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Monster

Summary:
I'm nothing but a monster burning in a hell that only exists in my head. There's no hope left until one harmless glance chances logic and binds two eternal enemies together in a twist of fate. Can the escape from this hell be found in an infuriating dimpled grin? Or is this another dark, dirty trick of my own mind? A forbidden passion, heat, and intense anger—this is no fairytale.


Notes:
[Disclaimer: Monster is an originally plotted fic. The ideas within this fic are not to be copied in any way, shape, or form—I have not given my consent to any manner of copying. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the intellectual property of their respective owners. All canon concepts and characters are the property of the Twilight Saga's author, Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended. Similarities are for the sole use of fan fiction, and no profit has been or will be benefited from the posting of this fic.] Emerging Swan Award 2012, nominated into Fandom Choice Awards.


22. Back to Hell

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6053   Review this Chapter

"Get ready, cause here I come." - Rare Earth.

Chapter Twenty Two

Back to Hell

Lightning cracks behind me, igniting the sky with a fiery white flash. Rain pelts down in sharp, icy bullets, unable to penetrate my thick coat. I fly through the forest, a white streak of speed against the green. I move with raw strength, completely unstoppable.

The scents of the reservation fill my nostrils. The familiarity triggers forbidden memories, both good and bad. The steady pull of breath down my throat stutters as my thoughts interrupt my instincts. This irritates me like a leech that wont burn. No matter how hard I try to force my thoughts in one direction, they always drift back to the thoughts of the wolf, pounding in my head as both sides of me fight for dominance.

Hell, this better be pretty damn important. There's no reason for me to return—I'm a killer, not a protector. I won't take any shit, especially when it can lead to ripped off faces and rearranged skeletons. Focus, damn it.

I nod once, responding to the little voice in my head.

My paws rise and fall, their rhythm dying as I slow. I spread my legs out to balance my weight. My paws press into the cold, thick mud, the heat of my skin melting it all into a goopy puddle. Naturally, my gaze flickers around before I lower my head to the ground.

The wolf inside me might be fading from my mind, but it is still very much in control of my body. My eyes shoot around the clearing again before reluctantly falling shut. I drag in breaths through my muzzle, focusing on the strong and steady thump, thump, thumping of my heartbeat. The heat in my veins starts to stir as I will my body to shrink, drawing the heat of the wolf back into the center of my body.

At first, it seems as if nothing is happening, but then there's a twitch in my shoulder. It starts as just a tiny little (redundant) disturbance, but then it creeps up my spine, locking my jaw in place. The heat seeps from my being as the wolf thaws away. My body is soon shaking violently, tearing apart at the seams.

I blink my eyes and my body is suddenly alive with tiny pricks, shocked with energy. Energy shoots through my veins, my eyes clouding. My skin tingles, and my heart rate soars. For a moment, my body locks down, freezing me in place until my vision clears. I stare down at my hands, pressed deep into the mud. A grin spreads across my face. I can't say I don't want to do that again.

Cool, gentle rain drips over my exposed body, washing the rest of the wolf out of me. My breathing gradually returns to normal, my chest rising and falling evenly. The tremors subside and my body relaxes, finally settling down into its human form. I stare down at the mud puddle beneath me, watching the ripples spread across the water. I start to study my reflection, but I stop when I realize I have no clothes on.

Shit. I can't help but think that if anybody is watching me, they're getting a kick out of this. Literally. I'll kick their asses into the middle of next week.

I drag in a long pull of icy air, clearing my head. Focus. My hands and knees dig deep beneath the surface of the mud. I shift my weight, feeling the mud squish around my skin as it loosens. I slide my hands free of the muck and stand, snapping my wrist to rid it from the rest of the mud. I pull in another breath and glance around, my mind spinning. My eyes dart across the hard ground to the gloomy sky, trying to come up with some solution to my clothes issue. I slide a hand through my hair, exhaling again while watching my breath puff against the bark of a tree. I stare at my breath for a moment until it hits me.

The trees.

