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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.


59. Ruining Plans and Pillows

Rating 0/5   Word Count 6874   Review this Chapter

"Love we need it now
Let's hope for some
Cause oh, we're bleedin' out."
- The Lumineers.

Chapter Fifty Nine

Ruining Plans and Pillows

*Emmett*

I pace, my strides silent, ghosting movements across the thick carpet. My blue jeans rumple, worn down by movements too sudden for the fibers. I keep my eyes busy, picking out the microscopic cracks in the wall. They curve down toward the headboard before fanning out and disappearing beneath it. As my gaze lowers, I smirk, my steps slowing.

It's amusing how she finds nothing strange about sleeping in someone else's bed. Jordan lays sprawled out, her arms stretched over the entire bed, her legs curved close to her. She circles her feet to roll her ankles, never fully still. Every now and then, she lets out a small sound and rolls over. A few times, the shirt slips in the front, giving me a very nice view.

My eyes travel over her body. A twinge of possessiveness rises in my chest, starting to form a growl that I never release. I know the concept of her and another man isn't something to think too hard about, but it's no secret. I don't have any reason to believe she's ever had something like this, and the idea of any random bastard off the streets crippling her with their drugs and other asshole tricks starts to get to me, especially now that the room is quiet and there aren't lots of other things to fill my head with. I have an urge to use the extra time to try to find some scent, hunt a couple down, and give them a taste of the damage done with their baby boomers, but there's no point to that.

Except a little fun, and I could use some of that right about now.

I convince myself to shake the thoughts away. I mean, who could resist her once she stretches out in your bed, her skin covered in nothing but your own shirt? And now, she's in my bed with my shirt. That reminder chases away any second thoughts. There's a proud strut to my step as I head toward the bathroom, my smugness etched across my face.

I flick on the switch beside the door, flooding the room with white brightness. I breathe in the fading scents of soap, turning to face myself in the mirror. I flash a dimpled grin to the man in the glass.

"Hey, handsome."

My reflection winks back at me. I chuckle, reaching back to rub the back of my neck. The movement jolts my spine. I grit my teeth, muttering under my breath. The faint ache in my neck still hasn't faded completely, even as the cracks have sealed and I've regained use of my body.

I spend the next few minutes doing whatever I can to kill time: stretching my arms, working my back muscles, smoothing my hair. I check on McCarty a time or two, making sure he's alright. I find cologne in the little drawers and spray a little on, just for kicks.

Once I'm finished, I stare in the mirror again. Something's changed, not about me, but in my grin. It's a little less Emmett-tacular than usual. I breathe in out of habit, catching Jordan's heavy scent in the room. An urge to hold her, feeling her warming the blankets around me with her hotness, floods through me, replacing the smugness. I give myself a departing nod in the mirror before stepping out into the room.

My foot makes it halfway through the door before I pause. My eyes land on the windows and freeze, not blinking. The sheets are wrinkled and bare, the mattress split and the pillow obliterated. Still, her scent fills my nostrils. I take another half-step in, and it's just enough to almost feel the direction of the pulse of her body heat. I lean to the side and go stiff.

In the corner before the window, a hunched, shuddering figure crouches, raking fingers down the glass and muttering streams of nonsense. I move a little closer, pausing before darting around the bed toward her. The motion is one of instinct, and I already know it's a mistake.

Jordan's head snaps up almost instantly, her eyes darkened to near black. Her shoulders jerk and her teeth chatter as she takes in the sight of me. A second later, her lip pulls back over her teeth and her expression twists, suddenly savage.

Oh damn.

*Jordan*

I don't sleep, I daze.

Sleep is an elusive trick; a lie. There's no such thing as sweet, peaceful escape when your head is filled to the brim with nonsense. I exercise the space, imagining drawing a thick line and sorting everything out. All the shit on one side, the important stuff on the other.

