What if the Cullens had not been in Forks when Bella went to live with her father. What if she had the life she was supposed to have with Jacob on the reservation in La Push. What if after several extremely happy years of marriage the Cullens did return to the area and Bella had to interact with them every day. Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
17. Chapter 17 - Lost
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Somehow my idea for a giant potluck morphed into a potlatch hosted by the pack. There would be feasting and storytelling and dances celebrating the wolf warrior ancestors. All members of the Quileute, Makah and Hoh tribes would be invited along with my dad and David Sweeny. Sue and I were to be in charge of cooking for the feast. Seth was working with Old Quil and Billy on arranging the entertainment. Quil, Embry and Jacob were procuring gifts for each family who would attend the potlatch. I don’t think I had ever attended such a grand gathering let alone hosting one and I found myself wishing Alice could help us prepare on more than a few occasions.
The party was planned for the final week of spring break. Sam and Leah spent the week with us helping out. Thinking that the potlatch was being hosted by descendents of the tribal council they too wanted to co-host and were a little bit hurt that Embry was included when they were not. The funny thing is, had the Olympic Peninsula had an increase in vampire activity a few years earlier Sam probably would have been one of the pack. We all agreed that letting them host was better than hurting their feelings or giving away the secret. It was nice having the extra hands around for the week too.
“So Quil,” I said as the two of us were setting up the hall for the feast, “have you figured out how to approach Clair’s parents?”
“No.” He looked miserable.
“You know we’re putting on this whole shindig just for you,” I teased.
“I don’t even know if they’re going to come.”
“Her grandfather is on their council. They have to come.”
He didn’t say anything.
“Quil, you can’t stop true love, you can only delay it a little while.”
“This might not work out but even in the worst case scenario you can see her again when she is eighteen. Any parent would be impressed by someone who waited patiently and faithfully for six years. And it’s not like you’re getting any older. Don’t worry about it so much.”
“Easy for you to say. You get to see Jacob every day. How would you feel if you two had to go weeks, months or even years without seeing each other?”
I gave no answer, not only because he was right, but because I was suddenly thinking about Edward instead of Jacob. I knew that I would have Jacob there every day for the rest of my life if I wanted. But what if I wanted someone else? I was unhappy when I went a week without seeing Edward. Thanks to David’s intuition I hadn’t seen him in nearly a month. I was frantically throwing myself into preparations for this potlatch now, but what about when it was over. How would I do when I wasn’t running constantly from 6:00 am to midnight? Mostly I wondered how Jacob never heard me talk about Edward in my sleep. It just didn’t seem possible that I had managed to keep such a secret from him for so long.
“You see what I mean,” Quil said, misinterpreting my silence.
“Don’t worry Quil, we’ll figure something out.” I had no idea what we would do but it was true, nothing got in the way of true love, right? Somehow everything would work out. I just wasn’t sure if I was talking about Quil’s life or my own.
The day of the party was uncharacteristically sunny, a good omen in eastern Washington. Our entire extended family was up early to prepare for our guests who would begin arriving at midday.
“Why did you all decide to host a potlatch,” Leah asked as we put the food out on the long buffet tables.
“Actually, it’s for Quil,” I replied. “He’s quite taken with a girl from the Makah reservation but her parents think he is too old for her. He wanted an opportunity to talk to them and show that he is a good guy.” I avoided mentioning exactly how young she was hoping that Leah wouldn’t press the issue.
“Oh, I thought it was the tribal council that made the decision. Sam and I thought that because we live in the city we were purposely left out. I guess we pushed our way in where we were unwanted.” She looked sad and uncomfortable.
“Leah, you’re my sister through Charlie and through Seth, we always want you.”
“Why do I feel like Seth is more of a brother to you than to me? Sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice in moving away. It’s like your kids are more Quileute than my own and both of my parents served on the council.”
I didn’t really know what to say. Of course she would feel that way. Here was this big tribal secret that I, an outsider, was in on while she and Sam, both descendents of Taka Ahi, were in the dark. For the first time the secrets seemed like too much to bear.
“Could you at least tell me the name of the young woman who stole our Quil’s heart?”
How could I deny Leah such a simple request when we had to keep so much from her. “It’s Claire,” I said.
She looked confused for a moment and then her eyes went wide with shock. “You mean Emily’s cousin, don’t you. But Bella, she’s only twelve!”
