The time to follow was excruciatingly slow. I was completely alone, which was fine at first. Then it didn't feel like I was alone. It just felt like there was no one guarding me. Like I had no one to turn to. According to the police, our house was vandalized by a remorseful hooligan who left seven thousand dollars for the damage in an anonymous envelope on the backdoor's porch.
At least Edward did that much. Even though my room was torn to shreds and damage had also been done to some of the living room, all the expenses were covered. It was kind of ironic that my house was ransacked so generously.
Of course I shouldn't have been surprised.
Edward was not a bad person. The only reason I posed a threat to him was because of Bella and the information I held. That's why I had problems with everyone here. Still, that didn't make me any more comfortable having to sleep in the living room on our new couch. It had been almost a week since that night and Bella still hadn't come back to school.
I drove by, as I knew that I should keep an eye on her, even though she wasn't doing anything. She was home. Physically, not quite spiritually. I saw her walk past the windows in her house, so I knew she was there. She wasn't curled up crying though. She was just moving.
I took that as a good sign and tried to continue living my life. This was not very simple. I was definitely in a walking coma like Bella. Still the reminder of their pain was everywhere at school. It wasn't as though no one had noticed that it took half the town and some of La Push to find her in the middle of the woods laying on the ground and muttering "he's gone." Everyone saw the pain.
Jessica was a little overzealous with the rumors. That girl has quite an imagination. It was disgusting to watch, but I had gone this far. I just needed to keep my eyes on the prize. Thursday I had an appointment with Paul at the border. It would be our first meeting after the confirmation that the Cullens were gone.
So no Cullens, no treaty, right? Of course. I mean I wasn't really a threat unless the Cullens were here. Obviously I wasn't on their "side" otherwise I would be with them, wouldn't I? In fact, it could be said that I was the one that assured the Cullens were gone. They should be applauding my efforts.
There. The big bad vampires were gone. They could be happy now. So didn't that mean that we could happy too?
I suffered through the week of rumors and mundane normalcy. Coming home, doing homework, checking the mail. I might has well have been living in a perpetually sunny Forks.
I shivered at that thought.
Thursday took a while to come, but it did come eventually. That day classes were painfully slow, but I raced back home afterwards. My new furniture was coming today, but it was raining so there was really no point in attempting to fuss with my clothes.
I ran past my aunt in the dining room as she read the paper from this morning. It was a rare day that she was home, but tribal elders had more important things to do than meeting with her lately, so she was relaxing at home. She liked to read it in the afternoons because Uncle Bob always circled the stories she thought she'd like to read in the morning.
She glanced up when she saw me.
"Hey Cammy. You in a hurry?" she said over her shoulder as I darted into the bathroom. I mussed with my hair, fixing it back into a decent ponytail to correct the little stray hairs had managed to get loose in the school day.
"Yeah," I called back to my aunt. The bathroom door was open, so she stepped in to stand behind me as I did my hair and applied some lightly tinted chapstick. She cocked her head at my appearance.
"Where are you going?" she asked.
"La Push," I announced. Her brows went up.
"Oh really?" she said very casually. I unraveled my hair from my ponytail and put the hair tie in my mouth to hold while I used both hands to comb through my hair. She observed from behind. She had a strange concern on her face that made me stop what I was doing. Finally she realized her staring was making me uncomfortable and smiled.
"To see who?"
"Paul," I answered. Her suspicion was making me suspicious. She never cared about my interest in La Push before. She nodded slowly. I wondered about her reaction though. "Why? Is that alright?" Aunt Debbie recovered quickly nodding.
"Oh yes, that's fine. You're nearly an adult, honey. I'm sure you can handle yourself, its just... Well, I've heard he can have a temper," Aunt Debbie said.
"I know," I said.
"Yes, Cam, but so can you," she pointed out. There was an edge to that statement. I stared at her for an instant. What was she trying to say? As I gave up trying to figure that out, I beamed at her with a fake smile.
"Maybe that's why we get along so well," I said. She cocked a brow and moved aside as I maneuvered out of the small bathroom. She stepped aside and followed me to the kitchen table where I'd dropped my purse. Aunt Debbie followed me at a slower pace. She watched me carefully.
I smiled at her.
Her eyes were stuck on me.
"Are you okay?" I asked. Aunt Debbie nodded as she held her arms across her stomach.
"Just be careful, alright?" she said with true sincerity. I blinked a few times, wondering again if there was a double meaning to her words. I nodded in confirmation to whatever she meant and painted the smile back on.
"I'll be home for dinner," I promised.
On the way to La Push, my favorite songs were on the radio. It was one of those sort of days where it felt like things were just going to be positive all day long. Where you know its safe to make extravagant plans with friends because nothing could go wrong. Even though it was sprinkling, the sun was shooting down beams of light in the holes of the thick clouds.
