Dedication… 2/26/2014 - For meliz875. For those who don't know, Mel is my pre-reader for "Snowed In". She goes above and beyond for every chapter, letting me hash out my ideas, sometimes for days or even weeks before I've exhausted the process and I'm ready to commit my ideas to paper. So for going the extra mile for me, she gets a little extra show of appreciation from me for her special month. Happy early birthday month, Mel!

A/N: The party begins today, but Mel's big day is still a month and several more fun Jake-, Paul-, and Embry-licious updates away—because I believe in month-long birthday parties and that everyone should have at least one.

This one is rated M for all the best reasons and both MCs are definitely over 18, so don't get your knickers in a twist. It's AU because I played fast and loose with ages and the generally-accepted Twilight timeline because fuck it, it's my sandbox, my rules. ;)


Genre: Romance/Mystery

Pre-readers: Tamfan and SparklingFae. Thanks for helping me whip this one out on such short notice, ladies!

Banner: HUGE thanks to Dontcallmeleelee for the awesome banner she whipped up for me with like zero notice. It was an adoptable banner that I found on her blog. You can find more of her available adoptables right here: .

Don't forget to check out my interview with Stella next Sunday on her blog, too!


Chemistry

Bella Swan was right where she'd always imagined she'd be, at the head of a classroom, leading her class in a discussion about a topic they found engaging. The arguments for either side were the heated socio-political ramifications of experimenting with human tissue to explore the medical and commercial uses of its unique chemistry. They were volleying back and forth, student to student.

Smiling as the debate wound down to a firm agreement to disagree on the subject at hand, Bella wrapped up her presentation as the class rumbled quietly, continuing the discussion in small groups amongst themselves while they loaded their backpacks and waited for the final bell to ring.

She glanced furtively out of the corner of her eye, her shoulder blades itching with a disconcerting pull under the scrutiny of a penetrating stare coming from the occupant of the desk in the far corner.

Chemistry?

Could it be that simple?

She laughed at the irony of chemistry bringing them together.

They certainly had it. There was an undeniably strong something pulling them inexorably to one another. Drawn together from that first moment in class when their fingers brushed as the syllabus was handed out at the start of the new year, they'd discussed it discreetly alone, but always in public, seemingly surrounded by others at football games and the diner after school dances.

Both were careful, though, always careful to keep up the professional teacher-student relationship in public.

They had no private relationship—couldn't—no matter how much either of them wished it were so. It wasn't worth jumping the gun and risking all the hard work of a teaching degree or the shame of losing a hard-earned teaching contract for a liaison that may or may not prove to be worth it in the long haul.

So they circled one another and bided their time.

She gathered her things and, without a backward glance to see if he was watching, made her way to the head office to see to some last-minute graduation ceremony details.

- - - o - - -

Graduation day dawned a week later, bright and sunny for once in Forks, Washington and Bella was glad. Finals hell week was over and she could finally sit down and relax. She was slated to speak during commencement and she already had butterflies dancing madly in her belly. Despite her chosen career path, she was never one for speeches or large crowds.

Forks High had a strict dress code for all participants, faculty and students alike, on commencement day. All-white dresses or skirts for all female faculty and students; white or light blue dress shirts, ties, and dark slacks for the men and boys.

Past experience had taught many a principal that, left to their own devices, female students would invariably choose either a dress of innapropriate length or a T-shirt emblazoned with a foul slogan that would show through the unfortunate yellow caps and gowns worn by the entire female population of the student body. Boys could get away with more under their dark blue caps and gowns, so to level the field, a firm dress code was established for everyone who participated and was strictly enforced.

Either tow the line or you don't walk with your class and you don't get your diploma.

Faculty were expected to set the standard.

Shoes were the one item that allowed participants to show off their individuality in a sea of yellow and blue on the big day and all the occupants of Forks High were known to do nothing less than pull out all the stops when it came to commencement footwear due to that little loophole. One-upmanship was practically encouraged.

It was tradition.

Bella had gone with a simple and classic leather ivory platform heel to match her dress and added a bit of Forks High school spirit by painting the soles with royal blue glitter glue.

She tried them on in front of the mirror, grateful to have outgrown the clumsiness of her adolescence at last as she paced back and forth a few times, grinning as the blue glitter sparkled in the rare sunlight filtering through her windows.

Kicking the shoes off for the moment, Bella padded around her bedroom in the lacy white undergarments she'd chosen-the only thing that wouldn't show beneath the pretty, ivory silk shantung sheath she'd chosen to treat herself with for the day. She couldn't resist running her fingers over the filmy lace of the garter belt that held up her stockings. She bent over in front of her full-length mirror to check from every angle that she'd gotten the back seams straight before clipping them to the garters.

