Disclaimer – I own nothing
A.N – Thank you guys so much! You're all so wonderful that I could give you each a hug! I know it's been a while, but I just couldn't get this chapter right for the life of me. I saw a few people were confused as to whether or not Jacob imprinted on Bella, and the answer is: Jacob did not imprint on Bella. Sorry for the confusion! But, hopefully this chapter will be everything you guys hoped it would be.
To KatherineKatrinaBloomSalvatore, PastOneonta, teamjacob0729, BeckieT108, xXElite WolfXx, YaleAceBella12, echo58, Conflicted Soul, bellbee24, deadliestdistractionRN, Arwengeld, MageVicky, Twisted Musalih, 4Gracie04, PsychKey: I'm so grateful that you guys continue to read and enjoy this story! You are all my muse, and I take your words as motivation to keep going when words want to fail me. This is honestly the hardest thing I've ever written. Writing from not only a wolf's but a teenage boy's POV is hella-hard for me, but knowing I haven't completely failed and that you guys are enjoying it is everything.
To all who followed, favorited, and/or read silently: Thank you for reading! :D
/Gravity is working against me
Gravity wants to bring me down
Oh, I'll never know what makes this man
with all the love that his heart can stand/
–Gravity, John Mayer
Chapter 3 – Good, Bad, and Ugly Truths
Bella's hands shook the longer she sat in my kitchen, silent, taking in everything that I'd told her, so I mentioned that I was hungry. I knew she'd jump at the chance to make me food, to do anything other than contemplate that I wasn't as normal as she thought I was…or so I thought, but her hands still shook as she grabbed things in the kitchen and I knew it wasn't all about me. It couldn't be.
"Alright, Bells," I finally cut in after her third attempt to open the seasoning. What the hell was she making anyway? "What's going on?"
"What do you mean?" she didn't even turn to me, which made my hands shake.
Relax, relax—but the blatant disrespect was getting to my wolf. Everything about her ignoring me was wrong on so many levels.
"I mean," I got up and invaded her space. My hand grasped her forearm without my permission, but I tried to be gentle as I turned her to me. "Why are you so anxious? And don't say it's nothing, because clearly it is."
"I just—I realized something, that's all." Her eyes were on everything except me, which was a red flag. But suddenly there was an itch in my chest, and I knew what was coming.
"What did you realize?" I tried to speak softly, but fuck, the itching in my chest was getting worse, and it was like pulling teeth to get Bella to just come on out with it.
"You said there's been vampires running around lately…"
The itching had turned to scratching—so deep I was sure my chest must've been bleeding on the inside for sure.
"So, that means other vampires that aren't the Cullens," she breathed out harshly, but I still didn't understand what the big deal was.
Focus, focus, but the scratching had accelerated to clawing.
"Do any of them have red hair?" Bella asked quietly.
My chest burned, and I grunted. I wanted to pay attention to what she was saying, the importance of it, because I knew somewhere in my head that she'd just made a fucking huge revelation, but I couldn't focus.
Not on her. Not when one of my pack needed me so clearly.
"Shit, Bella," I back away clumsily, swaying, shaking, burning from the need to get to Paul. "I'm sorry—we're not done here, I swear, but I've gotta go."
"Why? What's wrong?" Her eyes were frantic and worried and on me like I always wanted them to be. But PaulPaulPaul.
"Paul needs me," I gasped and almost went crumbling to my knees, the burning was so much worse than it'd ever been.
I could see the confusion in Bella's eyes—she didn't understand. She couldn't understand, but she waved me away anyway. "Go—go to him. I'll still be here when you get back."
I turned without another word and ran out of the house; love burned in my stomach for her deeper than I thought it could.
When I finally, fucking finally, reached Paul, my eyes zeroed in on all the blood. There was too much—fuck, what happened?
He was on the floor, breathing harshly, fists clenched, body turned into itself like a baby. The scent of blood consumed, but I just needed to focus. I just needed to reach him.
But my body walked so slowly, it was like my entire world was in slow motion—until it wasn't and suddenly, everything was rushing to me.
