Chapter 1 "Because I've never mixed well with alcohol or love."
Dig your ditch deep enough
To keep you clear of the sun
You've been burned more than once
You don't think much of trust
Man it takes a silly girl to lie about the dreams she has,
Lord it takes a lonely one to wish she had never dreamt at all.
Oh Look now, there you go with hope again
But I'll be sure your secrects safe with me
Oh you're so sure I'll be leaving in the end
Treatin me like I'm already gone.
But I'm not.
"Carve Your Heart Out" -Dashboard Confessional
I had always gotten the short end of the stick in life. And in love. This fact was only strengthened by the events that started back then. I remember them all so clearly. Thats how it all began... my descent into madness.
'Everything that meant something to me is gone. Lost.'
That was the only thought coursing through my mind as my human body stood in the rain, scantily clothed and barefooot in the middle of a dark forest. It had to be well past midnight by now- I had been wandering for hours since I first snuck out of my window. I didn't dare phase- I wanted to be alone, particularly in my head. Especially tonight. Besides, the feeling of cool summer rain on your skin was much more inviting than wet fur. This clearing...this small patch of meadow- I wasn't sure how long I had been here, but I just stood unmoving. Hours or minutes, however long it would take for clarity to crawl up out of the forest and hit me, I would stand here. Yet, it didn't seem like it was coming. I never did get what I deserved. Clarity, understanding- these were just a fraction of the needs I had been denied over the years.
'What is wrong with me?'
I stayed abnormally quiet, as though I would scare away any answers that might creep upon me if I were to let loose the screams toiling inside my soul. Its nothing new. These are all the same questions that have been with me from the beginning of this nightmare. Unanswered questions and painful thoughts that swirled within me when I simply couldn't stand to block it all out anymore.
I had done much better lately. I had to compliment myself on that. Even the boys noticed how tolerant my thoughts had been these days. Perhaps not pleasant, but easier to deal with. I suppose it was because I was getting better at being absent from my own self. Disconnected as some would call it. Jacob noticed too, and disapprovingly warned me that such detachment was unhealthy. He, of course, knew from personal experience.
What did he know? Surely he didn't even remember his pain now, the pain of heartbreak- not now that he had his Nessie. He wouldn't remember anything before her. Just as Sam couldn't remember how it had felt to love me after he imprinted on Emily. No, Jacob would certainly be blinded by the small creature, not recalling the feelings he may have had for anyone before the moment he laid eyes on her. Of course, for now they would be friends- big brother and little sister, a platonic sort of love, but later- they would have what I never would.
I had to push all these thoughts out now. Let them go and then safely tuck my feelings away once more as soon as I left here. I was Jacob's Beta- I was strong- a cold harpy bitch who spat sarcasm wicked enough to cut anyone down. I could never let my pack glimpse these- these weaknesses within me. Scars that had been left on me by men in my life who came and went as if it were nothing. As if I were nothing. Another deep breath.
I could smell the rain, the fresh grass and wood from the surrounding forest. There was no one for miles. Briefly, I remembered how nice the weather was earlier. I dwelt on the serenity of First Beach as the sun had set. The perfect backdrop for their wedding. Of course everyone was there- well, with some exception. I should be furious- I should have told her where to shove her dress the moment she asked me to be a bridesmaid. But somehow, I just felt empty. I politely declined, making up a pathetic excuse that I can't even recall now- something out of character for me, but the pain that leaked from my chest at that moment was unbearable. It was if I was reliving the moment Sam broke my heart all over again. I had avoided phasing for a straight week after the encounter, just to avoid the pity. Come to think of it, I had avoided phasing ever since the wedding had become an issue. Looking back now, I was stupid for even peeking in on the ceremony.
I had to see it. The wedding she stole from me. The happily ever after that should have been mine. I was happy for them both, I truly was- I loved them enough to want the best for them and the best for them now was each other. Emily, my make-shift sister who had grown up with me and Sam, my first love and high school sweetheart. I wanted them to be happy, I just didn't want to watch. To stick around and have to put on a brave face while they said their vows and committed themselves to one another for an eternity was too much to ask of myself. What I wanted was simple- I wanted to die. Not the funeral, mourning, gravestone death like my father had, just a simple- 'she disappeared' type deal. I just wanted to fade away and never come back. To have everyone forget about me except for the occasional- 'Oh Leah Clearwater? She just disappeared awhile back. We hope she's happy wherever she is now.'
So there I was- watching my happy ending happen to someone else. At least it was someone who deserved it. There was a light breeze on the ocean as the orange and pink sky set everything aglow, right down to each pebble under their feet. I hovered on a cliff, a good distance away, but still too close- I could feel my heart cracking as the salt spray hit my face. Tears blurred my vision momentarily until I blinked them away. I escaped back into the forest, running back to my home- to the room where I could close myself off. At least until the urge to jump off the cliffs had subsided.