My hand flies up to the branch, grasping it firmly as I pull myself up. When the pack changes, we all put our clothes somewhere so we don't have to walk through the forest naked. The whole "tie it to a string around your leg" normally doesn't work for me. Paul and I always jam our clothes up in the tree branches so we don't have to worry about them later. Normally, I forget about the clothes and go right home. So, there should be at least a few trees out here with forgotten clothing in them. There better be.

I pat around the tree, my hand skimming across the wiry branches. The surface here is empty. I sigh and drop out of the tree, dangling for a moment while my gaze settles on another. My body swings back before launching forward. The cold air rushes across my body as I sail through the air before landing perched on a low branch. I step slowly around the tree, my hand brushing over the rough, wet surface until it meets something soft.

My shoulders drop. I start to pull the clothes out, my nose wrinkling at their scent. I can definitely tell they have been out here for a while; they smell like dirt and worms. I'm about to unfold the unmistakable grey shape of my favorite tank top when a tiny, furious figure shoots out from the clothes, whistling a long stream of angry sounds at me. There's a flash of white as it exposes its brilliant yellow underbelly and flaps its wings at me, its legs clawing at my face.

I growl once and snatch the bird in midair, tangling and twisting my fingers around its feathered neck. The bird instantly goes limp in my hands, its mouth dangling open. I drop the lifeless body to the ground, shaking my head as I slide on my underclothes and slip into my denim shorts and tank top. The clothes cover my skin well, fitting to my new height and muscle.

I drop out of the tree, falling through the air like a cannon off a ship before my paws touch the ground, immediately shifting into a crouch. I glance around, my gaze darting across the empty forest before I'm off again. My muscles still tremble from the change but my strength pulses through them, building speed. One toned, long leg gracefully stretches out before me, my toes making tiny imprints into the rain-soaked soil, and then the leg is gone, replaced by the other. The rhythm continues, not faltering as I nearly glide through the green, damp forest, powering through with supernatural strength.

Rain stings my skin tirelessly, the chill of each drop diving through my burning skin with a vicious, icy bite. The water splashes over the surface of my body, washing away all the grime gathered from life in the forest. The wind tickles my hairline, whooshing over me as I shoot straight through the powerful currents. My surroundings blur in smears of green and brown, all sharply defined now as trees and bushes. I can even see the crystals of rain on the bark of each tree, but I pay no attention to them.

I'm approaching a log of some sort when I start to pick up my pace. My sides expand and sink regularly with each breath, my body unfettered by the force of my speed. As I come closer, I notice the mossy covering of the tree and the weak, crumbling chunks of its bark sprinkled around it. By the looks of it, the tree crashed down during a heavy storm and still rests in the same position after decades. The tree is still a wall in my path, though, and I don't want to waste time climbing over it.

With my eyes trained on the fallen tree, I push myself to the limits of my speed. I lock my muscles into place as I near the tree and push off, lifting my knees up to my flat stomach. The wind whips my hair back; the rush of gravity loosening its hold sends a jolt of electricity into my veins. I take in a small whiff of the crisp scents around me before my feet press flat into the dirt of the other side. Another tree lay parallel to the one before it—I'm quick to lunge up again. My fingers wrap around a branch as I throw my body forward into the open rain. The rush comes again before I feel my feet meet the ground. I twist around, my foot dropping back as I swiftly tumble, shoulder first, onto the earth. My body flips over itself and then I'm suddenly up once more, pressed into a tree.

After a few seconds of marveling at the power of my body, I force myself back into focus. My breath enters and exits leisurely in a swirling mist, hovering in front of me before rushing away with the breeze. Without caution, I slip around the bark of a slick tree, the thick curtain of my hair tumbling over my eyes. Ignoring it, I scan the woods around me. I see nearly nothing, just the barren darkness of the early morning. The stillness isn't normal, but I'm not stupid enough to let my guard down. It's impossible for the forest hold a still silence without reason. There's something lurking here, something with enough power to hush all the natural life around it. Even the early morning songs of the birds have faded away. Whatever it is, it's close.

My eyes scan the area once more, this time more critically. It only takes a few moments for them to zero in on something different; this time, they find what I'm looking for.

Three wolves creep silently across the ravine in the distance, their stomachs brushing against the soggy ground, ears pricked and eyes darting around. I recognize their stances as a posture meant to keep their steps silent and senses alert.

