Disclaimer: I still don't own it. Even after all these years it's still not mine. How is that fair?

Chapter 16 Life as it Were

"Well, what do you think?" I stood back to admire my handiwork.

"It looks most unusual. I have never seen my hair like this." Nate lifted a lock and twisted it around his finger. "There is not even a hint of a curl or wave in sight."

"Exactly." I clicked the flat irons off.

"I look ridiculous." Nate pronounced decidedly. "Utterly ridiculous." He swung his hair to and fro.

I silently agreed, it did look ridiculous on him. His hair was straightened to perfection, sleek and shiny to boot but it didn't suit; it didn't go with the sensual warm Nahuel image. "You have gorgeous hair," I admitted what I was willing to with the slightest tinge of jealousy while unplugging the flat irons and tidying up.

"Ah, but you did not disagree. It is silly for me to wear my hair in such a manner. I can hardly believe I let you talk me into it, much less let you do it."

"Oh, stop grumbling I didn't beat you with a stick."

"As if you could, you are simply not fast enough to keep me from taking the stick. However, all that aside, it is not going to work. You know this, do you not?"

"What?" I feigned innocence.

"You know what," he returned but I kept my back turned and dashed upstairs putting my hair kit away. Unfortunately, that didn't last long since we tended to move at a comfortable fast pace at home. He was waiting at the foot of the stairs when I returned and asked, "Does it really bother you?"

"Yes...no. A little." I let his straight tresses fall through my fingers. "It might work."

"Even if I submitted to a DNA test, I the doubt the fondly held belief that Joshua Uley is my father can be dispelled. It has gone beyond the hair but it matters not. Why does it bother you?"

"It's going to sound silly but... you used to be all mine." I squeezed him thinking about how his entire purpose resided in being there for me and everybody knew it but Joshua Uley encroached on that territory. He followed Delores home from Sam and Emily's wedding and couch surfed with relatives until he wormed his way back into his marital home. Everyone knew he'd be gone soon but in the meantime he threw himself into the role of 'absentee father returned'. "Now, you're his too."

Nate pulled me tight wrapping his arms around me, "If one must stake a claim to me..."

A horn blast interrupted a moment I had been waiting for with bated breath for weeks now. The moment was lost when Nate fumed, "There is Joshua's real son now. Did he pick you up like this? Disrespectful!"

Sam blew his horn again for good measure. Nate let me go and picked up his wallet from the mantle viewing the bills inside.

"No, Sam didn't dare try that. My dad would not have stood for it." I didn't point out that one dude picking up another dude didn't go by the same rules -cause he sure didn't hold Paul and Anthony to the same standard. One honk, usually no honk, after all it's not like he didn't know the sound of the engine, and Nate was out the door, no grumbles, no wallet checks, at least no visible wallet check.

I had the door open and waiting when Sam finally came in to get Nate. "Man, you're the slowest fast person I know. I know you heard me blow," Sam came in complaining. "What the hell happened to your hair!" Sam turned back to confront me, "Leah, what did you do to Nahuel's head?" Sam was pretty much the only person he didn't allow to call him Nate.

"She did nothing I did not allow her to do. What is to you anyway?" Nate finally slipped his wallet into his back pocket.

"Man, you can't let her doll you up, play in your hair and shit. Next thing you know, you'll be wearing an apron, scrubbing the floors." Sam gestured for Nate to lead the way out the house.

In his own time Nate picked up his keys to slip into his front pocket and started for the door where I still stood while the Nate and Sam show played out. Nate stopped to kiss my cheek, "Are you going to miss me today?" I didn't answer fast enough because he captured me around the waist to steal a kiss before nipping my neck lightly, making me giggle and ensuring I missed him. "Are you going to be good?"

"Of course I'll miss you today. After all, I'll be stuck cleaning up. Besides, what kind of trouble could I possibly get into?" I questioned.

"If there is none to be found I'm sure you'll make some."

I giggled a little more from his teasing breath in my ear. "It's you I should be worried about."

"I would like to show you the trouble I want to get into today," He captured my lips in a playful kiss that started to deepen into serious intentions when Sam's voice boomed.

"Are you going to do it on the porch? Stop that! We have to get moving."

Nate whipped his head around, "Sorry."

"You are not." Sam scoffed.

"True, but you should have watched and learned, then perhaps you would have something better to offer Emily than those tongue baths she submits to. You have no finesse." Then Nate laced his fingers through mine and lifted my hand up. "These lovely gentle hands should never scrub floors. Naturally, I clean the floors, the toilet, the tub and anything else that might damage these precious petals. If I find out Emily has been on her knees cleaning your floors I am going to kick your ass all over the reservation."

I kept silent, not bothering to mention the ultra-modern invention called the mop. This wasn't about me.

"There you go again," Sam grumbled as they finally got a move on, "You're killing us with this housework crap. Leah still fucked your hair up. Stick your head out the window-nah, better yet," Sam slapped the side of the truck, "Ride in the back and let the rain fix it. You shouldn't do everything she tells you to."

"Like you do with Emily," Nate rejoined. "If she told you to stop breathing you would die."

"Yeah whatever, I would not. I mean if nothing else I'd pass out and then I'd be okay." Sam actually explained.

"I have seen your diligence in action. Others might breathe again but you would persist in perfect obedience."

"Well, I'm not the one who got his hair straightened this morning." Sam taunted then yelled back at the house like I couldn't hear him perfectly well, "Take care of my girl today, okay?"

"Of course," I began to respond only to have Nate take over.

"Why would you ask her to take care of Emily? It is not as if she would do otherwise. How is Emily feeling this morning? Is she up to coming over? " Nate leapt into the back of the truck to let the light misting rain ruin my hard work. Oh well, playing in his hair had been fun.

"Emily is fine. She'll be over pretty soon." Sam assured Nate before turning back to me one last time, "I can't believe you sometimes Leah." He shook his tremendous awe-inspiring, national monument in the Dakotas sized head.

"Bye babe," I called to Nate while discretely flipping Sam off. It was juvenile but what the hell, it was worth it to see him frown before getting in the truck.

"So come again. How does one propose and not say I love you?" Rachel questioned me from her cozy nook on the chaise in my livingroom. "It seems hard to ask without the basic qualifier; I love you, will you marry me?"

"Really Rach, does basic apply to Nate? Besides, he didn't exactly ask." I put a platter of cut fruit and veggies on the coffee table before plopping down on the floor.

