Text Size Large SizeMedium SizeSmall Size    Color Scheme Black SchemeWhite SchemeGrey SchemePaper Scheme        

Sunset

Summary:
Twelve years ago Edward left Bella thinking she would be safe and happy away from the dangers of his world. She wasn't. How can he make it up to her? Each chapter written from a different POV with some overlap as the same incident is seen from a different perspective. Some new characters of my own imagination.


Notes:
You know, all the recognisable characters are not mine. They belong to Stephanie Meyer and I hope I've used them in the spirit in which she created them.


23. Leah - Returning To The Fold

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6983   Review this Chapter

There were times when life really kicked you in the teeth. Just when I thought I was getting my life back together after the debacle of my engagement to Sam this bloody happened. I was almost enjoying my christmas break with my mom on the reservation when the news spread that there were strangers approaching. Like everyone else I went to have a look at them. But unlike everyone else I immediately knew that one of them was a bloodsucking leech. But what was really strange was that Jake was escorting them onto the reservation towards his house. What was going on? Was it something to do with the other one, the one that wasn’t a leech? I looked at him to see what I could figure out about him. Just as I went to study him, his head turned to look at me. That’s when everything shifted. The whole centre of my universe was irrevocably altered. He, whoever he was, was now my reason for being. I did not want this, not at all. I know I said something, I don’t know what because I could feel it happening and I knew I would not be able to control it. I ran. I think I managed to get out of sight of everyone before my clothes ripped from my body as I transformed into a wolf. Something I had been able to refrain from doing for nearly five years. I had even started having periods again! And now I would be frozen once more, and who knew for how long this time? ‘What? Who?’ Paul was being his usual articulate self. ‘Leah! Good grief woman, what the heck are you doing now? I thought, oh, oh, oh you poor thing. First Embry and now you. Wait ‘til Jake hears about this.’ Paul who could hear and feel everything that I was thinking and feeling was highly amused. To be honest I didn’t really blame him. Paul howled to get Jake’s attention. It wasn’t long before he phased and knew I was there too. ‘You are kidding me. Leah! I thought you had stopped phasing!’ ‘So did I until I caught sight of him and then I just lost my temper! It is so not fair! I have managed to stop for nearly five years and now this. Why did he have to come here?’ It wasn’t until then that Jake understood my frustration. ‘Not another one! If I couldn’t read your thoughts Leah I would swear you were having a joke with me. And you can stop laughing Paul. First Embry and now you, Leah. What is the pack coming to?’ ‘I think Quil is right Jake’ Paul thought. ‘There is definitely something strange happening with the alignment of something because all these strange things are happening. First Bells runs into him again, then the Doc helps Quil, then Embry imprints on a leech and now Leah, who we had all thought had left the pack, imprints on a half leech and rejoins. Man o’ man. Who is gonna tell Bells and the half leech?” ‘I tell him of course. Damn it! I don’t even know his name.’ Which made me even angrier. ‘Okay Leah, this is what we’ll do’ Jake was being the leader, ‘I’ll get Seth to bring you some clothes since I’m guessing you destroyed the ones you were wearing. You phase back and come to my house. You and I can talk to our guests. And by the way, his name is Nahuel and the leech is his aunt Huilen.’ Jake thought of all Huilen said so that I would be brought up to speed. At least my new aunt didn’t want to kill humans. My mom brought me some clothes and a lecture about controlling my temper. The clothes I was grateful for, the lecture I wasn’t. Once I was dressed we walked to Jake’s house. The whole atmosphere was nervous. No one really knew what to expect. “Nahuel, would you please take a walk with my men and Leah while Huilen talks with the Tribal Council? Leah, it’s your choice whether you stay or go with them. Guys, just take him for a walk, ask nosy questions, talk about the scenery, anything, just nothing of import, and be back in about thirty minutes is that clear?” Jake was the pack and tribe leader. “Sure Jake, thirty minutes.” I was torn. I didn’t know where I wanted to be but thought it would be best if I stayed while Jake spoke with the