A/N: Set approximately 14-15 years after Sickness and Health, 17 yrs after most of the Mating Imperative stories.

Name pronunciations: Hennah = HEN ah Hemeh = HEM eh Hantay = h'EN t'AY

Thanks for waiting for Cassi. I know it's been a while. See you down below! ~LJ

Chapter 10: It Was Just a Phase

Cassi's POV

My mother's light blue eyes stared at me on the computer screen and I sighed. I hadn't really cried for her in years, but I still missed her. Diana Uley. Her dad, my grandfather, was a Classics professor at California State University, Long Beach. He named Mom after the goddess Diana of the Hunt and she named me after the prophetess whom no one listened to. Go figure.

And there was Dad. Tears did heat my eyes when I saw his familiar face. I miss you, Daddy. Even if you couldn't find it in you tell me everything until you were almost gone, I miss you...

"Find them. Samuel Aaron Uley. Embry Call. His mother was Laura. They live in La Push, Washington, honey. Take my firebox to show them if they need proof. It's got all the birth certificates."

I hadn't needed proof. Just seeing me and Dad's pictures had been enough.

A flicker of my fingertip took me to where I wanted to be. A photographic slideshow. I just had to find a picture. As I grazed over the different thumbnail-sized images that represented the larger, more detailed pictures, I had to smile. There was one of Jake and me in Seattle, the week after he had tracked me down when I was on the Nordstrom shoot. It was, in my mind, when we got together.

I didn't have any pics of the shoot with him; the art director was irritated enough with me at that point. But I didn't need photographic evidence to remember everything about that afternoon. From the moment when Alice Cullen appeared before me to the time I was sprawled on top of Jake on the bed in his room, the memories are crystal clear.

I remembered how I had been so conflicted in between stints in front of the camera. And when the photographer had wanted all of us to imagine the hottest guy ever so we would have a certain expression on our faces, my imagination flew to Jacob Black. And the photographer said I looked "amazing."

I shrugged it off, because I was still freaking out about Jake. What the hell? I kept thinking. Dad says to find my half brothers and I find some guy who wants me to be his freaking wife? Who does that? Who goes wife-shopping when they're seven-freaking-teen? Not this girl.

The shoot had been good, and I'd felt that I had done the right thing by showing Jake Eight-Pack Black that I had a life and ambitions and that I wasn't going to fall for him just because he said I was his mystic mate. I worried about him – quietly, in the back of my mind. Worried about what he had told me about his sanity.

I wondered if he was all right, down there in Washington. What if it was real and he lost his mind because of me? I mean, I was all for men losing their heads over me, but not losing their minds!

We made a port of call at a tiny town called Whittier, Alaska. I took the smaller craft in with the rest of the girls from the agency and was all set to get started in the cloud-covered natural lighting in the fishing village. From out of nowhere, this tiny woman with pale skin and wild hair – dressed in something so perfect for her that I was in awe – showed up and threw her card and some cash at the art director.

"Cassi? Ms. Cullen is borrowing you for a consultation up at the Inn." No point in protesting, not if I was being directed that way by the boss of the shoot really, so I went with her.

And damn if I didn't find out that she was colder than a rock and that she knew Jacob. All the legends dropped on my head at once. Which was bad enough, but my Jacob –

It was right then that I referred to him as mine, in my head. He was mine. My werewolf as my newly-discovered sister-in-law had written. Mine. And he was in his wolf form because of the Cold Ones.

I wanted them gone and I wanted them gone immediately and I told them so. And they left! And then it was just me and Jake and his underwear. I didn't know, then, that I'd be spending the next twenty years looking for his underwear!

We talked and he promised me everything I needed him to promise, and though I didn't know how much to believe, there in that hotel room. All I knew was that I wanted to try. I had to try. He had gone all wolf-crazy without me and that broke my heart.

Leaving him that day had been harder than I thought it would be.

When I got off the plane in Seattle, I remember him standing there, a grin as bright as the sun lighting his features. Beautiful. He was perfectly beautiful. I could have had fifty jobs lined up for him in a matter of a week, with the right set of headshots and a couple of full-body layouts. I imagined, as I made my way to him through the security gates, what kinds of ensembles would best suit him.

I had an entire wardrobe designed before I wrapped my arms around his hot torso and pressed myself shamelessly against him. I had to let all those wide-eyed girls in the terminal know what was what.

Jealous? Me? Damned straight I was. I knew I was supposed to be his imprint, but he was only human and I had been the worst imprint in the world to that point.