Leading the patrol is Jacob. His russet fur, bright as a flame against the green vegetation, catches my eye the second he crawls over the hill. Two wolves flank him, one grey with dark spots, and the other chocolate brown with a lighter face. I know the first is Embry, but don't recognize the second; the pack seems to have grown in the time that I have been gone. The three of them cautiously creep in my direction, the alarmed gleam in their eyes giving away that they have know I'm here.

My head rolls back, my eyes staring straight up at the tangle of branches above me. I inhale a heavy but silent gust of crisp morning air, clearing my head. If I don't want them to find me, I have to be careful. Especially now, when any unwanted attention can send me on the verge of oblivion.

The musky scents of the wolves swirl in my nostrils, my sensitive skin catching the pulse of heat from the patrols' bodies as they come closer. Thinking fast, my hands shoot up, grasping a random branch from above my head. I smoothly lift my body up, my feet planting against the trunk of the tree. They shift on the slippery surface. I growl under my breath, hearing a rhythmic thud of paws; the patrol is approaching rapidly. I exhale softly, swinging my legs up and catching the branch in a straddle. Leaning my back into the tree, my muscles lock in place as I freeze on the spot.

A heartbeat later, the russet wolf slinks into place, his head bowing as his muzzle dips over the ground. My eyes narrow. I study him carefully, watching his nostrils flex as they take in my scent. Embry and the chocolate wolf stop behind him, their stances alert and straightened in full height, jaws parted slightly to taste the air. My fingers curl around a loose chunk of bark, ready to spring into action if necessary.

It takes a little circling until Jacob lifts his head slowly, a muffled, irritated rumble rising from his chest. His eyes sweep the lower part of the tree, looking to a point only a few feet beneath me. He glances back at the wolves flanking him, huffs, and then lunges forward, the darkness swallowing his form and only leaving behind a faint whiff of his scent. Embry and the chocolate wolf both glance warily in my direction before throwing themselves after Jacob.

I pause for a few moments longer, my head tipped to one side as I listen. The wind shudders through the branches and rain drips onto the ground, but there is no sound of heavy heartbeats or soft breathing of the wolves. I seem to be alone now. Out of my acquired caution, my eyes study the prints of paws in the mud, and then rest on the shadows. Nothing happens.

My fingers release their iron grip on the wood. I push up into a crouch, stepping into empty air in the same motion. My body drops like an anchor before landing perfectly erect just as my feet thump onto the damp ground.

I take another short breath, my gaze combing over the forest. Reassured by the silence, I nod to myself and set off at a steady pace. My mind pulls in the familiar area, my senses sorting out the sights, scents, and sounds of my surroundings. Light is slowly leaking through the treetops, announcing the nearing sunrise.

Out of nowhere, my legs thrust me forward into a sprint, the ravine blurring around me. The sight of the sunrise sends shudders through me, tearing open an eagerness to slip into the shade of cover. But if I get to the house early enough, nobody will be around.

I race through the forest, breaking through the tree line moments later. I charge toward the porch, my body clearing the steps in a single stride. I exhale slowly, unaffected by my speed, my hand reaching down to the doorknob. My fingers slide over the surface, testing it. A relief starts to rise on my face, but is broken as a familiar voice booms through the door.

Just my luck.

"Incoming!" Paul's voice bellows.

I step inside quickly, studying the room. Nothing has changed; the wooden walls and floors shine, the furniture is in place but slightly crooked, and the homey scent hangs in the air. Two russet figures rise out of their lazy postures and brush muffin crumbs off their cutoffs.

"There she is!" The smaller of the two announces, spewing crumbs all over the floor.

My gaze settles on the reddish-brown skinned boy as he grins crookedly at me. The amusement shining in his brown eyes triggers a connection and I instantly recognize him as Jared. He reaches out and pats my shoulder, but never gets the chance. I strike instinctively, sending him stumbling back into the kitchen before he knows what hit him.

"Whoa. Someone's got their tail in a knot!" Jared scoffs while steadying himself.

Paul's grin doesn't falter, even at my aggressive outburst. He steps in Jared's place and grins down at me, somehow knowing better than to touch me. "Hey, stranger."