Council. Jake introduced everyone. I received some strange looks for being there but Quil just looked resigned. Jake asked Huilen to tell the Council why she was here. There were the expected murmurs of disbelief at her story, then came the resigned shrugs. Jake then asked Quil to tell Huilen how most of the pack chose their mates. Quil explained about imprinting, using himself and Claire and Embry and Tanya as examples. Huilen was clearly very surprised when she heard about Tanya. Quil pointed out the difficulties in so much as Tanya had to be very careful not to bite Embry since vampire venom didn’t change us, it killed us. Huilen clearly wondered why she was being told all this. I guessed that she thought that one of the pack had imprinted on her. “Leah has imprinted on Nahuel” Jake said. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Sam shift slightly: probably glad that he no longer had to feel guilty about our aborted engagement. But my mom was furious. She said she forbade the match. “You cannot stop it Councilwoman Susan Hewan Clearwater. The only person who can stop it is Nahuel himself. Not even I, Chief Jacob, can stop it” and there was no doubt that Jake spoke as the tribal chief at that moment. My mom was still not happy. Jake then told the Council that he had been unable to speak to Carlisle Cullen direct but had asked Isabelle to pass on a message. “It might not get through until tomorrow so I don’t know when he will call, but I propose to tell him what Huilen said and to ask if he can come down here ASAP. Does anyone have a problem with that?” “What if he brings the rest of his ‘family’ with him?” mom asked, making her distaste clear. “Then that’s what he does. Should I ask Embry and Tanya to come down too?” Jake asked. “Yes. These changes affect them as much as anyone. They should be involved with the discussions” Quil said much to my dismay, another leech to deal with. “I don’t like what all these happenings are doing to the old order of things” Sam said, “but there is no doubt that forces beyond our control are at hand and it is for us to work with these forces not against them.” It was alright for Sam, he imprinted on a nice normal human, what did he have to fight against? “Very well. I’ll call Embry. When I’ve spoken with the Doc I’ll let you all know what he says. Thank you.” It was a clear dismissal from Jake and everyone left. “Huilen, how should Leah tell Nahuel?” Jake asked. Huilen laughed and looked at me. “Straight up. Tell him that he is your mate and you are his. Explain the details after he has understood the basic fact.” I thanked her for the information. It went against the grain to speak nicely to a bloodsucker but Nahuel needed me to treat his aunt with respect so that was what I would do. When the guys came back Jake left Quil with Nahuel, Huilen and myself so I could explain what had happened. Where to start? “You will have noticed that some members of the tribe are not normal humans” I began. “Yes, but you are the only female I think” Nahuel said in his beautiful voice. “Yes. Anyway, those of us who are different often find that their mate is chosen for them by some force that we cannot see and cannot control. There is nothing we can do to change it” and for half a second I felt the residual sadness and bitterness of how Sam left me for Emily. “But why are you telling me this?” “Because you are my mate and I am yours” and I watched and waited for his response. And as I watched Nahuel, he watched me. Searching for something, and I wondered what. “You are sure?” “There is no doubt” it was Quil who answered. “Good, I should like to have a mate” and it was that easy. I moved to sit beside him. That was my place now, beside Nahuel. I hoped he would soon feel equally bonded to me and see it as his place to be beside me. Quil, and for all the bad things I had ever thought of him before I unreservedly apologised to him in my head, told Nahuel all about us, our strengths, our lack of aging and our fatal flaw. “If you were to bite Leah, she would die. Venom does not change us to vampires the way it does ordinary humans, it kills us. Like Tanya with Embry, you must take care with Leah.” Nahuel looked at me, took my hand and said “I promise”. Now the hard part would begin. How would we be able to forge a life together? I was an accounts clerk in Olympia and barely earned enough to keep myself let alone a mate and his aunt. But they had clearly managed all these years without me, although I wasn’t sure I wanted to know how, so we would no doubt find a way to manage now. Jake returned and told us about the Cullens’s intent and invitation. “I will stay there with Huilen and Nahuel” I