AN: As promised I bring you ch 26 of LIT! This chapter seriously took me forever to get out and do just right. There's so much going on. My life has been crazy and hectic this summer. I'm now gaining a bit of buffer as we continue into the fall semester. I've got a job tutoring in Biology on top of 13 credits. We'll see how I manage. I'm trying to get most of this done as far as the writing before school begins next week. I've gotten up to ch 30 completed. I just started that one this morning. Also please be on the lookout for the fandom for wildfires compilation. I shall be submitting an O/S to them. And the big outtake for the fandom4tsunami benefit has been posted under Purgatory's No Picnic Either. I hope you all enjoy this chappy and I'm so, so glad to be able to update, finally! My beta, prereaders and friends helped immensely. Also I have a tumblr account now. My user name is inspiringroses so look me up! I post teasers on there and other inspirations. So without further adieu I give you Ch 26!


Chapter Songs: We Used to Wait - Arcade Fire, Criminal - Fiona Apple, Numb - Sia, Little Lion Man - Mumford & Sons, I've Just Seen a Face - Jim Sturgess (originally the Beatles)

Chapter Twenty-Six: Demetrius and Lysander

Then will two at once woo one;
That must needs be sport alone;
And those things do best please me
That befall preposterously. (**)

"Just because you're a Jets fan does not mean the Seahawks suck, Rose."

"No, their crappy playing has shown that rather expertly every season for the last few years. No way they're making the play-offs this year." I slunk down just a little bit lower against the corner of cabinets and counter top I'd perched myself on. The two of them working was an interesting sight. Growing up, I never thought I'd see something like this. The irony was not lost on me. Rose and Jake, working on cars and bantering about sports. I snickered lowly, still trying to hide my amusement at the sight before me.

"Does the peanut gallery have anything to add?" I heard Jake ask. I let my book flop over in my lap and grinned sheepishly. I'd been caught. Though there was no shame in me, I tried to look appropriately abashed. I didn't work.

"No, you two are hilarious. Don't get mad at me for laughing." I shrugged, unapologetic.

Emmett chuckled as well from his post underneath my R8. His arm was currently functioning as the jack. Even though Rosalie has several fully functional car jacks, she always asks Emmett to be one for her. Personally, I think it's because she secretly enjoys watching him lift heavy things so effortlessly. It was probably akin to how watching Jacob work would get to me from time to time. There is something entirely attractive about your mate doing something stereotypically masculine.

"You two are worse than Oscar and Felix," he remarked.

Huh, I'd never noticed it before, but Emmett's observation hit the nail right on the head when it comes to how oil and water Jake and Rose are.

Jacob looked at him strangely, obviously not catching on to the dated pop culture reference. I nudged his hip with my foot to get his attention.

"He means The Odd Couple."

"Oh. Yeah, Em, that's dating yourself a little isn't it? I think my dad was a kid in grade school or younger when that show was on." Jake shot back. I rolled my eyes at him. It had been going on like this all morning. Bantering and joking all while messing around with the family cars. At least it hadn't gone to everyone's heads yet. Early on in the morning, Alice had subjugated us to the garage, the other hybrids to the guest house as she awaited the arrival of the Romanians. The Dracula twins, as Jake not-so-affectionately calls them, were due to arrive sometime today. I was certainly less than thrilled about their arrival. I didn't mind them, yet I didn't trust them. The Volturi's oldest enemies were a valuable asset in a fight; however, they were even more unpredictable than Aro. They wanted a battle, hungered for vengeance over their lost coven. That hatred and desire had only grown exponentially over the millennia. The old saying, "an elephant never forgets," should have been, "a vampire never forgets." I didn't want a battle. I didn't want any sort of violence when the Volturi are here. I had too much to lose in the event of a fight. Family, friends, love. I couldn't sacrifice them. Yet I knew that my one answer could damn us all. There wasn't any way around it. I was going to turn Aro down. There was no two ways about it.

I raised my reading material up to my face again, obstructing my view. A copy of the play A Midsummer Night's Dream. The cover had long since fallen off. A casualty of my physical teen years, as it were. Well worn and dog-eared pages of a much loved piece of art. I obsessed over it, particularly the dynamics between Hermia, Lysander, Demetrius, and Helena. How I so identified with Helena. To love someone who had to be forced by magic to love you. The parallels to my own life were innumerable to my physically matured self. I sighed, long and low. The past was the past, and I needed to let it die there. I had my Demetrius now. Magic or no magic. I could hear the snicker in front of me. I looked up for a moment seeing the face I loved more than my own life. "You really need new books, Ness. I mean, really, Shakespeare again?" He'd moved, without my noticing. That was the trouble dating someone equally as supernatural as you are. They could be just as sneaky. He'd turned his stool to where I sat on the countertop.

Scowling, I lean forward, our faces now just a few inches apart. Everything else in the world drifted away then. The garage, the sound of cranking wrenches and the soft pattering of rain all dissolved. "I know. But I've been kind of stuck between home and La Push lately, you know."

He smirked at me. He knew all too well exactly where I've been kept as of late. Either here, or on the reservation, more specifically his house, and even more specifically than that — his bedroom. Though I did get to see more of the girls in La Push than I would here. I was beginning to get a touch of cabin fever from all the monotony. "Guess we'll have to do something about that, won't we?"

I quirked an eyebrow at him, intrigued. What did he have up his sleeve? The look on his face was almost mischievous. "Really? What did you have in mind then?" I asked, challenging him to speak up. It was like him to suggest we needed to do something, and wait for me to come up with an idea. I wasn't letting him off the hook so easily this time. His tongue swept between his lips for a moment, as he listened. I lost my train of thought. Simple things like that had a way of tampering with my coherency.

He shrugged, his smirk morphing into a cocky smile. Jerk. He knew exactly why I had fallen silent. I really think he did those things on purpose sometimes, just to get a rise out of me. "How about, we go to Seattle next weekend? Amber and Leah are going to be at this conference thing in Victoria for the weekend. I don't have patrol all weekend, so we could go anytime, and then you could hang out on the Rez with the girls the rest of the time if you wanted to get out of here. Or we could go hunting."

I swallowed hard. I'd already made plans to go hunting in the morning. "Um, that all sounds great. I'm hunting tomorrow morning," I explained with a nervous glance. "With Nahuel." The visible clench in his jaw as I said the name told me everything. Still jealous after all this time? Silly stupid, territorial man. Didn't he get it that I didn't want Nahuel? That I didn't love him? I let my fingers come up to his chin. Don't be like that. He's my friend, Jake. I promised him months ago that I'd show him around the Hoh rain forest and what this area is, just like he showed me around South America.

