Les Femmes Noires One-Shot Contest

Title: Darkbloom

Your pen name: NelsonSmandela

Characters: Renesmee

Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight; I just wanted to hear what happened after the non-battle. ^_^

✼-✼-✼

The day I saw them in the woods, I wanted to destroy something.

I sat in the tallest tree I could find, having climbed to the very top, until I could see all the way to the river. My mother and father had gone hunting hours before, and I could see no sign of them, even beyond the Sol Duc. I sat back against the tall pine's strong trunk, pulling my book out of my coat pocket.

I dangled my legs lazily off the branch as I read, growing more and more disgusted with the perverted narrator of the book the Denali clan had given me. Just months before, we'd made a trip to Alaska, my first time away from Forks. None of the wolves had come with us, which was very odd, as I was so used to their daily presence at one time or another. We stayed with old friends of the family, the Denalis, whom I had met once previously as a small child. Tanya was teaching me to speak Russian, because she said it was much easier to pick up as a child. I didn't bother telling her I'd never felt like a child a day in my life. She'd given me several Russian books; I loved the way the authors' names rolled off my tongue: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Bulgakov.

I glanced at the cover of my current read. Lolita. The cover art was a picture of a young girl's legs, which featured prominently in the narrator's fantasies. Ick. Still, some twisted part of me persevered through his horny ramblings to see if it would get good.

Tilting my head toward the sun, I closed my eyes briefly, letting the warmth wash over my face. I heard a Quileute wolf phasing somewhere a ways off, the sound like a tree shaking its branches very hard and fast, if such a thing were possible. I wondered who was nearby.

There was a rustling in the bushes on the forest's edge, and my eyes snapped open. Jacob. I felt a faint smile touch my lips. He was probably my closest friend — one of the only friends I had outside my immediate family. While my parents and family hovered over me, watching my every movement obsessively, Jacob was the one person besides my grandpa Charlie whom I could just be around. He understood more than my grandpa; Jacob had been there for me many times when my frustration at being the only one of my kind, at feeling like a misfit among immortals, had taken over my senses.

Still hundreds of yards away but visible to my eyes in the late afternoon sun, Jacob strode out of the bushes toward the lapping water, kneeling to dip his hands in and wash his face and neck. He was stark naked, and I stifled a gasp; I'd never seen any man naked, let alone someone I knew so … personally. I took in the solid muscles of his huge arms and shoulders, the way his back swept down in a graceful curve where it met his legs. I'd never thought to look at a man's ass before, but I couldn't peel my eyes away from it.

Turn around. Turn around, I willed him with my mind. He started to turn, looking over his right shoulder toward the forest. More rustling in the bushes distracted me as I saw a woman emerge, also naked, with the same deep russet skin and long black hair. Leah.

My face twisted into a scowl. My family insisted on treating Leah Clearwater like one of us, though she'd never exchanged a friendly word with any Cullen, in my experience. Her demeanor was civil at best, and she rarely spoke to me, choosing instead to glare at me with narrow eyes from across the room.

I'd heard that wolves phased naked, but had never been in the presence of one in the act; my family seemed to think it was natural, though I imagined it would be pretty awkward, especially considering that some wolves were female.

I noticed Jacob had a small bundle taped to his lower leg that he reached down for, before Leah's hand came out to stop him. They were looking at each other, their expressions unfamiliar to me. Leah moved closer as her hand slid up his arm and across his chest. His eyes kept darting around, but he made no move to stop her — in fact, his arms went to her waist, one hand reaching down in back as their mouths met and tangled together for what was obviously not the first time. What. The. Fuck.

