The Twilight Series belongs to S. Meyer, no copyright infrigement is intended. I'm just playing with the characters.

AN: Yes I know it's been decades since I've posted anything, but I have a story I wrote for SparklingFae that I need to finish (it's about 1,000 words away) so that I can post it here and you can see what I've been up to. I also have 2 O/S that I've been working on to help with my writer's block. One is Leah/Embry pairing and the other is a Leah/Paul.

Then I hope to get back to all my stories that I haven't updated in forever. I'm thinking that Dark Solace will be first because it only has about 5 chaps or so left. Then I think I'll work on Unsaid Things (which hopefully won't be more than 10 chaps total). Lastly, I will work on Still Breathing.

So be sure to send me a review to let me know what you think of this little O/S. ~Lola

Like always the pack mind was a jumble of thoughts. Words, pictures, and emotions flashed through their collective minds. The more dominant wolves had the ability to project their ideas while the others had no choice but to follow the thoughts of the latter.

Jesus who just phased?

We knew Seth was going to, but there were two of them just now.

Through the confusion of the pack mind a tiny voice spoke up. It's Leah.

Seth's declaration set their senses were on high alert as they looked for the wolf that has gotten away from them. She was fast. Yet they had an advantage. They knew how the pack mind worked and that what she could see, feel, hear, and sense – they could too. It wasn't long before they determined her route.

She was barreling towards the Cullen's old territory. Even though the cold ones had long since left the area, it didn't matter. They rarely set foot on the Cullen's land. Adherence to the treaty was their edict.

Embry trailed behind her and pushed himself harder than he had ever before. Their skirmishes with the redhead while exhilarating hadn't given this large of an amount of fuel to his muscles. It was her, and her plight that made him run faster, focused his vision, and allowed him to analyze each obstacle and pick out the best route.

He could guess what she was feeling; he recognized it. Fear and anger; sheer terror that clamped its icy fist around one's heart and nothing made sense. And it would only get worse. Soon she would find out the true depths of betrayal those closest to her had sunk to. Sam and Emily's paled in comparison to her father's. If she couldn't forgive them after all these months; how would she forgive her father? It was enough to make her lose all trust in humanity.

It wasn't long before the others were falling behind. Their stamina was nowhere near his, and she wasn't running out of steam. Soon he was the only one left.

He finally caught a glimpse; a flash of light grey wolf. He could see she was smaller than the rest of them, but that smaller size wouldn't mean that she was weaker. If anything her size would be an advantage. She had proven it with her speed and endurance. And it was possible she would be nimble and able to evade their enemies while fighting longer.

As he caught up to her, the true struggle arose. Sam and Jake had been unable to get her to stop. Their commands fell on deaf ears. Even Seth's soft and familiar voice did nothing. Seth beseeched her, begging her to listen and reassured her that everything would be alright; she only had to stop. Nothing worked; everything they had tried was ineffective.

It didn't help that she had become aware of his pursuit. His presence spurred her into further action. Instead of running out of steam, she had gotten a second wind. Her fear and anxiety minimized her fatigue and gave her a boost of power.

He was within inches of her hind quarters when he made his decision. His legs were tired; muscles trembling and he knew without a doubt that he only had one chance. It was now or never. His eyes narrowed as he sighted the long column of her neck. His target. He leaped forward, propelling his body and opened his mouth. Saliva pooled in his mouth; anticipation and an animal-like yearning crept over him.

The first touch of his teeth on her hide startled her. She made a motion to try and buck him off. Her action backfired and instead of her movement causing him to let go, it threw them off balance. They tumbled, rolling haphazardly across the forest floor. Despite the violence of their movements, Embry held on. His jaw locked tighter, just enough to break the skin, but not so much that it would hurt her. He needed her to stop. It was the only way to get her to hear and understand that nothing was going to be the same.

The change from human to wolf was always violent. It wasn't the same though when they changed back. For some reason, the transition from wolf form to the smaller human one was made with a minimum of fuss. That didn't mean it was easy to find one's human body after the first phase.

Anger was the first emotion needed to become the wolf. To phase back, one must be the opposite of angry. Completely calm. It was this reason why so many of them spent several days, and in Sam's case weeks, trapped as their wolf after the initial phase.

As their bodies came to a stop, he loosened his jaw for a second before clamping down again. The instinct to do this came from deep within him. A message to her as he chanted her name like a mantra in their shared minds. Her name fell from him softly and reverently, and he hoped she would understand the hidden meaning. She was safe, and he meant her no harm.

