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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.


25. Clicked

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6089   Review this Chapter

"Oh, perhaps it's all a dream and make believe
Oh, the last of all my dreams but still leave me."
- Imagine Dragons.

Chapter Twenty Five

Clicked

Sleep comes and goes, fading in and out of my mind. I find myself covered with sweat at random points throughout the day, and I am on my feet a lot, pacing back and forth across my room while muttering to myself. After the fourth lap, impatience sets in. I snap the curtains shut to block out the grey light before I slip back in bed and take a deep breath. I exhale through my nose slowly, willing all of my scattered thoughts to exit in one breath.

"Sleep," I command myself. I work the muscles in my shoulders, relaxing them before moving down to my abdomen, and then my thighs, unlocking all the muscles that are already tight and ready for battle.

"Relax." My eyes trail across the ceiling before closing. I embrace my pillow and breathe in its dusty scent. By the time the air leaves my nostrils, I am asleep.

Bloodsucker.

I let loose a howl of pure ferocity. The sound of it rips through the heavy silence of the forest and pierces the air; it is a powerful battle cry. The leech is down on the ground in a crouch before me, his lips curled back and his eyes focused. He hisses menacingly, begging me to lunge at him and end his life.

My body doesn't move.

Instead, I lurch backwards. My ears press flat and I throw myself forward once more. My movements are restrained and slow, unnatural. My gaze flickers downward, taking in the sight of the chains strung around my body. I stand wrapped in a coat of chains, my paws sinking deep into a pool of black muck.

I haven't noticed the pack, but they are there, lined beside me in a strict row. They watch me with clouded eyes. Each wolf stares at the leech, their stances relaxed and their gazes blank. Not one of them does a damn thing.

I gnash my teeth together and throw my weight around violently. The chains around my shoulders rattle and whine as they stretch, but they don't break.

"What the hell are you all doing? There's a leech right in front of your faces. Get at him!"

The pack angles their heads to look at me. All of them watch me with glazed eyes, their stares boring into my face. The big, black wolf steps out to stand before me and lets out a sharp bark. He snatches the chain from the ground in his jaws, leaning his weight back as he pulls. I thrash with a new resistance, fighting against the tightening chains.

Soon, each wolf of the pack has a chain clenched in their jaws. They surround me, slowly backing away and pulling the chains tighter. The leech escapes without a scratch.

"Stay, Jordan," they chant. "You belong here."

I shift my shoulders and rear back, feeling the muck suck me down even further. I lock myself in place, feeling the mushy ground settle around me as my movements pause. A growl slips through my teeth as I warn the pack to back down.

"Stay." The pack all jerks back at once. The chains slice through my fur and dig into my skin. I ignore the painful sensation and force my body to pull upward.

The constant strain and pressure of the chains only increases. I jerk back, only to find myself chin deep in the muck. I snarl softly and then give one final jerk, pulling myself back and away from the muck.

My neck snaps right then, as if the decision to slip away from my tribe has killed me.

"Jordan."

I inhale sharply at the sound of my name. My arm swings around as I sit up, connecting into the firm line of a jaw. I blink my eyes clear as Sam stumbles back, cracking his jaw back into place. His brow furrows as he looks at me, his dark eyes full of confusion and astonishment.

Sam assesses my expression before shaking his head. "I need you out for the patrol." He turns his back and heads for the door. "Quickly."

I wait for Sam's footsteps to cease before I spring into action. An intense focus spreads across my face, wiping away the effect of my dream and darkening my expression in a matter of moments. There is no time for distractions.

Not wasting a second, I throw my window open and slip out, landing on the ground softly. Heat spreads across my body as I shed my clothes, leaving them strewn behind me. I keep my gaze intently focused and my pace steady, but my fingertips still tremble as I sink into the shadows.