The more I work my mind, the more I start to think. My mind brings up things better kept away with the heat looming over me—things like the bitter smell of blood and the sensation of having a mouthful of nails ever time I try to swallow. Something else hesitates behind my lids. Suddenly, I'm vaguely aware of a presence in the room with me, not a threat but a possible target. I know better than to pay any mind to it, but something about the presence makes me think twice.

I turn over, clenching the sheets. The crawl of eyes resting on my skin washes over me, only for a brief moment. When I inhale again, everything's lighter. The presence has moved, still close but not here with me. I clench my jaw, abruptly acknowledging the looming images behind my lids.

They take over instantly, flooding through my mind in vivid moments captured in images.

A head rolling back, throat exposed to the sky. Long gashes, claw-thick, distorting a tiny torso. Flesh, warm with life that floods in hot red streams around the spaces in my hands as I tear through it. The parts of a body that belong inside being ripped clean out.

As the images retreat, my stomach lurches. I don't feel any sickness. It's the name that I tack onto the bloody body that rolls my stomach.Claire Young. Young, innocent, and tied to a fate that would rename her Claire Ateara.

I grit my teeth against the rising heat collecting above my abdomen. The monster presses against my ribs, straining and preparing to escape. I'm coming to now, and I find my hands buried deep in a pillow, though I know it won't be enough. I twist, throwing my body away from the bed, kicking and clawing my way off it.

I land on the balls of my feet, crouched in front of the window. My hands are curling, my fingers becoming useless as they begin to reshape. I paw at the window with hands, breathing in the forest air creeping through the tiny crack. My body spasms and I bow forward, ducking my head between my bare knees and digging my hands into the back of my head. My pulse starts to pound against the bones of my knees against my skull.

Snarling, breathless, I lash out with spat words. "You bastard."

Through the buzz of heat, I sense movement. His scent swarms in my nostrils, blocking out the rest of the world around me. A snarl slices through my teeth as I throw myself forward, my hands pressed flat on the ground and my legs braced back behind me. The man freezes, his expression contorting as he throws his hands up. I almost feel the gleam of hate in my eyes as I glare up at him, challenging.

He shows me his flat. empty palms, slowly leaning away from me. "Jordan . . . you don't want to do this."

The air through the window is frigid against the glass. It hovers, waiting to pull me apart again and drag me into a million pieces. I curl my lip, my gaze locked on Emmett. He's already frozen, even though the cold hasn't touched him yet. I pierce his golden gaze, finding it lit with a thousand different emotions that fill the hollow space inside me. The sight of them hits me hard; a knife jammed deep in my ribs. I feel my expression melting away as my gears stutter and churn in reverse.

A growl escapes through my tightly clamped teeth. My heart pounds, crunching and convulsing with each unsteady beat. I stay crouched as spasms rock through me, jerking and twisting my body. I rake my fingers through the carpet, muttering nonsense under my breath. I drop my gaze away from the yellow—the ache in them reflects into me, spreading through my chest and into my throat. I hold on to his presence, my lungs shrinking as the world around me tips. I wheeze the air too heavy and dry for my throat, barely managing to find my voice.

Once I grasp a sliver of control, I whisper the first thing that I can roll off my tongue.

"Emmett."

It's only a breath, escaping in a split second and followed by another round of shudders. I rock back on my heels and grip the carpet, trapped somewhere between a sturdy crouch and toppling over. My bones groan and creak, useless in this form.

The presence above me sinks. I hold my jaw taut and lift my gaze, staring at the figure before me through a curtain of dark hair. Thunder rolls inside my skull as the monster builds back up within, tearing through the iron bars of my control like rubber.

Still, this man before me remains. He drops to his knees, reaching forward ever so slowly, hesitating before my shaking form. I watch his hand move but make no effort to knock it away. After a moment, his pale fingers push my hair away, throwing it behind me to expose my face. My lips twitch and my thighs bunch.

The man doesn't smile. Something about his expression is wrong—fallen, almost, as if my pain is his own. I want to growl, to make it clear that pain is nothing to me and that he can be on his way. But I don't know how, and I can only blaze as the man cups my face in his hands. His mouth opens, but no sound comes out. I wheeze again, my shoulders lifting and jerking violently. I tremble in my skin, barely hanging on.