Ping!

The sharp noise startled her out of her musings, her head snapping up to stare at the window. She rushed over and threw up the rattling sash, ready to shout at the squirrel who'd been out there on the nearest tree branch harassing her every morning for two weeks. She couldn't remember the last time the little bastard had let her sleep in, it had been going on so long.

She opened her mouth to yell, but there was no squirrel.

A throat clearing below made her yelp in shock and bump her head on the window sash, "Fuck!"

"Such language," her visitor tsk-tsk'd, an amused grin spreading across his face.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" she hissed, leaning out and looking around. "Did anyone see you?"

"Relax. I was careful. I just wanted to swing by and wish you luck today. I know speeches make you nervous," he explained, rocking on the balls of his feet in scuffed green sneakers that had seen better days, his hand running absently down his shirt front over his messily tied tie.

"Nervous," she rolled her eyes. "Understate much? Remind me again why I wanted to be a teacher?"

"You look hot dressed up in those ugly, hands-off skirt-suits and librarian glasses?" his grin widened, eyebrows wiggling suggestively.

"The things that get you hot…" she shook her head. "Guys are weird. Ugh," she snorted, looking him over more carefully, "Is that what you're wearing today?"

"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" he demanded, looking down at his pressed white dress shirt, charcoal gray khakis, and neon green Vans.

"Nothing … if you got dressed in the dark and a drunken chimp tied that ugly tie with his feet."

"It's not ugly. I'll have you know, my father gave me this tie," he said pompously. "He has good taste."

"Yeah? Well, it's all in his mouth." She stuck her tongue out at him, then gestured to the backyard. "Come around back so I can fix it and at least make it a straight, ugly tie."

She leaned as if to pull back in through the window, but popped her head back out to hiss, "Don't let anyone see you, though!"

"Relax!" he hissed back. "You live in the middle of the fucking woods!"

"I still have neighbors!" she snapped, popping her head out the window again.

"Am I staying here so we can argue some more and risk me getting caught, or am I going out back so you can further disparage my tie and try to strangle me with it?"

"Out back. I'm a multi-tasker. I can mock you and argue with you while I fix that hideous tie and imagine how good it will look when I burn it at the bonfire later."

"You'd burn my father's tie?"

"I thought you said it was a gift?"

"It was!"

"Then it's not your father's tie. It's your tie, but not for much longer."

"Why's that?"

"Because in a few hours it's going to be a pile of ashes instead," she snickered, getting the last word as she disappeared from the window.

He chuckled, shaking his head, and slipped around the back corner of the house.

Snatching up a short, raspberry pink silk robe from the chair by her walk-in, she tied the sash in a messy bow as she tripped lightly down the steps to throw open the back door.

She was about to lean out to hiss to him that the coast was clear when he stepped swiftly into the open doorway from her left, right up into her personal space.

"Shit!" she smacked at him, stumbling back. "Why do you have to be such a fucking creeper?"

"Mmm … Is this what you're wearing today?" he asked, a low hum of appreciation rumbling deep in his throat as he fingered the silky material of the bright pink robe.

Forgetting herself for a moment, she angled unconsciously into his touch, practically purring when he slipped his hands inside the lapels and ran them down the gentle curves from breast to hip beneath her robe, "Oh, god, babe. I can't stand it. What is this?"

"Chemistry," he barked, smothering a laugh, dipping his chin to rub the stubble over her bare shoulder as the robe slipped down another inch.

Moaning, she shook with desire in his arms, the pull was so strong, "If you keep touching me like that-"

"We'll both lose our heads," he whispered, his lips a hair's breadth from hers, their foreheads touching as he exhaled deeply and gave in to his driving need, pressing a few gentle kisses to hers in the only show of intimacy they would allow themselves even in private before the diplomas were handed out later that day.

He had just enough willpower to pull back, apologizing, "I'm sorry. Coming here beforehand was a mistake. We-" he cut himself off, swearing. "This is what we agreed to—for both our sakes. I'll-" he sighed reluctantly, whispering, "I'll see you this afternoon."

She grasped just the tips of his fingers as he crossed the threshold in a silent, if all-too-brief farewell. He squeezed them in return and slipped through the door, quietly pulling it to behind him.

Just before he closed it—his eyes trained on the ground to avoid further temptation—he murmured, glancing up at her from beneath lowered lashes, "You look beautiful today. You always do."

- - - o - - -

Not even a full minute after the ceremony ended, he was running, taking the stairs two at a time, seeking her out in the crowd. He found her surrounded by others and was forced to bide his time.

