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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.


4. Chapter 4 The Eagles

Rating 3.8/5   Word Count 4877   Review this Chapter

Renesmee Alaska was beautiful. From the top of the gorge, you could see the foothills of the majestic Alaskan range stretched in the background. Tanya and Kate’s house sat right above the Nenana River with the entire National Park stretched out in front of them. The lodge-style house sat nestled in a valley, with hills on each side. The river, running below at the foot of the gorge, ran swiftly and we would occasionally see whitewater rafts go by. Those were the only other people we saw, although Jacob said he could smell an occasional hiker on the other side of the river. Other than that, it was miles before the nearest settlement and store.

Tanya and Kate were great hosts. They’d turned Irina’s old room into a bedroom for me. It opened onto a second story deck that overlooked the gorge, so each morning I awoke to an incredible view. They had turned an office on the first floor into a place for Jacob to sleep, but Jacob insisted on sleeping outside, presumably in wolf form.

Tanya and Kate were an interesting pair. Kate was petite, slender and so blond her hair was almost white. Put her in a filmy dress, and she could be a fairy queen, like Galadriel in Lord of the Rings. On the other hand, she was grounded and earthy and had what my Uncle Emmett called a dirty laugh. It was low-pitched, throaty and sexy, even if it was just knock-knock jokes you were telling her.

Tanya, on the other, was a strawberry blond, but tall and muscular. She had cheekbones that could cut glass, as Alice would say, and was so stunning that most men had trouble concentrating around her. A Nordic queen, definitely.

Not like me, I thought as I looked in the mirror of the bathroom outside my bedroom. Like my father’s, my hair was brown with red in it but where his waved gently around his face, my hair was curly bordering on unruly. I used a hair straightener on it to within an inch of its life, whenever I had the time. I had my mother’s heart-shaped face and the chocolate brown of her eyes, like the pictures I had seen of her before she was “turned”. I was less pale than anyone in my family; that came from being a hybrid. I sighed as I turned from the mirror. I was still a bit gangly looking, but Mom said I’d grow into it. I’d even gotten a bit of a figure over this past year, but I was no goddess, like Kate or Tanya.

I missed Carmen and Eleazar, and wished that they were here. They were traveling in South America, where Carmen came from. Bolivia, I believe. They weren’t due back until October and our move to the East Coast would have happened by then.

I heard Rosalie and Kate downstairs, whooping and laughing loudly. They were playing the card game War. They played with four packs of cards and they slapped the cards down so fast, their hands blurred. There was a huge thump, a cracking sound and then peals of laughter. It was likely they’d cracked the table. If this was like my house, they were probably always replacing furniture.

I padded back into my room. The sun had set several hours ago and the waning moon had just risen above the horizon. There would be no moon at all tomorrow night and Kate said we’d take my telescope up the hill behind her house where the viewing would be best.

I looked at the laptop on my bed. My biology text sat next to it. We’d been here for two days and I still hadn’t gotten anywhere on my homework for this vacation. I’d pulled them out meaning to get started on my essay on Alaskan flora, but I felt too restless to sit down and dig into them.

I threw on my oversized hoodie, and stepped through the glass doors to the second story deck outside my bedroom. I leaned on the deck railing. Way down below me, the moonlight glinted off the river. It was fairly calm in front of the house here, but just downstream a few hundred yards, the water turned treacherous and only the experienced rafters came this way. I could hear the rapids in the distance, a low constant roar. Jacob was somewhere out there, probably curling up for the night.

The drop from the house to the river below was steep. Across the river, a figure emerged from the forest. Even in the low light, her hair gleamed. It was Tanya, looking almost ghostly in a white jacket and pants. She made an impossible leap across the river, and landed on this side without jarring a stone. I watched as she pulled herself up the stone face of the gorge, quickly and surely. I’d seen squirrels have more trouble climbing trees than she had in scaling the slick and featureless rock wall.

I moved back and sat in the deck chair next to the wall and looked at the moon, letting the night sounds wash over me. I thrust my hands in the front pockets of my sweatshirt and let my head fall back, intending to get my thoughts organized for my essay. Instead, like I had been doing almost constantly since we got here, I thought back to the conversation I’d overheard in the car on the way up here, between Rosalie and Jacob.

My face flushed when I remembered Jacob knew I had started menstruating. The whole family knew, of course. They could smell a drop of blood at 40 paces, there was no way I could hide that kind of thing. My mom sympathized with me, as did my aunts and grandmother, but Dad and my uncles thankfully never mentioned it, although I noticed Jasper tended toward long range hunting about that time of month.