"So tell us about this 'proposal' then." Bella swanned out the kitchen with a tray of glasses and a pitcher of lemonade. Alcohol, coffee and anything remotely wicked were off-limits with this set of girlfriends. Emily, Rachel and Kim were all pregnant and I had no envy of it. Frankly it sounded awful; like a debilitating disease that instead of getting treatment, everybody says 'oh that's normal'. Emily hacked up her guts whenever she coughed or laughed too hard. Kim couldn't control her burping and her until now undiscovered bitchiness had run amok. Rachel was plagued with daily headaches. It was more like an illness than anything else.

My other set of girlfriends, Rose, Bella and Alice, were not with child but they didn't eat or drink... at least not anything that could be served at a party. It's hard to keep live cougars in the pantry to offer as a refreshment. Kara though was my ace, she was pro-food and fetus free. She was a little young to hang with us but it was hard to justify shielding the girl from risque conversation since she had inadvertently received her sex education directly from my brain, with pictures and commentary too. I tried to protect her but life happens.

"Bella, is there any vague chance Edward didn't already tell you?" I challenged.

"As hard as it may be to believe, Edward does try to respect the privacy of your thoughts. He does not share everything with me." Bella spoke her piece and gracefully floated to the floor.

I waited for her performance to be over. That one loved, absolutely loved flaunting her new-found coordination. "Oh, tell me another one."

She shrugged so I leaned forward to start storytime, "We were sitting on the deck out back. The sun was just going down with a few rays streaming through the trees. Nate stood suddenly then took my hand and sank down on one knee. My heart started beating in double time. He said, "Leah, you are my first, my last, my everything..." I was in the mood to tell a good whopper.

Bella interrupted "Okay! You got me. At Emily's wedding he told her, "We shall be married." Leah was totally happy but she wanted him to say he loved her but he didn't. She didn't mention the marriage directive before because she has been holding off waiting for him to say I love you but she wants an outdoor wedding so she figured she couldn't wait too much longer to start the ball rolling." Bella blabbed my business then had the nerve to look around guiltily, "Edward prepped me for this meeting, that's all."

"Good job Bella. But does Edward understand hanging out? You don't have to prep. You kinda just do it." I asked her.

"Yeah, there won't be any Powerpoint presentations or minutes kept." Rachel added, "And no dozing off either, and no looking at the windows with thoughts of hurling yourself to freedom." Rachel sometimes loved her job and other times hated it. She often whined, "There are only 6 of us in the whole damn company, do we ever need a two hour Monday morning meeting? Ever? Six people, you can cover the detail in two minutes." As a collective we had learned to never address Rachel's comments about work unless we wanted to hear her rant for a good ten minutes about people we didn't know and more importantly didn't care about.

Bella jumped in to defend, "Edward wasn't sure if Leah was going to invite some of her other girlfriends. He just wanted me ready."

"And if my other girls were here you would need to know the real details?" As much I adored hanging out with my old crowd for the advantage of reconnecting with pre-weirded out Leah Clearwater, being a trendsetter with the sweetest gear, strutting around with a fine ass boyfriend, sometimes it was relaxing to be Leah Clearwater kick ass beta werewolf, hanging with my people in the know who didn't require me to be a bit less supernatural than I was. Mixing the two sets required thought and advance planning but I couldn't see how the presence of my high school running buddies who occasionally came in on weekends from college would affect Bella's need to know the details of my proposal.

"Don't for a minute consider it." Rose insisted. "Edward tells her everything. You know what's worse than having a mind reader in the family? Having a married mind reader in the family. Now two people know too much."

Bella seeking to change the subject interjected, "Leah, I really like what you did to the place. It looks nice. Thanks for taking my pictures down." After we ran Charlie away from home I struggled to put my stamp on my love nest. Of course I only called it that when I wanted to work Charlie's nerves.

"Charlie took them with him. Your pictures joined mine and Seth's on the bookshelf at Mom's. Makes it look like Mom and Dad kidnapped a kid, your pale face doesn't fit in." Bella's missing teeth pictures meshed with Seth, me and Emily. It had been my clever idea to mix her in by age to help her blend. I had Nessie blended in for a couple of years too. No need to tell her though.

"I can't help being pale. Otherwise I fit right in. I swear I think I was paler as a human." Bella commented and mentally I agreed. Her color looked healthier, less washed out, this year compared to last year when she started coming around the reservation.

"Yeah, death really suits you." I rejoined to have the last word, then belatedly, "What do you mean you fit right in? Have you been to my mom's house?"

"Uh huh." Bella smirked.

"Under what pretext were you allowed on the reservation?" I asked somewhat sulkily.

Bella kept her smile, enjoying my irritation, "I have connections."

This trend was getting to me. Vampires were on the reservation all the time. Embry declared a few weeks after the wedding that he deserved to know the identity of his father. I was sure my gran's comments helped that along. Jacob and Sam both decided this was thoroughly reasonable and since we were on the practice field at the time Edward agreed to the plan before ever being asked. We were in wolf during the brief exchange of thoughts, so that only left me to fill Nate in on his role. Note, mental conversations remove a lot of the bullshit posturing and worry from verbal conversations. No one wonders how to say anything, it's just out there, naked honesty.

Nate had a most crucial role. There was but one person who could confirm Embry's paternity, his mom Ellen, who could be found working at the store on the reservation any given day. Ellen was a darling, soft-spoken, gentle woman who Embry wouldn't dare upset by asking point blank the name of his father. It took him long enough to recover from her stricken look when he asked her about Joshua Uley. Embry couldn't bear that again and the rest of us wouldn't dare but you know who would?

The key was for Nate to ask. Regardless of her verbal answer the mental answer would be triggered. Edward assured us this would happen, all people do this, it's a reflex.

They rolled on the reservation deep, Sam with Nate, Jacob with Edward, Quil with Embry for support, all to badger that poor woman. Sure enough Nate delivered the question but in his own terms. He bought a pack of gum and while checking out told Ellen, "You are quite pretty." Then gestured to Embry and said, "Your son looks very much like you." Then thumbed over his shoulder, "Sam too looks much like his mother. Now me, people say I am a replica of my father. What do you think?" Ellen looked up at him with wide confused eyes. Edward whispered, "Got it." While Ellen stammered. "I don't know. I..I can't say." Before casting her eyes down again before recovering to check out Sam's purchase of hot dogs.