said. “And we can change the shifts so that as well as someone on patrol someone is with you” Quil added. Although I knew he suggested it for my protection, I was a bit miffed by it. Quil was asked to call all the pack to wolf form while Jake, Huilen, Nahuel and I went to the Cullen house. I was astonished to see that the front door was unlocked. Jake, to my amazement, walked straight to a control panel and opened the metal shutter protecting a glass wall at the back to let in more light. It actually looked like it was a beautiful home. “We will stay downstairs so as not to enter personal space” Huilen . I was surprised by the stench: it wasn’t pure leech, there was a trace of Quil’s scent in the air. I wondered when he had been there and if that accounted for Jake’s familiarity with the place. Jake indicated that he and I should leave the house to phase. “May I change here? They should know what I look like” I may have imprinted on Nahuel but Jake was still the pack leader and I needed his permission to go against a stated order. “Are you two content for Leah to remain in the house while she changes to her wolf form?” Nahuel looked at me in awesome anticipation while Huilen just nodded her agreement. “To be on the safe side, it would be better if you didn’t move too much since Leah has not been in her wolf form for some time and is not as practiced as the rest of us” Jake added. He left the house to strip and phase while I had to take my clothes off in front of my mate for the first time with his aunt watching too! At least Huilen moved to the end of the room so that I had the illusion of some privacy. To my surprise Embry was also in wolf form when I phased. ‘Congrats Leah, imprinted upon a half leech.’ ‘At least Embry didn’t do things by halves.’ ‘I’m pleased for you Lea, don’t take any notice of this bunch’ – that one from Seth. Then Jake joined us. ‘Hey Embry, glad you’re with us. I take it everyone has been filled in with everything.’ ‘Yes, I’ve just been receiving all their congratulations’ I thought. ‘Tanya and I should be there tomorrow. We’re running. The others will decide what to do once they’ve spoken with the Cullens’ Embry added. ‘Good’ and Jake outlined the plan for them all. Seth naturally wanted to be the one with us since he wanted to spend more time getting to know his new relations. While all this wolf business was going on, Nahuel walked up to me and stroked my fur. It actually felt very nice. I could sense everyone else’s amusement but at least they had the good manners to try to keep their thoughts to themselves. When Jake had finished with everyone else he said ‘Leah, stay in form. I’m coming up.’ Jake returned to the house but there was something about the tableau we presented that he didn’t like. “Leah, please show Huilen and Nahuel your teeth.” I did as ordered. Jake said that my teeth were designed to rip a vampire to shreds. “And don’t think you can outrun her because you can’t. We run down and catch vampires and Leah is the fastest of us. Huilen, you must understand the danger you are in. Leah is just one, but if you cannot control your lust for human blood while in this area the pack will take you down, including Leah.” I understood Jake’s words. I was being ordered to kill my mate’s aunt if necessary. Huilen looked at me, then back to Jake. “I understand. Thank you for the warning.” Jake said I could then phase back. It took a couple of seconds of raised brows to get him to realise that I expected him to go away while I was naked. He had clearly forgotten what it was like to have a female pack member. Shortly after Jake left Seth turned up. He immediately started talking to Nahuel. I told Huilen that I was just having a look around, staying on the first floor to comply with her edict, but needing to find the bathroom and see if there was anything in the kitchen. There wasn’t anything edible. But at least the water was turned on so we wouldn’t die of thirst. Oh how glad I was that the women of the tribe were sensible beings. Lizzie had realised that there would be no food in the house and sent Jake over with some food for Nahuel and me. She didn’t think to add some coffee, but at least we could eat. “When Quil comes over later, he’ll bring your stuff from your mom’s so you can wash and change if you wish” Jake said before leaving. I noticed that Huilen and Nahuel had no luggage of any sort with them. I asked Huilen what they did for clean clothes. “We take them from the humans” she shrugged. “What about food and shelter?” I asked. She shrugged again. I knew she meant that they took them from the humans too. Well that would have to change. “We cannot steal from the humans. We