A/N: Thank you so much for your kind words and reviews, I truly do appreciate them all!
Disclaimer: anything recognisable belongs to SM, I own nothing.
(The themes and scenes in this chapter are for fiction purposes only, I am truly sorry if anyone is offended or affected in any way.)
I hope you enjoy this, keep tissues close by, x
15th Dec (Evening)
Leah finally makes her way down the stairs, Sue had left earlier and I had been instructed to bring both her children and the deserts with me. Leah enters the kitchen and makes her way over to the sink, refusing to meet our eyes. She's wearing a high-waisted sequin pencil skirt that end mid-thigh and an off-the shoulder black loose fitted top. She takes a drink from the glass she filled before and turns to both Seth and I, Seth clears his throat and speaks first, "You plannin' on heading someplace else after the bonfire?"
She just shrugs and finishes her water, "Nope." She meets my eyes and appraises me, "Nice Swan, I approve." I snort.
"Well now that I have your opinion my life is complete," I snark and Seth giggles. Leah rolls her eyes at me, "You look hot, Lee."
She raises a suggestive brow at me and I shrug innocently, "I'm secure." We all laugh and pile out and into the truck, I, myself had decided to keep it simple, changing into some black fitted jeans and a purple light sweater. I wasn't in the mood to impress anyone really, I was actually feeling quite depressed after what had gone down this evening. I was also feeling like a terrible person after what went down earlier. I sigh heavily and start the truck.
We ride the short distance to the beach and Seth takes most of the treats from me, running down to where the crowd has gathered. I watch him, making sure that he makes it to a table safely without dropping the fruits of my labour. When I'm satisfied I turn and link arms with Leah.
"I really didn't think you would come here tonight, Lee." I say as we walk carefully towards the roaring fire.
She shrugs, "I'd have nothing better to do, you're here and so is Seth and Mom. I'd be sat at home all alone," she shrugs again for good measure. When we reach the crowd a tall Native American girl bounces over to us, "Oh god!" Leah whispers dramatically under her breath. I furrow my brow then turn back to the girl; she's not as tall as Leah but has similar high cheek bones and straight black hair.
"Leah!" she squeals and throws her arms around Leah's waist, effectively pushing me away from them, I raise a brow at Leah over the girl's shoulder and she mouths 'help' at me. The girl finally breaks away and holds Leah by the shoulders, "It's so good to see you! Can you believe it?! Sam and Em are getting married and hav-"
I cut her off by walking into her line of vision and standing shoulder to shoulder with Leah and then stare the girl down, what was she thinking, bringing that up, was she crazy?! Leah sighs beside me and the girl finally let's go of her, narrowing her eyes at me.
Leah clears her throat, "Erm, B, this is Jennifer," I stick my hand out to her to be polite and she smiles tightly at me as she takes my hand. "She's uh, Emily's sister." My eyes widen and the girl- Jennifer- beams at me, either she is extremely stupid or she doesn't know about Leah's past- and looking at her I can't be sure.
"Yep! That's right, Leah and I are cousins, and I'm Emily's sister, soon to be-" She goes on and on so I blur her out.
I stop listening as Leah nudges me with her elbow and nods in the direction of Sam; I follow her gaze and almost gasp. He's kind of checking her almost. He's staring at Leah almost appreciatively but also disappointedly, as if he isn't okay with her being dressed like that in front of all the guys here tonight. I sigh under my breath, you and me both Buddy.
He meets my eyes then and winces, I shrug at him and then smile. He gestures me over and I make my excuses then leave Leah's side, the Jennifer girl is happy to have all of Leah's attention whilst Leah begs me with her eyes not to go.
"Hey, Sam, Emily," I reach them and Sam pulls me into a warm hug, I return it firmly, squeezing his waist, Emily hugs me then too.
"You made it! Sorry about my sister by the way, she's like that around people." She says and I smile at her.
"It's fine Em. And I couldn't deny your offer, it'll be fun, ooh, I made cookies and brownies, I hope that's okay." I point over to the table laden with other trays of food people had bought along.
Emily winks at me, "It's perfect."
She offers me a drink and we make small talk for a while, "Well look who we have here," another muscled arm comes up over my shoulder and I turn to see Jared standing next to me, a petite Quileute woman clutching his hand on his other side. I laugh at him.