()()()

One by one, each wolf slinks out of their human forms, anxiously gathering together in the gloomy forest. The pack stands together near the treaty line, just a mile off the river. The wolves follow the order to stand in a line, filling up the small space of the clearing. With our strong and sure stances, we are set and ready. The excitement is hanging heavily in the air while thoughts of the upcoming task are pitched around from one racing mind to another. Each wolf fantasizes of catching the prey themselves. Sets of anxious, razor sharp teeth gleam against the darkness while the violent jerk of each restless movement tears at the swirl of mud and blades of forest vegetation beneath our paws.

The black wolf raises his head as I jog down the hill, stopping to stand before him and the wolves. Nicole proudly jogs back into place by Sam as I report our findings. We found strong leech stenches, but only Cullen ones. The Cullens are definitely out there, but nowhere near the line.

Other wolf thoughts rise and slur together as they take in the news, but Sam ignores them. He nods his head. Then there is no threat to us. Thank you, girls.

No thanks needed, Sam. Nicole settles into place behind Jared, breathing in the surrounding forest.

Over here, Jord. Paul stands beside Sam, his grey fur ruffled and flecked with dirt. He lifts his head and slides away from Sam, making room for me. I stand my ground for a moment, studying the grey wolf. He senses my suspicion and meets my gaze with innocent dark eyes. I catch the apologetic mood passing from his mind to my own and shake my head with a huff.

To hell with it.

I nod and take my place next to him. Behind me, the spotted wolf leans away uneasily as I move close to him. I flick my ears at his movement and fix my gaze on the green forest.

Damn 'sucker better get her sparkly ass going. I don't have all night.

The dead probably do have time, and a lot of it. My response is automatic. I glance over my shoulder to see the other wolves throwing their heads around, all of them wrestling their own impatient urges as they grow more and more trapped in their own conversations. Each wolf is in desperate need to distract themselves, all except for Jacob, who stands to the side with his thoughts focused on the face of a human girl.

And you're one to say that? Paul huffs, taking the gesture of my head turning as an attempt to ignore him. You seemed to be in a rush this morning.

What did you want me to do? Let you attack me?

Oh, I don't know. You could have . . . hmm . . . kissed me back?

The memory of the kiss rises into Paul's mind. I shift my weight around, bottling up the angry heat that rises in my stomach. I don't want to be attackedor kissedby anybody.

Okay, okay. I don't really know what got into me. I was kinda tired, a little off. I

Am fine. I finish for him. You have no reason to apologize to me, Paul. I'm not pissed at you, I don't even think I have enough room to hate any of you; it'd be a useless waste of time and effort. I don't want anybody kissing me, though. At all. We're here to kill a parasite, not to argue over shit like this.

If you say so. Paul's ears droop against his head. He slowly collects himself, standing tall once again. His head bobs as he focuses on the forest, his mind slipping into the pack's thoughts once or twice. He makes a point to toss his head back and flash his teeth at Embry for a moment, but otherwise doesn't react to the pack's thoughts. Eventually, I find myself getting lost in the forest. I am completely focused on the natural night buzz, all until Paul's gaze grazes across the grass and settles on me once more.

His gaze brings nothing but a twinge of frustration, and even a little trigger for self is like one of those dramatic television shows, and I am far from interested in being caught up in any of that crap. It can't be a crime to be a woman for a woman to not want to gasp and giggle at every guy that looks at her twice. Especially when that guy is her best friend.

Paul exhales sharply and swings his head around, staring straight ahead. He seems to catch the mood of my wordless thoughts and is—finally—focusing back on our objective. Good. Line drawn, problem solved. For now.

I flick my gaze around for a moment, and then fix my concentrated stare straight ahead and my lip curls, forming a snarl. The light grey wolf next to me rams against my shoulder, growling softy. I snap my teeth warningly in Leah's direction, shifting my stance and letting my annoyance roll out in a gust of exhaled breath before I force my attention back on the current task.

Easy. Sam's deep voice sends the warning through our heads, his tone loud and clear above the chaotic stream of thoughts. We can't lose focus.

The thoughts of the pack stutter for a moment before dying down completely. The joined minds of the pack share only the sounds of the forest as the wolves stretch out their senses. Nicole, standing proudly next to Sam, huffs in a content way. She stretches her snout upward, allowing the flavors of the breeze to be caught in her nostrils. I do the same, but I can't help but notice Leah's head bowing toward the ground. Her mind lets loose a sliver of pain before she regains control of her thoughts once more.