I see his hands around my face, taking them in and processing what it means. Instinct whips out answers. Threatkillripcrushburn. Through the spasms, I open my mouth, squeezing my eyelids shut for a half a second. I make a strange sound caught somewhere between animal and human, and blink my eyes open. Spit dribbles from the corner of my mouth, my brain forgetting how to hold it in.

My feet slip on the carpet as my torso twists. I groan and snap my teeth, grabbing the wrists of the hands around my face. The nameless man doesn't move—he holds me up. I meet his yellow eyes again, hanging just above the carpet. The world spins and stretches. I can feel the ground opening beneath me, readying to swallow me whole. I shake harder and tighten my fingers around the man's wrists. He only stares at me, his expression hardened as he waits for my final reaction. His forearms quiver, though it's impossible to tell if it's from the force of my grip or his own reactions.

I slip a little farther, my fingers slippery over the man's marble skin. I snap my eyes up, my lips parting as I gaze back at the frozen man. Through a stranger's voice, I speak a strangled murmur.

"Help me."

He doesn't hesitate any longer. The man twists his hands, gently closing his icy fingers around my arms. He holds my stare as he rises, pulling me up with him. I draw a sweet breath through my nostrils as the world reshapes and falls back into place, reforming all at once. The man is careful and observant—he always watches, silent and unchanging as he eases me into the bed with him.

We lay together. Something inside me—a hot, shapeless being—urges me to grab his exposed neck and break it while I have the chance. But I don't. The air is cold around us, warmed only in the small space between our bodies. The man beside me scratches his bare chest absentmindedly, keeping his hands in my view. I'm bare, clothed only by the thick layer of a shirt drenched in his scent. We don't move much, only making small adjustments to silently tell the each other we're still alive.

As my body relaxes against the mattress, I pull his scent in, processing it through my mind. The match comes up instantly—Emmett. His name triggers a flurry of feeling, from fury to a ferocious sort of longing. He shoots a quick look over then, assessing my expression. I hold his gaze, trailing my eyes down his face to to his lips. They curl into a smirk as I lean in suddenly, gently pressing my mouth against his.

Emmett chuckles softly, and I swear there's nothing better than his cool laughter in my mouth. My heart skips a beat as he returns my kiss, his lips smooth and confident. I slide my hands over his bare chest, my fingers curling against his skin. For a long moment, I'm not sure if they're trying to hold him down or tear through his torso. His cold hands explore my sides and back, unbothered. After a pause, one of them grips the shirt between us, questioning.

Before I can even process what's happening, I roll on top of him. Our bodies become crushed together in the blankets, our kiss growing stronger. Everything else is suddenly less important—the only thing that matters is the burly form below me and the shivers that race up and down my spine as Emmett pulls his shirt over my head and tosses it aside. My hair falls over my shoulders, blocking out the rest of the room. I pull away for a half a second, just to breathe and help him lose his jeans somewhere in the sheets. Just that inch of space sparks another craving in me and suddenly, I can't get enough. I run my lips along his sturdy jaw, taking another few moments to catch my breath.

Suddenly, the heat of my body escalates, sizzling between us. My thoughts slow and pause, charged with various memories of him and me, together, the world folding away around us. I breathe in, wanting nothing more than him to fill me and let both of us forget about everything, if only for a little while.

So I tell him through a warm breath whispered in his ear.

And he slowly takes us away from the world, farther and farther by the minute until it's as if there was never anything wrong in the first place.

()()()

I'm floating, suspended in a pool of warm water. I lay on my back, my arms bent above my head. The colors behind my lids burn red under the light above. I hum softly to myself, letting the feeling of it tickle my throat and chest, loosening my locked muscles.

Beside me, something stirs. I retract my thoughts, forcing myself back into reality. The bed creaks as something moves, and a chill rushes over my skin. I keep my eyes closed, quirking an eyebrow. A quiet laugh breaks the silence. My heartbeat quickens as the chill goes stronger until suddenly, there's a light pressure on my stomach, and two hands skim my ribs, gently caressing my skin.