It was a skill he had come to master these last nine torturous months.

Minutes passed, but he knew she knew he was there, watching.

Finally, she turned, throwing a taunting, saucy smirk at him over her shoulder as she excused herself and bolted for the main campus buildings.

He gave chase, tracking her by scent alone. She was far too crafty, though, to make noise and end the game early.

Stilling his body, slowing his heart rate, he let his senses rule. He closed his eyes and let the energy of his spirit warrior flow through him, extending out in every direction until it impinged on the nearest glimmering spark, a life force.

A bright, untainted, glowing blue light like that could mean only one thing… his Bella.

Like the predator he truly was inside, he stalked down the long corridor of the second floor in the Science building—a layout he knew well.

Tracking her light honeysuckle and cream scent was almost too easy. Then he caught the barest hint of a shadow pass by a window three doors down. A wolfish grin stretched across his face as he hugged the wall and crept down the hall to his chemistry classroom.

Was there really anywhere else she would go?

Peering around the doorframe, he saw her, standing tall and proud of herself for outsmarting him long enough to beat him to their inevitable destination, she was waiting with her arms crossed facing the windows, looking out over the campus grounds—giving him her back in a sign of absolute trust.

Unmerited, overweening trust.

Advancing quietly on sneakered feet and closing the door behind him with a quiet click, he locked it with a flick of his wrist and pulled down the shade that covered the window in the door.

"Took you long enough," she whispered.

He pounced.

Squealing as he tackled and pinned her to the floor, she gasped for air, giggling as he tickled her mercilessly.

"My, my, my, look what I found, it's a-"

Without a second thought, she lunged, grabbing him by the neck and pulling him down to the floor to cover her body with his own, licking his bottom lip enticingly. He parted his lips on a gasp and she slipped her tongue inside, plundering, tasting, reveling in the freedom to kiss her mate so fiercely. He let her have her way, lifting her, settling her across his lap as he kneeled on the floor, one hand splayed across her back, the other wandering, dipping beneath the hem of her skirt to slide a hand up her quivering thigh.

She yelped a laugh, scrambling out of his arms to scoot around the prep table at the front of the room. She looked up at the same time that he did, realizing their actions were reflected in the instructional mirrors above the table.

Hooded cinnamon eyes glazed with lust met his over bunsen burners and petri dishes.

She knew then that this is where it would happen as the late spring sunlight filtered through the open windows, dust particles dancing in the warm beams of light.

It wasn't even remotely how she imagined their first coming together, but, somehow—for them—it still felt right.

He stalked around the table, moving in as he swept the contents of the table to the floor in a clatter. Wrapping his arms around her waist and pinning her with his weight to the table as his hand crept up her spine, he found the pull for the zipper to free her from the enveloping silk.

It reminded him of a butterfly chrysalis as it fell away to reveal her breasts encased in white lace.

He lifted her up like she weighed nothing, gripping her under the thighs and placing her on the now-empty prep table.

"Say it," he growled, biting at her throat and breasts, tugging her bra down to pull one candy pink tip into his mouth as he spoke around it in a muffled voice. "You know you've been waiting to all year. Say it."

She leaned back on the long black table, held safely in the cradle of his arms. Running her hands up under her long, auburn curls, she piled it on top of her head and stretched her body out into long taut lines that he wanted to lick from one end to the other as she arched into his arms and whispered, licking her lips in invitation, "Fuck me, Mr. Black. Teach me a lesson."

Jacob's eyes darkened with passion, he eased back, sliding his former student's ass to the edge of the hard black countertop before he flipped her over with surprising speed, leaning with her into the table's edge, rubbing his hard length against the succulent ass he'd watched come and go from his classroom with a seductive sway of hips all- god- damn- year- long… Each thought was punctuated with a pump of his hips against hers.

She was nearly nineteen.

He was twenty-three.

She was no longer a high school student.

And—best of all—she was no longer his student.

For the first time in months, he finally felt like he could breathe, like it wasn't all going to slip through his fingers.

Dreams about this moment had haunted him for the last nine months as he worried down to the bone that it would all disappear—that one day, he'd walk into this classroom and one of those godforsaken catty bitches who were always looking for new ways to bump into him or grind on a muscular thigh—for no other reason than because they could—would be the literal, physical incarnation of his peoples' curse…

His imprint.

Bella, his beloved Bella, his mate was a breath of fresh air on a clear, sunny day. It filled him, renewing his spirit, and made him feel complete, like finding the wandering other half of his soul.

The others … the jealous, in-fighting teenage girls he tolerated for what amounted to his human life's calling were little more to him than the buzzing of annoying gnats on a muggy summer day.