Jacob sighed and turned halfway back to his task of changing the oil on Emmett's Jeep. "Yeah I'm sure that's not all he wanted to show you," he muttered so low it was almost a strain to hear it. Emmett let out a loud snort at the comment. I glared at him for a moment then returned my attention to the idiotically jealous wolf in front of me. A human girl might find this jealousy romantic or even amusing. To me it was highly unnecessary for him to worry and frankly rather annoying. I folded the play in my hand and hit him upside the head with it. He turned back, rubbing his head. "What the hell?"

"That was for insinuating that Nahuel's not a good guy. If you actually gave him a chance you'd really like him. He's very kind." Rosalie snickered in the background. I shot her a glare. "Shut it, Rose."

"I didn't say anything," she reminded with a dramatic flick of her wrench. She didn't have to say anything; the snicker did its job rather expertly without any added verbiage.

I got up off my seat and leaned on Jacob's back, my arms wrapping around his shoulders. His shoulders relaxed and he leaned into me. I let my finger tips grace one side of his neck while I rested my chin on the opposite shoulder. Why are you worried? You know I love you, and only you.

"I'm not worried."

Oh, really? Because you seem pretty tense any time I mention his name.

Jacob glanced over at Emmett and Rosalie for a moment before turning his head just enough to look at my face. "I don't trust him."

I rolled my eyes. Of course he didn't trust him. Nahuel had only recently gone vegetarian. Recently converted or no, Nahuel knew the taste of human blood like many of our visitors did. That had to be a reason why he didn't trust him, didn't it?

"That's not entirely why, but yes, that's part of it."

Then why?

Jacob studied my face as if I was missing the obvious. Apparently, I was oblivious to something that worried Jacob so. There was nothing else to worry about when it came to Nahuel. He should know that. Even in South America when certain lines blurred between my friendship with Nahuel I was always sure to explain that I felt nothing but friendship for him. I had been clear as crystal on that matter so it was a moot point in my book. "Just because you think it's irrelevant doesn't mean it is."

I pinched his shoulder. He winced and tickled my side. Relevancy doesn't matter because I'm with you. I chose you. And I am in love with you. End of discussion.

His smile returned again, without its arrogant fervor but a softness in its place instead. "So Seattle next weekend?"

I grinned widely. "Sounds perfect. I do need new books. Amber was telling me there's an art fair going on next week too. Maybe we could check that out?"

He gave me a simple nod, and our smiles reflected one another. Happiness swelled within me. How lucky was I? Not very many men would be interested in going to some boring old art fair with their girlfriend, now would they? This was an instance when I really enjoyed the imprint. Even though it meant the sacrifice of his free will. It was an extraordinarily selfish thing to feel. I would give him his free will if I could. I'd give him all of the cosmos if it were truly possible. Fate had other plans for us it seemed.

Jacob, however, didn't seem to mind so much.

His indulgence of my obsessions was just another piece to the puzzle of the imprint. A mystery of how potent his ties to me were is something that I will never understand or could ever hope to. Even with a vampire's intellect such as my own. I found it very easy to push aside my qualms when I found nothing but extreme delight in his acceptance of things I enjoyed, especially since I also found joy indulging in things he relished. Things like spending all day in a ramshackle old garage messing around with spare parts and learning my way around the inner workings of an internal combustion engine. Little things like that, were the key to my sanity as of late.

With old friends, even the tenuous ones, arriving every few weeks it was harder to find distraction from the impending visit even more than it was cramped in our home in Hoquiam. I found fault with my complaining because the numbers were what we needed to make a show that would save us from war. That was really what we were trying to guard against more so than our lifestyle. The arrival of the Romanians, however, might prove to push our cause in the other direction.

A deep rumbling chuckle interrupted our intimate bubble for a moment. That was enough to remind us that Jacob and I were indeed in the presence of Rosalie and Emmett. We both glanced over, seeing my aunt and uncle smirking at us in our half out loud conversation. "You know, you two are as bad as Edward and Alice with the annoying cryptic conversations. It's pretty horrible especially when you don't know what's going on," Emmett complained.

"You are only annoyed because you feel left out," Jacob retorted with one quirk of an eyebrow which, for Jacob, was basically the facial expression equivalent of the middle finger salute.

"Obviously. Care to share with the class?" Emmett challenged. The banter between the two men was entirely comical, but this was the norm between them. Jacob and I looked at each other for a moment and shook our heads 'no' just to annoy him. I could tell by his exasperated sigh that our gesture had achieved its desired goal.

The two of us chuckled, but that sound was interrupted by Jacob's stomach growling. "Are you hungry?" I asked. I knew we weren't supposed to go to the main house under threat of Alice's wrath. Maybe I could get Rosalie to run to the house for me. I could always say it was just for me and Rosalie, having politeness and nicety heavily ingrained in her from her human mother, naturally she would ask Jacob, though begrudgingly, if he would like some as well.

Jacob shook his head even though his stomach was voicing a different opinion. "No, I should really get going soon. I have to be at the garage at four. I'm covering Collin's afternoon shift, you know, since he's been covering for me so much lately." I knew all too well just how much Collin was doing for Jacob. I felt very indebted to him for allowing me any time with Jacob at all.

"Okay," I said, not even trying to hide my slight disappointment that he wouldn't be staying for the evening.

He smiled softly before cleaning up the mess he'd made, including the drip pan of old oil. He worked some of the soap into his hands, toweling off the pumice fragments and with it all the dirt and grime that had accumulated in an afternoon of messing around with a car. With his hand towel discarded I reached out, grabbing his free hand and pulled him until he stood in front of me, arms placed on the counter top on either side of my hips. "Seattle next weekend?"

I mirrored his smile. A sweet sense of anticipation welling inside my chest. "Yes, definitely," I replied. Getting out of the Olympic Peninsula even for a few hours would be a blessed gift. As much as I love my home and my forests, the wolves and the reservation, monotony wasn't always a good thing. I brought one of his hands up placing a chaste kiss to the inside of his palm. A small display of affection. His hands smelled of that orange scented pumice soap he'd used only a moment before and faintly of motor oil. This distinctly Jacob, combination I had grown to love over the course of my existence. He moved that hand to cradle my jaw then tipped my chin up to the perfect angle. I did not forget that we weren't alone. In fact, I purposely ignored the two vampires in the room. I grinned a little as he inched closer to kiss me goodbye for the evening. The world again drifted from my consciousness as our lips connected meeting each other half way.