I exhale lightly, glancing down at the head of black hair below my chest. "Already trying to get another lucky round in, are we?"

Emmett glances up at me, his golden eyes bright as he cracks a grin. "It's possible."

Smiling slightly, I push the tips of my fingers backwards through his hair. I tilt my head, picking up on the faint shuffle of movement far below us. "Your family's still here."

The bed groans again as Emmett switches adjusts his position. "Better get that Monopoly box."

"If you can't find one and we die a fiery death by squealing leeches, I want you to know one thing," I murmur, my tone soft and slow for dramatics. I turn my head, accidently bumping my forehead against Emmett's. My lips break into a grin before I speak. "You sure as hell don't disappoint."

Emmett hums in his throat, carefully snaking an arm around my waist to draw me closer. "What can I say? With all of—" He gestures to himself, then tightens his arm around me. "—this, we can't expect anything less than fucktastic sex."

I don't bother to hide my amusement, shaking my head. When I find his stare again, he's assessing me with that curious, relaxed look of his. My brows scrunch as I reach out, resting the tips of my fingers on his cheek.

"I love you," I tell him. The timing is wrong, and I know it is, but the words have been trapped in my mouth for too long. I study his features for a long moment, waiting.

Emmett closes his fingers around my hand and presses his lips to my knuckles, unbothered by my sudden statement. His cold breath skims my heated skin as he finally whispers his reply.

"I'm in love with you too, babe."

After that, we lean back against the headboard, settling into an almost comfortable silence. Emmett relaxes over his pillow, his arms crossed behind his head, while I lay flat and stiff, heating the blankets with my pulsing warmth. The inch of space between us gives way to a wide, empty nothingness. As time creeps by, sensation of the growing space clamps down over my throat until I'm choking on it.

I keep my gaze on the ceiling as I find my voice again, my lips moving to form words spilling from the lighter corners of my mind. "If you could change three things," I begin, saying each word carefully. "About something, someone, and some place, what would it be?"

Emmett's irises strike me as they flash in my direction. His shoulders slide lower, his feet poking out of the sheets. "I'd say that if I could change something, I'd make these sheets see through. If I could change someone, I'd change whoever it is that makes the sheets, so that they could have the brilliance to create them. And if I could change some place, I'd change this room, so it would be big enough for you to breathe and me to have my fun without smashing everything."

I trace the line of a thin crack in the ceiling, intent on refusing the burn probing the side of my head. Although my tongue forms around a response, I hold it in and trade it for another question.

"When were you happiest?"

In the corner of my eye, I see Emmett's biceps flex as he curves his arm back and props his head up on his fist. "I'm hearing past tense. Do the times with you count?"

My answer comes out laced with a blunt edge. "The raging bitch never counts."

Emmett snorts, relieving me of his gaze. "They don't. But you do."

His words uncover a burn that I haven't felt in weeks. It's the frustrated burn deep inside me brought on by his persistence; the flicker of heat brought on by the way he twists my words and presses a button no one else can reach. I exhale audibly, imagining myself burying that burn fifty feet deep while another part of me wants to toss his head along with it.

The light pressure of a chill, not in contact with my skin but coming close, eases near my shoulder. I do my best to brush it off, but Emmett's voice drags me back from the distant reality that exists only inside my head. His voice breaks through to me again, somehow deep and alluring all over again.

"Since I can't answer, how about you take a turn, Miss Mystery?" He nudges my shoulder gently with his own. "When were you the happiest?"

Happy. I toy with the world in my head, stretching it, tossing it around, picking it into pieces. I know the meaning of it, but it's like sour air; just there, breathed and let go before it can even reach the lungs and be felt.

It only takes him half a second to catch the look in my eye and understand it. "Sorry. Let me try again." He clears his throat, thinking for a minute. "Where would you be if this never happened?"

That one doesn't take a second thought—it's skittered through my thoughts so many times that putting it into words just happens without any consideration.

