I jumped the moment that I heard howling in the distance, causing me to run faster than before. Why was I stupid enough to agree to come camping with Mike and the group anyway? I stopped for a moment to catch my breath - only to start running again as I noticed the sound of the howling was getting closer. Everything was fine up until Mike and Jessica decided to get into a fight over which direction we should go and ended up tearing the map in half. Then for some silly reason everyone agreed to split up to try and find their way back to the main camp site. By the time everyone had gone their own way, I found myself alone. Sighing, I had picked the way we had originally used and started the long hike back. At some point I must have been turned round or something because I soon found myself in some part of the forest I had never been in and the sun had set. To make matters worse I was tired and hungry. That all changed about an hour ago when I heard the first wolf howl. I have been running ever since.
I managed to find a clearing and groaned when all I saw was clouded sky. Charlie and Billy had taught me a long time ago to use the stars and moon if I ever found myself lost. A lot of good that it was doing me now! I was too tired to move on but I knew it wasn't safe to remain out in the open like I was. I hunted around looking for somewhere to hide when I suddenly felt myself being closed in on. Just then the moon came out from beneath its cloud cover shining its rays on the woods surrounding the clearing. I almost screamed as I saw several pairs of eyes glistening in the shadows. I shrank to the ground as five giant wolf-like creatures moved towards me. The largest one looked to his left to a slightly smaller wolf. His silver coat flowed from light sliver to a dark grey the closer it got to his tail. I couldn't stop staring as it moved closer to me until it was directly in front of me; even then all I could do was let out a small whimper.
I stopped breathing when it lowered its head so that we were eye to eye before it whipped its head around to look at the large black one. It almost looked like it nodded its head before turning back to face me. I watched in fascination as it crouched down low and looked at me like it almost expected me to climb on its back. I wiggled away only for it to roll its eyes and move closer to me, we kept doing this until I ran into the legs of another wolf causing me to scramble into the one in front of me instead. Between my two choices I picked the one that looked like it didn't want to eat me the most.
"Okay, if I get on your back, you promise that none of your little friends are going to eat me right?"
I swear that I heard one of the wolves laugh before the silver wolf rolled his eyes at me and yet again offered me his back. I stood up and slowly climbed onto his back digging my hands into the long fur that grew around his neck. I could have sworn I heard the wolf purr, but I put it down to my just being tired. Without warning my new friends took off running into the forest. I held back a scream and dug my fingers into his fur more firmly as I tightened my legs around his middle. By the time my ride was over I knew exactly where I was and to make matters just that tiny bit more interesting, my father and Billy where standing on the veranda looking like they were waiting for us!
I watched as my father moved over to us weaving his way between the wolves stopping when he got to me.
"Bella we need to talk."
I nodded my head and gasped as my father lifted me off my furry ride without so much of a sweat. For a man who was in his early 40's Charlie was still fit and very good looking but I didn't realise he could still pick me up like a four year old. He swung me up into his arms and carried me back to the house. Billy wheeled his way inside before my father followed him, but not before turning to the wolves and telling them to give us five minutes before he carried me into the warmth of the house. My father carefully set my feet on the floor and told me to go and change into some dry clothing and then come sit in the lounge room. I nodded my head and slowly climbed up to my bedroom. All I wanted to do was to go to sleep but if my father wanted to say something I would find some excess energy from somewhere.
I threw my wet clothes in the wash basket before pulling my fluffy cow PJ's on, then I shuffled down stairs again, stifling a yawn. My father and Billy where waiting for me with a cup of coffee. After I had taken my seat and Billy had wrapped a blanket round me my father started to talk.
"Isabella, do you remember the stories that I used to tell you when you would come for visits during the summers?"
I had only been back in La Push now for the last few weeks. Before that I had lived with my mother and Phil, her new husband. In the end, Charlie wound up having to come down to Phoenix to sign my hospital release forms after Phil had thrown me down a flight of stairs. I nodded my head at my father who gave me a quick smile before going back to what he was saying.
"Well they aren't exactly just stories. They are true. For as long as our people have walked on this earth we have turned into the spirits of our ancestors. The wolves that brought you home tonight Isabella, they are my pack. I am their Alfa."
I looked at my father and blinked before turning to Billy the man who had become my Uncle hoping he could tell me that what my father just told was a joke. The look in his eyes told me that this wasn't one of their jokes, that the wolf I had just ridden here on was, in fact, an actual person. I stood up and began to pace back a forth like a caged animal. My mother always told me I was a freak of nature - that I should have been drowned at birth! I closed my eyes and knelt in front of the empty fire place as my mind went back to the last fight I had with her.
"Isabella, get your ass down here right now."
I crawled further into my hiding spot hoping that my mother would just shut up and leave me alone. I had spent the last eighteen odd years being abused by the woman but every time I mentioned moving in with Charlie she would throw a hissy fit saying I wasn't going anywhere near him. In the end, Phil had found me and dragged me out by my hair, screaming at me to stop ignoring my mother. I didn't realise that we were standing at the top of the stairs when I used the self defence training Charlie had taught me the last time I had seen him when I was twelve. In the end, Phil wound up throwing me down the stairs, breaking three of my ribs, spraining my wrist and causing me to suffer a major concussion just as the Police arrived to investigate a public disturbance.
I jumped and screamed as I felt a warm hand suddenly touch my shoulder. I spun round to see the room had filled with a group of half naked young boys. This caused me to back up even further… right into Billy's legs. I took a deep breath as he placed his hand in my hair to comfort me. My father came and knelt in front of me searching my eyes to make sure that I was okay. I gave him a weak smile before I touched my ribs to let him know where my mind had gone. He frowned as his eyes filled with sorrow causing me to lean forward and hug him. I never blamed my father for what had happened to me that night, but he did. We had never really spoken about it in all the time since we left the hospital; but for the first week every time he looked at me I swore I could hear him growl! Now that I knew that was the case I felt a little better. It meant that I wasn't going insane. My father pulled back and wiped the tears from my check. I hadn't even realised I had been crying.
"Isabella I know you are tired but I would like to introduce you to the boys. They tend to be here a lot and I don't want you to feel scared."
I nodded my head and looked around my father finding myself being drawn to one more than the others. From what I could guess, he was about 5 ft 11, slightly slimmer than the rest of the boys that had made themselves at home around the room. Looking at his hair I could tell he used hair gel in fact all of the boys did -causing me to screw up my nose a little. I had nothing against a man looking after himself but I did stop at the amount of hair gel some would stick in their hair! I liked to be able to run my fingers through it without leaving my hand greasy. His eyes were almost black in colour rather than the different shades of brown the other boys had. Something told me he also had a temper. I shivered to myself and made a little mental note to stay as far away from him as possible.
I listened as my father introduced them to me. Sam was the current Alfa in training as it were. Jacob was his second in command, followed by Jared, who was actually the third to change but due to his blood line came third, Embry - who my father explained shouldn't have even phased - meaning the man everyone thought was his father wasn't, and last of all Paul, the one I had sworn to stay as far away from as possible. I nodded my head to each of them staying hidden behind my father the whole time.
"Right boys. Thank you for bring Isabella home but I have to ask you to all leave for the night. We can meet up in the morning after Isabella has gotten some sleep. Now out."
I heard as the boys called their good nights and hugged Billy before Jacob pushed him out the door calling a final good bye. I gave my father a quick hug good night before climbing the stairs again shivering as I heard the cry of wolves in the night as I crawled into my bed. That night I dreamt of a white wolf running free through the forest.