That changed as much as I could make it change, right then. You could see it in this picture. Jake saw it, my brothers saw it.

My brothers...

From being an orphan alone in the world to having two brothers, sisters-in-law, a niece and nephew and then a werewolf of my very own, no wonder I was so messed up back then.

"Cassi? Hon? You back there?"

Jake's voice called me from my reverie and I clicked on a couple of pictures to print them before answering. "I'm here, Jake. Everything all right?"

He had just emerged from the shower, his hair spiked damply around his head, navy blue towel slung about his hips. I licked my lips and grinned at him, my eyes traveling from the defined V just above the towel, over his stunning eight-pack, heated pectorals and corded throat to the smirk on his full lips.

The smirk spread into a white grin. "Everything in order, Mrs. Black? Like what ya see?"

"Oh yes," I assured him over the clacking of the printer. "You haven't lost a thing, baby."

He grimaced, then. "You're older than I am, you know."

"And?" I slid my forefinger slowly between his towel and the already-dry skin hiding beneath. "I've always been older." I could hear the children's pounding footsteps in the upstairs playroom and, reluctantly, quit teasing my werewolf.

With a thoughtful sound under his breath, he gently encompassed my shoulders in his hands before rubbing my arms slowly, skin on skin, from the tip of the tank top to the indent of my wrist. "I've been Alpha for a dozen years, now. I guess that makes me, what, thirty-two?" I nodded, lifted a brow at him. He brought my hands to his mouth and kissed my knuckles with an exaggerated smacking sound. "You're all right with everything so far? Don't mind that I look like I'm twenty-five?"

I eyed him again, raking his body with my gaze. "You doubt? Told you I loved you forever in front of witnesses and everything. In sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live," I quipped. My voice was light, but I knew that he would see my sincerity in my eyes, hear my elevated heart rate and breathing. When I had said "yes" to him years ago, I meant it. Even if he looked a lot younger than I. Even if. "See? I even have pictures," I told him, turning to slide the images from the printer.

Jake laughed out loud to see them. "Is this for –?"

"Yeah. They wanted the whole story. So I thought I'd better include this one."

He slid one picture behind the next, flipping through them with nostalgic amusement curling his lip. "The Cullens. All of 'em."

"Well I had to invite Alice and Jasper, of course," I reminded him, remembering the day I had met the Cold Ones out of legend for the first time. "And she hinted that it'd be polite to invite everyone..."

"Edward," Jake said, identifying the bronze-haired vampire with a flicking of his finger.

"Bella's ex?"

"Yeah. He left her, you know. For her own good."

I had heard the story from Bella before my wedding and I nodded. "She was happy to see him. Remember when Hennah threw up on his shoes?"

The memory brought a grin to both of our faces. "He couldn't hear Hennah's thoughts, either. Bella was so happy." My niece had had an attack of nerves since she and her brother were the flower girl and ring-bearer for the wedding. Edward had been studying the four-year-old with some interest, Bella had told me. And little Hennah had lost what there had been of her breakfast on one shiny black loafer.

Jake had howled with laughter when he found out. "Yeah."

He tossed the vampire picture back so that it floated to a soft landing on the printer. The next picture was one of the Pack. Including Leah, though she hadn't phased since before her marriage to Police Chief Charlie Swan. Leah's hair was long and shining, catching the sunlight in the picture. All the guys looked content, but Leah was glowing. "She could have modeled, you know. She's gorgeous." Still was, even in her mid-thirties.

Jake tossed that picture too and cupped my face in his huge hand. "She's all right." He slid his fingertip delicately around my eye. "You're the only woman I see."

The devotion in his voice could still make me hot – hence the five children my body had somehow managed to deliver over the years! Hot, yes, but I hadn't given in to him immediately.

"Better get dressed," I reminded him. "And please, take a side trip upstairs to get the kids settled, okay? I have to get this done."


"That's procrastinatrix to you!"

I swatted him on the butt as he turned to go and he growled playfully at me before swooping up in his powerful arms and making my head spin with an all-encompassing kiss. The man was gifted. In so many ways.

More pictures. Sarah – our elder daughter – was putting together a Project. "It's for our storytelling class, Mom," she said. A class being held in the Reservation's Cultural Education Center. A new building and programming paid for by private funding. Yeah, I knew who was funding it, but no one was telling so I kept my mouth shut.

