A/N: Hi, everyone! I decided to jump back into creative writing after taking about four or five years off, so I apologize if this first chapter is a little rough. I haven't picked up the Twilight series in a good seven years, but I always thought Embry was extremely underrated and deserved his happy ending, so I'm going to do my best to give it to him. Lol. I'm excited to see where this little writing journey takes me. Thank you in advance for reading along.
(Set three years after Breaking Dawn)
Chapter 1: Remember
They say that in stressful situations, all animals, including humans, will choose one of two responses to their perceived threat: fight or flight. That is, either they will stick around and stand their ground, or simply run away. Neither choice has a distinct advantage over the other, however Julia preferred the latter. Furthermore, she had perfected it.
It was an unusually warm May afternoon in the town of Port Orchard, and the South Kitsap High School women's lacrosse team was currently battling their biggest rival. The sweat on Julia's brow glistened as the sun beat down on her and her teammates; it was nearly blinding.
The Seattle Academy Cardinals currently had possession of the ball and Julia was looking for any opportunity to change that. She kept her gaze fixed on the girl carrying it, watching as her team's defense forced her to drop it. Immediately she sprang into action, running after the loose ball then scooping it off of the ground after a brief battle with two opposing players. Now with possession, Julia charged down the field, cradling the ball carefully while still trying to maintain her speed.
"Damn Butch, your girl's got wheels," a guy watching from the stands remarked to his friend.
"Yep. Fastest on the team."
With the nearest defender trailing her by about five feet, Julia cleared the offensive zone. She could feel the adrenaline pumping. The South Kitsap Wolves were all tied up with the Cardinals, and with only fifteen seconds left on the clock, she wanted to be the one to win it. As she closed in on the Cardinals' goaltender, Julia wasted no time in firing off a shot. The ball flew from Julia's stick high over the goaltender's right shoulder and into the back of the net. Dropping her stick, Julia breathed a sigh of relief and smiled up at the sky as her teammates came to celebrate her goal. She could feel her dad with her in that moment.
"That was a beaut, Jules," her best friend Natalie exclaimed, embracing her teammate. The two watched as a game official came over and picked up Julia's discarded stick, examining it before giving a curt nod to the other officials. It was a good goal.
"South Kitsap's ninth goal of the game is scored by team captain Julia Young," the announcer's voice echoed across the field. "That is Young, unassisted with eight seconds left in the last quarter."
"Thanks, Nat," Julia said, smiling again. "Now let's get this draw control and end it."
The teams joined each other again at the center circle for one last draw control. The ref blew her whistle, and one of Julia's teammates picked up the ball, playing keep away as the last seconds of the game expired. Soon enough, the buzzer sounded, signaling the end to the hard-fought match.
"Ladies and gentlemen, your South Kitsap Wolves have done it again!" The announcer exclaimed as Julia and her teammates came together to celebrate their win. They were tired, sweaty, and breathing heavily, yet their smiles spread from ear to ear.
"Make sure you join us here at South Kitsap Stadium this Saturday for the team's last home game of the regular season," The announcer reminded the crowd. "...Where we'll be celebrating the accomplishments of our graduating seniors."
The girls walked off the field, embracing each other and jumping around happily as they made their way over to the sidelines. As Julia began to gather her belongings, she thought of how much she would've loved for her dad to have been there, cheering her on at one of her last high school lacrosse games. However, she knew it was a desire that could never truly be fulfilled. She sighed, looking up and catching a glimpse of a familiar smiling face and head of dark hair coming closer to her.
"Great game, babe," yelled her boyfriend, Ben Butcher. He flashed her a smile and jogged over to meet her. A few of his friends trailed not too far behind him.
"Thanks, Ben," she smiled back as he placed a small kiss on her lips.
Julia's teammates greeted Ben and his friends. They all played for the South Kitsap men's lacrosse team. To say that the two teams were close would be an understatement.
"So we got the details squared away for this weekend," Ben said as Julia continued to collect her things. "Bonfire's gonna be at Cory's place on Saturday night. We'll start around ten I think."
"I suppose we might be able to make it," Julia said playfully.
"Aye, captain. Oh yeah, almost forgot," he replied with a sly smile. "It's mandatory."
"Then we'll be there."
Julia slipped her bag onto her shoulder, ready to go. Ben took her hand in his, interlacing their fingers together and pulling her in for another kiss.
"Hey, I'm gonna go get something to eat with the boys later. You interested?"
"Can't," she said, shaking her head. "It's Thursday, remember?"
"Ah, that's right…" Ben said, pulling Julia into a hug. She knew he understood. "Love you."
"Love you, too."
The two parted ways, Julia saying her goodbyes to her teammates before finding her mom in the stands.