Her dark eyes dart toward my mine as she senses my attention on her thoughts, staring at me with her eyes narrowed. I flash my teeth warningly once more, showing that I am not doing anything to cause her harm, before moving my gaze straight ahead once more. God, if it is this much of a struggle to focus now, then I don't even want to think about what it will be like when we set off after our target.

I say we just let the vampires get it, Seth's voice chimes in, responding to my thought.

The idea is a stupid one. Seth is young and without much experience; it's clear in the waves of caution and fear scrolling through his mind. If his attitude doesn't give it away, his large, clumsy paws do. I dismiss his suggestion with a slight shake of my head as a low rumble of disagreement passes through the pack.

Okay, Seth, we'll all just all chase it down, and you can be the bait. We'll toss you to the leech side and see what happens. Sound better? Jared huffs.

Seth whines and shamefully ducks his head, his nervous gaze settling on his oversized paws.

We will be the ones to slaughter the bloodsucker. If the Cullens can't catch her, then we can. We must protect Bellawe were born to protect, and protect we will. Sam lifts his tail and head as he speaks; the gesture reminds the pack of the authority tied to his words.

Jacob shakes his head and meets Sam eyes. Don't drag Bella into this, Sam. It's not her fault. If anything, blame those Cullens. Jacob shakes his head and snarls, his tone filling with resentment.

Damn right! Paul howls, snapping his teeth and echoing Jacob's snarl. Give those bastards something to respect after they see us in action!

My lip curls again, revealing my teeth. The fumble of Seth's paws distractions my attention from the riled wolves to the sandy wolf slowly retreating to the back of the back, his body lowered to the ground. I shake my head as he slips away and shift back. I slam a paw down behind him, blocking his path.You gotta get a grip. Do you really want to go all the way home, miss out on the action, and have the pack all look down on you?

The sandy wolf's eyes widen as he pictures Jacob's human face looking down at him in disapproval. Seth braces himself against the sodden ground and stands proudly, brushing past me as he heads toward Quil and Embry, who are mentally betting who is going to catch the red-headed bloodsucker.

Eager and denying the distracting influence of the pack, I force myself back on task. I search the forest with my senses; my ears strain to hear something moving in the distance, my nose shifts through many tastes as it searches for the scent that will send us on the hunt. Everything is so still, so quiet, until another stray thought breaks the pack's focus once more.

Maybe we should just all quiet down and wait for the parasite to come. Leah swings her head from side to side as she contemplates. Being another newer wolf, her paws have the same awkward size, and she sways slightly with her movement.

Can't poor Leah take it? Oh, the poor leechy is gonna go to hell. Aww. Paul's eyes grow wide and watery as he mocks her, his playfulness shining bright in his mind.

Paul means no harm. We are all family; the pack picks on each other just as siblings do. But Leah, being…well, Leah, doesn't take the picking on so kindly.

I can rip you to shreds faster than that leech, Paul. Leah snarls, her gaze locking with his. Don't try me.

Paul is shoved around a little by the guys who 'ooh' and 'ahh' at Leah's threat. Paul grumbles and shakes them off, huffing as he glares at Leah. I growl lowly at Paul, bumping my shoulder into his in warning. Paul huffs again, leaning back while shaking his head.

We feel your pain. Jared mumbles. But that was then. Now, we have Matchmakers dot com.

Most of the pack barks with laughter at Jared's stupid joke. Sam and Nicole both shake their heads, while Jacob swings around to peer over his shoulder, becoming interested. I find my head turning too, my own attention wavering.

That's pretty low, Embry comments warily. He glances between the two bristling wolves, the moonlight catching the fading amusement of his gaze.

Who cares? We've gotten enough crap from her head. She can take it. I mean, she's so tough, I don't even think she's a woman. Jared steals a glace in Seth's direction, his eyes twinkling with laughter. Seth stiffens.