My mouth was hanging open so wide I could have swallowed a deer whole. I felt my face flame with embarrassment, and my stomach churned as if I'd be sick. Meanwhile a queer ache in my chest throbbed. But I couldn't tear my eyes away from their mouths moving wildly, their hands running all over each other. I felt something deeper, a raging anger I'd never felt before. I felt … betrayed — why hadn't they told us? Why had I never seen any sign there was a relationship between them that went beyond friendship? Jacob visited my house nearly every day, yet he spoke of Leah in the same tone as he mentioned the other wolves. He was one of my closest friends, and yet he'd kept this secret from me, from my family? Or was this how adults acted with each other? Were they always getting naked with their so-called friends when they thought no one else was around and touching each other? So many emotions washed over me, some inexplicable. I felt confused, a bit humiliated, yet somehow both disgusted and jealous at the same time.

Jacob and Leah were now rubbing their bodies together while kissing all over each other's faces and necks. It was sort of fascinating, but I felt as pervy as Humbert, the narrator in my book. I wished they would just leave. I closed my eyes and had counted to 100 in Russian when I heard rustling and peeked out. They were finally moving away from the water and back toward the cover of trees, Jacob glancing around wildly, yet never moving his hands from Leah. I shrunk back against the tree trunk and sat perfectly still, as if I could make myself invisible, be assimilated into the tree trunk like a dryad.

When they were finally out of my sight, my eyes teared up. God, that was so mortifying. Imagine if they'd actually seen me here! I shuddered at the thought as I slowly climbed down from my tree, careful not to make too much noise — in case Jacob and Leah were still near — and headed home.

✼-✼-✼

I entered a completely silent house. I knew Emmett and Rosalie were around somewhere, but they must've been in one of the upstairs rooms. Jasper and Alice had gone hunting with my mother and father. I marveled at how alone I felt in the big, silent common room that was usually full of my family.

I've been surrounded by people since I was born, and yet, I'm always alone, in a way. Being the only half-human in a family of vampires means all my actions are studied like a specimen under my grandfather Carlisle's microscope. When around my family, all I can feel is my distinct otherness, like an alien.

I went into the room Grandpa and Gran had set up for me so that I had my own place at their house. It had once been my dad's room, but Alice and Esme had removed the gold carpet and cold leather furniture, replacing it with warm wood floors, comfy throw rugs, and a daybed with white eyelet coverings. The walls were painted the color of the sky after a storm, and were covered in black and white photographs.

On a small bedside table lay several photo albums. Inside seemingly every moment of my life since my birth was documented in Esme's beautiful script. She gave me a new one every year on my birthday, knowing my part-human memory is not as infallible as a vampire's. I fingered the pages of the first book, the pictures of me as a tiny baby, in the arms of Rosalie, her face leaning over me radiant, her eyes bright. My parents, pristine and beautiful, gazing at baby me with love in their eyes that transcended their teen appearance.

Everyone in my world is ageless; they never change. I can guess their ages looking in their eyes, seeing the years of history etched there. With the exception of Grandpa Charlie, they all make me feel like I'm hurtling toward old age on a runaway train. Every day, I change so much. I can feel my cells dividing.

I look at the large mirror leaning against the wall across from my bed. Instead of seeing my reflection, I see an apparition. Like The Portrait of Dorian Grey, my face seems to grow more solemn and hollow by the minute, as if by sitting here long enough I would see my face rot away to mere bones.

Staring at my own face, I see very little of my parents in my reflection. My hair is the color of my father's, but the texture is different. I've been told my eyes are the exact same color as my mother's when she was human, but I only remember her eyes the color of warm honey, like the rest of my family. Though I suspect her eyes were at one time blood-red, as I have fleeting remembrances from my early life, in the photo books they are always amber. I wonder if they've been altered to hide the red. I look back at the photo in my lap of my parents leaning over me as a baby.

When I think back to my earliest memories, the first thing I remember is my father — not him holding me, but hearing his voice, feeling his presence over me. The sensation of being underwater, or under many warm blankets. But I knew I was loved. I saw him, the first face I ever saw. I was entranced by his eyes – all I remember are the two bright hazel spots in the middle of milky white as my eyes focused. He put me in my mother's arms… the smell familiar, but something more sinister – splotches of bright red covered her everywhere, tears streamed down her contorted face. She looked at me in love, but also in pain. And I knew, I had caused her pain… somehow even months, years, later I knew one of the first emotions I had ever felt was guilt.

