Chapter One: Raise The Dead
Even thought the "fight" had been won a couple years beforehand, everyone was still prepared for the inevitable. When would the Italian's be back and would they be so civil during their next visit? Although the threat remained, Carlisle continuously soothed the skepticism and fear traveling between both packs. As Renesmee continued to grow, both werewolf and vampire alike guarded her as the only Cullen allowed to cross into Quileute territory. This soon became exhausting for the wolves involved. It wasn't for lack of care for the girl, but Jacob was the only wolf whose life revolved around the hybrid. Those that had imprinted wanted to begin families of their own, or at least spend time with their imprint as it was for Quil. The younger wolves needed to return to school and those of us that didn't have imprints wanted to at least move on with our lives.
Will you cease?
I audibly grumbled as Leah's seething echoed through my thoughts.
It's almost over. I want to get home just as much as you do. Her carping assured. Can we just finish our rounds?
Sure. I huffed in monotone.
Thankfully, there wasn't much of our patrol left. I breathed a forceful sigh of relief as I neared the 3 Rivers Resort & Store, the establishment plopped right on the treaty line, and the last area I had to case before I could head home. I silently trot through the trees, keeping my nose and ears peeled for anything out of place. The sour scent of the Cullens lingered, faint but still pricking at my nostrils. It was normal to smell a mix of both the reservation and Forks alongside the food from the little restaurant attached to the store. My stomach lowed with a starved grumble as the greasy aroma of fried fish assaulted my nose.
Go ahead, I'll run the last segment on my own.
Are you sure? I questioned, slowing my pace until I reached a halt.
Yeah. I want to be left alone with my thoughts while I run.
I phased back before she had the chance to change her mind. I didn't mind running patrols with Leah, but she and I were not friends. A mutual toleration due to the fact that we both knew how to shield our thoughts better than our packmates, long enough to at least complete a run.
As I slipped my clothes back on I could hear the thumping of a subwoofer from down the road, the bass line rattling windows as tires gripped and skied across the wet asphalt. It was nearly ten on a Friday night, so the noise was to be expected at this point. What wasn't expected was the sight of a Mini Cooper Countryman pulling into the gas station, blasting with the glass shattering subwoofer. I watched the Mini with an eyeroll as I heard more than one voice from inside, giggling and rapping along with Nikki Minaj. It must have been a bunch of rich kids driving around in the coupe their parents bought.
Once the car came to a halt, all but one girl exited the car. They were clearly older than high school age, most dressed in high heels and short dresses. One brunette led the pack with a shiny white sash and a white, feathered tiara, the two gals giggling after wore hot pink sashes, but no tiaras. At first sight, you would think that the women were heading to a child's birthday party, but their conversation said otherwise. They spoke of a "last hurrah" as the one with the tiara was getting married.
I glanced back at the car where a tall woman in short, black shorts, black top, and strappy heels leaned against the green Cooper with her arms crossed as she pumped gas. She didn't wear her sash, instead it was tucked in her back pocket, and she seemed a significantly less excited than each of the other girls, the last one still in the car, playing with the radio.
I would have approached her under different circumstances, but decided against it. As I reached for the door, the trio of women that had entered the store left with snacks and packs of wine coolers in hand. Wrapped up in their excitement, the door flung open and one of the bride's friends stepped on my foot as she ran into me.
No, no, no... please don't let this be it... I internally panicked. I was not ready for an imprint and I really didn't want it to be one of these women. They seemed entirely out of my league, in a different ballpark even.
"Oh, I'm so sorry!" The blonde gasped as her posse snickered behind her. "Are you okay?"
I chanced a look down at the woman and breathed a sigh of relief as nothing happened. No "magical visions of the future", no pull, just a normal meeting.
"Yeah, I'm alright. Here." I held the door open for them and stepped out of the way for them to pass.
"Such a gentleman." The bride giggled as she twirled next to my side, grabbing and squeezing my upper arm. "You're pretty cute. Want to join us?"
"Ah-ha..." I chuckled nervously as I released the door, her friends flocking back to the car. "I better not. I've got to bring dinner to my mom, but thank you. And congratulations." I pointed to her sash and the silver lettering reading 'Bride to Be'.
"A gentleman and loves his mother? Your gal must be lucky." She grinned.
"Eliza!" The caramel headed woman filling the car called as she stood there with an open door. "Stop harassing the guy, you've already got one!"