As he gently sucked on my bottom lip, I moved one hand to his wrist. I love you. I told him this silently, over and over. Maybe one day it'd actually sink through that thick skull of his and he'd understand he had me. Completely and wholly had me in a way no one - no other man — could ever have me. The backs of his fingers brushed along my cheek as he broke the short-lived kiss. Our foreheads pressed together for just the briefest moment. Have a good evening at work. Tell Amber and Leah hello when you get home.

"I will. Love you," he whispered, placing a quick kiss to my forehead before walking out of the garage and into the woods. A moment later I heard the shimmer in the air that accompanied his transformation.

Back inside the garage, my aura of bliss didn't abate. Not even when I glanced over at a very smug Emmett. His mouth opened, as if he were going to provide me with another inane joke about my love life. However, his wife clamped a hand over his mouth with a loud crash of their stony skin. His golden eyes flashed to her face in puzzlement.

"One word and you're celibate for an entire year."

Emmett's confusion crumbled into dismay. He grumbled as he turned around, getting back to his task of helping her with my car.

I caught Rose's face for half of an instant. She smiled lightly and gave me a wink. My face flamed anew as I folded myself back into my little corner of the counter top and buried my face in my play for just a little while longer.

Much later on in the day, with the house still loudly abuzz with the Romanians' arrival, the Irish came calling. Alice had seen that they would be coming, but they had decided to hunt on a last minute whim in Montana, before entering our territory. Siobhan, Liam, and their lovely undead lie detector Maggie arrived with smiles, hugs and citrine eyes.

"Siobhan, your eyes?'' Carlisle asked, astonished at the change he saw in his dear friends.

"Yes, we're trying out your lifestyle for a change. An experiment. Though, I'm not sure elk is all that delicious," Siobhan mused.

Carlisle tossed his head back and laughed. "I'm sure. But what brought you to this idea?"

The statuesque woman grinned at his question. She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Dear friend, don't you know I've always been fascinated with your choice of nourishment? Curiosity finally got the best of me. You are right though, predators do taste a bit better than herbivores."

I glanced at the Romanians, who were absolutely horrified to see so many had begun changing over to a more peaceful coexistence with the human populace. How many was that now? The Amazons, Huilen, and the hybrids. And now the Irish? Did Carlisle's influence know no bounds now? Were the Egyptians going to come walking in with gold eyes as well? That'll be the day, Amun hunting an animal was a mental image worthy of a few snickers. He'd never asked any of them to change. Yet one by one this small group of covens were beginning to start a revolution in the vampire world. An exciting prospect, even though it was unlikely to stay that way forever.

Siobhan came over to me, pulling me in close. "Renesmee, how have you been, young one?"

I grinned, looking up at her. Her dark hair and porcelain skin only accentuated her sheer size. And I thought I was tall for a female. Her height was only eclipsed by her mate, Liam. A quiet man of few words, but a kind heart underneath the sometimes terse demeanor. "I've been well, you know aside from the meddling of Aro."

A chuckle bellowed from somewhere deep in her chest. "That is rather unfortunate. You would think he'd have learned since the last time they came here."

I shrugged. "I guess he thought, in his own twisted way, that archaic ways of diplomacy would be better?"

Maggie came over to us then. "At least we'll get to humiliate the Volturi twice. How often does that happen?"

"Oh, about every 16 years or so."

Fred came into the room, nervous at all the new additions to the household. I worried for him. One minute with the Romanians and he'd probably stay up in the library for a week. He was getting better lately, it seemed. He actually engaged in conversation outside of my immediate family on the rare occasion he was noticed. I wondered, really wondered, why he relegated himself to invisibility. Was he ashamed of himself or what he was or could do? I gave a small wave, motioning for him to come over.

Warily, he came over, unsure of the unfamiliar faces and different colored eyes. "Maggie, this is Fred, he's a very gifted nomad."

Fred ducked his gaze to his shoes. Muttering his hello, quietly.

The reason for introducing him to Maggie first was exactly because of what she did next. She went right up to him, a bright pearly smile and stuck out her hand. "Hello, Fred. I'm Maggie."

He took it, smiling meekly. He wasn't exactly accustomed to being noticed at all. "Renesmee tells me you've got quite a gift yourself?"

Maggie's smile grew rueful and teasing. "Oh she has, has she? She's right though. I can sense the truth. A vampire polygraph if you will."

Fred chuckled a little. "Yeah, that's pretty much what she said. I uh... Eleazar calls what I can do "illusory repulsion." Pretty much, I can go pretty much unnoticed if I want to be."

Maggie's eyebrows shot up in intrigue. "Wow," she replied, her mouth forming a perfectly shaped "o".

Fred visibly relaxed more than I had seen in quite a while. In a house full of talented and non-talented vampires and hybrids, it seemed to the casual observer that Fred didn't feel quite so alone any longer.

I licked my lower lip, the slight excess of elk blood catching on my tongue. Tangy and pungent. The now exsanguinated carcass beneath my hands was just a shell of the animal it had been five minutes ago. This was the hard part of hunting. The weight of a kill. It was different than eating human food. You didn't see the face of the cow or pig when you ate steak or bacon. Feeling the life being sucked out of something wasn't exactly up there on fun things to experience. Even still, animal blood was far and above better than the emotional weight of killing a human. As tempting as human blood was, and how good it could taste, I knew that I'd never forgive myself if I indulged the temptation.

Turning my face up to the sky, I let the warmth of the sun shine down on me. I wondered how it felt to humans, if it felt as wonderful for them as it did for me. I'm sure they hardly appreciated it. Being sequestered from the bright light and UV rays most of my life save for my lazy days on the reservation and the odd hunting trip made me appreciate the beauty of a sunny day.

About three hundred yards from me, Nahuel was finishing up his own elk, having gone after one who'd taken off for safer ground. I leaned against a moss covered trunk waiting for my companion to join me.

I could hear his approach, soft and sure against the damp green covered ground. It was chilly out today. Not uncommon for this region even though it was the middle of summer. Nahuel jumped over the large protruding root I was standing on and sat down upon it. "You're right, Renesmee. This region is quite a bit like home."

"It is, though the weather isn't quite as warm."

He grinned widely at me. "Yes, but that is to be expected this far north of the equator."

"At least it rained in the night instead of this morning. I really love hunting in sunlight. I hardly ever get to if I go with one of my family members."

"Yes, Huilen prefers to go in cloudy weather as well. Easier now that we don't hunt humans any longer. However the risk of exposure can be greater now that we aren't hunting poachers."