"I'd be on one of three roads. The first would take me away into the wolf. The second would lead me into a life beneath streetlights with funny flavored drinks and strange but alluring men. The third road would hold me here, but it'd be so full of thorns and weeds that I'd never get out."

I measure Emmett's expression, a small smile playing on my lips despite the cruel reality of my words. When I can't see through his unreadable mask, I add, "And all three lead straight to hell."

Nodding slowly, takes it all in. He laughs slightly, though not as whole-heartedly as normal. As he rakes a hand through his hair, he glances over at me again. "That's honest."

"I have no reason to lie to you. This world isn't a damn flower field, though I'm sure you realized that long ago."

I crack my knuckles, breathing in as my gaze starts to wander. I run my tongue over my teeth, twisting in the sheets to face him as another thought rises. "What if I was okay?"

"I wouldn't make expectations." His response is immediate, requiring little thought. "I'll always love every part of you, from the neck snapping to the bed breaking." He cracks a grin at the last bit.

I laugh under my breath, studying the familiar brightness of innocent amusement found in his dimpled smile. "You're in for a lot of that."

A low rumble rises from Emmett's chest. "So I've noticed."

The distance between us closes, happening without any concious decision. I'm drawn to him, just as naturally as I am to the pull of the never-ending expanse of green forest. I walk my fingers across his exposed abdomen, pushing back the sheets slightly. I have to sort out the nonsense spinning in my skull before I come up with something else.

"What's the hardest thing a person can do?"

Emmett's head drops, his eyes following the progress of my fingers across his torso. He doesn't say anything at first, his expression focusing in as he considers. I wait, feeling the firmness of the muscle beneath his skin as I reach farther.

Finally, he answers, his voice light. "The hardest thing a person can do is try to be happy while leaving with regrets."

I pause. My hand stops, the pads of my fingers pressing above his rib. My mind backtracks, taken off guard by the sincerity in his answer. After a long moment filled only with the soft sounds of our quiet breathing, I glance up at him, finding his eyes waiting for mine.

"How the hell did you come up with that?"

Emmett shrugs, rewarding me with another dimpled grin. "Just the shine of my inner genius."

I snort. "Next time, you might want to put 'inspiring therapist with the secrets of the whole damn universe' into your future lover description."

"I'll keep that in mind." He chuckles, gliding his hands down the long, slender shapes of my legs. His eyes roam south as he tilts his head, his irises darkening. "How tall are you, anyway?"

I fix my stare on the side of his face, goosebumpss rising beneath his palm. "I'm tall enough that nobody can step on me anymore. And if someone tries, they'll be falling into fiery pits of hell before they know what hit them."

"Damn. I guess I'm not the only thing that can heat you up." He mutters the words mostly to himself, not hiding the tinged edge of smugness around them. His eyes trail his hand as it curls over my knee before dipping further.

I can only wear a slight smile, my lips twitching. My skin is smooth beneath his hand, like untouched silk, even though they haven't seen a razor in weeks. I've never been one with much body hair—my sudden phase sent my body in a rollercoaster of changes much too soon. Or it could be that—

About done? Focus, God damn it.

I snap at myself as my attention scatters, even if only for a second. Focus is crucial, not an option. I'm always focused; always ready, but something about Emmett's presence relaxes my muscles and drifts my mind until I'm aware of myself, almost as if I'm actually a someoneinstead of an abstract freak moving through days with no sense of the world around me.

Registering my silence, Emmett raises his bright gaze and lets his fingertips linger on my calf. "Six feet. Minimum."

The icy-hot sensation of his skin just above mine consumes me. The yellow of his eyes becomes piercing as my vision sharpens with the steady thrum of my veins. My body moves with no need for instruction as I pull myself against him, letting the sparks ignite another fire between us.

"Let's not exaggerate," I say against the base of his throat. "I think if you want to be taking measures, I qualify myself as the judge of them all."