The blood covered my hand as I turned him around, the sound of his heartbeat played drums in my own veins, the sound of another heart beat running away drummed out of sync, and I knew what had happened.
"Paul," I croaked out. Shit, what was I supposed to do? But my body transformed without thought, and I let my instincts take over. My rough tongue licked his wounds, and I couldn't think.
There was nothing except the heat of Paul's body, the song of his heart, the steady rhythm of his breath, and my own imperative to protect, protect, protect.
I could feel the need of revenge, slaughter, slowly climbing the more color there was in Paul's cheeks, the warmer his body became.
That fucker—Paul was my warrior to order, my brother to protect, and I felt the failure acutely as I phased back, and looked at Paul's face. He must've seen something in my face, because he tried to sit up suddenly, but he didn't have the strength and I firmly kept him down with one palm.
"Don't, please," Paul whispered brokenly, and I just couldn't.
What kind of animal was I that Paul, proud and loyal, fierce, was begging me not to attack the person we both knew was responsible. If Paul wasn't a wolf, he'd be dead.
I begged him to understand, "I can't let this go."
My bones shook with the strength to shift, change, find and attack—kill.
"Please, please" Paul's eyes were wide with pain and a love I wouldn't be able to understand even if I had a thousand years. It was a love that gave without ever taking, and he was stronger than all of us combined that he still found the will to continue giving—even after this.
But never again.
I shook my head, and bent to pick him up. He struggled, but my wolf was too close. A growl ripped through me and and echoed in the forest. I needed to take care of him, and I needed him to let me.
Paul whimpered as I lifted him in my arms, and carried him through the woods. Fuck, a normal person would've been dead ten times over.
The savagery that Lahote Senior must've committed—there weren't words for me to contemplate. it was all too much.
Once we made it through the tree line, I halted. Bella was still in there, I could smell her scent as it wafted to me. It felt as though I could taste her on the wind, and shit I wanted her—her comfort, her love, her.
Paul had fallen asleep in my arms, and this was so fucking weird, but it made my wolf practical purr to know that he felt so safe. To know that we, I, made him feel that safe.
I took a few steps, but I couldn't go further because I could see Bella through the window, wiping down the counter. Her hair was tied up high, strands framed her face, and she was everything good and pure in the world. Shit, she'd always be too good, too pure for a monster like me.
She didn't deserve to see Paul like this, broken, bruised, crushed beneath the weight of monsters worse than us—men with cruelty in their hearts born from hatred of their own pathetic lives and situations.
Paul didn't deserve to be humbled like this, showing so much vulnerability in front of a girl he didn't even know, except through images in my mind.
None of us deserved any of this.
But I could hear the wheels of my dad's wheelchair turn; he deserved to see the kind of actions he'd turned a blind eye to all his life.
With that in mind I walked on. My body felt heavy as Bella walked into the living room and gasped at the sight in front of her: fuck, I hadn't even thought about the fact that we were both naked.
Billy also appeared, but his gasp was filled with a horror that came with a touch of guilt—just enough to tell me he knew exactly who had done this.
My body started to shake in anger, the rage boiled too high, too hot, that I was sure I was burning the wood beneath my feet. But my shaking jostled Paul, and his painfilled whimper drained me of everything I had but sadness and despair.
"Son," Billy started, but the wolf was too close for me to hear him. I growled low, and walked on to my own room. Maybe I should've told him to lay down in my room in the first place; my scent all around him would calm him, help settle him.
Shit, we were levels of fucked up, yet I couldn't help but be grateful. As I laid his body on my bed, and wrapped the sheet around him, I saw some of the tension leave his face; I was so fucking grateful despite myself that my eyes burned in relief.
"What happened?" Bella whispered the second I appeared back in the living room wearing a pair of old and worn shorts. I didn't know what to tell her. The truth was too fucked up, and lies didn't role off my tongue as easily as they should.
"Jacob, I—" Billy tried, but I lifted my palm.
Focus, focus. Relax, relax.