✼-✼-✼

"Knock-knock," came Rosalie's voice from the doorway, interrupting my reverie. I motioned her in, and she sat on the other end of the bed. "What have you been up to all day?"

I flinched a tiny bit, remembering my voyeuristic turn earlier. "Reading," I said too quickly. Rosalie's eyebrow raised by an almost imperceptible margin.

"Reading, huh? And what kind of 'reading' would have you feeling flustered? Your cheeks are a little red, you know," she smirked.

"I … uh, I was in the sun a bit. Maybe I burned." Could I even sunburn? It was so rarely sunny in Forks that I hadn't tested the theory much. I decided a subject change was better before I gave myself completely away, then just decided to go for broke. "Rosalie, have you noticed Jacob and Leah acting … uh, weird, lately?"

"Define 'weird'. The wolves are all head cases, in my opinion," she said wryly.

"Um, have you noticed them being … especially … romantic with each other?" I said, examining my nail beds in what was intended to be a studious manner.

Rosalie's eyes narrowed, and she cleared her throat, an oddly human — and therefore unnecessary — gesture that let me know she was stalling for time.

"What did you see?" she asked bluntly.

I looked at my toes. "I was in the woods. They didn't know I was there, and I was just sitting, minding my own business, I swear…" Rosalie repeated her question. "They were naked," I blurted.

Her eyes softened infinitesimally. "Is that all?"

"They were kissing and … other stuff," I said, feeling my face redden again. Ugh, I hate that feeling. I didn't like to even acknowledge my family's lovey-dovey behavior, but lately, being around them had been nauseating me on a daily basis.

I'd woken up one day earlier this year with breasts. My hand to God, they were not there the day before, and they hurt like hell. Weird stuff was happening between my legs, too. And I'd developed a hypersensitivity to certain … behaviors. It was as if I'd suddenly become aware of all the love in the fucking air. Every time I turned a corner in the house, Mom and Dad, Alice and Jazz, even Grandfather and Gran might be there sucking face the way that only people who don't need oxygen can. Ugh. And lately I'd just become … fed up with it. It was kind of disgusting how in-your-face everyone was — not to mention the things I could hear going on behind closed doors. Ick.

Rosalie's harsh tone snapped my attention back to our conversation. "What kind of other stuff?!" I flinched away instinctively. She must think I was spying on them. God, I AM a pervert! I cringed.

Footfalls on the stairs alerted me to the fact that our exchange was no longer private. Great, now my mortification has an audience. My parents' faces appeared at the door, as Alice tiptoed in behind them. All appeared concerned.

My dad's stare pierced me, his mind hearing every thought in my head as I worked hard to expunge the images from the woods earlier. In the last few years, I'd been able to channel my thoughts around him so I had some selection over what he heard and saw. A girl needs her privacy sometimes.

"Renesmee, what's going on?" he asked sternly. My eyeballs rolled so far back in my head at his use of my completely ridiculous full name I almost choked on them. Before I could shrug him off my case, Rosalie spoke up.

"Edward, wait until you hear what your daughter saw today," she said, her voice fiery with anger.

He leveled his gaze at me, and I could sense his mind searching mine, so I channeled my thoughts into innocuous little-girl imagery.

"I was reading outside, and I just saw Jacob and Leah acting weird. It was no big deal; I was just surprised." I rushed a little through my explanation, hoping they'd all shrug it off.

"What do you mean, 'weird,' Renesmee?" my mother asked, her girlish, lilting voice making her sound no older than I was. Shit.

"They were naked and kissing," I spat out, my face crimson as I died of embarrassment. "Can we please stop making a deal out of this? I wasn't spying intentionally."

When I opened my eyes, I was shocked to see the usually serene face of my mother aghast, her mouth a perfect 'O', her eyes wide as saucers. But it was my father's voice that rang in my head first, anger spilling from his lips like molten lava.

"I am going to kill that vile dog and his whore," he spat out between clenched teeth. My mother didn't even jump at his vehemence, but continued to look completely shocked.

