This is the FINAL installment of this story. I can't even begin to apologize for the unannounced hiatus. Anyway, to anyone who still reads - enjoy! Also, I'm considering a title revision, heads up.
"You're not going too, are you, Jacob?"
Bronte sat cross-legged on Jacob's small bed, chewing her lip nervously. Jacob was drifting around the room, making calls to Seth and Embry to gather the others. He wore his typical black sweats and nothing else; to an outsider, he would be seemingly lounging about the house, but Bronte knew better.
He sent her an apologetic look as he finished off his conversation with Seth.
"-yeah. Yeah, be at Emily's in five minutes. Yeah, they'll be there. Bye."
He chucked the phone somewhere behind him in the room and then clambered onto the bed in front of her, pulling her close to him. She was looking at him, her eyes pleading like a child. He sighed heavily. The last few days had been trying for all of them, putting all the pieces of their plans together, running through alternate strategies, and settling on a last-ditch escape route. Things were getting very real, very quickly.
"I know what you're thinking," he said. "We're going to get him. It's going to be fine."
"And you? Are you going to be fine?"
Jacob's eyes crinkled a little as he jested. "I didn't know you cared so much."
Bronte swatted him on the shoulder. "Oh, you know I care about you, you great oaf."
"Well of course! I've accepted all this bizarre wolf and pack nonsense, this imprinting deal, and a vampire brother whose vampire friend wants to kill me or worse. And now here you are, leaping off to go risk your life and the lives of your friends to fight him! For God's sake, Jacob, I love you, but this -"
Bronte was interrupted when Jacob flung himself forward onto her. The crashed down on the bed, attached at the lips. Jacob's arms were around her, holding her tightly, and his lips were quickly making her forget what her whole tirade had been about. He pulled back just a touch; he was beaming.
"I knew you'd say it someday," he said, his lips ghosting over hers.
"Say what," she asked breathlessly.
"That you love me."
Realization dawned on her face, and she her cheeks colored before she smiled. "Well, I guess I do. Love you, that is."
He went to descend upon her again, but Bronte stopped him.
"Ah, ah, ah, don't you have to get going?"
"We," he said, pulling her up from the bed and setting her on her feet. "Are going to Emily's. You'll stay there with her there until we're done."
Bronte frowned slightly as the gravity of the situation set in. She blinked as Jacob kissed her tenderly on the forehead, whispering something calming to her. He tugged gently on hand, and they were out the door.
Bronte surveyed the room. Everyone was indeed there. All the Cullens, the entire pack, and Austen.
She suddenly felt Legault didn't stand a chance. She smiled a bit.
Edward spoke up. "Alright, Bella, you're ready as the bait. Emmett and I will be close by with the others. Jacob, you guys will be posted farther back; no offense, but you guys do smell awfully strong."
Jacob shrugged apologetically, a mirthful smirk on his face.
"Well, if that's it, then let's get going."
Within a second the only Emily, Bronte, and Jacob were left in the small living room. She looked up at him, but avoided his eyes. She kissed him lightly on the lips, pulling away before he could respond.
"Just come back," she whispered. "Alive."
Bronte bolted upright, her breathing erratic and heart pounding. She had been sleeping on Emily's couch since late that afternoon, to be awoken by Alice's shrill shouting. It was dark, and well past midnight. She heard Alice call again. Bronte stumbled off the couch, running as quickly as she could to the front door. Alice met her halfway.
"Alice? What's happened? Where's Jacob?"
"Jacob is fine, he'll live. It's just a bite. We need to go."
"A bite," she asked incredulously. "Legault bit him?"
Alice sighed. "Don't worry, it's not some science fiction apocalyptic breed-mix, he's not going to die. He'll have a mark thought. We need to go."
"Where's Austen? Why isn't he here?"
"That's another story, one we have time for later. Bronte, we need to go." And with that, Alice was dragging Bronte by the arm outside the house. They were at the small porsche quickly, and she ushered Bronte inside, throwing glances over her shoulder. The car was speeding away almost instantly.
Bronte felt sick - mostly from the driving. They sped down the roads at impossible speeds, skidding and drifting around every bend. Bronte had a hand wrapped tightly around the passenger-side's hanging bar, and another hand over her mouth, just in case.
The other sick was from what Alice had said back at Emily's house. Something about Austen, and a story.
"Alice," she paused, swallowing whatever had been trying to escape her throat. "What's going on? What happened to Austen?"
Alice's face looked anxious, and her eyes darted from the road to her and back again. "We - we thought he was going to be alone. But he had friends with him." She forced a nervous laugh. "A lot of them. They ambushed us. I didn't even see them coming." She heard something about 'stupid mutts' muttered under her breath. "Edward called a retreat, but Austen didn't stop. He went straight for Legault. Jacob tried to grab him, but Legault got to him first. He's... he's dead, Bronte. Austen's dead."
Bronte's mouth went dry. She nearly fainted when the car came to a screeching halt. Jacob was in the road in front of them, blood oozing from his shoulder and down his torso, close to staining his cut-off jeans. She saw figures dart across the road and into the forest. One figure paused behind him, it was Edward. His face was... apologetic, as he looked at her in the car. He gave her a small nod, which she returned in sad understanding, before darting into the forest after the others.
Within a second, Alice had exited the car, exchanged a polite word with Jacob, and run into the woods.