See, that was a good reason a Cullen was on the reservation. When Alice mentioned on the training field it is much easier for her to watch a place if she is more familiar with it. Much like knowing a person helps her see their decisions clearer rather than finding out only when their decisions affect someone she knows. Again, the training field was a wonderful place for exchanges of ideas. Anyway Sam quickly relayed through Edward that a tour of the reservation for Alice was to be done right away. That too was a good idea. Jasper wasn't letting her go without him. That was a bit more questionable but understandable. All the boys trying to make sure Alice saw their mommies was kinda cute too. No matter how they may have felt about the Cullens, Sam's pack could put that aside in view of watch out for my mama.

Those were still reasonable. When Paul lost his wedding ring cliff jumping and begged Emmett to come dive to help him find it, well that shit was foul. Emmett? Escorted by no one but Paul? I could dig they were both hen-pecked, pussy whipped or whatever you want to call it. Maybe more than anyone Emmett could understand the trouble Paul was going to be in. Rachel told him clearly not to take his ring out the house. (Marry an older woman, expect her to lay down the law. Marry a younger man, anticipate he might do something boneheaded like go diving while wearing his wedding ring on a chain around his neck-wolves don't wear rings on their fingers. Emmett recovered the ring for Paul after two solid hours under water. Paul defended that technically Emmett was in the ocean and not on the reservation. Sam let it go. Unless Emmett gained the ability to fly/and or teleport I was fairly certain he had been on the reservation.

It upset no one but me and Jacob told me to let it go so I did. I retaliated by inviting Esme to come to the school to read to my class. She had a cloudy track record like Emmett. No one batted an eye. Jacob okayed it and came by my classroom to say hi. Sam came by to ask if Carlisle was coming over to the res later on that day. Esme said as soon as he left the hospital. He was looking forward to giving Sam a tour of the reservation and beyond to where the Quileute lands extended when Carlisle first came through the area. Sam and Carlise had this whole pre-European Quileute history thing going on, but really who could object to Carlisle? Cullens had the run of the reservation. "So by connections do you mean Jacob?"

Bella grinned, "Renesmee was telling Jacob about reading The Old Man and the Sea and she pointed out she had never seen the sea. Jacob, to cover for not paying attention to her recital, admittedly it's a bit dull, jumped all over the beach thing and we were off; Edward, my daughter and I." I rolled my eyes. I bet Jacob didn't run it by a single soul beforehand, just grabbed Nessie and was off with her parents in tow.

"The Old Man and the Sea? Shouldn't she be reading fairy tales?" Emily asked.

Bella sucked her teeth, then grinned. "Edward might die if he has to see a swashbuckling Jacob rescue princess Renesmee one more time. Renesmee, Renesmee let down your beautiful hair." We laughed a little and Bella dashed to the kitchen to check on the real food while we laughed at poor Edward. She settled down, "It's hard to believe she's starting so early with this liking a boy thing. The supernatural is weird indeed."

"It's not weird, nor is it supernatural," I countered. "I can't remember not liking boys and men too, in that way." I thought for a minute, "I think Charlie was my first crush. I used to climb up in his lap to play with his moustache. I remember thinking he had come over just to see me. That's not the supernatural at work. Who was your first crush?"

That got us on a roll when late bloomer Bella admitted Edward was her first crush. Emily's first crush was her sister's husband Earl when she was five, back when Earl was known as Uncle George's best friend. The love of Kim's life before Jared was her Daddy. She was convinced she would marry him. Alice had no memory before "seeing" Jasper." He was like a glossy image from a magazine, gorgeous but two dimensional, she was both excited and scared to spend her existence with the guy with the haunted eyes she was going to pick up at a diner. Kara's only crush was Kim's brother Jonathan, something she might not have admitted six months ago but it wouldn't have stopped me from knowing. Rose said she had horrible taste in men before Emmett. "Unless you save them from a bear, you can't be sure they'll be loyal," she added in a rare, really rare jest. Hell, I wasn't actually sure she was joking. Rachel mused that prior to Paul she had a type and standards and in short it was the exact opposite of Paul. Bella thanked us for putting Nessie's crush in perspective then thanked me for putting her pictures up at Mom's house.

I 'aw shucks'ed' and 'it was nothing'ed' to deflect attention from her, whom I liked to blame for everything but what did it matter? For all intents and purposes I had a step-sister named Bella, and a wardrobe consultant named Alice and a beautician called Rosie. It kinda mattered less that they didn't have to breathe and needed a steady supply of live blood in order to survive. At a certain point I realized if they slipped and bit a person I would be revolted but would inevitably find some reason to forgive them. I could see it, 'It's not Alice's fault, that lady shouldn't have worn white after Labor Day. She broke the rules, she had it coming.'

As winter gave way to spring good things were happening. One of the best, in my humble opinion, was that Charlie abandoned the home he brought his new bride to some twenty years ago for the home my father brought his new bride to some twenty odd years ago. He had been a good roommate but it was nice to finally have him out of the house although the cost to bring that about was high.

One night, when Nate and I didn't have patrol duties we were home and felt reasonably comfortable since Charlie had turned in early. Our plans included some furtive love-making. It would be a pleasure just to be in a bed. A soft warm comfortable bed beat the hell out of the other places we frequented. Hollywood had that shit twisted. Sex in a car sucked nuts. There is no back seat, wall, shower or even a tree that could compare to the comforts and position versatility of a bed. Tonight was for being silent but taking some time.

The risk factor of getting caught was sort of a turn on. Ridiculous but true. Charlie slept like a log for the most part but do you know that man would pound on the door and tell us to keep it down if he overheard us? I thought Charlie would be of the 'turn a blind eye and act like he didn't notice' camp but I was wrong. Mostly, I think frustration caused him to act that way, and being me, I had Edward confirm it. For us it meant Charlie was one step closer to moving.

We were lying there freshly showered and Nate was patiently reassuring me, "Leah, it is completely up to you. There will be no pressure on my part, although I am sure I would find the experience pleasurable I would not want you to do anything you are not comfortable with. Your existence alone gives me more pleasure than I deserve." His hand grasped mine and wrapped it tighter around his girth. He moaned and it made me tingle to the tips of my toes. Did I mention the connection was fucking fantastic in bed? That might be what prompted my wish to explore my ability to please him.

"I don't feel pressured. I just don't want to disappoint you." I stroked him again loving the feel of power. Having him in my hand was like holding the ultimate remote control. "I've never done that before." I was entirely glad that I could offer him something that I had not done already with Sam.

"Do what makes you happy, Beautiful." I knew he totally meant it.

I rolled onto him and kissed him deep running my fingers through his hair. When I was breathless, I raised myself up, "You want to do this?" Nate's eyes shone with excitement which I took as a yes.