Now here I was. When I couldn't stand to be stifled in my room any longer, I escaped through the window, not bothering to change out of my boxers and tanktop I had worn to bed. Quil was on patrol tonight- he would be somewhere near the reservation end of the forest. Truthfully, I couldn't even be sure where I was now. I could be in the Cullen's backyard, or halfway through Canada for all I knew. Quil would leave me be, even if he ran across my scent. The rest of the two packs wouldn't be out in this weather. They were all somewhere celebrating, no doubt.
Another deep breath. Another heaved sob. The tears hadn't stopped since they had broken through my walls back on the cliffs. The rain helped- my face was dripping with so much water, you couldn't tell I was crying. It didn't feel like I was crying either. It only felt like a flood. This drowning feeling that consumed me shut out everything else. I swallowed hard, trying to push past the lump in my throat.
Drowning. Yes, the real Leah Clearwater had drowned in her pain long ago, never to resurface. If my father were here- he would have stayed home with me, put his arms around me and told me that everything always works itself out. 'There is a plan...' He would always say. 'Even if you can't see it. It will all work out in the end.'
"Well guess what?! It didn't FUCKING work out this time! NOTHING EVER DOES!"
My lungs burned as my screams escaped my throat. What was I suppose to do now? Where was I to go? It wasn't like I had still been disillusioned with hopes that Sam would ever come back to me, but the reality of it hitting me in the face was overwhelming. Of course, to top it all off, everyone else around me was pairing up. Jacob Black had resorted to imprinting on a bloodsucker for crying out loud! But I'm suppose to stay a loner for my entire life?! At this point it seemed the only option- any male I tried to get close to always left me. How the hell did this-
My thoughts halted. My eyes slowly followed the noise. There was a rustle in the wet underbrush. It wasn't downwind and the rain wasn't helping visibility. 'Great. Just what I need.' My dark eyes, as sullen and dead as I felt, moved along the shadows, looking for the source of the noise. I heaved another sigh. I wasn't lucky enough to be attacked by something, so why did I even care what it was? I willed my legs to move in the opposite direction of the noise. A sluggish, but fluid movement. The rain still pressed my hair in wetlaces around my face and to my bare shoulders, my feet trudged through bracken and deep puddles, but at least the cold paid me no mind. Perhaps I would go back to the beach...
"Leah?" A familiar voice called out from behind me.
'Damn...never lucky enough to get attacked by something.' I kept walking, despite the confused figure that had stepped from the shadows. I didn't trust my voice anyway.
"Leah- stop- What are you doing out here?" The concern in his voice was becoming apparent, but I wish he hadn't put that little Alpha command in there.
So there I stood, on the opposite edge of the clearing, my back to a boy who had also abandoned me. The rain was a slow drizzle now, the sky was still dark overhead. Couldn't he just leave me be? The splash and crunch of his footsteps coming closer was an obvious no.
"Stop saying my name like that..." It was a weak and broken voice, it didn't even sound like it belonged to me. An unrecognizable whisper, just as I was afraid it would be. His warm hand came to rest on my shoulder, but only for a split second before I pulled away, almost as if it burned me. I was facing him now, but my eyes stayed on the ground aimlessly. I could feel the pity rolling off him in waves.
"Just go, Jake." I crossed my arms, hugging my body. I never could stand to be pitied. It was only a reminder of how weak I was.
"Don't be ridiculous. You're bleeding, Clearwater- tell me what the hell happened." His voice rose slightly in angry concern.
I think he noticed my eyes widening a fraction at his comment. I hadn't noticed I was injured- it must have happened while I was running. No matter- it would heal itself. I fought to keep my expression stoic and hardened. I didn't have to try so much after the anger began to take over- anger at him for pretending to care. Anger at him for imprinting, just like Sam. For leaving me, just like Sam. But most of all, anger at myself for being such an idiot. I took a quick step back, finally feeling the stinging pain the was crawling up from the wound in my leg.
"I don't know- its nothing. Just leave me alone, Jacob. Go back to the Cullens." The last remark was biting and I saw how his brows furrowed together, as though he didn't understand my resentment. He started to protest, but I cut him short. "I don't need you to protect me, Black. I don't need anyone. Never have, never will." The anger was now a prominent feature in the front of my mind. At least I had rid myself of the void I had moments ago- that was something.
He gave a heavy sigh. I could feel his warm breath- why was he so close? How did he get so close? "Leah, hon- please...just tell me." He sounded so sincere. I just wanted to scream, cry- tell him how betrayed and dead I was inside. But that wasn't me.
"I just felt like going for a walk." My intended sarcasm was lost in my stoic tone. "Besides- you're out here, too, aren't you?" I was desperate to steer the conversation away from me, since it was obvious he wasn't just going to let me walk away.
A smile seemed to tug at his lips as he tried to lift the mood. "Ah, yeah- I always go for walks at 3 AM, too. I mean, c'mon- who needs to sleep, right?" Jacob Black- ever the optimist. It was at this point that I realized he was only in his cut-off shorts, so he must have been on patrol when he ran into me. "But really, I know you didn't just come out here to gaze at my irresistable body- so what's going on?" That was Jacob for you- he'd fit a joke in anywhere. For that, I was grateful. I was quickly composing myself in front of him, the fiesty anger I was known for returning before his eyes.
