A/N: Let me start by saying thank you for clicking on my story. I do want to put a big fat TW for sensitive subjects right here. I don't want to specify and reveal any plot details, so please message me if there is something specific you would like to know about before reading this story. I'll reply promptly.
Couple things: I aged everyone up a few years to meet my timeline. This is after BD but Rachel's return from to La Piush happened later than in the actual books. The packs are split. Sam's pack & Jacob's pack. I added new members to both packs. I don't have a beta, so there's probably typos. Go easy on me. Second, there is some minor Cullen/Jacob/Renesmee bashing because of who my Paul is as a person, so if that bothers you I wouldn't recommend this story. Also, lots of offensive language. LOTS. The wolf pack aint puppies. And there will be smut. Shamless smut.
It's my first time publishing anything, but I couldn't get these ideas out of my head so I had to write them down somewhere. Anyway, I'm done rambling :)
DISCLAIMER: Anything you recognize, I don't own. Twilight characters are obviously not mine and belong to Stephanie Meyer, as well as the world she created. I'm just playing in it. The only thing mine is my original characters. Not making any profit off of this, it's just words for fun.
I used to love scary stories and staying up late to read them, hiding under the protection of my blankets. It seems silly now, but I used to love the way they felt in my stomach and how my heart would race with every turn of the page. But I guess every horror fanatic loses interest when their lives become the scary story.
The first taste of true fear frames how fragile live really is, but even then at some point you become numb to it. It becomes a second nature. It becomes a state of being and you don't even realize it until you feel safe again for once. And once you taste that safety, fear becomes paralyzing again. A vicious cycle of cat and mouse.
I've been staring out of the back window for miles now with bated breath. The putter of our stolen vehicle is the only thing reminding me that this is real – that it's not some creative illusion of detailed dream. I keep expecting to see something out of the ordinary, something that would tell me he's following us, but I don't. There's nothing outside of these windows but the thickness of the trees and the dotted yellow lines disappearing into the dark behind us.
I count them as they pass.
My eyes are heavier than usual. It's been a long time since I've been the passenger in a car. I forgot how soothing the rumbling of the engine could be, even though this rickety Honda feels like it might fall apart with every bump in the road. But still, it's taken us far – nearly three hundred miles before needing fuel and the windshield cleaned. The owner's probably haven't even realized it's missing yet. And by the time they do, we'll have left it far from Josie's "safe place" – a small Native reservation in the Pacific Northwest called La Push, where her twin brother Jared lives.
I've never heard of it, but small and secluded sounds nice right about now.
"We're almost there."
I glance over my shoulder and meet Josie's eyes in the rearview mirror. Her chocolate brown orbs are light and unafraid – she truly believes in her heart that this was the right decision to make.
"Are you excited to be back home?" I ask, my eyes finding their way out of the back window again. We pass a deer carcass surrounded by buzzards. It reminds me of—
"Are you?" Josie retorts.
Home. I'm not sure I understand the meaning of the word. "I'm just glad we made it," I say truthfully.
We take a left turn down a bumpy gravel road and drive deeper into the blanket of trees. Josie sits up a little straighter and I turn around in my seat. There's a porch light visible several hundred feet up ahead, anchored onto a small wooden cabin. At the base of the porch, a group of tall, shirtless men are waiting.
I crawl into the front seat and look at Josie with uncertainty.
There's six of them, all with arms folded across their broad chests and all tall enough to hit their heads on the porch if they're not careful. All with the same dark hair and dark facial expressions. I don't blame them – if someone close to me went missing for a month and a half, I'm sure I would feel the same way.
Shifting the car into park, Josie throws the door open and start running to them. They all move in synchrony to her, but the one with the shaggiest, most unkempt hair reaches her first and draws her in for a deep kiss.
That must be Embry. Her boyfriend.
The rest of them circle around her protectively, and two women come rushing from the front door with open arms for her.
My heart clenches.
A few of the men glance curiously in my direction and I become aware again of the rumbling of the engine. She didn't even turn the car off. I smile to myself and twist the keys out of the ignition – the motor sputtering momentarily before falling silent. My hands drop to my lap, keys clutched within them, and I watch with a bleeding heart the scene before me.
I can feel how much they love her. It makes me hate what he did to her even more. It was okay for him to take someone like me, who has nobody left in this world, but her? It makes me sick to my stomach. And all of these people that love her – they spent weeks without a clue of what happened to her. They must have been so lost and heartbroken.
Josie manages to break away and waves me over, tears glistening in her eyes.