will find a way to pay our own way. In the meantime we should be able to accept some gifts, freely offered.” I would have to ask friends for some help in getting Nahuel and Huilen some clothes. I knew the Cullens had lots of money, the house was a dead giveaway, and no doubt they would want to help Huilen. I wouldn’t want Nahuel to have to accept their handouts when I could support us as long as our needs were simple, but perhaps to start off with I would have to not be so proud. Luckily Quil brought all my stuff from my mom’s. There was no note from her which meant that she really was not happy with me. But then she hadn’t been happy with me since Sam broke our engagement. If I had somehow been more, Sam would have imprinted on me and not Emily so I was something of a failure. Still, it looked like it was just as well that I was very independent since I would have to be the strong one with my new family. Nahuel and I curled up together on the thick carpet in a corner of the room to sleep. It wasn’t the most comfortable of beds, but I had slept on worse and it was nice having a warm, body to snuggle into. Huilen wouldn’t need any sleep and Quil would keep watch over her. I woke up to see Huilen watching Nahuel and me with a happy smile. She really was pleased that we had found each other. As I stretched Nahuel began to stir. I kissed his cheek gently and told him that I was going to the bathroom so he wouldn’t wake and not know where I was. Quil was sitting by the door looking outside. Jake wouldn’t be happy if he saw that. I wondered when Jared would turn up since he had the morning shift. The bathroom was well stocked and I hoped that the Cullens wouldn’t mind me using one of their towels. It was a little dusty, but a good shake soon took care of that. I felt more positive after a shower. I told Huilen about the shower and towels and said that if she wanted to clean up I could put her clothes in the wash if she wouldn’t mind wrapping herself in a towel for a couple of hours. Huilen looked at me as if I was mad to suggest such a thing but said “I will do as you suggest after Nahuel.” I wondered if that meant she thought Nahuel would tell me where to go. Nahuel was stirring. I went and sat cross legged on the floor beside him and stroked his face. He really was beautiful. Without opening his eyes he smiled and spoke. I didn’t understand a word. “I’m sorry” I said, “I speak only English, Quileute and a little Spanish.” He laughed a little. “That is alright. I speak only Portuguese, Spanish and English. I said that I was glad that it was not a dream. You have washed.” “Yes, the bathroom is well stocked. I had to shake some dust from the towel but other than that it seemed clean. If you want to clean up I can put your clothes in the washing machine if you wrap yourself in a towel for a couple of hours.” “You are sensible. I like that. I will do as you suggest. Come with me.” Nahuel took my hand and led me to the downstairs bathroom. I took a towel from the shelf to shake it for him and he started to remove his clothes. “Yesterday you gifted me with the sight of your beautiful body. Today I show you mine.” I reached out to stroke his chest a little. “You are beautiful” I whispered in agreement as his body reacted in such a way as I wished we were alone. “I am unknowing in the ways of men and women. Later you must teach me” he read my mind. I smiled and nodded my agreement. My past relationship with Sam was going to turn out to be useful after all. I took Nahuel’s clothes to the laundry room. It hadn’t been updated in more than twelve years so still had the old fashioned separate washing machine and dryer which meant that it would take ages to wash and dry the clothes. But then I hit pay dirt. When the Cullens left all that time ago they didn’t take their clothes from the laundry room. They smelled a little of leech, but since Nahuel and Huilen also smelled of vampire, not leech, I didn’t think it would be a problem. There were some jeans, men’s and women’s, and tops, but no underwear or socks. They needed pressing but that wouldn’t take me long. I compared Nahuel’s clothes to the Cullens’ and found the ones I thought would be the best fit and started ironing. Nahuel was out of the shower wearing a towel when I showed him what I found. He smiled a grateful, pleased grin and took my offerings to don. They fitted him very well indeed. “Huilen has left her clothes outside the bathroom door” he told me. “Perhaps we can find some that will fit her.” We collected the clothes and compared their size to the Cullen clothes. There was one pair of jeans that looked like they would fit except they were too long so I just