Leah was agitated and scared. She hadn't begun to understand the events of the day; the anger and pain, which boiled over. Her body had never burned so much, making her feel that she was being scorched from the inside out. Her skin had felt so tight and strange. It kept building until it reached a point when she thought she would explode.

And then she did.

Her bones had broken, first one at a time and then multiple. Her muscles and skin had stretched, pulled taut before snapping. The only way to describe the feeling; the only similar thing she had experienced like it was an orgasm. There had never been such a combination of pleasure and relief.

After it had happened, she ran. The instinct to flee was too strong to deny. Each beat of her heart; a rhythm of run, run, run, faster, faster. She heeded its call, its command.

Even now, her body screamed to run, but the fog in her brain was clearing. Calmness swept over her, wrapping her in its warmth like a blanket fresh from the dryer. She took a few shaky breaths in.

Leah, it's me. It's Embry. Don't be afraid. I'm not going to hurt you.

His words reached through the barrier her fear had put up. Her heart rate slowed, and she stopped trying to fight. Her body lowered in submission.

You can't run, you've already gone too far. We shouldn't be on their land. There's so much you don't understand, so much I…we must tell you. I promise I'll explain everything. All you have to do is be calm.

As he spoke, he felt her relax more. His words had the desired effect. He gazed into her mind and saw her recognition. Lethargy slowly overwhelmed her senses. One that was familiar to him as he had experienced it before during his first phase. He prayed the wonder of it all; the anger, the change, and the resulting tranquility and realization of what they were never left him. Never left any of them; it was as close to a complete spiritual awakening as anyone could come to.

Although she had relaxed, he found it impossible to let her go. His wolf's nature prevented his jaw from loosening. His teeth continued to worry the tender flesh of her neck. His inaction, or actions depending on whose perspective one looked at, made Leah's mind wander. Her thoughts ran wildly.

Her wolf and even her human self, recognized his dominance. His power and control over her and it made her fantasize about things she hadn't before. Certainly not with Sam or in the deepest, darkest nights of her life and definitely, not with him.

None of them had once thought of how powerful desire and lust were. Not one of them could have imagined how efficient it would be after their first phase. It crushed Leah's remaining stress and relaxed Embry's wolf.

He loosened his grip on her neck and backed away. His wolf form slipped away until he was crouched on the ground, naked and panting. While he understood the change and what was happening, Leah didn't.

All she knew was the white hot flames of desire. Later she would wonder if it mattered who was there or if her body was no longer under her control. The very thought turned her on as she fantasized about the possibilities while at the same time; it scared the hell out of her. After all, her little brother was now part of this too.

Mere moments after he transformed back she did, too. He couldn't stop his eyes from wandering over her smooth flesh. He took in her rounded curves, his gaze tracing them reverently. In his inexperience, he was unable to name the delicious aroma that rose from her. He only knew he wanted to surround his body in it.

He groaned, muttering her name as she did something completely unexpected. She closed the distance between their bodies and her backside rubbed against his erection. Reflexively, his hands reached for her. His fingers dug into her hips, his thumbs fitting into the two identical grooves near the base of her spine. She tried to move, but he held her tight. His body almost exploded.

"Embry," she crooned, trying to wiggle out of his grasp.

Her plea forced him into action. Somehow he knew what she needed. His hands tightened and pulled her back as he thrust forward. They loosened slightly as he pulled away before he repeated his first actions. She quickly caught onto his rhythm.

With each shunt of his cock, she became wetter. Her body wept, needing more than this partial act. She ached inside, and there was only one way to soothe it, but he didn't seem keen to end her torture. His experience, or lack thereof, never came to her mind.

So she tried to give him some clues. Each time he pulled away, she shifted slightly and realigned her body to his. Each thrust brought him closer to her entrance, and in turn, she pushed harder back into him. She moaned when the blunt head of his cock slipped between her folds. When it nudged her swollen clit a few strokes later, she twitched, a pained cry of pleasure erupted from her mouth.

It was enough to jolt him out of the sensual fog they both had been under. Jfc, what was he doing? This was Leah. Sam's Leah. For fuck's sake, she had just phased, and there was no way she understood what any of this meant. He groaned, his body protesting as he stopped his movements. He forced his hands to release her hips and he shuffled away from her.

