A/N: I would like to take a moment to thank a few people who have made this story possible. First.. Twinabler and Woody, you were my first guinea pigs and seeing how intensely you fell in love with Charli really helped me get the confidence to post her story for everyone to see. I thank you for your patience and suggestions. I would also like to thank all of my readers who have commented. Your kind words keep me going and motivate me to continue Charli's story. I hope all of you enjoyed her as much as I do and I also hope I converted one or two of you into Jacob fans. Lastly.. I need to thank my beautiful and amazing Poptarrts. You have worked so hard to bring this story into the light it astounds me. Your dedication and your peer pressure kept me going and I do not have the proper words to thank you. What you have done for me and for The Ascent was truly selfless and I will forever be in your debt.
Charli and Jake thank you all too...
Stay tuned for Charli's next big adventure...in The Rapture
Chapter Sixty-Four: Charli
"Zoey?" I asked unsure if I was really seeing her or not. She put her hands on her hips and grinned.
"Of course it's me silly!" She chirped and threw her arms around me in a tight hug. "You didn't think I could let you have all the fun did you?"
"But, I don't understand…" I stammered looking back at Jacob who only smiled back at me.
At that moment I saw Seth's tall lanky body emerge from the crowd holding onto two sodas one of which he handed to Zoey. She smiled as she took it from him and leaned back into him as he wrapped his free arm around her waist. My eyes grew wide with surprise. My gaze flicked from Seth to Zoey and then back to Seth.
"When? How? Imprint?" I asked unable to form an intelligible sentence.
Zoey, Seth and Jacob all laughed.
"Let's see," Seth started with a deep breath. "Only a few days ago, she hunted me down to find out why you weren't returning her calls, and yes."
"Really? So you know everything?" I asked, the excitement making my voice rise in pitch.
"She knows you are Big Bird." Emmett laughed dodging my fist as I aimed it for his side. "Nice try. Polly want a cracker?"
"Emmett Cullen!!!!" Rosalie shouted from the other end of the room. With a quick wave Emmett disappeared into the crowd.
"He's funny." Zoey giggled. "And hot."
"Hey!" Seth teased in mock protest.
"He's only funny until you have to deal with him day in and day out." I grumbled. "And for the love of all things sacred, don't ever tell him that he's hot."
"Too late!!!" Emmett bellowed. "Vampire ears! Super sensitive!"
"Anyway, we didn't want to tell you until you had your whole phasing thing figured out." Zoey explained placing one tiny hand on my arm.
"Charli, I think I need you over here." I heard a familiar musical voice demand and an icy hand grabbed onto my other arm.
"Oh hey Alice! Have you met Zoey?" I asked excitedly and I felt Jacob nudge my back. "What?"
"Yes, we've met." Alice said icily and then she pulled me away hissing over her shoulder.
"What was that all about?" I asked glancing back at Zoey and mouthing 'I'm sorry'. To which Zoey just shrugged.
Once we were out of earshot Alice stopped and spun around. She kicked out foot out to the side and crossed her arms over her chest. With a deep sigh she turned her eyes to mine. "Charli, I know Zoey is your friend. But she is human. Humans just don't understand what it is like to be non-human so you should try to spend most of your time with non-humans. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
I stared at Alice for a moment before it finally clicked. "Alice. Are you afraid Zoey is going to move in on best friend status just because she imprinted on Seth?"
"Do you really think I would be that shallow?" Alice asked me her tone disgusted.
"Yeah actually, we do." Jasper said coming up behind Alice and putting his hands on her shoulders. She hmmphed and blew a stray strand of hair out of her face.
"I'm just trying to make sure Charli doesn't get hurt."
"Alice I swear. You are my best non-human friend in the whole wide world. And I promise nothing will ever come between us, ok?" I took a few steps forward and hugged her tightly her tiny granite body making grinding noises as I squeezed her.
After a moment she giggled. "Wow, you really are getting strong."
"I love you Alice. Nothing will ever change that."
"I love you too!" She squealed and returned my hug with so much strength I could feel my ribs straining against her grip.
"Alice." I gasped. "You are going to break my ribs."
She finally released me and looked up at me sheepishly. "You don't completely hate me do you?"
I winced as I rubbed my ribcage. "Why would I hate you?"
"I just don't want you to think I'm a bad person because of that whole jealously thing. I mean, I assure you I am over it now, but no hard feelings right?"
"Right." I agreed still trying to catch my breath.
I saw Seth and Zoey being pushed towards us again as they tried to make their way to the living room and out of the crowds. Seth was shouting something over his shoulder to Paul and I grabbed onto his shirt before they could pass us by.
"Hey Charli." He said surprised. He glanced at me and then Alice. "Everything figured out here?"
"Yeah, that is actually what I wanted to talk to you about." I said stepping forward and snatching Alice's arm before she could sneak off. I heard her make a small grunt of irritation. "Ok, now let's try this again. Zoey, Alice…Alice, Zoey."
At the sound of my voice Zoey turned around and smiled. "Hi Alice." She said happily holding out her hand.