Kept my mouth shut and found pictures of our family so Sarah could weave a story about us all for her class. How many kids on the Rez had Cold Ones as honorary family members?

I flipped through some more in my search for Sarah's project. There were pictures of pregnant Leah and her imprint, Charlie.

Ah. There was another series of pictures. Jacob's Alpha Ceremony. What a mess that had been.

"Sam's stepping down," Jake had told me, shaking himself as he moved through the Cerritos house my dad left me when he died. My werewolf/fiancé/co-habitating boyfriend announced this after he had taken an extended "run" that sent him hundreds of miles north. He and my brother – half-brother – eschewed phones and preferred to do all their testosterone male-bonding stuff long-distance by mental telepathy. It's about nine hundred miles between La Push and Cerritos, and the Pack's communication distance was about three hundred miles, meaning that both my boyfriend and my brother had to run three hundred miles in order to communicate.

"Why not use the freaking phone?" I wondered, exasperated as Jake prepared to phase and leave the first time they did this after Jake moved in with me.

He had grown very serious. "There's more to this than just words, honey. You know that. It's thoughts and ideas and everything. Besides," he went on with half a smile, "your big brother likes to know for certain that you're okay. He gets the truth of that in my head."

So when he came in and told me that Sam had stepped down, it was after he had been gone for his Pack Bonding weekend. I was up to my eyeballs in homework to finish my class at the satellite of FIDM - Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising – and was not in the best of moods. I freaked out. "What? You're Alpha? What?" My mind buzzed with the ramifications. "I can't go to the Rez now, Jacob Black. I have to finish my studies and I have a shoot next month!"

"I can't turn my back on the Pack, Cassandra!"

We literally went nose to nose. "You knew I had to finish what I started, here."

It deteriorated from there. Thing was, we had been together for about two years and Jake had committed to staying with me until I started my own clothing line and got it going. Finishing my studies at FIDM was important for that. So was making sure I kept modeling so that I could tuck money away to start up my own company. I had a business manager and a model already planned. I just needed time.

Time that had run out, according to Jake.

We fought, he flew up to La Push, and he came back with a compromise.

"I've got another eighteen months before I need to be back there. Then we'll have six months for me to ease into the Alpha role and then Sam will step down."

I wanted to huff and remind him that I was his imprint, damn it, but I studied his face. His lips were firm, his eyes wary. He knew he was planning a big change for us and that I was less than thrilled. He had said that our imprinted relationship was paramount, coming even above the bonds of the pack and the ties to the Reservation. Yet he was telling me what the plan was.

I bit my tongue and went to Polyvore online to design a new ensemble for traveling. Anything to calm down. Jake hovered, but he didn't say anything else until I came out with my computer-generated wardrobe printed and in my hand.

"All right. Fine. We're going. I want you to do what you were born to do, Jacob Black."

The make-up sex went on for twenty-four hours. Emily had said, in her little guide book, that werewolves had endurance...

The ceremony two years later had been secret. But the homecoming and the pointed looks and the subtle reminders that the Council Elders had slid in my direction had not been. Then, too, they expected me to have two kids by that time – Embry and Bella had three and Sam and Emily had their sons, one year apart, and so on. Jake had to tell them it was really none of their business what his imprint did with her reproductive organs.

And he did! I got that from my sister-in-law, Bella.

"Embry was just so mad at Sue and Billy!" she had said, eye dark eyes wide with astonishment and humor. "Just so you know, he totally stood up for you and Jake. Really, Billy and Sue need to keep their noses in their own house!"

It was so invasive! The pictures even showed that as I frowned over them. We – Jake and I – were always surrounded by someone. My in-laws or the Pack or kids on the Rez...

Still, it all came with Jake so that made it worth my while. Why on earth is that man worrying if I'm worrying about his non-aging? Every girl should be so lucky.

"Mom! Mommy! He won't let me play on the Wii!"


Before I went up to them, I set up to print the wedding party pictures and the baby pictures for each of the kids. Ephraim, Sarah and Billy, Diana and little Joshua

And Jake looks exactly the same in each and every one.

I glanced quickly at a mirror at the foot of the stairs. Good thing I looked pretty damned good myself. This bustline might not be able to fit into my old wardrobe, nor these hips, but I was a mature woman, not a teenager. No wrinkles, everything toned and "perky." Hell yeah. I was the Alpha's mate.

"Everything ready?"

