Author's Note: I have to say an incredible thank you to all of you for your overwhelming support and encouragement for me to keep writing this story. It's such an amazing thing as a writer when you have people who want to read what you write. There are really not even words for how much you guys inspire me.
I did have TWO amazing individuals who offered to finish writing this story for me and both wrote me incredible next chapters. And after reading both of their chapters, it actually inspired me to keep writing myself. elizabethdiaries & NatariiGrace, THANK YOU because without you I would not have been able to write this update.
There's not much left to the story after this, but I will finish it. I promise. Thank you again to all of you who are reading and have been. I realized I started writing this four years ago. FOUR years. Oh my God. Just, crazy. Thank you. Thank you. I love you all. Read on and enjoy. :)
I couldn't believe my eyes. Carlisle, Alice, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie. 5/8 of the entire Cullen family, standing in front of me. Right in front of me, in the trees just outside the property line of Charlie's house. What were they doing here?
I glanced back towards the house to make sure Renesmee hadn't followed me. I wasn't sure this would be a pleasant surprise for her. She was still very adamant against seeing them, though I had hoped her resolve would be lessening by now.
"You need to leave." I said sternly as soon as I was able to form words. "Get out of here quickly before Renesmee sees you. Please. Don't ask questions just go."
"Like hell." Rosalie argued. "There's no way we are leaving without seeing her. 16 years dog and I thought my niece was dead. I will go through you to get to her if I have to."
"Rosalie." Carlisle warned her quietly. I could tell by the way he was looking at me that he was analyzing my every move. Figuring out the meaning behind my warning without me saying another word. "We'll go, for now. Can you get away tonight? To talk?"
"Yeah." I agreed without thought. I wasn't honestly sure if I could or not but I wanted them to leave before it was too late.
"We'll go and I'll come back alone, tonight, around midnight? Will that work?"
"Yes. PLEASE LEAVE NOW." I knew I was practically begging but I also knew that any second Renesmee's patience was going to give out and she was going to come through those trees and into this clearing and then all hell would break loose.
"Carlisle. What are you doing?" Rosalie protested. "We can't leave. She's so close!"
"We need to go Rose. She doesn't want to see us." Carlisle advised her, turning to corral the group of his 'children' to leave. I was right, he had understood what I was trying to tell them without me saying it. "Let's go."
If Alice could have cried, she probably would have been. The look on her face was one of pure misery as she turned to follow Carlisle. She hesitated for just a moment but continued on when Jasper gently guided her by her elbow.
Rosalie on the other hand looked pissed. If she could have, she probably would have attacked me right then and there, but she knew that wasn't going to get her any closer to her niece. She jerked her arm out of Emmett's grasp when he tried to pull her away and she snarled at me before she too took off to follow Carlisle.
When they were all out of sight, I let the breath out that I hadn't realized I'd been holding and my thoughts flew into overdrive. The Cullens were here. They knew we were alive? Since when? Always? Was Renesmee right that they had given up on us? Did they come here just to see us or was this a random coincidence? I didn't know where to even begin in getting answers to my questions.
"Okay, look I let you come out here alone and I stayed there long enough. You can't just take off into the woods chasing whispers and expect me to sit back and wait for you." Renesmee's chastising rang through the woods around me, bouncing off the trees and resonating in my ears even as I was glued to the spot I still stood in.
She found me frozen in shock. I still wasn't comprehending what had just happened. Why were the Cullens here? Where was Esme? Where were Edward and Bella?
"Jake?" Renesmee's fingertips grazed the skin of my bicep and I jumped at the touch. She jumped back as well. "Hey, it's just me. What happened?"
What had happened? I didn't even know what to tell her. Hadn't thought that part through yet. The Cullens were here? God, this was the weirdest Thanksgiving in the history of my life.
"Smells like vampire out here. Did you see whoever it was?" Renesmee questioned as she sniffed the air. She sniffed once, twice, three times and then her eyes went wide and she turned to face me at lightning fast speeds. "Jacob? Did you see them? I might be only half vampire and I may have been young when we left but I would recognize their scents anywhere? They're here? They were here?"
She knew. The tears threatening to spill from her eyes proved that she knew. Shit. I hadn't thought about her recognizing their scents. I should have kept her out of these woods.
"Jacob William Black you answer me and you answer me right now. My family was here?"
"I told them to leave. I didn't think you'd want to see them." I muttered to her, afraid what her reaction to this news might be. I had never felt so helpless in my entire life. I could feel her anger as if it were my own. Could feel the rage building in her and I was honestly not sure if it was aimed at me or if it was aimed at them.
