More Than My Own Life
Nessie Cullen has grown up the adored center of her world. Now that world is about to be ripped apart at the seams. How far would you go to protect everything you've ever loved?
If you are looking for a good read with more depth than a rain puddle this is for you. If you are looking for the fluffy, warm, coos and smiles without so much as a thundercloud on the horizon, turn back now. If you are looking for Nessie to simply rip Aro's head off quickly, turn back now.
2. The Calm Before The Storm
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Is there really a happily ever after, or is it a happily until your world comes crashing down around you? Neither, I thought. It’s as happy as you make it. And I was going to make mine as happy as I could no matter who I had to fight. My Jake, my soul’s and my heart’s true mate was worth any price.
My bronze curls cascaded over his shoulder as I turned to my side to better see his face. Even in sleep it mirrored the feeling of absolute love and contentment pouring from every part of my being.
I reluctantly traced my fingers down the side of his face and when that did not work, tickled the tip of his nose.
Bending low to his ear, I murmured, “Unfortunately love, we have to get back before someone comes looking for us.”
His only response was rolling over to pull me back down into a heated run of kisses. When we finally came up for air his response was, “It hasn’t been that long. The world won’t end if they have to wait. I need longer to show just how much I love you.”
“I want forever to show how much I love you, even more than my own life. You are precious to me, the gravity that holds me to this earth.” I replied. “And, in case you haven’t already guessed my answer is yes.”
Jake rolled slightly to the side and felt around until he found where the ring had fallen during our passion. Finding it, he knelt on one knee again. I sat up, leaning on one elbow. “Stay with me forever,” he murmured as he slipped it on my hand.
I murmured back, “I will give you every single tomorrow I have.”
Time was forgotten again as our hearts blazed with fire. I could not say who started it, but we ended up snuggled into the pile of leaves that had become our bed again curled around each other like two halves of one seamless whole. We had no blankets, and we had no pillows. Then again, we didn’t need any. The forest floor seemed as soft as the cloud I surely must be floating on. The only pillow I wanted ever again was his shoulder.
I traced my hand lazily along every single curve and muscle. The ring on my left hand caught and my skin caught the sun and created a cloud of rainbows around us. Mom’s ring. Her blessing and acceptance of Jacob and I. My eyes began to tear over everything Jacob had gone through. He’d left home and family, watched his best friend cross to a land he could never reach, then go through what he thought were her dying days.
I never wondered how Jake’s feelings could have changed so seemingly radically. Around the iron and silk cord of the imprint I could feel braided myself and the man who had been anything I ever needed & would now be forever what my heart desired. It took everything I had for me not just to reach out to him and pull him along with me. But if I got killed, I wanted him to live on. There would be no way he could live if he was there and saw me die.
“You really won’t let me go with you?,” he murmured.
“I saw Alice’s vision and I have a feeling of my own. It isn’t a matter of not letting you come. It’s a matter of something I must do on my own. I have no intention of just going into hiding and waiting for you to face the Volturi when they get here and find me gone.”
He nodded. “That’s why I want to go with you. Who knows how long it will be before I see you again? And what if you need help with whatever you‘re planning?”
I almost broke down at that. I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be more than a month, but I was planning an assault into Volterra ending in my killing Aro. One just did not think of it being guaranteed you would walk away from such a thing alive.
Reaching up, I put my hand on Jake’s lips to still them. “I will be back. Volturi nor heaven nor hell will be able to stand between us.”
Reluctantly, we disentwined and stood. Jake took my hand as we turned to ran back to the house. I ran a few steps then suddenly ground to a halt. I looked down at myself, but very carefully not at him. “Uh, Jake, we really need to find our clothes first before we go.”
We put ourselves back together as much as we could. I only hoped everyone would be so distracted they wouldn’t notice how it looked as if we had spent the last however long rolling in piles of leaves.
Jake once again took my hand and squeezed it as we raced into our forever that would be as soon as I could save it.
Back at the house, I was swept into a whirlwind of hugs and goodbyes. Somewhere among the many embraces I felt a hand slip something into my carry-on but I would not open that here.
Before climbing into the car, I found Mom standing in the crowd and moved to speak to her one last time. "Please tell Esme how sorry I am to have missed her. Myself, I’d tell her I’ve gotten sick and had to be taken to the CDC in Atlanta for testing then tell her the real reason,” I grinned evilly.
Dad mistook my silence in the car for despair. He kept a good-natured running commentary going that I’m certain was designed to reassure me but what I was really thinking about was what I was going to do. I’d decided the single heroine into the maws of danger idea, while romantic, was entirely unsuitable. I needed back up, to get an audience, then to get Aro to do something stupid enough even his own Guard and Council could not help but execute him. I wished I had Uncle Jasper and Dad to help with the strategy, but decided I’d just have to trust whoever I was being sent to for help instead.
