A/N With my neverending fascination with the imprinting relationship, I'm continuing Embry and Bella's story here in The Imperative. If you haven't read The Hardest Part yet, read that first, okay? Then you'll be on board with the rest of us. Thanks! LJ
This is a work of derivative fiction. All things TWILIGHT are the intellectual property of Stephenie Meyer and/or her assignees. I write merely to entertain myself and others and receive no compensation.
His arms were around me, his lips hot on mine as we lay in the back of my truck. It had started off being a stargazing trip, but then the clouds rolled in and...well... Here we still were, stargazing. But the stars were probably in my eyes, now. Yep, I was definitely feeling like something out of a cheesy romance novel.
And it was perfect, because Embry looked kinda like one of those male models they used for the covers. Tall, lean, dark, sculpted, with those deep, seductive eyes...
He rolled to his back, pulling me up with him so that my denim-covered thighs were on either side of his slender hips. I could totally tell how into this he was. I rocked lightly on him, watching his face, enjoying the convulsive way he clutched my hips and waist with his large, talented hands. Still kind of amazed me, sometimes.
"You're beautiful," I murmured, kissing his chest. It was bare; it was practically always bare. He also 'went commando' as the guys in the pack said. Hey, it was difficult enough, he had told me once, to get a pair of shorts or sweats or jeans strapped to an ankle before phasing wolf. No way was he going to try for underwear, too. "And sexy," I murmured, thinking of that, now. Shameless? Maybe. But Embry had let me grow very brave... He loved me. He belonged to me.
He growled playfully, deep in his chest, the sound rumbling against my breasts. I gasped. That had been unexpected. He pulled me up a little, finding that deadly spot behind my ear, working his tongue down my neck, to the unbuttoned collar of my flannel shirt. I heard myself panting, blushed, but his hands held me beautifully captive and I really didn't want to change a thing. "Embry..."
"Mmm?" His hum vibrated richly at the slope of my shoulder. How many buttons had he managed to undo, anyway...?
"This is the best Chocolate Milkshake Day ever," I whispered. It was the day before my nineteenth birthday. I refused to ever celebrate my natal anniversary again, so Embry had decided we'd celebrate Chocolate Milkshake Day instead. I thought that was wonderful. He always knew just what to do. It was instinctive. It was loving. It was incredible.
I could feel him smile and then I felt him lift one knee...slowly...pressing his thigh between my legs... Pressing me, flexing his muscles against the juncture of my thighs, and I gasped again. Then, he rolled to his side with me. "Surprising, since I can't even make a milkshake," he murmured, tracing my face with one fingertip.
"That's why I do the cooking." I smiled impishly into his eyes. "Hungry?" Oh, I was a tease. He'd told me so before. But I didn't think it was a bad thing and neither did he. Both of us knew that I fully intended to make good on it...just as soon as it felt right. Tomorrow, I'd be nineteen, and Embry would never rush me.
It was extraordinary, really. I never would have guessed it would have mattered so much to me, that he had imprinted upon me. What started as a really uncomfortable situation slid into a nurturing, caring-for-his-sanity role for me. I felt guilty for weeks. Guilty that he felt as he did, without knowing me. Without asking for it. Guilty, too, about Jacob Black and his feelings...
And then, Embry and the others had killed that vengeful vampire, Victoria. For me. To save me. And Embry had come to me in the water and I held him. Held him tight. He could have been killed... There had been an air of such purpose to him. I had sensed it, even when he was all furry. As a wolf. As my wolf.
It had been on the tip of my tongue to tell Victoria that Embry Call was my mate, that day on the cliff. That impulse had been scary, but also surprisingly welcome. As I jumped, as I felt the wind rush me and heard the metallic screeching of Victoria's dismemberment, I was as much shocked by my silent claiming of him as I had been by his claiming of me, months before.
He had imprinted on me, yes. But I loved him.
