"That is the dumbest idea I've ever heard. idea I've ever heard," I hiss. And then, though I try to hide my concern, I add, "You're going to get killed." A friend can say that to a friend, right? Even friends who hate each other? Right?
"No, I'm not."
I roll my eyes. He sounds so completely certain it's difficult not to believe him, but he's quite clearly wrong. "Just you, all alone? It's idiotic."
"Not all alone." Again, like a simple statement of fact.
"Who's coming with you?" I ask, as he no doubt wants me to.
"You are, Leah."
"What? Why me?" I demand. No. No, no no. My thoughts don't match, but they're a rebellion… no. I won't, I can't, I won't I can't I won't I can't… I've done as much as I can but even I have limits, I can only tear so far before I break.
"You don't have anything here," he explains in a monotone. "Quil has to be near Claire. Jared and Kim are getting ready for the wedding. Paul and Rachel are just getting off the ground." Oh, right. Forgive me for wanting to disrupt the all-holy imprinting. Clearly, my mere human pain is nothing in the face of imprinting. "Embry's mom is going to shackle him to the wall if he disappears for three weeks, and I'm not dragging a kid halfway across the US."
I shake my head violently. "No. No!"
"Leah, it's a pack duty." He sounds like my father used to… that is, before I inadvertently caused his death. "I'm sure you're aware that I'm more than ready to compel you."
I'm part of Jake's pack now, sucker. "Not to sound like a four-year-old, but nananananana, you can't make me."
Once upon a time, he would have laughed and kissed me. Now he just shakes his head in mild disapproval, so like a distant relative that it stings. And burns. And bleeds. I'm never going to stop bleeding.
"Actually, I can."
"I'm not even in your pack. I'm in…" and it hits me. Like I needed one more reason to hate imprinting. Or Jacob Black. How can he do this to me? "Oh, shit. Jake's leaving town, isn't he?"
"Yeah. You and Seth are back under me, until you quit."
Which will be soon. Really, really soon. I whine. "I want to go to college."
"So did I." I remember the day he told me he was turning down that scholarship, and the shock on my face. "Suck it up, Lee-Lee."
I launch myself at him, landing a lucky punch on his shoulder. It doesn't hurt either of us, but it's a necessary gesture. "Bastard," I hiss.
He closes his eyes briefly. "I'm sorry. That was low."
"Damn right it was." I pause to consider, and then decide I have no choice. Besides, in a masochistic way, I might actually enjoy being around him. "Fine. I'll go on your damn vampire hunt, Sam. But I'm not gonna like it."
I expect a reaction. All he does is say mildly, "You used the word damn twice in that sentence."
"Because I'm pissed. You might not be able to understand it now, but…" I commit, suddenly. I'm sick of being blamed for all my efforts to protect them from the pain. If he wants in my brain so bad, I'll give him what he wants. "Believe me, hon, once I'm back in your head, you're really gonna regret this stupid excursion."
"No doubt. But I know my duty."
"Yeah. And that's about it."
He lets that parting shot go. I sigh and walk away.
We're goin' on a vamp hunt, we're gonna catch a big one…
Wow. Two werewolves against every leech we can find in three weeks? I kind of hope I don't die.