A/N: Hi folks! Miss me? Okay, I am probably selling out shamelessly here. This is unbeta'd and I'm posting it now so I can make a cheap plea that if you liked SSW - and this outtake - to head over to The Lemonade Stand ( .net - and no that is not a typo) and vote for Season of the She Wolf as fic of the week. Thanks so much to Obsmama for recommending my story, and to anyone else who also rec'd it. This is actually the most polished portion of a much longer outtake, which I will actually get beta'd and posted as soon as possible. This outtake occurs "off curtain" in chapter 20, "As the World Falls Down." It's been a while since that chapter was fresh, so if you don't recall what happened in it, you might want to re-read it to get a handle on what's transpiring here. And, if you've somehow missed them, check out my profile for the first three outtakes.

The Taking

He wants the shape-shifter gone.

The lout has done nothing but eat—his enormous, filthy feet propped on Sue's pristinely polished coffee table—since his arrival three hours ago. The mongrel has already devoured half of the chocolate chip muffins he'd intended to serve Leah for breakfast tomorrow, an entire bag of Seth's favorite snack crisps, two large bottles of sugary soft drink, and all the roast remaining from last night's dinner.

Truly, the hound must harbor some intestinal parasite that drives his out-sized appetite. Not even Seth consumes this much.

Because the man is mated to Jacob's sister, he has not yet thrown him out on his ear. But the flowers will arrive soon and he does not care to answer the inevitable questions the oaf will field if he is present to witness the delivery.

Worse than the fool's gluttony are his attempts at discourse.

"Soooo," the churl says, rolling his buttocks to one side on the sofa to accommodate the emission of yet another flatulent outburst. "You and Leah, huh? How's that working out for you?"

The shape-shifter needs to go. Now.

"She makes me very happy."

"No shit?" The wretch frowns. "I mean, she's always been such a cast-iron bitch, ya know?"

No. He does not know.

"It's kinda hard to wrap my head around the idea of her getting all lovey-dovey. Especially with a half-vamp. No offense."

He grinds his teeth together and flattens his palms, rubbing them across his jeans-clad thighs. He will not leave his chair. He will not put his hands on the idiot. He will not remove the buffoon's empty, vacuous head from his broad, bull-like shoulders.

Instead of the stream of profanities he wishes to expel, he lies, through tight lips: "None taken."

"I mean, I can totally see why you'd want to tap that," the cretin continues, oblivious to how precariously his life teeters on a razors edge. He stuffs a handful of crumbling potato crisps into his offensive orifice and mumbles around the mouthful. "She's got a rockin' bod. I just don't know how you get past her mouth."

The ringing of the moron's mobile phone saves his life.

" 'Lo?" Crumbs spill from his mouth and down his bare chest at his exhalation. Doesn't the mongrel own a shirt? "Hey, Sue! How's it going?"

He looks up and grins like the halfwit he is.

"Yeah, he's here. We're doing fine. Just shootin' the breeze."

The dolt leans forward, hand extended, offering the phone. "Here. Sue wants to talk to you."

He accepts the phone gingerly, avoiding contact with the shape-shifter's greasy fingers. He rises and steps toward the kitchen, casting a hasty apology over his shoulder. "Please, excuse me."

Once in the kitchen, he continues straight through the room, opens and exits the back door, and does not halt until he has put the house, backyard and the outbuilding between himself and the lackwit.

"Sue," he greets. "Please say that you are coming home soon. I cannot endure Paul's … company … much longer."

Her merry, affectionate laughter salves the burning itch in his palms, the physical craving to latch his fingers around the fool's meaty throat and squeeze until his eyes burst from their sockets.

"Oh, Nahuel! He's not that bad."

It pains him to correct her. "Yes, I fear he is."

She laughs again, obviously discounting his assessment of the werewolf's diminished mental and social capacities. He sees no value in pursuing this line of debate, and so he changes the subject to one he much prefers.

"How is Leah? Is she pleased with the gown Alice has selected for her?"

Her voice bubbles with happiness. "Wait until you see her in this dress! She's just stunning in it!"

He is confused. Why does she sound surprised? Of course Leah will be beautiful in the garment. She is breath-taking in anything or nothing at all. Even the mannish, shapeless clothing she seems to prefer can do nothing to conceal her loveliness.

"Is she happy?"

