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A Matter Of Time

Summary:
A TLYDF Recommendation, Nominated for Immortal Cookie Award, Won Best Imprint in the Silent Tear Awards Two weeks and the whole world can change. Caius and Jane led an insurrection against Aro and are making a mad power grab. Renegades from the wolf pack, unhappy with the treaty with the Cullens, are attacking vampires at every opportunity. Jacob and Renesmee are struggling with the paradox of imprinting. Edward, Bella and all the Cullens must come together to protect the world they've come to love. A tale of action, deceit, intrigue and sexual awakening.


Notes:
Stephanie Meyers owns all things Twilight. My thanks to all the wonderful people at PTB who helped with this story.


22. Chapter 22 Flight

Rating 3.5/5   Word Count 2390   Review this Chapter

Renesmee

Seth Clearwater picked me and Jacob up at the Portland airport; Emmett and Rosalie would follow in a day or so once they’d gotten the island house closed up. It was good to see Seth. He’d always been one of my favorites of Jacob’s friends.

Jacob whistled approvingly as Seth walked over to a Honda and unlocked the doors. “Where’d you get the ride?” Jacob asked as he dumped our duffle bags in the back seat.

“Leah let me borrow it,” Seth explained as he climbed behind the wheel.

“She’s back in La Push?” asked Jacob as he clambered into the back seat.

Seth turned the key and started the car. He looked in the rearview mirror to catch Jacob’s eyes. “Yes,” he answered in a flat voice. The two of them stared at each other for a moment. Seth was upset about something, that was obvious. His usual cheerful personality was muted.

He pulled out of the parking space. “She’s not part of the pack anymore.” He glanced at the rear view mirror again. “Any pack. Neither are Solomon Hatch or Del Cleveland and any of those guys they hung with.”

“You mean Jimmy and Evan?”

“Perry Bond and his brother, too.”

Jacob sat back in his seat as he digested that. “How’d that happen?” he finally asked.

Seth shifted uncomfortably. “Maybe we could talk about this later.” He glanced at me. “I’m sorry, Nessie, I don’t mean to exclude you, but it’s just kind of a pack thing.”

“Oh, of course, Seth. You don’t have to apologize. I understand completely.” I guessed that there would be repercussions against the wolves that had been part of the attack in Alaska. I wondered what this meant for Leah.

“Thanks,” he said, flashing me a smile. There, now he looked more like the Seth I knew.

“So, how was the tropical isle?”

“Seth,” Jacob waxed. “You should have seen the beaches. Incredible. You wouldn’t believe the sand there.”

They talked about the island for a while, while I listened with just a part of my mind. Leah weighed on my mind. She’d been a part of the group that destroyed Tanya and Kate, and yet she had helped Jacob that same night. Did she hate vampires so much she had been willing to kill them indiscriminately? Were there other members of the wolf pack who felt the same way?

“So, what’s been going on around town?” Jacob asked, yawning and stretching his arms. It had been a long day of plane travel.

“It’s been pretty quiet until this afternoon. We picked up the scent of two vampires coming from the south.” Seth turned to me. “Is your family expecting anybody?”

“I don’t think so,” I answered. “They’ve all followed some enemies to the east.” I turned to Jacob. “I bet it’s Carmen and Eleazar back from South America.”

“Keep an eye on them and let’s see where they head,” Jacob suggested to Seth.

“Sam’s got it covered,” Seth assured him.

We pulled into the driveway of the family home, all of the windows uncharacteristically dark. The forest was dark and quiet around us as Jacob and I got out of the car. We thanked Seth for the ride as Jacob grabbed our bags. I stood looking at the house, my heart swelling, as the headlights of Seth’s car wound their way back down the driveway. I heard the phone ringing from the inside of the house, but I was in no mood to rush in to answer it and it soon stopped. It should have reminded me that I hadn’t turned my cell phone back on, since turning it off for the plane flights.