From the bed I grabbed a pillow tossing it to the floor before dropping to my knees on it quickly but with ninja like stealth. If Charlie barged into the room on this, I would literally die of embarrassment. I knelt there on the pillow and Nate looked at me with confusion from the bed. That never happened in books, the men always knew what was up. "Come over here, I read this in a story once and it sounded hot."

He fairly leapt over to stand in front of me. I stripped my t-shirt off, baring myself to complete the image of submission then ran my hands down his chiseled abs and teased, "Ready, sir?"

"Is that a serious question?"

"Absolutely." I pressed a kiss against the front of his boxer briefs excited by his reaction. I hooked my fingers in the waistband pulling them down a mere inch. "I'm waiting for an answer; are you ready?" I'm not all that good at being submissive.

"Si." Nate sighed.

Quickly, I pushed his briefs down and grasped his naked butt forcefully, preparing to give my very first blowjob. I licked my lips, then snaked my tongue out in anticipation when a howl filled my eardrums. I was up, spinning around and sprinting out of the room in one continuous motion.

We used our cross pack training time wisely. There were a number of specific sounds that translated to wolf and vampire alike. That howl meant we had incoming and the conditions were just right. Operation 'Run Tell That' was on. Nate and I had our parts to play.

I crossed the narrow hall wrapping one arm around my naked breasts before throwing Charlie's door wide to get to the window that opened over the back yard. I barely registered Charlie sitting in his bed talking on the phone. What I did register loud and clear was that Nate had evidently pulled his underwear up and had overtaken me. He had Charlie's window open so I didn't have to break speed to launch myself headfirst into the night. In mid-air, just as practiced, I let the heat overtake me. My four paws thudded on the ground and I felt the familiar weight of Nate settle on my back in the same instant, just as we'd practiced.

For a minute we hesitated in the backyard, ever vigilant while we waited for another almost imperceptible thud on the roof before racing into the night.

We knew roughly what to do. Tune into the network to get the location of the interlopers. Nate rode low on my back, keeping his scent masked by mine until we got in range. As soon as we were in the sweet spot Nate dismounted and raced downwind to let his scent attract the attention of this coven of two. Edward assured us they were a new coven, not deeply or romantically bonded. This was important as we wouldn't risk a James/Victoria reaction. If the bond was deep, both would have to be killed. Edward and Jasper had been working together to combine the effectiveness of probing thoughts and feelings. Training was serious business for wolves and vampires alike.

Once the bait had been taken Nate raced on, too fast to be seen but being sure to brush the vegetation regularly to leave a trail. The two strongest pack fighters, Sam and Jacob were waiting out front with plenty of back up to deliver the message but even the best laid plans can go awry. This coven evidently became suspicious and at some point turned from Nate's scent and began to run away. The second I picked up the scent growing stronger, coming back in my general direction I was off like a shot before the vampires could elude us. These opportunities to send a message were too precious to waste. Available forces, except the inner perimeter, had clumped together to instill fear with numbers. Being Nate's transport left me in the best position to pursue.

Seth was next to strike out, coming from the inner perimeter to provide support. Jacob broke rank to come as well, alerting the rest to a shift. Seth is no match for my speed which had only improved via training but also via training I accepted I didn't have to be bold, badass Leah. Once I had a good bead on the vamps I slowed my roll to let my little brother catch up.

We chased the pair down and without hesitation engaged the enemy. The first kill was easy, use the overwhelming combination of size, weight and speed to corral the enemy and attack. Bite, chomp, tear, spit. What was hard was the second lone vampire. Fighting to kill was easier than fighting to leave something alive until it wised up and ran away. In our last execution of this operation the first vampire we engaged was rapidly abandoned by his coven member while we pretended to be too involved with dismembering the first one to pursue the second one until she got a decent headstart. Tonight was different, the fight turned up in intensity because the second vampire tonight seemed to fight out of desperation that didn't consider retreat. His fight or flight reaction was missing the flight part.

Seth and I fought as weakly as we dared trying to let the thing live to tell the tale. I feigned injury from one of the body blows to create an opening for the vampire to run off. I rolled to my side dropping out of the circling pattern Seth and I had created. Seth growled and continued the pattern but the vampire stopped his random kicks and punches and lashed out with his teeth at my brother's unprotected back. I sprang into action, following instinct by turning its teeth away with my fist. The vampire's teeth opened my flesh from wrist to elbow as my outstretched arm traveled through its open mouth.

The adrenaline of the moment made me ignore the first partial phase in the known history of our tribe in favor of sinking my teeth into the shoulder of the vampire causing it to finally retreat.

I was too pumped up to recognize mission complete. I took off behind the thing that tried to kill my brother. It screamed into the night with despair that didn't touch my heart, I wanted it dead. I wanted to feel the satisfaction of my teeth ripping its frozen flesh into tiny bits. I wanted to see it burn. Wind whistled past my ears and I barely felt the ground beneath my paws.

LEAH STAND DOWN. THAT'S AN ORDER! STAND DOWN! Jacob forced my muscles to lock and that's when it all caught up.

When I came to on Sunday Charlie had already moved to the reservation. That had been the straw that broke the camel's back. Charlie had been on the phone with Mom when we bolted through his room in nothing but our undies. He saw us hesitate in the backyard while relaying what was clearly a cause for alarm to my mother. Charlie tried to go to her but was stopped by Bella whom we had been waiting for before running off. She told him Sue was protected but he had to stay where he was, it was too dangerous to venture forth. Poor Charlie felt helpless and it didn't get better seeing me come home unconscious, injured with a raw open venom wound that had to remain exposed.

While I was out he decided his place was with Mom on the reservation. He never wanted to again be a distraction in matters of life and death. He never wanted to know my Mom needed him and he couldn't go to her. Mom and Charlie married quietly, the way they do everything, on the last day of March in a small ceremony in the living room we were comfortably ensconced in now. It was the best neutral territory for wolves and vamps alike. I liked that about having my own home, the ability to invite whomever I liked regardless of body temperature.

"Leah, what's Nahuel doing today?" Bella asked.

"Oh, he's on the res with the guys." I answered.

"Why's he there? I thought the only reason he ever went was to get to you." Bella seemed perplexed. "Is he working?"

Emily and I looked at each other and laughed. "Something like work."

"What? I don't get it," Alice snapped, frustrated. She absolutely couldn't stand not knowing stuff. The concept was too foreign for her to grasp. It was incredibly entertaining to watch her face screw up trying to see what she couldn't see-me or any of my peeps. I loved it.