"You played so well, sweetie," her mom said, putting her arms around her daughter. "Your dad would be so proud."
"Thanks, mom," Julia said, smiling and giving her a hug. "I just wish he was here."
"I know, Jules. I do, too."
Although it got a little easier to bear over time, not having her father around still very much hurt Julia. Today was especially difficult, as it marked ten years exactly since his passing. There were so many milestones and memories throughout the past decade she wanted to share with him, but couldn't.
"Let's get going, it's already five o'clock and we need to get dinner started," her mom said, giving Julia's hand a squeeze. The two made their way to her mom's car, sitting in comfortable silence on the way home until Julia's mom cleared her throat.
"So… Any update on the college situation yet?"
Julia hated that question. Not because she didn't know where she was going or what she was going to do, even though it had taken her a while to figure it out. Julia hated it because it was a reminder that she would be leaving her only living parent alone at home. It made her feel so guilty inside. She had put off telling her mom about her decision for the past month, afraid of her potential reaction.
"Well… Remember how I told you that Ben got a really good lacrosse scholarship to Le Moyne? And how I got an offer from there, too…?" Julia began hesitantly.
"Yes?" Her mom asked, pulling into the driveway and putting the car in park.
"I'm... Going to go for it. I'm going to call them and make it official on Monday," Julia said, feeling her heart beating heavily in her chest. She was nervous to see how her mom would react. After a few seconds to take in the news, her mom gave a soft smile.
"I'm very proud of you for making that decision. And I want you to know that I'll always support you no matter what."
She felt so relieved that her mom wasn't freaking out on her. To her surprise, her mom actually gave a small laugh.
"...Although a part of me wishes you were going to the University of Washington so you could be closer. New York is a really far drive."
"Don't worry, if I end up hating it at Le Moyne I'll come back to Washington, promise," Julia laughed too as they exited the car and went into the house to start dinner.
It was a tradition every year that on the anniversary of her father's death, Julia and her mom would remember him by cooking his favorite meal together and share memories of him to keep him alive in spirit. So on every May fourteenth, the two would make her mom's special oven roasted chicken with potatoes and vegetables. Once the pair got everything in the oven, they pulled out old photo books that Julia's mom had put together and sat down at the dining room table to reminisce as they waited for dinner to be done. The late afternoon sunlight filtered in through the window next to the table, falling on the pictures as the two of them flipped through the books. They looked through photographs of when Julia's parents were dating, their engagement, wedding, and then the many pictures that were taken after Julia was born.
"This is one of my favorite pictures," her mom said, pointing to one at the top left of the page.
The photograph was of a little Julia and her dad, standing on a dock hand-in-hand as the sun was setting over the water in the background. She looked just like him - warm bronze skin, chocolate colored eyes, and a head of thick, dark brown hair. She truly was her father's daughter.
"You were always daddy's little girl. He loved you so much."
"Tell me exactly how you guys met again," Julia said, smiling down at the picture.
"Well, I had just finished my bachelor's degree in education," her mom began. "I couldn't find a teaching job anywhere around Port Orchard..."
Julia had heard this story a handful of times, but it got better each time her mom told it. A friend of a friend knew of an opportunity and had suggested for her mom to apply for an open position teaching kindergarten. The only catch was, the school was situated in a little town called Neah Bay... All the way on the other side of the Olympic National Park on the Makah reservation.
"I was a little apprehensive about going so far from home. Besides that, I was an outsider. Clearly I'm not from any indigenous tribe," her mom said in a matter-of-fact voice, referring to her pale complexion, light brown hair, and hazel eyes. Julia looked almost nothing like her mother - if anything, they shared the same build and that was about it. When she started at her new school in Port Orchard after the accident, some of her teachers assumed she had been adopted.
"Anyways, I went, I did the interview, and they hired me on the spot. I fell in love with the town, and with the scenery. It was beautiful there."
Her mom thought she would stay for a few years, then try to find something else in a bigger town closer to where she grew up; somewhere where she would find a husband and start a family. However, as she always liked to say, life tends to give you what you're looking for where you least expect it.
"So I moved all my stuff into a tiny house that your grandma helped pay for. It was about a week before the school year was set to start and I had lots of setting up to do in my classroom. They were still doing maintenance work on the building."
"And dad was one of the guys working on it."
"Yes, yes he was. I'll never forget for as long as I live, he was up on a ladder, painting in the hallway. I walk by to go to my classroom and all of a sudden I hear a loud crash and then paint – paint was everywhere. All over the floors, and all over me. I was livid, Jules."
Julia laughed along with her mom. "And then…"
"And then he gets down off of his ladder, apologizing. Of course I was not handling the situation very well. But you know what he does? The man asks me out on a date!"
