Author's Note: Well, I hope you all enjoyed Breaking Dawn! Definitely different from her other stuff... But I think I still really liked the book, though for other reasons! (By the way... look for a Jacob story coming soon with his imprint...)
"Happy birthday to Cla-aire, happy birthday to you!"
Claire grinned up at her family and then leaned forward to blow out the six candles on her birthday cake.
"Yay, Claire!" her mother cheered for her, clapping her hands together in excitement.
I circled the table and put my hands down on Claire's shoulders. "So, what'd you wish for?" I asked.
Claire sighed and turned to look at me with a look of incredulity. "I can't tell you, Quil," she hissed. "Or it won't come true!" And then she shook her head and rolled her eyes, as if she couldn't believe I had asked her to reveal her wish to me.
I chuckled at her attitude and playfully ruffled her hair. "Well, can I at least have some cake?" I asked. "Since you won't tell me your wish…"
Claire nodded and then proceeded to stand up on her chair so that she was at eye level with me. "We made you a special cake!" she told me, her eyes sparkling with excitement. She started to bounce up and down on her chair, unable to contain her enthusiasm.
"Oh, you did?" I asked with surprise. I glanced over Claire's bobbing head and saw her mother smiling at me.
"Yeah," Claire continued eagerly. "Mom says you eat like a wolf!"
I froze at this comment – for a minute, I was terrified that Claire's mother had told her daughter about my true identity as a werewolf – but I immediately relaxed, realizing that she had only meant it as a figure of speech.
"I do?" I repeated as if I didn't believe her. "Do you think I eat like a wolf?"
Claire giggled, clapping her hands to her mouth. "Yeah," she shrieked in her high-pitched voice. "You ate almost all of my cake last year!" she quickly pointed out, poking me in the chest.
"Yeah, I guess I did…" I trailed off with a grin. Then I picked her up off of the chair and swung her around to the ground. "Well, show me my special cake!" I told her.
Claire took off around the kitchen table, pulling on my hand. "I helped make it!" she boasted, tugging me towards the dining room. Then she released my hand and scrambled up onto one of the chairs. And, sure enough, there was a small, circular cake of my own sitting in the middle of the table.
"See?" she cried, pointing at the cake that was too far out of her reach. I leaned forward and slid it towards us, gasping in surprise.
"Oh, Claire, that's so nice!" I told her, kneeling down to kiss her on the cheek. A bright light flashed behind us. I turned and glanced up over my shoulder to find Claire's mother hovering in the doorway with a camera in her hand. She smiled and winked at me.
I felt two small hands on the side of my face, urging me to turn my head.
"Do you like it?" Claire asked with wide eyes, keeping her hands on my cheeks. She looked so concerned that I might disapprove of her cake.
"Oh, I love it!" I told her with a great deal of enthusiasm. I looked closer at the cake and saw that the entire thing was covered with pink frosting. And there, in the center of the cake, was a small hole. I frowned, pointing at it. "What's that?" I asked.
"Uh…" Claire's mother cleared her throat and lifted a hand to her mouth, unable to hide her smile. "That was Claire."
I turned my gaze back on Claire who didn't look embarrassed in the slightest. "I had to make sure it tasted good!" she told me in all seriousness.
"Oh, so you decided to put your finger in it," I clarified, laughing. She nodded proudly. Then I stuck my own finger into the frosting and licked it clean. "Yep," I told her. "It tastes perfect."
"Alright, little lady," Claire's mother interrupted, pushing herself off of the doorway and gesturing back towards the kitchen. "Let's go open your presents!"
Claire stood up on her chair and lifted her hands into the air. Without a second thought, I pulled Claire up into my arms and walked through the kitchen and into the living room with her resting on my hip.
"What about Quil's friends?" Claire asked with a slight frown. I knew she was referring to the rest of the pack in La Push.
"Well, we'll see them tomorrow night," Claire's father told her, gently touching her forehead as we walked past.
"And Aunt Emily?"
"And Aunt Emily," I confirmed. I gently lowered myself onto the couch – afraid I might accidentally break the piece of furniture if I just dropped down onto it like I did last time – and released Claire so she could climb off of my lap and sit on the cushion beside me.
"Are they gonna buy me presents, too?" she asked with a hopeful expression.