I’d forgotten that Leah spent the early part of her childhood on the Makah reservation. Emily was like a sister to her and was the maid of honor at her wedding. I never knew that Emily and Claire were related but I should have realized that Leah might know who Claire was.
“Oh, Leah, it’s not like that at all. Quil would never do anything to hurt Claire. He knows she is young and he doesn’t want a romantic relationship with her. He just wants her to be happy. He can’t help himself, what he is feeling is completely beyond his control.”
A range of emotions were battling across Leah’s face. She looked horrified and angry and confused and hurt all at the same time. It was when she looked calm that I got nervous. No one should have that utter look of peace after what they just heard. She looked at me thoughtfully, as if trying to decide how to respond to what she just heard. I didn’t expect in my wildest dreams what she was about to say.
“Who is Embry’s father?”
“I… I can’t tell you,” I choked out.
Leah just nodded, her suspicions confirmed. “I will talk to Emily and Claire’s family about Quil.”
I was too dumbstruck to say anything.
Other ladies started arriving to help us get ready so there was no chance to ask Leah what she knew and how long she knew it. Leah was Seth’s sister though, and they were both living with their mother when Seth first changed so there was plenty of opportunity for her to figure that something must have been going on.
Guests started arriving at lunchtime. The sheer number of people made me worry that the food would not last. Fortunately Sue had helped with the planning, She assured me that we had planned well and that everyone one would go home quite full later tonight.
After the lunch was served and people were sitting around talking before the performances began I saw Leah speaking with Emily and a family that I could only assume to be Claire’s. This had all worked out much better than I had hoped. Seth put Quil in charge of one of the dances that was done by the younger men and boys of the reservation and he led them beautifully, showing his gentle side that is often overlooked because he is so large and boisterous.
After the dancing Billy told the story of Taha Aki in that slow sonorous tone I remember from around the campfire when Jacob and I were still dating. That was the first time that I realized that one day I would be married to the chief of the Quileutes; Jacob looked wise and proud as I learned of the tradition and legends that came through his ancestors bringing him to me.
As usual, Billy and Charlie were wrapped up in the story, sitting right at the feet of their grandfather. I sat between David and my dad who were both hearing the stories for the first time. While most of Charlie’s friends were Quileute, he had stayed away from the “superstitious stuff” that made him uncomfortable. David looked like a kid at the coolest party in town. He had studied folk legends from around the world in college but always in books. This was his introduction to the oral traditions.
As dinner was served after the storytelling the gathering was quieter, trying to keep the legends alive for a few minutes longer before the rest of the world cut in with its rational arguments that denied magic. Only a few of us knew that the magic was real.
While I was eating I wondered where little Charlie and Billy were, I hadn’t seen them since the storytelling.
“Can you see the boys?” I asked Jacob, know that his senses were far more sensitive than my own.
He looked around and frowned. “They’re not here,” he said.
Without causing an alarm we asked Seth, Quil and Embry to help us find the boys, there were a lot of people here and it is easy to overlook two small boys. After several minutes it became apparent that they weren’t anywhere nearby.
“Dad, Seth and I are going into the woods to search for Billy and Charlie, we can’t find them but they’re probably not far,” Jacob told Billy as we were slipping of.
“I’m coming with you,” I said.
Jacob looked like he wanted to object but the look on his face stopped him. Nothing was going to keep me from finding my babies.
- Chapter 2 - The Cottage
- Chapter 3 - Dr. Cullen
- Chapter 4 - Council Meeting
- Chapter 5 - Message
- Chapter 6 - First Day of School
- Chapter 7 - Birthday Present
- Chapter 8 - Please Help Me Name This Chapter
- Chapter 9 - Accident
- Chapter 10 - Forbidden
- Chapter 11 - Cold
- Chapter 12 - Walk in the Woods
- Chapter 13 - Consequences
- Chapter 14 - Goodbyes
- Chapter 15 - Stolen Moments
- Chapter 16 - Party
- Chapter 17 - Lost
- Chapter 18 - Stranger
- Chapter 19 - Saved
- Chapter 20 - Decision
- Chapter 21 - Return
- Epilogue - Bella Turns 30
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- 06 Feb 09
- 12 Jun 09
- In Progress