Those same hands that had been seemingly glued to her were now foreign to him. As he brought them to his face and scrubbed at it as though that could erase the events from his mind; they didn't recognize his skin. The same skin he had lived in for over 16 years. Nor did they do anything to obliterate things as he had wanted them to.

If anything it was worse. Her scent clung to his hands. There was no way his erection was going to go down anytime soon. He closed his eyes and took what he hoped would be a few cleansing breaths. He would do anything to stop the thoughts he was having.

It was too easy to forget about the pack. Their shared mind and how impossible it was to keep any secrets. And even if you were lucky enough to have one or two, it wouldn't take much for Sam or Jake to order you to share it.

He struggled to get his raging desire under control. His body and hormones made every attempt to override his rational brain. It was a harder battle than any he had been in not even taking down the vamp with dreads had been this hard. And soon his brain betrayed him, becoming the devil's advocate.

It couldn't be that hard to keep this a secret, could it? After all, he had managed to hide his involvement with the pack from his mom and best friends. And even if he spilled the beans, why would it matter? It's not like he could go back in time and change it. Plus he was likely already screwed from what he had let happen at this point; it might be better to cut his losses and say 'fuck it.'

She didn't understand why he had pulled away. She had no idea of his internal struggle. The thought of consequences was light-years away. All she felt was the overly familiar feelings of rejection.

There was something inherently wrong with her. What it was she didn't know, but it caused the people who had been closest to her to have no qualms about hurting her. Her parents. Her almost-fiancé. Her best friend. All of them had chosen others over her. What had she done that made her unworthy?

For the first time in months, she reacted differently. Different in that she was sick of her personal pity party. She reacted how she might have before the floor had been pulled from under her. She got angry. She wanted answers and was going to get them any way possible.

"What's your problem, Call?" she demanded before turning around.

When he didn't answer immediately, she flipped around to face him. He could feel the irritation that radiated from her. Reluctantly, his opened his eyes and faced her scrutiny. He couldn't help as his eyes leisurely perused her body. Her breasts were just as rounded and firm as he had imagined. Her rose-tinged peaks jutted forth. His hands curled into fists; a way to stop himself from reaching to test the weight and softness of them.

His nostrils flared as his eyes took in the subtle curve of her waist and the flare of her hips. But his eyes weren't done. They narrowed in on the vee between her thighs and the patch of dark fleece that hid the place his cock yearned to be buried in. It made his heart thunder; the rapid thrumming drowned out all the sound around them. If she was talking, he couldn't hear her, and it didn't really matter because he was willing to agree to anything that would allow him to separate the distance between them.

She watched as a variety of reactions washed over his face. The overall one being lust. Her anger with him began to fade and disappeared completely as she detected a glimmer of anxiety. And while she wanted to question him and have him share his exact thoughts; it would take them back to reality. She didn't want that.

Things were different. After today, everything she had known was going to change. She hadn't wanted to believe it, but what had the last year of her life taught her? The quicker you realized you couldn't control everything, the easier life would be.

So she made the next move. They didn't need words. There were other more effective ways to communicate. And by the looks of it, not only was his size impressive, it didn't look as though he would disagree with her decision.

At the first touch of her, their eyes met. His cheeks flushed in mortification as he hadn't noticed her approach. She rested one hand on his chest, and the other reached around to twine in his hair. Time slowed as she pulled his head towards her. The space between them began to shrink millimeter by millimeter.

At first their eyes didn't close; remaining locked on the other. Though their lids became heavy, their gazes turning hooded and at the first touch of their lips, they drifted down and finally shut. The kiss was nothing that either expected. A frisson of electricity shot through them, connecting their separate bodies and making them one.

The ache in his fisted hands began to pulsate, and he relaxed them; flexing them open and closed before reaching out for her waist. She took his gesture as an invitation, her mouth dropped open, and she traced the seam of his lips, prompting them to open. Her tongue slid between his parted lips and deepened the kiss while the hand on his chest moved to join the other.

Each movement and action they made brought their bodies closer. Their hearts beat in harmony. He was content to follow her lead, so when she pressed her body to his and seemed to motion for him to lie down, he did. It wasn't until she went to position herself that their lips separated.

They had what felt like hours of foreplay. His pursuit and her reactions to it along with their earlier activities; she didn't see the need for more. She was in a state of pleasurable agony; desire had made her body sensitive and tender. Her hands made a slow descent, touching nearly every place his eyes had worshiped.

He wasn't prepared for the moment one of her hands wrapped around his throbbing length. A single touch was all she needed. Between his sudden intake of air and his hips rising upwards, she knew he was just as ready as she was. He pulsed in her hand.