"Indeed." She waved at me as she turned towards the vehicle. "Have a great night, sir!"
I watched Eliza stride as fast as she could back to her group as she whined at her friend. I looked back at the driver, admiring her long, tanned legs and slender waist as she leaned over the top of the window to talk to the bride. She smiled at the brunette, laughing before slipping back into the car and peeling out of the lot. The subwoofer was cranked up and the brake lights disappeared soon after.
Lucky gal? I snorted, shaking my head as I entered the building. If only...
It didn't take very long to order and continue on my way home. I didn't waste any time, hiding in the tree line to phase and run with the bag in my muzzle. Bearing no surprise, Leah was already gone and no one else was in their wolf form. The silence was a gift and I made sure to never look that horse in the mouth. Cicadas sounded off through the trees and bears rumbled off in the distance, the distant sound of the waters of First Beach lapped at the coast as feet wandered the sands along it's edge. I recognized the sigh and scent of Leah, but I had learned that lesson long ago.
As if she needed a bodyguard, I had decided to check up on her. She would never admit it, but the blush she wore that night told me that she was flattered someone took the time to care about her. Though in true Leah fashion, she snapped at me and I never approached her thereafter... but I made it a point to run by the beach where she strode and ensure she was okay. I knew she heard me, but she didn't look for me nor yell at me for doing so. Wolf or not, my mother did raise me to be gentleman... and it was simply the right thing to do.
As expected, my mother was still awake, sitting in the family room with one light on and the TV volume low so she could enjoy Gray's Anatomy as she read a book. I quickly dressed and ran around the front of the house to enter. My mom knew about my wolf form at this point... but she still lived in a small cloud of denial. To make it as easy on her as possible, I didn't openly talk about it and did as I was now, entering through the front door instead of the back or a window. She had questions here and there about it and I did my best to answer her in a way that wouldn't worry her more than she already was.
I held up the bag with triumph as she looked up at me, peering over her reading glasses with a smile. Age was catching up with her, her late forties showing through in laugh lines, crows feet, and gray strands; but she still looked just as beautiful now as she did when I was little. I handed her one box and kept the other three for myself. I would eat one now and save the others for when she went to bed. Baby steps.
"Mmm... can't beat battered catfish." She hummed as she squeezed tarter sauce into the corner of the box. I smiled, digging into my meal as she glanced at me, dipping a filet into the sauce. "Don't forget tomorrow is grocery day."
I nodded, chewing on the bite I had. "I know."
"How is Ms. Siler?"
I sighed heavily, wiping at my lips with a napkin as I shook my head. "Getting worse..."
"That poor woman... I'll never understand why they don't put her in specialized care. The poor woman is all alone in that house."
"Would you want me to do the same for you?" I questioned, looking up to watch as she took another bite of her fish. "Those places are awful."
"I suppose you're right." She nodded. "I wouldn't want that. I just hate the thought of her all alone in that house."
"She has a live-in caretaker, mom."
"I know. And you." She smiled warmly, rocking slowly in her chair. "Does she still remember you?"
"Kinda." I slowed my eating. "She doesn't remember me when she first sees me. I think she still expects that twelve year old boy that used to mow her yard over the summers." I smiled softly at the recollection. "But the way she lights up when she realizes how grown up I am is amazing to see."
"I bet. She was such a nice lady once upon a time. Made the most delicious iced tea."
"And ice cream."
She laughed, nodding. "And ice cream." She closed her box with a yawn, setting it on the coffee table. "I have the early shift at the diner in the morning. I think I'm going to head to bed."
"Good night, mom."
She stood and stepped over to me, leaning down to press a kiss to my head. Her fingers tousled my hair as she whispered. "I miss your long hair." I offered a sad smile, her and I both knowing the reason that was no more. "Tad cho otsk."
I liked it when she spoke the Quileute language. She had taught me what little she knew as I was growing up... the rest I learned from Jacob, Billy, and Quil. I may not know who my father is, but I wouldn't let that keep me from learning what is also my native language. Jacob and Quil once talked of devising a plan to sneak DNA for paternity tests, and I was almost on board... but after a year or so of phasing, the idea began to infuriate me. My father knew who he was and so did my mother. If he cared he would have stepped forward or at least pulled me aside. That idea alone left me to believe that my father had to be Joshua Uley.