I grazed my teeth along his throat, provoking such a sound from him. A low sound, deep with need, with promise, that hit me in my center and spiraled. He tore my flannel shirt off with a sudden pulse of emotion and I shivered.
"Cold?" he rasped, halting at once, nudging my head around so he could look me in the eye.
"Hot..." I murmured, claiming his lips with my own. Again.
I don't remember, entirely, when I lost my tank top, my jeans, my bra... All I remember is suddenly there was just a scrap of red cotton between Embry's heat and mine. I felt it and I stilled for a moment.
He lifted himself from me, his dark eyes heavy-lidded with passion, but still, he waited. "Isabella...?" I found that my name from his lips was incredibly sexy. Empowering. Because I knew how he felt when he said it all, like that. He was telling me how strong and brave and beautiful I was, to him. And when he said it like that...I totally believed him.
I reached between our bodies, touching him so that he gasped and dropped his head to my shoulder. I wasn't ready to slip my panties off, yet, but I couldn't bear to leave him in such a state, either... I loved making him growl...
Gasp my name...
"Isabella..." His release was exquisite. I loved making him feel that way.
He rolled to his back and felt unerringly for his t-shirt, which we had discarded while the skies were still clear overhead. "I love you," I whispered. "Just in case you ever wondered."
Burying his hands in my hair – marvelous hands – he skimmed my skin with his lips. "I know." Then, he held me a little away from him, a thoughtful expression on his face. Humor kicked up the corner of his mouth, but he was primarily pensive. "Know what I'd like to do?"
"Run off with you for a weekend."
I blushed. He felt the heat beneath his hands and smiled. "Can you do that?" I wondered.
"Is that a yes?"
I kissed him, moving my body restlessly against his. "Mm-hmm..."
His hips bucked against me and he growled softly. "Good. I need..."
He lowered my head to his. "I need just to... I don't know. Immerse myself, I think."
I shivered at the huskiness of his voice. "Immerse yourself?"
My heart raced, pounding between our bodies. "Oh."
It was the mating imperative; I knew that. It was something he had probably felt since the day he imprinted on me, but he had never actually said it. Where most guys might try "scoring" as soon as it seemed feasible with their girlfriend, it wasn't like that in an imprinted relationship simply because the male would never, ever do anything to make his girl uncomfortable in any way if he could help it.
Embry's patience and devotion and permanence – I had to admit to myself that the dependability of the imprint played a big factor in my willingness to love him – had reached through my reluctance to claim my heart, not just my time or friendship.
It had been six months since the day he had imprinted on me, the day he had told me about the werewolves and about Jake. Three months since he had – along with Jake and Sam – killed Victoria to save me. Two and a half months since I had first called him in the middle of the night to come to me even though he wasn't on patrol anymore and even though I hadn't had any nightmares in days. One and a half months since he had tried to do anything more than kiss me...
And one minute since he asked me to spend a weekend alone with him. To immerse himself in me... I knew what he was asking for, wanting, even needing with every part of him. I knew I wanted – needed – it, too.
His heart thudded an extra few beats as he cuddled me closer against him. "Will you?"
"Yes," I whispered.
"No," Charlie ground out, glaring at me over his coffee.
I compressed my lips against a smile. "Dad, he's not asking me to marry him..."
"Well, that'd be no, too," my dad groused, sipping defiantly from his cup.
I stirred my own coffee, needing something to do with my hands, some space to focus. Some way to calm my nerves. "I'm nineteen, Dad, remember?" I didn't want to throw out any ultimatums of my own; I only wanted him to acknowledge that I had the right, as a legal adult, to make choices like this that involved my own personal body.
He huffed out a breath. "Look, Bells. I'm not going to tell you how to live your life. I like Embry." He rolled his eyes. "He looks at you like... Like you're the most important person in the world." I blushed. I knew that. I loved that. I loved that Charlie saw it, too. "I don't even mind the stupid motorcycle, so long as he's driving and you're wearing a helmet, okay?"
I smiled at him. "Enormous concessions, Dad. Thank you."