"Come on, I want to show you something," I said, remembering my favorite place in this forest. There was a particular tree that I'd always loved to climb as a child. It was massive with enormous roots. It wasn't far, and the run made it even shorter of a distance. The great tree was almost a tourist spot, if anyone had known where it was. Not many humans aside from the local avid hiker came this far into the rainforest and this far off the marked trails. Nahuel stopped as I did. His face showing recognition. He had several trees littered throughout the Amazon that were very similar back home. He and Huilen often made camp at a particular tree after a long hunt.

"This is what you wanted to show me?"

"Yes. This is my favorite place in the entire forest. I first encountered it on a camping trip with my parents for my first birthday. I've always found my way back here. It's a perfect thinking spot. So quiet, yet the forest around it is teeming with life," I explain taking a seat on one of the colossal sized roots that could almost double as a fort wall for an imaginative child.

"Thank you for bringing me out here. I was beginning to think that everyone would be sticking to their individual covens while at your family's home."

I sighed a little. "I know. It's getting a bit crowded. I try to escape to La Push as often as possible."

"To see your wolf friends?"

I grinned warmly at the mention. "Yes. Kim and Rachel have just given birth a couple months back. It's been a bit chaotic. I worry sometimes if my exposure to them will make them into wolves when they hit puberty."

Nahuel's eyes grew concerned. "Why would that be a factor?"

I shrugged, shaking my head that I really didn't want to go into it but his eyes gave me that look. A look I've seen in Jacob's face a million different times in my existence, yet it looked so unequivocally foreign in Nahuel's. How strange. "Exposure to vampires is why Jacob is a wolf. Why any of them are."

"Oh. I see."

"Jacob became a wolf when he was my age. Only sixteen. My family had moved from the region during that time but other vampires were still in the area. Laurent and Victoria. My family had set things in motion and the presence of those nomads kept it going. He didn't really stand a chance; he's a direct descendant of the first wolf. On top of that, he's also the great grandson of the last alpha. He has it in his DNA to lead."

Nahuel grins again, joining me on the root. "You speak very highly of the wolves."

"I do. They're my family too. I'd defend any of them to the death if I had to. Jacob would be pissed to hear me say that, but it's true nonetheless."

"Why would Jacob be angry?"

I chuckled wryly. Why wouldn't Jacob's anger boil over at my statement? Let me count the ways. "He worries."

Nahuel's shoulders shook. "I can understand his troubles then, I suppose."

"What is with you men? Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean—,"

He held his hand up. "Please excuse the misunderstanding, but what I said is not a slight against your gender, Renesmee, but a praise of your individual importance. You are worth protecting. You are worth the concern."

My cheeks flamed red, burning with the easy pooling of blood in my face. Maybe that's why Jacob was always so concerned. Sure it was the imprint instinctively telling him to defend me at all costs, but aside from that, did he see me as worthy of such stress? "And others aren't?"

He shrugged, a little unsure. "Everyone is worth a bit of worry. But you? You're a rarity. A hybrid yes, we're a rare sort. But you're far more precious, your ability, your kindness. Such things I could not imagine before I met Alice and Jasper all those years ago."

I swallowed thickly. My chest swelled just a bit as I shrunk back against the praise. I didn't see myself the way my friends, my family, or Jacob did. A weird thing to be told by the one person who understands what it's like to be a rarity in hybrid species. The only male, and the only female with a supernatural ability aside from the physical ones we're born into. "Thanks, I think," I managed to utter.

"I don't mean to distress you," he replied, pausing. A short awkward silence came over us. I wanted to ask him what else he had to say but I was afraid of what that might be. There was a sense of trepidation in his face. His brows were tightly knit together with a v-shaped crease between. His lower lip was caught between his razor sharp incisors, almost gnawing. "It's just, I feel protective of you as well."

Puzzlement came over me. Protective? I'll admit I felt protective at times of my friends. Amber and the rest of my fragile human friends, I always felt somewhat solicitous of, now more than ever. Especially when there were so many traditional vampires populating the area again. However, Nahuel's voice, his tone, rather, implied something different. Something I only heard from one other person who wasn't considered a familial relation. It just didn't fit coming from Nahuel's mouth instead of Jacob's.

"Nahuel, I'm not sure I get what you mean," I answered, trying to suss out what exactly he was trying to say, and at the same time, willing him not to say what I was beginning to suspect.

He swallowed hard and reached out, laying his warm hand upon mine on the exposed root. "I think I have a solution to what the Volturi want from you, if you'll hear me out?"

I side-eyed him carefully. I didn't want to make assumptions, and at the same time, I didn't want to be rude. I decided to let him speak his piece, even though it was becoming clearer by the millisecond.

"I understand what they want from you. I've been going over it constantly. You must know how fond I am of our friendship, Renesmee. I would die to defend you and your family. My solution is not something I should wish to force on you like they have sought to do."

"What is it then?" I asked, almost impatient now for him to say it and just get it out there in the open.

With a deep breath he grasped my hand gently between both of his own. "Aro would have to back down if you were mated to one of your own kind. A hybrid. Me."

I stare at him, my jaw lowering just a little. So that's what all the staring was about? He was trying to convince himself to ask me out? "Nahuel—"

"No, please let me finish. I realize this is sudden, and you'll probably turn me down. This would have to be your choice, and your choice alone. I offer my companionship to you because I am so fond of you and respect you and your family so greatly. I've made it clear that I do care for you, Renesmee. You've been my dearest friend since you were a child. I would be honored if you would choose me." He said, bringing my hand up and placing a chaste kiss to my knuckles.

I swallowed hard again, a lump forming in my throat. "But Nahuel, you don't love me," I reminded him. I accept that he's fond of me, yes. However, there wasn't a romantic love between us. And there never would be. I couldn't subject him to a loveless match any more than I could subject myself.

He nods. "But I care for you. For the safety of you and your family. I hope one day it could turn to love..."

"Do you really want to live a life like that? Mated to someone you don't really love? As your friend, I can't let you give up on the possibility of finding someone you'll really love instead of forcing yourself to love me."

Nahuel studied my face, uncertain. "Are you just trying to preserve my choices or do you really not want this?"

I nod quickly. "I'm really saying no. I'm not the right woman for you, Nahuel. Your friendship means the world to me, it truly does. But I'm not in love with you, either. As much as I appreciate your offer to give up your freedom to save my family, it's not because of you that I say no. You're a true friend to want to save me from the Volturi's wrath. However, I'm afraid I've already incurred it when I went to Volterra. Aro, he saw something he didn't quite expect when he touched my hand."

"You're already in love, aren't you?" he asked, accurately deducing where I was going with my explanation.