Man, you tell 'em. Paul flashes his teeth in a grin as he bumps against Jared.

My attention is completely averted from our task now. I shove myself between the wolves, glancing between Paul and Jared while growling lowly. They both wolf grin back, shifting their paws around to stand in front of me. I make a point to fix my stare on Jared, watching his shoulders tense under my gaze.

The rest of the pack circles behind Jared and Paul, hanging back as they watch.

Five bucks on Cameron. Embry's soft voice enters the pack mind, although he himself is only focusing on Quil's.

Quil snorts in response. You serious? Twenty on Uley. She's something else.

Is this really necessary? Nicole huffs at Quil and Embry, her tail swishing around.

No. Seth whimpers and moves away from the riled pack.

What are you waiting for? Nicole pushes against Sam. Break it up. She glances in Jacob's direction, but he is too focused on the current matter to notice.

Sam remains rooted in place, almost as if he expects the pack to simply follow his example. The younger wolves lean toward him, as if they are afraid of getting in trouble during such an important task. No other wolf moves.

I snap my teeth together impatiently and lunge, landing next to Leah. I stand above her with my ears flat and my teeth bared, holding Paul's gaze. We need to get moving.

Leah snorts in agreement. Paul shakes his head and swings back around. I rest my gaze on the brown wolf beside him, but he doesn't budge. Jared's ears press to his head and he leans away from me. Take a joke. You don't have to be so uptight about it. You have no reason to be so pissed all the time.

The whole pack is now circled around the three of us, anticipating a vicious outburst. I tremble with rage while Leah rakes her claws through the soft dirt beneath her paws, her teeth bare in a menacing snarl. I am about ready to rip Jared's throat clean out, but Leah senses my thoughts and decides she should step in.

In the blink of an eye, the small grey she-wolf launches herself straight at the brown wolf. Leah lashes out, snapping her teeth at his side, growling like mad. Jared snarls, his paws swiping through the air as he slashes at Leah. He heaves himself upward and the two wolves clash in mid-air, spit and mud flying as they both attempt to tear at each other's flesh.

That's enough! Sam's mental voice roars. He thrusts himself in between the wolves, and they both fall back instantly under the weight of his order. The muscles underneath Sam's dark pelt ripple as he slams his paws down, turning in a circle as he meets the steady, obedient gaze of every wolf.

Back in place, all of you! Sam orders sharply. His white teeth gleam in the darkness, growls rumbling in his throat as he glares down upon his pack.

Unable to disobey, every wolf shuffles back into a straight line. The usual buzz of thoughts fades into a dull hum. Satisfied, Sam silently shoulders through the wolves to stand at the point, nudging Nicole's forehead with his nose, and then mine. I nod, knowing the gesture is meant to be apologetic, as Sam thinks he can actually scare as (us). Right. I shake my fur out and channel my focus onto the forest, allowing my senses to roam once more as Paul and Leah settle next to me. Their thoughts drift as they struggle to silence themselves.

I close my eyes, my acute senses carrying me through the woods. Everything is so calming; the tender scent of bark and leaves, the taste of the chill in the night air, and the never ending towers of trees that spread out all around me. The raw, effortless beauty of the forest rolls through my mind. I drink it all in until one sickly sweet scent corrupts it. I gag in disgust, my eyes cracking open. Parasite.

My body curls backwards before rocketing forward. It takes a mere second for the pack to snag the thought from my mind. Every wolf bolts ahead at once, howling as they leap into a heated pursuit. Paws pound on the damp forest floor, soil flying as the pack accelerates.

Galloping with inhuman speed, I gracefully soar over a fallen tree that blocks my path. A sea of bodies glides behind me in a synchronized motion. My knees bend slightly, cushioning my landing while allowing me to continue pushing forward again in just a heartbeat. The scent strengthens on our tongues as we close the distance between us and our prey. The blazes of excitement crackle while baying wolves propel themselves forward, anxious.