Jacob took her place in the driver's seat. The tires squealed as they took off. His hands were tense on the steering wheel, the muscles in his forearms taught beneath his swarthy skin. He wasn't looking at her; he wouldn't look at her. Minutes went by; it felt like a goddamn year. The car was swamped in thick, uncomfortable silence, aside from the oddly soothing whoosh of the road passing beneath them.
Her brother was dead. Again.
"Jacob, I -"
There was a furious crash as something descended onto the car, shattering the windshield. She was only vaguely able to identify Legault's horrifying, contorted face as Jacob slammed on the brakes. The car swerved, spinning around itself. With each twirl, Bronte saw the tree line get closer and closer. She let out a hoarse scream, Jacob's name dying on her lips and the car collided with the trees.
She blacked out instantly.
She awoke only moments later, the remnants of her screams escaping in a rush of a breath. The seat next to her was empty, and there was no sign of Jacob. She reached for her seatbelt, cursing in frustration when her shaking hands fumbled. The belt released and didn't retract, instead slumping uselessly to the side. She tried to open the door, but found it was stuck. Her window had been shattered, and she saw that the car had hit a thick tree just behind her door.
She blinked when something dripped into her eye. She wiped it away, and noticed the red smear on her hand. She reached for her head, wincing, noting a superficial cut along her hairline. She managed to climb out of the front of the car, where the windshield had once been. She faltered on trembling, unsteady legs, and gazed out into the forest. There was a pale glow along the horizon behind her, morning was coming. A chill ran through her, and she crossed her arms over her chest, rubbing herself feebly. She tried to call out for help.
"Jacob? Jacob, where are you?" She let out a choked sob. "Jacob!"
Her heart stopped.
She turned around to find Legault standing only meters away from her. He was bloody and haggard, his voice coming out as a rough croak. He advanced on her slowly, his gait crooked with a limp. He let out a coarse laugh.
"They are gone, chérie. It is just you and me now." Another raw chuckle. She was backing away with every step he took. Like a scene out of a horror film, Bronte tripped and fell backward, landing hard on her rear. She sucked in a pained breath, all the while scrambling backwards, desperate to keep the space between them.
She was crying now, her tears mixing with the blood on her face. He was so close. He was bending over with his hand out, as if calling to a lost, stray dog.
"You are mine now, pet."
A growl erupted from the forest. Jacob leapt out in wolf form, catching Legault and bringing him along through the air. They landed on the road, tumbling a few meters before Jacob pounced again, mauling the vampire.
Bronte made out the odd shapes of body parts flying through the air before she fainted by the car.
When Bronte awoke, she was in a large, ornate bed with a large canopy and dated bedding. Her hands drifted to her head; there were stitches on her forehead, along with gauze wrapped lightly around her palms. She was at the Cullen's, Carlisle must have patched her up. She winced. Still tender, she must not have been out that long.
She ventured downstairs, only to find no one was home. It unnerved her, that and the unnatural cleanliness of the house. There was a notecard on top of the grand piano, propped up against a vase of healthy lilies. It clean, neat script, Alice's handwriting read 'everyone is okay.' She sighed with relief.
Pale yellow light filtered in from the large glass door of the back porch, creeping up the walls and across the floor. It touched her face as she stepped forward, warming her. If she hadn't remembered she was supposed to be grieving, she might have smiled.
She eased onto the back porch, closing the sliding glass door with a light clink. She gazed at the large, open field, surrounded by vast forests. There wasn't a soul in sight. A breeze picked up, and Bronte burrowed in her thick sweater, bringing her hands under her chin. "Jacob?" she tried, in a small voice that seemed to lose itself on the wind.
She heard a faint rustling in the distance. Fear swelled in her for a moment, as she remembered Legault's broken, craggy form advancing on her. She breathing eased as she spied a large wolf emerging from the tree line, its russet fur shining liquid copper in the early morning sun.
Jacob paused at the porch to phase, and Bronte still blushed and averted her eyes at his nudity. He put his clothes on; he had actually opted for a shirt this time - white, her favorite color on him. The contrast to dark skin in combination with the sunlight radiating behind him made him seem heavenly. He approached her slowly.
"Hey." His voice rumbled through her pleasantly.
"Hey," she whispered back, struggling to find her own voice.
He brought his large hands up to her shoulders, rubbing them soothingly. "Bronte, I'm sorry. I should have stopped him, I should have been able to-"
"That's the second time he's died on me," she interrupted, her voice stern, if not still weak. "Don't you ever do that to me, Jacob. Don't you ever fucking die on me, or I'll kill you myself."
He pulled her close, hugging her to him, and she felt more than heard the chuckle that resonated in his chest. His body and arms were warm, and his embrace lulled her into a deep sense of security. The sun shone on her face from over the treetops as she looked over the lush field, and she smiled for the first time. She thought about the life she had been living before Forks, before Jacob. True, she still needed to pay her taxes, but now that she had Jacob - along with several other supernatural beings - she doubted she would ever be satisfied with her old, mundane existence. But that didn't matter, she had Jacob. And now, she had a home among friends.
He hadn't said anything, but his silence was all the reassurance she needed.
"Thank you, Jacob."
Thank you all so much for reading, and all your patience! Please have a care and review. I hope you all enjoyed.