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.
18. Chapter 18 - Stranger
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Jacob and Seth stripped down just inside the tree line – too close to the edge but too frightened for the children to care if anyone saw them phase. I pulled their clothes deeper into the woods, remembering to bring Jacob’s pants in case he needed to communicate, so that no one would pick them up either from want, need or in a misguided attempt to be helpful. As I mounted Jacob’s back I realized that this was our first run since my birthday six months ago.
I had never run with the pack before and it was an odd experience. We were running at a frantic pace and there were frequent changes in speed and direction that made it hard to stay in place. I lay flat on his back burying my face in the fur between his shoulder blades. Usually nausea would have overtaken me by now given the spastic movements but the motion matched my mood as we flew through the woods.
As the forest rushed by me I found myself wishing for the first time in all these years that I were a wolf too. Since moving to Forks I had been content with who I was. Sure I would have liked to be less clumsy but otherwise I was happy. Now, with my babies missing I wanted to be fast enough to find them before they could get into trouble. I wanted to be strong enough to save them if they were already in trouble. Mostly, I wanted to know what was going on. I knew the wolves were able to hear each other’s thoughts but there was no way to communicate with me. It seemed that they had found the trail and were heading with incredible speed towards their goal, turning on a dime each time the trail changed direction. I didn’t know if it was just the scent of the children they were following of if some other danger traveled with them.
My imagination worked double time coming up with the many dangers my babies could be facing as we ran helplessly through the woods. At best they were far from home and very lost. They would be scared and hungry. At least they were together. But what if they weren’t? They could be separated. No, Jacob and Seth were still running together. The boys were together. At least they were still together when they got this far into the forest. We had come so far. They must have left right after the stories to get so deep into the forest. What if one of the fell down a ravine or something and was hurt? At least the trail was moving away from the cliffs. Billy was so clumsy that it was easy to imagine him falling. He could be trapped or hurt. Little Charlie is only three; he would need his big brother to keep him calm.
These were all scenarios I could live with and I focused on them. There were things more dangerous than ravines. The boys could have found a wild animal. While they weren’t common, bears and wolves did roam these woods. Two small boys didn’t stand a chance against a hungry bear just emerging from hibernation. Once these unbidden thoughts entered my consciousness I could not get rid of them. As my imagination went down these paths I found it difficult to breath. I tried desperately to find something against which I could pace my breath but everything was moving so quickly and I was beginning to hyperventilate. Jacob’s heart finally saved me. His love had always been my beacon in the dark but this time it was far more literal. I matched my breath to three of his heartbeats and found my way back to alertness as finally he and Seth began to slow.
“Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!” Seth cried out into the night.
It was a cry for assistance, a cry I’d heard all too often in my early years with Jacob. It always preceded him leaving me to join the patrol. This time I knew that Quil and Embry would soon be with us. Just hearing it scared me to death; if the children had merely wandered off there would be no need for backup. If they had been taken by a human or were endangered by animals Seth and Jacob could take care of it themselves. Only one danger was so great that they would need assistance – vampires.
Even my wild imagination had not accounted for that danger.
The scream that built inside my chest stuck in my throat. My babies were taken by vampires. Jacob had slowed to a walk, a growl coming from his lips and his fur standing out making him look even larger than his already huge wolf. I could feel his muscles tense between my legs as he prepared to attack whatever was beyond my range of vision. Jacob was so far gone in anger that he had forgotten about me on his back. I was so paralyzed with fear that I couldn’t speak or move to remind him I was there.
I was going to die in this battle, or worse, my presence would get Jacob killed. Why oh why had I insisted in coming. There was no way for me to save my babies now, they were already dead. All I could do was get in the way of Jacob’s revenge and his ancestral drive to protect the rest of the tribe. Maybe it was best, we wouldn’t be able to live if our children had been brutally murdered. Maybe we would both die in this battle and Seth, Quil and Embry would take care of the vampires. Seth would make a wonderful alpha.
Resigned to my fate, I opened my eyes so I could bear witness to what was about to happen. Jacob lunged through the brush coming out in a small clearing. As my heart beat its final farewell I was able to see everything so much more clearly.
We were flying towards a stranger, a woman, paler and more beautiful than anyone I had ever seen save Rosalie. She glowed in the moonlight. The woman was holding Billy and Charlie, talking to them. As Jacob and I started to descend she put the children behind her, it was a protective move. As the female vampire prepared to face her attacker I saw her face clearly. She showed no fear or animosity, her expression mimicked my emotions; she was prepared to meet her inevitable fate. Her eyes were gold.
“Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo,” I yelled, leaning sharply to the left, changing the course of Jacob’s jump.
I knew that I wasn’t strong enough to send Jacob off balance mid-jump. It was his sudden realization that I was there that caused him to land safely away from the strange vampire. He rolled sideways to remove me from his back but I clung on tenaciously.
“No, Jacob. She is protecting the boys. She’s one of the Cullens.”
Jacob growled menacingly and was about to throw me. I knew the rules, the Cullens were not allowed to cross over into Quileute land, but I knew that this strange vampire, probably the doctor’s mate, was protecting our sons, not harming them. If only I could explain things to Jacob.
As if in answer to my silent prayer something hard and round rolled to his feet. It was about the size of a bowling ball. When it turned over I saw it’s face. It was so horrible that I could not see the perfection of the features. The face was still alive, searching for its body. It’s eyes were black rimmed with a deep burgundy color. I retched into the earth, the entire feast coming up.
A horrible smell rose from nearby and when I looked up I saw a great pillar of thick purple smoke. I was wondering what the foul stench was when a face I was willing to die for emerged from the woods and retrieved the head, tossing it to the burning pile.
It was a stupid thing to say. The vampires were already in breach of the treaty by being on the reservation. Jacob may have let them leave in peace as they had apparently saved the lives of our sons. But this was the one that vied for my attention. This was the one with the name that I called out at night.
I was thrown to the ground and a dangerous snarl emanated from deep within Jacob’s chest.
“Run, Esme,” Edward called out to the strange female. “He doesn’t want you. The smaller wolf will take the children home.”
“What about you, Edward?”
“I brought this fight on myself.” The sadness in Edward’s voice would have broken my heart, but I had to take care of my children first.
Seth was approaching Billy and Charlie slowly. The female named Esme had left and the boys were becoming scared without her.
“Boys,” I said softly, hoping that neither Jacob nor Edward would attack while they were still there, “remember the stories? You have to trust me. This wolf is one of the great warriors. He came to save you and take you home. You must get on his back. He will take you back to the party and to Grampa Billy.”
I heard the growling intensify as Jacob and Edward circled each other.
“No!” It was Billy. “The jewelry eyes man saved me. The wolf is bad.”
“Billy, honey, I came with the wolves. They are the great warriors and they want you to be safe and go home. They are happy that the jewelry eyed man saved you. Wolves talk in growls. The warrior is saying thank you to the jewelry eyed man.”
I hugged my babies and put them on Seth’s back. I could tell that Billy didn’t believe that Jacob was thanking Edward, but he did believe in the stories. Sitting up there, holding Charlie in his arms he looked regal. My son would one day be on the tribal council. And if vampires came he would be a great leader, just like his father.
“Take care of my babies,” I said to Seth and they were gone.
- 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