I flipped Quil over onto his back, almost losing my grip with the mud squishing between us. Shoving my hand into the grime, I grabbed a handful and attempted to shove it into his laughing mouth. He punched my jaw, knocking me to the side, but not before I punched him in the side. Thank goodness Claire was too young to understand I was beating him up. Had this been Paul or Jared, either Rachel or Kim would be chewing me out.
We were struggling to see who would get the next punch in when a blast of water caught Quil in the face. I laughed, seeing his shocked look, until I was hit in the side as the same spray played across me. We both leapt to our feet; searching for the culprit. I was ready to thrash whoever it was, but I pulled up short when I saw it was Esme. Shoot! The one person I wouldn't even raise my eyebrow at. I looked around and saw everyone else starting to stand in reaction to the powerful spray.
Once she had everyone's attention, Esme shut the water off and placed her hand on her hip. "I wish you could see yourselves." She began taking pictures of everyone as we hammed it up for her. I realized, at that moment, mom was going to kill me for ruining another set of clothes. She was always complaining that she couldn't keep me in anything long enough because of either my growth spurts or unexpected phasing shredding them. I'd see if Alice or Bella would take pity on me and get me something from Edward's old room.
"Okay, I have enough," Esme said, the camera vanishing into her pocket. As she snapped the hose back on, everyone in the meadow scattered, laughing as they headed all different directions in an attempt to avoid her precise aim. I ran toward the river with Quil, Embry, Paul, and Jared. I'd seen Edward and Bella running this way and heard them laughing as they hit the water downstream. Jacob had grabbed Nessie and darted around the house.
The water was cold when we hit it. Quil quickly took it as a challenge to dunk everyone. I dove under the water and knocked his legs out from under him. Even through the buffer of the water, I could hear the others howling with laughter.
After a few moments of horseplay, we were as clean as we were going to get using the river. I knew Jacob was going to want to stay as late as possible to spend time with Nessie, so when the other guys headed back to the Cullens' house to drive back to the reservation, I decided to stay and swim.
I flipped on my back and let the current carry me slowly down river as I thought about Leah. I had spoken to her the night before last. She seemed better. I wondered how she would receive the news about today's surprise event. She knew sooner or later it would come, but I worried that the finality might hurt her. I was kinda glad that the whole imprinting thing had passed me by. It seemed to cause so much chaos for those involved. I couldn't imagine what Edward felt like; hearing Jacob's thoughts about Nessie, and that would only get more interesting as she got older. Well, they'd work it out. Or kill each other, I thought with a grin.
My eyes were following the clouds when I suddenly bumped into something solid mid stream. I was instantly standing on my feet when I realized that I had floated into the girl they called Tanya. The one Edward referred to as his cousin. Obviously, she had run for the river as well.
I had automatically grabbed her arms when I stood up, in an unconscious move to steady her, like she needed it. I started to apologize, but then I got a good look at her. She had removed all her clothes, save for her underwear. Well, if you called the scraps of lace she was wearing underwear. I wouldn't have been able to say a word if the entire Volturi Guard had been standing behind her. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth as I quickly averted my eyes to her face. Didn't do any good, though; the image was burned into my brain. The guys were going to have a field day with this the next time we phased.
The water had slicked back her blonde hair, and she was as beautiful as Rosalie. It wasn't like I hadn't noticed. But I'd never seen Rosalie with so little clothes on. Breathe, Seth, breathe, I kept telling myself.
"I 'm sor…" I cleared my throat to attempt speak again, grimacing as my voice cracked.
"I'm sorry, I… should…" Damn! Oops… Jake would kill me if he heard me cussing. I took a deep breath, removed my eyes from her face, looking behind her, and attempted rational thought.
"I'm sorry, I should've been watching where I was going." I wanted to jump for joy that I had formed a complete sentence, considering just how see-through… STOP IT, SETH… get yourself under control!
I heard her sigh, and looked down to find her staring at my chest. I was standing way too close to her. I pried my fingers off her arms and took a couple of steps backwards. BAD MOVE; I had only guaranteed myself a better view of what was really not being covered up.
I spun around to face the other way. The sixteen-year-old boy inside of me, and the twenty something body shouted at me to turn back around. My brain attempted to overrule… Down, boy, down. I had heard that cold water helped, but obviously the guys had lied to me. You couldn't get much colder than the water we were standing in, and it was definitely not helping.
I heard her laugh softly behind me, and what suspiciously sounded like, "Damn Edward." And then some garbled words I didn't catch other than "didn't promise." The last two words came out in a happy tone. I was puzzled what she was muttering about, but not intrigued enough to turn around. I couldn't guarantee that I would be very respectful to her.