"Dream on, Black." I rolled my eyes slightly. "I just needed some fresh air." Yeah- that was believable. He quirked one of those eyebrows at me, followed by that smirk- damn that smirk. "I guess I should get going- I'll see you tomorrow? Or something..." I shrugged half-heartedly as I began to walk away, hoping I could make it at least halfway home before I started beating myself up over my ridiculousness.
Jacob grabbed my arm before I even got two feet. "Hold up, Leah." God- I wish he would stop saying my name like that. Full of concern, almost as if he cared.
"Jake, just drop it-" But before I could say another word, I realized I was in a very fierce hug, tucked protectively in Jacob Black's arms. So there we were. Jacob Black holding me, Leah Clearwater, in a rainstorm- in the middle of the forest- at 3 AM. My heart can't take this. Why was I such an idiot? How? How did I let him run away with what was left of my heart?! It can't survive this again- he had ALREADY imprinted, he was ALREADY out of reach- you stupid girl! What are you doing to yourself?!
I had to push him away- I needed to get away- but...this felt so- NO! You have to run. RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. To save yourself.
'To save your heart.'
I pulled my hands up to his chest, closing my eyes as I pushed him weakly away. I couldn't bear to look up into those brown hues, no matter what emotion they held, I had to hold my resolve. "Jacob- please...don't..." I pleaded. Backing away slowly as his arms slipped from around me, and suddenly, I felt colder than I had in a very long time. My fists clenched on his bare chest fleetingly, as though I was going to pull him back by his nonexistent shirt, or at least, hold him in place- keep him from moving away.
His warm fingers graced the underside of my chin, forcing my face upward, along with my obedient eyes. "C'mon, Clearwater- I know it seems bad now, but it will get better...so Sam and Emily got married- one day you'll find-"
"You can cut the cheesy pep-talk right there, Jake. I don't want to hear anything about the future- no scenerios about anything that may or may not happen if I'm still around in a couple of years...thanks anyway." I shook my head with a sigh. I was done with futures. Once upon a time, my future had been laid out before me- everything set in place. That was then. This is now.
"Leah Clearwater- don't you dare talk like that! You sure as hell better be around in a couple of years- your furry ass is going to be around for a good long time if I have anything to do with it! You're a part of my pack and as your Alpha, I'm telling you that you can't back out on being Beta. I'm not gonna let you run away from life. You certainly can't run away from me."
My laugh sounded bitter now. If only he knew. "Too late Jacob. I'm already miles down that road." I was walking away now, letting the void dull my pain again- disconnecting from it all. "Like I said- I'll see you tomorrow or something..." And with that, I was finally out of his sight, fading into the black forest. The rain had let up, but no doubt it would come back in full force sooner or later. I sighed heavily as I heard Jacob's voice calling something in the distance. Some last words of encouragement, I'm sure. It was his obligation, after all, as my Alpha- his duty to keep me functioning within his pack. That's what I had to keep reminding myself- I meant nothing to him, just as I meant nothing to everyone else.
I was running now, splashing barefoot through the deep puddles on the path back to my home. I suppose I must resemble a drowned rat by now. I was near passing out when I finally emerged into my backyard. I was numb to any sensation, unconsciously moving forward and involuntarily functioning. I walked through the back door, my mother would be deep asleep in her room at this hour. If there was any mercy in this world, no one would notice my late night entrance. Then again, no one ever did.
I wasn't sure if I slept, because I couldn't remember waking up. I only became aware of my surroundings when my mother knocked on my door to ask if I was alright. She informed me she was leaving for another date with Charlie and begged me to come down and eat the pizza she got for dinner. 'Damn. Dinner already?' I was laying on my bed, facing nothing in particular. I needed a shower- I could still feel the dried mud splattered on my long legs from the night before. My mother's departure from the driveway made some sort of marker in the back of my mind, making my stomach suddenly realize its emptiness.
A loud buzz, followed by a familiar ringtone sounded throughout the quiet room. I sighed, annoyed as I grabbed my cell from the nightstand and headed downstairs to eat.
- 5 New Text Messages -
- 2 New Voice Mails -
"It must be bug-the-shit-out-of-Leah day." I mumbled as I grabbed a slice of pizza and sifted through the text messages, deleting my voicemail without even listening to it. I hated voicemail.
The first two messages were from Seth and Jacob. Both telling me to show up at the Cullen's place around 5. I glanced at the clock- 6:47 -oh well, guess I can't make it. How heartbreaking. I scoffed- I'm sure it was something ridiculous anyway. The next message was from Aaron, a guy I had met at First Beach awhile back. He was inviting me to a party- shocker. Aaron was the kind of guy that didn't spend a Friday night without a bottle of beer and a wild party. He was always sending me these invites- I had a suspicion that anyone programmed into his phone got the same message. I started on my third piece of pizza as moved through the last messages- from Seth and Jacob. This time, threatening me to show up at the Cullens soon. Something about a patrol meeting. I was tired of meetings. I was tired of vampires and packs and imprinting. I was damn tired of being a werewolf.