I couldn't stop the bubble of hate that rode my veins when I heard his voice. This was the voice of the man who let someone hurt Paul. This was the voice of someone who knew, who had known all along what was happening, and had done nothing.
I grit my teeth, and just breathed for a second.
This was still the man who loved me, who had raised me. This was still my father, my dad. I needed to keep that in perspective, but it was hard as fuck when he was also this enabler.
It wasn't until this moment, looking into the eyes of Billy Black, Chief, father, friend, that I realized that a man could be so many things—that a man needed to be many things.
"I want him gone," I spoke softly. If I raised my voice any higher, I'd lose my shit for sure; I didn't want Bella to see me that way...I didn't want Billy to see me that way, either.
"It's not that simple," he tried to explain, but I was beyond explanations.
I walked until I reached him, and knelt on one knee so that I was level with his gaze. I didn't want there to be any confusion about how much I meant my words. "Either Paul Senior leaves La Push, or he'll be dead before night falls."
Bella's heartbeat sped up, but I couldn't focus on her. Not when I needed Billy to believe that I meant what I said.
Paul didn't want me to hurt his dad because he loved him, but I couldn't make that promise. Not when the wolf itched to find, to kill, destroy, burn so that the ashes of his enemies could be smelled for miles. Paul Lahote Sr. was as much an enemy as any vampire.
He was so much worse to me, and I couldn't make promises to Paul because I was too much of a monster too.
Fuck, this was all I could do for Paul.
Billy must've seen that, or at least believed that I was serious because he nodded solemnly.
"I'll make a few calls. It might take a few days for him to properly leave—"
"Today," I snapped. My control was slipping, and everything inside of me saw the equivocation as defiance. I felt bad, but I couldn't risk killing Paul's father. And I would—if I even smelled him from a mile away, I'd rip into him until his blood was the only thing I could taste for days.
Shit, I'm so fucked up.
Bella rushed to me, and her hand slipped into mine. She kneeled next to me, completely ignoring the fact that we looked like we were praying to the altar of a chief.
"I'm gonna stay inside for now," I breathed slowly, focused on my own heartbeat. Only, I noticed that my heartbeat was the same as Bella's. We, and damn did I need that just then. "I'm not gonna leave the house until he's left and truly gone. But I won't be trapped in this house for his sake. So, he has today. If night falls and he's still here…I won't be able to stop myself."
"I understand," Billy nodded, and he looked a bit like an old-man bobble head. But he didn't understand, not really, not what he thought he did.
"Tell him that he owes his life to Paul. If it were up to me, he'd already be dead."
Billy's eyes widened in shock and enough horror that my wolf relaxed. This was who I was now. This is who Billy needed to learn to love as his kid...because there was no going back. And maybe, after two weeks, I didn't want to pretend that I wasn't more Alpha than Jake anymore.
He rolled away, back to his bedroom to make his phone calls to the council. I knew that exiling someone from the tribe wasn't something to be done lightly—especially not someone who was from such distinct a bloodline and could still father children with the wolf gene.
But that was a problem for another day. I just needed him gone.
"What can I do?" Bella asked as she squeezed my hand. She might as well have been squeezing my heart the way my body reacted to her.
"I don't know," I shrug. "Not much to do. We're all pretty fucked up right now."
"Paul's dad did that to him?"
"Yeah, that—" I bit my lip so hard I drew blood. I needed to reign it all in because if I didn't, I don't think I'd ever resurface from the bloodlust, the rage that felt so good and so terrible.
"I thought werewolves were crazy strong? Especially to go after vampires. Or is he not…?"
She shifted awkwardly, and it almost made me smile; she was still Bella, no matter how crazy things got.
"He is. His dad is just...brutal."
A heavy silence settled between us. We were still on bended knee, on the floor; we were still breathing, and there was something nice, special, in that too.
Or maybe I had more issues than I thought.
"Why would his dad do that to him?"
Bella's voice broke a little, and I knew she felt how I felt. Her gaze was trained on my closed bedroom door.