I thought back to how Rosalie had been questioning Jacob on the imprinting thing. Jacob was imprinted on me; that much I knew. What that meant, I used to think I knew. I wasn’t so sure anymore, after hearing Jacob and Rosalie’s talk. Whenever we were in Forks, Jacob was always there, coming by the cottage, playing video games, taking me out to hunt, basically doing whatever I wanted. I missed him terribly when we were away. He was my best friend, why wouldn’t I? He was always playful, gentle when I needed comfort, a keeper of secrets and an ally against the rest of the family when their superior skills and abilities made me feel insecure.

I could run fast, faster than any other humans I had met on playgrounds or in the streets. But as fast as I could run, it was slow motion next to my Dad. I was strong, but everyone in my whole family was stronger and likely to stay that way. As I got older, my skin had softened, so I even got cut sometimes. Carlisle thought it was because I only drank animal blood. My parents always tried to make me realize how special and unique I was, but sometimes it was disheartening to be surrounded by a bunch of ‘superheroes’. Sometimes I wished I was a full blown vampire like them so I could match their abilities.

But there were other times, not as many, but a few, that I would see large families together and wished that I was human with brothers and sisters. I’d see a bunch of girls with their heads together, sharing secrets and I’d suddenly acutely feel the need for friends like me or at least my age. That’s one reason I was so excited about going to school later this year. My family was wonderful, but I wanted friends. Friends that I made, not just passing playmates on a playground or on a play date that had been set up.

A huge sigh escaped from me. Sometimes I felt like such an outsider, not wholly vampire, not purely human, always straddling both worlds. While I didn’t have the invulnerability of my parents, I was better at fitting in with the general population. I could go out no matter what the weather. People didn’t unconsciously shy away from me like they did with my family. Jacob said I even smelled better, but that was Jacob.

Jacob was my friend, my confidant, my playmate. His joy, his enthusiasm was contagious whenever he was around. He was mine, my Jacob. So I guessed that meant I was his Renesmee? Had he been waiting for me to grow up? Could he see me as an adult? Did he envision a future of us together as man and wife? My mind was filling with questions, racing along new paths.

I heard the screen door slam on the first floor deck and two sets of faint footsteps on the deck below me.

“So how was Rick?” Kate’s voice floated up softly from below.

“Not home.” Tanya sounded peeved. “Damn, I could have used the recreation. I was thinking of heading out to Fairbanks to see if I could find Victor.”

“That’s a long way to drive just for a little male companionship,” Kate said.

“A girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do,” Tanya said lightly. “Come with me?”

“No,” Kate said, no sound of regret in her voice. “Rosalie and I are going to cook breakfast for Nessie and Jacob.”

Tanya harrumphed. “You, cook?” Kate laughed, low and throaty.

“I know, can you believe it?”

“Speaking of Jacob, did you see that chest?” Tanya said speculatively.

“Tanya! Don’t you dare,” Kate said, giggling.

“Dare what?” She was all innocence now. “I was just thinking maybe we could do a little howling at the moon together.”

The two of them snickered a bit. “H-m-m,” Kate said. “I wonder if he does it doggy style.”

With that, the two of them broke into full giggles. I was getting a bit indignant. Hey, this was my Jacob they were talking about.

“But really, Tanya, Jacob? The smell, ugh.” Kate sounded as if she shivered.

"Well, I can hold my nose,” Tanya sounded speculative. “You know, he is my type. Tall, big shoulders. Those black eyes are fetching.”

“Your type while he’s walking around on two legs! And when he’s not?” Kate’s voice held some disapproval in it.

“Well, then he’s not. What’s got your panties in a bunch anyway?”

“We don’t know if he was one of the wolves that killed Laurent. Doesn’t that bother you?” Kate was speaking earnestly.

“Bah,” Tanya said dismissively, “Laurent was a pig. He deserved whatever he got.” The deck creaked beneath her. “Meanwhile, I’m taking a stroll.” Her footsteps led off the deck.

“Be safe, sister.” Kate’s voice floated affectionately after her. Then softer, “Don’t come home covered in fur.”

Tanya’s laugh wafted back. The screen door creaked again as Kate went inside.

I hoped she didn’t find Jacob. No, I hoped she found him and he bit her head off. No, I didn’t hope that. I hoped he at least growled at her.

I got up and went inside. The night held no peace for me anymore.

***

The next morning as I came down the stairs, Kate yelled from the kitchen, “Don’t come in the kitchen! We want to surprise you!”

“Alright,” I yelled back. I could smell bacon and it was making me hungry. I hoped this wouldn’t take long. I took a seat in the living room as Jacob came in the front door. He didn’t look any different than usual. I wondered if Tanya had found him last night.