My heart was sinking as I climbed into the shower. I knew Jacob or Seth was going to show up here soon looking for me. It would just be another pointless argument. They might even send one of the other boys to bitch at me- fetch me for their little meeting. My mind searched for an excuse- an escape from the madness of being a werewolf. And as if to answer me, my phone began buzzing as I stepped out of the steaming shower.
- 2 New Text Messages -
- 1 New Voice Mail -
I rolled my eyes as I deleted the voicemail and opened the text messages. The first was from Jacob- informing me that he was sending Embry to my house to get me "off my lazy ass." Great. The second was from Aaron again- seriously, what is with this kid? I scrolled through the message, this one more personal than the others I had gotten from him. He wanted me to come and hang out with him and some of his friends who were visiting from the Makah reservation. Small world.
Well now- there was an idea. Go to a teenage party- possibly get drunk- yeah, that could get my mind off of this werewolf shit. Not that it sounded like an awesome option, but it was either that or wait for Embry to drag me to the bloodsuckers' place. Yup, annoying teenage boys sounded better than the disgusting smells of bloodsuckers any day.
I threw on a snug-fitting t-shirt and shorts, not bothering to blow-dry my ever-growing locks. I grabbed one last piece of pizza as my eye caught the cabinet behind the kitchen table. I shrugged mentally, opening it up and taking off with the big bottle of bourbon my father always kept stored there- for those nights when he just needed a drink. No use in letting it go to waste.
I drove my dad's old truck up to the front of Aaron's house on the outskirts of Forks. I smirked- I was already getting text messages asking where the hell I was. I was pretty sure that after last night, Jacob thought I had thrown myself over the cliffs. Oh well, didn't matter. I grabbed the bottle of bourbon and turned it up, downing a mouthful of fiery liquid before leaving the alcohol in the car and heading towards the people standing around on the porch. Lucky or not, Aaron was leaned against one of the porch railings, talking to a blonde-haired girl with a beer in hand. He noticed me all too quickly, flashing a big grin as I internally groaned. 'I hope this doesn't turn out as bad as I think it will...'
He greeted me loudly, the scent of beer revolving around him. He handed me a full beer bottle from a cooler as we walked into his home. God, what was I doing here again? Loud music played through stereo speakers off to the right, girls were dancing and boys were playing drinking games. High school all over again- but, I had to admit, it was a nice change of atmosphere from the seriousness and tension of werewolf duties. Everything back home is 'imprint this' and 'destiny that'.
Speaking of destiny- damn, Aaron's Makah friends were...damn. Apparently, his three buddies were the sons of his step-father's friends- they had all grown-up together. He introduced me to Cody, Madoc, and Troy, whom I might have actually found remotely attractive if not for what happened in that moment. They were all giving me odd glances, questioning gazes and it hit me like a brick in the face- the smell. They all smelled so- wrong- a familiar wrong. Hot and peppery, like the flames on burning beachwood. With that same canine undertone. Damn. Damn. Damn.
'Are you serious?! Where do I have to go to get rid of this- this disease that seems to follow me everywhere!' So the other tribe had its share of wolf decendents, too, huh? The odd glances they were passing in my direction must have meant that my smell was confusing them as well. I smirked bitterly to myself as I downed half my beer. No matter what I did, I was never going to get away.
"Its Clearwater, right? Leah Clearwater?" I think this one was Troy, and possibly the Alpha of his pack. He just had this cocky, arrogant, I'm-in-charge type of feeling about him. I hated that. Even his smirk was one of those I-can-have-what-I-want types of looks.
I nodded with a look of distaste. "Yeah...right." Even if I wasn't a bitch by nature these days, any girl, under normal circumstances, would have probably resented him just as much as I did right now for looking her body up and down like a piece of meat. The two adjacent, dark-skinned boys also looked slightly amused by something. It was getting to be very irritating. I took another long drink of my beer.
"Well Leah Clearwater, I think we have more in common than anyone would suspect." He grinned, while the other two boys looked slightly skeptical. "C'mon- I'll get you another beer." I think I was suppose to interpret that as 'follow me.'
I sighed, Aaron having left to flirt with another blonde girl, I forgot the party and my distractions to follow the dark-skinned boys through the kitchen and out into the backyard. I made sure to grab another beer on my way outside, I was going to need it at this rate. We stopped about halfway into the yard, out of earshot for the normal humans at the party- especially since most of the teens were blissfully drunk or high. 'Lucky bastards.'
Again, it was Troy who spoke. Definately the Alpha- there was no way he could be so controlling and not be in command. "So, Leah- I don't think I've ever met a female of our kind before- its an odd turn of events.."
I raised my bottle sarcastically. "That's me, Leah the oddity." Another quick drink. "So, tell me, Troy-" I curled his name around my lips, raising a brow, "when exactly did your pack come to be? Our elders never mentioned any other packs out there..." It wasn't really an interesting question because truthfully, I wasn't very interested. Yes, there were three werewolves in front of me, but they were already pissing me off with their macho bullshit.