Rosalie stood up slowly. "Edward, you can't know Leah's motivation. She has had a hard time adapting to her new life. Put yourself in her shoes."

"Wolves don't wear shoes," my dad said passionately, as though the statement justified his anger.

"Jacob is the only one who has done wrong by Renesmee, and by extension, the rest of us," Rosalie replied calmly.

"I don't understand," I whined. "Why should Jacob be more at fault than Leah?"

"Nessie, there are things you can't understand," Alice started.

"Why? Why can't I understand them?" I felt peeved. My own family was treating me like a child, when we appeared to be the same age.

"Renesmee, go to your room so the adults can talk," my father said.

"I'm in my own room!" I cried. "This is so unfair. Why can't someone just tell me what's going on?" I resisted the urge to pull my own hair at the roots out of frustration at their cryptic remarks.

"Edward, she's practically a woman," my Uncle Jasper broke in. He was quieter than the rest of my family, a thoughtful man, and he understood the way I was feeling most of the time and better than anyone else. "One of these days you are going to have to treat her as such."

"You have no idea what you're talking about," my dad sneered. "Besides, what would it help? Would you have her enter into a relationship already knowing her partner had been unfaithful? I thought the rules of imprinting would have prevented this ... issue."

My brain struggled to keep up as he mentioned topics I was unfamiliar with. "What does imprinting mean?" My voice rose nearly an octave as I looked to each of my family imploringly. "Why are you talking bout me being in a relationship? I'm so confused!"

"I will not discuss this with you further, Renesmee. You need to leave the room. Now." My father's voice was hard as steel, and only served as fuel for my anger.

"I will NOT leave the room when I am the one being discussed. This is completely unreasonable! Why can't anyone just be honest with me?!" Dead silence followed my plea.

"Alice…" my dad started quietly.

"Nothing, you know my sight's pretty useless when it comes to Renesmee, and I can't see any of the wolves," Alice shrugged. They stared at each other for a moment.

My dad's eyes darkened. "NO," he said sounding strangled. "This can't be the way it was meant to come out. She's too young."

My chest tightened, and I felt like screaming in frustration. Naturally, when I spoke, I did. "You're talking about me again and I'm right here!" My mom put her cold arms around my shoulders.

"Renesmee, there are things you're too young to understand right now," she said, her usually serene, quiet voice trembling as though she were scared. She put her hand on my chin, forcing my eyes to hers. "Trust me, this is for your own good," she coaxed. Her cool hand pulled mine up, laying it against her face. I jerked my hand back as if burned, realizing her true intention: she was taking advantage of my weakness, trying to see into my head, likely wondering what I had witnessed.

She started a bit when I jerked my hand away, but she was not ready when my other hand whipped across her cheek with a tinny snap. Her eyes widened in — was it anger? Or fear, even? I knew I hadn't hurt her, though my hand throbbed like a bitch, but she had gotten the message.

"I guess you don't believe what I said, if you think you need proof, not that I care. But don't you ever try to take advantage of my 'gift' again. And I'm not in a relationship with anyone. And even if I were, it's none of anyone's goddamn business!" I seethed as I turned and left the room. I heard my mother gasping for air as I half-ran down the stairs and out the front door. And I didn't feel the least bit guilty.

Once I hit the driveway I started running in earnest, not really caring where I was headed. I rarely left my family's property as the cramped little town could not know too much of my existence. I was mature enough to realize that it was for my protection as much as theirs— they wouldn't be able to understand the hows and whys of my existence any more than I could.

My mind kept replaying my parents' cryptic comments in my head, but I only felt more confused as I pondered them. Particularly my father's words… Would you have her enter into a relationship already knowing her partner had been unfaithful? It was as if he believed Jacob and I were involved romantically, when nothing had been further from my mind.

My chest was still tight with anger for several miles, so I slowed down, figuring I should have some destination in mind rather than just running at a cheetah's pace through the Forks town square. The sun was setting as I instinctively cut across some fields, then yards, heading for the one place I knew I was welcome.

