(Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. It's Stephenie Meyer's baby.)
I found myself on the long road to the pack's lakefront cabin. It was on the same road as my family's house, but further down - much further. The seats of my mother's Ferrari were covered in grocery bags. I couldn't help but feel anxious as I got nearer to my destination. Would Jacob be upset with me? No. The question was if he would show me his anger. He could feel whatever he might feel, but I knew he hid things from me. To protect me.
I was beginning to resent it.
"Nessie. So good of you to come by," Embry said to me, though it wasn't with his usual good natured sarcasm. He had this look in his eye that seemed to tell me he was only being nice because his Alpha would give him a hard time if he wasn't. I hung back, suddenly unsure as to why I was at their house. I knew Jacob would get over it and come back to me sooner or later. He would have to. Steel cables and all that.
The door was suddenly pushed open further and Seth ducked through the door to look at me. His eyes shone with their usual honesty and he grinned. "Hey! It's Nessie!" He said this last bit a tad louder than was really needed. It wasn't as if they all didn't know I was there. I was sure the smell of me was a sure giveaway.
"Hey, Seth. Uh…is it okay if I come in?" I had subconsciously begun to tap at the snow covered front step with my boot, adjusting my stance to offset my balance and appear smaller and more vulnerable. I caught myself doing this and immediately straightened up. I wasn't dealing with humans. These guys were themselves supernatural and very much in the know. They were also my friends. At least I hoped they still were.
"Yeah! Sure!" He yanked at Embry, pulling him away from the door so I could go in. I saw Leah in the back room, watching me warily. She raised her hand a little and gave a tiny wave before crossing her arms. I didn't have time to return the small gesture of truce before I scented him. He was upstairs.
"Jacob's pretty upset still?" I asked quietly, hoping he wouldn't hear me.
"Well, you DID throw him out," Embry answered, to be punched in the arm by Seth.
"Jacob probably deserved it. He can have a hot head sometimes," the youngest of the pack said. I shrugged and glanced at the top of the stairs, but he wasn't making an entrance.
"Oh, I brought stuff for you guys. It's in the car. Ice cream and sundae things. Alice went crazy with the fixins - " I really didn't have to go any further. All three werewolves in attendance were out the door, crawling in my car to retrieve the bags of goodness. Making them happy was really just that simple. I smiled through my apprehension and laughed when they barreled back into the house, tracking snow as they unloaded the bags onto the countertops.
"You aren't kidding! Look at all this stuff!"
"Well, she didn't really know what would be good, so she got it all, I guess," I said.
"Leave it to Shortie to go overboard," Jacob's voice was heard at the landing of the second floor. I looked up and expected him to be irritated or upset, but he had his usual Jake smile in place for me. He started down the stairs and I crossed my arms when he got nearer. I wanted to be alone with him. I needed it.
"Um, I need to hunt," I said as he got to the bottom floor. He was wearing a blue hoodie that I got him the last time I'd gone shopping. That night I'd been attacked. I tugged at his sleeve and he started for the front door.
"But…ice cream…," Seth said, on the verge of a pout. Leah quickly began putting anything that might melt in the freezer.
"It can wait," Leah said quickly and looked at us as we went out the door, shutting it tightly behind us.
It was a cold night and though I felt it less than a one hundred percent human girl, the chill in the air made me shiver a bit. I had left my house without grabbing my own coat and was suddenly regretting it. I could see that Jacob was already starting to drag the bottom of his hoodie up to take it off. He had the habit of self sacrifice when it came to my comfort.
"Jacob. Keep it. Please." I grabbed hold of his hands and yanked his sweatshirt back into place. "I'll be fine."
"Aren't we hunting? I'm not really a fan of destroying my clothes if I can at all help it, Nessie." He eyed me with no lack of smug amusement in those dark eyes. I shrugged in sudden defense. Of course. That was right. Hunting.
"Well…maybe we should get closer to the woods before you…morph."
"Phase," he corrected.
"What-ever," I smartly snapped back and I caught him smirk as I tromped into the expansive backyard. I looked over the lake and though it was night, the moon shown over the icy lake, giving it an ethereal quality. I spun around and looked at my guardian when we were far enough from the house that I knew the others wouldn't hear us if our chat got heated.
"Just so you know, I didn't come out here to catch dinner." I looked up at him and found that my arms were crossed over my chest. I had to make my stand and he was going to hear me out. He copied me and crossed his own arms, obviously humoring me. I scowled. The moonlight was casting a very appealing glow over his russet skin and it somehow made my proud heart melt a little when I was reminded of how beautiful he was. My Jacob.
He waited for me, saying nothing. I could not recall a time when he was this quiet for so long. It was a little off putting. He always had some kind of smart ass remark when he thought I was being especially difficult. I shivered and suddenly hugged myself. That did it.