"Well, we're still pretty young as wolves go, I guess. Probably about the same age as your Alpha. Unfortunately, our council never mentioned your pack either. It would be interesting for all of us to meet. We might just have to make an occassion of it." I gave him an inconclusive response, still pissed about the fact that he referred to his age by 'my alpha' -like I was obviously younger than him or something?! It sounded alot like he was implying that I was inferior to them. Idiots.
Cody opened his big mouth this time. "Are there other females in your pack? We've heard stories, legends of female wolves, but only the boys on our reservation have changed-"
"What do you mean- your tribe has legends of female wolves?" Now I was interested.
Madoc nodded with a grin. "There are a few. Nothing specific, just mentions of beautiful women in the tribe following warrior spirits into the footsteps of wolves...we kinda figured it was metaphoric since none of the girls had ever shown signs of changing."
My brow furrowed as I thought about this. "Before now, I had never even heard anything that indicated a girl could change. We just figured it was a fluke." I shrugged, intrigued by this new information.
I felt the phone in my backpocket vibrate, then the muffled ringtone began. Normally I would ignore it, but I welcomed the distraction. I picked it up without bothering to check the ID, nonchalantly idling away from the boys as Aaron came outside with another round of beers for them. "Hello?" My bad mood was seeping into my voice as usual.
"Damnit Leah! FINALLY! What the hell is the matter with you?! Embry said you weren't at home and I've been trying to call you all day! After last ni- y- you weren't picking up and I didn't know...Where are you?!"
"Geez, cool it, Jacob! I just needed to take some space, okay? I'm just visiting a friend- and damn, have I got news for you...anyways, I'll be heading back home soon, so I'll come out and run with you tonight, if you want- I'll catch you up. Just meet me at my house later." I took a deep breath, already eager to leave the party for a quiet run in the forest.
Jacob seemed to hesitate on the phone, still sounding concerned. Damn boy. "What is that in the background, Lee? Are- are you at a party?"
Werewolf hearing- I should have known he would pick up the distinct sound of Framing Hanley's Lollipop Remix blasting from the house a few feet away. The party, mixed with whatever amount of alcohol I had, was definately raking across my nerves. "Forget it Jacob, I'm on my way home- just text me when you're outside my house." It was a dismissive statement, but Jacob was obviously not done talking.
"Clearwater, are you drunk?" It was an accusation, not a question. Was I really slurring that badly? No way- I had only had- er- a few beers...and that bourbon- nowhere near my limit. How the hell did Jacob always know everything? You'd think he had omnipotence over the pack the way he could always tell if something was up.
"Jake, I'm fine- I swear. Just meet me later, okay? Its important." Again- this was one of those dismissive statements- as in, hang the fuck up! Once again, Jacob Black is completely oblivious.
"Stay there- I'm coming to get you. Tell me where you are." NO- no, no, no! That was the last thing I wanted. The absolute last thing I needed. Shit- why did he have to use the damn Alpha tone now?! I couldn't stop myself from answering him with Aaron's name and address. Fuck!
I took a deep breath. If I got any angrier, I was gonna phase right there in Aaron's backyard. After a minute, I noticed the wolfboys studying me. I ran a hand through my hair as I dicontinued the argument with Jacob by hanging up the phone. He was on his way, probably phasing at the moment and taking off in this direction. It would take him about 10 minutes to run here, but it was the long drive back with him that I was dreading more than anything.
Luckily, or at least as lucky as I get- Cody and the others nodded in my direction and led the rest of the party inside for shots. So they weren't total jerks- they must have overheard and decided to leave me alone. Thank God for small favors. I finished off my beer easily, but also noticed that my focus seemed to be waning. I heard myself growl lowly. I couldn't be drunk- my tolerance for alcohol was ridiculously high!
A familiar, and annoying, scent hit my nose at that instant. He was fast, I'd give him that. But the fact that he was coming all the way out here just to babysit me was- just so- fucking irritating. Yeah thats it. At one time, I would have thought it was sweet, or even a sign he might have maybe cared. But let's face it, he had his imprint and he was only looking out for the interest of the pack. I was so caught up with my blurred thoughts that I didn't even notice Jacob come out of the woods in his cut-off shorts.
"Having fun?" He smirked wickedly, obviously amused that I was startled by his voice.
"Tons- can we just go?" I was immediately heading to the truck, going around the side of the house instead of through it. I could feel Jacob following on my heels, his breath practically on my neck, as if he were protecting me from something. I could feel the heat- SHIT LEAH- STOP THAT!
Before I could even be mad at myself, Jacob's hand was tangled in mine, stopping me in my tracks. "Wait- what's that....is that- ?" His eyes were shifting nervously, darting around the dark yard in confusion. I gathered my thought as the realization hit my nose as well.
"Oh yeah- that's what I was going to tell you. C'mon, just get in the truck and I'll explain on the way." I promised. He seemed very intrigued by this new information and I hoped it was enough to keep the topic of conversation from drifting anywhere uncomfortable during the ride home. I tossed Jake the keys as I heard my name being called from the front porch.