turned up the bottoms. There were plenty of tops to choose from and Nahuel selected a couple he thought his aunt would prefer. It didn’t take long to iron those items and to put all our dirty clothes in the washing machine. They both now had two pairs of trousers and three tops. I noticed that they did not wear underclothes and they went bare footed. The latter would have to change if they wanted to mingle with people other than the Quiluete and vampires. But I could leave it for now. We didn’t know when the Cullens would arrive but the morning stretched on ahead. It would be simply too boring to just sit and wait for them. “Why don’t we explore outside? We can make sure we stay in the immediate area” I suggested. “Yes, we are used to being outside so that would be nice. Will you go as a wolf?” Nahuel asked me with the most charming smile. “No in case I am seen by a hiker, but Jared and I can change in a second if we have to.” “Could you really catch me if I ran?” Huilen asked. Jared laughed. “Unless you are particularly fleet of foot, even for a vampire, all the pack could catch you if you ran. But as a wolf Leah is the fastest there is. She’s not as fast on two legs though.” “I like to run, but I am not as fast as Huilen” Nahuel said sadly. “Then perhaps we can run together when we’re somewhere we know where we’re going” I suggested. He liked that idea. “This is where we got Laurent” Jared said as we entered an almost perfectly circular clearing. “He was about to kill Bells so we took him down here. It’s a shame that it meant we ended up having to kill Irina as well.” “Irina is dead? You killed her?” Huilen was not pleased. I wasn’t part of the pack when Laurent was killed, but of course I knew about it. I didn’t know who Irina was but if she was a bloodsucker then I didn’t care. “Yes, she attacked the pack. Hurt Quil real bad and the Doc, Carlisle Cullen, had to come down and treat him. In fact he’ll finish the treatment when he’s here.” Well that explained why the Cullen house had a whiff of Quil about it. Jared told the rest of the story about the ending of Irina’s life. I thought Irina was bloody lucky to get all those chances. The pack should have killed her when she first came. “You showed great compassion to Irina” was all Huilen said. We were walking back when Huilen said that a car was heading straight for the house. It had to be Cullens so we picked up the pace. It was Isabelle and two Cullens, one of whom I guessed was the one they call Edward given how he was hovering over her. Just as they were getting out of the car Jake arrived. I wondered at the perfect timing. “Sorry, I wanted to be here when you arrived” he said and walked straight up to Isabelle and hugged her. “Looking tired Bells, but looking good.” “Feeling tired Jake, been travelling all night. But you, you look frustrated, resigned and worried. How is everyone?” “Everyone is fine and dandy. Find your manners and introduce me, Brat.” “Esme let me introduce you to Jacob Black, Chief of the Quileute. Jacob, this is Esme, the architect for my beautiful house and wife of Carlisle who you have already met and you already know Edward, my mate.” I marvelled at how Isabelle could describe a leech thus so naturally. “Esme, Edward, thank you for coming and allowing us to make use of your hospitality. Let me introduce you to Huilen, her nephew Nahuel, Leah, mate of Nahuel, and Jared who, with Leah, is a member of the Quileute tribe. This is Esme, Edward and Bells” Jake finished the introductions. “On behalf of my nephew and myself I wish to thank you for your kind offer of hospitality. We did not wish to take advantage so have limited ourselves to the downstairs rooms.” “We bought some supplies so we can offer some food and drink to the none vampires. Bella is fond of eggs and pasta, but we also bought some meat for those who would prefer that” Edward said as he went to start unloading the car. “But most important right now, is that there is hot chocolate, tea and coffee” Isabelle said. “Hi Jared. How are Kim and the girls?” and she started to limp towards the house. “First things first Bella, massage pad” Edward said as soon as everyone was in the house. “I’m not too stiff, honest. You kept me pretty limber all through the journey. A hot drink first would be much better, really.” “Actually Bells” Jake said, “I should have thought of that, but you do seem to be walking quite well given how long you’ve been travelling.” I could tell that Huilen and Nahuel were puzzled by their words even more than I was. “Bella sustained serious injuries including severe muscle damage so finds that she stiffens up quite a lot, and she had major surgery just ten