"Hey Jared." He smirks down at me and I begin to frown, sure it must have something to do with –gulp- Paul, he starts as if he just remembered something and brings his hand forward effectively pulling the girl forward.
"This is my Kim," he announces proudly and I smile at them both seeming so in love, Kim blushes and steps forward to take my hand.
"Nice to meet you, Bella." I raise my brow at how she knows my name but she just blushes further and gazes up at Jared.
"Bella, Kim?" Both of us turn to find Emily gazing at us, "do you mind helping me set up the food." I follow her, leaving Sam and Jared behind.
"And then…" Jessica trails off, "… he kissed me!" The outrage in her voice almost makes me snort out my coke. Some of the guys and girls from school arrived a short while ago in Mike's suburban. I had met Ben and found that he and Angela were in fact perfect for each other. Angela had blushed profusely when I had told her that.
I cut my gaze to Jess, "What did you expect, he took you out on a romantic date, held your hand and walked you to your door, isn't that what comes next, like tradition?"
Jessica snorts, "Tradition my ass, we've only been dating two weeks." She folds her arms over her chest and sticks her chin up. I laugh at her and eat a couple more French fries.
"You mean beside the two months that you dated before that and then the three weeks before that, oh and he was your date to prom, don't forget that." I send her a pointed look and she glares at me and I roll my eyes. "You guys have been off-again-on-again for an almost half a year now so please spare me the 'it's only been two weeks' crap."
"That doesn't count, this is a fresh start for both me and- Mike! Hey baby, how are you?" She rolls her eyes as he sits down on her other side and kisses the side of her head, I smile at them."
"'Sup Bella?" He shoots me his all-American school boy grin.
I shrug and roll my eyes at Jess' pleading look. I scan the crowds of people not particularly sure who I'm looking for, Charlie meets my gaze over the small fire in the middle of the pit and raises his beer at me. I smile and get to my feet, "I'm gonna go say hi to my Dad, I'll catch you guys later."
Jessica gives me the 'don't you dare walk away' look but I ignore her, finding the fact that she hates Mike's PDA hilarious.
"Hey Dad," I lean down and give him a hug.
"Hey Bells, you okay?" He returns it with one arm and places a sweet kiss to the top of my head.
I nod, "I'm fine."
"Bella," Billy smiles at me from where he sat on Charlie's other side and I lean down to give him a hug too.
"Bells?" I freeze and turn slowly, both our dads are silent as Jake approaches me, "How are you?"
I smile politely at him, "I'm fine thank you." Then I spot Leah and Seth over his shoulder, I gesture over to them and he turns to see where I'm pointing and nods, "I'm gonna go meet them." He steps aside and I walk past him feeling like a total idiot, I wanted things to be normal but was preventing that from happening myself.
Leah eyes me as I approach, "You still hate him, huh?" I roll my eyes and take the half eaten hot dog from her hands and bite into it myself.
"I don't hate him, you know that, I… just don't know what to feel." Leah nods silently and Seth smiles at me.
"These cookies are amazing Bella." He says and then works at shoving a whole one into his mouth.
I grin at him, "So were they worth the wait?" he smiles sheepishly and nods his head.
Twenty minutes later and I find myself being twirled by no other than Embry Call.
He spins me repeatedly with his right hand whilst his left clutches Mia to his chest, continuously twisting and turning us. Mia giggles loudly in his arms whilst making happy baby noises and screeching, she grasps tightly to his hair every time she thinks she may fall.
I dance with him for what seems like hours, moving in close and out, twirling myself on his free hand, inwards and outwards. Leah and Seth were next to us but had tired and gone to sit down. For once I was the one left on the dance floor but probably only because after three cokes, (and one beer that no-one needed to know about) I still had some energy left.
He catches me as I spin in towards him, my back to his chest and then we sway our hips in synchronisation lightly from side to side. Mia puts her hand on my cheek and I go to hold it when someone catches my eye. I freeze for a moment in shock and then my jaw drops when I see who she's dancing with.
The evil glint in her eyes doesn't go amiss and she purposefully arches her back, grinding her ass into his crotch. I swallow and turn around.
Embry's smile drops as he notices my expression, he lifts his head questioningly. I shake my head at him and continue swaying with him. Even Mia is quiet now. He turns us again so I am once again facing them.
Lauren and Paul.