I shook my head of those thoughts and turned off the TV. I closed my box and slid it back into the bag with the others, having lost my appetite. After depositing the leftovers into the fridge, I locked the door and followed my mother's idea and headed for bed. I had lost too much sleep over the thought of who could be my father, and I refused to let tonight be another.
The next day was a typical rainy Saturday, but the light at the end of the tunnel was that I didn't have to run patrol. Every grocery day for Ms. Siler I left free to spend the day with her. I couldn't say she was like family to me, but as my mother said... she's alone. Even though the dementia will get too severe to remember me one day, I knew she appreciated the familiarity in the moment.
I back into the gravel drive, stopping a few feet from the garage door and shifting into park. The rain had let up to a slight drizzle, just enough for me to carry the bags to the porch without them getting soaked. Thank God for supernatural strength. I unlocked the door with the spare key I had been given and wiped my feet on the welcome mat before making my way to the kitchen. Usually Ms. Siler was getting her bath at this time, so I could slip in and put her groceries away as her caretaker finished up. There were only a few bags, since Ms. Siler only had so much she could eat. It was no trouble at all to help out.
I nearly jumped out of my skin, dropping the box of Jell-O I attempted to set on the pantry shelf.
"Can I help you?"
I didn't recognize the voice and glanced over my shoulder to see a young woman standing across the living room with her arms crossed. "I- I'm Embry. I bring Ms. Siler her groceries every two weeks." I explained, turning to face the woman, my eyes on the shotgun in her hands.
"Oh, it is that day, isn't it?" She visibly relaxed. "Sorry."
"It's alright. Who are you? You're not the usual caretaker I see." I noted, slowly turning back to finish stocking the pantry.
"No." I could hear her step towards the kitchen. "Mrs. Greer won't be taking care of my grandma anymore. It's going to be me."
"Granddaughter, huh?" My eyebrows rose. "Pardon me, but... I didn't know she had grandchildren."
"Just me." She was right behind me and I turned to be met with an outstretched hand. "I'm Cara."
I took her hand, looking up into her eyes for the first time. I audibly gasped as not only recognition hit me, but her hazel orbs sucked me in. Tanned flesh, caramel hair, and pools of warm bronze that could raise the dead. There was a familiarity there as a wave of goosebumps exploded like millions of mini fireworks, cascading from my cheeks, down my neck and throughout the rest of my body. The scent of white tea and orange blossoms enveloping me in a warm cocoon as everything shifted into focus around this woman, glimpses of a future shimmering in her eyes. Just as soon as it was there, the moment was over, but the tug remained.
I released her hand and swallowed thickly. She eyed me curiously, knitting her brows together as she looked me up and down. "Are you alright? Embry?"
"Huh? I... y-yeah. Yeah." I cleared my throat.
"Do you need a glass of water? Or I could make you some tea? Coffee?"
"Water. Water is good."
"Right..." She turned to face the sink, pulling down a glass to fill from the filtered tap.
I didn't even know the woman. Not even five minutes after meeting her, I had imprinted. I recognized her as the driver of the Mini Cooper I had seen the night before, but even then I had thought of all of those women as out of my league. Seeing her up close... she most definitely was... She was tall enough to stand a couple inches shorter, slender enough to rival even me, caramel waves that just brushed over her shoulders, and a beauty mark nestled under just under the left side of her nose. I wanted to reach out and touch her, run my fingers through the soft waterfall of white tea and orange blossoms. She turned to give me the cup and I took it, not fully realizing that I had already been reaching for her. Damn wolf... I thanked her before quickly sucking down the water. My forehead had broken out in a sweat as I wrestled with my wolf, feeling the heat crawl up my spine.
No, no, no... not here. Anywhere but here...
"Are you sure you're okay? You look pale." She noted, taking the glass back.
"Yeah, I... I think I should head home." I nodded, unable to take my eyes from her perfectly chiseled features. "I'm sorry. It was nice to meet you, Cara."
I headed for the door, holding my side as my rib nearly snapped from holding back the wolf. She returned my farewell, but I didn't turn back. I needed to get as far away from her as I possibly could. I shut myself into my truck, pulling onto the road and heading for my house. I audibly grunted and groaned as my bones began to break and grow. Even though I was only a quarter mile from my house... I wasn't going to make it. I pulled off to the side, huffing and growling as I slammed the door shut and ran into the trees. I got as far as a few feet into the forest before phasing, ripping my clothes to shreds and releasing a long howl as I darted deeper into the woods.