She rose up, shifting her weight to keep her balance as she guided his cock into her. He watched her face, seeing as she nibbled her lower lip in concentration. Slowly she lowered herself, taking him inside her. He was larger than she first realized, and she inhaled sharply.

The slight burn and feeling of stretching made her pause. He didn't understand the reason behind her stopping and even if he did, it was unlikely that it would have prevented his next actions. He was delirious with wanting. His body tensed needing release. He thrust upwards as his hands pulled her down.

She gasped in pain and pleasure. Her hands clutched his shoulders; her fingers bit into his skin. And when he moved, pulling back and then plunging in again, her gasp became a sharp cry.

"Wait…I need a moment," she said breathlessly.

His eyes snapped to her face, and they caught the single tear that fell from her. It sparkled brightly in the various colors of the spectrum as it rolled down her cheek. His eyes wanted to follow its path, but his brain overrode it. Instead, it directed them to search her face, looking for something though he wasn't sure what it was.

Even though he hadn't followed that single tear; he knew when it touched his skin. The small, salty drop burned his skin. The feel of it was like a brand; charring his very existence and tying his soul to her. Strangely enough, Leah felt a similar sensation. She had known things were going to be different, but this was something unexpected. Something she hadn't been prepared for.

The passion that had burned inside her, rekindled. Her core throbbed, squeezing his cock. The rhythm almost identical to the gallop of her heart beat. She tried a few tentative movements; rising up before lowering. All subsequent movements were easier and more pleasurable than the last. Instinctively Embry mirrored her movements, adding depth and force she lacked.

Each thrust brought them closer to a pinnacle; a precipice that they eagerly sought to fall from. Neither had experienced anything similar. Embry hadn't known what to expect, and after Sam, she had doubted what she had been lead to believe. The lies fed to young women that sex was the key to awaken their womanhood. Instead, she had been left vulnerable, unsure, and wanting.

She felt the place where his teeth had broken her skin begin to tingle. Her hands moved to rest on his chest; their placement gave her some stability as their movements became more frantic. His hands moved to her hips, controlling her movements and giving him better leverage.

Their bodies moved in perfect harmony. Each pant and shudder was only a small part of the symphony. And when they finally crashed over the peak they had been building for, they did it together. Her body arched away at the same time it strained to move closer. A wordless scream fell from her open lips while he growled her name.

As the last tremors faded, Leah fell forward. Her head came to rest near his with her face turned towards his. Her ear rested on his shoulder, and the small diamond studs in her ear pricked his skin, but he barely noticed it. The minor discomfort was outweighed by the sounds and scents that surrounded him.

His hands rested on awkwardly on her hips. He wasn't sure where to put them. Reality was slowly creeping back, and he didn't know what this meant. This had been unexpected, and it was indefinable. If he didn't know what it was, how could he explain it to the elders? There was no doubt this would cause fallout.

Their overheated skin began to cool rapidly, and Leah shivered. Without another thought, perhaps instinctively, he moved. His arms wrapped around her. His large, rough palms lightly caressed her back. His touch elicited a new host of sensations within her and had they not been interrupted by a host of frantic howls; it was possible they would have acted on them.

"Fuck," he swore; his arms tightening around her. His brain raced, screaming at him to let her go. His body refused his simple commands. This wasn't good, he thought as he tried to purge their recent activities and his desires from his mind. But it didn't work.

His cock was still embedded in her warmth, and it rose to the challenge. Her muscles involuntarily throbbed, squeezing and releasing as though her body was communicating to his in Morse code. She moaned; a mewling noise of pleasure as want spread throughout her body. She rose to knees and rocked her hips; intent on experiencing ecstasy again.

The howls broadcast through the air again. This time seemingly closer and his wolf woke from its slumber. It recognized the urgency and command and knew it was futile to disobey. He untangled himself from her. His jaw clenched tightly as he sat up. The breath he had been holding hissed from his lungs when her off his length.

He saw a variety of emotions cross her features; confusion, hurt, and disappointment. Within seconds, she was no longer sitting on his lap. Instead, she knelt on the ground and faced him. Her face quickly transforming into the bitter scowl that he recognized from Sam's memory. The one she had begun to wear after his betrayal.

There wasn't time to explain things. If the pack ventured too near, they would know. He still wasn't sure he was going to be able to keep this from them, but it was now or never. He gazed into her eyes and hoped his sincerity showed through.