Paul isn't much different. His black hair is cropped, flopping over his eyes slightly. His muscles are rounded and his body is ripped, his eyes the same dark brown they always have been. He wears the same cocky, sloppy grin.

I study him, but don't find my voice. My throat is parched, a jumble of senseless words swirling uselessly in my head. I slant my eyes, studying the two of them. Instinctively, I need to sort out the threats from the weaknesses, and right now, these two men seem to be a little too at ease.

Paul's grin grows, seeming amused by my silence. "So, I hear you're like a real superwoman now."

"Yeah, like hall of fame worthy," Jared chimes in mockingly with another smirk.

I feel my brow furrow slightly. I shift my stance, glancing between the three of them, still so at ease and so close. The white gleam of Paul's bared teeth doesn't help.

"Miss Incredible!" Paul snickers to himself. "Come on, you can't seriously not know what I'm talking about."

My eyes flicker between them, searching for any signs of an advance. Heat flares inside of me, preparing my body for any challenge.

Jared snorts, oblivious. "You've only been gone for two years. And a half. Killing all those 'suckers…that was the shit! I'd pay anything to have gotten some of that action!"

Paul chuckles right along with him. "You were awesome, Jord, promise. We could still see your thoughts. All those leeches, all that traveling. . ."

"It was just awesome, I'll tell ya! The whole pack was impressed," Jared crows. "Even Sam, when he wasn't dragging his tail across the ground with pity."

I exhale sharply, the meaningless ring of their words empty in my ears. Paul leans back, watching me, his eyes attention centered on my mouth. A twinge of heat rises in my stomach, but I'm quick to duck through the kitchen door needing to sort out my thoughts.

Paul and Jared exchange a glance. Jared smirks and shrugs, his eyes catching the food on the table. He grins at me one last time before plopping down on a chair, his long body sprawling out while he picks up where he left off, scarfing down muffin after muffin. Paul folds his arms over his chest, watching me as if he actually expects me to not notice. I feel his eyes taking in my towering, slender form while he carefully studies the slight shift and flex of my muscles.

I open the door to the refrigerator, having to crouch down to look into it. My fingers graze through the food items, my gaze focused straight ahead. I catch his gaze and flash my teeth at him; a feral warning.

Paul's brow furrows for a moment before he chuckles. "Damn, didn't know it was illegal to look at a girl."

Jared's gaze flickers between us, his mouth bunched up as if he is trying hard not to laugh. His gaze settles on me, and he grins, revealing the crumbs stuck in his teeth. "Paul wants your panties."

Paul's body stiffens, his fists clenching and his head snapping over to glare at Jared. He growls lowly. "I never said that," he grumbles.

Jared raises his hands in surrender, leaning back in his chair. "Fine, fine." He grins slyly. "He'll take your bra instead."

The smug tone of his voice is infuriating. I shake my head slowly, lifting the water bottle up to my lips while taking a drink. As Jared studies me, I give him a sharp look that says "kiss my ass" without any words.

Jared snickers. "Oh, I'm sure Paul would love to."

With an infuriated huff, Paul's temper peaks. Filled with angry tremors, Paul suddenly lunges forward. He knocks the table over, his fist hammering into Jared's nose with an audible crunch. Jared flies back into the wall with the force, grunting on impact.

"Damn you, Paul!" Jared cracks his nose into place, a few droplets of blood trickling down his nose. He spits onto the tile floor and jumps up, launching himself at Paul.

Paul growls low again, raising his fists to swing at Jared again. As I see Jared lunge at Paul, instinct sets in. I step in between them, my shoulders intercepting Jared's lunge, my feet planted firmly so the force of his weight doesn't knock me over. One hand slaps against his chest, stopping him, while the other drives into his gut. The next thing he knows, Jared is on the floor with me standing over him, my foot pressed into his throat while my arms pin him down.

I growl lowly, a wordless, feral threat that starts in my throat and spills through my lips. My hand trembles with the strain of my grip and the sudden shot of fury that's filling up my veins. My breathing is steady and low as I lock gazes with Jared, my jaw set.

Jared's fingers catch my hand, air rasping from his mouth. His eyes are wide, mixed with both a gleam of fear and awe. "C-Can't b-bre-breathe!"