He gave me a peck on the cheek. “Good morning.”

“Morning,” I said, slightly sulky. “Don’t go in the kitchen, they’re trying to surprise us.”

Just then, a banging sound came from the kitchen.

“Crap!” I heard Rosalie yell.

Jacob and I looked at each other. He widened his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. That made me smile. He sat down on the sofa next to me.

I heard Rosalie’s voice in the kitchen. “Are you sure it’s supposed to look like that?”

We heard Kate answer, “Well, its pig so you have to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked.”

“Now I’m scared,” Jacob whispered to me.

I started laughing into my hand and then Kate’s voice rang out. “Come and get it!”

We walked into the large eat-in kitchen where the breakfast table was set up with a white tablecloth, crystal goblets and fresh flowers. Rosalie and Kate stood next to it, obviously excited to see our reaction.

“Oh, it’s beautiful!” I said. “Thank you so much!” There was a pitcher of orange juice and a fresh fruit salad. Freshly buttered toast was piled on a platter. Then I looked at the plate. Three very black and shriveled pieces of bacon sat on one side next to a pile of runny eggs. There was an unappealing pile of white pasty goop mounded on the other side.

“Yeah, looks great,” Jacob said, as he sat down across the table from me, his voice rather flat.

Rosalie detected the false note in his voice and her eyes narrowed at us suspiciously, but Kate was beaming. “Bacon, eggs and grits I remembered from my childhood,” Kate was saying. “My grandmother used to cook them for me.”

“Well, it looks delicious,” Jacob said as he offered me the platter of toast. He winked at me with the eye away from where they could see.

I took a sip of the orange juice to hide my smile. “The fruit salad looks wonderful,” I said, looking for something to be truthful about.

“Thanks, it was fun,” Kate said as she turned back to the counter.

Rosalie eyed us a moment more as Jacob dug into the eggs and goop on his plate and then followed Kate over to the sink.

I stuck with the fruit salad and toast, pushing the other items around so it looked like I’d picked at them. Jacob surprised me by cleaning his plate, even crunching through the black and wizened bacon. He refused seconds though when Kate tried to push them on him.

“Where’s Tanya?” I asked Kate as she hovered over Jacob with the pan in her hands, trying to urge more eggs on him. I kept my voice very casual and offhand.

“Oh, she’ll be back any moment now. She went into Fairbanks last night to visit a friend,” Kate answered. She waved the pan at Jacob. “You’re sure?”

“Really, no, I couldn’t. Kate, that was wonderful.” He patted his belly. “Thank you.”

Suddenly I felt better. Tanya went to Fairbanks last night.

Kate beamed at Jacob before turning away. “Will you two be ok by yourselves? Rosalie and I were going to head into town to pick up the mail and some supplies.”

“Sure. I’ll take Nessie to see the eagles’ nest,” Jacob said. He stood up and stretched, his hands almost brushing the beams of the ceiling.

I offered to help Rosalie and Kate with the dishes, but they wouldn’t hear of it. I gave Rosalie a hug from behind. “Really, thank you for breakfast.”

She searched my face for a moment, and then smiled back at me and kissed my forehead. “You’re welcome.”

An hour later, Jacob and I were hiking along the top of the gorge. Jacob pointed out a hardly discernible trail leading down the steep embankment. “There’s an easy way down to the river from here. The nest is just around the bend.”

I followed him as I picked my way carefully among the tree roots and down the steep incline to where the river gurgled below. “I still can’t believe you ate that breakfast,” I said, grabbing at a tree branch to balance myself.

Jacob stepped sure-footedly down the challenging incline. “Did you see Kate’s face? There was no way I was going to hurt her by not eating as much as I could.” He held his hand out to help me around a boulder. “Besides, I was scared she was going to shock me.”

“Yeah, right.” I knew he was joking.

“Hey, I’ve eaten worse.” His hand steadied me as a rock turned beneath my foot.

I stopped and looked at him. “That’s right; you’ve eaten at Charlie’s.”

With that, he threw his head back and laughed. My grandfather was a notoriously bad cook.

It made me feel good to hear him laugh. It felt good to be the one to make him laugh. Suddenly, I was aware that Jacob’s hand held mine. His large, warm hand surrounding mine easily. With his head thrown back like that, the line down his neck to his chest was beautiful and intriguing. His wide shoulders strained at the dark tee shirt he was wearing and its short sleeves cut across his very impressive arms. He wore his jeans slung loose and low on his hips. His skin was the color of Esme’s dining room table, a rich burnished brown. On this slope, our heads were even and his white teeth flashed against his dark skin. He wore his shoulder length, straight, black hair in a loose pony tail and a few strands had escaped from it, giving him a casual, masculine look.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he just looked somehow different to me. My stomach tightened in an uneasy cramp. I felt jittery and eager, but I didn’t know why or for what.