"Please, don't say a word. I'll have to phase." At her frown, he clarified, "turn into a wolf. The howls are the pack. You probably don't want them coming here." His cheeks reddened as he used his hand to indicate their current state.

With that single gesture, she understood. They were naked and covered in scratches and bruises. The very air around them was perfumed with the scent of sex and desire. She bit back a moan and forced herself to nod her head in agreement.

"Just stay there…and umm…stay calm. Hell if I know how I'm gonna keep this quiet, but at least I've got a bit of practice… Or I'm fucking asking to die," he finished; forgetting that she would be able to hear every word.

Embry phased and kept his mind focused on the most mundane things. His homework, the chores he had abandoned when the newest wolves had phased, and the recent Mariners game. Thinking about their two new members wasn't smart. His mind began to wander to Leah, and he struggled to get his thoughts under control. Thankfully the confusion of the pack mind took over, and he had no choice but to focus on Sam and Jake's thoughts.

Where's Leah? Jake asked.

She's okay? She's not hurt, is she? Sam's voice was filled with concern. His mind was a jumble of thoughts, which overwhelmingly were guilt. His imprint on Emily, his betrayal to Leah and their breakup, and finally Emily's scars; the final nail in his proverbial coffin that branded him no better than his father.

She's fine. He choked out. And they thought he had "daddy issues." He rolled his eyes at Sam.

Leah watched with interest as Embry sat there; a giant wolf in the middle of the forest. His mannerisms were eerily human, and when he rolled his eyes, she lost it. She attempted to stifle her laugh with her palm, but it was useless.

At her giggle, his eyes swung to her, and he raised his brow. The addition of another human-like gesture had laughing in earnest. It also treated the pack to an uncensored view of her. Within seconds, Embry realized his mistake.

Varying amounts of appreciation and lust dominated the pack mind. Sam's anger was immediate; his menacing growl flattened Embry's ears and he cowered unconsciously. For once, a less dominant voice could be heard as Seth protested.

Eww. That's gross. Come on. I don't need to see that.

Embry closed his eyes, but the image remained. He was screwed. It was official. Sure the last 6 months of his life had been shit, but before that he couldn't complain. His mom had done the best she could; raising him on her own. He had friends. His future had been bright, at least until he became a werewolf.

It was his wolf that found the strength where his human self was lacking. The wolf that prompted him to baldly lie. And he did it without a second thought.

Look, I'm sorry. She phased back on her own, but it's probably best not to make her go wolf again. It might not be so easy.

Fine. Sam acknowledged. The rage remained present in his answer. You both better be at my house in 20 minutes.

Before he could respond, Quil spoke up, Sam…umm…grand-dad said the meeting would be in an hour.

I don't care! Old Quil's not Alpha of this pack. You got that, Embry?

Old Quil might not be the Alpha, but he knew more than what he let on. Years of practicing a poker face made it easy for him to watch Sam with veiled amusement. With each passing moment, Sam became more agitated. He paced the area between the fire pit and forest, creating a worn path where there had been none.

Sam's energy trickled out to the other wolves. His grandson was more fidgety than usual. He sat between Jake and Seth, his knees bouncing in anticipation as he rambled incoherently on everything from movies to music to video games. Jake's usually jovial demeanor was twisted into barely suppressed indignation. If Embry and Leah didn't show up soon, he had a feeling his grandson was going to be the recipient of it.

Seth was abnormally quiet; in fact, Old Quil was surprised that Seth still had fingers left. He had watched the young boy chew and nibble on each fingernail until they were nubs. Paul and Jared were the two odd men out. Both of them engrossed in conversation though Paul was doing most of the talking and whatever they were discussing involved frequent hand gestures. Gestures that even Old Quil understood as Paul's hands outlined a caricature of a woman's body.

"Enough is enough," Sam growled. "It's been over an hour."

"Be patient, Alpha. This is likely a confusing time for Leah. We mustn't rush things."

"Rush what?" Billy asked, looking at him as though he had two heads.

Old Quil was spared from answering. The pack's eyes were pulled to the thin vegetation near the edge of the forest. Sam's pacing stopped, and his mouth dropped open. His anger strangely dissipated at the sight before his eyes.

All Old Quil could do was smile. He watched as they walked closer. His rheumy vision was better than he let on. He liked to think it was because he had been born after the last pack had phased.

Embry twitched under the group's scrutiny. His palms grew cold and clammy; his fingers took on a strange feeling of numbness. If he had the strength, he might have pulled his hand from hers. Instead, his hand sought the comfort and warmth of hers.