I daydreamed about what Paul and I could do on a day like this when we had no limits. When I was not bound by a treaty and Paul could do whatever the hell he wanted despite Sam's orders. Paul's rebellious smile popped in my head. I knew my daydreaming was going too far, but it was just getting me excited for seeing Paul. I couldn't wait to see what the pack had to say about the Cullens moving.
They must be ecstatic.
When I rounded the last bend before the borderline I could see three figures right beside the sign on the edge of the road. My heart caught and I felt a nervous excitement catch in my chest making my heart beat in slow deliberate thuds. As I neared them, I noticed that none of them look happy to see me.
Darkness seeped into my mood like someone was standing in front of my light.
I pulled over to the shoulder of the road into the gravel and braked. I opened the door and put on my diplomat face for Sam's sake, for Paul's sake.
I approached them all as they stood next to the "Welcome to La Push" sign. Sam stood in between the other two. They all looked like they were in their twenties, but Sam was obviously the oldest. Jared was the shortest, but he was well defined and he was the only one of the three who had any spark of immaturity in his eyes.
Paul flanked Sam on his left, not quite so defined, but definitely the most attractive. Then again, maybe it was just me. I was completely biased after all. But I couldn't see the most wonderful part of him. The rebellious spark that had gotten me kidnapped.
The rain had lightened to a drizzle. I shrugged my rain jacket around me as I tried to make it look like it didn't bother me that the other two had come.
"Hey guys," I said brightly. What else could I have said? Sam forced a tight smile.
"Hello Cammy. How was your summer?"
"I survived it," I said. Summer hadn't been particularly eventful. "How was yours?"
"Same," Sam said. That seemed to be the same answer for Jared and Paul too, as neither of them felt the need to add anything. My gaze lingered on Paul questioningly. He wouldn't look me in the eye. I felt a stab of pain. Paul was as guilty of having a multiple personality disorder as Edward was. He was perfectly elated to see me last I saw him.
I swallowed back my annoyance for the sake of appearances.
"How are things on La Push?"
"Can we cut the bull and get on with this?" Jared interrupted. Paul's stiff posture relaxed as we all turned to glare at Jared. He looked back at us. "What?"
"Get on with what?" I said turning my attention to Sam and Paul. Again Paul made a special effort not to make eye contact. Sam sighed.
"So, I guess the Cullens are really gone. We'd like to ask a few questions about that," Sam said. I shrugged.
"Ask away," I said.
"Why did they leave?" Sam asked. I sighed.
"Not that its any of your business," I pointed out. Sam rolled his eyes, probably sensing the 'I can't tell you' excuse. "But maybe it would be better if you knew." Surprise was evident on all their faces. I was glad. Cooperation was key if I was going to try and get my name off the treaty. "It was Edward's decision. He wanted to get away from Bella."
They all shared the same expression, like their thoughts were linked. Sam held up his hand.
"Wait. Are we talking about the same leech? The one you claimed was madly in love with her?" I nodded. "Why?"
"He was concerned about her safety. He knows that he..." I tried to be graceful as I danced around the truth to make the most unquestionable vague answers. I wasn't about to go into details about the birthday incident. "...comes from a dangerous world. He's leaving her..."
"To protect her," Paul finished, suddenly feeling the need to say something. His dark eyes finally found mine. I locked into them, afraid that if I looked away he would never look my way again.
Sam and Jared both looked his way. I gave him a curious glance. His forehead was creased in thought. Paul looked back at Sam who had a hard look. Paul turned back to me. "Go on."
Sam and Jared exchanged a look.
"Um," I stammered as I shifted my stance uncomfortably. "That's all." Sam nodded, the action taking my attention away from Paul as he was staring hard at the ground, doing one of those thoughtful-brooding stares that Edward was famous for.
"Was there an incident? Did one of them slip up?" Sam asked. The question caught me off guard, but I don't think I reacted on the outside.
"They didn't hurt anyone," I said. Sam half-smiled.
"Which one took a snap at someone?" he asked smugly. I frowned
"Ten bucks says it was the blonde male," Jared perked. I glared deeply at the mention of Jasper and his restraint.
"It doesn't matter," I said. "They're gone. Its over and done with." They stared at me for an instant. Then they all looked at one another. None of them looked believing. Sam made a face.
"So... There are three books. They can't be over already. You just got back," Sam said calculating, like he was trying guess what was happening in the story. I remembered he'd seen the books, the first time I'd ever come to La Push, when I met an innocent human Paul. "And they just... left? Right in the middle of them?" Jared seemed to suddenly realize something.