"But c'mon, Bells. You can't expect your dad to just let you run off for a weekend with your boyfriend, when I know damn good and well what you'll be up to!" His face was turning a most alarming shade of red as he finished.
So I waited while he calmed down. Pushed eggs around on his plate. Drank his coffee.
When his normal skin tone returned, I spoke. "Fair enough. I do understand. But I'm going to go with him, anyway. I just – just don't want you to be mad at me or at him." It was, perhaps, a stupid thing to say, but I said it anyway, watching his face all the while.
He grimaced. Chewed noisily, slurped really loudly, and glared back at me. "You're a sensible girl, Bella," he finally said before wiping his mouth with a paper napkin. "I expect you to behave responsibly, all right?" Then, he rose from the table, kissed the top of my head and murmured, "I love you, Bells. Always have."
"Love you too, Dad. Always will."
With another long look that reminded me that he was, after all, a cop and well versed in the ways of the world, Charlie slung his gun belt from its hook and buckled it on. "All right then. See you after work?"
"Yep. Lasagna tonight."
"Is Embry joining us?"
The door did not slam behind him, so I knew that Charlie was not going to come unglued. That was a relief.
I might, though!
My imagination flew, my pulse rocketed, my blushes exploded in my cheeks off and on all morning as I shelved books at the library and labeled others for patrons who had asked for the titles to be held. I worked very regular hours, here in our library. It wasn't a big place, but the girl who had assisted before me had gone off to college and the job had just been waiting. I loved it. Books surrounded me on all sides and I had leisure to think and daydream and relish my life. I was even able to take a class online for college, which would help me out, next year.
Along about lunchtime, my supervisor called me to the circulation desk. "What?" I asked her, smoothing my black pleather skirt with my palms.
"Delivery, Bella," Lynda said, her serious tone belied by the pleased gleam in her eyes. "You need to sign for it."
I held up my hands, miming signing something.
"Here," a young man said. He was standing next to the counter and I hadn't paid him attention before. Generic knit shirt and a baseball cap and a clipboard. I signed the delivery slip.
And saw that it was from a florist. The delivery boy bent to retrieve an absolutely charming arrangement of summer flowers in a cut glass vase.
"Have a nice day, Ms. Swan," the florist's delivery boy said with a grin.
I was too busy inhaling the scents of the flowers to answer. There was a card, but I already knew who had sent them. "Embry," I murmured softly.
Lynda leaned against the counter, watching my face through her rimless eyeglasses. "Embry?"
"My boyfriend," I murmured, inhaling the blended scents again. Boyfriend sounded so commonplace, though. Too common for the bond that Embry had with me. Still, it was the best I could do for those who weren't in the know. Which included most of the civilized world.
Lynda winked. "Nice boyfriend."
"He's the best."
"Gonna read the card?"
I bit my lip. "Um, yeah. Of course."
Shielding it from Lynda's curious gaze, I flipped the tiny florist's envelope open. In Embry's decided, strong hand, I read:
Immerse yourself in the fragrance of the flowers. They remind me of you.
My blush was fiery. "That's my guy." He was so subtle about things, sometimes. Like when he used to gas up my truck. I finally figured it out and called him on it, but he continued, because it was a way he could show me that I was with his thoughts every hour of every day.
I didn't deserve that kind of devotion, but I had it.
Lynda moved to read my card over my shoulder. "He's such a romantic, Bella. When do I get to meet him?"
"Um, next time he comes in, maybe? I don't know. He's, ah, got classes." Saying he was still in high school would feel weird. Besides, none of the guys in the pack looked like kids anymore – even those who still were. Like Jacob. Like Seth. "Maybe I can bring him by sometime, when you're on shift and I'm not."
Lynda's smile was wicked. "Oh, you do that. I have got to meet the man that can make you turn that color."
At that, I made a rude sound. "Lynda. You should know me well enough by now to know that stubbing my toe in the Children's Corner in front of the kids can make me turn this color."