"Yes, I think she is. Sometimes it's hard to tell with Leah, though."

"Does she suspect?"

Her voice drops to a whisper. "Not a thing." She titters. "Is everything ready?"

Frustration slips into his voice. "No. The flower delivery will arrive at any moment and Paul will not leave. I do not want his intrusion. How can I make him depart?"

"Just tell him the truth—that you've planned a surprise for Leah and you prefer to give it to her in private."

He is dubious. It seems far too straight-forward an approach for the obtuse dolt, but he trusts her advice.

"Very well, I will try. When will you be home?"

"In about an hour, I think," she replies, excitement rippling through her lilting voice. Then, her tone turns maternal and caring: "Don't be nervous, sweetheart. Everything will be perfect. You'll see."

He thanks her, bids her farewell and ends the call before returning to the living room. The simpleton has not moved from the couch and is now using the remote control device to scan through the limited channel selection on the electronic fossil the Clearwaters call a television. He appears to be settling in.

"Sue and Leah are on their way home. They will arrive momentarily. You are welcome to return to your family now."

The dunce waggles his tuberous head. "No can do, buddy-boy. My orders are to stay right here until Leah's home."

He grinds his teeth so forcefully that venom floods the back of his mouth. He swallows. And tries again, this time using Sue's suggested tactic.

"Paul, I have planned a surprise for Leah. I would prefer to give it to her in private."

The boor's eyes widen. A lascivious smirk oozes across his foolish face.

"Oh, ho, ho! I get you, man! Planning to give her a little somethin', somethin', eh?" He seems to be considering the request. "Well, maybe …"

He has no idea why the shape-shifter's decrepit intellect has inferred a sexual connotation to his simple statement, but he senses the potential for victory.

"Yes, exactly. Something special. And private. Very private."

Still, the dolt wavers. "And you say Leah'll be home real soon?" His voice is skeptical, yet hopeful, as if he would like to be convinced he is free to leave.

Quickly, he recalls something Sue had briefly mentioned—that the buffoon and Jacob's sister have been attempting to conceive a fourth child. While it is disturbing to imagine this moron passing on his genetic material to a new generation, perhaps this could be the imbecile's incentive to remove himself from the Clearwater home.

"Very soon," he confirms. Then, adds encouragement. "Surely, Rachel would be pleased if you return earlier than she expects."

The vulgar smile reappears on the oaf's face. "Yeah, I'll bet she would."

It takes little more than a promise to lock the door behind him to get the reprobate out of the house.

Scant minutes after the mutt's departure, the doorbell rings. The flowers have arrived, and the delivery woman carries them into the house—bouquet after bouquet. Baskets and vases, pots and bowls. When the courier finishes and leaves, he concludes that it is altogether too much. Sue has grossly overestimated the amount of floral decoration required.

He knows that love and excitement were her motivation, so he feels no ire. He is only uncertain where to place the myriad of blooms, or what is to be done with them once Leah has accepted his proposal.

He pauses in his efforts to arrange the flowers, withdrawing from his pocket the solitaire he intends to offer her. He slips the ring on his index finger—it cannot pass beyond his second knuckle—and holds it up to the light. He admires the fiery colors that dance in the depths of the clear stone.

He is eager to place it on her hand. Eager to hear her say "yes." To have all who see the ring on her finger know that she belongs to him as surely as he belongs to her.

His mind wanders further and now he imagines her in a long ivory dress of delicate lace, the type of gown his mother would have worn for her own wedding more than a century ago if his sire had not stolen her purity—and her life. On the heels of this daydream, a second fantasy rises in his mind, unbidden: Leah, glowing and soft, her breasts heavy and her stomach rounded by the seed that has taken root inside her—his seed.

It shakes him to his core how viscerally the image appeals to him.

He is appalled at himself. Truly, he is a monster of the worst kind to fantasize, for even a moment, about an event that would so surely result in the agonized, bloody death of she whom he treasures most.

He is so paralyzed by horror and self-loathing that he neither hears nor scents the approach of the vampires that burst through the front door. Two cold granite bodies slam into him before he is able to move a muscle. The solitaire clatters to the floor, lost amid the debris of the vases his attackers have desecrated.

They have come.

It is his first thought. His second is that he will fight, for now he has more reason to than ever before. He will not be parted from her.

He will not.