Author's Chapter Notes:

Special thanks to my beta, LauraWeasley.

I apologize for the months that lead up to this chapter. Life has been hectic. I hope all of you aren't too upset about that. I'm sure you'll need to reacquaint yourselves with the storyline because I've been gone so long, so feel free to back-read on the previous chapters.

Thanks to everyone for their support and their votes on whether HLW should end at this chapter or my idea original 15 chapters. Based on the outcome, feedback, and a closer look at my story outline, I had concluded it would take 14 chapters to finish.

However, after writing chapter 10, and getting it back from Laura, and then adding more to it, this original chapter ended up over 20,000 words. I have decided to split it and give you another chapter. (So now, yes, the whole story will be 15 chapters in length.)

NOTICE: All my explicit material has been edited in comlpliance of FFnet and its Terms of Service. If you are interested in the full, explicit version, please find the story in Twilighted dot net (under achelle131).

Happy Reading!


Ambassadors - Litost

Gotye - Somebody I Used to Know

Chante Moore - Love's Taken Over

Chapter 10 – Heat

Brushing a bit of sand off my pants, I gently adjusted the blanket beneath me, the constant wind carrying over from the pacific hitting the right side of my face. I shifted the camera strap around my neck, lifting to take a snapshot of the action. My eyes followed the soccer ball as Paul, Sam, Embry and Leah kicked it around between each other. It was my last Saturday before the new job. Paul thought it would be a good thing to spend time with the pack and their girls before I got tied down with work.

I hadn't photographed anything in a while so I made sure to bring my Nikon. We made a picnic of sandwiches, chips, potato salad, and soda. I'd chipped in to make some turkey club sandwiches with bacon and avocado, my favorite, to contribute to the lunch.

After swallowing her first bite, I heard Emily exclaim, "Yum!"

"Let me try," Sam insisted, and Emily let him have a drive-by bite into his sandwich.

"This is so good," Emily crooned as she took another bite.

Sam's dark eyes gleamed appreciatively at the sandwich and then flitted towards me. "That is good. I'm definitely having one after the game!"

"Thanks," I said before taking another shot, this time of Embry and Jake fighting over the ball. "Be sure to. I made plenty."

"Will do." He gave me a smile, though something in his eyes seemed a little surprised and pleased at how I spoke to him just then.

I made an effort to be all right with Sam. To be amiable with Emily. For Paul. Because Sam was his Alpha, and Paul worshipped him. He worshipped them both, actually, and because of that, wanted so badly for me to like them, too.

Despite the loyalty I felt to Leah, I knew I had to be mature about things. The feeling of guilt and betrayal for being okay with Emily or Sam was still there, but I also knew all of us had to get over it soon. And I could tell that Leah tried to be understanding, though we never really spoke outright about it. I could perceive it in our interactions that she didn't hold me accountable to her being my only friend in the tribe, but I still didn't want to ever hurt her. It was hard to put myself somewhere in this situation, so I decided on some place in the middle. Leah will always be my best friend, but I can make the effort to get along with Sam and Emily. I would be cool with them, but when it came down to it, Leah was my girl.

But yes, since they were important to Paul, I had to make sure things were good between me and them. I'd even made it a point to sit with them on the blanket sitting between them, Jared and Kim.

Between plays the guys would come for a drink, and I would catch Sam's expression when Emily would hand him his water bottle. There was a deep appreciation and love there, the same expression that Paul wore for me. And then I finally got it. If Emily felt half of what I was feeling for Paul when she looked at Sam, I knew it would be virtually impossible to resist, and it was the first time I could actually understand her choice, that no matter how much she cared about Leah, she couldn't deny her feelings for Sam.

Maybe I was on the road to forgiving them both for what happened. To let go of my own objections and judgmental attitude toward their union. But that was going to take time. Rationally, it was silly to hold a grudge with them over a situation that wasn't mine to begin with, but as my eyes caught the loneliness in Leah's eyes as she went for a Sprite in the cooler nearby, I was instantly reminded of the pain it all caused my friend. I suddenly realized that until she found happiness, I could never be truly happy for Emily and Sam.

I hoped that she would. I hope she would find someone better than Sam. Someone better for her. Someone like my Paul. I had a fleeting thought as Jake nearly knocked her over to get his soda that maybe her and Jake

Nah. That would be too weird. I snickered softly at the thought.

"What's so funny?" Paul asked, settling on the blanket next to me as Jake took a seat with Leah, Embry, and Seth on a dead tree trunk yards away from us.

"Nothing," I said. I suddenly realized that we were somewhat segregated today, with all those imprinted on the sand, and those left over on the trunk. I hoped that wouldn't last long, that we could all get together and not separate from each other just because we all had significant others. I wanted Leah to find her happiness. I wanted Jake to be happy too. Maybe not exactly with each other, but with something better than who or what they long for currently.

As I felt Paul snake his arm around me, I watched Quil with Claire looking out at the horizon after just skipping stones on the water. As I felt him get up from me to get himself a soda, I still watched the strange duo, the young man and the toddler girl.

I thought the pairing disturbing at first: a sixteen-year-old imprinting on a three-year-old. It was difficult to wrap my head around, even after Paul tried to explain the phenomenon to me. It still disturbed me, until I saw that he really was just an older brother to her, for now and for as long as she'll need it.

Paul had described it so eloquently that I had to look in his dark eyes as he said it. "It's not so much that he imprinted on a child, per se, but on the essence of the person that she will one day be. That person exists even at a young age. We imprint to a person's soul, and not the physical being. True, the physicality of it all comes at the right time and is a big part of it, but not the only part. In that same sense, he'll still love and adore her when she gets really old. Like beyond sex old, because the essence of the person that you are, that part that we attached to, is with you from your birth to your death." I responded by saying that was the most beautiful thing he'd ever said to me, but I still didn't believe him. I didn't understand it.