"Bella doesn't know about us yet," Jared said. This caught Sam's and Paul's attention.
"You're right. She has to find out about us," Sam decided to Jared's suggestion. He looked at me for confirmation. "Unless the only reason she knows about us is that the leech told her."
"Give them some credit. They don't run around telling other people secrets," I defended quickly. They didn't even tell her their own secrets. Bella had to find out for herself. Luckily, Jacob had a big mouth.
Oh it was going to be an interesting couple of months. I eagerly remembered why I'd hoped to see all of them so much.
"So...?" I said. They stared back at me unmoving.
"So?" Sam prodded with a shrug.
"The treaty?" I asked. If no one else was going to bring it up, I sure would. Paul stiffened the moment my words left me. Sam relaxed in a defeated stance as he crossed his arms over his chest. Yes, if no one else was going to address the issue everyone wanted to ignore, I would be glad to bring it up.
"What about it?" Sam asked. I paused, frozen.
"I'm still on the treaty," I said, exhaling. The realization dawned on me. Clouds moved in front of the sun. I felt like my heart had been down out and stepped on. It made me feel a physical throb of disappointment. I looked to Paul who's eyes flickered to meet my gaze. "It's still in effect?"
No one answered me. I knew I was right. Then something made me think.
"So you're still not allowed in Forks?" I asked. Jared's mouth twitched in a slight smile and Paul's straightened as though that was the little light of hope in all of this. Sam grinned.
"Well," he said. "Seeing as how you're the only one left, you're welcome to enforce that whenever you please." My brow furrowed.
"What do you mean enforce?" I questioned. It didn't make sense. "You mean I'm allowed to kick you out of Forks." Sam shrugged.
"Sure," he said, but he smiled just a little bit.
"How...?" I started. Then I knew what they were talking about.
Oh... That would be the point. What could I do about werewolves crossing over into territory that was now mine, and mine alone? I was just a human. They were going to cross over whenever they pleased.
Jared snickered until I shot him a look. My glare must have been pretty deadly, if it stopped him in mid-laugh. This made Paul grin, even if it was just a little soft grin. If I weren't livid, then I would have been proud to have impressed him.
"That's not fair," I said. Sam shrugged. My mouth parted in shock.
"That's the way it has to be, Cammy. I'm sorry," Sam said. He did look truly sorry, even if Jared looked more smug than I'd ever seen. "Its safer this way." My hands snapped into fists.
"Okay," I said smiling patiently. The patience somehow transformed into malicious sarcasm. "I get it. I'm one weak little hundred twenty pound, five foot four, human girl. You are three gigantic werewolves who are emotionally unstable and clinically obsessed and uncontrollable. Yeah, I see how I would be the dangerous one who needs to be bound to such restrictions." I folded my arms across my chest, inserting the glare at the end of my rant.
None of them looked pleased with what I was saying.
Paul vibrated once, a delayed response to my accusation. I warily looked to him just in case. He was quickly calmed. I admitted internally, that he was much better at controlling himself. He didn't even have an outburst. Paul cocked a brow as he saw my gaze.
"No," Sam corrected. "You're not just a weak little human girl. You are a weak little conniving girl who has a history of attacking members of our tribe, helping dangerous bloodsuckers escape to pursue a life of killing humans, and betraying members of our Pack." I frowned at the accusation. "Its not just vampires we keep off our land, its anyone else who we don't think is good for us too."
"You're worried that I might hurt you?" I said to them giving a mocking look, to show how pathetic it was to be afraid of me. I spread my arms wide. "How about you pat me down and make sure I don't have any weapons?" Sam let out a short growl between clenched teeth.
"The point is, you'll resort to drastic measures to make the story unfold the way you think it should. Even if it costs lives. You've already killed, god-knows how many people," Sam accused. My felt my jaw tighten. Sam rolled his eyes and leaned down from his massive height to get in my face. "Do you need to see the names before you understand how many people you killed by letting a vampire live?"
"I am not a murderer," I said in a low voice. But the truth was that Sam made me think. How many people was Laurent killing out there? They weren't casualty numbers written in a book. They were people in this world that I could see and touch, people with real life families.
I shook my head to force myself to concentrate.
"I'm not dangerous," I said weakly. Then quickly I was reminded of why I was here, and that I should not be arguing with Sam. It was time to tell a half-truth. I can't have gone this far with my decision and not get any personal benefits. "That vampire is a vegetarian. He's living with the clan in Denali." Sam snorted.
"And those vegetarian vampires are not prone to make mistakes?" Sam asked. My temper flared unexpectedly, as I already had my ammo ready to fire.