Her mother's eyes widened in shock and disapproval. "Claire Jolene," she scolded. I winced as her mother used Claire's middle name – she was really in trouble, now. "You're lucky to even get presents," she told her daughter. "So, don't you dare go around asking for gifts from Quil's friends!"
Claire's mood dropped dramatically and her shoulders slumped forward.
I quickly leaned in toward her ear, hoping to cheer her up. "Don't worry," I whispered. "I know for a fact that they got you some amazing presents."
Claire giggled, thrilled by this piece of information. I smiled in response, but immediately dropped my grin when Claire's mother glared at me.
"But presents aren't important," I quickly amended, loud enough for her mother to hear. "It's the friends and family who celebrate with you that really counts."
Claire's father rolled his eyes as he sat in a chair next to Claire's older sister. "Nice save, Quil," he muttered.
I winced, hoping that it hadn't been that obvious, and then shrugged at my failed attempt at parenting.
"Ok, open mine first," Claire's sister insisted, tripping over my feet in her excitement to deliver her present first. I easily caught her with my above-average reflexes and lifted her onto the couch between Claire and me.
Claire's fingers clawed at the wrapping on the gift. She gasped in surprise at the movie in her hands.
"You remember when we saw it, Claire?" her sister said, repeatedly jabbing her finger into the plastic cover. "And you said it was the best movie ever?" She proudly sat back on her knees, puffing out her chest. "Well, I remembered."
"She picked it out all on her own," Claire's mother announced to the room with a smile.
Claire grinned, hugging the movie to her chest. She turned to her mom and posed for a quick picture with her gift, and then turned to me. "Let's go watch it!"
I laughed as Claire grabbed my hand, attempting to pull me off of the couch. "No, Claire, not right now. There's more presents, remember?"
Claire looked slightly disappointed, but quickly perked up when I reminded her of the other gifts. She quickly crawled over her sister and climbed into my lap. "What'd you get me?"
"Well…" I stood up, lifting Claire off of my lap and placing her back on the couch. Then I walked around to the back of the couch, watching Claire's curious expression.
I reached behind the space between the couch and the wall and pulled out a pink and purple bicycle. I rang the bell on the handlebar, unable to resist.
"Oh my gosh!" Claire squealed with excitement. She stood up on the couch and started to bounce up and down.
"No bouncing on the furniture," Claire's mother absentmindedly reminded her youngest daughter, as if this sort of thing happened every day in their house. But Claire didn't even blink at being told to stop. She just hopped down from the couch and ran over to the bike, climbing onto the seat.
"It's a big-girl bike!" I told her, grinning as she tried to peddle while I held the bike in place. "We were talking about learning to ride our bikes without training wheels, weren't we, Claire?"
Claire nodded, but she didn't appear to have heard a word I said. She was just staring down at her gift with a glazed expression.
"Now, what do you say, Claire?" her father gently reminded her.
Claire bounced up and down on the seat of her bike and then turned to look up at me with a wide grin. "Thank you very much, Quil."
"You're very welcome, Claire," I replied. Then I lifted her off of the bike and moved it so that it was resting up against the side of the couch.
"Alright, are you ready for our present?" her mother asked with an excited smile.
Claire nodded, walking towards her parents. Her father then stood up from his chair and went into their garage.
"Dad's going to get it," her mother told Claire. "We know you've been asking for one for months. And since Quil got you a big-girl bike, we thought our big-girl might be able to handle…"
Her mother trailed off, waiting for Claire's father to return. When he did, he was holding a small cage with a tiny, furry animal inside. Then he lifted it into the air and I got a strong whiff of what it was.
I had to restrain an impulsive growl.
"A cat!" Claire's father shouted, grinning when Claire let out that adorable, high-pitched scream.
"A kitty!" she cried, sprinting forward. Her father gently lowered the cage and opened the door for Claire to reach in and pull out the flailing animal.
"Be careful, don't drop her," Claire's mother told her. "Hold on to her nice and tight – not around the neck!"
Claire couldn't stop beaming. She stroked the small animal's fur, ignoring the cat's fruitless attempts to get away.
"Quil, look," she said in a whisper. She was probably worried if she spoke any louder, she might scare the cat away, but the cat looked scared enough as it was. "I got a kitty!" She couldn't refrain from squealing at the end of her sentence, but quickly dropped her voice to a whisper once again. "Look at it – she has brown hair, just like you!"