I laughed out loud at her, "Ooh, I am so gonna get you a present tomorrow if you don't calm down." It was my favorite fucking with Alice game, a prettily wrapped box complete with bow to drive her crazy. She hated it, she loved it, her poor frozen heart damn near couldn't handle it.

"Nate left with Sam this morning." I told the group with a grin and finished with silence, then waited.

Alice parroted, "Nate left with Sam this morning." Then added, "Why? Why dammit! Why?!"

"Alice!" Bella yelled then spoke. "Chill or she'll draw this out forever."

"No, she won't." Emily said before ruining my fun, "Sam picked Nate up this morning so they could spend the day with Josh." She smiled widely catching my eye and then fell silent. We giggled. Emily was sweet wicked fun.

Alice huffed in disgust, "Oh you two kill me."

"Kim," Rose looked pointedly at the girl with no need to say more.

She spilled. "Today is Josh Uley's birthday and he wanted to spend it with his sons."

"Is that shit still going on?" Rose asked with some disbelief while Emily, Rachel and I laughed.

"Yeah, it is, all day every day. Josh couldn't be prouder. Nate could be more annoyed but that would result in a death and you know Sam is stuck with it because of his own dumb rule." I explained.

"Hey, you lay off my husband." Emily said with warning, kinda playful and kinda not. I let it go even though Sam's rule was dumb. Even after all this time Nahuel still had to be escorted on the reservation. Surely he had proven himself not to be a threat. Sam was his primary escort and occasionally he would let one of his pack members step in for a brief period, for instance sometimes Paul and Anthony finished early and headed back to the rez. Paul could be his escort. Paul, of all people, Paul, who was more of a threat to the Quileute people than Nate. Seriously, Nate was probably more of an escort to Paul, but it wasn't my call. I tried to make it my call but Sam and Jacob were quick to let me know it wasn't.

Usually they chilled in the Black residence until Sam and I left the school. Then we would go hangout with Emily for a little bit until it was time to go to the training field. I wondered when the probation would end because surely Sam couldn't keep this up forever.

"Seriously?" Rose posed again.

"It's sweet that Joshua is trying to make an effort to get to know his son. It's the honourable thing to do." Kim gushed.

"His son..." Kim is not real bright but I thought the light was at least on. "Come on Kimmie, have you bumped your head? Nate's a hundred and fifty. Josh might be forty-five, there's some basic math you're overlooking"

Rose interrupted me, "Lay off Kim!" Rose jumped down my throat then explained, "She meant Josh has no reason to think your Nahuel is not own flesh and blood since it seems he shared his flesh whenever and wherever he could. She thinks it's sweet that he would try to make up for being such poor excuse of a man." Rosalie Hale, Kim translator.

Kim and Rosalie were a special case. Kim was part of the wedding party but all of her fittings took place at Emily's house, Jared didn't allow her to visit the Cullen residence. He's retarded or whatever and it wasn't really his call but Kim allowed it. Rosalie didn't come to the reservation. She had no interest in seeing a 'podunk backwater beach', her words not mine. Therefore until Rosalie was speeding along on the way to Port Angeles on an early Wednesday afternoon in mid March and spied Kim broke down on the side of the road those two had never met.

Kim had a flat tire, no spare, and even if she did have a spare she didn't how to change a tire. Rose whipped a U and demanded Kim get in not now but right dammit now. Kim didn't demur, she popped right in beside Rose.

Rose took a silent Kim to Cullen Arms then called my cell phone for Jared's number. I knew Ms. Crisp would try to give me hell for taking a call during circle time but she and I both knew who ran that classroom. Once I was satisfied there was no emergency, I gave up Jared's numbers, his personal cell, his work number and his dad's number too just to be real sure she got him. Yes, on the one hand I knew it was wrong on the other I knew something juicy was brewing and I certainly didn't want to stand in the way of that.

Evidently Rose called him to viciously rip him a new one, maybe more than one. She wanted to know why Kim was out stranded in that piece of shit car? Why did Jared even have a cell phone when Kim didn't? Did he think Alice was watching for the tooth fairy during the day? We were in a war zone, and his pregnant imprint was alone, unprotected on the side of the road.

Two important things came out, Kim found out for sure she was pregnant, it was the reason she was going to PA in first place. She had some suspicions but she didn't know for sure so she skipped the clinic on the Res and the clinics in Forks in favor of the privacy of the biggish city of Port Angeles.

See there are some secrets, Kim's pregnancy was one. Only in my world is it a man's prerogative to share the news of a pregnancy with the woman carrying his child. Jared was bitterly disappointed that he was to become a father. For one night alone he dreamed of using the Cullen scholarship to leave the reservation and pursue an Ivy league education. Then he too became acquainted with the smell of impending baby; like impending doom but terribly cute.

Sharing the news with Kim however really was his prerogative so none of us interfered. It was somewhat inconvenient to work around Kim's ignorance, but seriously we kind of worked around it all the time anyway. Then it became like a game. We dropped hints to see if she would get suspicious. Rachel told us how she discovered her pregnancy because Paul had no idea how to whisper. You would think super sensitive hearing and an ability to whisper would go together but you would be wrong. Paul's whisper is most commonly used on stages. She overheard him talking to Jacob one morning about the romantic dinner he had planned to surprise her with the news. Then in excruciating detail she explained how Paul could sense her pregnancy before she had a single symptom. Kim's eyes had remained blank. Then Emily chatted about how she and Rachel wanted to conceive as a back up plan of sorts in case Sam and Paul didn't return. Kim told us she had always planned to jump off a cliff if Jared didn't come back. She had the cliff picked out. No, she's not quite right and behind her back we said the baby might be good for Kim to balance out her Jared centered world.

Then with amusement we waited to see how long it would take Kim to notice. Emily thought two months tops. I had lost money wagering on six weeks. Kara was still in with a wager on sixteen weeks. She said, "Don't you get it? All the hint dropping on wolf senses means that she will ignore every sign from her body and wait on Jared to tell her. If he told her the sun wasn't shining she'd swear the moon was uncommonly bright. But when she starts to put on weight her mom will notice."

Finding out the way she did hurt Kim. She may not be swift but she immediately knew Jared knew she was pregnant and didn't want her know because he didn't want to know. He wasn't happy. In fact Kim wondered if he blamed her. She struck back at Jared by cleaving to Rosalie. Something she couldn't do unless Rosalie allowed it and she did. Did she ever.

