Heart of the Beast

Okay, I'm having serious writer's block on my A Great and Terrible Beauty fanfic so I'm going to try out this one for a while…

Paul's temper only seems to get worse as the days go by. Can something, rather, someone, get to his heart?

I don't own anything!

"Wow, we're here already!" My father pulls into the driveway and hops out of the car.

Already? We've been driving for hours…I look at the dilapidated house that is now my home. My father and I lived in Washington, D.C. since I was born with my mother, who was a Senator. My father was a chef, working in a small pub in the District. He could make the best Boxty in the world.

Yes, we are Irish. Well, my dad is at least. He lived in Ireland until he was twelve. And boy is he proud of it. Everything served in that restaurant was Irish. For the most part, people enjoyed the food, the Celtic music constantly playing, and the beer of course. It didn't make a lot of money, but my mom did. Enough money to put us in a very nice apartment building right in the middle of the District and to put me in a prestigious private school. It was a nice life, in its own way. At least we were happy. Or, I thought we were.

About a year and a half ago the changes began. It started off small; my mom started working on a huge bill that "requires all of my attention now," as she put it. She would stay out later and later, sometimes not coming home at all. Then the business trips started. Off to visit colleagues and possible endorsers of her new bill. Oftentimes she would be gone for weeks at a time, and the sad part was that I began to stop noticing when she was gone.

My father and I got closer. I worked evenings at the pub. It was great. I loved all the people that worked there. I guess you could say we formed our own family at the pub. Once my mother found out that I worked there, she flipped. "I will not have my daughter working at that…disgusting brothel of yours!" Those were her exact words, which was ridiculous since it wasn't anything near a brothel. She quickly signed me up for singing lessons, hoping for me to find a talent that would keep me form the pub. It worked. I'm lucky to be gifted with singing. And I absolutely love it. I can't begin to describe the utter freedom singing brings me…freedom of my mother's desperate attempts to keep me away from the pub and closer to the high-class of my private school.

Her plan of keeping me high-class worked too. I met my boyfriend in debate class one day. Daren was a transfer from Bethesda, Maryland. He was a senior and hot, tall and lean with that "emo look" of hair that all the guys wanted but few could perfect. He was a poet, and often wrote songs he made me promise to sing once I became famous. I had never planned to become a professional singer, but I promised anyway.

I soon realized that I had forgotten about my friends at the pub. So I worked as often as I could there, squeezing it in between singing and Daren and my friends. In my mind, life was perfect. Then it happened:

It was a Saturday night. Mom was away on business, and Dad was still at the pub. My friends Bridget and Regan were over and decided that they wanted to go to H2O, a nightclub not too far away. It didn't take long for them to persuade me to go too, and before I knew it the bouncer was letting us in. It was amazing in its chaos. Bodies everywhere swaying to the techno music thumping from the speakers. Soon, I was high on the energy of the place, dancing and rubbing against people I didn't even know. Then out of nowhere a drunk woman stumbled to the floor, taking me with her.

"Watch it!" she grumbled, and a young man of about twenty helped her up kissing her neck. It was only as she tilted her neck to allow the man more room for his lips that I saw who it was: my mother.

The rest of that night was a blur. I remember running from the club, my sobs forcing me to hyperventilation as I ran home. I'm sure people thought I was crazy I stumbled home. As I lay in bed that night, I wondered what to do. Should I tell my dad? It would break his heart. Of course, now that I knew, it seemed so pathetically obvious. The late nights, the "business trips," like the one she was supposedly on now…it was all a lie.

It turns out I never even had to tell my father. The next day as we were eating lunch, he asked me to get the mail. I did, and his eyes bulged as he read the divorce papers my mom had sent to him. I remember he tried to hide his reaction. "Cara dear, I…I-need some…time alone, please. I'm sure Daren would love to come over…"

I cried for three days. Daren was there for most of the time, holding me and whispering sweet nothings in my ear. I couldn't understand why it hurt so much. She had hardly been there to begin with; this really wasn't that different. Maybe it was because she didn't even try to get partial custody of me. I mean, didn't she love me? I tried to be the way she wanted me to be. I soon gave up on the singing. I hurt too much. Dad took it pretty bad too. He absolutely threw himself into the pub for months, trying to forget mother.

He strangely got back to normal sooner than I thought. Then he told me why. He had met someone. She had won a trip to D.C. and had stopped in the pub for a drink. She and Dad talked for hours, and he was smitten. She came to the pub everyday and they went on a few dates. Then she had to go back to Washington, where she lived. She and my father emailed everyday, and talked on the phone as much as they could. Her husband had died from a heart attack. Dad left after months of emailing and calling to visit her in Washington. He came back engaged.

I'm not going to say I wasn't angry. After all, I had a life here. I had friends, the school, and Daren of course. But as soon as Daren told me he was going to an art school in Los Angeles, I felt better. It wasn't to far away from Washington. Much closer than D.C. was. And I was happy that Dad was happy.

I shake my head from the memories. Now wasn't the time. I walk to the trunk of our SUV and pull out two of my suitcases. "Oh, you made it!" calls my stepmother, Sue. I had met her once, and I liked her. She had a kind face. She runs into my father and hugs him, kissing his cheek. Then she turns to me.