It wasn't until I saw them the next time that I could see that he genuinely cared for her, but not in any sort of inappropriate way. The way he looked at her with genuine concern or sincere happiness—that alone was enough for me to be a believer. To accept such a strange phenomenon without complete understanding of it. A mystery that was easy to consent without full comprehension.

Even at that very moment, with the breeze blowing the cherubic toddler's hair into Quil's face, he seemed to not mind it at all. In fact, he seemed to be playing a game of peek-a-boo with her using her long black hair, and hiding behind her back. He was just happy and carefree as ever, reminding me a lot of how Paul is around me.

"Hey," Paul breathed, joining me on the blanket after their soccer game was over, taking my attention away from Claire and Quil. He leaned over and planted a kiss on my nose, pulling back to give me a sexy smile.

"Hey," I echoed, returning the grin. As he took a sip of his Dr. Pepper, he wrapped his free arm around me from behind, both of us watching the sea as the pack laughed and chatted around us. He was such a strong, steady barricade of warmth against me.

The banter was there again, the camaraderie of family gathering at one place, who all don't necessarily get along completely, but all still love one another in their own way, and are essentially one unit. As I glanced at all the faces around us, I realized that all of these people would be in my life—or in Paul's and my life, for that matter—for a long, long time.

We returned home, the rest of the pack following to the house. I automatically assumed it was a tribe council meeting. I even walked into the back and pulled out a notebook from my room and my favorite pen to take notes with. Tribe histories were spouted out at these things, and I wanted to be prepared, but as I stepped back into the kitchen, everyone was gathered around the table, with smiling faces. Tall wolf-boy bodies parted, and in the center of the table was a cake iced in fluffy white with I assumed to be 21 candles lit up, ready to break in the smoke alarm. As all of them sang happy birthday to me, Paul offered me his hand and dragged me to the table, square in front of the cake. My father and brother's eyes were alight with glee over their surprise.

For the first time, surrounded my friends, family and loved ones, back in La Push—the home I'd so shamelessly avoided because of painful memories—I was sincerely and utterly happy. This year, instead of a wish of desire, I wished to be rewarded for my gratitude that change was finally happening in my small existence.


I'd just stepped out of the shower after making a breakfast of cheese omelets, toast and fried smoked kielbasa for the house, when my father wheeled into the kitchen whistling.

"Got somewhere to be?" I asked him, noting he was dressed to go out.

"I'm going over to Sue's with Charlie later," he answered, checking out the spread on the table. "After you leave for Portland." Picking up a piece of the sausage and popping it into his mouth, he gushed, "You spoil us, Rachel."

I laughed in response. "I like to take care of my men."

He nodded in agreement. "Excited about your first day?" he asked. I was going to start my job the following morning, and I would be driving with Paul in a couple of hours to Portland. Neither of them liked the fact that I'd make the trip alone; especially Paul. To a mix of my father's dismay and relief, Paul volunteered to accompany me on my drive to and from Oregon. Paul wasn't going to stay the whole length of my training. In fact he would head back to Forks on all fours via wolf and return on Wednesday night, my last night of job preparation.

"Yes," I sighed. "Well, more nervous than excited, it feels."

"I'm sure you'll do just fine. It's always nerve-wracking to do something new. But, Rachel, you have to know, I'm very proud of you."

Speaking of something new, my brother stepped out of his room, feet dragging. He looked tired, dazed, and distracted. He grabbed a soda can from the fridge, two slices of toast, sandwiching an omelet between them, heading for the door.

"You're not going to stay for breakfast?" Dad asked, though I was relieved that he at least thought to feed himself.

Jake shook his head. "No, thank you." It wasn't in a disrespectful tone. Just one that was tired and dejected.

"Jake—" I began.

"Yea?" he asked, pausing at the door. His head turned in my direction but his eyes barely met mine.

The fact made me frown. "You…," I thought for a moment to ask if he was going to join us to eat, but he hasn't felt very family-oriented lately, so I did a last minute switch of question. "Will I see you before I leave?"

He sighed, his dark eyes turning to me. "Leave?" he asked, with a blank expression.

"She's leaving for Portland," Dad reminded him. "For training for her new job."

His face grew with understanding. "Oh that's right," he responded, attempting a half-hearted smile. He asked me when I'd be back, and I answered Thursday morning a little too earnestly, pleased that he took at least a little interest in my schedule.

A forced smile stretched across his disheartened face. "Good luck."

"Thanks," I said, thinking that was lame. All I got was a "good luck," with not so much a pat on the back or his one of his trademark fist-pounds.

As he opened the door and a foot was almost out, he hesitated. His body turned and walked toward me and gave me a hug. "I'm sure you'll do great. Good luck, Rachel."

"Thanks," I breathed.

"Not that you'll need it," he said as he pulled back, his mouth finally stretched in a sincere grin.

"Thank you, Jake." I returned the smile. God, I missed my brother.

"Anyway, I'm gonna go meet up with Embry," he mumbled. "Bye, Dad. Good luck again, sis."

We both watched him walk out in silence. I felt guilty about it, but I'd almost grown to hate what he's become—this brooding, distracted, angry, and unfocused kid—because of the Swan girl. "How long do you think he'll be like this?"

"There's no telling," he said.

"It's like as the days go by, his mood gets worse."

"They'll be back from their honeymoon soon," he offered. "He's waiting for his chance to fight Edward."

My eyes widened. "Still? But Paul says Sam won't allow it."

He let out an exasperated sigh. "I know." I saw my own worry mirrored in my father's eyes. The grief there.

"He wants to leave, doesn't he? If he can't fight Edward."

