CHAPTER SEVENTY-FOUR

(JPOV)

Patrol went smooth with no new trails for us to follow, which meant there was no threat- for now. Quil and I made good time with running the border and stretched our coverage further than we ever had before, trying to test our timing with each run to see if we could beat the previous time. Training like this helped with scheduling and gave us more versatility as a pack. The more on watch we had, the better.

"I think that was our best run yet! No way we didn't beat our time from before. We were flying!" Quil huffed my way, skidding to a stop next to me.

"I think you're right."

"Too bad Embry couldn't make it. He would have loved this."

"That's alright. We'll fill him in when he gets back." I replied.

"How's Bella holding up?"

"She's hanging in there. Renee's back. She's living with Charlie."

"What the hell?" Quil exclaimed, shaking his head to me. "Never saw that one coming!"

"I know, man... it's got Bella all stressed. Which is the last thing she needs right now. Renee means well. I know she does, but her timing couldn't have been worse and I think Charlie's gonna end up losing his mind before all this gets squared away."

"Poor Charlie, that has to be rough on him but Bella will be alright, Jake. She's a lot stronger than she looks. I think she was always meant to be part of our family- made for it even. She levels you out. She's handled worse before."

"Thanks, Quil."

"No problem. It's getting close to midnight, you wanna make a run by the res to be sure she's okay?"

"Yeah, I told her I would check in." I replied, nudging into him before taking off on a dead run. Quil was fast to take off after me, but his speed no match for my own as we went. When we reached my back yard, I stilled my run, seeing the lights still on in the house just as a frantic howl came from the West. We took off toward the call, hearing Embry's loud thoughts as they filtered in to us.

"Meet me at the Lumber Yard! You won't believe this!"

"Just what the hell are you doing?" I snapped. "Don't send off an alert like that unless its needed! For a real emergency. You scared the fuck out of us, man. You can't do that."

"When you get here and meet me, you'll change your mind! It is important!"

His tone told us to hurry, our pace picking up to get to him faster. When the Lumber Yard came into view, Embry wasted no time in revealing to us why he had called us for the meeting in the first place. The images in his memory now shared for us to see. I huffed, shaking my head when a clear vision of Leah through Paul's mind came into view.

Shit.

He had slipped up somehow.

"Wait- Hold the hell up! What? Are you fucking kidding me right now?" Quil yelled. "Is this some kind of twisted joke? Cause it's really not funny. Jacob, are you seeing this?"

I was silent in response, shielding my thoughts from them both as I tried to defend Paul without revealing anymore to either of them. I had given him my word that I wouldn't and I intended to keep that word to him.

"You knew about this already, didn't you? And you didn't say anything?" Embry question, stepping toward me with a narrowed gaze.

"Back off Embry." I ordered, rising to my full height in front of him. I hated pulling Alpha command like that, but felt it was needed. "Paul is our brother and he doesn't want Leah to know right now. We need to respect his wishes."

"So- it's really true?" Quil timidly asked. "Leah and Paul? For shits sake! Of all the damn women for him to imprint on. It had to be her! It doesn't even make any sense. They hate each other."

"Not anymore." Embry huffed, sinking down into the mud beneath us. "Now he's tied to her... forever."

"That's not our question to ask, Quil. Paul imprinted on her for a reason and the both of you need to show them respect and support. Not cruelty and judgement. I mean it. No rude comments... nothing." I ordered, seeing them both lower their gazes under the command I gave them.

"What about Sam?" Quil meekly asked, his head still lowered to me in submission.

"We let Leah reveal that to him when she's ready to. We don't say a word before." I replied, taking a step forward.

"Did you see this coming? At all?" Embry huffed, his wolf gaze meeting mine.

"No- no one did. Paul's really struggling with this."

"I'd say... considering he's done half the women on the Res and Leah's already been hurt enough. If you ask me, this shit is a recipe for disaster." Embry added.

"An imprint changes that." I confidently replied. "If anyone can match Paul's cocky attitude and wild side, it's Leah. You know her. She won't take his shit for nothing and to be honest, I've seen her through his mind this past week and trust me- the imprints changed him already. He can't help but be drawn to her."