✼-✼-✼

Charlie's face was lined and tired as he cracked the door, but his eyes softened when he saw me.

"Nessie," he said, bewildered, no doubt noting my disheveled and winded state. "What are you doing, girl?" He opened the door wider.

"Not 'Nessie', please," I said, anxious to make this point clear. An annoying childhood nickname, I'd all but forbidden it from conversation, though it lingered like a pesky fly.

"What would you like to be called?" Charlie asked kindly. I threw my arms around his neck and choked back a sob. He went rigid for a moment and softly, awkwardly sort of petted my hair and made a strange noise like he was clearing his throat. "Come on in," he said simply.

After I sat at the kitchen table, he fed me a grilled cheese sandwich and a glass of milk — which I'd only had twice before and had always seemed like the strangest, least appetizing beverage ever. But I drank it to placate him after he mumbled something about my being a "growing girl" under his breath.

"Do you want to talk about it? Why you're here?" he asked. "Do you want me to call your mom?"

"No," I said hastily. "I just needed to think about some things. Everyone was acting so weird today and talking over my head, and I just had to get away."

"Did you come here by yourself?" he asked, his eyes widening.

"Yes, I walked," I said, looking down guiltily. A faint line appeared between Charlie's brows that told me he was biting back words, probably about how I was too young to be out alone or that my parents were worried. I continued, hoping to distract him: "There was just some weirdness with Jacob, and Dad's really mad at him, but he wouldn't tell me why."

Charlie's voice vibrated a low hum as he absorbed my words. "Well, your dad and Jacob have not always gotten on so well." That was news to me; while they sparred back and forth verbally often, they were usually pretty chummy. "But I know Jacob is very protective of you, has been since you were born. Everyone loves you so much, Mae," he said, and it did not escape my notice that he used the name I preferred.

"I know," I conceded, inwardly refusing to allow guilt to overtake me. I met his eyes, feeling tortured.

"I was about to turn in," he said softly, and my teeth worried my lower lip, knowing I wasn't ready to head home yet. "Did you want to go up to your mother's old room?"

My eyes shot up to his in surprise. I felt exhausted both emotionally and physically. I tried my best to smile. "Thanks, that would be great."

✼-✼-✼

I'd really only seen my mom's old room once before, when we came for dinner, but I hadn't paid much attention and it had been a year or so ago. Charlie had given me clean sheets to go under the dark purple coverlet. After dressing the bed, I sat down on the wood floor looking at the dusty pictures on the nightstand. One of my mom about my size, with a woman I didn't recognize but who looked faintly familiar. One of her and my dad wearing graduation caps and gowns. I absentmindedly opened the nightstand drawer and grabbed some loose photos and a folded, splotched piece of loose-leaf.

The two photos were of my mom and Jacob, which seemed odd, and looked to have been taken out at the beaches past the reservation. I wondered who'd taken them. In fact, I'd seen very few photos of my mom when she was human. Human Bella had been very plain, she'd told me, and awkwardly clumsy. Other than the wedding portrait on Esme's mantle, she kept no mementos of her life before immortality.

In the first photo, Jacob had his arm around her as they smiled at the camera. The carefree look in my mom's eyes stunned me, and it took me a moment to realize why: I was looking at my own eyes, the irises not pale amber and immortal, but chocolate brown and warm. I almost gasped out loud at the familiarity.

The second photo looked … different, and I knew it must have been taken later, as Jacob's hair was much longer. My mother was very pale and gaunt, her eyes hollow and almost despondent, older. She was looking not at the camera, but at Jacob, her arms crossed over her chest as he looked back at her with a hand on her shoulder. His expression stopped me in my tracks—it was the same one I'd seen him wear whenever I felt troubled, or had bruised myself jumping out of a tree, or cried because I felt lonely because I had no friends. I felt the same sort of twinge in my chest that I'd felt seeing him with Leah.