The heartache was palpable in his voice when he sad, "I think fight or not, he wants to leave. He wants confirmation that Bella's alive… or at least that she's survived the change. But in his eyes, the Cullens have broken the treaty, whether she survives the process or not. I think he wants to kill Edward to punish him for this, but I think he also wants to go and be alone… to… mourn his best friend."

I pushed a piece of egg around my plate with my fork, staring at it. "I'd rather sleep on the floor than lose him again."

"I know that, sweetheart." His hand rose to rub my back in a consoling manner. "I don't want him to leave either. No one does.

Paul showed up to the house a little before noon, and after my dad kissed me goodbye and good luck, we were on our way to Portland. Paul was enthusiastic about the trip, unable to resist the chance to stay in a hotel room alone together. As I drove, Paul played DJ with my stereo, bringing a whole bunch of his CDs and explaining which songs reminded him of me. We were still in that new-relationship, googly-eyed stage, where we were still learning about one another. I was determined to relish it for as long as it lasted.

When you're used to snippets of time, our upcoming full night together, as well as the one we'll have Wednesday night, might as well be forever. The way I felt during the drive was like bursting off the school bus on the first day of summer vacation: no worries except what to do first. Ride bikes, go to the pool, etc. But that day I knew what I wanted to do first, and judging by the excited smirk Paul wore on his face, I was sure he was thinking the same thing.

You could almost read his giddy excitement as we pulled up to the Portland Marriot City Center, and even more fired up when we walked in. "Fancy," he breathed while looking around the three-story lobby as I spoke to a front desk representative about my booking. We checked in and emptied my luggage into my room.

Stepping into the room, I realized this might be the first time Paul had been to a hotel that was this nice before. Granted, it wasn't five-star accommodations, but neither of us came from families with a wealthy disposition to afford such lavish hotels and things. The huge, white, king-sized bed was awfully inviting to us both, but not in the way I would think for Paul. I was half expecting him to get me naked on the bed, but he simply kicked his shoes off, sitting onto the mattress in a way that seemed to test its spring.

I headed to the bathroom and unpacked my toiletries, arranging them along the counter and around the sink when I suddenly heard thumping from the bedroom.

"What are you doing?" I asked, catching Paul jumping barefoot on the bed like a 5-year-0ld, with a goofy grin on his face, his cackle of a laugh filling the room.

He motioned me to join him, and I shook my head initially, but he looked so sincerely amused doing this that I found myself wanting to do it too. Only a few words of encouragement was all it took before I found myself kicking off my flats and jumping on the bed with him, laughing and playing like we were six years old.

It didn't take long for me to fall onto my side onto my bed—which I swear was Paul's fault like he tried to trip me during my jump—and for Paul to fall right on top of me—yet another "accident" that was on"purpose."

He smiled down on me as I tried to catch my breath. I hated that he was so supernaturally fit, and I was just as ordinarily out of breath as any person off the street.

My stomach growled, Paul picking up on the sound right away. "Dinner?" he asked.

I nodded excitedly, happy to be in a new city with my new boyfriend.

For dinner, I was feeling adventurous, and convinced Paul to walk a few blocks to Sushi Sakura for some conveyer belt Maki rolls.

We had to pace ourselves as we strategically picked out intriguing plates that sluggishly passed us on the belt that swerved through the restaurant. There were color-coded plates according to price, and I knew something like this would break the bank if we weren't careful. I wanted to try most everything but the eel. He wanted everything that was cooked, mostly some rock shrimp tempura, chicken teriyaki, and some tonkatsu.

So as he crunched on some tonkatsu and sampled California rolls, he watched me with careful, curious eyes as I picked up a piece of yellowtail roll with my chopsticks and stuck it in my mouth.

"So that's like… raw fish."

I confirmed with a nod and a giggle, watching his face turn sour. I felt his eyes on me, like they always are, as I chewed further, tasting the creaminess of the avocado and melt-in-your-mouth fish in the rice, seaweed paper, and savory soy sauce.

His eyebrows scrunched together. "Is it really that good? It's not like… slimy or anything?"

I shook my head vigorously. "Try it," I suggested. I leaned over the table with another piece of yellowtail roll, bringing it to his mouth. He studied it for a moment. "It's Buri, err, Yellowtail."

One of his brows furrowed in doubt.

"Yellowtail is a type of fish."

His eyes still inspected it, his head straining away. "Seriously? It looks so… raw."

"Yes we established that earlier. Come on, Paul. You've gotta at least try it. If you don't like it, I'll lay off." It was weird how comfortable I'd grown with him in such a short amount of time. This time last week I was doing all I could to ignore him. Now he was my best friend.

With is eyes squeezed shut, he opened his mouth and chewed quickly, slowing down the motion as he tasted it. He swallowed, and then took a long sip of his Coke.

"So?" I coaxed.

"It's a little weird."

"Is it?" I shrugged, concluding that he didn't like it. But as I went for my next bite, I saw another set of chop sticks out of the corner of my eye grab a piece. My eyes shot up to him, scrutinizing him as he chewed the next one thoughtfully. "You like it?"

He shrugged this time, popping another into his pie hole. "It's growing on me," he muttered with a mouthful, a big grin creeping on his face.

I returned his smile, unable to resist the fact that it pleased him to have yet another common like. Suffice to say, we split the rest of the roll.

He shocked me when he turned to the belt, grabbing a plate of what looked like Rainbow Roll. "So what's this then?"

"I think that's the rainbow roll—a cali roll with different types of fish on top."

His mouth curled down thoughtfully as he noted, "I liked the California roll. Do you know what kind of fish this is?"

"Yellow tail, salmon, tuna. Not sure what the other white fish is though."

He shrugged and had a piece, chewing attentively again, enjoying my scrutiny. After a few more bites, he says. "That's it. I'm sold. I love sushi."

I laughed. "So awesome. I love it!"

