Chapter 1: Fortitude

I came to La Push to visit my sister Emily. I missed her so much. So much had happened over the last while that it was difficult to wrap my mind around all the changes. As I sat on the beach, leaning against the whitened driftwood log I let my mind wander over those changes. Those life-altering changes. Whenever Emily and I came down to visit Leah, it was always so much fun. Our mothers were thrilled that we were more like sisters than cousins. Sue and our mother Ann had a similar relationship. Leah and Emily were especially close. We would swim and hike and hang out and watch movies. Sometimes Sam would come join us. We would play games, eat pizza and try our best to embarrass Sam. Sam was a big boy but he was a teddy bear on the inside. I had never met a sappier male in my life. That made it easy for us to tease him. He never seemed to mind and played right along with us. He and Leah had been an item since the eighth grade and so he was practically family too. He could give it back as good as we could dish it. I guess that was what made now seem so weird. Everything back then was just so familiar. Comfortable. Easy. Nothing seemed easy anymore. The waves gently lapped the shore as my mind wandered and I focused my attention away from my thoughts and onto my view. I know most people believe that beaches should be warm and tropical, but there was something awe inspiring about the coast of Washington. It wasn't warm. It took real fortitude to swim in the ocean up here, yet the meager sun warmed the sand just like anywhere else. Only not so hot. It was warm and inviting instead of burning to me as I sat leaning against my tree. The forest crept right up to the sand on one side and the water bordered it on the other. It was beautiful. This place calmed my soul. I loved the way the waves lapped gently at the giant rocks scattered along the beach. Some of these rocks just sprang out of nowhere in the sand jutting twenty or thirty feet in the air. It took fortitude. I guess that was a good word to describe what it took to survive all the changes. Which brought my mind back to Emily.

Emily had always been the more beautiful of the two of us. I didn't mind because she was just the same on the inside. She had a beautiful soul. So when she got mauled by the bear, no one thought her less pretty because the inside didn't change. What changed was how she felt about Sam after he saved her. Well, that was the story they were telling people anyway. I wasn't supposed to know, but Emily and I never could keep secrets from each other and when she wouldn't talk or look at me, I knew something was up. I begged. I pleaded. I finally hunted Sam down and demanded to know what was going on. Nobody would tell me anything so, I started to pay VERY close attention. I observed that Sam was completely avoiding Leah. I saw the way Sam looked at Emily differently. He would look at her like she was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen. I wondered if it was that whole Florence Nightengale/Rescuer/My Hero sort of thing. Yet, it seemed like more than that. Despite the longing I could obviously see in his eyes, there was also pain or guilt. I finally figured out that there was more to the whole he saved her thing. Emily was resisting his attention at this point. She couldn't believe that he was ignoring Leah. She was mad and, well, Emily has a temper, and she thought Sam was the devil incarnate for awhile. One day it all changed. I noticed Emily looking at Sam differently too. Now she was avoiding Leah too. I couldn't stand it and I went to her house to confront her. Sam was there and it was obvious that they were no longer angry at each other. They hadn't seen me so I crept away as quietly as I could because I was embarrassed about walking in on such an intimate moment. I walked along the beach for an hour and then went back and they were laughing quietly in the kitchen while Emily cooked. I decided to be bold and told them what I had seen. They were both shocked and then just stared into each others eyes for a long moment. I saw Sam gently nod his head and then Emily told me. I don't know what I was expecting, but that was not it. Sam was a werewolf. They explained the whole imprint thing to me and made sure that I knew that this was NOT ever to be repeated to anybody. They told me because Emily needed my support. I was stunned. It took me awhile to really comprehend all I heard.

There was no doubting their feelings for each other. One day after we had all been together for a few hours painting Emily (and soon to be Sam's) house, a song popped in my head and I burst out laughing. They looked at me like I had totally lost it as I started to dance around them giggling and flinging paint. "What is up with you?" Emily sputtered trying to wipe the flecks of paint off her cheek and glaring at me. She smiled wickedly and brushed a swath a paint across the back of my shirt as I danced by. Sam smirked and continued working.

"I finally figured out your song!" I chuckled and flung some paint at Sam. He flung it back and chuckled, "I thought we got to pick out our own song."

I cha-cha-ed away from them laughing and said, "Nope, this one has your IMPRINT all over it." I turned around starting to hum and resumed my painting when suddenly an extremely cold blast of water hit my back. Not thinking, I turned suddenly and my face experienced another jet of water out of the hose. Emily smirked behind her weapon and Sam held his hands and paint brush up and said "This is between you two—leave me out of it."

"What song are you thinking?" Emily demanded raising the hose ever so slightly, the threat implicit in the small movement.

I sang as loud as I could dancing toward her, "I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel the sky tumbling down tumbling down. I feel my heart start to trembling Whenever you're around. Oh baby When I see your face Mellow as the month of May

Oh darling I cant stand it When you look at me that way….." The song ended as I got a mouth full of water. Sam and Emily didn't look upset though. They just gazed at each other with that look. I decided I should go for a walk and give them some privacy. So, here I sit on the beach in sopping wet, paint covered clothes, humming a Carly Simon song quietly to myself and letting the nature around be calm my soul.