"Just walk." Embry kept saying. He and Jared were walking close on either side of me, like they knew I was going to make a break for it.
"She was crying…" I said after a minute.
"She just fell," Jared said calmly. "She was fine."
"I know, man," Embry patted my shoulder. "But if we go back now, there'll be a fight."
I ran a hand over my face.
"It's not like we were deliberately provoking them…" Jared argued, angrily.
"Well what the hell would you call it then?" Sam wanted to know. Sam was angry. Sam was always angry. If Sam wasn't angry, then I'd start to worry.
Jared looked at me as if I might help him out with this line of attack. I guess usually I could be pretty mouthy, but tonight I didn't say anything. I just stared silently out the window, waiting for the others to get here so the meeting would be over. Damn pack politics.
"What's going on?" Quil asked as he sauntered into the room with Seth. Seth was shirtless so I assumed he'd been on patrol.
"Paul imprinted," Embry told them. "Right in the middle of this little scuffle we were having with some new townies…"
"You imprinted?" Seth asked eagerly. "On who?"
I narrowed my eyes, not bothering to tell him. Because I was in no mood, for his reaction, which I could already predict. I didn't want to have to beat the living shit out of him for…
"The new girl," Embry was stupid enough to say.
"Seriously? Her?" Seth's face cracked into a suggestive grin. "Nice work! If I had - "
It took me about one eighth of a second to cross the room.
"Paul! Let him go!" Sam bellowed, "So help me, Paul… YOU'RE GOING TO KNOCK OVER THE FRIDGE!"
Embry and Jared arrived a second later to pull me off. I had him suspended halfway up the kitchen wall, so he crashed loudly to the floor when I let go. Probably hurt. Good. He shot me a murderous look as he scrambled to the far side of the room, next to Sam, who didn't look happy either. He was glaring daggers, actually, but didn't say anything else. Smart.
"So what's the big deal? Why are we meeting?" Quil asked.
"The new townies…" Jared explained, still panting from wrestling me off Seth. "We don't think they're… normal. What they are we can't say."
"Only that they have some mouths on them," Embry added darkly. "Arrogant bastards, and they're pretty damn strong."
"You guys fought?"
"A punch and a shove," I shrugged. It had been enough to see that they were way stronger than normal humans should be…
"Until we know what they are, I want you guys to stay out of town," Sam admitted finally. "No more fights." I growled, low in my throat, causing him to turn his eyes on me. "Paul I'm serious."
"How are we supposed to learn anything about them then?" Jared demanded. "At least let us scout… see what they're up to!"
Sam shook his head. "No. No going into town."
"They could be a threat," Embry was arguing futilely, as I got to my feet and crossed the room. "If we don't make sure… Paul?"
"I need a run."
I didn't bother with further explanation, just ducked out the door, and phased. Her face swimming to the surface of my mind as I broke into a run. Sam couldn't keep me away from her. Neither could they.
I let out a possessive growl at the last thought, because with it had come an image of the blonde ogre running to her side, touching her. Could he be stupid enough to think she belonged to him? Or what if she thought so too…?
No, that wouldn't work. If that's how things were, they'd have to change. That was all.
A few hours later I felt the presence of two pack members, approaching in the darkness. Embry and Jared. I sped up so it would difficult for them to catch me, but felt them pick up speed behind me as well. We ran like that for a while, until I was almost sure I'd lost them, then a hulking shape bounded up next to me in the dark. Embry. Damn he was fast.
His tongue lolled out, as he glanced over at me. If he was in his human form he would have been grinning. Smug bastard.
Hey Paul, here's a one liner for you… where do you go if you're an arrogant, non-human, pale-faced freak?
My run slowed for a moment, as I digested this, then I let out a low snarl of pleasure. They're not in town.
Not indeed. Embry's bark was self satisfied and gloating. Quil caught their scent somewhere out by the marshes…
Shall we pay these hermits a visit? Jared asked now, catching up finally. See what your lady friend and her boys in the hood are up to tonight?
I could smell her, above the earthy smell of the swamp, even before we saw the cabins. There were two cabins, nestled between the trees. They looked old, like they had just been fixed up after years of rotting. It reminded me of a campsite. All the lights were out so assumed everyone was sleeping.
A while back I had made serious fun of Jared for sneaking into Kim's window at night when she was asleep. Kim's mom had forbidden him from seeing her, so it was the only way. At the time, I found it laughable that he got some kind of relief just from watching her sleep, obliviously, unaware of his presence. Now I got it.
Why would they live out here? Jared wanted to know, coming up next to me in the dark.
They're hiding from civilization? Embry suggested.
I ignored them, already on my way to the first cabin, where her smell was strongest. I phased into human form and broke the lock, quick and silent.
"Cool," Jared noted, brushing passed me.