Lauren turns also until Paul's back is facing me and smirks at me over his shoulder. I try to ignore her, to focus on the dance between Embry and I but as she reaches up and lowers his face to hers my heart drops to my stomach and I stop moving altogether. She kisses him, her eyes still on me and then they close in what can only be lust.
I swallow loudly and pull away from Embry and then begin to walk in the opposite direction of him. I ignore the calls of my name and brush past Paul and Lauren, she smiles at me triumphantly and Paul looks shocked for a second. I face forward and stalk away from the bonfire.
Angry tears make their way down my cheeks. I have no right to be mad at him, he's still mad at me for ignoring his hurt and focusing on my own. I sigh and wipe at my cheeks then notice some large rocks. I climb onto the shorter ones and then perch on one of the higher ones and stare out at the ocean.
"You saw, huh, Little Red?" His voice startles me and I jump and then sigh angrily. He snorts, "You know you have no right to be upset."
I turn to glare at him; his arms are folded over his plain black tee. He's wearing dark jeans and his feet are clad in work boots for once, "I'm not upset," I say but the waver in my voice just makes me sound pathetic.
"Not so nice to be on the other side is it?" My brow furrows for a moment but when I realise what he's implying my eyes widen and I sit up straighter. He continues to stare me down and then reaches into his pocket and pops a mint in his mouth seeming nonchalant.
"I didn't ask for him to kiss me, when is that gonna register with you?! And last time I checked we weren't together! I don't need this from you, you are not my boyfriend!" I snap in anger.
I go to jump of the rock and storm away but Paul's hand hold me by the hips, keeping me sat on the rock. He kneels between my legs bringing us face to face with each other. I swallow loudly and he watches me with careful eyes, "Easy there, Little Red." His hands hold my hips a little too tight and I whimper, his eyes dart down and loosen their grip slightly.
He meets my eyes fully and I can't help it, tears start to fall down my cheeks once again and I close my eyes, gosh he should just leave right now.
"I don't want to do that, Little Red." His husky voice whispers.
My eyes snap open and appraise him questioningly, he smirks, "Yeah you did say that out loud."
I sniffle and he brings both hands up to cup my cheeks, "I don't know why I feel this way," he whispers, bringing his face close to mine. His breath fans over my face and I inhale sharply as my heart speeds up in apprehension.
"Feel like what?" I whisper back to her and he swallows thickly and glances down between us.
"Drawn to you…I can't figure it out. I've asked Sam about it but he can't come up with anything either, I definitely haven't impr-…" he swallows, his Adam's apple bobbing, "I just can't figure it out."
We are so close now, I can feel the heat radiating off of him and warming me. In this moment, under the moon and the stars I feel confident. "Peach?" I whisper.
"Hmm?" he breathes.
"Let me help you figure this out…"
And then I lean forward and kiss him.
He freezes and the confidence vanishes, I panic and pull away from him blushing furiously. Worry clouds my brain making me doubt myself and I can't help but notice the similarities of this situation and my past 'kisses' with… Edward.
He cups my cheek to bring my gaze to his and then rolls his eyes at me and leans in again, my heart pounds deliciously beneath my chest.
His lips are soft and warm, so warm, and I know I'm no good at this but I try my best, he inhales sharply against me then pushes his lips harder against mine. Paul then takes my bottom lip between his own and sucks gently before biting slowly, I whimper and he pulls away our lips making a smacking noise.
We never deepen the kiss further, just continuing at this pace, breaking apart now and then and his hands once again trail down my body and grasp my hips gently yet firmly.
Still shy with my own hands I clasp them at the back of his neck and slowly move my index finger along the soft hairs I find there.
He pulls away again; his eyes are still closed and he lets out a breath. He is so beautiful. I scan his face with my own eyes, searching for any sign of disgust, when I don't find any I begin to relax again. His eyes pop open and he watches me, I blush, biting my lip and he smiles, like he thinks I'm cute. He leans in once more and moves his lips with mine.
I bury my hands deeper into his hair feeling more practiced, his tongue sweeps my bottom lip and I freeze, unsure if I want that yet. Paul doesn't waver at my rejection to deepen the kiss but instead continues as we were before.
"Ahem?" an annoying female voice interrupts our kiss.
I jump, disconnecting our lips and Paul drops his head onto my right shoulder. I try to calm my staggered breathing and glance to the left to find Leah, arms folded over her chest and smirking at me. I blush, "Uh, hey Leah," she looks as though she's trying to hold back her laughter and Paul snorts against my neck before placing a kiss there and standing to his full height.