He grabbed my hand, his thumb smoothing over my knuckles. "I love you."

My lips twitched as I put effort toward suppressing a huge grin. "Love you, too."

The rest of dinner was a blur, and we found ourselves back in the room. This time, there was no jumping on the bed like little children. His hand took hold of mine, dragging me forward to the center of the room. The electric sexual tension was thick in the suite, filling the space between us.

With one swift yank of his arm on my wrist, I was flush against his large body. He kissed me slow, the movement of his lips languid and sensual. His fingers press the back of my neck.

"I'm so glad you're here with me," I offered when he finally pulled away.

"Me too," he whispered as he worked on the fly of my jeans.

I lead Paul to the bed, undressing him, admiring his body from every angle. Kissing him in new places. On the back of knee. His elbows. We finally had time on our side.

Gently pushing me onto the bed, he hoisted himself on top of me. As he straddled my legs, his sex jutted out of his body, heavy, proud, demanding. But before he could lean down towards me, my hands found his length, and he shuddered, and almost immediately, I saw sweat breaking out all over him. Watching me touch him, my palm sliding up and down his shaft, he seemed to let himself go for the moment.

I sat up suddenly, and a sigh of anticipation left him. My lips parted and took him carefully into my mouth.

Paul gasped and fell back on his arms. "Holy... shit."

He was so elegantly shaped, his skin so smooth and luscious, that I actually took sincere pleasure in this act. His fingers speared into my hair, the tips of his fingers massaging my scalp as my tongue glided against his length. He grunted and moaned his pelvis thrusting to an inconsistent rhythm. As my right hand clamped over his girth and ran the remainder of his length that my mouth couldn't accommodate, my other hand scooped up under him, grabbing the strong curve of his backside. His ass was just too deliciously shaped for me to resist. "Oh my God, baby, yes."

It took no time for him to release, the warm jets shooting into my mouth. I'd swallowed unconsciously, letting him flow down my throat, only noting the fact after he was done. I'd never done that before, with a strict spit-only policy. But this was Paul, and, much like he felt for me, I realized there was nothing I wouldn't do for him.

His breath hadn't returned to him when he leaned down and kissed me, pulling my head up by the chin with his fingers to meet his face. "I was trying not to go yet," he admitted.

"What do you mean?"

"I wanted to have sex."

"Ah," I nodded with a giggle. "Sorry."

He snorted. "I wasn't looking for an apology. That was... fuckin' awesome, don't get me wrong. I'm far from complaining. I was just letting you know that it wasn't my goal." He lay me down on the bed, his head tilting as he regarded me, a thought coming to his mind. "So maybe we should work on you until I can go again?"

Before I could answer, his mouth was on mine, his lips moving slowly, yet passionately. They trailed past my chin, past my collar bone. He licked a path on the valley between my breasts, nipped gently at my nipples. My torso arched in response, instantly moistening between my thighs, only prompting him to swirl his tongue around one while his hand massaged my other bosom. He kissed a path to my navel, where he lingered and nipped before he moved onto my left hip, I giggled involuntarily my head turning to the side. Goose pimples multiplied all over my skin, as was his consistent effect he had on me. And then suddenly he parted my legs and cupped my core, and a gasp flew out of my mouth instantly.

Grinning up at me, he then glided his mouth toward the apex of my thighs.

A soft growl left his lips, more like a purr, as he ran his nose up and down my center, very softly, very gently. I writhed underneath him. He blew a breath gently up the length of my sex. Where the hell does he learn this stuff? I made a note to ask him later, though a part of me warned me that I probably shouldn't.

"It's payback time." I heard the wicked grin in his voice, jolting me back to the moment. My body sang from his words, and his tongue started to slowly circle my clitoris. I felt the warm grip of his calloused hands hold down my thighs to keep me in place.

I moaned his name as my body bowed and convulsed at the touch of his wet mouth against me.

He swirled his tongue round and round, again and again, keeping up the torture. I was losing all sense of self, every atom of my being concentrating hard on that small, potent livewire between my legs. My limbs went rigid.

Within those seconds of release, I barely registered what he was doing. Reaching between our bodies, he quickly positioned himself, and then his dark eyes found mine. Without breaking eye contact with me, he filled me—completed me. I watched an expression of utter ecstasy cross his feature as his eyes rolled back in his head.

All I cared about was this—the delicious sensation of Paul Lahote—my boyfriend—moving with me at a steady, practiced tempo. His muscular arms were braced on either side of my head, and he was panting with exertion.

Making love to him was different this time, but only because there were no time restraints, no sneaking around, no beating the rush of my brother coming home, or my father walking in on us. We were able to leisurely enjoy one another, kissing him behind the knee, licking me on the elbow.

We made love slowly, each of us stopping each other at various points until we couldn't stand it any longer, and then reversing in the other reckless, fiery direction. It felt more like we were the only two people in this world, and though many times before I'd felt this way, no other time had the feeling ever been so solid. I sank my nails into the back of his neck, pulling his face harder towards me, savoring every slow, passionate moment of it.

When it was over, he collapsed beside me, and with his hand, gently, but firmly turned me on my side, my back towards him. As his arms cocooned my body, I relished being spooned by him, his warm breath on my neck.

"I can't believe we get to stay the night together, finally," he breathed.

I shut my eyes at his deep, raspy voice, winded from his climax. So undeniably sexy. "Neither can I."

"I've been too damn excited for this night," he confessed.

A smile touches my lips. "So have I."

I feel his face change into a smile, his cheek resting in the side of my head. And then his lips press against the base of my neck before he placed his head back behind mine.

My smile stretched even wider, my heart constricting with notably corny, but undeniable joy. Nothing could ruin this night, even if we tried.

Somewhere in that moment of post-coital bliss, the tendrils of fatigue and happiness pulled me into slumber. I couldn't exactly recall my dreams that night, but I knew they were of bliss, with Paul involved. Of course there was no surprise there.