The light from the waxing moon glinted off the house and the meadow beside it. For once, the sky was clear enough and the moonlight strong enough to cause the trees that stood beside the house to cast deep shadows beneath them. There was just a hint of coolness in the air, announcing fall’s coming arrival. The wind snaked its way through the trees so that the leaves rustled together, like sisters telling secrets. I took a deep breath of the cool, pine-smelling air. No other place on earth had this rich fragrance.

Jacob put his arm around my shoulders. “Feel good to be home?” he murmured into my hair.

“You know it,” I murmured back. It felt incredibly good to be here, safe and secure. I was surprised at the intensity of my feelings. I could feel the tears start to collect in my eyes. I turned to him and threw my arms around Jacob’s chest. His hard, hot body was as much a comfort as the return to my birthplace. Even if they weren’t here, I could feel the love of my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles surround me like a blanket.

“You’ll stay with me tonight?” It would be at least tomorrow before any others of my family showed and I didn’t want to be alone tonight.

“Of course.” He kissed the top of my head. “Here or the cottage?”

“The cottage.” Definitely. That was where I felt most secure.

Jacob picked up our bags and together we headed across the meadow to the cottage that was my home. The meadow and trees smelled so green, clean and pure, it was the smell of my childhood.

“I hope there’s some food in the house,” I said as we entered the tree line to walk the path to the cottage. The forest floor was dappled charmingly with moonlight. “I’m starving.”

“Well, we can raid the big house if we need to,” Jacob said to me over his shoulder, leading us down the narrow path as it wound its way through the trees. “Esme always keeps things pretty well stocked. Or we could hunt, if you’d prefer?”

“I don’t have enough energy to go chasing anything down,” I said, yawning. “I’d prefer something that isn’t going to run away from me. I could really go for some pancakes. Maybe chocolate chip pancakes with—“

I came up against Jacob’s back, who had stopped suddenly in the middle of the path. “Hey,” I started saying, when a quick motion of his hand made me stop.

He stood still listening to the night sounds around us. The leaves whispered to the wind above us and there were sounds of small animals as they rustled through the dead leaves on the forest floor. He lifted his face to the wind and tasted the air.

“Come on,” he said, pulling me in front of him. “Let’s get to the cottage.” His mood had changed abruptly.

“What is it?”

“Probably nothing,” he said, reassuringly and placed his hand on my shoulder, steering me down the path.

“Chocolate chip pancakes,” I muttered. “With syrup and bacon.” My stomach growled at the thought of food.

We were nearing the door of the cottage when I heard my name.

Someone was roaring my name, the sound was inhumanly loud. It was coming from the family house we had just left. Jacob and I froze in our places.

“Renesmee! I know you’re here. Come out, come out, wherever you are!” There was no mistaking that taunting tone, too loud for a human throat to produce. I knew that voice, it had inhabited my nightmares. Who else could it be but Jane?

Terror immobilized me on the spot. Panic filled my mind, I wanted to find a dark corner to crawl into. I ran into Jacob’s arms, who reflexively threw them around me.

“Come on, Renesmee! Where are you? Got your pet with you, do you?”

I looked wide-eyed at Jacob. My knees literally started shaking, while my stomach convulsed with fear. My lungs started to burn and I suddenly gasped, I’d forgotten to breathe.

Jacob grabbed my arms. “I am going to phase,” he said softly yet urgently. “Then we’re going to run. The wolf pack will be here soon.” He stepped away from me.

In my panic, all that registered was that Jacob took a step away. I lunged at him. “No, Jacob, don’t leave me!”

I could hear two sets of footfalls coming through the forest. My hands started to shake with the fear racing through my system. Jacob grabbed me again. “I’m not leaving you. We’re going to run together, ready?”

I looked up at his eyes, which were burning with his need to make me understand. I took a breath and nodded.

Jacob took three steps away from me and his clothing burst from his form. With a shake, he was in his massive wolf form. He took two steps and looked back at me. It was time to start running.