"Of course I don't want to see them. Why are they here? Did they know that we were here? Was it all of them? I…" She sniffed the air and groaned. "I don't smell my parents. Who was it Jake?"
"Carlisle, Jasper, Alice, Emmett and Rosalie. No Esme. No Edward. No Bella. I didn't have a chance to ask them any questions. I just told them to leave." My hand instinctively raked through my hair. "I'm sorry. I didn't know it was going to be them when I got here and I just told them to go without thinking. I was trying to protect you."
I could sense the turmoil inside her. She was torn between her anger towards them and wanting answers to her questions. The absence of Edward and Bella in all of this worried me and I could tell it was worrying her too. If anyone was going to come in search of Renesmee, I would have assumed it would be them.
"Carlisle is coming back at midnight." I offered the information to her to use in whatever way she wanted. "I told him I'd meet him here, in the woods, at midnight. If you'd like to be the one to meet him, or maybe we could do it together, or…" I didn't want to offer her this last option but I had to. "Or we could go. Run. It's your choice."
"What would we be running away from? Or to? Charlie and Marnie are inside and they are our family now. We'd be running away from them and for what? We can't run." Renesmee sighed and her arms fell to her side in defeat. "I don't know what to do."
"We'll figure it out." I beckoned her into my arms and held her tightly when she collapsed there. I pressed a kiss to the top of her head and just kept her cocooned in my arms. "We're gonna figure it out."
When we returned to the house, both Charlie and Marnie were waiting for us with looks of worry etched into their faces. Charlie had his shotgun in his hand, prepared to use it. Marnie was wringing her hands in her apron, clearly frustrated and apprehensive.
"Everything is fine." I told them, only partially sure of the words as I said them. Both Marnie and Charlie looked to Renesmee whose spirits had clearly been crushed.
"Renesmee? Sweetheart?" Marnie dropped the hem of her apron from her hands and reached out to Renesmee hesitantly. "Are you okay?"
Renesmee let Marnie pull her into a hug and that's when the tears began to fall. Her sobs racked her entire body and all I could do was watch, knowing that what she needed in that moment was a mother's soothing touch. The love of a woman who would literally give up her life for the love and comfort of the girl in her arms.
"Jake." Charlie was clearly uncomfortable watching Renesmee cry. Marnie was whispering soothing words into her ear but the cries continued. He angled his head into the other room, indicating that he wanted me to follow him and reluctantly, I did.
He replaced his shotgun into the gun safe where he kept all his firearms and then turned to me, worry and concern covering every inch of his aging gruff features.
"What's going on?" He asked simply as he crossed his arms over his chest.
There really wasn't any way to sugar coat this kind of news. And what would be the point of lying. "The voices we heard in the forest were the Cullens. Well, part of the Cullens; Carlisle, Alice, Jasper, Rosalie and Emmett. And I knew that Renesmee didn't want to see them so I made them go away before I could ask any questions. So, no. I don't know why Edward and Bella aren't with them. I don't know why they're here. I am pretty sure no one is in any danger though so, let's just enjoy Thanksgiving okay?"
"Whoa kid." Charlie's eyes were wide and he was clearly not a fan of me dismissing the conversation so easily. "My granddaughter is out there crying and you're telling me that it's because members of the family she lost 16 years ago showed up here today?"
"That's what I'm saying." I groaned and looked towards the foyer to check on Renesmee. "Please, can we just try to have a normal day for the rest of day? For Nessie's sake? She's a mess. Look at her."
I pointed to the foyer but she wasn't there anymore. Instead she was standing on the other side of the living room where we were, her eyes no longer clouded with tears and her stance resolute. She pulled herself together quickly.
"Let's go after them." Renesmee said simply, surprising me with her words.
"What?" I frowned and turned my back on Charlie so I could move closer to her. "I thought you didn't want…"
"Carlisle is coming back at midnight anyway. And we're not running so instead of sitting here and waiting for them to come back, let's take them by surprise this time. Track them. Find them, wherever they went to from here and find out why they're here. Do it on our terms. I want this to be over as soon as possible."
"Over? Ness, if we go after them, it's not going to be over. It's going to be… starting. Finding out why they are here and where they've been for 16 years and where your parents are. Nessie, going after them is a beginning. It's not an end."
"It's an end to the 16 years of life I've spent without them. It gets us answers and it gets us answers on our terms, not theirs. I want nothing to do with them, but I do want to know why. And I'm not going to be able to sit in this house and enjoy a holiday eating food that I don't even really like, no offense Marnie, while the answers I need are just out there waiting for me."