I woke to his dark eyes watching me. His lips curled up in the corners as he whispered, "Good morning, baby." It was just enough sunlight filtering through the hotel room curtains, reflecting off his irises that made them glimmer.

It is a moment beyond perfection—beyond anything I'd ever imagined before. It was hard to believe that brown eyes could glow like his did, but they did, and to wake up to such a thing. Amazement wasn't enough of a word for what I felt. I smiled at the sight. "Good morning." The aging lines around his bronze eyes grew prominent on his smiling face, causing my heart to skip a beat. I was not mistaken—it was an amazing way to wake up.

"I don't think anything could top this moment right here," I confessed.

He read the bashfulness in my expression. "This goes down in my top ten, too."

"What's your number one?" I mused.

"Our first time."

"Ah." And I'm brought back to that day, answering the door in a towel, and him looking like walking sex in nothing but shorts. The way he came at me, so unexpected.

His smile was vindictive, his eyes far away. I was sure he was reliving the same thing. I dragged a finger along his chest, bringing him back to me. "What would be yours?" he asked.

"I'm not sure. They may all be the same in your top 10, but I'm not sure if I could give you an order."

I felt him move, his hand appearing from underneath the mattress. "Maybe this might help you put things in order."

He moved his hand so it was above me, something shiny hung from his fingers. It took me a moment to focus before I saw from his forefinger and thumb dangled a silver chain with a pendant of an "R" on it.

"Paul," I gasped.

"Happy birthday."

"Paul! That's for me?" I still couldn't fathom it.

He motioned for me to sit up and with the other hand positioned me so that my back was to him. He reached both arms around me, hanging the pretty silver piece in front of my neck and securing it in the back. I felt a hot kiss on my shoulder. "I hope you like it."

I looked to my left, where a full length mirror hung. "It's beautiful." It was slightly heavy, no doubt solid silver.

I turned and embraced him, letting my weight crush him beneath me.

"Not nearly as fine as you, though," he said.

I brushed my lips against his. "Thank you," I whispered, my lips still grazing his mouth.

He nodded, but his eyes fixed suddenly on a point behind me. "First day on the job," he breathed, his hand coming up to brush the length of my arm with a feather-light caress. "How does it feel?"

The reminder brought a flip to my stomach. "Nerve-wracking," I admitted, sitting up.

His hand reached for my face, brushing some straggling locks of hair out of my face and behind my ears. I shivered at the heat of his touch. "I'm sorry. But you know, I'm sure you'll do fine. No, not just fine. Amazing. I'm pretty sure you'll do amazing." His other arm wrapped around my body assuredly, the warmth of his body tempting me not to leave.

"You make it hard for me to leave for work, lying here."

"I'm sorry," he mumbled, his fingers combing through my hair. His expression—the devilish grin and bedroom eyes—suggested he wasn't serious about his apology.

"You do," I said.

"You make it hard for me, too," he breathed with a mischievous face, pressing his pelvis against me, his thick erection hoisted against my hip.

I laughed and pushed him away. "You're truly a pervert."

"You like it," he insisted, his hand slipping between my thighs and finding my weakest spot.

I flinched as his fingers ran across my flesh, a moan escaping my lips. I could've laid there until he got me undone, but there was a view of the alarm clock from over his shoulder. It was 7:15, and I had to report for work at 8. "I have to get ready for work. Shower and all," I could barely voice.

"Well then let's get you in that shower." He got up, and scooped me into his brawny arms, carrying me into the bathroom.

After showering together, he watched TV and ironed my blouse and trousers as I anxiously got ready, giving my hair an impeccable blow out and natural make up job on my face. And then he walked me out of my hotel, grabbing hot chocolate and a bagel at Starbucks and having breakfast on a sidewalk bench right outside my new office building. It was hard to say goodbye to him, but I wasn't so sure if it was because I was just so nervous.

"Have a great first day at work. I'll see you Wednesday afternoon."

"Okay," I said, but watching his sexy was so difficult to resist that I ran towards him, crashing into is arms when he turned to look back at me, and pressed my lips to him again.

Work was a little too boring the first day. They assigned me a laptop, but all the training I received was the email system, time reporting tutorials, and a crash course on using their database. After filling out countless employment forms, they told me that the real training would begin on my second day.

Those days moved quickly, learning the ins and outs of their system. The evenings were tough without Paul, even though I knew I'd see him Wednesday after work. We'd talk on the phone and watch TV together, but after spending nearly every waking moment with him these last couple of days, I was having withdrawals.

Wednesday afternoon could not come any sooner.

I opened the door and found him sitting on the bed, in front of a rolling cart.

I ran to him anyway, crashing into his arms, melting into him. The rest of the day's events seemed to fade at this moment.

Capturing my lips with his, he kissed me gently before pulling away. "I missed you," he whispered.

"I missed you, too."

Somehow managing to shake himself out of it, he stepped back and over to the cart. He lifted the food cover, revealing burgers, fries and shakes. His expression seemed a little embarrassed. "It's from Carl's Jr. I know it's not fancy yellow tail and all but…"

"I love it!" I said, grabbing a long fry and stuffing it in my mouth in the way that only Paul would appreciate.

We spent dinner on the bed, laughing at old episodes of That 70's Show.

"You've got ketchup on your—"

I searched my chest, brushing off crumbs. "Where?"

"Right here." His finger pointed towards my cleavage, and there, high on my left breast was a pretty sloppy glob of ketchup.

"What the hell? When did I do that?" I laughed, and he laughed along.

"I guess I'm not the only one who's a sloppy eater."

"I never said I was perfect," I groaned, grabbing a napkin to wipe it off.