Edward told me Kim reminded Rosalie of a dear friend from her human days and I knew what was up. Just like Emmett reminded her of a baby and she took him home, Kim too had struck a chord and Rosalie with her superhuman stubbornness wasn't going to let go. I told Edward with no encouragement Kim had maintained her one-sided love affair with Jared for most of her life, if Rose gave her the slightest encouragement they would be BFF's. So um they were BFF's and it was freaking weird but somehow it worked. Kim seemed to gain confidence from the relationship because before she hooked up with Jared and acquired us she literally had no friends so we were her friends because of Jared but Rose was her friend despite Jared...remember the spite part very well. Kim did. She was mad as hell with Jared and with the tenacity she held onto her crush she held onto her anger with he whom she formerly thought walked on water.

"Chill Mama Bear." I teased but laid off Kim.

"Are we going to start a planning a wedding or what?" Alice was getting antsy.

"Not yet," Bella called out. "I want to get the food plated." Plating was kinda her new thing, she couldn't eat food so she decorated the hell out of it, edible art. It was lost on the guys so I think she was stoked to have a female audience to cook for.

We were deep into a champagne chicken served on a bed of wilted something or another maybe kale, I don't know, with roasted baby vegetables and deliciously creamed potatoes, a blend of Yukon gold and sweet potatoes that combined into something that made my mouth sort of orgasm. That chick could cook!

"Yo, Bella, I called out, "Let me holla at you for a minute. If things don't work out with Edward, you can always give me call. I'm not gay, and I don't dig full vampires like that but I'm always hungry and I'm willing try anything to keep you around."

Bella laughed at my goofy wink. "Yeah, I don't swing that way and I'm pretty sure Edward and I are going to work out."

"Besides Leah is already spoken for..." Emily started off only to be interrupted by Kim.

"By Nate!" Kim supplied, proud of her brilliant deduction.

"No, by me." Emily corrected, "If she were to ever have wife, it would be me."

"That's like wrong, so wrong. You're cousins. Yuck, immoral and illegal so if Leah must take a wife it would be me. I can cook." Rachel quickly kissed my cheek and stood back to bask in the glow of winning this nonsense argument.

"Yes, but you're not even close to my level." Emily stated proudly. She isn't much of a braggart but when she's around people she knows well and trusts she relaxes and I have been told I have that effect on her. Which is like 'duh, best friend here, my job description is unconditional got-your-back-dom. Emily could talk smack all she wanted to; I'm pretty fucking fierce.

"Yeah, Rachel, Emily is my emergency back up wife. ..." I started backing her up.

"Hey," Emily interjected, "When you say it like that, I think you don't want me, 'emergency back up'..."

"Now, now Emmy it's not like that at all," I wrapped my arm around her waist. "If I find myself alone and you find yourself alone or if we both find ourselves pissed off with our mates we will spend our lives together."

"Damn right," Emily agreed. She hugged me tight conveying everything we really meant but wasn't in the jest.

"Oh, cause you two love each other. Like without all the weirdness and stuff. I get it now." Kim stated. "Sometimes I think the imprint is harder than real natural love, " Kim went on proving she really did get it. "Jared loves me, more than loves me...but its not because he wants too...you see what I mean?

"Yes, I do." Emily stated.

"Me too." I confirmed.

"What are you talking about?" Bella asked.

"Just the simple desire to be loved voluntarily. " Emily explained. "To be chosen. To have the man you love look at all available choices and decide you are the one he wants to spend the next fifty or sixty years with, and not have him be drafted to your side by a whim of nature."

"Yep," Kim cosigned. "Jared ignored my presence for sixteen years and suddenly bam he's all over me and I was so thrilled until... Do you know he had me convinced my morning sickness was a side effect of my pills. He told me to stop taking them and it would take maybe several weeks for me to recover. I'm stupid, I know. I got used to people messing with me but not Jared treating me like the idiot that I guess I am." Kim sighed. This thing with Jared had her messed and he wasn't faring much better.

"You are not an idiot." Rosalie rubbed Kim's shoulder. "And Jared does love you." Rose actually seemed sweet when she dealt with Kim.

"But not because he wants to." Kim whined.

"Time will show you he does want you and he does love you for the wonderful sincere person you are." Rose continued to soothe Kim. "If you treat him like a superstar he'll treat you like a fan so a few more days of the silent treatment and he'll be back on his knees begging for your forgiveness. Stay tough." Rose wasn't sweet though, she was out to bust some balls. I didn't agree with her tactics but I did understand. Jared although the wolf and the one imprinted had a more of starring in his role relationship than the other guys. In short he took Kim for granted.

"I disagree," Rachel stated. "I thought I knew real love with Jeremy, my ex, the guy who asked me to marry him. I did love him, but what I have with Paul is ..." Rachel was rarely ever lost for words. Her supply was typically overabundant. "When I left school I knew who I wanted to be. I had this image I carried with me since high school and every class, job and internship helped me hone this ideal of the Rachel that I was trying to be...but with Paul I'm simply me. I'm not trying, I'm being. The imprint gave me...well me. The corporate ladder, the home in a gated subdivision, the stable marriage built on mutual respect is not me. I could have walked that path, walked it well too. And I shudder to think how close I got. Nothing short of the force of the imprint would have swayed me and I would have missed my real life, this" Rachel spread her hands wide to take in my overly crowded kitchen. Women gravitate to kitchens even women like me who can't cook to save a life.

"Is this where you say, "I love you guys?" I teased.

Rachel rolled her eyes but still delivered, "I do love you guys, well everybody but you Leah. You chose Emily over me but don't sweat it, if I had a supernatural wife it would be Esme. I'm used to a spouse who knows how to fix things around the house, like the foundation."

Alice jumped down from the counter, "So that's it, you still want to hold out for a confession of love. I thought you really wanted to plan a wedding today. No never mind, I pretty much know how I want everything and I have a sketch pad of ideas to fill in the blanks." She thumb the booklet full of pictures she had been quietly drawing in since she arrived. "I'm okay with waiting." Alice said generously as though this was all about her when everyone knew everything was always about me. She wasn't done yet though, "What I don't understand how can you possibly doubt he loves you?"

The truth, the inescapable truth was something had been off between Nate and I since that night in the forest, my last night on regular patrol - I had been on light duty since my injury which is why I had so much time to club and otherwise socialize. Almost daily up until that night Nate had hinted at when I would set a date, even if the reference was jokingly made, everyday he made it known he wanted to be my husband. I had reason to doubt.

