Here is the final chapter of the first installment of The Only Exception. It's the last chapter of Bonding, and tonight at around ten, I'll post the first chapter of Falling. Please check out my blog and other stories, and again, mami-hai, I'm sorry that I can't respond to your reviews, but thank you so much for all of your sweet comments and feedback.
When I woke up, rain was beating the windows of my home, and I was vaguely aware of a warm something against my right side. I didn't remember what time it was or how I got there, but someone's hair was tickling my arm, and their snores were filling the room. I smiled as I recognized my napping buddy, and eased my arm around him to allow his head to fall into my lap. I stroked his soft hair until he woke up, then smiled down at him as his own tiny smile formed.
"Good morning, sleeping beauty," I teased, tapping his nose.
"Morning, Leah," he said, getting comfortable on my lap. "Do you know how we got here?"
"No idea," I said with a chuckle. "I was hoping you could tell me that."
He thought for a few minutes. "The last thing I remember is Quil and Jake convincing me to go home and get some rest somewhere between six and eight. I think Embry carried you and Quil helped me while Jake got Ness home."
I smiled at my little brother. "Aw, you didn't kill Embry. I think you're making progress."
Seth laughed. "I think he was trying to soften me up. He put you on the couch and kissed your head, then left. He didn't even act like he was going to put you in your room. I was impressed."
"So are you still mad at me?"
He sat up and pouted. "I wasn't mad at you. I was overreacting. It was just gross seeing his tongue down your throat, and it didn't help that you just phased down without explaining. And…I was worried. About you."
I grabbed his shoulders and pulled my huge baby brother into my arms. "I love you, Sethy, but you don't have to be worried. This won't be like Sam. He can't hurt me, and he wouldn't if he could. We've talked about a lot of things, and this imprint is weird, but we're just going to go with it."
"I love you, too, Leah. I'm sorry I called you a whore."
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you before."
I planted a huge kiss on his forehead, which he tried to rub off, and I knew we were okay. "I'm hungry."
"Me too," Seth said, as if he'd just noticed it. "What time is it? I'm starving."
"Well it's about time you two woke up," Mom said, walking into the room with a large basket of laundry.
Seth and I exchanged confused looks. "Mom, it can't be but four or five, right? Leah and I were out really late."
She smiled, then moved to sit down between us. "Oh, I know. Leah, Embry had to carry you home, because apparently you fell asleep on his shoulder when everyone was sitting around the fire. Seth, you and Quil made a team effort to get home. You looked drunk stumbling up the street together. Embry put Leah on the couch and you fell on her."
I laughed and Seth shot me a glare. "Shut up…"
"And then neither of you would wake up for anything all day yesterday."
"Yesterday?" Seth and I replied in unison.
"Yes, yesterday. It was like the time we went to Disney world when you were little. As soon as we were on the plane, you passed out and slept through two flight changes, the hour long drive home, and then through the whole next day."
Seth and I started to laugh, then I realized something. "Crap, Embry's gonna-"
"He's called three times, came to visit, and driven by about a thousand times. Call him, sweetie, before he has a panic attack. I'll get you two something to eat."
I bit my lip trying not to laugh. "Ah, yeah." I got up and to go find the phone, then the doorbell rang.
"And that'll be him," Mom said, rolling her eyes with a slight grin.
"Dammit, I'm all gross…" I realized I was still in my sand infested clothes from the other night. "Seth, will you get the door and please be civil? I have got to get into something clean."
"Aw, Leah has a boyfriend," he said, making kissy faces. "Fine, but I can't promise I'll be hospitable."
I shot him a glare, then darted to the back of the house to my room. I quickly stripped myself of my clothing, then slipped into the shower for a quick scrub down. I forwent drying my hair and instead pulled on my clothes and gave my hair a good shake and towel dried it a bit. Finally I gave up and let my hair hang stringy, not giving a damn what I looked like. The smell of my favorite homemade spinach, bacon, and cheese quiche coaxed me to the kitchen, where Embry and Seth were helping her. When Embry saw me, he put down the stack of plates he was carrying and walked up to me.
"Hey, Lee," he said, smiling and blushing a little. "Sleep well?"
I nodded, returning his smile. "Apparently for thirty hours."
He chuckled, then put a hand on my cheek and kissed my forehead. "C'mon, you need food."
Seth and I ate three helpings each, and Mom and Embry one. It was kind of weird, seeing someone else at the table. Charlie came over a lot, but I was used to him. He was regular. Embry was new. After breakfast, I helped Mom clean up while Embry and Seth went to mess around with some video game they loved.