"He'll be lucky if she don't deck him when he tells her! Or when she finds out! Whichever comes first." Quil chuckled, despite my snarl of agitation.

"Oh, come on Jake. You know as well as we do that she'll probably kick his ass the second she finds out. And the worst part is, Paul will have to let her cause he won't be able to actually fight her back. This is going to be fucking priceless!" Embry quipped in return.

"Alright, that's enough." I huffed at them. "Remember what I said. Show support, and try to leave out the wise ass jokes."

"Sure, Jake. We'll do our best. But I can't make any promises." Quil countered, with a slight nod of his head.

As the mid- morning drew near, Paul himself joined us on patrol, starting his run an hour earlier than planned. Quil and Embry thankfully had enough common sense to keep quiet about he and Leah. I took note of his less than confident approach when he phased in and joined us by the river, his wolf gaze full of apprehension as he guarded his thoughts from us.

"Hey bro, you're kinda early. What gives?" Embry asked.

"I'm here to take over for you." Paul replied, coming to stand next to me. "You can go."

"Sweet." Embry huffed our way, taking off without a second glance back.

"Leah will be here soon so you can go when she arrives, Quil. Unless Jacob here says you can't."

"No- it's fine. Your free to go as soon as she shows." I confirmed, seeing Quil pace back and forth with unsettled energy as we all silently waited for Leah.

She was on time with her arrival and just as guarded as Paul was, her wolf eyes avoiding us both as she waited for my instructions. Quil hesitated only once before turning to leave, no doubt seeing the look I gave him in warning on keeping his mouth shut. When we were alone as just the three of us, I was direct and to the point for their patrol run.

"We already checked the border, so stay close by. Stick to the outskirts of the Res... don't wander too far. With it only being the two of you out here for a while, I'd like you closer rather than further out. Sound good? Any questions?" I asked, looking between the two of them with concern as they only nodded once in reply to my request.

This was the first time I had placed them together on the same patrol run since Paul had imprinted on her and I was beginning to doubt my choice. I couldn't afford to have either of them distracted. It was too dangerous. The cost too high. If something should get by them because of their distracted state, one of them could end up severely injured or worse.

Neither one of them would even face the other, although Paul seemed to be turning her way first, his wolf form visibly shaking from the effort it took to keep adequate distance between them. The pull was magnetic and fighting against it would only cause him pain. He looked to me once before gently nudging into her and I nodded slightly in encouragement.

"Come on, Leah. You lead the way and I'll follow." He offered, his tone itself softer with her than I had ever heard it. Leah started out then, her walk slow as Paul followed directly after her.

"Why? You always take lead?" She soon questioned, throwing him a perplexed look. "Since when do you wanna switch it up?"

"Nothing wrong with changing things up once in a while. I usually do take the lead. Thought maybe you'd like to for a change. Besides, you can hardly keep up with me so really I'm just doing you a favor here-"

"Oh really? Is that what you think?" She countered, taking on his challenge. "I keep up with you just fine and you damn well know it. Who are you trying to fool?"

"Prove it." He sarcastically replied, inching himself closer her, there gazes locked. "I bet I leave you in the dust, Clearwater."

"Uh- huh-... in your damn dreams, Paul. Catch me if you can." She laughed, taking off into the forest.

"You're the one who's dreaming." He replied, jolting forward after her in a dead sprint. My gaze lingering out after them as they disappeared.

I wouldn't pretend to understand the logic behind it, but it was clear that the spirits saw something even I didn't and they were not known to be misguided. Paul was close to breaking. Close to telling her. I could sense it and something told me that he would be what healed her- what put her back together after all this time. Leah was fierce and brazenly bold and Paul would be the one to give her back the part of herself she had lost before. He would mend her... one day at a time.

A/N: Okay, so I wanted to say I'm sorry for the many typos in the last chapter. I don't know if I was tired or what! But the perfectionist in me already corrected them this morning. Please forgive my overlook. Thank you for all your awesome reviews! You guys are all THE BEST! Please feel free to tell me your thoughts on this chapter and on Paul and Leah? :-) I personally love the pairing! I think they are a true power couple! I'm sorry this chapter was a bit short but I've been working on another story. If you'd like to check it out, it will be posted this evening. Till Next Time...