She wasn't going to back down. I could see the resolve in her eyes. Marnie was watching us with worried eyes from just behind Renesmee and I'm sure that Charlie was doing the same, standing behind me.
"There's no turning back once we make this decision Renesmee." I warned her one more time, wanting to make sure she was absolutely sure of this decision.
"I know." Renesmee nodded. "Let's find my family."
Marnie and Charlie objected heavily but in the end, it was Renesmee's decision to make and I wasn't going to argue with her. We let the adults argue all the way to the front door and then Renesmee gave them both quick hugs before leaping from the porch and taking off into the woods. I was right behind her.
"Phase." Renesmee demanded as soon as we were hidden in the forest. "You'll be more useful that way."
"Useful. Thanks." I teased her, hoping to bring some of the humor back to our relationship. This serious, determined version of Renesmee wasn't what I was used to and it was throwing me off a little bit.
"I didn't mean it like that." She smiled sweetly at me and moved closer, wrapping her arms around my neck and pressing her lips to mine in a gentle kiss. "Whatever happens, I love you Jacob. You know that right?"
"Of course I know that. I love you too." I replied, leaning down to press my lips back to hers, a little more intensity in my kiss than there had been in hers.
When she pulled away, she nodded to me, her silent communication that it was time to phase, and then she turned around to give me privacy to strip and turn to my wolf form. With a deep breath, I did as she wanted. Within moments, we were running side by side through the forest, tracking the scents of the Cullens all the way to what had originally been Edward and Bella's cottage. Renesmee stopped short when she realized where we were at. I phased back to human form and quickly pulled on my clothes so I could be right by her side as we approached.
"Still sure about this?" I questioned her as I held her hand in mine. I squeezed it reassuringly and she nodded at me.
"They probably already know we're here. I mean, if they're really in there." Renesmee licked her lips nervously. "I don't know if I can go in there Jake."
"Well if they're in there and they know that we're here then they can come to us." I responded easily.
No sooner had I spoke the words than Rosalie and Alice were out of the house and standing in front of us. They appeared so quickly that Renesmee jumped backwards and with her pulled me backwards.
"Renesmee." Rosalie purred Renesmee's name the second she appeared. She took a step toward us but Renesmee took a step back. "Nessie?"
"Where's Carlisle?" Renesmee asked hesitantly. Her grip on my hand was increasing pressure with every second.
"I'm here." Carlisle exited the house at human speed, clearly afraid to spook Renesmee any further than she already was. He stepped off the porch of the small cottage and moved to stand in front of Rosalie and Alice. Jasper and Emmett were the last ones to exit the house, slowly moving to stand behind their wives.
"We're really happy to see you Renesmee." Carlisle spoke quietly, his eyes watching Renesmee's every move. "We've missed you."
"Hah." Renesmee laughed dramatically. "If you missed me so much why didn't you come looking for me sooner?"
"We did." Alice stepped forward and again Renesmee stepped back.
"Alice." Carlisle held up his arm and stopped her from moving any farther. "Renesmee, there's clearly a lot we need to talk about."
"So start talking." I could sense the anger rolling off of Renesmee. "Where have you been? Where are my parents? Why are you here? Why now?"
"Your parents don't know you're alive." Carlisle chose that question to answer first. When he took a step forward, Renesmee didn't move. "We all looked for you for years and when we came up empty and we couldn't find you on our own, we made the mistake of asking the Volturi for help. You remember them right?"
"I ran from them for 15 years. Of course I remember them." Renesmee retorted and shook her head. "What do you mean they don't know I'm alive?"
"We went to the Volturi and they told us you were dead. Edward read their thoughts. Either they had procured a way to be able to lie to us or they honestly believed what they told us, but they told us all, directly to our faces that you were dead. And despite the fact that we couldn't see how they would have been able to lie to us, we looked for you four years after that. But when we STILL came up with nothing, we had to assume they hadn't lied and you really were dead."
I didn't know how to take that kind of news and clearly neither did Renesmee. She didn't move at all. Still like a statue next to me, waiting for the next move or trying to figure out what to do next. I wasn't really sure.
"In September, on your birthday, we always check on Charlie, because we figure that if there was ever a chance that you were still alive, you might return to Forks to see Charlie. It seemed silly for years, like we were wasting our time but regardless, once a year, we checked on Charlie to make sure he was okay and to see if there was any news of you." Alice's voice was barely above a whisper. "This year, when I could barely find him and my visions of him were fading in and out, I thought maybe, just maybe this was what we'd been waiting for. Maybe it was really you."
"We were here all summer. Or well, most of the summer. We left just after my birthday." Renesmee answered quietly. "When we got here was when we found out that you guys were still alive. We didn't know either. We didn't know that you'd survived past that day."