"I don't know," my thumb brushed her knuckles softly. She didn't deserve to have seen such darkness, but it wasn't my job to protect her from life. I've got to remember that. I still felt like I should though. "Sometimes people just suck, I guess. I mean, there's a lot of shit in life, y'know? And we just all have to deal, but some people can't—never learned how, maybe. The point is, that's what it looks like when people break and give up. Really give up. They try to break everyone around them too."
"What's going to happen to Paul?"
"He'll get up in a few hours, and he'll be fine."
"Maybe on the outside, but scars don't heal that easy," Bella bit her bottom, and desire stirred low in my belly. I stood up, and pulled her up too to distract me. Now wasn't the time for any of that.
I shrugged. "The pack is here if he needs it. And if there's a problem, I'll know."
My confidence seeped into the air around us, and it was nice to have that sense of knowing—supernatural.
"He's gonna be hungry when he wakes up," Bella let go of my hand and headed towards the kitchen.
"I'm hungry now," I teased as I followed her into the kitchen.
I leaned against the doorway, watching her. Bella might trip and fall ninety-percent of her life, but never in the kitchen.
"So, how much food should I make?" she smiled, and I knew she was counting how many people she needed to feed.
"All of it."
Her eyes bulged, and I couldn't help but laugh.
"All of it?"
"Yup," my body walked over and invaded her space without my consent. Fuck, she intoxicated me, sometimes. "The pack's taken to strolling in and eating here. They'll smell the food a mile away."
"Is this another wolf thing?"
"I don't know. Maybe," my lips brushed against her hairline. The rage from earlier didn't burn as bright, but it was a chameleon and shifted into desire easily. "And wolves eat a lot."
"How much is a lot?" she pushed away a little to look at me better.
Curiosity made her eyes shine like citrine gemstone—and why the fuck did I know what citrine was? Apparently I paid more attention in school than I thought I did.
"Well, let's assume that one wolf eats two full plates, at least three times a day to stay on point…"
"And how often do they eat here?" Her eyes weren't shining with curiosity anymore, but something deeper, closer to worry.
"At least once a day, if not twice."
"Jacob, Charlie and I are two, very normal people and our food bill is still about $600, $400 if we're being careful with the budget or he's gone fishing more than once that month."
"Bella…" I really didn't want any extra problems to think about.
"How many are in your pack?"
I sighed harshly, "Right now? Including me, five. But Quil looks like he'll change any day now, so that's six."
"I know," I snapped at her. I didn't mean to, but, fuck, I just needed a day. Just one damn day of not dealing with any problem stacked on top of more problems. My hands started to tremble, but I tried to keep it together. "I don't need the math to know this can't go on like it is for long. But we'll figure it out. Not today though, okay? Just, today, we're gonna be us, with the pack, and Paul is gonna be better."
It was all wishful thinking.
I knew it, and I could see it in her eyes that she did too.
"Okay," she gave a small sad smile. Her brows were still slightly furrowed in concern, but at least she was trying.
"Okay," I sighed, and let my forehead lean on hers. I needed to change the subject, desperately. "What were you telling me earlier? Before I ran out?"
Her heartbeat stuttered, and the smell of her changed to add a ripeness—fear.
Her eyes were dark rum and anxiety.
"Tomorrow," she echoed my words, and I couldn't fault her though I wanted to.
Today we had enough to deal with. But the imperative to dominate, to be in complete control all the time was strong. Too strong.
"No," the word flew out of me, and fuck, that was unreasonable and I knew it. Bella glared, and I couldn't help but smile. She wasn't as broken as she thought. My hand touched her cheek, and she looked away. Still skittish—a kiss couldn't change.
Fuck, did I want her. But I had to focus. "Whatever it was seemed important.."
Her eyes came back to me, swirling within them a strange cocktail of anxiety and lust. "Jacob…"
"I've got you, whatever it is," I promised. It was so fucking true that the sky above could've fallen on me if I was lying.
"The red head you've been seeing—I think it's the same one who I had a problem with a while back."
"What kind of problem?"
"The kind where her mate tried to turn me, E—he killed him, and she might want revenge," Bella bit her lip hard enough to bring me to distraction normally.