Bella had never shown a moment's jealousy, though.

Secure in his love, she had waited.

The time was finally at hand.

Shivering with need, she braced herself on her elbows, hands splayed flat on the serviceable countertop as his nose traced a line up the long, bare expanse of her back above her dress—silk again, fuck, he loved how it felt sliding over her skin—his bottom lip catching and sticking once or twice as he nosed his way up the back of her neck. He tugged at her dress, sliding it up over her smooth flanks until he had the hem in his hand to move it out of his way and slipped under it, one hand on her knee, exploring her soft inner thigh as he exhaled over the supple skin beneath her ear and whispered, "I hope you're not attached to those panties…"

"What panties?" Bella gasped, unsuccessfully attempting to hide a salacious grin at his expense.

He growled, "Fuck. Fuck! You haven't had panties on all day?"

She shook her head, "Not even this morning at the house under my robe. I was just about to put my dress on when you showed up."

"So when I had my hands under your robe-"

"Another inch lower and you'd have known then," she smiled ruefully.

"Why must you torture me?" he groaned, pressing his lips to her throat, seeking out the spot—the spot.

"I'm not the one who pulled away, Jake," she panted, grinding against him. "Can we stop playing the blame game and fuck already? Jesus, Jacob! I've been waiting all year for this."

"My pleasure, Alumna Swan. You know…" he said thoughtfully and she heard the telltale snick of his zipper sliding down, "I've never fucked a Valedictorian before."

"Then I guess today is your lucky day, Mr. Black," she said, reaching back to stroke his cock and position him at her entrance.

He groaned and cursed, straining not to just bury himself inside her and fuck the consequences. Sliding the thick head up and down, back and forth, he rubbed his thick, sticky pre-cum just around the rim of her entrance to ease the way. He was desperate not to hurt her.

But Bella grew impatient. "Goddamnit, Jacob! Fuck me!" she begged.

He thrust hard once, drawing it out as he sank slowly, inch by precious inch into the welcoming slick heat of his mate. Sighing together, each felt that unnamable pull ease, the desperate, driving instinct lessening as their bodies met over and over again with a feeling like no other—like coming home.

And when they came—oh, when they came… Bella brought her hands down on the table, palms open for one hard smack, back bowing into a deep arch as Jacob latched his teeth on the tendon at the base of her throat, incisors lengthening to inject just that tiny precious bit of Quileute magic beneath her skin.

The magic would bind them together forever, let him always find the way home to her, and share the magic of his ancestors with his mate.

As he held her, she mumbled an incoherent, blissful series of indiscernible chords that eventually came together, making a harmony that he recognized only as pleasure, joy, satisfaction.

The magic- the moment of the joining obliterated him, his thoughts, everything that came together to make him uniquely Jacob was replaced, combined, and permanently bonded to those chemical markers, cells, and traits that made her uniquely Bella to make them one.

As they lay over the table, still joined and panting from their high, he let his mind drift, reflecting on the year past, a year of seemingly endless burning in his own personal purgatory.

The wolves of his pack were strong, ruthless killers, older now and far more skilled, but no matter how many leeches they dispatched to hell to prove their bravery, they all—to the last man and woman—feared one thing above all others.

The curse of imprinting.

Each and every one who'd found their mate had marked her within days in accordance with their legends to avoid having the spirits choose for them if they waited too long to choose for themselves.

Society's rules had forced Jacob to wait, burning in agony, all the while wondering if today would be the day that he would go to work only to walk into the office to find a new teacher or student, someone he had never seen before that would snatch away all his hopes and dreams for a future with his chosen, his Bella.

Pressing a kiss to her soft, rounded shoulder, he noticed a thin trickle of blood running down her throat from his mark. He lapped at it, willing it to heal faster with the infusion of shared magic and the healing properties of his saliva.

Running a hand down the thin silk to smooth it over her back, he thought that he'd hate to ruin her pretty new dress with even a single errant drop of her precious blood.

He pushed up off the counter, tugging her dress down modestly as she groaned and stepping back to tuck himself neatly back into his pants. He tried to turn her around, but she was nearly unconscious—still a little incoherent from the combination of spiritually-enhanced orgasm and the marking.

Snagging an old red hoodie of his from a drawer in his desk, he wrapped her up in it as much as possible, then slipped out a rear door of the Science building and made his way quickly to the tree line where he could disappear without being noticed. Practically invisible to human eyes, he darted into the woods, carrying her deep into the thick ferns and dense canopy of the forest. He loosed a howl in human form that his brothers would easily recognize as their Alpha.