I wondered if she had meant my werewolf form, but soon realized that she was only referring to my actual hair color. "Yeah," I muttered, glaring at the horrible creature. "Looks just like me…"
"Here – you hold her!" Claire said, thrusting the animal into my arms.
For one minute, the cat looked just as irritated as it had been while Claire had been holding her, but then the cat's spine arched and she hissed furiously at me, spitting and clawing at my shirt before leaping off of my lap and back into Claire's arms.
Claire blinked in surprise, wrapping her short little arms around that – demon. She frowned at me. "What happened?" she asked, appearing disappointed. "Did you hurt her?"
"No," I told her, unable to hide the disgust for this creature from my voice. I glanced up at Claire's parents who seemed to be staring at me with confusion etched into their facial features. And with a pointed look in their direction, I said, "I think I'm just a dog person."
It was like the skies had suddenly opened up and Claire's parents instantly understood. Her father groaned, pressing a hand to his forehead, while her mother winced and sent me an apologetic look.
Claire missed the silent communication.
"It's alright," she cooed, stroking the cat behind the ear. "Quil is a nice man," she told the cat, waving her finger in front of her whiskers. Then she looked up at me. "Don't worry," she reassured me. "She was just scared. I promise, I'll teach her to be nicer to you tonight."
I smiled as I imagined Claire showing her cat pictures of me while I was gone, demanding that the cat was nice to "the man in the picture." But I soon let out a deep sigh, realizing that it would be years until the cat left the house.
I was doomed.
"Yeah, we'll see," I muttered, doubtful of her promise.
Claire turned to her mother. "Can I take my kitty to see Aunt Emily?" she asked. "And Quil's friends?"
I was grateful to see the expression on her mother's face; she looked alarmed at this thought. "Oh, no, I don't think so, Claire," she told her, hurriedly shaking her head back and forth. "What if the cat gets scared again? We better just keep her at home for now…"
This seemed to be good enough for Claire. She smiled and set the cat on the ground. The creature took off at top speed, darting around the obstacles in the living room and disappearing somewhere in the house.
"Oh, Claire," her mother moaned, looking over her shoulder for the missing cat. She got to her feet, looking exhausted as she muttered, "I really wish you wouldn't have done that…"
"Don't worry, I'll go look for her," Claire's father assured his wife. He kissed his wife's cheek and left the room in search of the cat.
"How about I get the girls out of your hair?" I suggested, looking for the first chance I could to get out of the house – and away from that cat. "We could go ride our big-girl bikes!" I said in an excited tone to the two girls.
Claire's mother smiled and nodded. "Thanks, Quil," she said as well as mouthing a silent, "I'm sorry!" Then she turned to her youngest. "I'll come outside to watch you on your big-girl bike right after I clean up just a bit, alright?"
Claire nodded and ran back to her bicycle. "Alright, let's go!" she cried, hopping onto her bike and lifting her feet off of the ground.
Before anything too disastrous could happen, I sprinted across the room and caught a hold of the handlebars before her bike tipped over with her on it. "How about we take the bike outside before we get on it?"
Claire huffed out a large puff of air, sending her bangs flying out and away from her face, but she did as I told her to and climbed off of her bike, walking it to the front door.
"Go on and grab your bike, too," I told Claire's older sister. "And don't forget your helmets!" She nodded, following Claire outside.
I trailed behind the girls, holding the door open for them as Claire managed to walk her bike outside without scratching any of the paint on the walls of the house. Just as I was about to close the door behind me to join the girls, I heard a hissing noise.
I turned around and spotted Claire's cat standing at eye level in the middle of the staircase leading up to their bedrooms. She lifted her front paw, clawing at the air, but didn't advance towards me.
Silently, I peered around the front door, checking for any observers. When I saw no one hanging around, I turned back to the cat, bared my teeth, and growled.
The cat spun, taking off up the steps to probably cower beneath one of the beds.
I smirked and slammed the door closed behind me, proudly puffing out the front of my chest as I walked.
Author's Note: Hope you enjoyed that! I just had this image of Quil feeling extremely proud about scaring a little cat... Haha!
And, again... Look for a Jacob/imprint story, as well as another update of Crossing The Line! (And if I get a chance, I'll see if I can get that epilogue for Curtain Call up!)