weald as the air grew warmer. Faint trails of purple clawed at the hem of the world; night edged its way into the universe. “And the moon is coming out soon,”

“It doesn’t really work like that,” he replied with an embarrassed glance at the ground. “I’m not controlled by the moon, as cool as that sounds. I shift whenever I want to, or when Jacob or Sam tells me to,”

Iris did not ask about Sam, or why he was obedient. She nudged his shoulder with hers instead, bumping a slight grin onto his face with the contact. “Then do it,” she dared.

“Now?” he repeated. His voice rose sharply as his eyes widened alarmingly.

Iris nodded her head. “Yes,” she snapped. “Now,”

“You really should go back to the hospital,” Seth said swiftly, desperate to change the subject. His eyes darted around the deserted area, looking for help. He suddenly wished he had not brought Iris somewhere that was so secluded.

Iris’s green-gray eyes darkened as her mouth twisted into a deep scowl. “No,” she snarled. “I keep telling you that I don’t want to go back to that place. I hate it there,”

“You were shot twice last week!” cried Seth. “You might hurt yourself further or bleed to death!”

“They stitched me up,” Iris hotly defended. Pulling the thin strap of her tank top down, she revealed the colorless skin, ugly and scarred. The icy flesh was bruised black and purple, allowing the blood encrusted, ebony threat to blend in. The ends of the torn flesh turned upwards at the ends, as if it curled away from itself in horror. The look of rotting flesh coupled with her own blatant disregard left Seth weak in the knees.

Seth swallowed his suddenly thick tongue. “Holy shit, Iris,”

Iris glanced down at the disgusting wound. Even she had the decency to grimace. “Beautiful, ain’t it?” she barked with a darkly sarcastic voice. “Good as new,”

“You don’t look it.” Seth cringed as he said the words. He flushed as he realized his faux pas. The words had accidentally slipped out when he wasn’t looking. That damn insult lit a fire in her eyes and made her teeth grind. Her tiny fists balled up and her shoulders squared. She was read to lay into him and give him apiece of her mind. Seth flinched in the face of her fury.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I didn’t mean to say it,”

“Well, you did,” she snapped sullenly.

“Yeah, I know,” he replied with a snort. “I put my foot in my mouth a lot.”

Iris glanced downward. “You’re feet do seem rather large,”

And just like that, her anger abated.

Seth wrapped his arm around her, careful to no touch her festering shoulder. Iris flinched but did not shy away. He grinned. “You still want to see my wolf?”

Iris pulled slightly out of his grasp. “Really?” she asked, slightly awestruck. “You’ll show me?”

Seth nodded. “On one condition,”

Iris might have been eager, but she was no fool. Immediately, suspicion clouded those green-gray eyes. “What is it” she warily inquired.

“You go back to the hospital just o make sure that you’re okay. After that, you can go back h––to Charlie’s house,”

“Is that all?” Iris asked. Her forehead wrinkled as her dark brows furrowed.

“That’s it,” answered Seth. “Take it or leave it,”

Iris let out a breath of hot air. “I don’t suppose that I have much of a choice,” she muttered.

“No,” Seth shook his head. “Not really. Carlisle wanted to take you back to the hospital when I found you. At least, my way you get something for going back.”

Iris huffed. “That doesn’t mean much,”

She shrugged with a deep chuckle. “Take what you can get,”

Iris winked. “Give nothing back,”

Laughing, Seth jumped to his feet. He trotted over to stand behind a tree. “Where are you going?” Iris called out frantically to his retreating form.

“I have to get naked,” Seth yelled back. Sticking his head around the tree, he added. “I don’t want to tear my clothes when I shift. I’m a big wolf,”

Iris scowled. “What’s with all the innuendoes?” She scrunched her nose up. “It’s so uncouth,”

“First of all––” Seth’s shirt flew out. The white cotton tee hovered eerily in the air for am moment before it settle onto an emerald bush. From its perch, it could supervise them with its invisible eyes. “––you have no room to call me uncouth when your favorite words is fuck.”