His hand suddenly stopped mine. "Allow me," he insisted, and something in his hooded gaze makes me listen.

He leaned down towards my chest, and I felt a moment of his heated breath before his lipswere on my skin, and his tongue caressed the spot, languidly washing it off.

My eyelids fell over my visionat contact, and my hands were immediately in his hair. He pulled away to stare at me for one infinitesimal moment.

It only took that one moment to get a jump start, and we began to yank and peel off our clothes from each other between kisses, gropes, licks, and palming. It had only been a couple days since we last saw each other, but it was long enough to have an effect on both of usdesperate to get under each other's skin.

His mouth found mine, his tongue plummeting past my lips. The fever of his kiss transferred to me and through my body, coursing through my limbs and tingling my fingers and toes. His hands pawed at my panties, and with one swift tug they became torn remnants on the floor beside our feet.

In a small part of my mind, I noted the loss of my undergarment, but as it was, I was too engrossed in the moment that it didn't matter.

A reunion could never be sweeter, and several excruciating instances later—after being lolled against the headboard, or hoisted around his waist and thrown against the wall—he lifted me from alongside the wall, kissing me passionately as he walked me backwards.

Both of us spent, he gently placed me on the bed, and he followed, curling up next to me. Enveloped in each others limbs, we lay staring up at the ceiling together, letting our breaths catch up with ourselves. Once both our heart rates and breathing had calmed, we both stood quietly, he to slip on his boxers and get a drink of soda, and I to slide on a bra and a new pair of underwear. We both clambered into bed again, entangling each other in our own limbs. Aside from the occasional peck exchanged with one another on our lips, our face, our hands, our shoulders, we didn't speak for minutes, maybe even hours.

Making the point to relish these moments, I closed my eyes, letting myself feel the heat of his body around me, skin to skin. Listening to his breathing, feeling his heart beat against my own, appreciating the way he commands goose bumps on my skin as he lightly traced my arms with the pads of his fingers. It was hard to put into words the elation I felt at that moment, to be with someone so amazing, and to share something so tender and equally as incredible with that very person.

Suddenly, he turned to me, both of us lying on our sides towards each other, and he reached out, finding an errant strand of hair on my face and tucked it behind my ear. His lips twitched, their corners turning upwards, and his head shook side to side at a thought.

"What is it?" I whispered, seeing the awe in his eyes.

He hesitated for a brief instance before offering, "I just can't believe it sometimes."


"That I'm with you. That you and I..."

My fingers touched his lips before he finished his sentence. "I know; me neither."

"You could have anyone you wanted. But you chose me."

I shook my head vehemently. "I don't think so." I inched forward, nuzzling my nose against his. "Plus, I don't think you'd allow it to ever come to that. I don't think you would've stopped until I gave in."

"That's true," he agreed with a chuckle. "But still, I can't believe I have you. I still don't quite feel worthy of it."

My brows cinched at his musings. Never had I felt an ounce of love from another guy that compared to the depths of his feelings. "You're more than worthy, Paul." He was shaking his head as I said it, so I took his face into my hands. "I really don't understand why you think that way. I've never felt more than ordinary my whole life... and then you come along..."

"And?" His eyes watched me expectantly, waiting.

"With you I feel... beautiful, and flawless," I admitted sheepishly, "even though I know I'm flawed."

He flinched back as if what I said was ludicrous. "Flawed? You're perfect as ever."

"Please, I have big hips and small boobs." Getting up from the bed, I walked over to the bathroom mirror.

I stood in front of the my reflection, still in only a bra and lace-trimmed-cotton boy shorts. I let out a frustrated sigh. Normally I wouldn't be doing this in front of any guy, but for some reason, the comfort I felt around Paul was limitless. Plus, I felt the need to wake him up from his imprinted blindness and see that I'm not as perfect as he seemed to think I was.

He got up from the bed as he said. "You really don't see yourself the way the rest of the world does."

"I don't get what you're saying," I muttered, brushing off the comment, inspecting my pear-shaped body.

He stood behind me, his eyes on mine through my reflection in the mirror. "You have a tiny ribcage," he whispered, his lips brushing gently against my earlobe, his hands tracing the shape of my figure. "Your hips are just fine, but in comparison, they only seem big because your torso is tiny."

I narrowed my eyes. "Whatever," I mumbled, though I could almost see what he was saying. My breath stopped short when his hands traveled up my torso and cupped the weight of my breasts.

"And I'll have to disagree with you on your boobs." He gave them a light, but deliberate squeeze. "So full. They're shaped just right, and on that little ribcage, they are huge." His lips played with my earlobe this time, his warm breath against the side of my face.

My eyes rolled to the back of my head right before they shut, and I felt his fingers lightly trace a path down my ribcage, past my belly and onto my hip bone.

"Your hips are just fine." He cupped the curve of my hips and his fingers clamped on them tightly, pulling me back and against him. "My hand fits right around them, you see."

I let out a sharp breath, feeling his hard nature against my ass.

His fingernails raked ever so lightly across the length of the top of my thighs. "In fact, I think they're perfect." My skin awakened immediately with a tingle of longing, the muscles between my thighs clenching deliciously. But even after all that, my mind was still dubious. "You've used the word 'perfect' a few times already." My voice wasn't my own. It was strained with tension, my breath quickening.

As his teeth grazed my earlobe, he whispered, "Because I mean it." He pressed his hips up against my body, and I felt his erection on the small of my back.

I pooled with desire automatically, a flood of warmth surging at my center. I made note that his nose flared at the same moment. Could he really smell that?

"It seems you want me to show you," he purred. "I'm up for that."

And of course he was up for it. I wanted to utter those words out loud but I didn't want to ruin such a hot, sensual moment, especially one that was helping to boost my ego. Besides, I was too worked up, too shook with desire to even voice anything.