"Hello Cara. I really hope you like it here. I'm afraid our house probably isn't what you're used to. You'll have to share a room with my daughter Leah. But I'm sure that your father already told you that."

I smiled. Yes, I was going to have a stepsister. And a stepbrother, Seth. I haven't met them yet, and I am extremely nervous. "Don't worry about it, Sue. I don't mind."

Susan Clearwater beams at me. My father had told me earlier that I could just call my new stepmother Susan or Sue. Susan and her kids had decided to keep their last name of Clearwater. My father didn't care; I could tell.

We walk into the house, and instantly I feel at home. The house is small, but homey. Sue shows me to my new room. It is a moderate size considering the size of the house. There's a twin bed covered with magazines, and one that is empty. I put my suitcases on the empty bed and, deciding to unpack later, join my father and Sue in the kitchen. They are laughing together, and I smile knowing that my father is truly happy. Sue glances at me. "How do you like the room Cara?"

I smile. "It's wonderful, but where are Leah and Seth?"

Sue's smile falters briefly. "They'll be out for a little while. You probably won't see them until the bonfire."

"Bonfire?" my father asks.

"Oh no! I told everyone that I wouldn't be able to keep it secret! The tribe is planning a bonfire for tonight to welcome you. It was supposed to be a surprise…"

Dad laughs. "Don't worry. We Irish are famous for our acting skills. They'll never know you told us."

Sue and I laugh. My father is constantly naming talents the Irish are famous for. Most of them, of course, he's just made up. "Well, Cara, feel free to look around the area. Just be back around seven for the bonfire. And," her eyes suddenly become solemn, "stay on the La Push grounds, dear. I don't want you wandering around Forks until someone can show you around."

I nod and head out the door, wanting fresh air. The backyard is small, placed right in front of the woods. I suddenly feel the urge to explore the woods. As I trudge through, I think about the bonfire. I'm not very social. Most people think I'm shy. I feel nervousness in the pit of my stomach. What if the people in La Push don't like me? I took a deep breath and shake that thought from my head. I sit on a log and enjoy the forest. It is lovely outside with the autumn air beginning to push out the summer. School would start in a few days, but I didn't even want to think about that.

Suddenly I hear crunching. I can't see anything, but it sounds like footsteps. A rabbit? No, too heavy. A fox? Bigger. Then I see something. All I can really make out is a huge gray flash. Whatever it was, it looked as big as a bear. I look at my hands and I realize I'm shaking. I don't know what that thing was, but I don't intend to find out and get eaten. Suddenly an earsplitting howl rings from the direction the thing went. I cover my ears and scream. My instinct tells me to run, but I'm frozen in place. I'm going to be eaten. It's going to eat me. Not if I can stop it. I push myself to run as fast as I can in the direction of the house. Wait, is that the way? I don't know anymore. I'm stumbling; every sound is that wolf-bear thing coming for me. I look behind me, praying that there is nothing following me. There isn't.

Then to my shock, I run into a tree. I fall and grab my head, cursing. These La Push trees are hard! I look up, preparing to curse the tree for all its worth, when I see it's not a tree at all. It's a man.

He is tall, around 6'7 or 6'8 . He is lean, but not skinny. Muscles ripple along his arms and uncovered chest. He's wearing cutoff jeans, and to my surprise, no shoes. His black hair is short, and his dark brown eyes piercing. There is a smirk on his features.

"Need help?" He asks. Then, before I can answer, he grabs my arm and pulls me up so that I'm standing.

"Thanks…" I say breathlessly.

"You shouldn't be in these woods. What are you doing here? Who are you? It doesn't matter. You need to leave. Go home."

I stare at him, shocked at his rudeness. "Um, excuse me, but last time I checked, you don't own these woods. I can be here if I want. I don't know who you think you are, but you have no right to tell me what to do. And for your information, I was on my way home, then this giant…wolf-bear came and tried to eat me." Bending the story wouldn't hurt, right? After all, it sounded good.

The man's eyes flashed in horror, then quickly to amusement. "A wolf-bear huh? Yeah, those are common around here. Don't worry though, they don't attack unless provoked." His smirk grew. "You hit your head pretty hard, huh?"

I gape at him. I hope the fury I'm feeling is showing on my face. "You have some nerve…" I mutter. "I don't care what you say. I know what I saw."

His smirk transforms into a scowl. He looks downright dangerous, and I can feel fear seeping into me. He leans in close to my face, until I can fell his breath blowing my hair. "Listen to me, sweetheart, you don't know what you're talking about. So why don't you just go home, and forget about it."

But I refuse to back down. Hoping my fear doesn't show, I lean in closer. "Or what? Why are you doing this? Why are you protecting it? What are you hiding?"

He suddenly turns away and begins walking deeper into the woods. "You didn't see anything. There are no wolves or bears in La Push. The town is about half a mile in the direction to your right. Just go home and forget about it."

"I won't forget about it!" I yell at him, but I don't think he can hear me. In desperation to have the last word, I yell louder, "And I'm not your sweetheart!"

Wow. Long. Please Review!!!!