The gravel of the driveway crunches under the soles of my well-worn shoes as I step out of the car. The second I'm within arm's reach, one of the taller boys immediately scoops me up into a hug. Warmth engulfs me in the form of his strong arms and woodsy scent, and Josie's laugh sounds as incredibly warm as he feels.
"Jared, this is Indie," she introduces as he places my feet back on solid ground.
"Really? Indie? Like the genre?" The shortest of the group, smiling at me mischievously, has a soft, young face. His adolescent smile doesn't quite match the strength of his body. I find him charming in a boyish kind of way.
"Short for Indiana, like my parents couldn't come up with a cleverer name than the state I was conceived in." I pause and make a face. "Not that that's any better."
He opens his mouth, I'm assuming for another quip, but is stopped by Jared pushing him and stepping in the way of his line of vision.
His lips split into a wide grin. "Thanks for looking out for my baby sister. She's never allowed to travel again."
Embry hugs me next and nearly crushes me with the strength of his arms. "Thank you for saving my girl," his voice is low and weak, and he's overflowing with heartache. I instinctively wraps my arms around him in return and try to pour my apologies into him. I hope he can feel them.
He pulls away and touches the top of my head before gathering Josie back into his arms. She introduces me to everyone else from the comfort of his arms; Sam, the tallest and most intimidating of them all, Emily, his beautiful fiancée with a scarred face and a very swollen belly, Kim, Jared's playful girlfriend full of adoration, Beau and Henry, identical twins that I'm not sure I could ever tell apart, and Malachi, the youngest and mouthiest as I'm told. Consequently the one making fun of my name.
I swallow the bile rising in my throat. My life is not worth the lives of these people. If he comes here—
Sam clears his throat and wraps his arm around Emily's shoulders. "I've got Paul and Quil leading patrols through the night," he announces. "They've got Collin and Brady, and the rest of us will watch the house tonight. You guys will be safe here."
I've been wondering, since we left New York, what exactly Josie's friends in La Push do. All she would tell me was that they're strong and he would never stand a chance against them all. I'm starting to wonder if she doesn't realize what he's truly capable of…
"Let's go inside," Emily suggests, reaching out to rub Josie's arm. "I'll make you guys some coffee."
We all pile inside to the kitchen where Emily starts a pot of coffee. While it's brewing, Josie shows me around the small but cozy place she and Embry share together.
Their room, decorated in green fabrics and plush pillows, the bathroom, simple and spotless, and the small loft upstairs where – according to Josie – Embry and Jared put together an area for me to sleep.
It's only wide enough for a full-size bed to lay, and there are cubicle shelves built into the walls that are filled with books and small knick-knacks and extra storage space. Not that I have a single thing to my name other than the clothes on my back. The bed is beneath a window and is covered in thick quilts, and there's a space heater at the foot of it. The ceiling is low and sloped and bare save for a single dreamcatcher hanging from it.
"Wow, this is amazing," I say quietly. "I would've been okay with the couch."
Josie nudges me and grins. "It used to be my reading nook, but you needed to have some privacy. Especially with Embry's stupid friends showing up all the time."
I sink into the edge of the bed and relax in the comfort it provides. It smells like laundry soap and firewood.
My teeth trap my bottom lip as I look over at Josie. I want to tell her that I'm sorry for everything he did. He took her because of me – because he said I was lonely. All the others had been frozen in their perfection, and he was waiting for my time. My stomach has been in a permanent state of dread from the very second he brought her to my room that night.
"Coffee's done!" Jared, I think, yells from downstairs.
We've been alone for nearly a week. I almost forgot what it's like to hear someone else's voice. I nearly jump a foot in the air at the sudden sound of it.
Josie smiles a little. "C'mon, let's go."
Embry is waiting at the base of the ladder for us. He's afraid to let her out of his sight. There's nerves wallowing in the pit of his stomach.
Everyone else is in the main room. Emily is pouring smooth coffee into ceramic cups, Sam by her side, and the other boys are spread throughout the open floorplan of the kitchen and living room. Josie and I thankfully accept the mugs from Emily and Josie takes a seat at the kitchen table. Embry is behind her in a flash, hands placed protectively on her shoulders. Her hands automatically cross over her chest to grab his fingers and her head falls back against his stomach.
They're like magnets. I can feel the gravitational pull between them. They move in unison, right down to the synchronization of their breaths.