Less than two minutes later, Embry and Quil came galloping through the undergrowth, phasing mid-step amongst the soft, bushy ferns to rush up to Jake and offer assistance.

A warning growl pinned them in place before he could fight off the instinct to protect his mate from the advancing males, his own pack brothers.

They stopped on a dime, hands held up to show they meant no harm.

Shaking his head to clear it, he apologized, "Sorry … sorry. It's- Jeez, it's still really strong. The bond hasn't settled yet."

"The bond?" Embry asked hopefully, hanging back to give Jacob some room.

Adjusting Bella in his arms, the red hood fell back to reveal the rapidly-healing pink lines of his mark near the back of her throat.

A pale, dainty hand emerged from the red fleece folds to curl around Jacob's neck as a sleepy voice murmured, "Love you … my Jake…"

Embry's and Quil's faces lit up with smiles and they congratulated him, Embry going so far as to get in an 'I told you so'- "I told you your faith would be rewarded. You knew she was the one and never doubted it."

"I can't say I trusted the Spirits to let it go on this long, Emb, but I'm grateful, so grateful," he whispered, lowering his forehead to touch it to hers and brush a tender kiss across her lips.

"So… looks like we have even more to celebrate at the bonfire tonight. When is the wedding?" Quil elbowed him.

Jacob's eyes widened in disbelief, "Wedding?! Are you crazy? She just finished high school! She still wants to go to U-Dub. She's going to get her teaching degree, too. We'll apply for jobs at the Tribal School together when the time comes." He shook his head at his brothers, "Don't you two know anything about girls?"

"But, Jake-" Embry swallowed nervously, unable to finish.

Quil picked up the direction of Embry's thoughts and managed to voice the pack's greatest worry, "Won't that be really tough with her there and you- You'll be here, right?"

He watched Jacob with worried eyes.

"Yeah, it'll be tough, but we've talked about it. She's going to stay with me on the rez during semester and holiday breaks and I'll go see her on weekends as often as I can. I've got patrols and council duties, so I'll have to miss some weekends with her, but-"

"No. While she's in school and the two of you are kept apart that much, the pack will step up," Embry spoke as Beta for his brothers and sister, not because he would order it, but because he knew they would want to do this to make life just that little bit easier for their Alpha after the year of hell he'd only just survived, not to mention the four previous years of grueling school work, part time jobs, tribal duties, and patrolling.

Jacob had more than paid his dues and earned a little payback from his pack. Everything he did was to improve their lives or the quality of life on the rez for his people. He never put himself first, so his pack would do it for him this time.

"She'll wake soon. I need to get her home so she can change and clean up before Charlie and Renee start to wonder where she is and come looking for her. We pretty much bolted after the ceremony," he said with a smile, looking down at her in his arms, cocooned in his red hoodie and a dress that looked like it had seen better days.

A sly smile slid across Embry's lips, "Couldn't wait, huh?"

Jacob laughed good-naturedly, "No, not even one more minute. Neither could she." He flexed and tightened his hold, his bulging biceps no less comfortable than any feather bed to his new mate as she curled into the solid wall of his chest for a snuggle.

"You'll both be up for the bonfire tonight?" Quil inquired politely, worried that Bella may not come around quickly based on her semi-coherent state. He knew how intense the markings could be.

"She'll be fine by then. The marking—it took a lot out of us. I've seen it in the minds of the others, but… this was different. It felt different," Jacob shook his head, wishing he knew how to explain the difference between what he'd seen the others go through and the mind-blowing spiritual transformation he and Bella had shared. He didn't have the words.

Bella would. She was good with words. They would talk about it later that night.

"You're Alpha, man. Of course it was different. Probably stronger, too," Embry reasoned. "She'll be okay. You'll both be better now."

"Yeah," Jacob agreed. "We'll be okay…" he murmured, realizing that there really was no more her or him in his mind anymore, only them. Exhaling a breath he felt like he'd been holding for almost a year, he dismissed his brothers with a nod to get back to their duties.

Cradling her gently, he chuckled inwardly at the coincidence that chemistry was responsible for bringing them together. When selecting it as his area of expertise, it never occurred to him that another kind of chemistry would await him in the classroom—would play a role in his destiny.

Assured of his future with the beauty in his arms, he carried his mate home to prepare for the bonfire where she would finally be welcomed as part of the pack nearly a year after their undeniable chemistry brought them together in a meeting of minds, hearts, and souls.


P.S. I know, I know. It's a little much with all the 'chemistry', but leave me some love in the comments if you enjoyed Mr. Black, Forks High's newest chemistry teacher anyway. ;)