There! Seth calls out. He and Quil both halt in sudden panic as the thought of what is happening settles in. Leah crashes into them, cursing and slashing at the air as she does so. The pack falters before a wolf sends a different image through the pack mind: a flash of a white figure against the black sky just to our left, moving swiftly like a fish in a stream.

A moment later, Jacob blows by me, his muscular shoulder prodding mine. He doesn't notice me, though; his thoughts have only been focused on the human girl all night. Jacob is blind to the world around him as he rockets forward, the name 'Bella' on the throne of his thoughts as he pushes himself to his limit. I snarl at him as he takes the lead. In my peripheral vision, I see Nicole's ears perk up as Jacob races ahead. She huffs, lengthening her strides as she pushes herself faster.

Sam, Paul, and Jared, with their long legs and extra experience, are soon gaining on Jacob. They fly across the squishy ground and lead the pack forward in a snarling mass of powerful, vicious bodies. Jacob remains ahead—no other wolf can match his speed. Soon, the scent of muck filters into every wolf's nostrils, followed by a familiar perfumey stench we all know by now. In a matter of seconds, the pack is zooming down the treaty line, running parallel to our Cullen enemies.

The leech we came for is visible from across the river, being trailed by the pale shadows of the Cullen vampires. The pack's thoughts pick up on her. A flame flares in the sky, distracting me from the chase. It takes a minute for me to realize the flame is not a flame, but the hair of the leech as she dodges a pale hand and leaps to our side. With a deep, impatient breath, I blast forward, giving all I have. The scene ticks in slow motion before racing into fast-forward as a Cullen stupidly leaps after the parasite. Our prey is forgotten. Every wolf averts their attention to the Cullen, breaking out into a mad fit.

"Emmett! No!" a female voice shrieks, her voice echoing around the forest. Nobody hears her as her voice fades, her shout useless.

Rip it to shreds! Jacob, being the first one to make it to the cliff, growls furiously as he skids to a stop. He ignores the other wolves as they all halt beside him, ramming their shoulders together as they all try to lunge up toward the Cullen.

BACK! I got it! Paul stalks ahead, not waiting for an answer. He braces himself on the rock, his curved, pointed teeth showing while his eyes lock on his target and his weight shifts from side to side. He is ready to kill.

Sam gives direct but hushed orders, leaving Paul to stand tall on the rocky edge of the line, dangerously close to the rushing water. There is only the sound of soft breathing and thundering heartbeats for a long while. Time drags on until suddenly, the large male Cullen comes short in his lunge and crashes down on Paul.

Paul's temper bursts. He snarls violently and spins around, sending the Cullen off him. His body disappears under the disturbed surface. Instantly, other wolves lean forward. Paul slams one paw down, his eyes scanning the water as he shakes, snaps, and snarls.It crossed the line!

All attention centers on Paul and the Cullen; even the forest seems to hold its breath. I don't move, but I allow my eyes to carefully study the forest around the pack. Our original target has disappeared, slipping through our grasp. She is lucky, but only for now.

Finding the forest empty, I slip into Paul's mind for a second, just long enough to watch a red wave of color sweep over his vision. Nobody else take him. I'm gonna get that damned bloodsucker. I'm gonna rip him to shreds. I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna. . .

Paul, he didn't do anything wrong. I press my ears flat against the sound of Seth's thought as the pack tries to pull us back.

Can it, Seth. Paul snarls back, letting the aggression flow through his bared teeth. I mimic him, shifting my weight around. The pack's excitement is buzzing in the air once more as we wait for the bloodsucker to show himself. Paul and I have him surrounded now. If he decides to charge us, we'll chop him like a vegetable. If he tries to run, we'll be on him before he can even turn around. Paul senses my thoughts and nods curtly in approval, stepping to the side as if to give me space. I let out a slow snarl, my shoulders quivering with impatience.

Paul, Jordan. Sam snaps in our minds.If he retreats, you are to let him go.

And if he doesn't? Paul's mind flickers into my own as he waits for me to finish his thought.

