The universe hates me with a passion.
What have I done to deserve this? Was I an evil dictator in a previous life? Or maybe I was a deranged psychopath who burned puppies for fun? I don't know what it is I'm supposed to have done but it must have been really bad. Bad enough for the gods of fate to royally screw me over. They're probably sitting on their heavenly thrones right now, sending down random thunder bolts and laughing their asses off as they watch me flounder.
It's so bad I can't even describe my predicament out loud. It sounds so stupid, you'd probably bust a gut laughing and then your eyes would fill with pity as you realised that I was being deadly serious. My name is Leah and I'm a menopausal, heartbroken, werewolf girl.
See? I can almost hear the snickering at this moment. Or maybe it's just the rustling leaves in the wind? I come to the forest to tell all my secrets. I howl at the moon and cry silent tears. If only I really did have secrets. If only I didn't change into a creature of the night and allow other people to invade the privacy of my own thoughts, traipsing through my brain and leaving dirty footprints like an unwanted stranger. Maybe then everyone wouldn't hate me for being such a moody pain in the ass.
If I'm good at hurting the people around me it's only because people have been good at hurting me. Sometimes, it's possible to hate something or someone for so long you forget what made you so angry in the first place. Sometimes, that reason keeps on slapping you in the face repeatedly until your bruised and battered heart can't even pick itself up anymore.
I've seen the workings of Sam's mind and I know that the time we shared together has faded away. That's what hurts the most. The love we had for each other was instantly reduced to a speck of the dust the moment she arrived. He doesn't remember our relationship or think back to fond memories of us. I vanished into thin air and Emily neatly stepped into my place. It was as quick and simple as that for Sam.
It would be easy to direct my ire towards Emily because she was the one to change everything, or to correctly state it, destroy everything, but she never went out of her way to seek out Sam, it was all his doing. In truth, it destroyed both of us because she knew how much I was hurting and yet it was impossible for Emily to extricate herself from our relationship; she was already slowly but surely falling for Sam.
I was left in the cold, staring from the outside in, remembering how Sam used to look at me in such a loving way. But that's not the truth. He never looked at me with the love and adoration he reserved for Emily. I could have left them alone and been content to grief my lost love but no, I had to turn into a werewolf that broadcasted her every thought to every pack member and in turn was tormented by seeing and feeling every loving look that Sam held for Emily.
The most evil, shameful part of me that had regarded Emily's accident and resulting scars as a kind of retribution for what she had done to me was instantly erased when I found out the awful truth. I would have worn those scars that Sam had branded Emily with. I never stopped to think that I was already carrying those same scars too. And so, my bruised and battered heart kept beating in time with my pain…
It's not healthy to hurt this much. I'm sick of hurting and yet I don't know any other way to function. My anger has turned into a security blanket that I throw around me whenever I want to retreat from the world.
I'm more than happy to stay in the forest and wallow in my self pity but a voice interrupts me.
Leah? Are nearby? It's getting late now, mom's getting worried, I heard Seth calling me.
Leave me alone. I'll come home when I'm ready. Mom doesn't like it when I skip dinner. It's the only time we sit together and try to function as a normal family.
Mom's cooking lasagne, that's your favourite, he thought chirpily, hoping it would somehow tempt me into coming home. I can see him emerging from the forest trees. He saunters up to me and lies on the ground, his ears close to his head. I can sense another thought taking shape in his mind that's he's trying to withhold from me. I give him a moment and the picture becomes clear. We're not dining alone tonight.
And who are the delightful guests we will be entertaining tonight? I reply sarcastically.
Billy and Charlie. He gives the names up without a fight.
Billy and Charlie. Oh, great. The first sniff of a home cooked dinner and Billy is rolling his ass up to our table before the food is even out the oven.
Hey, that's not nice, Leah, Seth says sounding hurt on Billy's behalf.
I forgot I was having an internal conversation. I'm sorry, I say as genuinely as I can. I'm still bewildered though. Has the town shrunk to the size of a postage stamp? My life has turned into some horrid soap opera with Charlie, of all people, falling for my mother. And then, Billy, father of the alpha jerk, has to be invited too? Ugh.
They're nice people, Leah, says Seth timidly. He says and thinks everything cautiously, feeling the anger that has been flowing through me uninterrupted for the past few hours.
I look into his deep brown eyes and I know that it's unfair to take my temper out on him so much. He bears the brunt of it more than anyone and yet he never complains. My heart softens as I contemplate just how much I put my brother through.
Eew, I don't like it when you go all soppy on me, it doesn't sound like you. Seth responds to my thoughts. His fur shakes as he shudders.