"So, you don't need to hunt, but you want to stand out here and freeze." He then succeeded in reaching up to catch the back of his hoodie, dragging it down over his head. He directed for me to put my arms up and I sighed, giving in to him. His high body temperature had heated the sweatshirt so it had the effect of being wrapped in a big electric blanket. The sleeves went past my hands which I hugged against my chest. He was left with only a plain black t-shirt, but didn't seem to notice the difference. Of course he wouldn't.
"I just needed to talk to you," I whispered. I knew he could hear me as if I'd shouted it. I didn't look up to meet his eyes, but rather focused on the perfect musculature that his t-shirt was stretched across. All of the shape shifters were that way. Built like a pack of mini gods. Well, goddess in Leah's case.
"There are warmer ways. Even for you, it's pretty cold out right now."
"The ultimate little survivor," I found the admiring amusement in his voice a little too much to take.
"I'm sorry, Jake," I blurted out. There. It was out. So were the damned prickling tears that my mother cursed me with. Jacob was quiet for a few seconds and no one moved. Great. I wiped the wetness off my eyes, letting the tears soak into the cloth of his shirt. Before I could look up again, I felt him take hold of me, folding my smaller form into the protectiveness of his warmth. I could feel the hot tears grow cold on my cheeks as the they decided to suddenly flow a little more freely.
"There I go. So freakin' emotional." I could feel Jacob's warm hands cup my face as his thumbs brushed the wetness away.
"Your tears are so human. See? You are getting better." I looked up at him then and he was smiling. Smiling. Always a smile for me.
"Well, whatever makes you happy, I guess," I said, with less humor than he apparently had.
"I'd rather you be happy."
I backed up from him, which took a little wiggling since I was trapped in the confines of his strength. I was actually the stronger of us, but didn't want to hurt him by jerking backward. He released me and once some distance was placed, I forced myself to stand strong.
"Jacob. I won't always be happy. Okay? You have to stop always trying to make me happy. Let me be sad when I have to be, or pissed off, or whatever else kind of thing I have to be. You can't fix everything all the time."
I could see the usual happy go lucky Jacob face begin to falter a little. A crack in the false façade that he always tried to have in place for me. "I'm not mad that you threw me out of the house."
"What? " His tone was sharper with disbelief.
"You were pissed. Don't tell me you weren't. I'll just ask my dad." Who I knew wouldn't say a word, but Jacob didn't need to know that.
He frowned, his dark eyes growing darker. "Why are you doing this, Ness?" He was beginning to pace in agitation. I swallowed hard but stood my ground.
"I'm not trying to hurt you, Jacob," I said, reaching out to stop him. He let me touch him, stopping. I could feel the tension in his body as tight and ready to snap. I knew it had no place to go as long as I held onto him and commanded all of his attention. He would never harm me.
'There's something I need from you. Something I need you to be - for me." I looked into his face and reached up to hold onto it, forcing him to look at me. He did, but I knew he was confused. He hated being trapped into things, but I knew he would do whatever I asked.
"What?," he asked, suspicious.
"Your honesty. I'm not a child anymore, Jacob. I can take it when you feel strongly about something. The fake smiles and lies-"
"I never lie to you." He practically growled at me.
"Oh? You just said it didn't bother you that I threw you out," I said, catching him.
He was looking at me with a gaze that I wasn't sure I liked. It was something new for us.
It was honest.
"No. What I said was that I wasn't mad. I never said I wasn't bothered by it."
"You sure you want me like this? I can be a whole lot of fun if I really get going. Ask Bella."
I straightened up and looked at him with a firm gaze. "Yes. It's best."
"Okay, I'll do this for you. But, you can't blame me if I honestly want to act like an absolute idiot for you from time to time. It's an imprint. I kinda need to be there for you. Like whenever you get yourself in trouble-"
"Which I do not TRY to do!"
"Sure sure. As I was saying, this might take some getting used to." He smiled a little at me, obviously amused again at my indignation. I shivered and he ran his hands up and down my arms. "Let's go in. The magic heat of the hoodie is about over."
I smiled and let him fold me into his warmth as we walked back to the house. It would be good having him be honest with his feelings. No more hiding them for my benefit. A part of me wondered what kind of creature I was unleashing and if I really wanted to handle it.
Who was I kidding? Of course I wanted it.
"So. Ice cream. It's freezing and you think of ice cream," He was amused and I felt his kiss my head.
"A peace offering?"
"Unnecessary," he began and I turned slowly to glare at him. "…but appreciated."
I went on tiptoe and kissed his smooth cheek. He accepted it and then turned his head to quickly kiss mine. I blushed furiously and looked into his eyes. They were dark as always, but softer and the way I liked them the most. Yep. One day we would be legend. I would make certain of it.