She exploded in a laugh that was far too long to be fully warranted. "True enough! All right, take your bouquet and your lunch, why don't you?"
"I think I will. Thank you."
I sent a quick text to Embry: Immersing. Thank you. He was in school, but he'd answer me when he could.
I was completely surprised to get a message back almost immediately, as if he were waiting for me. Should redo your grad present. I for immerse. - E
Very nice. I like it.- B
Dinner? - E
Lasagna, if you want to come over. - B
I'll be there. 12. - E
The last number was in reference to how many hours since he had seen me. We kept track, of course, so as not to pass his outer limit of thirty hours of separation.
18! by the time I see you. - B
Immerse. Sexy. Amazing. Brave. - E
Embry's I texted when he had to stop. He was probably on his way to fifth period.
I didn't get another quick message back from him so I imagined I guessed correctly. I also imagined I'd have another text with the L L and A of my name, as he had done for me when I graduated in June. Of course, the words he used were sometimes different, this time around.
I totally didn't mind!
I was still immersing myself in the fragrance of the flowers, wondering when Embry was going to be able to get a weekend off – the pack still kept up patrols and getting an entire weekend off was veritably unheard of (saving Sam and Emily's wedding two weeks ago) so it might be a while. Still, anticipation was absolutely delicious.
Lovable. Literary. All mine. - E
14. - E
I was very surprised when, just after I sent the very simple "17" to his phone – I'd been thinking of him all day, my flowers bringing him before me constantly – I received a message from him.
Just as the doors to the library opened.
Embry's alert gaze darted over the different areas of the library. The return desk, the check-out, the Children's Corner, Reference. I had only just come from the back office when I got the latest text message and was completely surprised to see him there.
He found me and smiled quietly. I lifted my phone and one eyebrow. He shrugged a little helplessly. I melted.
"Who is that guy?" Lynda breathed as Embry wove through the chairs and few patrons to reach me. "He's... Wow." All six-four of him, wearing only a t-shirt and jeans that molded to his lean, muscular body, he approached with an animal grace and leashed power.
I just enjoyed watching my guy move. "I know. At least." Lynda wasn't looking at me, but he was.
Lynda was our elder by at least ten years, and married to boot, but she wasn't dead, as she had told me before. Embry nodded absently at her as I came around the counter. "Hey," I murmured, extending my hand.
"Hey," was all he said, linking his fingers with mine.
"Lynda Townsend, this is Embry Call."
He smiled down at her. "Good evening. I know it's early, but I was wondering if I could steal Bella away a little early? Just this once?"
Apparently overwhelmed, my supervisor just nodded. "Sure. Just this once. Sure. Have fun, kids."
I thanked her, blushing, and hurried to the back room to get my flowers and jacket. I was wearing flat-heeled boots and a rich brown blouse, over which I slid on a leather jacket. "Are we taking your bike, Em?"
His eyes twinkled. "Nope. I got a ride into town." Did he really get a ride or did he run wolf-fashion, carrying his clothes with him on that backpack over his shoulder? Not something I could ask just now, but the idea of him phasing somewhere not too far away was both alarming and...kind of sexy.
"Then I guess we're taking my truck." I beamed at Lynda. "Thank you so much. I'll make it up later this week."
"Sure. Have a good night."
I let him drive, that night. He had gone to considerable lengths to come see me, I thought he deserved a break. "So, to what do I owe the pleasure, Mr. Call?"
He flashed me a grin as we left the parking lot. "I just couldn't wait another hour."
I blushed, but slid closer to him on the old bench seat. "Do we have a weekend yet? So I can make arrangements with Lynda?"
"First weekend in October work for you?"
"I'll see what I can do! Where are we going? What do I need to bring?"
He wrapped his arm around me and tucked me close to his side. "I'll let you know. I have to, um, make some arrangements, okay?"
"More than okay," I breathed, nuzzling his shoulder. "You feel wonderful."
"So do you."