Every muscle in my body froze when she placed her hand on my shoulder. She was so quiet I didn't even hear her approaching me. The water wasn't as deep where I now stood, so possibly that helped in keeping the sound down. However, I also realized at the same moment that it meant she was even less covered now. As the thoughts raced through my head instantaneously, a growl ripped out of my chest. Her hand didn't flinch.
Her soft musical voice stated, "Don't worry, Seth. You didn't know I was here. I came this way getting away from Esme." She squeezed my shoulder once before letting go. "I think we all fled in an attempt to get away from her. I was just attempting to wash off most of the mud before I went back and begged a hot shower."
The words "beg," "hot," and "shower" brought up images I would have been better off without. Vampire – Wolf – Vampire – Wolf, I started chanting in my head. I had to get out of here. I tried to speak; to say I was sorry, apologize for my rudeness, tell her goodbye, anything. Instead, I did the sensible thing. I lunged out of the water and ran for my life. Well okay, for my sanity.
I didn't stop until I reached the house. Jacob got a good look at my face and started forward to check on me. I shook my head before approaching Esme. She was speaking with Carmen and Eleazar.
"Esme, would it be any trouble for me to take a shower? I know Jake is going to want to stay for awhile longer."
She smiled at me serenely. "Alice has already laid some clothes out for you in the bathroom. When the others came back, she decided you wouldn't be too far behind. You can throw those clothes in the laundry. I left you a robe in there to go upstairs in." She patted the side of my cheek just like my mom.
I ran through the garage, stripping in the laundry, and threw the clothes in to wash before padding upstairs to jump in the shower. As the steam billowed around me two things happened. First, I was suddenly ashamed of my behavior toward Tanya. I ran from her without an explanation. My mom and dad had raised me better. Secondly, the steam and water reminded me of the images her words had produced. I hadn't even kissed anyone yet, and I was having full-blown fantasies about a vampire. I damned the wolves' shared consciousness at that moment. Sam, Paul, and Jared had provided us with enough sexual images to tempt a monk, which I guess was what the rest of us were. Jacob and Quil had a long time to wait, and Embry and I were on our own.
There were a lot of cute girls out on the reservation, but honestly, the vampires definitely had the market on gorgeous, even with the white skin. The image of Tanya's dripping body went through my mind and I smacked my hand to my forehead and immediately turned the water ice cold. A hoarse shout escaped my body as it hit me.
Turning off the shower a few minutes later, I reached for the towel and dried off. I was going to have to find Tanya and apologize. It was only right. I felt my face flame red, thinking about the whopper of a lie I was going to have to tell. I realized I needed to tell the guys something, so I decided to hurry back. I was really cold and wanted to take a hot shower, and I needed to hurry because Edward has been known to run the hot water out. I thought I heard the aliens landing and needed to warn the others. Crap! What was I going to say?
And that was another thing I owed the pack for. Hearing their words in my head, I had picked up a few choice ones myself. Mom had hit me in the head with a frying pan the last time I had been over at her and Charlie's house. I had slipped up and said something when I realized Quil had gotten the last piece of chicken. I grunted as I used the towel to dry my hair. Who was I kidding? I loved them all - bad language and imprint happiness included. I turned to reach for the clothes on the counter and realized they weren't there. I looked on the floor and to the side, figuring I had knocked them off by accident.
Huh. I could have sworn I saw the stuff there when I walked in. Esme had said Alice put them in here. Well, I was left with only one option. Wrapping the towel around my hips I opened the door and peeked out into the hallway. I'd have to make a dash for Edward's room where Alice had stored extra sets of clothes for me. I heard everyone downstairs and figured I was safe.
I tore through the doorway of his old room and ran right into the object of my thoughts, wrapped in only a towel as well. Several things ran through my head simultaneously. Yes, she was as gorgeous as I remembered. Yes, the towel left little to the imagination. Nope, the effects of a cold shower didn't last long. And damn, I was in trouble.
"I'm sorry, Seth. It's my turn to apologize. I didn't realize you would be using this room," she grinned up at me. She put her hand on my chest, patting me softly while she spoke.
Vampires were supposed to be cold right? So why did the contact feel like fire on my skin? Why did the vampire smell not seem so horrible?
I looked down and saw familiar golden eyes looking up at me. Again, my hands had wrapped around her arms. My fingers flexed as if they had a will of their own. I realized she must have taken a shower as well because her skin didn't feel as icy. As I continued to stare at her in the silence, her eyes began to darken. Some small part of me recognized this signaled danger; but an even bigger part realized it wasn't the "I want to suck your blood" type.
"Tanya, I …" I coughed; this was getting humiliating. I shook my head like a wet dog to clear it. It didn't work.