days ago and is still under doctors orders to not lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee. Back and shoulders straight, Bella” Edward said firmly. “Nag, nag, nag. What are you going to do when you don’t have to keep on at me all the time? You’ll need to find yourself another hobby” she retorted. “Knowing you, love, I’ll always have something to nag you about” he laughed and I was shocked at how natural their banter was. Their whole relationship was really surprising me. I wondered if Embry and Tanya’s would be the same. “Tea, coffee or hot chocolate?” Esme asked looking around at the non vampires. I was about to refuse but a significant look from Jake made me change my mind. “Thank you, I would like a coffee please, milk, one sugar.” “Thanks Mrs C” Jared started to say. “Please call me Esme” she interrupted. “Okay Esme, I’ll have the same as Bells, exactly the same, please.” Esme smiled her acknowledgement and looked at Nahuel. “I do not know of these things you suggest’’ he replied much to my surprise. “Well, in that case let me prepare a little of each for you to try” Esme smiled at him. “Jacob?” “Coffee, black, no sugar, please.” Esme disappeared to the kitchen while the rest of us sat on the sofas all very stiffly. “Carlisle should arrive by the end of the day” Edward said. “He is flying into Port Angeles and I shall meet him there. You” and he looked at Isabelle, “will be fast asleep in bed having had an early night.” “You don’t have a bed in this house” she retorted. “No, but Alice and Jasper do and we’re stealing it. We could take Rosalie and Emmett’s but there is no way I could lie in that monstrosity so either Nahuel and Leah or Tanya and Embry can have that one. Also Alice and Jasper have a Jacuzzi in their bathroom.” I thought that I would rather sleep on broken glass than a leech’s bed. Jake and Jared both wondered why they needed beds when they didn’t sleep. “What else do you two do in yours?” Edward asked them. “But perhaps they’re both a bit more adventurous than to rely on their beds for that” Isabelle added and I noticed that Jake and Jared blushed. We all had a bit of a laugh with Nahuel as he tried all the drinks that Esme brought for him to taste. He said the tea was “disgusting”, normal hot chocolate “acceptable”, but the way Jared and Isabelle had it “not so nice”, but coffee, black and with no sugar “interesting and surprisingly appealing” so Esme brought him a full mug just like Jake’s. Esme apologised to Huilen for her bad manners in not asking about her long journey. “I just thought you would prefer to wait until Carlisle gets here so you need only tell us the once. It really isn’t because I am not interested, because I am, very much so.” “Thank you for your consideration. But would you mind answering some questions that I have?” Huilen asked. “Not at all. Please feel free to ask anything you would like to know.” Esme replied. “Edward and his mate, how have they never had a babe?” I thought it a bit of a silly question. I might not like the bloke but he did seem to genuinely care for Isabelle so of course he wouldn’t risk hurting her by going all the way, but Esme looked to Bella for permission to answer. “Bella received injuries that were so severe that she cannot have babies. But, until Jacob told us of your visit we had no idea that it would ever have been possible for them to have a baby.” “But the relationship is such that it would have been possible otherwise?” “If you want details you will have to get them from Bella or Edward” Esme giggled. “Oh yes, it would most certainly have been possible, many times over” and this time it was Isabelle who giggled, quite suggestively too. I was shocked and I don’t think I was the only one. “I guess at some point I’m going to have to get used to everyone’s interest in my sex life. It is a trifle disconcerting” she added. “Bells, forgive me for speaking of this in public, but the subject has already been raised. Your injuries are such that you should not be having sex with anyone, especially not a vampire. Sex could easily break your back, cause your heart to fail and that is without the additional risks of doing it with a vampire!” Jake said what I was thinking. “Jake, as my brother you’re allowed your concern. My heart has failed twice in the last four months” I hadn’t realised it was that bad! “Making love with Edward had nothing to do with either events. You’ve already noticed how much better I’m walking. Edward takes such good care of me each and every second that we are together, in bed and out, that my muscles are getting stronger and far from damaging my back, he is helping. More importantly, I am happy. I promise