Emily's approach when I reached the Cultural Center days later was to be expected. She and Sam, though he was no longer phasing, were both on the Council. Sue Clearwater had been, after Harry died. Sue married Billy and they led on the Tribal Council. Until Billy died while I was pregnant with his namesake. Sue had quietly retired from Rez life, having decided to live in Forks, near enough to her daughter's family.


"How're you doing, since Jake hasn't stepped down?"

I paused, my thoughts racing as I considered the implication of her question. Had he had a choice? We imprints still stuck together, and though Emily hadn't technically been an imprint for a full twelve years, she was still respected as First Imprint of the Pack. "Fine," I murmured. "He did ask me this morning how I was doing. Has he been, ah, over to talk to Sam?" I wondered.

Emily darted a look around. Her face was thinner than it used to be, but her eyes still shone with the warmth she had shown me almost from our earliest acquaintance. "Yeah. Don't say anything to him, though! He might be planning a surprise."

A strange feeling slid through my middle at her words. Stepping down? Jake? So he wouldn't be Alpha anymore?

Emily regained my attention with a small motion of her hand. "Shh! Surprise, remember?"

I blinked. "But who on earth is dumb enough to take that on after him? I mean, it's hell on the family, you know? And you guys could practically do a webcast on Native American Life and Times or something, you're all so normal."

"You?" Emily's smile was slanted and her eyes flashed a bit of a challenge at me. "You aren't including yourself? C'mon, Cassi. You've been one of us since Jake first clapped eyes on you."

"I know..."

"Mom! Come on! I need help with my makeup!"

Emily and I exchanged maternal glances – something I never figured I'd be doing with her, once upon a time – and I let the Alpha issue slip from my mind.

Sarah was amazing. My eight-year-old had a real presence in front of an audience that I could see came from both me and her father. Ephraim reminded me of no one so much as my own father. Quiet, but loving and careful, even at age ten. Sarah had an ego the size of the Olympic Peninsula and I enjoyed watching her tease and beguile the members of the audience as she shared – with good facial expressions and contortions of her body and curls to her voice – the story of her family. Billy was less than year younger. He had been born prematurely right after my father-in-law, Billy, died. We were in the hospital for Billy after his heart-attack when I went into labor. Diana and Joshua were five and four, and it didn't surprise me at all that Diana looked much as my mother had, with slightly darker skin. Joshua was very much like Jacob.

This amused me more than it did either his father or either of his uncles.

After Sarah's storytelling was complete and the other children in her group had their turns to share their stories, it was time for games out of doors, to give the children a chance to learn the traditional games of the Northwestern Nations as well as to give the parents a chance to visit with one another while others took charge of the kids. Someone was grilling and I could smell the distinctive yumminess that was chicken cooked over mesquite combined with juicy watermelons. Someone shook a soda bottle and the hiss-explosion combination as it opened was enough to have me flinching before I found out the source was too far away to get me covered in sticky sweetness.

"Cassi! Hey, sis! How're ya doin'?" Embry's playful tones were welcome as he and Bella, carting the inevitable aluminum lawn chairs, came to join me. Jake was meeting with the last of the phasing males – no other females had ever phased, excepting Leah – in the woods, having left after the Storytelling. "Sarah did a great job!"

"So did Hantay," I told him truthfully. Hantay – short for Hantaywee, which was a Native word for Faithful – was the youngest of the Call's three kids and she was the stand-out in that household. She looked nothing like either of her parents, but was apparently a throw-back to Bella's mom. I've met Bella's mom and she could almost pass as Hantay's mom if she had to. Hantay had had the honor of being the final storyteller in the group. At age fifteen, she was graduating from the "kids' classes" and would be working more with the council and performing the legends. She might look like a white girl, but my niece has worked hard to show that her heart lies with her people here on the Rez. She spoke Quileute better than her father, even, and that's saying something.

My brother looked good, considering he had stopped phasing upon Hantay's birth. He was thirty-four in actual years, looked about twenty-nine. Bella was thirty-five and looked to be the same age as her husband. Lucky girl just had great skin, really. Not as hot as her husband, but Embry and I did come from half the same gene-pool, so it's not surprising he could still model for Jos. A. Banks or Macy's. If he wanted. Which he didn't. Which was a shame, really. I used him to model some of my men's clothing, though. Jake absolutely refused.

"Doing good, Em, thanks. Bella, did you bring the famous brownies?"

She smiled and flipped her long braid over her shoulder. "Of course. Last time I didn't, Ephraim read me the riot act."

"He loves your cooking."