"What about this doesn't scream cult?" Embry chuckled, moving into the dark interior of the cabin and glancing around.
There was a creak from the hallway.
Had I imagined it?
This time the creak was louder, followed by footsteps. We all moved quickly, pulling into the shadows, I could feel Jared nearby tensing up as I did, ready to phase in case of a fight.
She appeared a second later, gliding into the kitchen, long hair swishing loosely over bare shoulders. She didn't seem to notice us, heading for the sink.
God, was she beautiful.
"Trevor?" She asked suddenly into the dark. She turned, her hair sliding over her shoulders as she did. "Trev, is that you?"
I couldn't sleep. I felt sticky-hot, the way only this swamp could make me feel. I missed home so much, it physically hurt, and for some reason I found the air stifling and difficult to breath tonight. Eventually I gave up trying to sleep and padded into the kitchen for a drink of water. I splashed some on my face, and then poured myself a cup.
That's when the back of my neck prickled. You know those little ghost fingers that mean someone's watching you?
I heard a creak behind me, and turned quickly.
"Trev, is that you?"
What was that in the shadows? Wait, was that...? My mouth opened to scream.
"Helmmph!" I hand came over my mouth impossibly fast. How could anything be that fast? I thrashed against it, "Mmmph! Mmemmth!!"
"Calm down, it's okay," a male voice came soothingly from behind me, I guess to make me stop thrashing. But I wasn't buying.
"Let her go! Goddamn it, Embry, you're scaring her!"
Man, this guy was strong, it didn't seem to be taking anything out of him to hold me, and I was nearly suffocating myself I was struggling so hard…
"If he lets her go, she's going to wake the whole damn house!"
How many were there?!
"I don't care… get your hands off her!"
At this point I tried to bite his hand… it didn't work, weirdly, my teeth couldn't even break the skin. In fact, he didn't seem to notice what I'd done until he felt the wetness on his hand, "Urgg," he said, switching the hand over my mouth so he could wipe the wet one on his pants.
"I'm not joking, Embry…" A low growling suddenly filled the kitchen. A part of me looked instinctively for one of my brothers at the sound, because it couldn't be coming from that guy…?
"Alright," snapped the guy holding me, "calm down, I'm letting her go," the growling stopped. The guy holding me, lowered his voice, clearly talking to me now, "Hey, it's okay," his voice was all drugged up, and slow, like he was trying to placate a kindergartener. "We're not going to hurt you, we just want to talk, okay?"
Did he think I was retarded?
"Mmmph," I managed.
"Are you going to scream if I let you go?"
"Nmmmph," I assured him, vigorously shaking my head.
"Good… Alright." He pulled the hand away.
"Help!" I shrieked. "Tim! Trevmmph!" The hand was covering my mouth again, but that didn't matter, there was no way that scream would go unnoticed. I waited calmly for my brothers to show up while a string of curses erupted through the kitchen.
"Goddamn it, Paul! What did I tell you?"
The hand was jerked off my face. Yeah, that's right, assholes! Run like squirrels, because in a moment my brothers will –
I felt a hand brush across my bare shoulder. I spun around…
He was standing over me, towering actually, so that my face was about chest level, and I had to look up to see him… I was too startled to scream, I think I opened my mouth but nothing came out… his dark eyes were fixed on mine, intense and demanding in the darkness. I recognized him instantly - from the parking lot. Staring guy.
"Paul, NOW!" Someone shouted. God, he moved fast. I blinked and he was gone, like he'd never been there.
Tim appeared in the kitchen doorway, a second later. He had total bed head, and was wearing only boxers.
"Cassie?" He grumbled, rubbing his face. "What's wrong?"
"Those guys, from the parking lot…" I was panting still, "they were just here."
"What?" The sleepy look vanished from his face, and his eyes flashed. I could tell he was smelling the air, getting their scent. "Which way did they go?"
Hell, if I know. They moved like bloody hummingbirds… "I didn't see." He changed in one bound, on the way to the door. One second human, the next a massive auburn wolf.
"Trevor! Daddy!" I called as he left. I didn't want Tim to go after them alone. I wasn't sure why… there was something about those guys…
My father stumbled into the kitchen a moment later, followed closely by Trevor.
"What are you shouting about?" Trevor looked irritated, his eyes were still half closed. "It's like two-thirty…"
"Someone broke in, Tim just went after them!"
"What?" My dad asked. Trevor didn't wait for my answer, he was already phased, out the door. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah…" I moved to the window, just in time to see Trevor disappear completely into the darkness.
"I'll call the others," my father's voice was hard. Angry.
There was going to be a war.
A/N = author's note. Ohhhhhhhh. Wow, am I smart. (Thanks for the reviews guys!) Hope you liked this chapter, and again, let me know what you thought…