you, my sex life is no cause for you to worry about me.” Even I could hear the truth of her words. Jake turned to Edward. “And what do you have to say? You have to know that one slip, one half second when you lose control and you could kill her.” “Yes, I know. And so does Bella. I made the choice to leave her over twelve years ago to protect her from me, to try to make her safe from what I am. Bella chose to not live if she is not with me. My reason to stay alive is to protect Bella, to make her happy. Making love with me makes Bella happy. So as far as I am concerned, that is what we do. I forced my decisions on our relationship before and it turned out badly. Now Bella makes all the major decisions about our relationship, I do mean all of them.” What must it be like to have that much power over your man? Huilen then asked the question that I was sure we were all wondering: why didn’t he change her if he wanted to keep her with him Treaty or no? “It is commonly thought that vampires do not have souls. I never wanted to take Bella’s. Every part of her is too precious to me and even though Bella makes all the major decisions, I cannot change her now because she has a weak heart it would kill her.” I got the impression that Edward did not like the way the conversation was going. But he got a reprieve when Seth and Angela turned up. “Why are you forming a protection detail?” Edward asked Jake before they even got to the front door; he must have picked it up from someone’s thoughts. “I want to be sure that Leah is safe, and that Huilen will not feel the need to feed off the local humans.” “As you know, Edward and I would not harm Leah and I am sure that between us and Nahuel we could protect her from Huilen if necessary. And I am also sure you know that we would protect Bella should she feel the urge for blood. Edward will monitor her thoughts to be on the safe side if that reassures you” Esme said to Jake. I guessed they wanted to get some out of their house even as she went to let two more in. Huilen asked what Esme meant by monitoring her thoughts “I can hear what people are thinking, human, vampire and hybrids” Edward replied. “Even if you started to think that you were getting a bit thirsty I would know. Carlisle and Esme are well practiced in helping vampires move away from their thirst for human blood and directing it towards animals.” “Bells, it’s great to see you again!” Seth said. “Hi ya Seth, Angela. How are you both? Angela, you’ll remember Edward of course, and this is Esme his adopted mom. Esme, Edward, Seth and Angela Clearwater. Seth is Leah’s brother” she explained to Esme and Edward (and it was getting easier to think of them as individuals with names rather than the generic ‘leech’). “Hello Edward. Although I know exactly how it works, it’s still a surprise to see you looking exactly the same as you did in high school.” “Angela, Alice wanted me to tell you that the next time Lizzie visited you had to be sure to come too.” “If you value your sanity Angela, don’t. Alice is always too keen to arrange girlie evenings, talking clothes, painting toe nails that type of thing” Bella said. “Actually Bells, I like that sort of evening too!” Clearly the word was spreading around the reservation. We had another visitor: Lizzie. Lizzie, Angela and Bella slipped off to talk by themselves. I knew they had been friends for years but I felt a little excluded. I shouldn’t have, because I also relished the opportunity to switch off from what others were saying and to think. I still hated vampires, but I loved a half vampire who in turn loved his vampire aunt so I would learn to adjust. But did I want to try and not phase again so that I would be able to have children with Nahuel, or would it be better to phase regularly so that I didn’t age? I knew it was something that I would have to talk to Nahuel about, but perhaps I should know what I wanted first. But then, given that I would be what he needed me to be, what I wanted was irrelevant. I sighed a little and leant into his side, wanting a little support at that particular moment, and was glad when Nahuel put his arm around me and pulled me closer to him. “Jacob, may I speak with you privately, please?” I heard Edward ask. I wasn’t sure it would be a good idea; one wolf against one vampire was too even a fight for me not to be concerned. But they left the house and walked far enough away that we couldn’t hear. When they returned, both apparently none the worse for their chat, Edward said “Bella, food time. Would you like scrambled egg or tuna pasta?” He seemed to be saying that he would prepare it! “Would anyone else like anything to eat too?” “Thank you. Leah