His hands slipped under my underwear, tracing the crease between my thigh and pubic bone. My mind went numb, and my breathing became shallow, and like that, I was putty in his hands. Heart pounding loudly in my ears, my foot slid to the side a few inches, widening my stance, to give him more access.

He watched my face, his attention totally contained on me, watching me tremble under the mastery of his skillful hand at work on the most sensitive spot on my body. The other hand palmed my breast through my bra before sliding it out of its cup, twisting my nipples between two fingers.

I bit my lip and whimpered, leaning back against his chest, looking at his eyes through our reflection. Yep. Complete putty in his hands.

He was breathing heavily, his lips parted, though one corner let up into a crooked, wicked grin. Yep. Putty and he knew it, too.

Unraveling under the mastery of his hands, he took me in front of the mirror from behind. I gave in happily, letting him drag me to the bed for an amazing continuation of yet another session of simple, unadulterated ecstasy.

He fell onto his back, me following on top of him, bent forward at the waist. Helping me adjust my legs so that I lay straight on top of him, his breath was still coming out in large pants, his chest heaving as he fell back against the mattress. I rested my head on his chest, listening to his heart pump wildly in his ribs. The thunderous rhythm eventually slowed and calmed. I felt his fingers grazing my upper arm once again. With that tender, steady touch, the gentle thrumming sound of his heart, exhaustion and joy claimed me before I knew it, my body succumbing to sleep.

The morning brought unfathomable heat to my sleep and as I was brought back from slumber, I felt like I was drenched in my own sweat, napping in a sauna. I opened my eyes, and found myself draped in Paul's large, copper-skinned body. Amused, I realized he's wrapped around me like a tortilla. He was fast asleep with his head on my chest, his arm over me, holding me close, one of his legs thrown over and hooked around both of mine. That explained the sweating.

He was suffocating me with his ridiculously high wolf-like body heat, and he was heavy. I took a moment to absorb that we'd spent yet another uninterrupted full night together.

Tentatively, I lifted my hand and ran the tips of my fingers down his back. Deep in his throat, I heard a faint distressed groan, and he began to stir. He nuzzled my chest, inhaling deeply as he wakes. Sleepy, blinking brown eyes met and clung to mine beneath his tousled black hair.

"Good morning," he whispered, propping himself up on his elbow, coffee eyes staring down at me.

"Morning." Sadness began to overcome me as I realized that we had to go home again—back to reality, where he lives with his father and I go home to an air mattress at my dad's house.

His head tilted. "What's wrong, baby?"

"I don't want to go home. I don't want this moment to end. Waking up with you like this… I just want to freeze time."

His eyes shut momentarily. "You have no idea how much I wish for the same thing."

"Thank you for coming with me to Portland. You've been the highlight of this whole trip."

His brow furrows. "Don't thank me. I wanted to be here. It should be expected anyway. You should know that I would never let you travel unattended. I like taking care of you. Protecting you."

My hand rose to meet his cheek. "Still, thank you."

"Anything for you, Rachel. You should know that by now."

I shook my head, my hand tracing his face. "I'm still grateful."

He beamed. "That's why I'm so damn crazy about you."

"Favorite color?" Dana asked before popping a fry in her mouth. She'd insisted we stop by and have a late lunch in downtown Seatown on our way home to the Forks area from Portland.

Paul was gracious enough to accept. He seemed to understand that the approval of my friends was important. In fact it appeared even more important to him than it was to me.

We were in the middle Dana's twenty questions, which to me looked more like an interrogation, but I was too amused and curious to ask her to stop.

Paul's dark eyes gazed straight into mine as he answered, "Brown. Light brown. With some gold in it."

I blushed, averting my eyes towards my burger and clearing my throat. A stupid grin marked my face as I felt Dana's eyes switch between us. She, of course, was delighted in this all—to find that I'd finally found someone. To see that he was just as sincerely into me as I was into him.

"Favorite football team," she prompted.


"Nice." She lifted a dubious brow at him. "You sure you're not just saying that because of the town you're in?"

He looked her dead in the eye. "No m'am."

She beamed, and was also tickled pink. He had her wrapped around his little finger, or paw, as it would be. "I like this guy," she confirmed, nudging me.

I shook my head, but inside I was relieved. As if to reassure me, she squeezed my hand under the table—her way of letting me know she had my back. That it didn't matter how old he was. I was happy, and he was great. She was sincerely happy for me.

Telling my sister wasn't as easy. Her recollections of Paul didn't exactly paint him in a special light—one that wasn't so good, anyway.

She'd called the day before my first day of training for the job from Cabo. She and Solomon were there for another one of his surfing competitions.

Uncomfortable silence from the other line lasted for too long. Too long for me to wait in dreaded anticipation.


"Wait, so you mean to say all this time… Paul? As in Paul Lahote? The little stubby kid who used to bully our little brother around? That Paul?"

"Uh, yeah, that Paul."

"I knew it! I just knew it!"

I snorted, a little bemused. "Knew what?"

"You spending time at that house. I knew it!"

"Calm down, Beck, sheesh."

"Wait… So… You've been lying about it this whole time."

"What? Not true. We literally just got together."

She wasn't convinced. "Uh huh."

"Officially, I mean. Earlier, I was still confused."

"Bull shit. This thing has been going on for a while hasn't it? You can't lie to me, Raych. I'm you're twin. No one knows you better. And with Paul? Are you kidding me with this?"

I proceeded to tell her everything—well, everything that I was allowed to tell her—that had transpired between us. How we'd met on the beach, and shared the most amazing kiss of my life. How he'd helped me with a flat tire, accompanied me to mom's grave, taken me to a cute coffee shop. How the chemistry between us was insane, and every time I saw him, it was too much to resist. And how eventually, I didn't resist anymore.

"Rachel! You're a straight up cradle-robbing cougar."