But, fuck, I couldn't move past the fact that someone tried to turn her. Bella, vampire. Bella, vampire—my body was trembling, and rage ran too hot inside of my veins. My right hand dug into her hair and my left hand lifted her shirt a bit so that I could feel the heat of her back on my skin. I needed to feel her, taste her, anything to remind me that she was okay. Alive.
"Where'd he bite you?" i growled, and I knew I was scaring her. I could practically taste her fear on my tongue, and I'm so fucked up that her fear was a bit of an aphrodisiac—my body trembled in pleasure and rage.
It was all together and strange, but none of it mattered.
She was alive. She was alive and in my arms.
"Where'd he bite you?" I repeated, and pulled on her hair a bit. I definitely needed to relax, but the imperative to fight and fuck were warring too strongly. I was demented, and a monster, as my body tensed as Bella's fear tasted lightly of desire too. She liked me this way.
Hell, maybe we were both fucked up.
Before I could lose it, she lifted her wrist, and there, clear as day, was a silver bite mark. It didn't smell of anything except her natural elixir of anxiety and sadness, with an added touch of desire for me. The bite smelled just like the rest of her. It tasted just like the rest of her, as my lips pressed against her wrist, and a slight moan shook my frame.
Bella's gasp was taught and so right, yet so wrong. This wasn't how we were supposed to be; we were supposed to be as easy as breathing, not whatever the hell this was.
My lips trailed her arm, until they lifted back to her lips. Her fear wasn't as sour as her sadness, I noticed. There wasn't enough of it that I could focus solely on the way she she didn't take as long to relax as our first kiss. I could focus on the way she didn't push my hand away which had been making its way up her back until I practically memorized the exact arch in her spine.
I meant to say something comforting, lips still pressed to hers, but I think I needed the reassurance more than she did at the moment.
"You don't belong to them," I whispered harshly, as my lips trailed to her cheek, and down to her chin. Her labored breathing were the crashing of the waves in my ears, and I'd never wanted her so much. Too much.
You don't belong to them.
This shit wasn't natural, couldn't be. But she responded, "No, I don't," as her fingers ran through my hair and I was lost.
I groaned and pushed my body against hers. I wanted to feel every inch of her pressed against me until the slightest movement brought us both some type of pleasure. My fingers brushed against the side of her breast, but I knew this was too much, too soon.
"Shit, sorry," I let her go like she was made of scalding fire. Maybe she was my own special version of fire.
"Don't," she gazed into my eyes, and I was under her spell like the day she had come down to the beach with her friends and said my name with joy and excitement. "Don't be. Sorry, I mean."
My confusion must've been clear on my face, because she cleared her throat, and squared her shoulders. "Don't be sorry," she said clearly.
It felt good, to know that I hadn't scared her away. That I hadn't overstepped by losing my shit over the smell of her, over the taste of her desire and fear invading my senses.
But it couldn't erase that we had so many things to talk about. My mind couldn't help but picture her screaming as poison flooded her veins, her blood on sharp and glinting teeth.
I pictured her moaning and sighing breathlessly in his arms, instead of mine.
I pictured her past, and I owned all of that shit...because I loved her. I loved her too fucking much, and she'd barely opened her eyes to loving me back.
I opened my mouth to try to address it, all of it or any of it.
"Later," she interrupted me before I could speak and gave that small broken smile of hers. Her eyes were soft, and I didn't feel like such a monster.
Tomorrow, I'd told her and she was asking for the same thing. I saw her, all of her...just as she saw me. We just needed to learn to deal with everything that we saw. But who was going to teach us?
I sighed stressfully, the weight of us, of everything today crashing down on me, but nodded.
"Later" I promised, and her smile wasn't as broken in that moment.
It was a promise going both ways. It was a promise for so many things spoken and unspoken that I couldn't help but find her name, her past, the remnants of her broken soul etched into the story of my own heart in that moment, and I could tell that slowly, so fucking slow that I could scream, she was finding the same thing about me inside of hers—even if she didn't realize it, even if she never admitted it; for now, just knowing was enough.
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