I press my fingers tighter, my body trembling and filled with heat. I'm ready to snap his neck just about now; my hand curves to the shape of his neck. My teeth chatter as the shaking spreads up my spine and through my shoulders. I can feel the pressure building in my wrist, the murderous monster rising inside myself…

Suddenly, the door behind us flies open. It crashes into the wall just as I snap up, moving away from Jared. My fingers flex and I shift into a defensive stance, my gaze locked on the hallway. Paul is by my side, tense and ready, just a moment later.

A growl rises in the back of my throat, my body heat flaring. Suddenly, Sam is there, standing before me, his jaw clenched as he stares at the blood smeared on the floor. His massive shoulders quiver as he glances between the three of us. His tone deep and demanding as he speaks. "What happened?"

Paul and I both make a point to turn our heads and glare at Jared, who sighs and hangs his head. "I was just kidding," he grumbles under his breath.

Sam sighs heavily, raking a hand through his hair. He looks Paul and Jared both in the eye. "You're up for patrol. Now. Both of you clean up this mess and get out. Let's go!"

Jared is quickly on his feet as Paul ducks back into the kitchen, setting the chairs back in place while mopping up the blood on the floor with a dishrag. Jared doesn't even glance at Paul and me as he shoulders the door, tearing his shirt over his head as he talks angrily to himself.

Paul, already done cleaning in a matter of seconds, hurls the wadded up rag onto the counter. He smirks as it lands in a perfect hanging position on the oven handle, but the grin disappears as Sam catches his eye. Paul frowns at Sam, shaking his head while heading back over to the door. "I'll be back around later."

Paul rips his shirt off, tossing it on the table as if to make his point. He flashes a smile in my direction before jogging after Jared. "Wait up!"

I stare after Paul for a moment, unsure of what just happened. Sam clears his throat, bringing me back to the moment. He leans against the corner of the wall, his hair plastered to his face from the rain. A small smile appears on his lips as he catches my gaze.

"You're gone for two years and you can't even give Dad a 'hey?'"

The words reach my ears, but don't process in my brain as I studying Sam's complexion, tensed by the unfamiliarity of his features. Is this Sam now?

Sam sighs and shakes his head slowly. "I missed you, sweetheart."

I take a moment to attempt to plaster something that might pass for a smile on my face. It doesn't work, though, and I end up only nodding in response. I don't really hear what he's saying; I'm too focused on the scent coming from the grey fabric of his shirt. He still carries the crisp scent of the forest, as usual, but underneath it is a thin layer of perfume. Even through the heavy barriers of my wolf mind, I can remember hearing of Sam and Leah's split. If they split, then why does Sam smell like perfume? My fingers curl into my palm, the thought triggering instant suspicion.

"You're really needed around here, Jordan," Sam continues. "Your family needs you."

I nod while my mind sifts through who the perfume could belong to. My eyes narrow slightly, as it doesn't match with any of the faces in my memory.

Sam seems to catch the hint. He smiles half-heartedly and nods once. "We'll talk later."

With that, he steps into the other room, disappearing and leaving me alone. The wolves are all out on patrol. Sam is cleaning up. Nobody else is around but me, standing here, wondering where the hell is the fun.

I exhale slowly, starting to turn around and head back out the door, when a gleam in the living room catches my eye. I pause for a moment before whirling around, finding myself standing before a mirror on the wall. The mirror itself isn't anything special; just a regular slab of glass framed and placed on the wall. The girl staring back at me is what catches my eye.

"Girl" isn't the right word for this image; she isn't much of a girl anymore. Her skin is smooth and her face has matured; slim and set, all of her features are even. She glares coldly back at me, her dark blue eyes big but narrow, and filled with a sort of fire that I can't really explain. Her eyes are sinking, seeming to disappear into empty, dark circles. The skin on her face is russet and soft at first glance, but clearly toughened and covered with an assortment of dirt patches. The lips of the woman are well proportioned and her teeth show brightly when the lips pull back. Her strange version of what might be a smile is beautiful, but dark and taunting at the same time. It's almost mysterious and even seductive.