My laughter comes out as a loud bark.
So you think being nice doesn't suit me?
No, it's just been a while since I heard the nice side, but I really like it, he thinks quietly, scratching at the muddy ground with his paws.
Turn around, I order him harshly. He obeys immediately.
With a single tremor, my body phases back into my human form. A hot tear trickles down my face and I feel the wind's chill on my naked body as I look for the pile of clothes I left nearby. I change quickly into my dress and step into my worn tennis shoes.
"You can turn around now," I call out, brushing the dirt off the hem of my dress.
Seth comes out from behind a tree also in human form, wearing jeans and a thin white T-shirt that stretches over his tall, gangly form.
I'm grateful that our human bodies have separated our thoughts.
"Race you to the house," I say, breaking out into a run.
"No fair," I hear him cry out from behind as he runs.
I widen the gap between us, feeling the burn in my legs. "Last one has to set the dining table and wash the dishes afterwards,"
"Meanie," he whines but he's close on my trail. My mind goes blank as trees become a blur.
"Mom, you don't have to do the dishes tonight, Leah will do them for you," Seth says, looking at me and grinning widely.
I shoot him a menacing glare. "And Seth will do the drying up, won't you Seth?" I say flashing him a grin.
"You could give parenting classes, Sue, you've sure got 'em well raised," Charlie says chuckling, unaware of the private joke me and Seth are sharing. I get a sense of satisfaction from knowing he's excluded. He doesn't belong here.
"Well, I try my best," mom says, pouring a glass of water for Charlie. She sets the glass down in front of him and squeezes his hand. I look away disgusted by such an intimate gesture.
I cough loudly, hoping it will break their gaze but it doesn't work. Seth doesn't notice, or at least he pretends not to.
"Charlie, how's Bella? And the little one?" I say through gritted teeth in a sickly sweet voice.
The question is enough to break his gaze and Charlie stares at me open mouthed. He's visited often enough to know I never ask about Bella or the little demon spawn. Even Seth is staring at me in amazement. He knows I don't like to talk about them. Charlie looks to my mother for reassurance but mom is concentrating on pouring a glass of water for Billy.
"Oh, she's fine, Leah, they're all doing great, just great,"
"Oh, that's lovely to hear, I'm so glad," I reply, a model of politeness. It's a bold faced lie of course, and I have to shovel in a mouthful of lasagne just to stop myself from laughing.
The atmosphere has a dangerous edge to it and Seth suddenly starts talking enthusiastically about school sports which everyone finds riveting. Trust Seth to spoil my fun. Doesn't he ever get sick of being the peacemaker?
It seems as if the rest of dinner is going to be filled with their dull conversation when Charlie drops a bombshell.
"Oh, Sue, the Cullen's wanted to invite us all round to their house on the weekend. They're having a party and wanted us to come,"
"Oh, that's nice of them. Is it this weekend though because I promised to visit my cousin in Seattle, she's going through a divorce right now and needs some support," she sighed.
"Aah, shoot, it is this weekend. Seth and Leah can come though, right Seth?" said Charlie looking at Seth. He knew better than to ask me.
Seth shuffled in his seat uncomfortably and looked towards me as if he needed my permission. I could tell he really wanted to go, the Cullen's were good friends of his now but he still felt guilty saying yes when he knew how much I still despised them.
"Yeah, sure Charlie," he said shyly.
"Great," he said, satisfied.
"What's the grand occasion for this party?" I say with a hint of sarcasm that goes unnoticed.
Charlie's hands fidgeted while he spoke. "Renesmee's birthday,"
How anyone could even mutter that name without collapsing into fits of laughter was beyond my understanding. Apart from the ludicrous name, something else puzzled me. If the calculations worked out right, it had only been six months since she was born. How old was she supposed to be now? What birthday were they celebrating? First, second, third? I decided to ask the obvious.
"Charlie, it's been six months, how old is she?"
"Um, well, Carlisle estimated she was two years old from her rate of growth and they wanted her to have a birthday so they set the date for this weekend."
Charlie was still on a need-to-know basis and was just happy to have a granddaughter. The word 'vampire' was yet to become part of Charlie's vocabulary. The demon spawn had been well trained enough not to take a bite out of dear old vulnerable human gramps. More's the pity. I would have loved to see them explain how the half-breed bloodsucker came into being.
"Oh, Seth, it will be really fun to go, don't you think? I love birthday parties, I hope they have cake," I said smirking. I locked eyes with Seth who didn't seem to able to decipher my sudden good mood. I'll make sure I have fun all right. I do love wrecking a good party.