I felt like my life was finally put together now. Finally complete, ya know? Before, I'd been sort of floating around in the middle of nothing. Doing my patrolling duties and then going home, just doing enough to get by in life.
And then Paul had came along. And he wasn't just my boyfriend. Or a fling anymore. He's my mate. The love of my life. And I felt stupid for ever thinking that was Sam's spot. For ever thinking that what I'd had with Sam was true love.
And then I had two new friends...that were actual girls, along with one being a she-wolf. My little brother was happy and we had other ally wolves for emergencies. My mom was doing good, thinking of moving in with Charlie.
I came out from behind the tree I'd changed behind, meeting up with the other nine guys in my pack. Paul came forward, sliding an arm around my waist. "So, lunch or..."
"Let's go to your place. We can eat after, right?" I asked.
He smiled and leaned down for a kiss. "Of course." he replied after pulling back. "I'm make some fettucine."
I smiled. "YUM." I grabbed his hand. "Let's go."
"Leah." Sam called out, stopping us in our tracks. I groaned. "Paul." he called a moment later. He never put our names together. Can anyone say denial? Not calling us Leah and Paul isn't going to make us not a couple.
I turned. "Yeah, Sam?"
"Emily wanted to invite you two for dinner tonight. As a type of apology." Damn. That was the one...well, two...things in my life I hadn't had put together.
He watched us intensely, waiting for some type of weakness or something I guess. "Seth and Zo too?"
"Of course." he said quickly, his eyes suddenly leaving my face as if he'd caught himself doing something bad.
I looked to Paul, who shrugged. "Okay, then. The four of us will be over later."
"Come over at about seven." he instructed. "Jared and Kim are coming as well."
I nodded awkwardly, secretly glad for Kim and Jared's presences. Kim and Zo were my friends. Seth, Jared, and Paul were all packmates and important to me. My mate, my brother, and my mate's best friend. I would behave for this dinner, I promised myself.
Leah, Kim, and Zo came in together. That already had my anger rising. They'd got together before coming over when I'd invited them. And since when were Kim and Leah all honky dory. Oh yeah, since dinner last week when Kim and Jared discovered that Leah and Paul were a great example of the perfect couple.
Kim and Jared had been screwing like bunnies since.
The smiles that the three girls were sporting only served to piss me off. Seth, Jared, and Paul coming in behind just made it worse.
I finished lying out the roast and cornbread and started to fish soda from the refridgerator.
Sam came in from the livingroom and five minutes later we'd all taken seats at the table. "So...Leah, I just wanted to say," I forced the lump in my throat down and ignored her amused brow lift, "I'm sorry for slapping you last week. And the accusations. You didn't deserve that and I was wrong."
She nodded, ignoring my own pointed look that clearly said I wasn't really sorry. It had all been Sam's dumb idea. "It's all good, Em. We all get insecure sometimes."
"Insecure!" I sputtered. "I am not insecure. You couldn't take Sam ev-"
"That's the whole point, Emily. I don't WANT Sam. I want Paul. I love PAUL." she replied calmly. How could she be so fucking calm? "Any feelings you have or thoughts that are telling you I want Sam back...that I'm trying to steal him from you...are wrong. I didn't just start dating some guy to get him jealous. I mated with another shifter. An incredibly awesome one that I'm happy with. I don't even look at Sam like that anymore. He's like my boss or something."
"A boss you hate and never listen to." Seth commented.
Leah scowled. "I don't hate Sam. He couldn't help the imprint. He could've not flaunted it, but men are pigs, it's to be expected."
"But I'm not, am I?" Paul whined jokingly to Leah.
She smiled. "You're the biggest of them all. Just in all the ways I like." He laughed, along with Jared, Kim, and Seth. "Point is...I have a mate. I'm all good now. We may never be friends, but all is forgiven."
"If you forgive me, why can't we be friends?" I asked, more curious that longing.
She shrugged. "I forgive because I don't care. I won't forget because it showed what kind of person you were and I don't want that type of friend. I can't have a friend I don't trust. But, a cousin? An aquaintance? Sure..."
"Zo and Kim can be your friends all they want. I don't wanna be and I won't."
"Leah." Sam warned. I threw a smug look her way. She needed to remember who her Alpha was.
"You need to remember who your Alpha is."
"My Alpha is Jacob." she asserted. "And as long as I recognize that, Sam can't tell me what to do."
I narrowed my eyes. "You're back in Sam's pack now."
"That'd be easy to remedy if Jake sees how Sam's Imprint keeps treating pack members. And I'd be first to follow Jake out."
"And I'd be second." Paul added.
Sam's brow furrowed. "You'd leave over her?" he asked, sounding shocked and betrayed.