"Yes. I'm so sorry I hadn't told you. It didn't start until January when I came home. Then how would I have told you? Through a letter? That didn't seem appropriate or even feasible. I mean, really, how does someone say they're having a serious relationship with a werewolf in a letter?"

Nahuel's eyes grew wider, and his smile grew. "A werewolf?"

I snickered at myself. "Technically, Quileute shapeshifter is more appropriate, considering the real weres are almost extinct."

Nahuel agreed. "So I'm assuming it's Jacob, right?"

The smile that took over my face was unintentionally bright. "Yeah. He imprinted on me."

"When you were an infant."

"Yes, as I grew up he watched over me, allowed me to move around the country, let me become the person I am now. I should actually thank you. Spending time with you in the Amazon over the winter was one of the driving forces in the evolution of our relationship."

Chuckles emanated from us both at the ludicrous nature our conversation had turned. "Well, I don't know Jacob that well, but he must be something for you to fall for him."

"Yeah, he tends to be a little apprehensive around you."

"Ah, that does explain the occasional glare."

I rolled my eyes. "Possessive idiot. Although, I guess he was right, at least a little bit."

Nahuel sighed and leaned more against the root. "I promise my intentions with you have always been honorable."

I grin again. "Thank you though. For not trying to force me into choosing."

"Of course not. I wouldn't choose to force you into an arrangement like the Volturi would like you to."

"Why would you sacrifice your choices like that? It's your life to find your mate and you'd give that up for me?"

His eyes flick up to mine, the mirth leaving, bringing in its wake a tenderness I'd never seen before. "It wouldn't be much of a sacrifice. You are a beautiful and wonderful woman, Renesmee. Jacob is very lucky to have you."

I look down at my hands. The woven bracelet around my wrist makes my stomach twist. I'd have to tell Jacob what happened. Talk about things I didn't want to. Telling Jacob that Nahuel had essentially offered to be my mate today would certainly spark his anger in a way I did not want to deal with. "I'm going to have to tell him, you know. And he's not going to be happy about this."

Nahuel nodded in understanding. "Nor would I be, if I were in his place, and he in mine."

"Let me handle him. He has a tendency for irrational anger at times." Nahuel agreed with me, thankfully. I didn't want to have to explain anything to Jacob but it was necessary. There weren't secrets to be kept between lovers. The only secrets I could ever keep from him were what I would get him on birthdays and holidays. Nothing of note went unsaid between us. This, however, would test his patience to full tilt.

I took out my phone, my background, a picture of us. Will you be around later to talk? Keeping it light would be the easiest way to keep him as calm as possible.

"Are you telling him?"

"Right now? No. Just seeing if he's up for a heavy conversation later." I said, half joking. My phone chirped in my hand. I didn't have to look at it to know what it said. Always jumping to conclusions. However this time he wouldn't be too far off the mark.

Is everything, okay? Are you still hunting?

Breathing in deep, I replied. Still in the Hoh Rainforest. Everything is fine. I'm fine. I just want to talk later. What time do you get off work at the garage? I tried asking something anodyne. Something to try and deflect what he was prying into. Patience, my love. You're not going to like it.

I can get done early, if it's really important. His answer thirty seconds later appeared on my phone. I wanted to smile at his eagerness, yet it was wrong of me. He was eager because he sensed, near correctly that something was wrong.

No, it's not. Really. I'll talk to you later, okay? I love you.

He didn't try anything, did he? The lump grew back in my throat. Great. He was really close to the mark with that one. At least Nahuel hadn't tried anything in the physical sense. Then again, I was sure Jacob was imagining the worst. Such a pessimist sometimes.

He's being a perfect gentleman. Talk later, okay? I wrote, evading the inquiry. I had every intent to speak with him, but this... This turn of events, no matter how much of a misunderstanding it was, was not something I wanted to tell over something as impersonal as a text message or phone call. Particularly with Jacob's tendency for overreaction. Nope, it was better in person, no matter how awkward of a conversation it was going to be.

The wind, the misty rain felt good on my skin as we ran, exiting the shaded oasis of the Hoh rainforest. The run home was less talkative than the initial run out into the forest earlier in the day. Nahuel's offer and my subsequent refusal weighed heavily in my head. I valued Nahuel's friendship above anything else he could ever offer me. A true friend who could understand me the way no one else could.

Was that the crux of Jacob's hatred of him? Hatred or not... Jealousy or not, Jacob was going to be incensed by what happened today. I kept my distance from Nahuel the closer we were to Hoquiam. A feeling of dread welled up in my stomach, causing it to have this almost sick feeling. Something I didn't often feel.

The strings around my heart that were wrapped so acutely to Jacob tugged painfully as I thought about how I was going to break this to him. Showing him with my memories would undoubtedly be the best way. He could see the purity of Nahuel's intentions. That he wasn't trying to steal me from Jacob, but that he didn't really know at all. I felt almost criminal. I hadn't told Nahuel of my relationship with Jacob. Just one more count against me to add to the pile of mistakes that would wound my Jacob.

Nahuel's ignorance would be the saving grace of avoiding a fight between the two of them. At the same time, my betrayal was evident in that ignorance. If only I would have said something to Nahuel sooner, this entire mess wouldn't be happening right now. The faint smells of vampire hit my nose. Home wasn't far off. We slowed as the house came into view, the top floor peeking from the trees. My heart stuttered as another scent was registered by my senses. Wolf. More precisely, my wolf.

Anxiety rose within me, wrenching and choking my senses. Jacob was here? I took a glance at my watch. It was just after when he would have gotten off work. He must have gunned it right here from Forks to beat me home. Great, just great. I slowed even more, Nahuel matching my pace to a walk. The heart beat was loud, clear and faster than normal. He hadn't run the entire way here, had he? Granted, it wasn't a terribly long run and safer than driving when his mind is clouded. My vague texts from earlier must have set him off, imagining the absolute worse.

I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping that this would all just go away. Reality had a cruel way of sticking around. As I opened my eyes and made my way into the clearing that surrounded the rear side of my home, I could see him standing there, beautiful and furious all the same. Awkwardly, I looked for Nahuel, trying to tell him to let me do all the talking, but I was too late. Nahuel was heading straight for Jacob. What part of "let me handle him" did he not understand?

Jacob's expression grew dark as he flashed his eyes between mine and Nahuel's faces. He stood still as a statue, but underneath the surface, there was a boiling anger that was a hairpin trigger waiting for just enough pressure to blow.

Nahuel was much shorter than Jacob, a full foot shorter. Please don't do anything foolish, I silently pled to both of them. If only I could project without actual tactile contact! There would be no question who would win if a fight ensued. Nahuel wasn't as fast as a normal vampire. He had no extra ability like me or my father to aid him in defense. Jacob was stronger, faster, and far more volatile.