“True, very true,” he was laughing and shaking his head. He kept my hand as we picked our way down the rest of the embankment to arrive at stony beach. The river was wide at this point, but it narrowed ahead and the cataracts rumbled noisily. He released my hand as we walked down the beach as it came to a bend. We reached the end of the beach, where it started breaking up into boulders and the cataracts were louder.

“There,” he said, pointing to the other side of the river. He was pointing to a large bare tree that stood out above the rest of the pines. It was dead and twisted, but taller than the others by a good twenty feet. There was a huge mass of big branches tangled in the middle of it, six feet across and twelve feet long.

“That’s a nest?” I asked. I was used to songbird nests, but they were to this what a doghouse was to a three bedroom home.

“The eagles fly south but each year they come back to this nest and add to it.” Jacob’s face was peaceful. He had his hands on his hips and he smiled down at me. “Cool, huh?”

“Definitely cool,” I agreed. Then, from the top of the ridge, an eagle came into view. Riding on the air currents, its wingspan was huge. The ends of its wings brushed the sky like outstretched fingers. Clutching something small in its talons, it slowly circled the tree. Its majestic wings beat slowly before the eagle came to perch on the edge of its nest. It folded its wings unhurriedly and surveyed the area with a fierce glare, before bending to its meal. It tore a long shred from between its talons and flipped its head to allow it to slide down its throat.

It was wild and fierce, untamed and magnificent. Just watching it, I felt my heart expand. “Beautiful,” I whispered.

“Beautiful,” Jacob breathed even softer.

I glanced at him and he was watching me. His eyes were soft and his face thoughtful. Is he talking about me? I suddenly wondered.

He raised his hand as if he was going to reach out to me but he returned his hand to his hip and quickly glanced away. “They mate for life. Its mate is probably nearby.”

I was suddenly tongue-tied, and my cheeks felt hot. We stood watching for a few minutes more, while I wrestled with my sudden inability to find something intelligent to say.

Jacob turned to me. “So, what are your plans for the rest of the day?”

I sighed. “I’ve got to get started on my essay. Tanya said she’d show me the best place for my telescope tonight.”

We started walking back on the beach. “Well, I may go hunting,” he said. “Somehow, breakfast wasn’t quite enough.”

“Caribou?” I asked.

“M-m-m,” he said, making a silly face at me. “Lip-smacking good.” His eyes got wide and he curled his fingers to reach for me. “Wonder how you’d taste?”

I knew this game. I screeched and he chased me back to the trail.

***

I’d been at the books for several hours, and it was hard going. I felt restless and itchy and I was having trouble concentrating. I’d gone downstairs a half dozen times, to see who was around, to check the refrigerator, to talk with Kate and Tanya who were planning the rafting trip we’d take in a few days. Anything to distract me from just sitting there on my bed with the laptop staring me in the face.

Rosalie was reading in the living room. She watched me come downstairs, for the umpteenth time. “Hitting some snags on that essay?” Her face was sympathetic.

“Yeah,” I grumbled.

Kate and Tanya looked up from their table, exchanging glances. Tanya pushed her chair back and stood. “Why don’t I take you up the hill? You can check out the telescope view from up there.”

“Well, it’s not even dark yet,” I said, glancing outside. It was late in the afternoon; the shadows were starting to lengthen.

“I know,” Tanya said. “But it will be easier to check out the trail and the best place to set up while it’s still light.” She came and put her arms around my shoulders. “And you look like you need a break.”

“Alright,” I said, my voice brightening. “I’ll go get my case.” I bolted up the stairs.

I saw Rosalie mouth “Thank you” to Tanya. “Bring your cell phone,” Rosalie called after me. “I’m sure your mom would love to hear from you.”

I met Tanya on the deck, the case slung over my shoulder. We climbed the hill on the north side on the house, but it was a fairly easy trail and in a short while we arrived at the crest of the hill. It was a wide grassy area, with huge patches of granite poking through the grass, littered with rocks and boulders.

The view from there was magnificent. I could see the house nestled in the dell below and a good part of the gorge as well. The national park stretched out in front of us fading into the blue foothills of the Alaskan Range. We scouted the area, found a level place and set up the scope.

It was a Vixen refractor style scope I had gotten for my last birthday and it was a beauty. We’d probably get a good view of Mars and Venus, and the Perseid meteor showers were happening now, too, so it would be an exciting night. The nights we could use the telescope were few and far between in Forks, because of the almost constant cloud cover.

