"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable." -C.S. Lewis

So much shit had happened in my life, and I was rather sick of all the drama. Now even with an imprint, it was going to cause more drama. Though that's not a regret I had; maybe it was a blessing in disguise. At least I had someone in my life I could count on other than family; someone I didn't have to feel weird confiding in. When I phased for the first time, it was one of the worst things that ever happened to me – after what happened with Sam. Both my brother and I had been a bit volatile at the time. I knew it wasn't that unusual for me to be volatile, but Seth was always such a happy kid. He was much calmer than I was still, but he had his moments leading up to it. We both had those annoying growth spurts and for me it was more unusual. At least Seth was still going through puberty. I was nineteen and thought I was done with that nonsense.

Everything just hit at once. The man I considered my true love, who I thought I would marry, left me for my cousin because he imprinted on her. My dad had died, my body was going through freakish changes, and one day I randomly ripped through my clothes and turned into a goddamn wolf. Not to mention, I was part of a wolf pack who was led by none other than the man I was grieving over and we could all hear each other's thoughts. When I learned more about imprinting, it was even more painful because I didn't understand why Sam hadn't imprinted on me. I thought something was wrong with me; my period had stopped so I was scared I would be a dead end the rest of my life.

The wolf pack consisted of a bunch of teenage boys. I had no one to talk to. Emily used to be the person I confided in, but I hadn't been able to talk to her. It hurt too much. Jacob's sister, Rachel, had been a pretty good friend, but she ended up leaving the reservation and I lost contact with her. I had never felt so damn alone in my life. When Bella came into Jake's life as more than a friend, I couldn't stop myself from disliking her even though I knew it wasn't fair. The girl had been dating a vampire – my sworn enemy – but she had Jake on the side who clearly loved her. Even though Jake and I hadn't exactly been that friendly with each other, I was jealous of the fact that she had someone who loved her so much. I had felt sorry for her being left behind by that leech, though I kept that to myself, but I just couldn't help feeling so alone and bitter.

It was even weirder now, because when Jake and I imprinted on each other in the woods, I knew it was happening. And I didn't want Bella hurt like that again. That side of me that felt sorry for her being left behind by someone she clearly loved – though God knows why – I knew she would be destroyed just like I had been when Sam imprinted and left. So I resisted. I had told myself that I wanted to imprint on someone, to be in love with them and not have to worry and to have the hurt go away that Sam had inadvertently caused. Yet I started thinking maybe if I could move on, I could find someone and stop phasing and live a normal life with a normal man who wouldn't imprint on anyone. And I wouldn't either because I could be a normal girl again. So, I resisted that imprint for all of our sakes' and oddly enough, so did Jake. He really and truly loved Bella, and I had begun to realize maybe she was moving on and loving him, and I didn't want to take that away from either of them.

Being with Jake those couple weeks after was difficult. Everything in me wanted him to be happy and that was an oddly pleasant feeling. After so much drama, to want someone else to be happy was new. He was beyond upset about Bella, wanted to be with her, and that hurt me. Not in the way that I was jealous, just the fact that he was hurting because he couldn't go to her.

As for Sam, even though I felt some vindication towards his attitude about us imprinting, I couldn't help feeling that twinge. The discovery that Sam still cared, possibly even still loved me, was poignant. I had wanted that for so long. After he had imprinted, I had been desperate and went to him. He was as he always is; calm. It drove me nuts. It was difficult to remember, because I practically threw myself at him.

I could recall with perfect clarity how it happened. I had went to his house to demand what the hell was going on, why he was doing this to me.

"Sam," I yelled, banging on his door. When he had opened the door, I felt weak.

He was so beautiful. That calm exterior hid a very passionate man. Someone who held doors open for everyone, helped take care of the reservation and the people on it; yet someone who could have a picnic on the floor of his place with me, make love to me with all his heart. And now here he stood, that soft black hair in a buzz cut that I used to run my fingers through, those expressive dark eyes calm, but no longer holding the love for me they once did.

I nearly stopped breathing as the pain crashed through me. "Sam," I whispered. "What's going on? Why are you doing this to me? I love you so much."

I was nearly in tears.

"Leah," he said. That single word no longer held meaning for him, I could tell. "I'm sorry, it's just… I'm in love with Emily. I don't want to hurt you, but I feel as if I'm meant to be with her." He couldn't meet my eyes.

I had been desperate. I quickly caught my hands around the back of his neck. I was thankful that I was having this weird growth spurt and didn't have to stretch or try to tug him down as I pressed myself against him. My lips touched his and I felt like I was home. I hoped there was still some feeling there for me, because he wasn't pulling away; but then I realized his lips weren't moving against mine. As he gently held me back, I could see in his eyes.

"I'm sorry, Leah," he whispered. His voice was pained. He gently touched my cheek, but then he turned away.