"Can we help you Clearwater? You lost?" He glowers at her but Leah can hold her own against his temper and glares right back.
"No Lahote. But by the way your hands were travelling on my little sister's body; I'd say you are the one that's lost." She snarks
"Lee…" I groan out in hopes that she'll leave us alone, her glare cuts to me and she shakes her head.
"You, back to the bonfire right now, don't make me tell your dad on you." She starts to walk away giving Paul and me a moment to ourselves; I sigh and turn to face him. He smiles at me, leaning down and pecks me on the lips and I smile against him.
"Let's head back Little Red."
He doesn't hold my hand as we make our way back to the bonfire, slowly catching up with Leah and I find that I don't mind. I don't need him to hold my hand and for once in my life I'm not insecure. We catch Leah up and she sends us a sideways glance, glaring at Paul and muttering about how 'if you touch my little sister again', I roll my eyes and Paul just smirks at me.
We finally reach the bonfire, the fire is ever-burning in the middle and everyone seems to gather round it now, sitting in groups. Over the fire I see Emily about to stand up, she stands up to her full height and then doubles over screaming. I jump at the sound.
Another scream rips from her and she clutches her stomach falling to the ground, everyone is silent making her cries sound louder, my eyes are wide with horror as I watch a dark coloured liquid runs down her legs, staining her dress. I gulp and turn to Paul, his eyes are wide too and I go to speak to him but he backs away from me, his gaze never leaving Emily.
As he disappears into the forest my attention turns back to Emily.
Jared is trying to push people back, Embry is helping him. Sam is crouched next to Emily on the floor, beside me Leah is frozen in place. A sense of panic rises within me, making me feel sick to my stomach, my body twitches with this need to do something.
I grasp Leah's hand and run forward through the crowd till I reach Embry, he growls at me until he realises it's me and lets me through. I let go of Leah and kneel beside Emily, Sue has made her way over too trying to calm Emily's whimpers. My eyes search the crowd, "Dad!" I shout and he comes up next to me, "The cruiser! Take them to the Medical Centre, with the siren you'll get there faster, hurry!"
Sam lifts Emily and holds against him, Charlie shakes his head at me, "Bells, I've been drinking, I can't."
I want to scream at him but instead I use a deadly serious voice, "Let Sam drive, just get them there now!" Sam disappears with Emily in his trembling hands, the crowd part for them to go through and Charlie and Sue follow. I rise to my feet unable to take my eyes of the pool of blood they've left behind.
Someone shakes my arm and I turn to find Leah gaping at me, terror swimming in her eyes. "What do we do?" she whispers and I swallow past my emotion, focusing on doing what I do best; taking care of others.
"Let's go." I whisper back, she nods and holds out her hand to me. "Help Embry and Jared get everyone home and then meet us at the Medical Centre," I instruct both Jake and Seth as we pass them.
We head to the truck and I get in to drive, Leah is seated beside me, we make it there in record time and I pull up then open my door. A hand on my right wrist stops me from stepping out, I turn to Leah, she's sat facing through the windshield, tears swimming in her eyes. "Lee, you know we have to go in, you gonna be okay?" I ask softly.
She nods and sniffles, "It's gonna be so hard…" she swallows and I sit back waiting for her to finish, "I used to hate her so much, she just… I don't know if I can face her Bella." She meets my eyes then, a tortured look on her face.
I smile softly at her, though it doesn't reach my eyes, "Forget about the past, right now, I think they are what matters most." I hold her hand for a moment. "They need you, you're family to Emily."
Leah nods and then pulls her shoulders back, "The most important thing that could happen in her life and I didn't even know she was pregnant, didn't know I was going to be an aunty. I need to see her." Leah whispers brokenly.
I nod and we make our way inside. The receptionist eyes us warily as we approach her desk, Leah speaks for me, "We're direct family of Emily Young, any news on her? Can we see her?"
The receptionist lowers her glasses and nods at Leah then tells her Emily's room number, she then points at me. "You are not direct family, so you'll have to wait here." Leah grasps my hand and glares at the woman.
"Family isn't defined by skin colour." I say, then stalk off with Leah before she can catch up with us, we pass Charlie on the way and he says nothing, just pulling each of into a firm hug.
"I'm gonna crash at the Clearwater's." I nod at him then carry on to Emily's room.