I guide my hands down his torso as excruciatingly slowly as I can manage, though the feel of him is making it just as painful for me as it is him. I watch the black expand over his honey irises, smirking as I slip my hands beneath the sheets. My heartbeat soars, thundering in my chest. Just as I start to shove the blankets away, my body locks in place.

Everything disappears as my senses take me away from the room and out the door. They move down the hall, honing in on the source of a new sharp scent and the feather-light pressure of two pairs of feet gliding up the stairs. I grind my teeth, vaguely aware of a faint spot of motion before me. The scents strengthen in my nostrils, stinging every nerve in my nose with its bittersweet bite. I pick up on the sound of worried voices as the steps grow louder.

"Irina, you can't go in there! You don't want to go in there, actually. I don't think you're ready to—"

"Oh, hush. How bad can it be?" More footsteps, closer now. "God, it smells awful up here. What's he up to? Surely nothing more important than attendance in family matters."

One rhythm of footfalls halts. The other speeds up with an aggravated sort of briskness. I'm snapped back into the present, my gaze landing on the shut door. I buzz, ready to react before the threat even shows. Emmett shifts, saying something underneath the ringing in my ears and winding his arms around me just as the door flies open.

The figure behind the door takes one step in before freezing, eyes flaring with shock. A white hand flies up to cover her mouth, hiding the glint of venom-coated teeth. I pick out the weak points of the leech—straight-stanced and unprepared, crooked leg, unguarded vitals—as she gapes, my head twisted back to pin her with a probing glare though my body remains flat across the mattress. Her yellow eyes flick between us, first to Emmett, who's beaming like an idiot as he pulls an arm back to give a friendly wave, and then me, tangled in the sheets with his arms locked around my torso and my fingers lingering on the lower part of his abdomen.

A whole three seconds passes before the bloodsucker becomes animated again. She shrieks, a strange sound somewhere before a horrified wail and a scream. She shakes her head furiously, rapidly backing out before turning on her heel and darting down the hall.

The second she's gone, Emmett makes an amused sort of rumble. I glance over at him as he tilts his head to look down at me, completely at ease, as if parasites barging through his house happens daily. He wiggles his brow, flashing a toothy smile. "Bet she got a nice eyeful."

I don't return his smile. Every inch of my body is on fire, screaming at me to track and kill. I have to drink in lungful after lungful of his scent just to keep my hands clenched in the sheets instead of into his flesh. He catches on quickly—he nods to himself, still smiling, and breezes to the other side of the room. By the time I sit up and face him, Emmett's securing the belt on his jeans and has covered the rest with a light hoodie.

"I'll take care of this, no problem," he chants, giving himself a little pep talk under his breath. After patting his hair down, he glances up and shows his dimples one last time. "If I'm not back in ten seconds, engage in kill-and-destroy mode."

I wait until I can't hear anything but the muffled hum of heated voices beneath the floor before sliding out of the sheets. I pull Emmett's shirt off the floor and over my head before snatching a pair of sweats sticking out of the closet, dressing in seconds. I pull in another short breath, searching, though everything's drowned out by a sickening sea of leech stench by now, like sugary piss and a mountain of infected rotting flesh.

Taking the collar of Emmett's shirt in my teeth, I hold the shirt to my nostrils while keeping my hands free, extracting the traces of his scent from the fabric. My feet pad soundlessly over the carpeted floor of the hall as I jog toward the staircase. Inhaling a final breath of Emmett, I release the shirt and brace my hands against the wall, letting my front half curve around the corner. I bend my knees, lowering myself to glimpse into the room below the stairs.

The first thing I see is Emmett leaning casually against the wall with his arms folded tight to his chest. My gaze pauses on the sight of him, only to be distracted by the trembling shape crouched before him. A white-blonde leech glares daggers up at him, throwing up her hands as she backs away, raising her high-pitched voice in a screech. I slowly step down the stairs, approaching without any warning.

"They killed Laurent! My Laurent! Those filthy dogs killed him, yet my cousin has one in bed with him? That's sick! Sick, it's all sick!"