"So while you were in the shower I asked Embry if he and his mother would come over for dinner with us," she said, biting her lip hesitantly.
"Us as in…?"
"As in you and I," she said, scrubbing a pan carefully. "Would you want to?"
I considered this. I'd met Cassie, Embry'd met Mom, the moms had met… "Uh, sure. Sounds fun."
Mom gave me a look. "Don't lie, young lady."
I laughed, then took the pan to rinse it. "I'm nervous about the four of us being in the same room, but it does sound like it'd be fun once we all get comfortable."
She smiled, turning off the water and drying her hands. "I'm so happy, sweetheart."
"The light's back in your eyes. You've been so different the last few years, but I finally see my little girl coming back. I think this imprinting business is a good thing."
I blushed a little, but smiled broadly. "You think so?"
My mother pulled me into a hug. "Yes, I do. If it makes you happy again, it's a good thing."
I didn't have to apologize. She knew by the hug I returned what I meant. "Thanks, Mom."
After we finished cleaning up, I went to find Embry. He was in the midst of playing a game with Seth, but when he saw me waiting, he stopped and unplugged his controller. He took my hand and tugged me along.
"I'm going out, Ma," I called as I was pulled out the door into the rain. "Be back later."
"Where to?" Embry asked, opening the passenger side door of his car for me.
"Don't know, what do you want to do?" I asked as he slid into his seat. "Where do you want to go? We have a good afternoon clear but it's storming and we have to be able to get back in time for dinner."
He cranked the car up, then shot me a grin. "Our cliff?"
"In a storm?"
"Ah, you haven't fully explored it," Embry said with a devious smile. "C'mon, Lee, I have something to show you."
We drove a little way to an abandoned public park, which was positioned down a steep, rough hill from our cliff. Embry got out and opened my door for me, then led me to the steep hill in the pouring rain.
"Where are we going?" I called through the sound of a million raindrops bombarding the land around us.
"There's this little cave under the hill, and it leads to this little spot right under the cliff sheltered from the rain and everything," he said in my ear, pulling me close enough to hear him. "Follow me."
Embry took my hand and led me to a hole in the fence at the park. He look me to a place that had a thick layer of shrubbery, where he pulled the soft limbs away and held them for me to slide into the tiny entrance. Embry barely fit in himself, and then he took the lead again, pulling me along the passageway. We came into a small room with a flat space and a decline starting about six feet from the entrance that led to the beach. What surprised me the most was a picnic set up in the middle part of the dry room.
"Surprise," Embry said, making a sweeping motion over the area with his arm. "What do you think?"
My mouth was agape, my eyes sweeping the room. "This is for me? You did this for me?"
He smiled and blushed faintly. "For us, for a first date of sorts. I had some time on my hands, sleeping beauty."
I gave a half smile and lifted a hand to his face. "Thank you. This is the perfect first date." I stood on tiptoe and kissed him gently.
His hands caught my waist as I pulled back. "It's been too long; you can do better than that." He gave a little grin and kissed me again, deeper this time, and pulled back again fairly soon (one could say too soon). "I know you've already eaten, but I brought some sweets and something to drink."
"Well we can always just talk, or just hang out, or whatever you want to do," I said, tugging him to the blanket he'd laid down. "We can just…" Be close to each other. "Without interruptions, ya know?"
His reply was a huge smile and to sit down, pulling me down with him and into his lap, which made me blush. That's a great idea.
Obviously, after that, he kissed me again. It was nice, and he was a great kisser, but I got overwhelmed after a few minutes of it. It had been so long since anyone had kissed me like that. I wasn't used to letting my guard down, and I really didn't want to get to that place that I was at with Sam, the one where he had control over me. I didn't want someone to have control of me now. I'd grown up, and I'd realized that during the time Sam and I were together, he had control over me. He tried to make it seem like I had the control, but now I realized that that was all part of his game. At the point I realized I'd stopped kissing back, Embry had long since noticed and had slowed down and now his forehead was resting against mine, his lips hovering over mine non-threateningly.
"Are you okay?" he asked softly, rubbing a hand over my back. "Did I go too fast?"
I gave an apologetic look. "I'm fine, just…" I didn't want to say it, but after our conversation on our cliff the early morning before, I knew I should. "I haven't been kissed like that in so long… It's weird for my guard to be let down."
Embry nodded in understanding, then brushed his lips over mine softly. "Don't let me make you uncomfortable. I don't want to upset you, Lee. You can always tell me when you're not okay with something."