"Hello." Alice slipped her hand into Zoey's but didn't make eye contact.
"Holy shit! Is that a Michael Kors?" Zoey asked pointing at Alice's jacket. Alice immediately did a little hop and a grin spread across her face.
"It is! Don't you just love the slight pattern he has inlaid in the fabric?"
"Yeah I do." Zoey glanced at Charli and winked.
"Here come with me. You just have to see the rest of this line." She grabbed Zoey by the arm and together they disappeared most likely upstairs into Alice's live in closet.
"How did she have any idea…?" I asked Seth when he came up to me and put an arm around my shoulders.
"She didn't. I had Jasper peek at the label and report back to me. Then we did a quick search on Rosalie's iPhone and whammo! Instant friendship."
"You are bad."
"Yeah well, in the words of Tim Gun, 'Make it work!'"
"Wow! Look at the fashion name drop from the kid werewolf!" I teased punching him playfully in the side.
"Hey Seth! Come check out Nessie's Halo score! She's kicking everyone's ass!!!" Brady yelled out from the living room. Seth excused himself with a gentle squeeze and then waved as he trotted into the living room.
"Hey, your dad is over by the kitchen." Jacob whispered into my ear and I nodded. I felt him reach for my hand and weave his long fingers into mine. I let him lead me to the other end of the room and I kept my head down avoiding making eye contact with anyone. I wasn't trying to be antisocial I just wasn't in the mood to be making small talk and answering questions. Not to mention the fact that I had just lost my virginity less than four hours ago and I was positive it showed all over my face like a bright blinking sign. I felt Jacob come to a stop and I recognized my dad's shoes standing just in front of me.
"Hey there kiddo. How were the flying lessons?" He asked and I was impressed with the fact that he asked the question like it was a normal everyday thing to ask your daughter. I grinned softly as I looked up.
"Pretty good actually." I answered. "My landing is still a little sketchy, but practice makes perfect right?"
"How was fishing?" I asked him very curious as to what exactly Charlie Swan and Billy Black had subjected him to.
"It was enlightening. And you two were right about the bickering holy cow." He smiled at me and reached for my hand. I felt strange standing there holding my dad's hand with one hand and Jacob's hand with the other. The two men I loved more than life pulling me at both ends.
"Listen." My dad said with a sigh. "I know that when you two are not together you are both hurting. I am not going to pretend that I understand that, because I don't. I can tell you though that I see it in your faces. I saw what it did to Charli when Jacob left, and I saw the pain in Jacob's face when you phased last night at the bonfire. I don't want to be the one to put that look on your face Charli. I want you to know that whatever you decide to do you have my blessing. You don't get it easily I will tell you that but after spending time with Billy and Chief Swan today I have at least come to realize that this isn't some silly crush. This is way beyond anything I have ever known so I can't pretend to know what is best for you anymore."
I could hear his voice hitch and I was afraid he was about to cry. I leaned forward and rested my head on his shoulder.
"What are you saying dad?" I asked finally.
"I'm saying whatever you need to be happy, I'm ok with it." He said gruffly clearing his throat.
"Dad, I don't know what to say." I said quietly stunned by his shift in opinion.
"Just say that you will wait until you are eighteen to officially move out and you will always love me and you won't run away or something stupid like that." He said as he wrapped his arm around my shoulders.
"I promise." I whispered feeling the tears pricking at my eyes. He gave me a tight one armed hug and then let me go and I could see in his face that he was hurting inside.
"Go have fun." He encouraged putting on a brave face and waving me off.
I was about to open my mouth to tell him that I wouldn't do anything to hurt him when I saw a beautiful woman walk up and put her hand on my dad's arm. She had shoulder length black hair that was sprinkled with salt and pepper. She was very petite and her features were strong yet very feminine. My dad smiled down at her as she hooked her arm in his and lead him to where Sue Clearwater and Charlie Swan were seated in the dining room.
I felt Jacob come up behind me and wrap his arm around my waist.
"Delia Call. She's Embry's mom." He said following my gaze. I nodded.
"She's pretty." I said dumbly.
"She will help keep his heart occupied." He whispered into my ear. I closed my eyes and tried hard to block out the emotions of everyone in the room but his. I concentrated on sending him as much love as I could and I felt his body shake with his soft deep laughter before I heard him.
"I love you too." He said as he kissed my cheek gently.
The pull in my chest thrummed happily as he held me close and I honestly couldn't imagine being more content. At that very moment my life was perfect. I knew there was bound to be changes and challenges but I know that no matter what they were I was willing to face them as long as I had Jacob.
I turned to face him and buried my face in his neck and he slipped his hand under the hem of my shirt and pressed his palm to my naked back.
Everything was, against all odds, perfect.
"Someone fucking help me!" Zoey's frantic scream made everyone stop talking and turn to stare at her. She was standing at the top of the stairs, her eyes wide.
"Alice collapsed and I can't get her to wake up!"
Jacob looked down at me and frowned, "Here we go again."