"Jacob, I wanted to speak before Renesmee shows you anything. I wanted to say how lucky I know you are to have the love of a woman like her. I also wanted to apologize for my own ignorance. I did not see it before, even when she visited my home how attached she is to you. Please do not be angry at her. This was my doing and she very rightly set me straight."

Jacob stood there listening to the hybrid's words of apology. His eyes went to my face a few times. Shame and regret hit me like a battering ram. Beneath the fury in his gaze there was pain. Pain I'd put there by my omission. A twin pain formed in my chest, clenching my heart until it seared in pain. How could I have done this to him? A simple sentence or two could have avoided this entire mess, yet here I find myself again, keeping my love for Jacob secret from those who care for me.

His jaw clenched with an audible crack. I swallowed thickly and readied myself for whatever was about to happen. Jacob, however, always did have a tendency for surprising me. "Thank you, Nahuel. For your honesty."

Nahuel nodded and held out his hand. "You're welcome. I apologize again. I would do anything to protect her."

Jacob arched an eyebrow. "Yeah, so would I," he answered in an almost challenging tone. Were they getting into some sort of testosterone fueled contest now? Jacob's eyes fixed on me. He knew without a doubt something had happened now. I gave Nahuel a withering glance and came to the side of them.

"Nahuel, why don't you head on inside. I need to talk with Jake."

Nahuel's eyes, wary and unsure, shifted between us. The tension rolled off Jacob. A simmering tea kettle about to boil over. I had my way of handling Jacob that would calm him down instantly as soon as Nahuel was out of view. His anger at me was evident. The way he stared me down as if I was about to tell him he wasn't enough for me. A hardened mask in place over his face to protect himself from the impending pain. Such a ridiculous idea to think that he wasn't enough for me.

My hybrid friend might have understood me on a level that Jacob couldn't. But Jacob knew me in ways that no one would ever know. Jacob knew all the little inconsequential things you learn with the intimacy of a lover. From favorite foods to places to be caressed or kissed. Jacob knew my mind more than any other person, human, vampire, or shapeshifter. Yet he was the one who thought I'd be the one to leave him.

I gave Nahuel a nod, reassuring him that everything was okay. He took my word for it, trusting my intimate knowledge of the shifter in front of me to know how to wrangle him back to reality. A reality where Jacob was the one I loved, solely and truly.

As soon as Nahuel was in the house I reached out for Jacob's hand. It hurt to watch him stand, still as a statue as I reached out to him. I guess I deserved it for not being honest with Nahuel sooner. Omission was still a lie and a lie was still a betrayal no matter how you slice it. In my hesitance to find the right words to tell Nahuel the whole truth about what was happening in my life I'd been careless with Jacob.

I held my hand out for him, silently hoping he'd take it. "Take a walk with me? I promise I will show you everything."

The assurances seemed to coax him, as did the sound of my voice, so soft and pleading. I could only hope this wouldn't break us permanently. I couldn't imagine the amount of pain if he saw this as a deal breaker. The imprint would stop him surely though, wouldn't it? His face broke a little as he reached forward, knitting his fingers into mine. I began slowly then.

I didn't know that Nahuel had been planning this for quite some time. If I'd had any idea that he hadn't figured it out that you and I are together, then I would have told him. I knew there was a possibility he didn't know, but I'm always running off to La Push to see you. Everyone else has pretty much caught on. My explanation was thorough and succinct from then on. The hunt in the forest, how Nahuel and I had happily chatted during our run up to the Hoh Rainforest until we found a large grouping of elk. When the two of us slowed and crouched down, hiding like jungle cats amidst the tall grass and wild flowers. The break was short and before a moment longer the two of us went off sprinting to the elk who spooked, most beginning to run off. I caught the biggest one I could for he was a bit slower than his more agile counterparts.

The entirety of the hunt, the feel of the blood down my throat. I didn't let a detail go by. Even the walk to my tree. One where Jacob and I had spent time together over the years but hadn't had time to as of late. I wanted to go there again, just Jacob and I. It would be our spot just like the meadow was for my parents.

It started out simply enough. He seemed to agree with you about how I am worth protecting... I began to show him the conversation, letting my thoughts lower to a hum in the background. A white noise that only supplemented the dialogue between Nahuel and I. Jacob tensed as he heard the offer roll off Nahuel's articulate tongue. I amplified my thoughts just after the fact. Showing him how I was immediately distancing myself from it. How Jacob's face was the first and only thought that meant anything to me during the conversation with Nahuel. My polite refusal came next and the chaste kiss to my hand. Jacob dropped my hand then backing away and staring at his feet.

"Jake," I implored stepping toward him.

He didn't speak for a few minutes. I let the awkward pregnant pause wash over us. The silence, for all the trite cliché this was, was indeed deafening. Repugnance for the distance between us filled my gut. I moved toward him again and he held up his hand. "Just tell me why," he said simply, softly but loud enough for me to hear.

I looked at him strangely. "Why what? Why did I refuse him? Um, I thought that would have been pretty obvious."

Jake rolled his eyes, shaking his head. "No, damn it. Why didn't you tell him about us? You know before today? Would have taken you all of two seconds to say 'oh yeah I'm heading to my boyfriend's place' or something like that. He's been here, what, a couple of months now and you didn't tell him until he decided he wanted to see if you'd want to shack up and procreate to get the Volturi off everyone?"

"Why? Because I didn't know how to say it. I'm sorry, Jake, but I'm not as blunt as you or Rosalie or even Leah. I didn't want to just blurt it out and possibly make my friendship with him awkward—,"

I cringed at my own wording and Jacob was quick to jump on it. Nahuel had always made it clear he found me attractive, sure. He just never actually put any overt action behind it. He'd always seemed secure in our friendship though he might desire more. "Whoa, wait a second. Why would it make things awkward? Are you saying you knew he wanted something more before?"

"He hinted at it when we were in South America, but it was harmless and back then I happened to be single. It was nothing, and I told you before that I'd made it clear that I didn't want anything from him romantically."

"Well today pretty much proves that your definition of clarity and his are two very different things," Jacob shot back at me. The vitriol in his voice wasn't necessarily directed at me but it hurt nonetheless.

"I'm sorry, okay? I didn't tell him because I didn't know what to say or even how to say it. I'm not always the best when it comes to saying things that are difficult to get out there. And I didn't want to say it in a way that would hurt his feelings or be rude in anyway. That's not me, Jacob and you know it."