"I can't think clearly around you."
When I saw her face light in pleasure, I realized I'd said that last thought out loud. I felt the blood rush to my face and heard her gasp. Her eyes were pitch black and again my body recognized all the signals of the different kind of "danger" I was in, while my brain screamed warning bells.
I stepped back, but she followed; maybe because I'd never let go of her upper arms. I internally threatened my hands if they didn't let go of her. It was like watching a freaking cartoon; almost as if my fingers had a mind of their own and were thinking about ignoring my order. My arms finally dropped to my side and I took another couple of steps backwards. But like we were dancing, she stepped with me.
"Um, Seth…" she raised her eyebrows and then pointedly looked downward toward my waist.
I realized then why she had continued to follow me. When I had slammed into her, my towel had come loose. The only thing keeping it between us was the contact of our bodies. If she hadn't of followed me, I'd have been standing before her in all my glory. Although I had gotten used to running around naked in front of my brothers, and I'd already had to deal with embarrassing myself and little Alice, this time would be excruciatingly different, because my body was definitely not listening to my brain.
She laughed softly as I refastened my towel, until I accidentally brushed along the front of her towel just as I finished. We both froze at the contact, and then she leaned upward and placed her lips on mine. All thought, all resistance fled and I instinctually snatched her body to mine. A warning sounded in my head: VENOM! WATCH OUT. Bella and Edward had accomplished it, I shouted to myself, feeling the burn of her lips against mine. I felt myself being pushed backwards and felt the edge of the bed against the back of my legs. The next thing I knew I was lying flat on my back with Tanya straddling my waist, her lips connected to mine.
A minute later, I wondered where we were. And then hit me; Edward's room. On his bed … ARGH! As my body took control of the situation and my hands began running across her body, my mind made one last feeble attempt. It shouted, "EDWARD!"
Within a second, I felt her body being lifted from me, and opened my eyes to see Tanya wrapped in his arms. She had closed her eyes, and seemed to be struggling as much as I was; her chest rising in pants. She inclined her head slightly, and I saw from the look on Edward's face that he must be listening to her thoughts. A grin cracked his face, just before he let her down onto the floor.
"I promise this time… just lost control… sorry," she stuttered nervously as she raced out of the bedroom door.
I threw my arm over my eyes, breathing heavily. I started taking large gulps of air to calm my racing heart. When I felt some control, I cracked my eyes open to see Edward standing in front of the window. He had his back to me, but suspiciously looked like he was laughing.
"Are you laughing at me?" I asked, a little miffed.
His body began to shake harder and he was barely able to whisper, "Laughing, but not at you. Tanya was definitely out of her element. She's always the one in control, but not this time. I'm sorry, I find it humorous."
I felt defensive of her all of a sudden, and stood up. "Don't laugh at her," I said hoarsely.
He spun around and took in my thoughts and emotions. He raised his eyebrow in the manner that Jake always cussed about.
"I can always ask her to come back," he challenged, still chucking, and then started to dart past me.
I grabbed his arm, halting his journey.
He looked at me grinning, "As I thought."
It broke the tension between us, and we both started laughing. He turned to give me some privacy to dress. I realized the clothes I had been looking for were lying on the bed, and realized that Tanya must have come into the bathroom and moved them in here. I grinned at her cleverness.
"Yes, she was very resourceful. I'm sorry I didn't hear what was happening sooner. I had just stepped into the house from outside when I heard you shout my name. She won't bother you again. I believe she's as embarrassed about her loss of control as you are of yours. When Tanya gives her word, she means it."
I felt a measure of relief, but honestly I felt more disgruntled than anything. She won't bother you again. That's what I wanted, right?
Edward snickered, causing me to blush more.
"Tanya is a good person, Seth. She knows what she wants and doesn't have a problem going for it. She'll challenge boundaries, but when she gives her word, she really does mean it. Which means you'll now have to pursue her if that's what you want," he said as he turned to me, attempting to stop laughing.
"I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that," I admitted.
"Hmm… seems like you were doing a pretty good job to me when I came in," he muttered, pinching the bridge of his nose in an apparent effort to keep from laughing even more.
"You know, for my friend, you sure are giving me a hard time," I muttered back at him, a little crossly.
Edward looked up at my face with a mixture of sincerity and humor. "Seth, I hate to tell you this, but everyone down stairs saw me dash up here. They also just saw Tanya run downstairs after leaving here. You're toast the next time Jacob phases. You'd better be prepared."
I groaned, putting my hands over my eyes. Couldn't Edward just bite me now and get the torture over with.
He laughed as he grabbed my shoulder, "Come on, Seth. Lets go face the music. Emmett's waiting on you."