Lily clenched her jaw as she saw a small group of boys laughing stood at their lockers. It was them, Embry and Quil. They looked different, taller – bigger, but it was them. She walked towards them fiercely, making eye contact with Quil. He swallowed and nudged at Embry, who followed his gaze. A hush fell over the group as she reached them. She did her best to maintain a deadpan expression when she spoke. "Mono?" she asked flatly, biting the inside of her cheek, raising her eyebrow demanding an explanation. They had been so worried about Embry and Jacob, she could not believe that Quil would just cut her out like that.
"Yeah," one of the other boys said menacingly, stepping in front of Embry and Quil. He towered over her. "Mono," he repeated in the same tone.
Lily shook her head with a scoff of disbelief. Her face transforming to a scowl as she walked away. She tried to contain her nerves until she made it to the girls toilets. She locked the cubicle behind her, slowly sitting down. She sat with her head between her hands trying to breathe. She felt physically sick. She had just spoken to Sam's cult – she knew it was silly to be afraid of some boys but that didn't stop the fear consuming her. She shook her head at herself. Why wasn't she afraid? It's not like they'd do anything to her.
Embry and Quil were both missing from their afternoon classes. Lily's heart sunk. Embry and Jacob had been skipping a lot since joining Sam's gang but she had hoped Quil wouldn't get dragged into it. Admittedly, there was a somewhat selfish motive for Lily's disappointment. The four were to do a class project together but because of their untimely absences Lily and Quil were the only ones to have done any work. It seemed like it was down to her now.
Lily spent the hour working in silence on their project, brewing in her anger. By the time the bell rang, Lily had psyched herself up to confront her project partners. Again.
She drove in silence through La Push towards Quil's house. It was the closest to hers. As she rounded a bend she spotted something in her rear view mirror: the boys. At the top of a cliff. Without hesitation she pulled over. She slammed the car door before storming over to them. "Hey," she shouted.
All of the boy's heads snapped towards her.
"I'm sick of your shit," she shouted, pointing at her three friends. "We've got a fucking project to do and all of a sudden you have mono and decided to skip class? I don't fucking think so! Get your asses to mine and pull your god damn weight!" Her eyes were fierce– her nostrils flaring slightly as she stared at each of them in turn.
Quil looked taken a back.
Embry immediately adverted his gaze.
Jacob. Jacob was staring at her with as much intensity as she him … but it was different. His eyes were softer, not angry. It was like he was seeing her for the first time. It might as well have been because nothing else mattered. Nothing – not his friends, his family, his likes and dislikes. Just her. He felt weightless as his stomach exploded in butterflies. Excitement and happiness flooded him. His happiness turned to nervousness when he that he had been silently staring at her for too long. He tried to compose himself, he didn't want to come across creepy.
"Okay," he said emotionlessly. His voice sounded strained, his mouth was dry.
"Okay?" Quil and Embry echoed, their eyes snapping to him. All of the boys were staring at him, even Sam. Sam's gaze was different – calculating.
Jacob nodded, moving towards Lily. "Now?" she asked quietly, shocked. She didn't know what she had expected but this wasn't it.
"Yeah," he responded, "unless you didn't want to?"
She took a deep stuttered breath. "Now's fine," she said trying to regain her composure. Her eyes were wide, she felt vulnerable. Jacob hadn't stopped staring at her eyes. It was uncomfortable.
"Great," he breathed. "Can we grab a lift?" he asked without breaking eye contact. His friends were still staring at him confused, exchanging questioning glances between each other.
Lily nodded, swallowing the lump in her throat. Jacob stepped forward. Embry and Quil followed slowly, shooting Sam a weary look. Sam gave them a short nod – almost giving them permission to go.
When they got into her truck, she fumbled with her keys. Jacob's eyes were still on her from the passenger seat. "Stop it," she requested quietly.
"Stop what?" he asked.
"Staring at me," she said, feeling foolish. He probably wasn't even staring, you're just being silly, she thought to herself.
"Okay," he said, although he didn't stop immediately. When he tore his eyes off her he stared straight at the road, deep in thought.
Embry and Quil sat in the back seats, silently communicating to one another.
Did he? Quil asked, wide eyes.
Embry shoot his head immediately. Imprinting is rare, he thought reassuringly to himself, but he was unconvinced. He glanced at Jacob in in the front seat, searching for clues.
Jacob sat thinking of a thousand ways to tell Lily. A thousand excuses to spend time with her before he told her. A thousand things to talk to her about. They had been sort of friends before, spending time together in class but rarely outside. She was nice, friendly, chatty.
When they pulled up at her house, he got out. Quil and Embry silently followed. They waited patiently as she unlocked the door. She dropped her bag by the sofa as she walked towards the kitchen. "Do you want anything to drink?" she asked.
The boys all shook their heads.
She grabbed a glass of water before sitting on the sofa with the boys. She pulled a book from her bag. "So, me and Quil decided to do the story of the Third Wife."
Jacob's eyes went wide and Embry shot Quil a furious look. Quil's face transformed into a strained smile. He hadn't known then, he reasoned to himself – not that the boys would care. He knew he was in for an earful later.
"We got a recording of Quil's grandfather telling the story and we traced the story back to its origins but we need to analyse what it means…"
The boys all stared at her silently.
She took their silence as a signal to continue. "So maybe we could separate so one of us analyses the symbolism of the wolfs, another doing the cold one, another doing the third wife, and then we could collate it into one," she said biting her lip.
The boys nodded, murmuring that it "sounds good."
"Then we could compare to other myths and legends with a common moral," she added. She was met with more silent nods. She sighed exacerbated, "I really need your guys input."