I can't even begin to imagine what he was feeling, and thinking, while she was missing. Based on the scruffy appearance of he and Jared, the toll must've been so heavy. They look the most exhausted out of everyone with their messy hair and unshaved faces.
My eyes fall to the steaming liquid in my mug to distract myself from the fact that nearly everyone else in the room seems to be staring at Josie and I.
I'm sure they all have questions.
What happened? Who is he? What is he capable of?
They don't ask, but their eyes are screaming them.
Jared is the first to speak up after a prolonged moment of silence. "I don't know about anyone else, but I want to know about this fucking psycho that kidnapped my sister."
I see Embry's hands reflexively squeeze Josie's shoulders.
"It can wait until tomorrow." Emily wraps her arm around Sam's waist and leans into him. "They're both safe, now."
"I know that," Jared growls back. "But what the fuck happened? What did that sick fuck do? Did he hurt you?"
I can feel Sam starting to brood. The tension in the room is high.
"No. It's okay, Jared," Josie says, reaching across the table to grab his hand.
At least she doesn't have to lie to him. He didn't hurt her.
Kim runs her fingers through Jared's hair and both gestures seem to calm him down considerably. He doesn't push for more information after that.
I don't want to talk about him. There's little I can say without telling the whole story, and I don't want to relive it right now.
We drink our coffee in relative silence.
Josie, Embry, and I move to the couch and Josie spreads a blanket over our laps. There's a fire going, but it's still freezing in here. Most of the guys appear to be uncomfortably scorched, however. Adrenaline, I imagine.
Jared makes an exasperated sound and rises to his feet, wiping at the side of his brow. "I'm going outside. It's hotter than Satan's nutsack in a sauna in here."
He's funny in an obscene, no-boundaries kind of way. Josie snickers as he skirts out the door with Kim hot on his heels.
"I should take Emily home," Sam says, looking down at her under his arm. "I'll be back to watch the house with these three." He motions to Beau, Henry, and Malachi. They all groan quietly and file out of the open front door without protest.
Emily waddles over and gives Josie and I both hugs. "Try and get some sleep, you two," she says with a smile. "We'll put together a welcome home party after you've settled. It's been so nice to meet you, Indie."
I smile at her.
Embry presses a kiss into Josie's temple and stands with them. "I'm going to call my mom and let her know. I'll be right back," he says softly. He leans down and like a second nature, she extends her next to meet his kiss.
"I love you," she whispers against his lips.
His hand cups her jaw and I have to look away because this moment feels too intimate for me to witness.
They all walk out a minute later and leave Josie and me to our own company.
I let out a deep breath and lean against her. "Jos?" I mumble.
She hums in response, her head resting against mine.
"Thanks for taking me with you…"
She rehomes her coffee on the end table and wraps her arms around me in a hug. "Where I go, you are always welcome," she tells me.
I hug her back and melt into the couch.
I may not know much about the outside world anymore, but I know I can trust her. And if she thinks we should stay here and it's the safest place to be, then I have to believe that she's right.
I owe her that much.
The next few hours are spent mostly in silence aside from the sweet nothing's exchanged between Josie and Embry while I pretend to sleep. Once they fall silent and I can hear the smooth, even breaths of sleep, I sneak back down the ladder and into the kitchen.
There's still some leftover coffee, so I take my empty mug and pour it in, adding a few ice cubes from the freezer.
Through the kitchen window, I can see Malachi and one of the twins pushing each other around playfully. No sign of Sam, though. Maybe he's gone home for the night.
I wander to the couch and sink into it, setting my cup on the end table. Josie's is still there, too.
The boys are laughing. I can't hear about what, but obviously they're not even the slightest bit worried that he could walk down the street right now and attack them without warning.
My eyes stare tiredly at the furthest vanishing point of the road for what feels like hours, watching, waiting for him.
The next thing I know, my eyes are opening to the sunlight suddenly pouring in through the windows. I rub furiously at my eyes and hold back a yawn, then freeze.
I fell asleep.
The house is silent. Not even a sleepy breath from Josie or Embry to be heard.
The coffee cups on the end table are gone, and there's a thick blanket thrown over my legs and waist. I push it off and my toes meet the cold wooden floor as I walk to the front door. It sticks a little in the frame, so I have to give it a yank before it finally gives way and opens.
A blast of cool air hits me in the face.
The grassy area surrounding the house is glittering in the sunlight. It's surprisingly warm despite the initial temperature change from inside to out. I step out onto the porch, crossing my arms over my chest, and look around.
Nothing but trees.
And the Honda is gone.