This was the real secret Edward and Bella were actually keeping. I was stressed out. I needed this day to unwind, to be away from my mate to not watch every gesture and word to wonder if he still wanted to be with me or was he trapped.

"Earth to Leah!" Rachel snapped her fingers in front of my face. "Alice asked how you can doubt he loves you?"

I said the first thing that came to mind, "I thought she meant rhetorically. You really want an answer?" Alice was staring me down with one of her Alice looks that bespoke confusion. That alone was enough to make me panic. That must have shown on my face.

"Leah, chill out. You know very well I can't see you or Nate like that. Seriously, relax. You're usually the first person to exploit that weakness. I know this gift shopping thing you and Jasper worked out was your idea. Spill!"

"I hope this kitchen is as clean at Nate likes it." Emily turned from the sink after carefully hanging the dish rag to dry properly. "Let's move this party out to the deck." Emily started moving towards the door chattering along the way. "Leah, you really lucked out. Nate keeps a clean house. Look at the corners. No build up," She complimented the floors.

"Dirt wouldn't dare hang out there. He scrubs the kitchen floors by hand every morning. And really don't be insulted if he re-washes the dishes when he comes home. I have frankly given up being offended and just let him have it his way." I stood to follow Emily out the house.

Rachel followed us out, "I know what you're doing but I freaking love the effect he's had on Paul. He used to be oblivious to the house. He would help me with heavy stuff like moving furniture or taking out the trash but seemed to not notice things like daily laundry has to be done, floors swept, counters wiped and stuff like that and then..."

"Just like with my house," Emily started up again, "Sam started folding laundry and putting it away-I wish he would stop that, his foldings drive me insane - he's not perfect at it like Nate-but actively taking part in the house without me having to ask him to do specific tasks. This bodes well for the future. " Emily carefully lowered herself into one of the deck chairs. There were only four, Rachel and Kim got two, Rose claimed one after waiting for Kara who chose the steps. I eased down beside Kara and Bella and Alice perched lightly on the deck rails after exchanging a look. They weren't like pigeons waiting for a moment to swoop conversational crumbs, they were vultures ready to scavenge a dead conversation thread.

Emily was working it though, "Leah, I don't recall you being this OCD about the house, not calling you a slob or anything but...Nate said he had never maintained a dwelling."

I was all for this, "Don't worry about it. I feel you. When Charlie moved I started giving the place a good spring cleaning to sort of make it mine. My arm was still sore and hadn't quite healed so I had to ask Nate for help a lot. When we were done with the whole house it was, well you know how it is after a good clean, everything is so nice. He wanted to know why we didn't clean like that everyday. I was like, "Really shift the furniture around, wipe the walls down, clean the oven, wash the curtains and you want to do it everyday?" He said, "I don't see why not?" I said, "Knock yourself out." So he knocks it out in about an hour everyday. Now that I've shown him what to do he no longer has to be bothered with me slowing him down. The only thing I do is the laundry. It confuses him to no end."

With great reluctance Rosalie bit, "How so?" I think she wanted to know and not further Emily's cause of keeping Alice off my back. The ugly look Alice shot her said she didn't care which, she didn't like it one bit.

"The tags. See, he tries to follow the instructions on each and every label. The machine wash separately, cold water only, non-chlorinated bleach, lay flat to dry, hand wash only, dry clean only...he could never get enough stuff for one load or he was damn near washing everything by itself. Basically he didn't know what could be ignored so its easier if I do the laundry in the room with the door closed or he frets about it. Yes he frets about laundry. He does insist on hand washing my..." Then I grinned and shut up thinking whew, this is working.

Despite herself Bella asked, "What does he hand wash?"

"The La Perla collection I have courtesy of Alice. That collection of pretty little panties, bras and naughty bits of nothing are in pristine condition." I giggled, "He loves that stuff."

"Ah ha! How can you doubt that a man who hand washes your underwear - I hate to be crass, literally worshiping your ass- How can you doubt he loves you?" Bella and Alice high-fived. I had to acknowledge that was well played.

Emily wasn't done yet, "Leah doesn't have to share anything she's doesn't want to." She was done being indirect but she wasn't done.

Kara hugged me and said loudly, "That's right you don't." I couldn't see her face but I swear I felt her glare, I bet it looked like mine. My whole pack had been a little overprotective since I got hurt.

"Geez, I'll back off." Alice sounded alarmed.

"But I won't!" Rachel didn't punk easily. "You know Emily already knows and Kara's been in her head," she thought for a moment before saying, "Oh, Oh, I bet you know too Bella."

"That's going too far Rachel and you know it!" Emily was getting cranked up.

"We can't help her unless we know what's wrong. She obviously didn't call us over here to plan a wedding. Our Leah has a problem and we owe it to her to help." Rachel was not swayed by adversity. I used to wonder how she got through college so fast but I could see it now.

"I'm not going there," Bella announced firmly. "Leah deserves her privacy just like the rest of us."

"Yes, and we can all see how well that's going?" Alice zinged back.

"Watch yourself, Alice. You don't have a God-given right to know everything. " Rosalie waded in.

Kara's grip tightened before she said, "Look...

"Sshh." I lifted my head and did what any good hostess would do. "Do any of you really think you can bully anything out of me?" I had to defuse the situation before it became deadly. Not an exaggeration, three of the worlds deadliest predators were on my deck and two of them were giving each other hair pulling glares. I got to my feet commanding their attention. "This stress isn't good for the babies you know." That took care of Rose, she glanced guiltily at Kim who had tears standing in her eyes.

"I just wanted to help." Rachel admitted grumpily. "I mean if you love him, why not just tell him. I'm sure he will tell you the same." She had not really conceded. I knew it and she know it too.

"She doesn't want him to emptily parrot her words back at her." Emily was still in pitt bull best friend mode protecting me but it was time to come clean.

With as much grace as I could muster I told them, "When I was still laid low from my injury," I traced the invisible path from wrist to elbow on my arm, where the vampire's teeth had opened my flesh and caused it to fester from the venom. Fortunately my daily association with Nate's venom allowed me survive what would have killed any other wolf. "When I was laid low..." I started again.

"You don't have to relive it." Emily interrupted.

"I think I do...keeping it inside is not helping." That and I didn't want them to come to blows about it. I went on with my tale, "Nate helped me back from the bathroom and tucked me into the bed, he adjusted my arm and made me as comfortable as possible. He took such good care of me. When he was done he kissed my forehead and I said, "I love you, Nate, I really do" I sighed, I'm not sure if it was from general defeat or dramatic impact. "He said, "I know" and left the room."