Jacob felt a pull of sympathy at her stress. "I'll analyse the wolfs," Jacob stated. "Embry can do the cold one and Quil the third wife."
Lily looked a bit taken aback. "Great, I guess I'll just help…?" They all nodded.
After almost two hours of brain storming there was a knock at the door. Lily got up to answer it. When she opened the door she stumbled backwards as she was grabbed into a hug and pulled up by her waist so she was towering over a boy. She beamed down at him, giving him a peck on the lips.
Jacob's world stopped and came crashing down. He remembered. They didn't hang out a lot after school because Lily spent a lot of time in Forks … with her boyfriend.
"Put me down," she whispered, smiling at him. She swept her brown hair out of her face as she turned to the boys. "Zack, this is Quil, Embry and Jacob," she said, pointing to each boy in turn. "Guys, this is Zack," she gestured to him. "I thought you had football practice today," she whispered, turning back to him.
"It was cancelled," he replied, "thought I'd surprise you … is that okay?" His tone was almost accusing as he reached out placing his hand on her wrists.
Lily looked a bit taken aback by his tone but shrugged it off quickly with a smile. "Of course. We were just working on a project." She turned to the boys, swallowing slightly. "Do you guys mind if we finish this tomorrow?" she asked.
Jacob felt his heart sink. He didn't want to deny her – of anything … but he didn't want to leave her either – especially not alone with him. He swallowed the jealous feeling and nodded, "yeah … no problem," he said. He stood up slowly.
"Fuck," Zack exclaimed. "You're huge!" he moved his hands from Lily's wrists so that his arm was resting around her shoulder's possessively. "How tall are you?" he asked.
"Six seven," Jacob responded emotionlessly. Quil and Embry stood too.
"Wow," Zack said, blinking away in shock. "I've never felt so short" he snickered, "is this how you always feel?" he joked with Lily.
She smiled sadly, clearly not enjoying the joke. Jacob felt his heart crumble. He didn't want her to be the butt of any joke.
"I dunno, I think she's perfect," Jacob gushed boldly, looking past Zack directly at Lily who flushed red immediately.
Zack's jaw locked for a second. He turned to look at Lily and then back at Jacob. "Yeah I'm pretty lucky," he said before he pulled her into a forceful kiss. It was a rather short kiss. Zack turned back to look directly at Jacob. It was clearly a display of dominance – possession rather.
Lily murmured an apology, looking at the ground. She opened the door as the three boys moved towards it. Jacob was the last to leave. "Thank you," she whispered to him making eye contact.
"What for?" he asked.
Everything, Lily thought. Her blush deepened. "The project," she recovered. "I didn't think I'd get any help" she admitted, with a small smile.
Jacob smiled slightly back at her. "See you tomorrow," he said quietly.
She nodded, smiling happily as she closed the door behind him.
Jacob turned to Embry and Quil who were giving him a strange look. "Spill," they said in unison. Jacob exhaled harshly with a small secretive smile before nodding towards the nearby woods. Together the three jogged towards them. Once inside the cover of the woods, the boys phased.
Jacob focused on one thing as he phased – the first thing his brothers would see when they phased too. The moment their eyes met. The weightlessness he felt in that moment as all ties to this world disappeared and he floated before being anchored to her. She became everything to him, his only loyalty. He was hers. She was his imprint.
I knew it! Quil shouted in his mind.
Embry shook his giant head, what are you going to do? She has a boyfriend.
Quil shot him a glare. And Claire's five. He's going to wait, obviously.
Jacob thought about it for a moment. Did he want to be like Quil? Running around trying to please someone he was tied to? Putting his life on hold until she was ready?
Hey! Quil protested.
If she ever was ready, of course. Jacob thought of Bella, a contrasting difference from Lily in every way: Bella was a friend, Lily was practically a stranger. Bella was pale and cold, Lily was rusted and warm. Bella was single, Lily was taken. That's where it stopped – Jacob realised he didn't know enough about Lily to keep making comparisons. He did know that the imprint is what made him like her. Without it he would still want Bella – Bella, who needed him.
He could fight it, he thought.
It'll hurt, a new voice said – Sam. To resist will be nearly impossible, every instinct will tell you to go to her. It'll hurt to pretend to love Bella.
How would you know? Jacob snapped, not wanting to be lectured about imprinting.
Do you think I didn't try? Sam snarled. I tried to love Leah, I tried to make it work. It hurt. It physically hurt.
I can handle it. Jacob said stubbornly. Sam's words of wisdom pushed him further towards his decision to resist.
Not just you, Sam warned. She'll hurt too.
Jacob paused. He didn't want to hurt her but was he really hurting her? Robbing her of her free will? Pulling her into this life? He never wanted this for himself, not for anyone. He couldn't bring her into this – he wouldn't.
Are we not seeing her tomorrow? Embry asked, not wanting to sound stupid. Quil echoed his question.
Jacob hesitated. They had to do the project. They couldn't let her down. It was just a few hours…that couldn't hurt. He convinced himself.
That night Jared and Embry were on patrol. They spent the night politely ignoring Jacob's thoughts as he lay in the woods, staring at her house. How he was going to fight the imprint was a mystery to them, especially as he wouldn't leave her alone.
Jacob ignored their pointed comments, unable to shake the restless feeling. He stared at the house, watching the front bedroom window where he could hear hushed giggling and gentle moaning throughout the evening. At about ten the lights flickered on downstairs and the front door opened. Zack stood in the doorway for a moment looking back into the house. He was blocking Jacob's view but Jacob knew it was Lily in the doorway. Zack stepped forward and gave her one last deep kiss before he got in his car and drove home.
Finally, Jacob was able to settle as his restlessness dissolved.