So back in April, there was an auction to kick cancer's ass. We put ourselves on the auction block, and we were won by an incredible person- wolvesnvamps.
This is what she requested. She's reading it as you are. She has no clue how it's going to go, just requested a couple details and that it be "the angstiest thing I've ever read".
Sooo… jandco and wtvoc take on the vamp world, folks.
Unbelievable thanks to those who beta'd and cold-read this here thing: emibella, jennyfly, elleCC, limona, bittenev, jennday and sensecoalition. You guys kept us from thinking we were total idiots for taking on the Alternate Universe genre.
But it's dedicated solely and exclusively to wolvesnvamps. Hope you like it, darling.
"Don't you hurt him, Paul," I called out to an enormous red wolf. He playfully had Seth's dark flank in his massive jaws- loose and not harmful, but still. I of all people know that accidents can happen.
"They're playing," Jake said, leaning down to whisper in my ear.
"I know…but Seth is so much smaller—"
"Since when are you such a mother hen?" Jake laughed, and I twisted my toes into the wet sand.
That was a very good question.
When did I stop cheering on this rough-housing to watch with a furrowed brow and call out warnings instead? I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but somewhere along the way…I had.
The thing is…none of the others had changed with me.
My boyfriend and somewhat feral pack of best friends hadn't changed a bit since we were fifteen—they were still as reckless and playful as the day each of them first phased.
"Well…I just don't want to see anyone get hurt," I said to Jacob.
"No one will get hurt," he said, rolling his eyes. "Hey."
"Remember when we used to do this?"
Quicker than I could blink, Jacob had scooped me up and tossed me over his shoulder. I shrieked; I was upside down and my eyes widened at the sand below me—it looked at least five feet away.
Jacob took off running and I clawed and clung to his sides, squealing and wriggling—but not scared.
Jacob would never let me fall.
"Don't do it, don't do it, don't do it," I screamed and snorted—but he was going to do it anyway.
Without ever breaking his fast stride he ran straight into the water, flipping me upright in the process. Now being held bridal style, I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck and fervently shook my head "no" while he laughed, my own smile probably as broad as his.
"That water is freezing," I said, holding on tighter.
"Bella, you've gotten so heavy," he said with an exaggerated sigh.
"Hup!" he said, and his arms loosened and I was two inches closer to the water.
I scrambled and clawed back up his hot skin, shaking and laughing.
"If you ever want a hot meal again, you won't drop me," I threatened, and we both knew it was an empty one.
"What? You want to go swimming?"
"Well, if you really want to…"
I twisted and maneuvered myself until I had my legs wrapped firmly around his waist and my wrists locked behind his neck.
"Then again, this is good, too," he said, when my lips were even and barely an inch from his.
"Yeah," I agreed.
Jake shifted me up higher and I kissed him soft on his dry, hot lips. His arms tightened around me and I let myself go limp and relaxed, encased in his huge, hot embrace.
I exhaled and rested lazily on his shoulder while he slowly swished us in the water, around and around. The heat from the slowly setting sun began to wane on, but I was still plenty warm…even when dusk turned into dark.
I don't know how long he held me out there, but he never got tired and I never got cold.
In the distance we heard jesting growls and snarls and the deep laughs of overgrown boys. At some point I saw the blaze of the bonfire up on the beach, high and hot.
Between the dark, the lull of the lapping water, and Jake's hot skin, I started to doze in and out of sleep, warm and secure…and it was these times.
If I could live forever in one moment—it would be right then.
I felt his lips press into the top of my head and I attempted to snuggle in closer.
"Sleepy?" he murmured.
I nodded and my eyes closed again.
"The night is young, Bella," he said, and I knew that not-so-subtle hint of mischief in his voice all too well.
Before I could come out of my serene state to get a good grip on him or muster a sincere plea, I hit the icy water and went under.
The shock of being submerged in extreme cold from extreme heat was almost excruciating—it hurt and made me ache…but in an odd, inexplicable way, I almost welcomed the change.
I kicked and flailed to break the surface—but I was disoriented and still trying to shake sleep. The freezing water had a hold of me, and though I tried with all of my might to get out—I simply couldn't.
One huge hand grabbed onto my arm and I was pulled from the water.
"Are you okay?" Jake asked with wide, horrified eyes.
"Yeah…" I said, gasping for air.
He pounded on my back then lifted me up to him again.
"I'm so sorry! God, I've done that a thousand times—if I thought for one second—"
"I'm fine, Jacob. I was just a little disoriented at first," I said.
He held me at arm's length by the shoulders and looked me up and down.
"You're always ready for that," he mused, kind of cocking his head.
"I'm getting older," I joked. "My old heart can't take it."
"Nah. I'm just getting quicker," he said.
"Really. Sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine," I said, slapping at his chest.
"In that case…race you back," he said, then dove into the water.
I stood there, wading in the bone-aching cold. For some reason, I wanted to linger there…just for a second.
Then I yawned and heaved myself back into the water to get to the shore, to get back to Jake and the warmth and away from the cold-- where I belonged.
Soon I was dressed in Jacob's warm, dry clothes and huddled in between the massive, warm bodies of my best friends. We sat in a loose circle on the sand; I stared into the fire while the boys did what the boys do— be loud and jovial.
"You gonna finish that hot dog, Bella?" Embry asked.
"I wanna see Bella eat it," Jared cut in, crass and disgusting.
Jacob's fist flew and Jared went flying back into the sand with a thud.
"Grow up," I sighed and handed Embry my soggy paper plate.
"Not if I don't want to," Jared grinned, getting to his feet.
The boys all hooted and hollered and bumped fists…and the reality of what he said smacked me in the stomach.
Of course I always knew the boys don't age when they phase… but.
I looked over at Jacob, wrestling around with Jared…and the rest of them…and…they just weren't aging at all.
It wasn't the physical changes I was looking for…it was the maturity changes.
And there weren't any.
Three days later, I leaned down to pore over the fragile, yellowing paper. I supposed it looked old, important, but I already knew that.
I knew the history of this treaty. I knew the way my boyfriend's black eyes turned impossibly darker when he spoke of it.
I read over the words slowly, this time actually taking them to heart. These words were no longer only relevant nearly a century ago.
They were revived; very real, very now…and, according to Jacob, very necessary.
I read down the list of names again; familiar, but somehow with more meaning this time around.
My Jake's ancestors, scrawled in fading black ink, thick and bleeding.
Then five more names, written thin and sinewy, but each in its own delicate scrawl.
I knew those names should have sent a cold shiver up my spine.
I knew I should feel fear and hate.
But I didn't. Maybe because I was loved by the most fierce protector imaginable. Maybe because I found out a long time ago that mythical creatures aren't always what they're made out to be in campfire stories and ancient legends. But it was probably for a reason I couldn't have possibly known then.
I couldn't have known that last name on the list would be our undoing.
I couldn't have known that name would represent everything beautiful and wrong and heartbreaking and lifesaving and life-taking.
For the majority of my twenty-three years, I was told and I believed that there was no stronger bond than the phenomenon of imprinting.
It was the reason for existence, the reason for breathing and waking and smiling.
It was all I'd ever happily known.
But that fifth name, and who it represented, was about to destroy everything I ever thought I knew.
We love you, wolvesnvamps. Thank you for being amazing.
Buckle your seat belts. It's gonna be a bumpy night.