"Is that really it or are you just ashamed of being with a wolf? Of being with me? I get it's weird we've known each other for so long. I'm a lot older than you. I get it. Just be honest with me. First it's you don't want to tell your family that anything's changed between us, and then Nahuel. What's next?"

And that one line of questioning cut me deeper than any knife could have dared. Outrage and anger filled my head and heart, making the both ache. How could he think for even a minute that I was ashamed of him? "How dare you even think that! I love you. Does that mean nothing to you? I love you enough to protect what we have. It's bad enough..." I stopped myself before I said something in anger that I would most certainly regret. Instead I balled my fist against the tree closest to me, striking it in pure frustration. There was no pain, no stinging or cutting that a human would feel as the bark would slice open their skin. No, my hand was just a little dirty and the tree shook violently cracking up its base, and knocking a branch or two to the ground.

He grit his teeth. "What's bad enough?" he interrogated, taking a step towards me. I doubled that coming to stand a foot from him. He wanted a fight damn it now he was going to get one.

"What's bad enough is when I'm home, I have Emmett making asinine comments about what you and I do behind closed doors, whether it's happened or not! Then I have Jasper sensing every shift in my mood to the point where I feel like I can't have any emotional clarity to myself. If it weren't for my mother, my father would be in my head constantly. Add to it that even when I'm with you, it's never something that's ever going to be solely private between us. No, the rest of the pack gets every single intimate detail. I'm sorry, Jacob. I know it's not your choice and you didn't want this, but I have to live with it too and it's not easy okay?"

Jacob's hands began to shake and I knew I'd done it. I'd gotten him on edge. I knew I needed to tread carefully from here on out, but my own anger and pride were seething still. "I can't control what they see. You know that."

"I do know that, but it doesn't make it any easier. How do you think Amber or any of the other girls feel knowing that a bunch of guys and Leah know precise private and completely personal details about them? I have no idea how Emily did it without any semblance of support from anyone who knew what it was like. The pack mind is important to keep you all safe and to work as a single unit. You all know the privacy issues suck. Between that and the fact that I have no privacy here at all I wanted something that was mine. I love you. I have loved you even before we finally decided to be together but being with you is something that I feel protective of. What we do, how I feel about you isn't for anyone else but us. So I'm sorry for wanting one thing for us to keep, to have that no one else could touch. Maybe I was wrong and should have been open about it from the start, but I'm not going to regret it. It let me get my head on straight and really see how important you are. How important you've always been."

I moved toward him as he backed away, I could see a tree directly behind him so I kept going, in effect closing him between me and the tree. I leaned up on my tip toes and placed a hand to his jaw. How could I be ashamed of you when you make me feel like this? I said, reminding him once again just how much he affected me. Gently, as though my lips were a whisper against his scruffy chin, I brushed them there. His hands surrendered, coming to cradle my face as he leaned down just far enough for me to bridge the gap between us.

A kiss, malleable yet with that passionate undercurrent grew in intensity the longer we remained joined. I didn't care anymore about anything. Privacy be damned as long as I could be with him. One arm slid down, wrapping around my torso and pulling me up, crushing me to his chest in the process of bringing me closer, higher and easier to kiss. Melding us together in a sweet synchronicity. Nearly face to face, mouths moving against each other without care for whatever audience our initial argument may have drawn. I grinned against his mouth, letting my mouth open and the kiss deepen. He hummed in approval while I tangled my hands into his hair. It was getting shaggy again. Just the way I liked it… Enough to tug between my fingers and short enough where it wasn't too much of a nuisance in wolf form.

His arm tightened around me, pressing me impossibly closer. I sighed, breaking contact for a moment to meet his eyes as he set me down against the wet mossy earth. Yet he'd only put my feet there. The rest of me was still up there with him, lost in his embrace. I grinned at him, sweeping my hand across his jawline. Doubt thou the stars are fire. Doubt that the sun doth move. Doubt truth to be a liar. But never doubt I love.*

His chuckle brought me just a little bit more back to reality. "Hamlet? Really, Ness?"

My grin grew wider at his gentle teasing. "Seemed appropriate. Besides, what's worse, the fact I used it, or that you recognized exactly what play it's from?"

His chest rumbled as he placed another kiss to my lips. "Touche."

There's a Chinese proverb that says the god of marriage ties an invisible red thread around the ankles of men and women. This thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break. As a child I imagined this like the ties of the imprint. That whatever spirits that manifest control over the fate of the wolves picked out certain people who would become important to them. An unbreakable bond yet tenuous and fragile all the same.

The tragedy that plagued Sam and Emily's early relationship. The fairytale of Kim and Jared. This deity of matrimony was said to have screwed things up a time or two, but no matter what, those souls were fused, destined to be one. No matter the age difference, or the unconventionality of it.

Despite my intimate knowledge of imprinting I'd only ever witnessed it once when Jacob's face, hardened and furious, faded, giving way to the most calm expression I'd ever seen though I was only five minutes old.

I thought of it often as I looked at the different imprinted couples, even to the ones who were still unattached. When kismet would strike for them? When they would inevitably be drawn to the person who'd been tied to the same string they had? Fate, kismet, cosmic design or whatever it was that compelled the wolves to bond so quickly, so fiercely was a source of heated debate within the wolves as to the rhyme or reason.

I noticed it even in the way Jake and I were in a crowd of my family's vampire and hybrid comrades. We gravitated towards one another. Magnets with complimentary poles faced towards one another. Always drawn toward contact. Here we sat, Nahuel and his sisters on one side, my cousins in the Denali clan to the right of us. Jake grinned as he set his plate aside, his third helping of my mother's famous enchiladas.

"I don't know how you pack away that much food," Bella remarked, seeing the vast amount of human food Jake could choke down in one sitting.

He grinned. "How do you drink an entire bear and an elk in one go?" He shot back at her. The two of them grinned like best friends since childhood. Thick as thieves. "What, do you have a hollow leg? I mean, at least I've got my size on my side to be able to fit this much food. You? You're well, okay skin and bones doesn't work anymore."

I laughed a little. "She still has a skeleton, Jake. It's just exponentially stronger than normal human ossification."

"Still, you're skinny Bells."

"Even when I was human, I didn't usually eat my weight in hot dogs, which I've seen you do."

"This is true. That was totally worth the indigestion afterwards," Jacob answered, rubbing his hands over his stomach and making the signature 'mmm' sound I found humans often did when they'd stuffed themselves like sausages.

Emmett got a strange look on his face when Rosalie decided to throw in a jibe. "Wouldn't hot dogs be a form of cannibalism for you, Fido?"

"Not unless I'm now made of processed pig meat."