As we approach, I see Sam sat on a chair opposite the door, barely holding his quivering form together. Leah tenses, Jennifer is pacing the door muttering to herself; every second or so Sam looks up and glares at her.
Sam's head snaps in our direction and Leah slows her pace, letting go of my hand and walking behind me. Sam sends me an exasperated look and I stalk forward blocking Jennifer's path and stop her from mindlessly trotting the corridor. "You should go and wait at home." I say in an even tone.
She glares at me, "Who are you to tell me that, you stupid white girl," Sam growls beside us and Jennifer glare weakens as she glances at him sideways. "My nephew or niece's life is in danger and you want me to leave." She glares at me.
I cross my arms and nod, "I think it would be best if you did."
She goes to say something when the door opens and Sue steps out, she kneels in front of Sam and whispers something to him, his shoulders slump and my eyes water at the sight. Sue then rises and turns to us girls, "I agree with Bella, you should go and wait at the house."
Jennifer glances around her realising its three on one and snorts before turning and storming out. I meet Sue's eyes, 'the baby' I mouth at her and she shakes her head and then ducks to hide the tears forming. Leah lets out a gasp behind me and rushes forward.
"Mom, can I see her?" She manages to blubber through her silent sobs.
Sue glances over at Sam who is still sat stock still and then nods and disappears down the corridor.
I watch as Leah makes her way over to Sam and kneels between his knees. He freezes and his head snaps up.
They share a private moment but I can't look away. "I'm so sorry Sammy," she whispers and then kisses the top of his head. His eyes close momentarily and Leah stands abruptly and goes into Emily's room. I sigh and make my way over to Sam and sit beside him.
His jaw is clenched so tight and his hands are fisted, his whole body tense trying to fight off the tremors. I reach up and clasp him left shoulder and he jumps, tears roll down my eyes at seeing such a strong man about to crumble, I huff and let go of him.
"Sam," I say in the sternest voice I can muster and his head snaps to me. He gazes into my eyes. I gesture forward, "Sit on the floor." His brow furrows but he slides off of the chair and onto the floor, he leans his head back against the chair, more tears fall at the hopeless look on his face.
"S-Sam?" He once again glances up at me. "You don't have to act brave with me." I move forward and pull his head into my lap; he buries his face against my thighs.
And then he breaks.
Sobs rip through his body, shaking the both of us and I curl my body over his protectively, crying silently for the loss of the Pack and murmur soft words and condolences to him. He just sobs harder against me, I can feel the wetness of his tears through me.
After Sam had gotten back under some semblance of control I had let him go so he could see Emily. Leah had come back out shortly after her eyes red-rimmed but she looked content, "We're family," is all she had said as we made our way outside. I hadn't been to see Emily but I'd come by tomorrow.
I drop Leah off at her house and make my way to Sam and Emily's place. I cut the engine and slide down from the truck, the screen door is close but the main door open. All the lights are on but the house is quiet.
A figure is sat at the top of the stairs, once closer I recognise Paul. He's sat there with his shoulders slumped and hands clasped between his open knees. I move to sit next to him on the top step next to, "Jennifer asleep?" I ask.
He nods. I sigh and lean into him and he throws his left arm around me and pulls me closer into his side, "Why weren't you there?" I whisper. As expected anger flashes across his face before he gains control, then he just looks sad. He lets me go and moves to sit further down the stair and turns so he's facing me then grasps my hands, I watch him with careful eyes.
"Those things that Jake said about my mother-," he cuts himself off and tears silently run down his cheeks, my heart clenches and I lean forward to kiss them away.
"Hey it's okay Paul, you don't have to say anything." I say trying to calm him a little. I've never seen him show this much emotion before.
He shakes his head, "My mom-," he takes a steadying breath, "What happened tonight, I've seen it before, many times, my mom got pregnant a lot, she miscarried a lot, I just… couldn't stay and watch." He swallows thickly, "I know that makes me a coward and a shit friend but I just couldn't."
I reach up and smooth the hair back off of his forehead, "Sam's been in your head before and Emily's a good person, they'll understand, it's okay to be insecure sometimes Peach, it doesn't make you weak…"
He glances up at me and I lean forward and kiss him softly, his eyes flutter shut and there is nothing I can describe him as in this moment besides beautiful.
"… It makes you human." I whisper against his lips.
A/N: Please review and tell me what you think, hugs and cuddles, Chand x