"We'll see you soon, Leah Clearwater." It was Troy, throwing in a wink with his farewell for good measure, while his two sidekicks just nodded with leering expressions. I could have barfed at that moment, but my attention was drawn to Jake, who seemed to be frozen beside the open driver's side door, even after I was already secure on my side. I followed his line of vision- staring daggers into the three Makah boys.
"Earth to Jacob! Lets go!" I encouraged with great annoyance coloring my voice. He didn't bother looking at me as he jumped into the truck and started the drive back to La Push. I, however, was staring at him- confused by the stoic expression he now had plastered on his features. After a moment, I forced myself to look away. I reluctantly glanced back after I heard him fidgeting with something- his arm stretched to the floorboard as he tried to fish for something while driving.
"Here." I offered, reaching over and grabbing whatever he was trying to move. Oh. It was my liquor bottle from earlier. Shit- no wonder I was a little drunk. I could have sworn I only took a small drink before going into the party, but my once full bottle of liquid courage was now down to its last few shots. Well, as long as I'm going to hell, might as well do it thoroughly- as Edward says. I finished off the bottle before Jake could snatch it from my hands, throwing the empty bottle at my feet. I gathered a deep breath and closed my eyes to keep from feeling dizzy.
"So you wanna talk about it?" His voice was soft...pleasant. I smiled slightly, if not from the alcohol- then from the irony of the situations I found myself in.
"Talk about what?" My voice came out softer than I intended as well, maybe just because of the quiet atmosphere.
"Well, whatever it is thats got you acting so strange lately, for starters. Or you could just tell me what it was that you said needed to tell me, ya kno- if you still remember." I opened my eyes, rolling them in his direction. I had heard the smirk in his voice before I even saw its brilliance on his features.
"I can't believe you haven't figured it out from their scent smacking you in the face back there, actually. Those guys, the three assholes on the porch- they're werewolves." Normally, I probably wouldn't have been so blunt, but I was feeling just a little wasted now. Of course, the fact that Jacob was now slamming on the brakes did nothing to help this. In his shock, he had almost ran one of the only stoplights in Forks. "Damnit Jake!"
"They're WHAT?! Shit- I knew something was up!" We started moving forward again, Jacob continued to ramble, but by that point, I couldn't focus on what he was saying. My eyes, which I'm sure were glassed over, were fixed on the town passing by outside the window. The streetlights were casting everything in a yellow glow that just seemed hazed by my drunken vision. Something wasn't right- why the hell did I feel like this? There is no way that one bottle of liquor and a couple beers, even if I drank them kinda fast, were making me this disoriented. I had a very high tolerance for alcohol, even before I became a wolf and now, with the wolf's metabolism, I know I'm able to hold at least a couple bottles of liquor without getting this plastered. It didn't even feel the same- it felt more like being dazed than being smashed.
"Leah-" Jake's warm hand was on my shoulder, shaking me out of my sluggish thoughts. "Leah- hon, are you okay? How much did you drink?" God, I was so tired. Poor Jacob must think I'm an alcoholic. "Leah- answer me- are you alright?" Woah- when did he get so close? His hand was gently underneath my chin, forcing me to look at him as he studied my face at close proximity. Too close.
I tried to jerk my head away, but it was impossible. I ended up just trying to force my eyes open and stay focused. "I'm fine, Jake- I just need to sleep it off..." I wasn't sure how much of that came out coherently, but his concern must have faded, because my next moment of awareness found myself slumped against his body while he drove down a dark road. His arm was draped across me as I attempted to sleep, burying my face further into his chest. I was too far gone to argue with myself about these motions- but I could swear I remember him bringing his lips down to the top of my head and breathing my scent deep into his lungs. I really am wasted. But I couldn't help but drown myself in his scent, too. It made me want to- WOAH. That is the alcohol talking Leah. Definately.
I was startled awake by the stench of bloodsuckers. I was immediately pissed. I pulled myself away from my comfortable spot slumped against him to look around, even though I knew where he had taken me. The Cullen's. There stood their stupid house, a couple of figures standing on the porch, conveniently shadowed by the light from inside. "What the fuck are we doing here?" I looked at him pointedly as I back away in the small space of the truck cab. My anger seemed to clear my thoughts momentarily, at least enough for me to direct my rage at Jacob.
"Are you crazy? I'm not taking you back to your mother's house like this- you'd fall and break your neck if I left you there alone! Not to mention Sue would kill us both if she saw you!" He seemed amused by my protests, but I didn't find anything funny about this at all. I just wanted to go home to my own bed and fall asleep. For me, pissed off and drunk do not mix. Jacob was about to figure this out first hand.
"Take me home, Black- right now." The growl in my chest was getting louder as he removed the keys from the ignition and turned those eyes on me, starting some bullshit reasoning with me. "NO. I- I have to go home...I can't stay in there-" My hands ran through my hair automatically, my body turning as I practically fell out of the truck when my door opened. I may be his Beta, but that didn't mean I wouldn't run away from him.