I unfolded the paper I'd found with the photos. Ink stains dotted the paper, and several lines were scrubbed out. It read

Bella,

Yeah, I miss you, too. A lot.

Doesn't change anything. Sorry.

Jacob

What the fuck is that? I wondered. I tried to read through the scrubbed out lines for more information; the last read: It just makes it worse when I think about you too much, so don't write anymore.

I looked back at the photos, my chest throbbing away with the sharp ache and realized, Jacob's eyes held the same emotions they had with Leah in the forest, earlier. Lust, my instincts said. Eww.

My mind went back to my dad's strange comment. I thought the rules of imprinting would have prevented this. What was imprinting? And why did he act like I had something to do with Jacob's personal life? I'd only read about imprinting in the sense of baby animals attaching themselves to their parents. So was Jacob attached to me, or I to him? The attachment certainly didn't feel parental.

My stomach turned as I wondered if Jacob was somehow attracted to me because I resembled a younger, unattached version of my mother. Had he had feelings for her? Before I'd seen the photo I would have said no way in hell, but his eyes said something different. Was I my mother's replacement? Did this make him some sort of sick pervert? I clutched my stomach as I felt sweat break out along my forehead.

Minutes later, I was kneeling on the bathroom floor, having rid my anxious stomach of Charlie's comfort food, when I realized I'd gone from feeling like Nabokov's Humbert Humbert to Lolita in a matter of eight hours.

I puzzled at the peculiar twinge in my chest. I'd never considered my life without Jacob before, and I didn't like considering it now. I thought of him as my Jacob; even if I didn't want him, I didn't want anyone else to want him, either. I wondered if he somehow felt the same. I realized I was considering physical attraction to a man who'd lived four times as long as I had and who seemingly had once desired my mother. The idea seemed absurd, as I'd never even tried to be remotely provocative. I stumbled back to the bedroom, laughing almost drunkenly at my conundrum, and fell facedown on the mattress as my laughter gave way to frustrated sobs.

Several hours later, I woke up a sweaty, tear-stained mess, tangled in the sheets. But while sleep had brought me clarity, it had not quelled my anger.

And I knew exactly what I would do.

✼-✼-✼

I ran the short way west to LaPush from Charlie's, skirting the Quillayute River, cutting across the logged fields, my hair flying out behind me. I'd rarely run so fast, and I nearly laughed aloud from the adrenaline coursing through me.

Entering Quileute territory was not exactly allowed. Vampires could not set foot on the reservation without a written invitation from the tribal chief, which had to be approved with a vote by the tribe elders. I'd only been on Quileute land once before, but I knew exactly where the little blue house lay, just north of the river past the school.

Once at the door, I hesitated. But I had to know. I raised my hand and knocked timidly three times.

"You're quieter than—" The door flew open and Jacob was in front of me, clad only in a pair of jeans, his long hair tied back in a ponytail. His words died in his throat as he saw me, my hair likely wild from the run, my cheeks blazing. "Ness…" he choked out, almost to himself.

"I need to talk to you," I said. He never broke eye contact as he stepped to the side and motioned me in wordlessly. I walked straight through to the tiny kitchen and turned away from him, wringing my hands a little.

"Sit down?" He motioned to one of the kitchen chairs and took the other.

"I'd rather stand," I said, fearful my nerves would betray me.

"You're not supposed to be here, Ness," he said guardedly.

I looked him square in the eye. "You don't want me to be here?"

"It's not that at all. It's complicated… The treaty between your family and mine is almost 100 years old. I am not the only one who makes the rules."

"Have you spoken to my parents?"

"I was … out most of the night. Bella left me a message to call her when I got home, but I just heard it," he explained. I examined his face as he spoke of my mother. I saw no emotion there, heard no change in his voice. In truth, his face bore very little resemblance to the teen boy in the picture. This Jacob was worried, his forehead set with lines and his posture tense. I walked over and stood directly in front of him, putting a hand on his shoulder. He tensed minutely, then calmed.