She listened as he struggled out of his jeans. He was grunting and panting from the strain. “Secondly––” His pants finally were the next to leave the sanctuary of the tree. They landed on the bush opposite the shirt. Obviously, they wanted no part in whatever was to happen next. “––I wasn’t making any jokes, thank you very much. I was completely serious. I am a large wolf.”

“I’ll believe that when I see it,” Iris shot back.

There was silence. For a moment, Iris thought Seth was trying to formulate a retort. With a cocky smirk, she relaxed in the tranquility that engulfed her. The sound of the distant waves lapping against a nonexistent shore combined with the cooing gulls and the chiming wind soothed her frayed soul. It was just what she needed.

A wet nose nudged her arm. Iris jumped, startled. Her mouth dropped as she stared into the warm, yellowed eyes of a gigantic wolf. It was only the warm friendliness blazing in the animal’s eyes that kept her from screaming hysterically. Seth had not been kidding: he was huge! Most people would have mistaken him for a bear at first glance. His sheer size and striking color broke and doubts she might have had.

“Seth,” she whispered awestruck. “You’re beautiful,”

The massive wolf sat down on his haunches. It was taller than she was by a head, but Iris did not feel threatened. It was only Seth, and Seth was completely safe. He whined and ducked his head so that he could hit his nose with his paw. Iris watched the way he moved, walked, and acted; he was completely at ease as a wolf. That fact alone was simply amazing. The naturalness in his movements, and the wolfish tendencies that she saw so often in Harley. Amazing was the only word Iris could think of to describe it. The very thought that something so magical could exist in such a dull and dreary world shattered any conceptions she had about Forks.

Sometime later, the moon was shining in the dark sky, and the stars twinkled gaily. The crickets chirped their annoying song, and the birds fell silent to listen to their prey’s tune. Her eyelids were very heavy, but she was not physically tired as she leaned against the massive dog. Seth nudged her.

Iris yawned. “I suppose that it’s time to go back.”

Seth whine softly in agreement. Iris glanced at him. “I know, dude,” she answered. “It’s just so nice here, that I don’t want to leave.”

Seth’s tongue hung out of his mouth like a long pink rubberband. Iris took his heavy pants as agreement. Suddenly uncomfortable, she stood up with a grunt. Dusting the dirt off her pants, she stretched her tight muscles and looked ever so slightly down at the wolf who seemed to grow every time she saw him. “You ready?” she asked him only out of politeness.

The wolf barked once.

Iris cringed at the loudness of it. “Okay,” she nodded. “Are you going to shift back, or do you want me to grab your clothes for you?”

Seth nudged the bush holding his jeans. She nodded. “Okay, no problem.” Grabbing the jeans and his shirt as well, she made sure to check for his flipflops too. “Where’d your shoes go?” she asked as she looked around the secluded nook. “I can’t find them anywhere,”

When she started over to the tree where he undressed, the large wolf ran head of her. His body formed a barrier between her and the tree. He did not want her to go over to the tree. “Why?” she asked him confused. “I’m just looking for your shoes.”

Seth butted his head against her stomach. He pushed her back, away from the tree. “What’s wrong?” she asked again. There was fear in her voice, though she tried her best to hide it. Almost anyone would have missed it. Seth nudged her farther back. He woofed lightly, telling her in his own way that everything was all right. Iris looked suspiciously at him. Before she could ask him what the hell was going on, he darted forward.

Iris squealed. Her legs were swept out from under her. She landed face first in warm fur. Coughing and sputtering indignantly, Iris barely had time to cry out when Seth took one large step forward. They were suddenly bounding through the night, going faster than any normal dog or wolf could. Iris clung to the fistfuls of hair as tightly as she could. Letting a wild scream loose, she laughed gaily as the wind burned her face and adrenaline made her stomach jump to the top of her throat.