"Okay," I breathed, tilting my head up a little. "I want to let my guard down. But I'm scared."
He laughed lowly. "Good, I thought I was the only one."
I gave a tiny smile. "So it's okay if I just want to talk?"
"It's perfectly fine," he said, giving me a light kiss on the cheek. "But is it okay if you stay where you are? I like it."
I grinned fully this time. Embry made me feel like a thirteen year old with their first crush. His silliness was contagious, and it wasn't all that bad to feel young again. I'd been so young when I got serious with Sam that I'd missed the fun in being with someone who made me laugh. Now I was forever nineteen, and I had all the time in the world to flirt and tease and be a little kid with a crush. I kissed his nose and tucked myself back into his arms. "Me too."
When we talked, we talked about anything and everything. I won't get into specifics, but it was nice to get to know his mind, better than the wolf gene let us. It was different to hear it out of his mouth, because you can lie to yourself in your mind. When you're sharing a truly intimate conversational moment with someone, it's hard to lie to anyone let alone yourself.
Dinner was an…interesting affair. Mom and Cassie got along like old friends, and Embry and I were completely uncomfortable. The mothers chatted and complimented the other (Mom's cooking, Cassie's good job with raising Embry). It was very basic, very 'your mom meets the mom of your boyfriend'. It made me feel normal, in a way.
"Sweetheart, don't you want to get dessert?" Mom asked, taking a sip of the coffee she had made for herself and Cassie. "I made a cheesecake this afternoon while you were out."
I nodded and went to the kitchen to get it. I brought back the treat and plates and forks for everyone. Mom cut the cake and everyone dug in, and it was delicious.
"Sue, this is amazing," Embry said, his mouth full and his fork digging for more.
"Embry, please don't talk with your mouth full," Cassie said, after swallowing her own bite. "It's rude, and we're guests."
Mom laughed and smiled at Cassie. "I've nearly forgotten what table manners are since my kids joined the pack. All of those kids eat like it's going out of style."
I rolled my eyes, then stole a chip of the crust from her plate and popped it into my mouth, then gave her a grin. She smacked me with the curved part of the fork, then took her own bite. The banter went on for a while like that, and it was funny and natural. I offered to clean up so she and Cassie could keep swapping anecdotes and Embry volunteered to help me, so we were alone in my tiny kitchen, our moms laughing in the next room.
"They like each other," Embry said, nudging me as his mom burst into giggles. "Mom's laugh is so weird, you only hear it if she really like you."
I grinned, chuckling at that fact. "That's funny. Mom adores you already, and your mom. This is getting scary."
"Maybe they want to make this easier on us," he suggested with a small smile. "They seem to like the match."
I gave a little shrug. "Seems like. Maybe it's not such a curse to have the fates out to get you."
Embry knew I was joking, and he smiled fully. "Told you so."
"You did not just 'I told you so' me!" I said, snapping at him with a dishtowel.
"I didn't say 'I', I just said 'told you so'," he said, snatching the towel from me and snapping it at me, making me laugh as I dodged it.
"Stop! Help! Heeeeelp!"
We were in a full on battle, Embry chasing me and me dodging him for all I was worth. The moms walked to the kitchen door to see what we were up to, then walked back to the living room with twin rolls of their eyes. I heard, with my sensitive hearing, them talking as they sat back down.
"They are definitely in love," Cassie said quietly, which made me tinge pink at the thought of being 'in love' with Embry.
Mom sighed, and I could hear the pleased tone in her voice. "Embry makes Leah so happy. It's good to have my baby girl back again."
That made my eyes fill with tears. Embry caught me by the waist while I was eavesdropping, and when I turned around to face him he had a smile on his face. "They like us. They really like us."
The tears receded and I gave him a mock glare. "If this is gonna work you need to get better jokes."
"You know you love me, Leah," he said, kissing my nose.
"Yeah, that's it," I said sarcastically, wrinkling my nose at him.
He grinned and leaned down to kiss me. The kiss was gentle and light, but it made me dizzy with happiness and pleasure. It was crazy, but there was a possibility my…'crush', you may call it…on Embry was growing.
"This is technically our one week anniversary, you know," Embry said softly, his lips still close to mine.
I chuckled. "Yeah, let's call it that."
He just grinned and lowered his lips to mine again.
This may have been the end of the seven days, but it was only the beginning of this 'thing' with Embry.
A/N: Yay! It's not really over! To all my fantabulous reviewers, thank you so much! Falling will be up at ten tonight!