Normal run down- I do not own

I make no money from this

I am NOT Stephanie Meyer (nor do I want to be)

"You were warned this might happen," the big man stated quietly as he drove through the intersection, his face carefully blank as he kept his eyes on the road before him. "You were told not to push it too far."

His pint-sized passenger groaned in response, eyes narrowing against the glare of the late-morning sunlight blazing through the windshield. Her face glowed softly under a faint sheen of perspiration as she fished in her pocket for a hairband, pulling her hair up off her neck into a high ponytail before turning towards her companion. "I was running late!" she finally exclaimed, "I had too much homework last night and overslept!"

Dark eyes cut towards her, a fractionally darker brow lifting in a pointed gesture before returning towards the road again.

"How was I to know it would die? It's not like I did it on purpose!" The girl huffed at the man behind the wheel, her tone defensive as she crossed her arms.

"Bella, it's been hot enough that you actually have a tan. The poor thing overheated and died." His jaw tightened for a few moments, his lean cheek ticking and seeming to betray the agitation of the man as if he were in mourning over her senseless murder.

Bella's face crumpled in guilt. She hadn't meant to kill it. She'd begun to think it was indestructible…her loyal partner who had finally given up on her in the face of overwhelming odds. She'd pushed it too far and it had responded with a groans of protest before dying spectacularly by the side of the road. She'd tried to revive it, but it had resisted her efforts. It didn't help things that she was entirely clueless as to how one went about resuscitation and had finally resorted to calling a friend to drive out and help her plan for its possible last rights.

Now, she was running late to school and had already missed the first two periods. The student office had been very understanding, given that she was not in the habit of being late, and allowed her off with only a warning. Luckily, her driver had a fondness for speed that was backed up by the engine in the big black F350 in which she was now riding shotgun. Her dark eyes narrowed further with his continued silence, though part of her was inwardly cringing at the thought that he may actually be mad at her. He'd been unable to revive her poor slain truck despite the fact that he seemed to know exactly what was wrong. The billowing smoke had been a very bad sign in her view, and it had taken him a while to get close enough to be able to pop the hood for a closer look. He'd simply shaken his head in resignation, before steering her towards his waiting truck. She'd been silent until his dire pronouncement of her culpability. He had warned her, but she had let the warning fade into the background in her desperation. Her death-glare was simply a cover up to hide her sense of impending doom.

He managed to keep his face straight for all of twelve more seconds before a smile big and white enough to shame a Colgate commercial crossed his darkly tanned face just as a small finger poked him sharply in the ribs.

"Don't you laugh at me, Sam Uley!" Bella growled at the werewolf who promptly roared with laughter.

Her lower lip jutted out and Sam wrapped a heavy arm around her, yanking her against his side and holding her there until she simply couldn't help but join in, her lips tipping up until her smile matched his. And in his book, that made all of this worth it.

Seven months ago when he'd found Bella abandoned in the woods in the pouring rain, he'd felt little other than pure panic. There he was, barely a fully grown man and supposedly some all-powerful protector of both his people and hers, and here he was completely and painfully helpless in the face of a broken little girl who felt like a hollow shell of a human in his arms. Her brown eyes had looked almost black with their emptiness in her pale, chilled face, her lips a frightening shade of blue. Her tiny body had hung limply in his arms as he lifted her from the soggy ground, totally unresponsive to either his words or actions as he attempted to comfort her. He ran with her pulled tightly to his overheated body as if he could force all that extra heat into her. He also well-remembered the look in Jacob Black's eyes... The blank look of utter terror that had pinched his still immature face, quickly transforming to a strange mix of relieved stress as he saw his best friend lying in the arms of a man who he both feared and loathed as he'd quickly approached Police Chief Swan with his nearly comatose daughter.

He remembered the strange sense of incompleteness he'd suffered for the next two weeks, Emily's attempts at comforting him falling flat even as he was driven to help the next two Wolves with their sudden new place in their people's hierarchy. One had been the epitome of Zen-like cool who had coasted through the change with an amazing lack of discombobulation, while the other was a full-on powerhouse driven by pure unadulterated rage. Keeping him in any kind of check had taken all of his energy and mental acuity because he seemed to actually be more at ease while in the thick of a brawl. But for all of his distractions, he couldn't get rid of the nagging sense that he'd left something undone.