"Whoa, hold up." Emmett lifts his hands and shakes his head. "She's not a dog, Irina. Trust me—no dog bites that hard."

I reach the bottom of the stairs and instantly stop the instant my feet touch the floor, hit with a wave gag-worthy bloodsucker stench. Something distracts my gaze. Through the open doorway, I catch a glimpse of the rest of the Cullens, standing off to the side. They're joined by a cluster of four other yellow-eyed parasites who look like they're either about to take their first piss of the century or go into a hissy fit. They're all unaware, tense and stiff like statues as they watch Emmett and the bitchy one with something more than just worry in their gazes.

Emmett smirks regardless of the tension, completely at ease. He glances behind the she-leech, catching my gaze and winking. I smile slightly, but don't distract my focus. One hand reaches back to rub his neck as he returns his gaze down to the leech before him, acting as if there's nothing else to look at.

"Jordan is as much of a person as the rest of us."

The leech spits out an infuriated hiss. She darts forward, getting close enough to Emmett's face that it raises the invisible hairs on my neck. Her teeth bare while her knees bent and her hands ball at her side as she prepares to spring.

"I'll kill all the dogs myself! Rosalie was right—she warned us! She came by weeks ago and told us there was something horribly wrong. Carmen didn't believe her, but I knew she wouldn't fib! I knew! And now we've found the truth. You're corrupted!"

She snaps her gaze to the side, seething rage as she turns on the group of unfamiliar yellow-eyes. "We shouldn't have even come. But I do suppose we might as well take care of the Cullen's problem while we're here. Evidently, they're very friendly with those beasts!"

Emmett's expression clouds over, the playful gleam in his eyes disappearing. He clamps a big hand on the she-leech's shoulder, lowering his voice. "You don't wanna try that. She'll kick your ass. Bad."

Growling, the she-leech swats Emmett's hand away. She straightens out her stance, her fingers curved like claws. "We'll see about that!"

While they've been distracted, I've advanced in careful, quiet movements until I find myself right behind the spitting parasite, close enough that her stench blazes in my nostrils and my breath is hot on the back of her head. I raise a brow, narrowing my gaze as my jaw tightens. My words come smoothly when I finally speak, sharpened with an edge.

"Is that a challenge?"

The she-leech spins around, snarling, but the sound catches in her throat. Her gaze lands on the base of my throat and she glances up, her gaze sparked with fight. She hops back a good few yards, recoiling in disgust. Her eyes burn as she glares up at me with a pure, familiar hatred. "You!"

Emmett grins at me, shrugging his broad shoulders. He relaxes against the wall, giving off a smug air of amusement. "If you ask me, I'd say yes, she is challenging you. I'm not gonna stop you if you wanna make some action."

Sparks crackle in the she-leech's yellow eyes. She flinches and tries to hide it with the hostile curl of her lip. Her eyes leave mine only to blaze in Emmett's direction. "You're next."

The worlds come from beneath the surface of a murky lake, foreign and far away. My gaze zeros in on the glint of white teeth, bared and challenging, aimed at Emmett's throat. Heat bubbles through my veins before bursting like a shot of lightning, fiery and furious. The murderous expression the she-leech's face pulls my trigger before the gun has even raised.

Little parasite's about to find out just how friendly us beasts really are.

A howl leaves my mouth as my body morphs, twisting and exploding right there in the middle of the hall. The change leaves deep scores in the floor and wall, and my paws crunch under chunks of something, but I don't give a damn what's broken unless it's the sucker's neck.

Various voices shout out, but I'm beyond the point of separating them from the roar in my eardrums. I launch myself forward the instant I'm stable in my wolf's skin, letting her take over. The leech's face impossibly pales, struck with horror as the wall crunches around her, my lunge knocking her back. I'm on her before she has a chance to recover, sparks raining above us as the light above my head clatters to the ground. The stair rail bursts, scattering along the floor as it cracks in half and gives way. I drive my skull against the she-leech's throat, bashing her airways as I hold her back and pull my lips.