I had left in tears, my throat aching terribly. My life felt like it ended that night, and I had become hard and bitter over it. My mom was sympathetic and while she and I were close in some ways, it was never easy confiding in her. It had always been my dad who I was closest to. He had sat with me and tried to help me, and I think he knew I appreciated that, but I was inconsolable. Then I was dealt another blow when my dad died.

I stepped up and helped my mom the best I could, but I was thankful to Billy and Bella's dad, Charlie, when they came to help her out, to keep her company. It afforded me the time to let the grief overtake me. I felt terrible for Seth; I felt as if I should have been a better big sister at the time because he was suffering loss, but it was difficult. That was when I truly became a pain in the ass to everyone.

I sat on the steps as I took a puff of the cigarette I had filched from the pack that I had confiscated from the top drawer of my parents' dresser. Seth had caught me smoking before and got pissed at me. I had found it rather amusing until he said that if I could, he could smoke, too. Even though the health concern was pretty much a non-issue, I didn't like the idea of my baby brother smoking a cigarette. He was a good kid and it looked completely wrong. He had managed to snatch the pack and the matches, too, and I hated the sight of him with a cigarette in his mouth. The little punk was fast and knew how to get to me. He made me promise to stop, and I mostly had because I didn't want him to start. I occasionally smoked one, though; it made me feel closer to my dad since they were his. I missed him so much. If he had only taken better care of himself…

I laughed. How ironic.

I stubbed out my cigarette and went to the beach. Jake was with Bella now and I was curious to how it was going. I wasn't entirely sure she would forgive him; but then again Bella was famous for being tolerant and forgiving. I idly wondered how things would work between the two of us if she forgave him. I never really had much contact with her, but as far as I knew she was aware I hadn't liked her much. For Jacob, though, I would try.

As I strolled along the water's edge, I heard a noise behind me. Instinctively, I knew it was Sam. I turned to watch him walk toward me. What the hell did he want?

"Leah," he said quietly, in that stoic voice of his. Apparently he had calmed down after the fight and was back to normal. That fight had stirred me in a way; to see Sam with that fire again was a hell of a sight.

"Sam. What do you want?" I was tired of this and it hadn't even started.

"I'm sorry," he said. I saw the flash of emotion in his eyes that made me realize this was coming from the Sam I knew. I could see the emotions under the mask.

I didn't feel like taking it easy on him, though. "Sorry for what exactly? Sorry for confusing the situation by acting like a jealous lover toward me? Or sorry for attacking Jake when you knew nothing was his fault and he was angry and hurting?"

He sighed, sitting down in the sand and resting his arms on his knees. I sat, too, but far enough away to get a good look at him.

"For all of it. To say I was conflicted is an understatement."

"You should be apologizing to Jacob."

"I will. I don't want to crowd him right now, though; he's got a lot ahead of him with Bella, with deciding about staying with the pack."

"Yes. He does." I stared out over the water. That was a conversation for later.

"Leah, it all hit me at once. I was the first to imprint, and I nearly destroyed you in the process. To see Jacob resist an imprint - on someone who I was very much in love with and who I apparently still have lingering feelings for - and sever part of the strength of it was difficult. Could I have done that? Why didn't I try? I loved you so much." The strength of his sadness was strong.

"But you love Emily. I guess that's how fate just fell." Hearing him confirm he still had some feelings for me both hurt and healed. Even though the pain had lessened with imprinting, it still hurt.

"I do. But we never resolved anything, and I'm sorry for that."

I nodded. It was nice to know that last kiss might have meant something more to him than I realized. And I could begin to accept the apology, but I knew it would still take some time. Sam and I would never have that closeness we once did. I just hoped he fixed things with Emily and soon. As much as that hurt to admit, I felt bad that she got hurt in the process. Sam sat quietly with me for a little while. When he left, I headed back home, determined to get a nap in before patrolling.

Seth was in the kitchen when I got back. He sighed when I walked in the door. "Lee, you smell like smoke."

I rolled my eyes. Overly concerned little brothers are rather annoying. "I was near a fire," I muttered. He rolled his eyes back.

"Sorry," I sighed. "Last time, really."

"It better be, Lee. Or I'll do it again, too."

I gave him a shove and grabbed the leftover pizza in the fridge. He smirked. Then he said something that took me by surprise. "You know, it's nice to see your eyes again. They've been so hard and protected; I haven't seen you in awhile. But I can see you again. I think this imprint is a good thing for you."

My little brother would be a poet one day. I laughed it off, but I could see he knew I appreciated his insight and the sweet words only he could say.

I felt so much lighter as I walked back to my room to crash. Grief and anger had kept me prisoner for far too long. It still wasn't easy, but imprinting on Jake – even as a friend – had ended up being a blessing. I finally felt free.

A/N: Hopefully this gives you a better understanding of Leah.