"No more prone than you are," I retorted before I could stop myself. Sam glared. I saw Jared cringe and Paul was immediately very wary of Sam. Sam shook once. I met his wild look, knowing that Jared and Paul would not allow me to be hurt. I trusted them.
"That's enough! Go back home," Sam snapped suddenly pointing back east where Forks was.
"You can't tell me what to do Sam," I said immaturely. I was raging now. How dare they take advantage of me, and the treaty like this? They were making it work for themselves, not thinking of their own pack members or the opposite party on the treaty.
Sam exhaled, shaking his head.
"Go home," he said through clenched teeth.
"I don't like double standards," I said narrowing my eyes at him.
"I said, go!" Sam cried.
"Cammy, please leave," Paul said calmly. I considered the irony that Paul had to step in for Sam who was fuming. I liked defying Sam. If he was going to make a mockery of my name being on the treaty, take my Paul away from me, and try to force restrictions on me, then he was now my personal enemy.
"And what are you going to do about this?" I asked Paul turning my glare on him. He frowned.
"My hands are tied, you know that," Paul said. My breath was ragged. Even Paul wasn't going to do anything. My heart sank. There was something deeply wrong with the the world if I couldn't even count on Paul to make an outburst. I lost the feeling in my clenched fists. I felt tears brimming to my eyelids.
No more La Push. This was a life sentence. My temper was absolutely out of control now. I kept myself completely still, because I was terrified I was going to throw myself on the next werewolf that moved. I breathed as I dropped my gaze to the soaked ground. I exhaled through my nose.
"Alright," I said through clenched teeth. But I wanted to hit Sam. That would not be useful though. I'd never wished to strike a werewolf (in real life) until now. Now I would give anything to have that crow bar back in my hands. With my rage, I had confidence that I might even win that battle. I felt like a monster myself, ready to explode with one incautious movement.
Luckily, my legs knew better. With my head still ducked under the rain, I sloshed through the mud back to the Celica. The rain suddenly picked up, becoming a pour down in a sudden instant. I thought I might have heard Paul call my name, but I couldn't turn to face them.
I went to the Celica, never looking up through the windshield so any of them could see my face. I felt pale and cold. I felt saw the tears before I felt them. Then I was aware of my sobbing. As soon as I saw the initial pain, I knew I wasn't really as strong as I thought I was. This hurt.
I really must be a glutton for disappointment. Why had I done this to myself? For the small chance that it would get me off the treaty? I had bet high and lost. How could I have not seen this coming? Why was this such a surprise? Hadn't Paul clearly rejected me? Hadn't he done everything, but physically pushed me away?
Did I even bother to listen.
Unlike Edward, he really didn't want me. He was only with me, because fate seemed to have a sick sense of humor. If there was no such thing as imprinting then we probably wouldn't even be friends. I would just be a pathetic lovesick girl chasing after a boy that didn't like her.
Now the entire book was in chaos. Not out of order, but it was the grueling chaos it was meant to be. I could have easily avoided this.
I had to pull over as I was sobbing so hard that I was gasping for breath making strangled sounds. I quickly reached over and turned the knob on the stereo until I couldn't hear the music. I stared out the windshield. I felt like I was looking at a chess board, all of the pieces were in terrible positions and I could not for the life of me see where I wanted to make my next move.
Then I remembered what Paul had said. he'd said that humans didn't imprint. So this shouldn't tear me apart. Maybe I could just move on. It wasn't like I had a lot of room in my life for a love interest anyway. I had a main character to stalk. I had things to do. Bella was an accident waiting to happen after all. I shouldn't be playing around with the dogs on La Push. I should be watching.
"Fine," I spoke to myself sucking in a breath. "I have more important things to do anyway." I could barely even pretend to believe myself. This was going to be hard. But not impossible. I knew where Paul was. I knew he was safe. I knew that he loved me, even if he didn't want to. All those things were important to know, the things that Bella didn't have the advantage of.
Maybe this was karma. Maybe I deserved this, for allowing so much pain to happen for my own benefit. For not stopping New Moon when I had the chance. I nodded once to myself as I stared absently at the speedometer and steering wheel. I would be fine. It wasn't like I didn't have it coming. I would endure this.
As it started to rain harder, I flipped on the headlights and forced myself back on the road. I would get home and then fall to pieces. Then I would recover. I couldn't afford to go zombie. That was a luxury Bella had, that I didn't.
I paid no attention to the drive home. I allowed myself to move without concentrating on what I was doing. It was peaceful to just let myself do and not think. I could see how tempting the zombie life was. I forced myself to resurface, as much as I wanted to drown in my wallowing.
I cleaned my face the best I could in the car. Then I stepped up the porch steps and opened the door. I saw it before I saw anything else. A big brown package sitting on the table from UPS.
The books and my phone had finally arrived.