A laugh in the background causes me to lock up all over again. My head snaps back, expecting to find someone watching me. The doorway is empty. Another laugh echoes softly down the hall. I scowl at the sound of it; high-pitched and soft, nearly a giggle. I remember the scent of perfume on Sam's shirt and instantly put two and two together.

Some little whore's going after Sam.

I pace down the hall, my fingers tight in my palm and fierce determination in my step. I place a hand on the corner and peer around it, not caring if I'm spotted. What I see sets off instant suspicion.

Sam stands in the middle of the living room with his arms locked around the waist of a woman I have never seen before. He leans down to kiss her hair, chuckling softly as if they are in the middle of sharing a joke. I study the woman with skeptical eyes, a growl building in my throat.

The woman isn't exactly ugly. Her skin is copper and clear, matching her chocolate eyes and glossy black hair. The woman's teeth shine brightly against her lips as she stares up at Sam. She is kind of plain, I think, until I see her scars. Three deep, long, bumpy scars run down the right side of her face, pulling the corner of her lip at a weird angle. The scars pop out of her skin but are still pink and shiny, meaning that they aren't very new. I can only think of two things those scars could have come from: a Makah attack, or another wolf.

I continue to stare at the woman, my lip raising in disgust, until the boom of the door crashing into the wall distracts me. I slip around the corner just as Sam and Emily raise their heads, smoothly stepping back out the other end of the hall just as Embry and Quil pile into the house, both of them scrambling for the kitchen.

"Finally!" Embry sighs heavily.

"Patrols suck!" Quil huffs and plops down in the chair that Jared occupied while stuffing a muffin into his mouth. He pauses as Embry sits next to him, sniffing the air while looking at Embry. "Dude, do you smell blood?"

I feel my teeth rub together, watching them from the corner. Suddenly, there's a jab in my side. I clench my jaw and look back to see Jacob leaning against the wall, grinning at me. "Hey."

If Jacob didn't carry the same scent as he has all his life, I wouldn't recognize him. He had shot up to stand at least at six feet, filling out with biceps that bulge out of his shirt sleeves. His hair is cropped with bangs that slightly spike out over his forehead. Of course, his skin is still the same russet tone and his hair is still the same raven black, but his face is much more matured and his voice is so much deeper.

Jacob's smirk grows slightly as he takes in my silence. "So, you've finally come out of hiding?"

I lean against the wall, raising an eyebrow. I hold my breath, silencing instinct as it urges me to defend myself. I swallow once, and then push my thoughts through my lips. It takes effort, and they come out quieter than expected, but I still manage to spit them out.

"We aren't all so ecstatic about the fun you find in kissing leech-loving ass."

Jacob sighs slightly, shaking his head. "Bella isn't just some human, Jordan. I have to get her away from this leech so you can see that for yourself, but it's hard 'cause she's like a parasite magnet. The leech left her and I guess that brought her out of the clouds, so it's time for me to make my move. Nicole won't even look at me anymore, anyway, so I could use a friend."

I don't answer. My gaze is naturally distracted by a sudden movement—Embry and Quil tossing muffins into each other's mouths.

"Figures," Jacob mumbles to himself. "So you've met Emily?"

I take a minute to form words, than another to push my response through my lips. "Should I want to?"

Jacob clears his throat. "Emily. Sam's, uh, with her now. You missed all the action. It was like a scandal."

My other eyebrow raises. Jacob proceeds to explain, not waiting for words.

"Yeah, pretty much." Jacob's expression suddenly hardens, his arms folding tightly over his chest as his eyebrows scrunch, taking the joking out of his expression. "Sam imprinted on Emily. She came down from the Makah Rez just a little while ago. All it took was her to bump into him and him to look her in the eye, and then boom, he was a goner."

I curl my fingers into my palm, my mind whirring, scattering into a million places at once. "Imprinted?"

"Imprinting: the claim a wolf has after meeting the eye of his other half." Jacob snorts. "Imprinting is just where you look into the eye of your 'soul mate' and then, suddenly, nothing else matters. It's just her—or if a lady wolf imprinted, him, I guess—and nothing else is ever as important. You would just do anything, or be anyone, for that person." Jacob pauses for a moment. "But it's rare, and Sam is the only one so far."