"And you said?"
"I said hell no," Julia's mom chuckled. "But he sought me out asked me again every day until the school year started. He was very charming. On the last day, I said yes."
"And the rest is history."
"It sure is. We dated, got married, bought our first house on the Makah reservation, and had you," her mom said, taking Julia's hand in her own and giving it a gentle squeeze. "Life was good."
Julia smiled up at her mom, studying her face. Behind the small wrinkles forming at the corners of her eyes and mouth and the grey hairs popping up here and there, she could see the young woman her mother used to be. The young woman who had the perfect life, until that one fateful day in May ten years ago…
"I'm going to go check on the food, I'll be right back," Julia's mom stood up and disappeared into the kitchen, leaving Julia to flip through the pictures on her own.
As her fingers traced over the images before her, she couldn't help but think back to life on the rez. It was simpler. Quieter. Everyone knew everything about each other and always looked out for one another. For the first eight years of her life, she had lived in Neah Bay on the Makah reservation. That was where she considered home to be, her place of birth and where most of her father's family lived. And he had lots of it – she had more aunts, uncles, and cousins than she could count on her two hands. Julia remembered seemingly endless summers spent being around them. She had been the closest to her cousin, Emily, who became more like the big sister she never had. The older girl was Julia's best friend, her mentor. The two did almost everything together. Julia's favorite thing to do with her cousin was spend hours at the beach, watching the waves roll in and combing the sand for treasures. She had once even gone on a trip with Emily down to La Push on the Quileute reservation, spending the day with Emily's maternal cousins Leah and Seth. Just like her mother, she had been living a perfect little life.
That all changed the day the police department showed up on their doorstep.
The fragments of this memory often haunted Julia in her nightmares, where she would relive the moment over and over again until she eventually woke up in a cold sweat. Some details were extremely vivid. In her mind's eye she could see the officer's face, mouth twisted into a frown as he approached her mother, who ordered her to go back inside the house. Obviously, being eight years old and a curious child, Julia didn't listen.
"Can I help you, officer?"
"It's your husband, Daniel. I'm afraid there's been a fishing accident, and…"
Julia had never heard her mother cry like that. Old enough to comprehend the basics of what was going on, but too young to calmly process the information, Julia remembered how her whole body seemed to turn off and go numb. The next thing she knew, she was running. She did not stop until she reached the beach that she and Emily frequented to look for shells and other interesting things. Standing alone by water's edge and watching as the little waves rolled onto the shore, it was not until she became completely still that she allowed her tears to fall.
Lost in her memory, Julia didn't even hear her mother come back into the room.
"...Jules, I said dinner is ready. Help me set the table."
Relaxing in her bedroom after dinner, Julia picked up the phone and dialed Emily's number. It was one she had committed to memory; she talked to Emily at least once a week. No matter what, Emily was always there with an open mind and a listening heart.
"Hello?" Emily's soft voice sounded from the phone.
"Hey Em, it's Julia."
"Hey sweetie! How are you feeling today?" Emily very much knew what the day was and what it meant. After all, Julia's father was her uncle.
"I'm good. Great, actually. And you?"
"Better now that you called. I have so many wedding things on my mind and it's driving me nuts," Emily said, sighing through the phone. She was getting married in a little over a month to her longtime fiancé, Sam. "Tell me something exciting."
"The team won our game today. I scored the game winner."
"That's great, hun! I'm so proud of you."
"Thanks, Em. Your turn."
"Hmm… Sam and I picked up my wedding dress the other day from the tailor in Port Angeles. It's all ready for the big day! Oh, speaking of dresses… Did you get your bridesmaid dress yet?"
"And it's blush pink, right?" Julia laughed a little at how specific Emily was.
"Yes, don't worry, Em," she reassured her cousin.
"I can't wait to see it. And you, of course."
"I can't wait to see you, too. I miss you."
"I miss you too, hun. Just a few short weeks and you'll be here. I'll take you down to First Beach and we can go treasure hunting just like we used to."
"That sounds like a plan to me."
Although she had moved back to her mother's hometown of Port Orchard after the accident, Julia would visit her family back in Neah Bay at least once a year up until the time she turned thirteen. By the time she started high school, she had become busy, picking up the sport of lacrosse and devoting much of her time to it. Emily had moved to the Quileute reservation around the same time anyways to live with Sam in La Push. Julia hadn't seen her in person since then, and felt that her visit was long overdue.
"Great," Emily said. "Well, I should probably be heading to bed soon. I have to get up early tomorrow to get out in the garden before it's supposed to rain."
"Alright. Goodnight, Em," Julia responded. "Love you."
"Love you too, sweetie. Goodnight."