Apparently, I was so involved in my thoughts that it took Dad at least five minutes to get my attention and tell me we’d arrived at the airport. Turning and hugging fiercely, I murmured “You’d better send for me to come home soon. I’ve got a wedding to plan.” The shocked and slightly enraged look on his face worried me. “Dad, be happy for me. I’ll be getting everything I’ve ever wanted since I was a baby. Don’t you dare and take it out on my Jake.”
With that, I turned and left before tears could overtake me.
Reaching the airline ticket counters, I opened my backpack carry-on for the first time and found a boarding pass to Rio De Janeiro. Grinning, I wondered if Mom’s dreams from the past were actually more than an overactive imagination. Then I noticed the departure time and cursed a bit. Thirty minutes to make it to the gate. At least my travel papers were in order. I chuckled looking down at my passport from seven years ago. The picture, age, and physical description had changed but I was still named “Vanessa Wolfe.”
Instead of Zafrina or Senna as I had expected, Nahuel was waiting just past customs for me. Later I found out he and Huilen had joined the Amazon coven after the almost-war.
“Flight went well, I presume?”
I nodded. “Slept most of the way. A lot to think about.” As I pushed my already clammy with sweat curls back from my face the sun caught the ring on my hand.
“I see congratulations are in order,” Nahuel said.
“As soon as I can get back home.” I saw his eyes widen and felt him speculate about what Jacob’s and my children would be like. “Oh, no, not yet. I’ve got to marry Jacob first.”
Nahuel chuckled. “So I’ve still got a fighting chance, then?”
He shrugged. “Can’t stop a fellow from dreaming.”
I wondered if I knew him well enough to smack him in the back of the head and sent that thought to him. “Where are Zafrina, Kachiri, Senna, and Huilen?”
“Waiting at home in the Xingu National Forest. If it is even possible for you to need it, you’ll have about three hours to catch some beauty sleep. Otherwise, I can give you a tour of the area.”
I shook my head. “You’re really not going to give up, are you?”
True to his word, Nahuel gave me the full tour. He even gave me more information on his and Huilen’s tribe, the Tapayuna. Nahuel eagerly told me what he had found in his studies about the tribe of his birth. He had worked for years, reconstructing the names and details he and Huilen had forgotten. Finding out he did not have to be a monster by birth freed him and Huilen from their self imposed isolation. After joining the Amazon coven and successfully managing the change to a vegetarian diet, Nahuel began to truly consider his place in the world around him. He started by seeking his roots.
So far he had found that the Tapayuna held mythology that was strikingly similar to the Quileutes. However, they did not have anyone like the Thunderbird. Humans learned from all of nature and the animals around them, being “brothers in the skin.” There were even a few legends of shape-shifting.
Not that Nahuel wasn’t an entertaining guide, but I found myself drowsing again. I hadn’t slept more than six of the past twenty four hours and was wearing out. Before I knew it, he was shaking me awake as we had stopped in a tiny town somewhere along the road.
“Come on, Sleeping Beauty. It’s probably time for a half-human moment and lunch if you eat solid food like I do.”
I nodded. “I usually don’t eat a lot of human food, but I’m so hungry I’ll eat anything right now.
Nahuel steered me into a local café. For my sensitive nose, it was a riot of aromas. My mouth watered. I could smell rresh chorizo sausage roasting, rice and beans, fried bananas, as well as several others I did not have a name for floating on the air. My stomach rumbled loudly, protesting how long it had been without food. Jake and my ‘hunt’ ended up being very short on dinner and I was too anxious to think about food on the plane.
I heard a low chuckle to my right. “Quite a bit different than Forks, isn’t it? And you haven’t even seen the forest yet.”
The food couldn’t get to the table fast enough. I couldn’t remember ever having craved human food this badly. I tended to eat whatever was on the menu for whoever I was with. That meant animal blood except for the times I was at La Push, out with Jake, or visiting Grandpa Charlie.
Finally, the food arrived. The fish and tomato stew I ordered was a delight of flavor and texture only slightly rivaled fried pastries I had afterwards.
There’s not many times in my life I’ve ever found myself agreeing with Edward. This is going to be the one, and only one, time in my life when I understand that he was not just a raving psycho keeping Bella practically on house arrest. I realized I would be willing to do far worse than sabotage a car and kidnap Nessie to keep her safe. As I watched her being rushed out of the house and into Edward’s car I had to force myself not to run after her.