We'll slaughter him! I let out a contained howl, feeling the pack rile up behind me. To my amusement, the Cullens across the border flinch at the sound, but the leader stretches his arms out, holding them back. My heart gallops at the idea of a fight. The pack shifts behind Paul and me, their voices slurring together as they shout at once, but I don't hear them. I am solely focused on my prey, my mind working out all the possibilities of how I can kill him. Seconds drag by as every pair of eyes lock on the still river, waiting.

After an excruciating few seconds, the Cullen leech shoots out of the water. He screeches with rage, shaking his head violently, spraying the pack with water. There's a flash of white as his teeth bare and he crouches, facing the pack with a feral hiss.

After two and a half years of hearing the same defensive hiss before an attack, the sound triggers a natural response in me: kill. I don't even think of the pack around me as I push off the rock, launching past Paul and into the water. My weight knocks the vampire clean off his feet, my paws finding his chest. The vampire snarls and swings a hand at my front legs, but I intercept his swing with my jaws. My teeth slide through his wrist like butter, his hand disconnecting from his arm with a snap.

I spit the hand out and lean forward, my weight pinning the vampire as my hind paws slam down on his knees. The vampire screeches in rage, thrashing in the water as I hold him down. A growl rolls through my body as I hover over him.

The pack's explosion of excitement races into my mind. Sam's sharp words are the only thing that holds them in place. I can see flashes of the crazed vampires on the other side through the pack mind, all of them only held back by the arms of their leader. Through the explosion of thoughts, only Paul's make it through clearly.

Hell yeah, Jordan! That's it, 'bout time someone had the guts to catch one of them. Now do a favor for your tribe. Kill it!

I huff in triumph, feeling the leech tense and struggle beneath my weight. I know, deep down, that I never will be so selfish to break the treaty and dishonor my ancestors, but the need to kill overtakes me, pulling the monster out of the shadows. I study the leech for a moment as my teeth slowly lean down to his throat. For some reason, my eyes catch more detail than they normally do.

The leech wears a white shirt that seems to be a little lighter than his skin, but it is hard to tell because his skin is so pale, it seems to be glowing. I can make out every detail of his muscles and every angle of his broad body. His hair sticks to his forehead, almost touching his blazing, coal black eyes. He is big and muscular, but no threat to me. My jaws spread, my teeth slipping over the leech's throat. I am just about to rip his head clean off when the vampire gives a strained grunt and falls back into the water.

Howls of impatience rise into the air as the pack throws themselves around, all of them wanting to get at the prey. Sam's orders grow in volume as he launches himself before the pack, forcing them to fall back. Jared follows behind him, supporting him with a stream of words and a low growl. A few of the Cullens are lunging toward the river, thrashing and screeching, only to be dragged back by a few others. The wind whistles through the trees and a light mist of rain drizzles over the forest. I am deaf to it all as just for a moment, the Cullen's gaze flickers into mine, as if he is seeing straight through my wolfish face and into my true being.

The world pauses. My breathing stops, and the pack's thoughts blur from my mind as if I am listening to them underwater. Nothing else is there anymore. It is just the leech and me as he relaxes, his brow furrowing as he studies me, seeing something beyond the outside world.

Just one glance locks my body down. Just one glance causes me to back down for the first time in my life. With one harmless glance, my life is changed forever.

In that second, all need to fight and kill blows away like a seed captured by the wind. My gaze freezes on the vampire. Everything, right then and there, changes. The world around me stops spinning and whirls in reverse. The need to rip this vampire to shreds dies in that moment, disappearing. Everything I have ever thought—every memory, pain, and need—leaves me in that second. My heart pauses before bursting into a rapid frenzy. My head spins, whipping around like the churning water below as I lose control of myself.

A glowing heat dances inside me, blooming out across the darkness and lighting up the world around me. My heart feels like it is about to explode, and my muzzle trembles. Memories shake my mind and the strings of my meaning to my life snap, right then. I envision myself turning to my pack and forcing them back in a flurry of snapping teeth, but I am unable to move. Voices, memories, emotions, words…everything pours through my mind, all at once.