I ignored her comment. "Just go to your computer and check your email, will you?"

"I really don't understand you, Raych," she grumbled, but I could hear her march through the house, and then the sound of a computer turning on. "I really don't," she muttered over some typing.

"I'm just saying, if you saw him you'd understand. Can't you just be happy for me?"

"Look, I am happy for you… or sincerely was until you told me who it was."

"Just freakin' download the pic—"

"Holy shit—that's him?"


I waited with baited breath for further reaction.

"Are you kidding me?"

A small grin stretched on my mouth as I could hear how impressed she was in her voice. "Nope."

"What the… He's… he's… God damn."

I was beaming now, and I giggled, "I know, right?"

A sigh filtered through the other line, her reaction short-lived. "But this doesn't change anything. Isn't he still in high school?"

"Yes but… did you download both photos?"

"There's another?"

"Yeah." I hoped that she'd see the second, the one of us both, laughing and happy. I wanted her to actually see with her own eyes how he made me feel.



"Are you sure, Raych? He's so… young. And just so… so… so not good enough for you. I just can't imagine—"

"I know he's young, but he's different. And he's changed. He's amazing. I wish you could meet him."

"I have met him."

"But you haven't met him now. And he's… he's terrific."

She sighed. "My phone card's gonna run out."

"Becky, please try to be happy for me."

"I want to."


The operator suddenly cut into our conversation, her robotic voice irritatingly loud, letting us know she has two minutes left on her card.

"Let's talk about this again when I'm back in the States."


It seemed everyone in my family disliked Paul. I found that difficult to deal with. Granted, I know he wasn't the greatest choice what with his short temper and former immature stance on life, but he's become much more lately.

As I fixed lunch one afternoon and Jacob learned that Paul was on his way over to help me lug my large care package that I was mailing to Rebecca and Solomon, he quickly finished his sandwich and threw his shoes on. Before he could make a beeline for the door I said, "Could you be more obvious?"

He shot me a blank look. "What do you mean?"

I gestured towards the door. "Leaving so suddenly." Tightening my eyes at his puzzled expression, I blurted, "I know you hate Paul."

He shook his head, his eyes switching over to me. "I don't hate Paul."

I placed a pack of See's Candies Nuts and Chews into the shipment box for my sister. "Right."

"I mean, do I like him?" He looked up at the ceiling as if to think about it. "Nope. Not really. Not at all, to be honest." His eyes turned to me, softening. "But I don't hate the guy." The tone was honest, mixed with respect and courtesy the old Jake would've given me. The pre-Isabella-Swan Jake. The Jake I so genuinely missed.

"Well, thanks for not hating the guy."

"You're welcome," he smiled at me.

As I folded the sweater I bought for Solomon into the box, I chewed over what was on my mind. I felt his eyes on me, seeming to expect more. I guess it was obvious that I was pondering more.

There was so much I wanted to tell Jake. I knew whatever I had to say next wasn't going to be well received, but I had to. "Jacob, I know this sounds cliché, but there are plenty of other fish in the sea."

He sighed, plopping on the couch beside me and the box, turning his head to the television. It was the subject that I wasn't allowed to bring up.

"He can't keep secrets, can he?" Jacob asked, eyes trained forward, an edge of resentment in his voice.

I was quick to defend him. "He doesn't volunteer all information. I make him tell me. Paul just tries to help me understand you."

My brother gave me a challenging look. "Well if he's trying to work on me not hating him, he's not exactly following the right track."

I ignored his comment about Paul, concentrating on only my brother this time. "I worry about you, Jake. I don't need to lose you again."

"You never lost me. I just needed time."

I took a giant leap with my next question. "Do you need it again?"

"Need what?" he asked, puzzled for a moment, but his assessment of my expression appeared to explain my question "Time?"


He shrugged. "What does it matter, really?"

"I mean, leaving without saying good bye. Without telling us what's going on, where you are, if you're okay? Without checking in?"

He sighed, his eyes rolling. "It isn't that big of a deal. You know I'll come back." He got up, crossing over to the foyer, poised to leave.

I stood up from Becky's care package, standing squarely towards him. "Jake, don't you understand? You being here... it matters to me."

His hand and gaze were on the knob of the front door. "Says the girl who didn't come home two Christmases in a row."

Ouch. My forehead creased, realizing I couldn't argue with that point. I didn't like his cold tone either, and I tensed with disappointment.

His eyes switched to me with a look of regret. "Sorry," he muttered under his breath.

I didn't look up at him, offended at his words, but unable to retaliate. He'd called me out.

Wordlessly, he crossed the room, planting a small kiss on my forehead. "I can't promise anything," he breathed, "but I'll be sure to give you a heads up if I do. Give us a chance to say goodbye. And you've got a tie with Paul now. If I go, he'll know where I am. Keep you updated." His tone had softened.

I tear escaped my right eye. "Jacob, can't you just stay?"

"I'll let you know," he whispered. "Promise." I felt his hand squeeze my arm before turned towards the door.

At first his words seemed to placate me, but something was wrong with them. I had to replay it in my mind again.

I'll let you know. Promise.

As my brother walked out of the house without looking back at me, I felt the uneasy churn of my stomach and a lump rise and swell in my throat.

He wasn't promising he'd stay. He couldn't.

As I went for the masking tape to seal up Rebecca and Solomon's gift box, I heard it again.

I'll let you know. Promise.

I paused, kneeling next to the box, resting my head against its top. I tried to swallow the disappointment and uneasiness at the implication of his words, but the lump in my throat proved even that small action challenging. He was only promising to say goodbye before he left us again.


Chapter End Notes:

Hope you guys had fun reading! Once again, thank you so much for your patience. Chapter 11: Brother will follow shortly, in about a week or two.

For updates, follow me on twitter achelle131'