Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven: Warning

Waves were crashing all around my head. Thick waves. Painful waves. Waves of…sound.

A feral, furious snarling surrounded me, jolting me halfway awake. The suddenly recalled memory of the wolf that had inexplicably replaced Jacob finished the job for me. As I came to, I registered the cold hand on my shoulder, the frantic voice in my ear.

"Bella? Bella! Are you--" then the hand was gone, the sweet voice filtering away into a deadly growl that was so soft it was almost a purr. I sat up to look around, and a lance of pain stabbed the back of my neck. So I must have hit my head. Not that this was surprising. I slowly peeled one eye open, then the other. My vision focused, and, sure enough, there was the wolf from my dream, growling ferociously, its teeth bared—looking murderous.

"Please calm down." Edward's voice was smooth, cool, despite his almost panicked expression.

The wolf snarled louder.

"Do you really want to do this in front of a human?" The wolf did nothing. I wondered vaguely why Edward was addressing the creature like this.

"If you harm her, you break the treaty. Neither of us wants that to happen, do we?" Edward's voice was a sheath of ice, the coolness in it radiating around him. I wondered at the strange juxtaposition of hatred and control in his posture. The wolf's expression was alight with fire. I had never seen an animal look so angry.

I barely had time to register Edward's form crouching defensively before the beast sprang at him. In a flash, Edward met it head on, and they collided with and unbelievably loud smack, like a gigantic bass drum falling down a mountain path paved with mallets.

The impact sent them rolling across the lawn. They stopped right by the edge of the forest, the wolf's back against the foliage. Both of them immediately stood up. The wolf looked completely unfazed, to my surprise. Its short fur bristled as it crouched up on its haunches…

And then my shock immediately turned to horror as the beast lunged for Edward again. My heart nearly stopped beating. As it jumped, the wolf became a red blur of movement, hurtling toward my…Edward, bent on destruction. For some reason, this time seemed worse—maybe because I had time to register the movement.

It was over in a split second when Edward's white blur joined the mix. There was an enormous cracking noise, and then the massive canine peeled off in a sort of sideways twisting motion. It landed on its feet, but its head was down. Its muzzle seemed to be hurt. It looked so forlorn, I felt sorry for it. For a moment. Then it started at Edward again.

This time Edward ran at it from the side, and yet again they collided. There was barely any sound, but the wolf came away limping. It looked incredibly pathetic, and I felt a sudden urge to protect it. What did the poor creature think it was doing, trying to attack an indestructible being?

"Don't kill it," I found myself whispering. It was a soft plea, but apparently Edward heard it; he turned his head briefly to glance at me, face filled with surprise.

And that was all the opening the wolf needed. While Edward's head was turned, it leapt suddenly at him. I watched, aghast, as the wolf latched its jaws onto his shoulder. Edward became a haze of action as he attempted to dislodge the beast, but it held on. Then, abruptly, a sickening crack sliced the air in half and the wolf came away, holding a piece of Edward's white flesh in its muzzle.

I don't know when I started screaming. Probably when I saw the big chunk that was missing from Edward's shoulder—because something had literally taken a bite out of it. I didn't even realize I was the one making the high-pitched keening sound until I tried to swallow and ended up choking. I saw Edward again, looking at me with a pained expression of concern.

Every spare thought in my mind begged me to run to him, but my feet wouldn't move. Instead, I let my eyes focus on him, nearly blind with panic and tears—where did those come from?

Edward didn't break his pleading eyes away from my horrified stare until some movement nearby drew his gaze. I followed it and saw that the wolf's shape was blurring, shuddering in on itself. In a moment, there was no wolf at all…just Jacob Black, standing there, half submerged in the undergrowth of the forest, a piece of Edward's shoulder still clenched in his teeth.

Jacob was the wolf. The wolf was Jacob. Jacob had turned into a wolf…of course. It made sense. I had already met a vampire, so why wouldn't there be werewolves, as well? Through my horror, I barely had the capacity to resign to the realization.

The young werewolf spat out the piece of flesh with an expression of disgust. It…he…turned to Edward, who, I noted with mildly outraged surprise, didn't appear to be in any physical pain.

