Prologue

QPOV

"I don't see why I got dragged into this, and Jacob gets to spend a perfectly good day sulking in his garage over his best friend who just happens to be 'ignoring' him..." I grumbled, following after Embry.

"Shut up. Jake's going through a tough time at the moment...the Cullens coming back wasn't a treat for any of us. Besides, Sam wanted the whole pack here today...he's feeling sorry for Jake." Embry said, walking just a step in front of me.

I rolled my eyes. "It's just a lunch! We can eat later at a restaraunt or something...sure, it won't taste as good as Emily's food, but at least we'll get to run around, phased for a while to start with."

Embry sighed, but didn't say anything else. I knew he didn't like the fact that he was a gigantic wolf nearly as much as I did. I had the most fun with it out of all of us. There was nothing that mattered to me more than being in my animal form and flat out running.

"So who's actually going to be here today?" Paul asked Jared.

Jared cleared his throat and began to repeat the same thing he'd said to me, Embry and Jacob, the traitor, yesterday. "Emily invited her brother and his wife and daughter to lunch...and Seth and Leah will probably show up, too, seeing as Emily's their cousin." His voice took on a hint of regret when he said Seth and Leah's name.

It would have been hard enough when their father died not that long ago...worse when they had both phased for the first time, getting help from the grief of it. Yeah, both of them. No one knew why Leah had, but she was the only girl that had ever been brought into this wonderful life the others called a curse.

I flopped onto Emily's sofa while the others made their way into the kitchen to meet the other part of her family they hadn't yet.

"Quil?" Embry's voice called back to me after a couple of minutes. He ran around the corner and narrowed his eyes when he saw me on the couch. "C'mon, everyone's wondering where you are."

"Naw, I think I'm just going to sit here and watch TV until Sam says it's okay for me to go and run around again..."

"Aw, but you have to come and meet Emily's niece, she's so cute!" Embry said, adored.

I flicked through the channels. "How old is she?"

"Two."

I smirked. "That's not the 'cute' I go for..."

Embry frowned. "Quil, if you only want to be in this family for the food, I'm sure Sam won't have any problem kicking you out...which means you won't be eating it, anyway. Live through this like the rest of us."

I scrunched my nose at him, then pulled myself up, off the couch. "Whatever...are they in the kitchen?"

He nodded and led the way.

"This is Quil." he told the man and woman sitting at the table.

"Hey," I said, politely offering my hand to both of them. They smiled and shook it in turn, introducing themselves, but I wasn't really paying attention.

"...and this is Claire." The woman said, readjusting the baby on her lap. I looked at her for the first time and my eyes widened.

'Cute' didn't even begin to sum her up. She was gorgeous. I sucked in a quick breath, feeling everything I'd ever stressed over become a pointless little waste of time. Everything I'd ever considered pretty suddenly looked like a gray blob. There was nothing in the world compared to her. I couldn't believe I'd been walking around for two years without knowing this little girl.

"Uhh...Quil?" Paul waved his hand in front of my face. I smiled serenely at the child.

"She's beautiful." I told her parents, not looking away from her.

Sam stood from the table in my peripheral vision. "Oh my God! Quil!"

"Huh?" I asked, still smiling at Claire.

"Can I see you outside for a minute?" he asked me, his voice getting a little louder.

I frowned without looking at him. "Why?"

"Because there's something important I need to talk to you about." he grabbed my wrist and pulled me toward the door. I kept facing Claire until we had turned into the next room and I couldn't see her anymore. I pulled back on Sam's hand and looked through the door to the girl again, smiling at her. "Quil!" he said as soon as we had gotten outside, trying to catch my attention.

"She's the most beautiful thing to ever appear on this planet!" I told him, the words rushing out of my mouth before I had a chance to think them over. "Sam, why didn't you tell me about her?!"

He shook my shoulders. "Quil, you just Imprinted!"

I stared at him closely. "Oh...oh, I understand now." Everything Sam had told me about Emily and how he had felt about her when he had first laid eyes on her clicked in my head. "This is brilliant!"

He laughed once and turned toward the house. "Now, I don't want you telling her parents about...our condition, but I know you'll be seeing a lot more of her from now on."

I nodded quickly. "I can keep it from them"

He smiled and pulled me into a quick hug, patting my back. "Congrats, Man."

"Thanks," I said, smiling hugely as we made our way back into Emily's house.

I took my seat next to Jared at the table and watched Claire again. Nothing had ever given me the satisfaction I felt as I looked into her big dark brown eyes. Embry kicked my shin under the table. I looked up at him, annoyed. 'What?!' I mouthed.

He raised an eyebrow, and I knew he was asking what was up. I shook my head, grinning widely. 'Later.'