"She's the best," Embry asserted, rubbing Bella's knee for a moment. Then, after exchanging a look with her and darting another one around, he leaned closer to me. "So any word on the Alpha thing?"

Later, I would reflect that I had mellowed out in the past years, because I did not rip Embry's head from his shoulders. Nor did I stomp my foot or yell. I clenched my jaw and glared at my brother. "What the hell is it with everyone, today? I've been fielding these questions all day, dammit. What isn't he telling me?"

If he could have, Embry would have blanched. Bella frowned but shook her head and the expression went away. "Cassi," she began.

"No. That's it. I'm finding my husband," I spat.

Bella sighed and, after a moment, nodded. "You know he's my best friend, Cassi. So, uh, try not to do anything too permanent, okay?"

I held her gaze with mine for ten solid seconds. That's a long time to stare, but I didn't care. Bella had never been afraid of me, though I had treated her like crap when we first met. A long time ago, she had reminded me once. She forgave easily.

I didn't.

"Jake? Jacob Black? Your wife, mate and imprint needs to see your butt – furry or not – right the hell now!" My words were actually fairly quiet as I left the group of adults and teens who were gathered on the wet playing field. Overhead, I could see blue sky and knew that the early morning rain had been it for today. The voices of the children behind me, I only heard the wind as it brushed through the trees, whispering and whistling as I waited for my husband.

I knew he heard me. His wolf-sharp hearing was reliable. Overall, my Jacob was a wonderful husband. Besides being devoted to me beyond reason, he supported my career choices and changes, was a terrific father to the kids, a good role model for a hardworking man that I hoped our sons would emulate and our daughters would hold out for in the future. He was emotional and sensitive and had learned how to communicate in a way that any woman had to appreciate.

So what the hell had he been keeping from me?

Alpha male that he was, he emerged from the trees shirtless - as usual. I didn't even have to look around to know that the younger women on the Rez still eyed him lustfully. I didn't have a thing to worry about – so I let myself enjoy the fact that this russet Olympian of a man was mine. All mine.

"Cassi," he breathed after having given me a once-over with a dark, worried expression. "The kids?"

I was fine, so he checked after our children next. I loved that he had his priorities in order. "They're great. Sarah's basking." Our little storyteller really enjoyed the attention and had been retelling her favorite parts of the story to a couple of the older Council members.

He wove his fingers through mine and we walked together. We didn't need a destination; our walk would take as long as we needed it to, I knew from experience. We didn't disappear entirely into the cool shade of the evergreens – we might be needed and the kids needed to know we were around. Instead, we stayed on the periphery of the playing field and barbecue grills and laughing groups of people. Still, I could feel certain pairs of eyes on me. Jacob was the Chief of his people. It wasn't something we dwelt on, but it was so and so eyes were on him always. Then, too, the members of the original Pack from our younger years knew something that I didn't know and they were watching. As were their spouses. The only ones missing were Leah and Charlie and their two kids. The Swans were taking a break from the Forks PD and Leah's job as a work-at-home copy-editor for a major book publisher. Their kids, aged fifteen and ten, had a bad case of wanderlust and wanted to see Grand Canyon and San Diego just for starters. It had taken some work to get Charlie out of Forks, but Leah and the kids had been very persuasive.

Jake called me back to the present. "I know you didn't call me just to take a walk, Cassi."

"Nope. I sure didn't." We continued to move, our feet kicking up loose earth and crushing grass, depending upon where we were. "What aren't you telling me?"

He didn't miss a beat. "About what?"

"Phasing?" I squeezed his fingers. It wouldn't do any good, but he'd feel some pressure, anyway. "Specifically, you phasing? Something you need to tell me? Hm?" My voice was edging on the harder side of sarcasm.

My husband nodded his head the way males do when they're trying to figure out how to tell the women in their life something she's not going to like. I knew that nod. "I've been Alpha for so long to make sure the guys that do phase have someone they can talk to and all that. To teach them how to fight the leeches. Well. There aren't a lot of vamps on the Peninsula lately, hon. And not a lot of us are phasing anymore. Back in my great-grandfather's day, there was only the one generation of wolves and they stayed phasing for decades. Outliving their wives and family. As you know, we haven't wanted to do that." He paused and caught my eye, not pausing as we kept a slow walk around the perimeter of the gathering. "I'm ready to step down, Cassi," he said after a moment, directing his gaze up and off into the distance. "I want to walk through life with you. I don't want our kids getting older and me never changing. I hope that the boys never have to go through this, I really do."