"This," hissed Jacob, glaring furiously at Edward, "is the only warning I'm going to give you. Leave." And with one swift glance at me, he ran off into the forest, still limping slightly.

My muscles finally caught up with my brain, and I was instantly on my feet and running toward Edward. He was now clutching his shoulder and cringing, as if the pain had just caught up with him.

"…shoulder…" was all I could manage as I stood, hands fluttering uselessly about, by his side. He glanced at me, trying to mask his pain with his expression.

"It'll be fine, Bella." I don't know what I expected, but it certainly wasn't the cool, even tone in which he said this. Still cringing, he picked up the gleaming piece of pale flesh and…just set it back in place. Without a sound, his skin seemed to grow back around it, and just like that the wound was healed.

He didn't turn around to face me.

"Edward," I said uncertainly, "are you alright?" Now he faced me, his expression still guarded.

"Yes. Are you?"

"Am…? Oh." I felt the back of my head. "It'll be fine. You know I've had worse." His eyes widened in disbelief.

"You're not…scared?"

"Why?" I asked, suddenly horrorstruck. "He's not going to come back, is he?"

"Not today. I was more referring to the fact that, after having my appendage nearly ripped off by a savage beast, I was able to simply put myself back together. That doesn't frighten you?" he looked unsure.

"Is your shoulder going to be okay?" I asked him, starting to realize what he was getting at.

"Yes…"

"Then why would it? Edward, it's time for you to stop putting so much focus on the fact that you're a vampire. When will you accept that I can accept it?" He grinned.

"I keep forgetting what a rare creature you are. How did I get so lucky?" I smiled back at him, then returned to the matter at hand.

"So that was a…um…werewolf, right?"

"Yes," he replied darkly.

"And…you mentioned some sort of treaty, and then he…attacked you. Then told you to leave. So…what was that about?"

He sighed. "If I were to say that was a long story," he grimaced, "it would be an understatement."

………………………………………………………………………………………………

Once we were back in the house and had settled at the kitchen table, Edward began his explanation.

"When we were here…the first time," he said, "They were here as well. At that time, their leader—the alpha wolf, I suppose—was Jacob's grandfather, Ephraim Black."

"Wait," I interrupted, "So…who are the werewolves? There's a group of them?"

"Yes," he sighed. "All of them—at least, last time we were here—were Quileute. So, technically, the Quileute chief, at that time, was the same person who led the werewolf pack."

"But why were they all Quileute?" I questioned. "It doesn't make sense…wouldn't there be others, from other places, joining their pack?"

Edward stared at me for a moment, then said, "Ah, I see what you mean. Werewolves…well, they don't work quite the same way as we do. This is the only pack of them I've ever come across. Werewolves don't…end up the way they are the same way we do."

"So a werewolf bite doesn't turn you into a werewolf?" I asked him.

"No," he agreed. "Carlisle thinks it's genetic…the people whose fathers were werewolves become werewolves themselves. As far as we know, all of them are male."

"Why is that?"

"We don't know," he admitted.

"So…" I had to think here. "So, what about the treaty you mentioned? What did you mean by that?"

"As I was saying before," he replied, "When we were here the first time, Ephraim Black was their leader. There was some…conflict, and finally Ephraim and Carlisle decided to draw up an agreement to keep the peace. That's the treaty Jacob mentioned. We agreed to keep to separate territories—Forks is, or was, neutral. If any of us bit anyone, if any of the werewolves attacked anyone, or if either side crossed into the others' territory, the other side had a right to open hostilities."

"So the treaty still stands, then?" I wondered.

"I don't know," he told me. "I think it did, but Jacob broke it by attacking me. It might be in our best interest to get Alice and the others here as soon as possible; I don't know what the wolves will do next."

I gulped, remember Jacob's warning at the prom so long ago: We'll be watching.

"Yeah," I agreed, "I think we should definitely call Alice back. And then I have about a million more questions for you."

There ya go. Please nobody shoot me for the Edward's injury thing; you don't realize how much information you learn about vampires in New Moon and Eclipse until you try to rewrite them; it was necessary for Bella to see how vampires' injuries healed. Anyway, review, even if you've reviewed previous chapters!