and I have not eaten today so should have something. I do not mind what I eat. Leah?” Nahuel said, perhaps deciding he had to start asserting himself. “Whatever you’re preparing for Bella would be fine, thank you” I replied self consciously. Lizzie, Angela and Seth said that they’d had lunch at home. Jake looked torn. He would be starving but wouldn’t like to have said anything. Clearly Edward realised the situation – a little bit of his mind reading in action. “I’ll just prepare a load of tuna pasta for you all then. Come on Jacob, you can lay the table. I don’t think anyone has ever eaten a meal there but everything will need to be washed.” It wasn’t long before we were called for lunch. “Thank you” Bella said as she kissed Edward. “Eat, drink, medicate, exercise, nap. That order, please” he replied and I thought again about how natural it appeared to be for him to look after her. “When do I get to have my human minutes in that timetable?” “Okay, I’ll let you have those when you need them. I’m going to ask Esme and Huilen to help me sort out the rooms while you eat.” There wasn’t a lot of chat around the dining room table. We were all too busy eating. I actually didn’t think it was too bad. Nahuel wasn’t too keen though, but he ate it, and quite a lot too. After she had eaten, and she didn’t eat much, Isabelle started taking a load of tablets. They looked like proper medication ones too. I’d never liked Isabelle so had never bothered to find out about how badly she was injured when got hit by the train but now I was starting to think it was probably a lot more serious than I had thought. Edward returned to the dining room and seeing that Isabelle had finished he just swept her up into his arms. “Bella needs to do some exercise then she needs a sleep. Esme can tell you who has what room. See you all later” and he carried Isabelle out of the room. Esme asked me and Nahuel to accompany her to the room that had been set aside for our use. It was a nice room. Someone had opened the windows to let some fresh air in. Esme said that the room was usually a guest room that had rarely been used. Then we heard Isabelle groan “Oh that hurts. That really, really hurts you sadistic monster!” “Sorry love but you wanted me to do this to you” Edward sounded amused! Jake stormed to their room. “What the hell are you doing to her?” The rest of us followed wondering if we were going to have to prevent bloodshed. When I saw the scene I felt sorry for Jake, I really did. Bella was lying fully clothed on her exercise mat with her left leg being held by Edward as he was clearly massaging the thigh. Isabelle looked at Jake then us and laughed. “Physiotherapy Jake, necessary to stretch the muscles. Painful sometimes but oh so effective. Now unless anyone else took a physiotherapy course, get lost. And would someone please tell me why I have to keep throwing people out of our bedroom?” “Oops, sorry Bells, sorry. Catch you later.” Jake was clearly embarrassed. A few minutes later Edward re-joined the rest of us and we heard “Oh yes, that is good. So much better than him. But it does feel good.” Isabelle was clearly enjoying that part of her therapy. Edward saw the looks on our faces. “Don’t worry, she’ll dose off soon. After an hour or two I’ll get her in the Jacuzzi and she’ll be fine. Jacob, you ever burst into our room like that again, I’ll break your arms and tell Carlisle not to use painkillers when he resets them. Bella is usually just in her underwear while she has her physiotherapy. How embarrassed do you think she would have been if that was the case today?” I thought he was very restrained. “Hey, no sweat, besides I’ve seen Bells naked before.” I couldn’t believe Jake actually said that! “Make a crass stupid comment like that again and I’ll break your arms” Lizzie said, “and I’ll tell Carlisle not to bother resetting them at all. Isabelle would hate for you to see her body now, even in her underwear. She didn’t like it when I saw it.” “What? Why? I don’t understand women.” Jake really didn’t get it. “Scars, Jacob. Bella is still self conscious about her scars.” Edward explained in a tone that clearly said he thought he was stating the obvious. “Anyway, since Isabelle is no longer here, Angela and I are going home. Jake, you and Seth should leave too so that they can sort themselves out.” Lizzie was not happy with her husband. For a second I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea for everyone to leave, but I thought the sooner we started to find ‘normal’ the better. Once everyone had gone, Esme said something about it being nice and peaceful and that reminded me: “Embry and Tanya should arrive sometime today.”