The simple sign of their clasped hands spoke volumes. Though not one of them truly understood the significance of neither it nor the change it foretold.

When they reached the small crowd that was gathered in a circle, Leah slowly untwined her hand from his. Embry's heartbeat sped up; his eyes widened as he turned to her and searched her face wildly. Without a word or barely a look, she soothed his anxiety. He took his place and sat down with the others.

Her eyes found Old Quil's in the circle. A tentative smile curved her lips, and she walked over to him. In deference to his age, she crouched down when she reached him. His paler, paper-thin skinned hands reached for hers and when she placed hers in his she leaned forward and kissed one of his wrinkled cheeks.

"So, it is done?" He asked.

She nodded, her smile growing. At her lack of words, he raised a brow.

"Mostly," she answered reticently.

"But it will be done? You understand it cannot be left partially completed."

"Yes. I was worried…time…there wasn't enough."

"Humph, there was enough. I wouldn't have taken you for a shy maiden," he finished with a chuckle.

She blushed at his words; the heat spreading from her cheeks down her neck and to her chest. "Well, let me see," he demanded as he released her hands.

She used one hand and pulled her hair away from her neck. Her head angled forward slightly and to the side, which gave him a better view. He brought his hand within inches of the spot; his fingers hovering above the mark – Embry's mark. A deep, rumbled growl broadcast from the wolf in question as Old Quil brushed against it. The reaction enough to let him know she spoke the truth.

She struggled to stay still. Her body and wolf were alike in thought. Both shied away from the touch of anyone other than Embry. It didn't matter that this man wasn't competition. She breathed a sigh of relief as his hand pulled away; leaving her with a need to move closer to their mate. The pull grew by the moment until she could no longer deny it.

She reached forward and squeezed Old Quil's hand a final time, meeting his eyes as she expressed her gratitude. "Thank you," she said simply before rising.

They watched in curiosity. None of them believed what they were seeing as she walked over to Embry. She didn't just sit near him; she sat so that her body was surrounded by his. His arms wrapped around her, holding her while his nose burrowed into her neck. His hot breath fanned her, stirring up her desire and she sighed loudly.

It was her brother who broke the silence. "What the hell?"

His question shook the group out of their trance. All of them started talking at once. Their demands for answers rose to a crescendo until it was no longer apparent who was speaking. Or what replies they were searching for.

Strangely, Leah and Embry were unfazed. She had been prepared for such a response, but neither her nor Old Quil had known how it would affect the newly mated pair. Embry's fingers danced on her exposed skin. His mouth drew closer to her neck until she could feel the moistness of his breath. She shuddered at the feel of his tongue as he wet his lips. The soft stroke wasn't really meant for her; at least she didn't think it was.

An insatiable need arose in her. The forest, his house and bedroom, and lastly, the shower hadn't tamped down her desire. It was that same want that drove her to take charge of the situation. The sooner things were understood, the quicker they could return to what she longed to do.

"Quiet. Let Old Quil speak."

Her words were simple. Spoken barely above a whisper and without the weight of an order. Yet they listened; human and wolf alike.

"What's the meaning of this?" Her father asked.

"An imprint?" Billy suggested doubtfully.

"His genetic line is unknown; he shouldn't have phased, much less…" Sam protested; his voice trailing off.

"Yeah, if it's an imprint wouldn't it make sense for Jake to be the one?" Quil proposed.

"No! I don't want an imprint. He can have her!" Jake objected. A sheepish and apologetic look crossed his features as he gazed at her and muttered, "No offense."

She snorted, "None taken. I didn't want you anyway."

"You don't get a choice," Jared said ruefully.

She raised a brow in the direction of the younger wolf. "You sure about that?"

Her taunt created a firestorm of conflict. Voices once again rose to be heard over the din. How dare she suggest they had a choice? There were no choices in this. As long as you were the right age with the right lineage, you were unwittingly drafted into the pack. Imprinting was just another jest in a long line of abuses from the wolf gods.

Billy and Harry's patience with Old Quil was wearing thin. The older man had been the one to call this meeting. He had been the one who demanded the hour delay. A female wolf was unheard of; none of their histories had suggested it had ever happened, must less that it could.

"Quil, explain," Billy's mandate was curt and could hardly be termed polite.

Old Quil chuckled, his eyes sparkled with mirth. "Sure, sure," he answered, borrowing the phrase so often uttered by his grandson and friends.

