As Leah Clearwater crossed the old boundary line into La Push, she still wasn't free.
She was tired as hell.
She felt drained and hungry.
She was definitely not yet over the human black hole that was Sam.
She still missed her dad, and she was worried about how her mother would react to her return.
But running at speeds humans would only dream of, pounding the earth so hard that little shocks of dirt flew up in her wake…
Not flying, but close.
Leah! You're coming back! Seth's voice rang out in her head.
Yeah, squirt, I'm coming back.
So fast? Are you ok? Now that was Embry. Probably out somewhere with Seth.
Hiding thoughts wasn't possible in wolf form, so Leah didn't try. Not ok, she thought, but on my way. Slowly.
I missed you, Big Sis.
He really was a mess without you. Now Jake had joined the party. Cool. Just bring in all the Cullens and it could be a freak show convention. She and Jasper could be the stars. Uh oh. Three seconds 'till impact.
You've been hanging out with the mad crazy killer leech? Embry's voice shrieked in her head.
Jasper actually talked to you? Seth sounded curious and slightly jealous.
Lee, you're one weird girl. I'd never find that guy comforting. Jacob's thoughts sounded like he was trying not to laugh.
Yeah yeah, you big mutts. I "hung out" with the Cap'n. Feeling defiant, she went for it. I might be doing it again. She reveled in the mental silence until she thought about its cause.
Um, Leah? You sure that…um…a rebound with a married guy is the best idea? Jacob was thinking.
You should have said "dead guy." Rebound with a DEAD GUY. Embry was quick to add.
Leah growled aloud. Morons. He's…a friend. That's it. And either go inside my house or stay the hell away, because I'm getting close to the house and I haven't got any clothes.
And you want us to stay away?
Shut it, Embry.
Whatever you say, Leah. We'll give you privacy. Whatever his other faults, Jake had matured a lot post Bella debacle. She felt the others leave her mind and she saw her house in the distance. Round the back to make the most of the trees, she thought.
Mom's not angry, Sis. She's really, really worried… I was too. Thanks for coming home. I'll be there soon. Seth was still off wolfing it up somewhere, and Leah appreciated it. He knew she needed to talk to their mother and was giving her space.
Baby Brother, you and I need to go buy us some pixie sticks. And as loudly as she could think it, she thought a phrase at Seth, a phrase she hoped to repeat more in the future: I love you.
She didn't hear his reply because she had started phasing back to human form, but she was sure she'd hear it soon enough. Hiding behind her mother's beat up old Honda, she thought of her options. Come in, naked as the day she was born and most likely covered in dirt and whatever else? She eyed the black tarp covering the Honda. Option two it is.
Wrapped up in scratchy black tarp, feeling and looking like an idiot, Leah padded up to the back door. Her reflection in the windows showed her that she was still a mess, but at least her face was clean. She took a deep breath, put her hand on the chipped chrome doorknob, and opened the door.
"Mama? I'm back."