"You're too far over the edge. Hopeless. Nobody will see the reason to help you, because you have no reason to live."

"This is a dangerous, wild animal, not a human being. Who would be one to show sympathy and understanding to such a monster? "

"Face it. You're a freak. No guy is ever gonna want you."

"You always act so weird all the time. They must have really screwed you up over on the Makah rez."

"I can't believe I had the guts to pretend like I loved you! Nobody should. Nobody ever will."

"You're too much of a mess. A blind man could see it."

"Leeches. Leeches are the reason for everything. Why your parents are dead, why we are here, why you changed that girl, and why you can't be a normal woman. If anything, they need to be slaughtered, one by one. It's about time we got some justice around here."

Suddenly, all those memories are cut away. The pain, the constant boil of fury, and the need to slaughter pours out of me. I am light enough to fly. The string of my existence has freed itself from the darkness of my past and latched onto the form beneath me. My veins are clear and filled with an icy new purpose. No longer is my life only about fury. No longer am I charged by insatiable fury. No longer is my only purpose in this world to kill and destroy.

All it takes is one little glance. I am changed. I go completely stiff as my mind processes what has just happened.

None of the pack seems to notice this—all of it happens in the time it takes for lightning to flash. I exhale, the air leaving my muzzle in a sharp whistling sound. I force my thoughts into the aggressive loop of the pack mind before any of them can catch onto mine, my body locking down.

I don't break my gaze, although I feel my lip drop back over my teeth and my head tilt to the side. Before I can actually look him over, the vampire finds his chance to escape. He hops to his feet with a splash of water and darts back to his side. A blonde female leech is there, standing next to him, her black eyes burning with fury that she directs straight at the soaked Cullen who has rejoined them. Normally, I ignore leech dramatics, but something about the way she glares at the Cullen makes me feel the need to shred that leech here and now. I feel as if I have been electrocuted; bolts of energy fill me, sizzling in my core.

After a brief nod, the leader Cullen nods, his eyes shining with gratitude. A wave of calm sweeps through the pack. I catch one last glimpse of the golden eyes as they shoot in my direction. With that, the Cullens are gone, leaving nothing behind but their scents.

We were so close! If that bloodsucker didn't jump. . . I had the red head. Damn thing was pretty stupid for having such a big head. Just an oversized, fanged ice cube. That's what they all are. He was all hissy and pissy too! Snarling at me like he had a chance against me in a fight. Ha! Paul rants to himself.

Yeah. . . I keep my voice light, focusing on the infuriated thoughts of the pack to hide the vicious, screeching voices inside my own head.

Paul glances over his shoulder at me, his lip peeling back slightly. I thought you were supposed to be some hardcore leech killer. What the hell happened back there, J?

I don't answer him. My gaze stays trained on the waves of the current as they thrash against the rocks below. Disappointed wolves head back into the shadows, snarling and spitting a stream of curses, ready to call it a night. I feel my shoulders quiver with irritation at Paul's snap, but for some reason, my mind no longer tells me to lash out at him for his words.

Give her some space, Sam murmurs, his voice fading as he starts to shift from wolf to human. She did the right thing, but she's probably just disappointed.

Paul attempts to meet my eyes, but I don't remember how to move my body. Paul heaves a sigh before sauntering back into the brush, his own mind fading away. I wait until the last thought trails into nothing to open my mind up.

Sam can say I am disappointed all he wants, but I know he's wrong. There is something more behind that black gaze. Something has . . . clicked. I am well aware of what has happened, but my mind has yet to come to admit it.

Breathing is my main focus. My chest expands and relaxes with my heavy breaths. The rippling waters settle back into the gentle flow of the current. I stare, and a white wolf stares back. Her fur is ruffled with the wind and her dark blue eyes are distant, glazed over with some sort of look that even I can't explain.

I huff, swinging my head to shake the thoughts away as I retreat. My head pounds. A foreign ache in my heart, I set off toward Sam's house, wondering if I am more messed up than everyone thought, and knowing deep down that the plan to destroy the Cullens is now far behind me.

Fan-fucking-tastic.