"Though first, I must ask. Your anger – is it directed at your obliviousness over Leah's phase or her mate?"

"Why should it matter?"

"Everything matters, but I'll take that as 'yes' to both."

Billy grumbled, swearing under his breath, but said nothing further. It had been him, Harry, and Quil IV who had dreamed of being wolves like their grandfathers. Had their wishes come true, Quil might have survived, and Billy would still have use of his legs.

"A female wolf is a rarity, and as such is a closely guarded secret. We have always known that both males and females carry the gene, but the gene remains dormant in most. It has been in recent times that the pack has formed only in necessary times. Depending on how long the chosen would phase, the gene would usually skip a generation or two."

"That still doesn't explain that," Sam said crossly gesturing to the pair.

"Of course it does," Old Quil remarked. His annoyance at being interrupted was clearly evident. "If it's alright with you – Samuel, I'd like to continue."

Like Billy mere moments before, Sam was dutifully chastised by the older man. He couldn't meet Old Quil's eyes as he nodded tersely.

"Good. I hope this is the last of these disruptions. Any more of them and I might die before I can tell the story. Now as I was saying, a female wolf is rare, but not unheard of. The last one was my mother."

"What?! That cannot be! We'd know of it. There was nothing of the sort in my grandfather's journal," Billy exclaimed.

"They never told anyone. The appearance of a female wolf signifies the need for a great change within the pack. They did not realize it until too late, and by that time the treaty with the Cullens had already been created. Both Ephraim and Levi were too stubborn to believe anything without proof. And my mother wouldn't phase; it was too dangerous in her condition."


"She was pregnant. After my birth, she chose not to phase any longer."

"What does this have to do with Embry and my daughter?"

"As soon as the boys began to phase, I noticed that nothing was happening the way it had in the past. Sam was expected. Jared and Paul – possible, but why before my grandson or Jake? Embry was the most surprising. I poured over the family trees of the tribe. Looking for some hint to a pattern, and it was as I looked at those I realized that Leah had all three bloodlines running through her."

"Why didn't you say anything?" Harry demanded.

"I did," Old Quil's gaze fell to Leah. "It was not for everyone to know; only the one who would be affected. She had already lost so much and with this, she stood to lose even more, so I told her what she needed to know."

"And what was that?"

"She's already told you all. You've seen the evidence. Have you really not put it together? Surely, the boys understand."

The group was silent as they tried to remember everything Leah had said. And as they recounted their earlier discovery of her in wolf form and the ensuing pursuit. Their brows furrowed in concentration; their lips pursed as they were deep in thought.

It was Embry who spoke up. He had appeared not to be listening during Old Quil's talk. His hands and fingers had been softly stroking Leah's flesh. His nose had remained buried in her neck, but he had been listening in rapt attention. His actions were intended to create a ruse that allowed him to evaluate the wolves around him. His wolf was aware that they may need to prove their worth as a mate to the she-wolf.

He remembered the excitement of chasing her. Her speed and litheness as she flew through the forest; leading them far and wide until one-by-one they dropped out. The critical mistake she had made when he had caught up to her, which possibly wasn't a mistake at all. She had wanted him to catch her.

"It's quite simple, she has what we don't have – choice."

"Why Embry?" Sam asked; hurt evident in his voice though his face betrayed nothing of his inner turmoil. His gut twisted in jealousy for a moment before the chains of the imprint jerked him back. Emily was his future. The imprint ensured it.

"I don't owe anyone an explanation, least of all you. He is my choice, and you all will respect what I have decided."

It was subtle; the transition of power from the default Alpha to the Alpha pair. Old Quil had prepared her for this, but it was still strange and terrifying. Although she knew it wouldn't be final until her mark was branded on Embry.

She took a final glance around the circle; her eyes roaming over each member of their pack. As she looked at the elders – her father, Billy, and Old Quil – she vowed to herself that no harm would come to any of them. The time had come to declare the treaty void.

With that last thought, she stood and turned to Embry. Reaching down, she grasped his hand and pulled him to his feet. Their hands remained clasped as she led him away from the group and towards the forest.

Old Quil could explain the rest. There was no need for them to stay. She would be able to explain things to him, and they still had to finish what they had started.

"Why me?"

At his simple question, she lifted her head from his chest. His forehead was laced with wrinkles. The seriousness of his expression made him appear older than his 16 years.