Tanya and I took turns viewing the mountains. Tanya was incredibly sharp-eyed and saw the approach of the eagles to their nesting place. With the scope, you felt like you where sitting right next to their nest. You could see the feathers, and twigs that made up the messy inside of the nest.

I was watching the eagles when Tanya suddenly spoke. “The delivery truck is here.”

Down in the valley, a large step van was making its way on the winding road to the house. “I’m going to go help unpack it,” Tanya said. “Can you find your way back all right?”

“Sure,” I said. The way back was pretty clear cut and the trail was well marked. “I should call my mom any way.”

“Okay, then,” Tanya said. “Don’t be too long, it will be getting dark soon. We’ll come back tomorrow night when there’s no moon. ”

“Sure thing.”

She took off in a blur. I spent a few more minutes on the eagles, when a movement down in the gorge caught my attention. Across the river from the beach where I’d stood earlier, a large wolf emerged from the undergrowth. It lifted its nose to the air and smelled the surroundings.

It was Jacob, of course. I’d recognize those russet colored markings anywhere. I brought the telescope around to bear on him. What a magnificent animal he was in this form. He splashed his way across the wide, calm part of the river and gave himself a very dog-like shake. His shape started to shimmer, and he reared up on his back legs. His form quivering, he morphed into human form.

That was fascinating. He’d never changed in front of me. I was surprised it was so quick.

That’s when I realized he was naked. I pulled back from the eyepiece of the scope. Part of me knew it was wrong to be spying on him like this. Part of me was curious; I’d never seen a naked man before. Part of me wanted to see Jacob, to watch him unobserved. I stood there for a moment, warring with myself.

The lesser side of me won, and I put my eye back on the eyepiece.

I could see broad shoulders, slender hips, and a burnished brown all over. He bent down to the river and his hair, now loose, hung over his face. He took handfuls of water and splashed his face and chest, rubbing his face and arms. He ran his wet hands through his hair and flipped it back. I wondered what it would feel like to run my hand across that hot, smooth, hard chest.

I felt a blush coming up to my cheeks, but I couldn’t stop myself from looking. Watching how gracefully he moved his long, naked, muscular body around the rocky beach was breathtaking. He found a boulder in the waning sun and stretched out on it, his black hair splaying around his head. He stretched his long muscular arms out to his sides, as if to let the sun dry him. His chest and stomach rippled with muscle. His long legs were straight and smooth, joined at his narrow hips. How exquisitely formed he was. How incredibly masculine and strong and vulnerable and a thousand different adjectives I couldn’t formulate in my brain. I was mesmerized by him.

I might be young and inexperienced, but I was widely read from Shakespeare to Heinlein, Nabokov to Hemingway. I knew how men and women fit together. I had to admit it to myself, this was not just curiosity that kept me looking though the telescope, it was desire. Suddenly, I was imagining what it would be like to kiss him. How he’d lean over me, and how he’d wrap those long arms and huge hands around me. How he’d smell like woodsmoke and cinnamon, and his lips would be soft and I’d press up against him with my arms wrapped around his neck. How he’d scoop me up in his arms and we’d be alone, in the woods, and then he’d…

Wait a minute, Nessie. Stop, stop, just stop it. Was I really ready to go there? Where was I going with this anyway? I couldn’t imagine anything worse than confessing these kinds of feelings to Jacob and being turned away, or worse, laughed at. I took one last look at the mental picture of me in Jacob’s arms and then tried to slam the door on it.

It took me two minutes to pack my telescope back in its case. It only took ten minutes or so to make it down the path back to the house. I ran like the hounds of hell were snapping at my heels, but I couldn’t outrun the mental picture of Jacob and I. It lingered in my memory like the scent of a tantalizing perfume.

I walked in the living room, and just my luck, Jacob had made it there ahead of me. He gave me a big smile as I brushed past him on the way upstairs.

“Hey, Nessie, how was the view?”

“Great,” I mumbled, keeping my head down and using my hair to shield my face which felt like it was on fire. “Got to finish my essay,” I murmured as I bolted for the stairs to my room.

That was just too embarrassing; to be thinking about somebody like that and then have them show up right in your face. Maybe some other girl could have bluffed her way through a situation like that, but not me, not with these cheeks, blushing at every slight incident.

I dumped my telescope on my bed and walked into the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. Patting my face down with a towel, I looked in the mirror and addressed myself. “Just be grateful that your father’s not here to listen to this.”

I sighed as I turned off the bathroom light and walked over to my frigging laptop.