The next few heartbeats race and stutter at the same time. I hear screams and shouts in the far distance, somewhere far behind me. They come closer with each tick of a second, but I ignore them as my teeth cut deep through diamond-hard flesh, jagged knives curved to butcher the body below me. Nails rake through my fur, though they comb more than they damage. My paws slowly crush down a screeching face while I clamp my jaws deep in a bloodless body, twisting at the hip to slowly snap the body in half right at the center. Bones crunch, skin splits, and agony rises in shouts, bursts of sweet pleasure in my ears as I rearrange the helpless figure.

After those few seconds of adrenaline-filled fire, a cool pressure on my flank stops me. I release a fierce snarl, whipping my head back to tear into whatever else has come in the way of my Emmett. I spread my jaws, lunging straight for the throat, but freeze as the tips of my teeth graze a broad neck.

Emmett chuckles uneasily, his hands frozen between us. "Whoa there, babe. I just wanted to let you know that the whole kill-and-destory plan . . . that was a joke. And I don't think killing my cousin in the middle of my family's floor is . . . the best idea."

I snap my muzzle shut. The world comes back to me again, rushing through my mind. I glance over at the grim-faced Cullens, halted in the doorway. The strangers are motionless behind them, looking more dead than alive. The hard faced, honey-haired Cullen steps forward, his eyes coal black and settled on my paws.

Emmett steps between us before I can even form a growl. "You don't wanna try it, Jazz."

Something about the sound of his voice extinguishes the fire. The joking is gone, and instead he speaks under his breath, not a whisper but almost. He leans away from his brother, nodding to his family as he turns back to me. I drop my gaze to the half-hearted smile on his lips, trying to make sense of it. Every part of me screams to finish the kill, but the nameless gleam in Emmett's eyes quiets the desire.

Stretching a hand out toward my muzzle, Emmett keeps his stare on mine. "Hey, Jordan," he whispers.

His foot crunches over another hunk of the wall as he takes another wary step toward me. His fingers press the side of my muzzle and he closes the space, standing before me. His eyes seem to waver as the world shimmers around me. I release a breath, blinking my eyes and opening them to the strings of Emmett's hoodie, my muscles twitching and my body spasming as it readjusts into its other form.

Someone hits the resume after that. Everything's in motion as a buzz of what sounds like electricity rushes past my ear, followed by the dart of another screeching leech. My pulse punches my skull with every thundering beat, slowly calmed by the cold hand smoothing my hair down my back. I waver, breathing hot, heavy breaths against Emmett's shirt. Blackness swarms the edge of my vision, threatening to swallow me whole.

Through it, I see only the light color of Emmett's hoodie and the faint rise and fall of his practiced breathing. His hand strokes my hair as he walks us back, moving me with him though my feet are firm. I faintly make out an argument as Emmett's neck turns.

"Atrocious! It is atrocious, Carlisle! I refuse to risk my mate and my family with that. No, not mi Carmen. No, no. I won't risk this."

Carlisle pleads against the words nearly spat at him despite the stubborn sureness in the masculine tone beating down his every try. "I'm very sorry this happened. It was a mistake, though I can assure you Irina will recover. Kate and Tanya will take her outside, and if we could please move out there while Emmett calms his mate—"

"No! No, I will not!" The voice strengthens, fear setting in beneath the fury.

"Eleazar, there are two days left until the army of them arrive. Two days is enough time to come to an agreement, is it not? I will not hold you here, but I do ask that you at least consider your decision. We've been family for—"

"No! My answer is no! Come, Carmen. I will take you away from this place where we can be safe."

I twist my head slightly, just enough to see straight across Emmett's chest. A chalky male stalks by with a female under his arm, his hair just as dark as his eyes. He casts a burning glance my way as he passes. As he finds my gaze, he pauses for half a second, his expression changing.

Before the monster can utter a word, two arms secure me in, holding me in my human skin by a thread as the scene disappears, leaving only the antidote of Emmett's grip to keep me from returning to my kill and not stopping until there's not a single one left.

And it's just enough.