She didn't answer him right away; needing time to get her thoughts together. If she didn't, it would all come out wrong.

She thought back to when Old Quil had first approached her. How angry she had been; thinking he was senile and telling her tall tales. It had taken many visits before she even began to believe him. And then it was only because she could feel the changes he had told her about happening.

At first she was afraid, and then she was angry. She held the rage close to her heart. It intensified as Old Quil explained what she must do. He told her she would get a choice, but to her it could hardly be called that.

She cursed the spirits; internally screaming obscenities that even made her blush. She had been rejected once, and there was no way she was going to have it happen again. It took Old Quil telling her the truth about Sam and Emily before she accepted what he was asking of her.

"Most of them will have no choice. Those that do will falter. They will live in fear of an imprint that may never happen. But you – you will have the opportunity to select your mate. You can pick the one who will suit you best. Who will complement your strengths and bolster your weaknesses."

"But I barely know any of them. Jake, Quil, and Embry are nothing more than my brother's annoying friends. Maybe I've talked to Jared and Paul twice. Sam…"

"You don't need to talk to them to know who they are. You must listen and observe. You will learn everything you need to know. I have faith you will make a wise decision."


She blinked rapidly, clearing the vestiges of memories away before answering, "Old Quil told me. It didn't have to happen after my first phase, but if I prolonged it, things would only get worse. All of you would want to claim me for your own. It would be better he said if I made my choice before. We went over different scenarios in case I wasn't able to phase as I had planned. We looked at maps of the area to gauge the best path I should take. Nothing was left to chance."

At her pause, he said nothing. His heart hammered in his chest; each beat growing louder as he held his breath in anticipation. He could feel the permanence of their newfound relationship. The mark she had left on his chest burned and throbbed. It wasn't a painful sensation; more annoying than anything else.

"It took a while before I stopped resisting. I knew I couldn't get close to any of you; there was a chance one of you'd recognize the changes."

He nodded, agreeing with her. He had always noticed her. There had been more than a few times that he had sensed her before his eyes found her. He could pick her voice out of a crowd. And before he had wolfed-out, he found his heart aching in sympathy for her. In turn, he hated Sam though he didn't even know him then. After his phase, he had quickly learned to hide his feelings for her. It was easy to bury them beneath his guilt for all the lies he told to keep his mom safe and in the dark.

Nervously, she reached up and twisted a lock of hair around her fingers. She didn't know why she was so worried. Her reasons had been altruistic. Not that she was expecting a medal or sainthood for them.

"As I weighed the options in my mind, the flaws of the others stood out. You were the only one whose flaws didn't seem to be a hindrance," she remarked quietly. A blush stained her cheeks as she realized she was saying everything wrong. "What I mean is…well…crap this is harder than I thought it'd be."

"Flaws?" he croaked.

She chewed on her lower lip and refused to meet his eyes. Her voice was only a hoarse whisper, "Your lack of a…" She couldn't finish the sentence. It wasn't his fault, so how could it be a fault.

"A father? That's what it came down to?!"

He pulled away from her slightly. Distress was clearly written on his features and could be seen in his body language. She reached for him; her hands shaking and numb.

"Wait! That's not what I meant. I shouldn't have said it that way. It came out wrong. Compared to the others, there's nothing about you that isn't exactly what I need and want. You're kind, loyal, and thoughtful. You're a better person than I can ever hope to be. I'm nothing." Her face twisted into a scowl. "It doesn't matter that I'm supposed to be special. Deep down, we all know that I'm a freak. My ex left me for my cousin – supernatural bullshit aside – it's still fucked up. I wanted you to know that you belonged. Not because of your unknown paternity and this stupid wolf business…but because I loved you – wanted you – needed you."

As she spoke, he watched the changing emotions on her face. Her scowl slowly disappeared and was replaced with shame, her face becoming apologetic. He thought back to everything that had happened in the past 8 hours. Suddenly it didn't matter how she had come to her decision; it was enough that she had picked him.

Her final words lingered in the air. He had been afraid of imprinting. Being tied to some unknown girl for the rest of his life and having to share the disgrace of his paternity. With Leah, he wouldn't have to. She didn't care that he didn't know his father or that he cared his mother's name.

"I think I can live with your choice," he said with a small grin. "But you need to be taught a lesson."

"For what?"

"Leading me on a merry chase." His expression turned serious as he raised a brow at her.

Quicker than he anticipated, she was off his bed and darting out the open window. He stifled a chuckle as she declared, "You'll have catch me first."