"Leah- calm down- your brother is inside, just let me-" Yeah- my brother was inside, but so were the rest of them! I didn't want any of them to see me like this- a drunken idiot! I would never get any sleep in there, the smell alone was making the alcohol churn in my stomach, and we were still at a distance!
"No way- I'm going home! You can stay the fuck away from me!" I stumbled back as Jacob came around the truck towards me. At this point, I only partially acknowledged that the whole Cullen household was now standing on their porch. A figure was advancing bravely toward us, but I kept backing away like a scared animal. 'Okay, get a grip Leah- get a grip...c'mon- focus- what the hell is going on?! Jacob- he's trying to help- he's just- Edward- its Edward coming toward us- he's just- Oh God- the smell- I think I really am going to lose it- I can't-' My thoughts continued to elude me, circling around in confusing spins, meaning nothing.
"Something's wrong with her, Jacob." Was that Edward's voice? What did he mean? Of course there was something wrong with me! My head was splitting and the alcohol was getting to me. 'Of course there is something wrong- I'm a werewolf, I'm drunk, I'm-' Erratic thinking wasn't helping the situation.
"Damn it, Clearwater, what's gotten into you?" Jacob's voice was just background noise now- all I wanted was to run away, stumbling around in the yard looking like an idiot was the least of my concerns. What was I on? Seriously- did I take drugs? This wasn't me- my head was swimming and my thoughts were racing so fast I couldn't keep up. This wasn't alcohol- I had been wasted to the point of passing out and never experienced anything like this. Something was wrong. I could feel my body trembling- shaking violently to try to phase- to escape this. Suddenly, the familiar sense of becoming a wolf overtook me- overtook everything.
I was running, paws hitting the earth as I struggled to go faster. What the hell was happening?! I felt like my heart was going to explode from my chest and my thoughts were still out of my grasp. I couldn't pay attention to anything long enough to form a coherent thought. 'Hungry- deer- bear- hunt.' I found myself ripping into a large bear before I could even realize my state of mind was on food. Did I have rabies or something?! Oh God- I think I'm sick- maybe diseased. If I were able to think anything through clearly, I might have concluded that dying would be better than living in the hell my life had become.
In that moment I became overly aware of the fact that I wasn't being chased. Either that, or they couldn't keep up with me. I was already miles into the forest and I realized that I wanted to be chased. I wanted to be caught. 'WHY?!' I let out a short bark, confusing filling me once more. Running filled my every muscle once more- making me twitch with energy as I took off. There has to be something wrong with me- I'd never felt instinct so strong- so overpowering. Never had I felt so absolutely animalistic. It was close to what I had seen in Jacob's head when he had taken off after Bella's engagement. When he set himself free to the wolf. But this, this wasn't my choice- this was a force taking hold of me, dragging me down into madness.
Then, just as quickly as my decline began, it began to pick up the pace and I was falling faster. Familiar scents assaulted my nose, stopping me dead in my tracks as my gaze caught sight of three large creatures staring right back at me. My legs, my instincts- everything told me to run away, to be chased, to be caught, but I had to take a moment in my unfocused and racing thoughts to study the animals before me. Two of them were just slightly larger than my wolf form, one a brownish black, the other a dark grey color. The third was by far the second largest werewolf/shapeshifter-thing I had seen in any of the packs, Jacob's russet form being the largest. It was a snowy white- much more pure than my dingy silver coat.
It was at this point that I realized I was pacing backward every few moments, my heart still racing. I noticed the largest wolf take a cautious step in my direction, weighing his odds it seemed. I took in my surroundings- as if this were some sort of game, a dance driven by instinct and we were only following along. His muscles seemed tensed for a pounce, readying themselves to come after me. With that realization, I could no longer hold myself still and my instincts once again won the battle, causing me to free myself into a run. This time, however, I could hear their paws pounding behind me, sending new thrills of adrenaline through my system, causing me to run faster. I felt as if this were a test- some sort of challenge to see who could catch me. Oh God- I really was crazy. Here I was playing some perverted type of drunken tag.
A familiar howl sounded in front of me, causing me to come to a sliding halt. My eyes darted around, calculating my next move- my legs willing to move at the slightest inclination. The three boys came bursting into view behind me and before I could even react, Jacob and Seth were in front of me- stopping at the sight of our group. It was at this point that I figured out how utterly quiet it was. Where were their thoughts? I mean, I expected that I wouldn't hear the others, but where were my pack's thoughts now that they were in wolf form? Why couldn't I hear them?! Shit- I was right- I'm sick...
The recognition and confusion were clearly reading in Jacob and Seth's eyes. They must have noticed the panic in mine, because they made whimpering noises and growls trying to communicate something to me. I could hear barks begin to sound from the anxious wolves behind me- just as eager as my instincts were to restart this game. I wanted to phase back- I wanted to talk this through...I just couldn't find the will. I couldn't seem to calm myself enough to bring back my human form. It had never been this hard before! It was as if I couldn't even remember how to phase back now.