Everyone present knew what day Renesmee was talking about. The day we'd left. The day that had changed our entire lives.
"Your dad…" Alice must have noticed Renesmee cringe when she said the word dad so she quickly changed her wording. "Edward, he didn't believe that my vision was being clouded by you being here and he didn't want Bella getting her hopes up again, 'cause she's been pretty miserable for the past 16 years, so he kind of forbid us from coming to find you. But Jasper and I, we weren't going to give up that easily so we waited until just before Thanksgiving and then we came here. Just the two of us. We didn't tell anyone but we camped out in the trees and we watched Marnie and Charlie, for days, just waiting to see if we could find out anything. Anything at all that would help us prove that you guys were alive so that we could convince Edward and Bella to come find you."
"You spied on them?"
"Just for a few days. We wanted to find you and they kept talking about the kids and so I assumed that was you. And then they even got a call from you at one point saying that you couldn't make it for Thanksgiving. That was you right?"
"Yeah, that was me." Renesmee nodded and sighed. "I don't like that you spied on them."
"Then you'll probably like even less that the second the house was empty we broke in to find proof of your existence." Jasper spoke up from the back. His eyes connected with Renesmee and he frowned. "We're sorry. We were desperate to find you."
"Obviously you found what you were looking for?" I questioned them and Alice nodded.
"Well, sort of." Alice amended her quick nod. "We found pictures and that was enough for us. We hurried back home to tell everyone so we could all get back here to find you but unfortunately, Edward and Bella had already left on a vacation. They didn't take cell phones, so we didn't have any way of reaching them and we didn't want to waste time tracking them down."
"Plus, I insisted that we be a little cautious. We didn't know if you remember us or if you knew we were alive or if you wanted to see us at all." Carlisle added.
"I didn't." Renesmee informed them simply. "Want to see you that is. I was angry at you for giving up on me. Until today, I had no interest in ever seeing you again."
"We didn't want to give up on you." Rosalie pleaded with her. "We didn't but we had nothing."
"You thought we were dead. I get it." Renesmee softened just a bit and she sighed. "So then what? Esme stayed home in case my parents returned so she could tell them where you all were and you came here to spy on us some more? Talk to us? What was the plan?"
"I wanted to see if you were interested in seeing us. To see that you were okay and adjusted and real." Carlisle sighed. "But that plan didn't last long. We forgot you would be able to hear us up in the trees."
"And now here we are." Renesmee let herself relax into my arms and she groaned loudly. "This was not how Thanksgiving was supposed to go."
"Ness, do you forgive us?" Rosalie asked calmly, taking a cautious step forward. Renesmee didn't move this time. She just watched Rosalie take one step at a time towards us until she was within arm's reach. "We're so sorry Nessie. We love you so much and we're so happy you're alive."
Rosalie opened her arms as if she was hoping for a hug. The wolf in me wanted nothing more than to make a joke about how pathetic she looked, but the girl clinging to me influenced my thoughts more than she could have possibly known. I watched her eye Rosalie wearily and then without warning she launched herself into her aunt's arms.
"Thank you for coming back for me." Renesmee cried as Rosalie tightened her grip, a look on her face of pure joy.
"Hey, I was the one who found you." Alice ran over at super speed and got in on the hug, squeezing first and then running her hand over Renesmee's shimmery bronze locks. "This is where you belong. Where we all belong. Together, as a family."
Rosalie motioned Emmett over and he smacked Jasper to make him follow as well. Soon my beautiful Renesmee was at the center of a large vampire family hug. Even Carlisle was in on it, smiling up at me happily from his vantage point on the outside of the group hug.
"Should get in on this dog." Rosalie motioned to me after a minute. "You're family too. Stinky, disgusting family but family nonetheless."
I laughed and reluctantly joined in on their crazy group hug, somehow finding my way to the middle so I could hold Renesmee in my arms. I felt her place a soft kiss on my chest, the only piece of my body her lisp could really reach at that point. When I looked down at her she was grinning and she mouthed "I love you."
"I love you too." I mouthed back to her easily. It was nice to see her this happy. Not exactly the outcome I'd expected from the experience, but nice anyway.
"So guys?" Renesmee spoke up after a few minutes of being engulfed in the family hug.
One by one the Cullens extracted themselves from the pile and stepped back so they could listen to what Renesmee had to say.
"Um, not that I'm not completely satisfied with this little family reunion but um, could we find my parents now?"
Carlisle looked around to the rest of the group and nodded easily. "Let's go home so we can find Edward and Bella."