This is more of an epilogue/drabble, but here is the final chapter of Absent.
Chapter 23 - Leah
So that's it. That's my story. As you see, I've had quite a few ups and downs in my life, but you know what? I don't regret a single one. They made me the woman I am today. I've lived a full life. And that was in large part because of my husband.
Sadly, Dylan passed away at the age of ninety-two before I finished my memoir. But we had an amazing life together. And I know that I won't be long in following him.
My daughter with her immortal face once asked me if I was ever afraid to die. She would never experience aging herself. She had instead chosen to live for eternity with her hybrid imprint and his family. (Yes, my daughter lives with the Cullens now. Can you believe that shit?)
My answer to her question was no.
When death finally comes for me, I'll welcome it with open arms because I know what's waiting for me on the other side. My mom and dad are there. Charlie's there. My brother Embry is there. And my Dylan is there.
But don't get me wrong. I'm not sitting around waiting for death to come for me. I might be an old lady now, but I still live every moment of my life to the fullest. Dylan taught me that.
Embry's widow, Rebecca, and I ended up at the same retirement home in Forks. I moved back to the area after Dylan died. We play bridge with the other old farts every Wednesday. Her son Luke and his imprint Alexis Paden-Call takes us out to dinner every weekend. Julian and Taurin come to visit me whenever they can. Same with Henry. And my daughter and Gabe come in from Astoria, Oregon every couple of weeks to see me. Of course, Lilly has to pose as my grandchild so she doesn't raise too many questions. I also get to see a lot of my actual grandkids.
But when I look at my children, I'm filled with happiness. I'm so damned proud of each one of them. They are the very best of Dylan and me. And through them, a piece of my husband will always live on. I'm at peace with that.
The truth is, I've felt content for years. After I hit menopause and realized that my chances of imprinting to make more wolf babies was slim to none, I relaxed a lot. It was tough for me to let go of my fear at first. But I ended up with Dylan for a reason.
I wasn't supposed to imprint. Fate had something else in mind for me when I fell in love. I was supposed to have Lilly, Henry, and Julian. Because of Lilly, she and her husband have created children that have both Clearwater and Black genes—two of the most powerful wolf lines in our tribe. Sam once thought we imprinted to make stronger wolves. My grandchildren are proof of that. Lilly's son Caleb serves as his cousin's Beta, and he's a good one at that.
And though I may have lived my life with an absent imprint, I found my soul mate on my own terms.
I've had a good life. I might have stumbled a few times, but I always found my way…thanks mostly to Dylan. I didn't need a man to give my life meaning…but Dylan certainly completed it.
I can't give him all the credit for how I turned out though. I have to give myself some, too. I'm proud of the woman I've become. Some people might see me as a bitch. Others might think I'm strong.
But I am who I am. Take it or leave it.
I'm Leah fucking Clearwater-Gordon.
And you know what?
I'm the luckiest woman in the world.
I started this story in December 2009 and I can finally hit the complete button! Thank you to my beta Jessica for her help. And thank you to all my readers who stayed with Absent throughout all the slow updates. I realized about five chapters into this story that I couldn't complete it until I got to the end of my other, much longer story Stormy (which I started months later), because Absent would've given away too many spoilers. So if you're wondering why it took so long to update, it was because I had to get the two stories caught up to the same timeline (well, that and I had writer's block for awhile). I really appreciated your patience.
I also want to thank all of you who left reviews and recommended this story to people. When I set out to write Absent, I had wanted to write a story about Leah that stayed true to canon. I hope I succeeded (though I think if SM ever writes Leah's story, she'd probably have her imprint). Absent also let me try a different writing style than what I normally do. The continual chapter prologues were something new for me, and this is the first story I've ever written that stays in one person's POV. :)
Thanks again for your support! LOL, and thanks to everyone who told me they were Team Dylan! (I loved writing him.)