I elbowed his side, getting his attention. "You are what you eat after all."

"I guess I should get a sombrero then, huh?"

Garrett hollered in laughter at the exchange between us. "Well, from what I've learned about our physiology from Carlisle, our bodies soak up the blood we take in like a sponge sopping up water. It's why we get that faint flush after hunting."

Jacob arched an eyebrow at him. "That right there just gave me a mental image I really did not want. At all. Thanks, man."

Garrett gave a toothy unrepentant grin back. "Anytime, Jake, anytime."

A short bark of a howl on the wind made both Jacob and I look to the forest. Was one of the wolves coming over? "Seth must be here."

"Oh, he's coming? You better have saved some food for him," I scolded. Jacob shrugged. I rolled my eyes in mock annoyance.

"Maybe I did and maybe I didn't. Either way, he's here to let me know how his patrol went, which usually would have been a text, but I may have destroyed my phone this afternoon." Jacob admitted softly, glancing at his hands.

My eyes narrowed at his half-admission. "May have or did destroy it?"

"It might have collided with a wall at a very high velocity," he replied, motioning with his hands just what happened.

"And did you happen to throw it?" I asked, knowing already that, yes, he had thrown the phone, and secondly, it was because of my extraordinarily vague text. I frowned a little when he nodded. "Guess we'll just get another one when we go to Seattle next weekend."

"Seattle?" Bella asked, intrigued at our little road trip.

Jacob grinned, filling her in on the plan to distract me and acquire some new books. No one missed the light in her eyes that ignited when she heard we were going book shopping. I'd have to pick her up some new ones as well. Her old copies must be getting boring now with her perfect memory. I heard the shimmer in the air and got up from my seat to greet Seth. Jogging over to the trees, I saw Seth emerge from behind one, smoothing out his shirt and running the other hand through his hair.

"Hey, Nessie, how've you been?"

I didn't even try to fight off the smile from my face as I embraced my dear friend. "Good, aside from a temperamental werewolf, everything's pretty great."

Seth shrugged, laughing off my comment. "At least he didn't phase and try to kill anyone, right?"

I nodded. "Come on, there are some guests you know, and some you don't. I don't believe you've met Nahuel's sisters yet."

"I haven't. Jake said he was meeting them today too."

"Yeah, they've been keeping to themselves in the guest house, mainly. I think some of the more traditional vampires my family's acquaintances with tend to make them want to stay away. Or it could be Fred. He's been a bit on edge with the Romanian and Irish arrivals yesterday evening."

We linked arms like two peas in a pod, chatting as if no time had passed at all. When really it had been a few weeks since I'd had the chance to speak with him. In fact, I saw Leah far more often than Seth these days. I suspected this was mainly because I didn't spend much time out of Jacob's house when I was in La Push. Seth smiled as I explained the latest goings on at Casa Cullen to him, walking us towards our group at the beginning of the backyard. His smile faded as he gazed upon our guests. Giving way not to a frown, or any negative sort of mar upon his face, instead smoothing out to a serenity I'd only seen once before in my life. We slowed our stroll to a crawlers pace.

"Seth, are you all right?" I asked, but his face didn't budge from his dead on stare at the crowd before us. Edward came out of the house then, a wide-eyed look of shock on his face as he stared at my wolf friend. I tried to follow his gaze, to see where exactly he'd locked on to this unknown target. Jacob's face the day he imprinted on me flashed in my head. Mirrored expressions, yet the meaning couldn't be the same, could it?

"Who is that?" Seth asked, his voice a much softer, deeper tenor than I'd ever heard it. A gentle whisper meant for someone far more dear than a friend.

"Who? Which one do you mean?" I ask in reply. His face, unwavering from the stare as if he'd never seen such a person before. Indeed, if this was what I was thinking he'd never seen the sun before this moment.

"The one with curly black hair and..."

I grinned widely. "That's Iracema, she's one of Nahuel's sisters. She's the second eldest but she wasn't raised by Serena or Joham at all. They thought she died with her human mother."

"Iracema," he said, whispering so softly, even a vampire had to strain to hear it. I watched his face as I led him over to the throng of friends. The quiet harmony in his face didn't dissipate as we approached. In fact, it intensified, adding a soft upturn of his mouth that exuded the warmth of the man beneath.

Everyone stood, saying their hellos. I introduced him to each new person, saving Iracema for last. He held out his hand ostensibly for her to shake however she stared at it strangely. "It's very nice to meet you, Iracema," he said with a reverence to his tone you'd hear from a spiritual person about their deity. The stunning hybrid who held his undivided attention blushed, her warm caramel skin getting tinges of rose in the apples of her cheeks and turning the tips of her ears bright red.

"Hello," Iracema replied, hesistantly taking his hand. She let out a breath, her onyx eyes searching his face and the absolute sureness and peace she found there. "Have we ever met before?"

Seth grinned and shook his head. "No, I'm pretty sure I would have remembered you if I had."

Iracema let go of his hand and eyed him warily. She never took to new faces easily. Her years of living on her own after her human grandmother passed away had made her suspicious of the new and comfortable in the familiar. A newly imprinted wolf was decidedly not in the familiar territory for this hybrid female. I knew though that given enough time, she'd let him in. This was Seth Clearwater, after all. Even Death himself would lighten up a bit around him.

Astounded, I looked to my own wolf, gracing his cheek with my fingers. I showed him the scene I'd just witnessed. The contrast to Jacob's the day he imprinted upon me. Did Seth really just imprint?

Jacob's hand wrapped around my wrist gently, pulling me to sit against him. Our arms became wrapped and entangled together around my torso. Jacob answered me, nodding with an indulgent smile from ear to ear. Another wolf had found their match today. Another hybrid became an imprint. Awe and surprise washed over the group as everyone began to get the idea of what occurred. Bella's gasp followed with Emmett's joyous chuckle. Edward came down to join us as he studied the two of them. There was a distance Iracema was placing between them already that was visible to anyone with any sense of perception. Touching my fingers to Jacob's wrist, I showed him the walls she was already placing around herself again. For just the briefest moment she was open, vulnerable and just as quickly she closed herself off again.

"Give it time," Jacob instructed, his voice light and breath warm against my ear. I agreed. Only time would tell if Seth could break down those walls Iracema was so fastidiously assembling to shield herself from the intensity she witnessed in him. Yes, time would be the ultimate test of her will versus the extreme devotion of the imprint. I, for one, was betting on the newly forged yet impossibly unbreakable imprint.

Hope you all enjoyed!

(**) (Puck, from Act III, scene II of A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare)

* (From Act II, scene II of Hamlet by William Shakespeare)