We took off north through the trees, Jacob galloping ahead of me. My shaking stopped as all my energy and adrenaline were being used to propel me through the forest as fast as I could go. I concentrated on Jacob’s haunches and tail in front of me as he led me through the trees at high speed, picking our way infallibly. The forest, which had seemed so innocent and pure just moments ago, now seemed fierce and threatening. The twisted branches seemed to reach out to catch me and slow me as we bolted through the underbrush. In the oppressive darkness, I concentrated on Jacob’s tail weaving in front of me as we dodged through the trees. I ran as fast as I had ever run, but it wasn’t fast enough. The chase behind me was getting closer. I could hear someone crashing through the bushes behind me and terror spurred me on, but the sounds were still getting nearer.

We broke into a clearing when I felt the searing, stabbing pain. It hit me in mid-stride and I immediately curled into myself, rolling across the grass and dirt. It was like no pain I had ever felt before. A tidal wave of agony hit me from my head to my toes, and my whole body clenched with the anguish of it. I hadn’t known so much pain existed in the world. I was drowning in it; an ocean of torture surrounded me. I screamed over and over as the pain refused to subside. I felt Jacob come stand over me, his growling deep and harsh. My heart started to break, we had never really had the chance to be together and now it was all going to be over.

Suddenly, as swiftly as it had come, the pain was gone. Instead, the air was filled with yelping and whining. I raised my head. Jacob was beside me, scratching at the dirt, his head rolling wildly while he whined. No, not Jacob. Not that pain.

Around the clearing, at least a dozen of the wolf pack had arrived, but they were in the same condition as Jacob. They all were groveling in the dirt, their pitiful high-pitched whelps terrible to hear. They scratched at the ground, rolling and yelping with the pain that Jane now lashed at them. Their shrieks sounded like puppies being trampled, their cries were heartbreaking.

The wolf pack was too interconnected; they shared a mind in wolf form. Jane hit one wolf with her pain and they all felt it. The torture endured by one wolf reverberated among all of their linked minds. But she could only send her pain to one mind at a time. When the wolf pack threatened her, she must have had to let me go.

I stared in horror as Jane came closer. She nodded toward Jacob. “Him first.”

I turned to look at who Jane was speaking to and my heart fell as I recognized the petite Asian woman. With dread, I recognized her process as her hair started to stir. It was the firestarter. With the wolves pinned down by the pain, she could leisurely destroy them all, one by one. And she was going to start with Jacob.

The air in front of her started to roil. “No!” I cried as I sprang from Jacob’s side and hit her with a body block. The fireball she had started spun away in a high arc over us and hit the top of a pine tree which burst into flames.

I kept on going and closed the distance to Jane. As I came running toward her, I saw her face change from pure anger to something resembling fear. I was a step away from her when the blinding, scorching pain returned. I fell at her feet, screaming again. This time though I grabbed her ankle. This bitch was going to pay.

The pain squeezed me in its iron grasp but now I was channeling it. It didn’t lessen the pain, but this time, with my hands wrapped around her ankle, I shared it with Jane. All the anguish and agony I was feeling, I poured into her. My whole body clenched with the searing and burning that consumed me but it only made my hands clench around Jane harder. As long as I was feeling the pain, I knew the wolves would be free of it.

Jane and I were screaming in unison. Above that, I could hear the wolves snarling and growling. Jane fell to the dirt, but I held onto her ankle. I couldn’t let it go- my hands were locked around it. The shared pain bound us together as it bounced back and forth between us, unstopping. I heard the wolves around us, and felt their furry bodies brushing against mine. I tucked my head out of the way between my outstretched arms, my voice getting hoarse with screaming which I couldn’t stop.

The wolves were biting and tearing at Jane’s body as if in some kind of canine feeding frenzy. Yet not once did I feel teeth brush against me or paws touch my skin. Abruptly the pain stopped and I gasped with the first full lungful of air I could finally make. The screaming had stopped as well, only the sound of the wolves tearing at hard flesh continued. The world started to spin wildly as I felt hot hands pulling my clenched fingers away from the ankle I clutched. I was rolled gently to my back and I saw Jacob’s face spinning above me before the whole world faded to black.