Then all hell broke loose. Alice's tiny form was on Rose's back in the back yard. Alice yelled, "A little help here Bella!" Bella was off like a streak of light pinning Rose to the ground. Rose stopping struggling to hiss loudly, "I'm going to take him apart."

"Rose calm down. Calm down." Bella urged. "You don't have to go get him, he'll be back here soon enough...we can beat him down together. It burns me up every time I think about it." She gritted her teeth loudly as she helped Rose to her feet. I wasn't surprised she knew about it.

"Rose look at me. " Alice assumed control, "Can we trust you to come back around the humans?"

Rachel shared a startled look with me. "Alice couldn't stop Rose until she was in the yard for fear of hurting one of you if they tangled."

For once Rachel looked a little scared, "I didn't see anything. Whoa."

Rose huffed in her frosty superior way. "It took me by surprise that's all." She shrugged Alice and Bella off. "I'm sorry Leah for causing a scene." Esme had raised her well. With great dignity she lowered herself down beside Kara on the step I had abandoned.

"It's cool." I stated although I was a bit shaken from it and best believe I noted she did not rescind her plan to attack my imprint. What had I gotten Nate into? "I don't think he meant to hurt my feelings."

Even Emily rolled her eyes at that one whereas Rachel defended, "Maybe he thought you wouldn't remember. You were more out of it than in that whole week. It was a stressful time. Are you even sure you said that out loud?"

Belle answered for me. "She said that and whole lot more. By the way thanks for telling Charlie about my trip to Phoenix. At least the part where you told him that a psychopath attacked me and that Edward killed the bastard. I can't thank you enough for sticking me with that explanation." Bella sucked her teeth, "I still suck at lying. Edward's really good and Carlisle backed him up but Charlie has had too much evidence proving they lie so that...well he totally believes the truth now."

"I'm sorry about that Bella... I was talking out my head" I couldn't remember doing it but Nate assured me that I told Charlie some of everything, as if the venom in my veins was truth serum. Through some miracle I never said vampire, well some miracle and Nate's strategic ever vigilant coughing fits. Charlie had been upset that Bella prevented him from getting to my mom and out of character I defended her, telling Charlie even with her life in danger all she could think of was how to keep him safe, even fleeing to the other end of the country. Yeah, I'm sweet, thinking about my baby sister. My cold hard predatory, natural enemy of a baby sister.

"I'm sorry I even brought it up," Rachel huffed but you still have to deal with it Leah. Sticking your head in the sand is getting you nowhere fast. You have to ask him."

"And if he doesn't feel the same? You know him well enough to know he'll tell me the truth." I looked Rachel in the eye. "He will give it to me straight and I know I can't deal with it. Could you? If you were me Rachel could you cope knowing Paul didn't really love you, that his affection was only a compulsion of nature, nothing more, that he was in a word, trapped?"

I was straightening up the house when I heard Sam's truck herald Nate's return. At least I started straightening up when I heard Sam's truck, jumping from the sofa to carry a couple stray glasses from the living room to the kitchen noting Emily had left everything in order. Satisfied I didn't look like I was goofing off watching a movie while chaos reigned supreme, I busied myself washing the glasses.

"Beautiful you are sight for sore eyes." Nate kissed my neck then asked, "Watching the Color Purple again?"

I could have denied it. "Nope." I could have denied it so I did. The television was clearly giving me away in the other room but I shrugged rinsing the last glass.

"They are about to sing that song you and Emily like to sing but you just had to wash these glasses?"


"You know I am going to wash these again in the morning?" He indicated the drainer holding the few dishes left from the afternoon.

"Are you fucking kidding me? There's nothing wrong with them, they're clean!" I started putting the dishes into the cabinet. He could hunt for them tomorrow.

"Yes, to your weak, mostly human eyes." He rubbed an imaginary smudge off a bowl.

"Vampire snob." I scoffed while bending to put the sauce pans into the lower cabinet.

"Ah, Beautiful, jealousy is not attractive." He nestled himself against my backside still in the air.

"Jealousy is not, but I am." I returned over my shoulder before standing up to face him.

"Yes, you are." He lightly smacked my bottom before tugging me close, sprinkling kisses on my lips. His hands greedily gripped my ass as his tongue plunged into my mouth to awaken my senses to caramel and coffee. He was my favorite flavour. My hands slipped beneath his shirt to stroke his back. Nate abruptly broke our kiss.

"I brought you a plate back." His comment threw me off track.

"What?" My mind was off to sexy times. Kiss me like that and then mention a plate?

"From earlier today. Joshua grilled up a massive amount of food so I fixed some for you." He opened a bag on the table that I had not noticed until now. "He is actually a pretty good cook."

"Uh, okay." I was still reeling, his hands that had been full of my ass two seconds ago were popping open a styrofoam takeout box. "What'cha got?" I tried to orient on the present topic and not the throbbing in my nether regions.

"Ribs, a couple burgers, hot dogs, and a steak, it was the only one left. I had to rough Paul up to win that for you." Taking in my less than enthused face he asked, "Since when do you not like steak?"

"No, it's not that. No potato salad, baked beans nor even a bun." I shook my head, forcing a smile, "No plants were harmed in the making of this meal."

"No, not a single one. As I said it was very good. Josh did not serve anything other than meat. Actually he did not serve, we stood around eating from the platters as the food came off the grill."

"That sounds..." I paused searching for the word. "Gross," I pronounced.

"Wonderful, no?" Was Nahuel's take.

"Everybody's paws were all over this food?" I questioned

"No one used paws, only hands. Joshua does not know." Nate explained then asked, "What is the problem?"

I threw a thousand watt smile. "There is no problem. It does smell good and it was very sweet of you to bring a plate home to me."

"You are always hungry, it was the least I could do." Nate walked off into our living room. I could hear keys, coins and his wallet hitting the mantle while I fiddled with the microwave, heating my plate. "I'm going to rewind this for you." He called out. He liked the part in the movie where Shug, the juke joint singer took over the choir from outside the church just as much as did but by all means he was rewinding for me.

I tried to force the unease flow from my body and mind. He interrupted our kiss but that didn't mean he no longer wanted me. He wanted to feed me. If anything I should take that as a sign of a deeper affection than the panty snatching, christening every room in the house fantasy I had about how things would be when Charlie moved out. I stared at the turntable thinking Rachel was right, I had to confront this. I had to ask him how he felt even if he said he didn't love me it had to be better than this limbo of doubt that haunted me every minute of everyday.