When he said he was going to step down, my foot caught in the grass and I stopped abruptly, turning to face him as he finished speaking. My heart started pounding and I wasn't sure how I felt about his wish to stop phasing.

"But that means... You'd be..."

A flash lit in his dark eyes. "I'd get older? Yeah. Not be Chief anymore? Well, I'll still probably have a say and all that. Shouldn't change too much, but I might like a lesser seat on the Council, you know." I felt my mind go blank as I studied his face. He frowned a little before lifting his brows into his still unlined forehead. "Does that bother you, Cass? Me getting older?" His voice was layered with disbelief and sincerity.

"No! Not even. I mean, it's just... I've only known you like this, Jake. I've never had to worry that you'd be sick or injured or anything. I mean, I'm just human, right? I always figured that if something happened to me, you'd be here for the kids." My parents' deaths were always with me. I would always remember how it felt to lose first my mother, then my father. My skin grew cold and tears burned in my eyes. "I want you to do what you feel is the right thing, Jake. You know that. I support you. I do. But – but give me a chance to adjust, okay?" My Jacob? Vulnerable like me? The kids – who'd take care of them if something happened to us?

Panic – a panic I couldn't remember feeling ever before – welled up over me and I started to shake, right there in the summer sunshine. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want him to be stuck like his ancestors were – outliving wives and children. No. But...

The world shifted as Jake lifted me up, murmuring nonsense sounds as he ran lightly off into the shelter of the trees. "Sweetheart, honey. I didn't know. I'm sorry. I shouldn't have tried to explain it here. Come on, Cassi. You're stronger than this. You are."

I blew out a breath when we stopped and Jake parked his butt on a boulder. "Jake?"

"I love you. I'm so sorry for freaking you out."

"Who'll take care of the kids?"

"Sweetheart... This is the natural path of life, you know? The way it's supposed to be. The sun rises and sets. Our parents live and get old and die. Our children walk and talk and Sarah's telling stories and Ephraim's good with his hands and you know each of them will have a place in the world, right?" I nodded. "That's the way it's supposed to be. And you know, that if something happened, our kids have the best uncles and aunts and cousins anywhere. You know that Bells'd care for them, or Sam and Emily. You know that."

"I know," I whispered, strangely comforted by the obvious idea that Jake had thought about death and our dying early. I hadn't, really, being stupid or naïve and figuring he'd always be there as our family grew to adulthood. "You're right. I know you are. I just wasn't ready to talk about it, I guess. Sorry?"

He turned me in his arms, my weight still meaning nothing because he was still supernaturally strong. His lips met mine without prelude, without apology. Just a reminder of his love for me and our continuing passion for one another. "I love you, Cassi. I promised I'd be here with you for my whole life. I meant it then, you know. Back in Alaska."

In spite of my still-frothing worry, I had to smile. "I know. I love you, Jacob Black."

"Then let's get back to the kids, huh?"


Every day we had together, every day with our children, had just become more precious because Jake was right. It was the natural order of things. And I was – and he would be – only human.

"Mom! Daddy! Come on! They're gonna have a bonfire but we gotta go early!"

Jake met my eyes over the gathered heads of our children as they ran and toddled stumbled to us at the edge of the clearing. "We really do. Sarah, you want to tell the legends, tonight?" Jake asked our big girl.

"Can I? Really?"

I nodded. "About time someone else got to do it."

It was about time indeed.


A/N: And this is, indeed, the end of the Imprinting: The Mating Imperative series. Thank you so much to everyone who has been with me since I first posted the hardest part a year ago. Thank you to everyone who has rec'd this series or nominated any of the stories herein for awards. Thank you to everyone who has found this series only recently, plowing through it with determination that would make a wolfgirl proud. :-) I love to read your reviews!

A huge bundle of gratitude especially to The Edge Girls, who rock and roll and listen to me ramble, read portions of chapters and laugh at my jokes. Katmom, valelf, u2shay, Elise, Bells, jtrs98, kejce, MegsD and shapeshifter (whom we call Shapes) - ladies, you are beautiful.

I have no plans at this time to revisit any of these couples in the future. I know folks want more Charlie and Leah or Embry and Bella. To you I say this: This was written to examine a phenomenon called The Mating Imperative in imprinting. That's what I wanted to do and I did. :) Also...there will probably be more auctions for charity in the future. If you're interested, keep an eye open for them. I'll probably be selling myself and you can get me to write anything you want. ;-)

Thanks again for reading!