"You're pushing her out over Emily!" Paul argued. He wasn't buying Sam's innocent act.
Sam scowled. "I'm his Imprint!" I raged. Of course he'd put me over others.
Paul stood. "And Leah is my mate. I don't think you guys are understanding this. She's more than just an Imprint to me and you're acting like she's just a crush. I'd follow her anywhere."
"And so would we." Zoey spoke for her and Seth. Seth nodded. We all knew Seth would follow his sister, taking Zoey with her.
"And you know Quil and Embry would too." Leah added. "Seven to Four right there."
"Eight to Three." Jared said suddenly. "Sam, you're letting Emily come in between the Pack. She has no right to be in Pack Business anyway."
"What are you saying?" Sam snarled.
Jared lifted a brow. "I'm saying she shouldn't attend meetings anymore. No one else brings Imprints. She tries to act like Alpha Female or something but she isn't a wolf. "
"I'm the Alpha's wife and that should grant me some leeway. I'm concerned about the tribe too."
Leah, who'd been trying to control herself, finally snapped. I saw it happen in slow-mo. She jumped to her feet. "You don't even have a drop of Quilette blood in you! Quil, at least, is half-half and a wolf! But not you! You're none! You have no say here! And if that isn't enough, Sam isn't even the rightful fucking Alpha, so shut the fuck up!"
I shut up, swallowing hard. Leah looked ready to scar the other side of my face.
"Point is, if Leah thinks Emily is treating her wrong, and asks Jake to leave the pack again, he will." Jared told Sam. "You know he will. And Quil and Embry will follow him. Seth, Zo, and Paul will follow her. And I'm following Paul. How long do you think Collin and Brady will take to come along too? They're more loyal to me than you, Sam, and you know it."
Sam looked like he may explode.
"It's just something to think about. We're not asking you to leave her or anything. Just keep pack business between pack."
"Be a good Alpha, is what we're saying." Seth chimed in. Sam deflated suddenly, sitting in his chair and sighing loudly.
The next day.
The meeting was noticeably missing Emily that morning and I had to smile. She'd been beyond pissed about it, but Sam had put his foot down. He'd still been checking Leah out but after the arguement between Leah and Emily last week, I was sure she was over him.
It was just time to start our own life now.
It was almost dusk, the sunsetting behind us over the ocean. The air was a little humid but also a little breezy. I found Leah with Kim and Zoey, Seth and Jared, all surrounding the bonfire. They were sitting together on one long log while most of the pack and Imprints sat around the rest. I nodded to the side, motioning for Leah to follow me.
She came up slowly, looking curious, and I led her just far enough away so they wouldn't hear the words I was saying. It was sort of a private moment. My hands were sweating and I tried to rub them on my jeans.
"Leah...You're my mate." I started. She laughed a little and nodded.
"And I plan on spending the rest of my life with you." I continued. "I don't know how you feel about marriage or if that would be pointless compared to actually being mated, so I got this instead of an engagement ring." I pulled out the deep gold Celtic promise ring I'd bought. "It's technically Celtic. The knots are Celtic knots, but I didn't want to get something really American-y anyway. Then again, I didn't want to make you a bead necklace either. This was the prettiest one I saw there..." WHY CAN'T I SHUT UP! "Anyway...it's a promise ring. Because it's a promise to be whatever you want. A promise to be a pre-engagement ring. Or just a ring to symbolize us, if you don't care about getting married. It's a promise from me to you that, either way, we'll be together ...as long as you want me anyway, and it's a promise that I'm going to make the rest of your life as close to happily ever after as humanly possible."
Leah had been staring down at the ring in my hand as soon as I'd brought it out. When my little speech had ended, I stood there nervously waiting for a response. She stared at the ring for at least two entire, heartbreaking minutes, before glancing back up to me. Tears had built in her eyes and started to spill over. It was probably the first time I'd seen Leah actually cry. Especially being tears of joy. I hoped they were anyway...
"Are you serious?" she asked, her voice choked up and raspy.
I nodded. "Deadly serious."
She smiled suddenly, hugely, and stuck her hand out. I fumbled with the ring a little, to which she laughed, before I slid it onto her ring finger. She jumped into my arms then, pulling me to her tightly. I felt her warm tears soak into my shirt against my chest. "I promise Paul, I'll always want you. I love you."
"I love you too, Leah. More than anything." The smile that covered my face then was the widest smile I'd ever felt before, almost cracking my face in half from ear to ear. But I was too happy to be able to tone it down. I couldn't. This was just another instance where loving Leah caused sore muscles.
I could take the sore muscles though. The pleasure was worth it.
The only think I couldn't take was the heartache. But I wouldn't have to, because I'd fought for Leah. I'd fought her for her. And I'd won.