I could suddenly sense another presence, and looked at the front steps to see Leah watching us. She had her arms crossed and I immediately felt shy that she'd seen Jacob and I being sweet. She was only smirking in a way that seemed knowing and not at all annoyed by it. Of course she would know things. I could see there was no hard feelings lingering after the awful mess of the past month. We would survive it.
"Are you guys ever coming back inside?"
"Yeah," I said, breaking away from Jacob to go in. The guys were waiting at the island in the kitchen, every surface of the room taken up by sundae toppings. Jacob followed me and looked around the room.
"Okay, I gotta hand it to Alice," Jacob said, picking up a bag of gummy bears. "She doesn't miss an opportunity."
"That would be my aunt."
"So, how was the hunt?" Embry asked, air quoting "hunt". I reached into a bag of tiny marshmallows and threw one at him. He pretended to look offended and I raised my brows.
"No! Guys, I just cleaned the kitchen yesterday," Leah said, her tone warning us not to make a mess.
"I'll clean it," I said and threw another marshmallow.
"Well, you are one of us now," Seth said, looking around at the others to get them to jump on his bandwagon.
Leah sighed. "Yes. Well, we've accepted that you are one of us. You're Jacob's and it's silly not to acknowledge that fact."
"What she's trying so hard to say is that you're a member of the pack, if you want it," Jacob said. "Honorary if you insist on downplaying it, but really, why would you?"
"Not like you weren't already," Embry said, shrugging as he eyed me with a smile, waiting for my response.
DAMN HUMANITY! My eyes prickled.
"Of course. You are family. Always have been," I managed to say, wiping my eyes. I could feel Seth latch onto me, hugging me. I felt good. Happy. For the first time in a month, I was glowing with a new pride and confidence. I looked at Jacob and he was looking at me with that familiar mix of pride and happiness that he naturally exuded.
"Well, there is one little stipulation," Embry said.
"You have to howl. Every one of us has a howl."
Leah smacked his arm. "She does NOT have to howl." She looked at me and shook her head, seriously letting me know that Embry was full of it. "You do not have to howl."
"Yes. She does."
"No. I can howl," I piped up, knowing I had never attempted to mimic my friends' wolf sounds in my life. It would be an epic failure.
It would be great.
I cleared my throat and glanced around as all four of them waited with baited breath. Even Leah appeared curious to see what I'd do. Tipping my head back, I let out a long, very bad imitation of their beautiful, wild calls. I then stopped and looked around the room, waiting for a response.
I could see the members of Jacob's pack glance at him warily before Seth began to crack up. Then all three were laughing. I could see that Jacob was attempting to remain calm and supportive of me but then must have remembered the "honesty" chat and let himself give in. I grinned, satisfied.
"Laugh at me, will ya?" I picked up a can of whipped cream and shook it, suddenly attacking Jacob. He was quick to dodge and snatched out his hand for another can of whipped cream as he got a good amount of the stuff on his t-shirt and arm. Shaking the can, he retaliated and I squealed as I tried to defend myself unsuccessfully.
"You are so gonna get it! Attacking our new member!" Embry ripped the protective plastic rind off of a tub of non dairy whipped topping. I could see his intention and ducked as it went flying across the room, hitting Jacob in the head. I burst out laughing. Leah was standing still, looking like she was planning to murder us all, then quickly recovered and started removing all the various sauces from sight. Her back was to me and I got up the courage to lunge in her direction, spraying cream into her hair. She slowly turned around, sporting all the fury of a bitch slapped valkyrie. I stopped and backed up a step, waiting for the onslaught of her anger. She then smirked and whipped a spoon of butterscotch at me, nailing the side of my face and hair.
"That's it!" I started spraying, Jacob followed suit and the others started whipping candies as we ran around the room, making the biggest mess that kitchen had ever seen.
It was wonderful.
Things would be alright. I knew that in the days and weeks that would follow, I would become my original self again. I knew that my family - including my pack - would never let me harm my grandfather. I trusted them all with my life. As we all laughed in the cabin at the lake, I looked at Jacob in his element and was filled with glowing happiness.
I am Renesmee Carlie Cullen.
Half vampire and pack member.
Life is good.
With this chapter, The Heart That Howls has found it's end. However, Nessi and Jacob's story continues in Promised - the second story in the "Gravity" series (planned to be four stories long). Promised takes place almost two years post The Heart That Howls. Just click on my name and access the story from my profile.
I want to thank everyone who reviewed this story and offered criticism. It really helped get me through some challenging chapters. You're the best.
I listen to a certain playlist when writing this series. A few songs from it that inspired me are Superhuman by Gus Gus, Let Go by Frou Frou, and Out Of This Wold by Bush. The list is very long, but those three songs seemed to really speak to THTH and it's themes. Placebo has the most songs on the playlist.