I take this in for a moment, holding Jacob's gaze steadily. My eyes slant. "Leah?"

"Got dumped. Sam didn't want to lie to Leah, so he decided to break it off." Jacob frowns. "What really makes this bad is that Emily is Leah's cousin."

My lip curls back over my teeth in disgust. This woman hasn't only screwed over the love life of her family, but she is from the Makah Rez? A twinge of fury stirs inside me, and I have to clench my hands tighter to. Jacob frowns, his expression puckering.

"Yeah, Leah's not doing too well. She's really harpy and doesn't come around much anymore. Harry died just a little while ago. The papers claim it was a heart attack, but the pack knows better. Harry was out with Charlie—Charlie Swan, Bella's dad—as he was escorting him through the woods on our land. Forks has had reports of giant wolves, and they blamed all the bloodsucker killings on us. Harry wandered off on his own, and then Charlie found him on the ground, his heart failing and all that. The pack checked it out and the red haired leech's scent was so strong, we were all nearly sick." Jacob pauses to grimace.

"But I guess the thing going on with that red haired leech after Bella is just a small part of it. Leah phased when she was arguing with Sue; she, like, murdered their whole freakin' couch. Seth was so shocked, he phased right after he saw her. Quil just did the other day, too, and he's as proud as can be." Jacob chuckles as he says this. "With all these new wolves, thoughts are pretty loud and uncontrolled. Especially Leah's, but she purposely brings up bad thoughts just to make things worse for all of us."

"Fun," I respond blandly, though I feel like I might puke out my guts any second now.

Jacob gives a throaty chuckle, nodding his head. We're both silent until another thought rises in my mind and makes its way to my tongue.

"Shit, don't tell me you've imprinted on the parasite's pet."

Jacob laughs openly at my question. "You think I imprinted?" His expression twists. "Hell no." He nods his head down the hall, gesturing to where Sam and Emily are still at, probably too wrapped up into each other to notice that they have company. Or care.

"I'm sure you've seen them. All giddy, with the distant looks in their eyes. They don't even see the world anymore." He shakes his head slowly. "I don't wanna ever lose myself like that, just so I can bend to the needs of one person." Jacob looks me dead in the eye, his gaze full of suspicion. "You know what I mean, right?"

I don't want to debate it, so I simply shrug, brushing off his attention. My skin is crawling with heat and I can almost feel the darkening of my eyes.

Jacob's brow furrows defensively. "I've known her forever. We grew up together in the summers, making mud pies on the beach…wait, why do you wanna know?"

My muscles start to tighten defensively at what's almost a challenging tone, and I shoot Jacob a look. "What was that?"

Jacob blinks, his expression twisting. "You okay?"

I clench my jaw and breathe steam through my flared nostrils. I can't say anything else right now as my mind tumbles and spins, slipping farther and farther away. To Jacob's luck, Sam and his bitch-thing decide to cut in then. Embry and Quil are too busy raiding the refrigerator to notice, and Jacob doesn't seem to take any mind, but I know better than to meet that woman in Sam's presence.

"Patrol," I say suddenly, barely masking the fierce need beneath me.

Jacob shrugs and rubs the back of his neck as he pushes off the wall. "Okay. Then we'd better get going. Paul will be out, and maybe Nicole will come around too and we can do something."

With a nod, I hurriedly throw the door open just as Sam and Emily round the corner. I'm quick to swing my legs over the rail and get out of there. Jacob stretches his arms out and yawns as he follows slowly, knowing this will irritate me. "If things start to get too rough, I'm out. Bella is coming around later, if her leech will let her, and I don't wanna smell like muck."

"You won't have anything to worry about, unless you bring her in a ten mile radius. Then, I'll have no excuse not to string up your sorry asses up and butcher the idiocy right out."

My words are just enough to cause Jacob to stop in his tracks. I lengthen my stride, tearing through the wall of brush between me and my freedom. With a snarl, I combust on the spot as I release my wolf, expelling the pent-up river of anger and frustration.

Charged with a newfound relief, I kick off the wet ground and sprint into the forest, leaving Jacob behind. Even as my pawsteps turn in to miles of space, I still feel Jacob's startled stare burning into the back of my neck.