My body was once again ready to move of its own volition, but before I moved an inch- every wolf in front of me once again became human. Jacob and Troy were staring at each other, obviously already having had some sort of Alpha discussion I wasn't aware of. My heart was still fluttering like a bird, but thankfully my thoughts were collecting themselves as I forced my feet to stay planted where they were. I was human, damn it- I was sure as hell not going to let my wolf form just take over without a fight.
"So, Troy-" Jacob spoke acidly, obviously upset by something the asshole had said. "What the hell are you getting at?" His tone was that of an Alpha. A very pissed off Alpha.
Troy smirked confidently, crossing his arms over his naked chest. Damn- being surrounded by naked men was not helping my situation. If I didn't know any better, I would swear my hormones were raging, but that wasn't very logical for a menopausal shapeshifter. In all seriousness- it wouldn't take much for me to jump Jacob right here. I expelled that thought quickly- what the hell was wrong with me?! He was- he is my- BUT DAMN- he's gorgeous...
"C'mon Jacob- she's fair game. You know as well as I do that wolves mate for life- since she hasn't mated yet, she's clearly up for grabs. She's an Alpha female, she needs an Alpha male. All I have to do is be the first to catch and dominate her into submission. Ya know- prove I'm the best choice, just like they do it in the wild." His eyebrows raised suggestively.
This information hit me so hard I couldn't breathe. Troy wanted to- WHAT AN ASSHOLE! I could feel myself growling into an aggressive bark as the thoughts lingered in my mind. The boys were staring in my direction now, Jacob and Seth looking livid and Troy just looking like an asshole. I am so gonna wipe that damn smirk off his face! How dare he act like I was just some sort of fucking piece of meat! An animal to be tamed like his pet! JERK.
Troy was laughing now. "Sorry Leah, but that's what happens when you go into heat without a mate- you become a rogue. Fair game for any Alpha to claim. Its why you've broken away from your dear leader and why you keep running from us. You can't control it, anymore than you can control any instinct. But I promise you'll like my pack...and you'll make the perfect Alpha female to carry on our line."
I growled once more at this, louder than before. So I was in heat? Impossible- I was sterile...right? I hadn't menstrated since becoming a wolf. And I certainly wasn't going to leave- I'd be damned before I left my pack to became some prize for this self-absorbed dick. I couldn't leave my brother, or Jacob- or any of my pack brothers for that matter. They were annoying, hell yes- but I couldn't deny that they were like family to me.
"Leah isn't going anywhere- she is my Beta and she will stay where she belongs- in my pack, by my side." Did Jacob really just say that? A shiver ran down my spine- definately not from being cold.
"And how the hell do you know so much about this? Leah is the only female of our kind there is..." Seth growled out.
"Ah, but she's not the first. Makah packs have had Alpha females in several generations of history. They are rare, but not unheard of. Don't get me wrong Jacob, I don't want to start a fight, but its only instinct that we chase her when she runs. She'll be in heat for a week and needs a mate. I was under the impression that you already had a mate, and from your thoughts- this other pack Alpha already has a mate as well." He raised a brow matter-of-factly.
Oh God- did this mean I was really doomed to be enslaved to this jerk?! This was too much- fate hated me. Life hated me. I knew I had almost no chance of imprinting, but I had at least held out hope that one day- when my luck changed and my heart was descently taped back together- MAYBE I would be able to get married...perhaps not love, but at least be content with someone of MY choosing. Then again, that was probably my mistake...holding out any kind of hope for anything was futile. Every shard of happiness got crushed in the end, no exceptions. Nothing was left to grasp at or hold to. Hope was a mistake just like love. A mistake I made all too easily, too many times.
"Leah- please, hon, just phase back. We'll work this out, I swear. Just talk to me..." Jacob was trying to calm me down- he had obviously noticed that I was backing away before I had even realized I was doing it. It was no use- I could feel my muscles tensing to run at any moment. I was trying to get a hold of myself- if I could just phase back- get past this fog in my head...if I could just talk to Jacob. Damn it, Leah- there you go with hope again.
"Its no use. She has to run, just as we have to chase. C'mon Jacob- you can't fight your nature, neither can she. Go on, Leah. I'll even let you have a head start." He winked, I could have thrown up in my mouth.
"No, Leah! Wait!"
Too late, Jacob. I can't wait- he's right, I can't fight it. I'm already gone.
So thanks to everyone for reading and thanks in advance for those of you who review, its much appreciated.
As for the mating thing- its an idea I've had for awhile based off of wolf and dog habits. It hit me when Leah was mentioning being menopausal since becoming a werewolf/shapeshifter in the series- maybe her body could be more like a wolf- only going into heat once a year when it was mature (about 3 years old).
So if anyone is wondering about the timeline- definately post-Breaking Dawn, probably about a year after the whole Volturi incident. That makes Leah's wolf form about 3 or 4 years old, right? Maybe a little older if I'm not adding up all the time correctly, but still a young wolf for all intents and purposes.
As for the whole Jacob imprinting Nessie thing- for this story, we will use the concept that Jacob imprinted on Nessie's human side, which means that Jacob's imprint wasn't as strong a bond as the other boys and has been fading over time.
So thanks, R&R!