Pretending I knew exactly what I was doing and ignoring the fact that we both knew I didn't, I lowered myself onto his lap, a leg on each side. My toes barely brushed the floor, hanging from his lanky frame. I straightened my back the way Alice was always telling me, very aware of my new breasts in proximity to his bare chest. My muscles twitched involuntarily. Slowly, as slowly as I possibly could manage, I brought my hand up to his face and pushed the lock of hair that had escaped from his ponytail back off his face.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of brown skin and familiar long black hair outside. She was walking up the drive with a purpose. Perfect.

"Jacob," I let his name drip from my tongue like honey, drawing it out. "I can't hide what I feel for you anymore."

I captured his eyes with mine, steeling my gaze as his widened in shock and … was that a little bit of fear? I felt him tensing under me. I knew I only had a minute.

"I want you," I said, keeping my voice low, never breaking his gaze.

His arms began to move up, and I knew he would push me off of his lap, distance himself from me. Quickly I put my lips a hair's breadth from his, breathing in his breath and smell and essence, all woods and sweat and earth. I was shocked at the pang of true desire that I felt shudder through me, and for a millisecond, I almost lost myself to it.

Recovering, I closed my eyes and softly pressed my barely open lips to his, running the tip of my tongue against the little divot between his. I had seen Jasper do this to Alice when they didn't realize I was paying attention.

Jacob's eyes were screwed shut. His lips parted in a shaky, tortured sigh, and I was shocked when I felt his own tongue caress mine. I don't know what I was expecting — a shocking taste, coldness like the kisses of my parents on my cheeks. Instead I felt heat radiating from him, not so much a taste as the flavor of his scent, and the feel — the feeling was everywhere on my body at once, as though that single physical connection sparked a thousand others in my fingertips, the soft skin between my hip bones, the backs of my knees. Simultaneously, instinctively, we twisted our heads in opposite directions, our lips and tongues still moving together. I felt something pulling at the nape of my neck and realized his hands were in my hair somewhere below my shoulder blades, snarling, pulling the curls with intensity. Instead of annoying me, the tugging felt good, like being stroked to sleep by my mother, but different; I felt it lower.

I ran my hands down his chest feeling every ridge and ripple; his skin felt like the softest tanned leather, and it pebbled under my touch. Pressing myself harder into him caused sensations I'd never felt before, a tightness in my muscles that complemented the now-familiar throbbing in my chest as he pulled harder on my hair. I heard a moan, followed by a gasp, and realized that the former had come from my own mouth.

His hands stilled in my hair, and I opened my eyes to see him staring over my shoulder. The corners of my mouth twitched into a smirk as I turned my head and saw Leah standing there agape. Her normally russet skin was ashen, her eyes wide, but there was no shock in them, only resigned hatred. I knew then, somehow—it was as if I had always known. Jacob was mine, no matter what she'd tried with him. No matter if I wanted him or not. He was mine.

I got up quickly and willed my legs to walk to the back door, leaving them there.

Outside I stumbled around the side of the house once out of their sight. The weight of my behavior caught up with me, and I heaved into the bushes until only bile came out. When my eyes refocused, I stared wearily at the rosebush I'd just spewed into. A single dark pink bloom flourished in a sea of white tea roses. I stared at the dark bloom among the pure ones, wondering what had caused the aberration.

The screen door slamming distracted me as I saw Leah's backside retreating towards the reservation at full speed. When she was out of sight I heard the sound of her phasing. My eyes flitted back to the doorway, where Jacob stood, his eyes locked not on her retreat, but on my face.

I stared at him hard, seeing a bevy of emotions flit across his face: shock, panic, contrition, and something else indefinable… not lust. Not even attraction. The look pierced my heart as though a grappling hook had shot out and a steel cable was drawing us together, anchoring us permanently. The emotion terrified me.

Feeling my breath catch in my chest, I tore my eyes away and took off like a shot towards the south.

I didn't stop for days.

✼-✼-✼

A/N: Thanks to lovely ladies Philadelphic, Adoraklutz, and Becca Graymoor for support and beta love!!