Fear begins gnawing at the back of my throat. I'm alone – actually alone – for the first time in years. My heart is slamming into my ribcage so hard I can feel the pounding in my ears.
Am I dreaming?
I try to recall the last moments I spent in New York – the last moments before our feet carried us up the stairs and to freedom. It couldn't have been a dream, right?
Sometimes I wonder if I really am crazy like my mother always said. Maybe I really did need those antipsychotic meds I flushed down the toilet with my breakfast every morning. The memory of their bitter taste still sends a shiver through my body.
My skin crawls but then I realize its Josie's voice.
She and Embry appear on a paved trail leading from the woods, their arms lined with grocery bags.
I walk out to meet them, bare feet tickled by the plush grass, and grab a few bags from each of them. Embry tries to keep his, but I insist. My anxieties immediately start melting away with their presence.
This isn't a dream.
I follow them inside where Josie sets her bags down on the kitchen island. "How'd you sleep?" she asks, opening a cupboard.
I let out a quiet breath of relief. "Okay," I reply. "You went without me."
"You needed sleep. Besides, it was only an hour."
"The kids ratted you out," Embry says, a playful smile on his lips. "Said you were up all night."
The last I remember checking the time before apparently dozing off it was four-thirty. It's seven now. Calculating the hours, I sigh again with relief and start sorting vegetables from my bags into the crisper drawers of the fridge.
"Coffee?" Josie asks, as if it's a question I would ever say no to.
Nodding vigorously, I finish unloading the cold items into the fridge and then search through the cupboards for the coffee mugs. Once I find them, I pull two down and then glance at Embry to see if he wants some.
He shakes his head.
Josie makes the quick stuff and fills both mugs – mine to the rim, hers with some space for cream.
"It's nice out. Want to sit outside?"
Taking my mug, I nod and follow her and Embry to the porch. He takes a seat in an empty camping chair and pulls her into his lap.
I admire them together for a moment.
Josie is very pretty, and Embry is handsome as well. They're both tall with the same beautifully tanned skin and dark hair.
I take a deep breath and turn to rest my mug on the porch railing.
"Sam said there's been no sign of him," Josie says.
It's been less than twenty-four hours since we arrived in La Push. For all I know, he hasn't even realized we're missing yet. It's not unlike him to leave for days at a time. If he hasn't found out yet, he's going to be furious when he does. I doubt any of his treasures have ever escaped him before.
I swallow. "No sign of him yet," I correct her.
"He'd be an idiot to come here. I think even he knows that," she says sternly. Embry nods in agreement. "We're safe."
Safe is a relative term.
Part of me wants to ask what makes them so sure. Why are they so confident in their ability to stop him? They're just humans. Very large humans, but still just humans. And he's… well, I don't know what he is, but it isn't human.
I sip my coffee. It's hot and burns my throat on the way down, simmering in my stomach. "I hope you're right."
"She is." Embry adjusts her on his lap and slings his arm over her long, tanned legs. He's so positive about it. There's not an ounce of uncertainty to him.
Smiling, I turn back to the front yard and let my eyes graze over the yard and surrounding trees.
I used to think big cities and skyscrapers were the definition of beauty. Maybe because that was all I ever had access to. Street lights and apartment buildings as tall as the clouds, taxis and street vendors, stages in front of audiences of thousands… But La Push? Even this small area confined amongst the green of the trees in prettier than anything I've ever seen.
The openness of it is refreshing. I can feel everything. For the first time in a long time.
I've never really been in tune with myself. Ever since I was young, I've always sort of been in tune with everyone else instead. Their emotions were mine. Whether it be the grumpy store clerk at the convenience shop on the corner of the road or my favorite beaming-with-happiness waitress at one of my dad's restaurants. I've always been able to tell a liar, a cheat, a golden soul or a lost soul apart. A blessing and a curse, really. An empath, you could say.
It sounds silly.
After a while, being in the big city with so many crowds, it started to feel like I was suffocating. Emotional overload. And then I was isolated with him and he never felt anything. He knew I could, though. He played on my emotions and manipulated me with the pain of others.
Being here, even though I can pick up on Josie and Embry's feelings, it's like my head is finally clear. I think it's the first time I've felt my own feelings in a long time, even if they're primarily fear.
"You okay over there?"
Glancing over my shoulder, I see Josie and her playful smile watching me from the comfort of her lover's lap. I don't know what's really here to protect us, but it's a miracle we even got this far in the first place. That has to mean sometime.
And no matter what, I am not going back to him.