Having grown up without a true father figure in the home, he'd picked the upright side of the spectrum and pushed himself towards success. His father had been a drunken bully who liked to pound on his mother on the nights he'd been drinking, which sadly had been more often than naught. Growing up in that type of home environment had left him with a deep seated belief in the protection and respect for the female species as him mother had refused to shatter no matter the provocation. She was the strongest woman he'd even met and she'd finally broken the chains of her husband's abusive hold over her and had forced him from her home at shotgun-point. When faced with her unflinching confidence in herself and the new lack of fear, he'd finally disappeared and never showed his face in La Push again. Sam had taken the man's example as how not to live.

He'd thought his life was fully planned and on course, only to have it all fall apart when he'd lived up to genetics and found himself suddenly with four paws, a tail, and a stature that rivaled a horse. The dangerously high fever and strange heightening of his senses, not to mention his sudden and extreme late growth spurt had ended in a conclusion that should have only been possible in a child's story book. The Brothers Grimm might have done it justice. He had spent a month hiding in the woods in wolf form because he'd not known how to turn back. He'd cringed every time his mother had stood in their back yard and begged him to return but he'd been afraid to show her his strange transformation for fear of terrifying her. Even worse had been when Leah had appeared two weeks later and stood holding his despairing mother, both calling his name into the darkness.

Then, it had really ended. After all the time spent as a wolf, searching for the way to return to human form, it all came crashing down just days after his homecoming when his fiancée's cousin had come along to help Sam and Leah attempt to get their life back on track after he managed to miss the finals of his first year at the community college. He'd imprinted on the girl, and Leah had been instantly driven from his heart. Oh, he still cared for her, even loved her in some way, but it paled to the way even hearing Emily's voice made his whole being burn with need and his body toache for her. He hadn't known he'd been capable of that kind of want, though that might have also been due to the fact that he'd always held himself in check even if it had all been subconscious.

But the look on Leah's face when she realized that she'd lost him had just about broken his heart.

Because, no matter the fact that he was bred to be a physical protector of humanity, Sam was a protector at the very core of his soul. It wasn't in him to turn his back on those who needed him. But as sad and shamed as he felt about the outcome, he had known that it would be better for Leah if he simply let her go on thinking he was a lying, cheating bastard than if he tried to explain everything to her. There was no hope she would understand what with the limited facts he would have been able to provide after the gag order handed down from the tribal elders. It was also the last time he bowed to the wishes of the council when they had demanded he keep the secret of the Pack's existence from those he cared for.

So when he'd managed to overhear one of the elder's conversing with another about Bella Swan's complete and utter emotional devastation as reported to them from Billy Black and son, he was suddenly seized upon with the reason for his agitation. He was needed, and he wasn't about to fail the girl.

He had spent almost three hours arguing with himself while sitting the woods just within visual range of the Swan's back yard just after sunset, debating reasons and explanations, before finally forcing himself to walk up to the door and knock. But he was totally unprepared for the frightened and shame-filled man who seemed to have supplanted the usually unflappable Charlie Swan. His face had been pale with exhaustion, black rings under his eyes that would have looked right at home on a raccoon. And even from where he'd stood he could hear the girl thrashing in her bed, the oddly weak stumbling of her heart. A low, desolate cry had broken from her that caused the older man's face to crumble in pain as he waited for it to crescendo into banshee-like wailing.

He didn't stop to ask for permission before bolting up the stairs four at a time and ducking through the low doorway into the dark bedroom, caring little for the fact that his pace had been so clearly inhuman. He could hear Charlie stumbling up the steep stairwell after him but didn't wait for him to catch up before yanking back the heavy blankets and scooping the struggling, far-too-thin body from the bed and up into his arms. He knew that she felt lighter than she should due to his werewolf strength, but he could tell that she had been starving herself and the wolf in him rumbled in disapproval and unease. He'd carried her, still thrashing in the grip of her nightmares, towards her bathroom and stepped into the shower with her, clothing and all. Her father had stood in the doorway watching, his mouth open to protest his actions but the words never emerged. Bella had spluttered into wakefulness under the cold pelting water of the shower, her eyes huge and terrified and still far too dark in her pinched and sallow face.

Her eyes had met his and he'd felt a strange, stomach dropping jolt that suddenly anchored him to the girl by his soul.

There had only been one time he had ever felt anything remotely like it, and it had destroyed everything. And he'd almost panicked again, until he realized that there was nothing romantic about this new bond. It had felt as if fate had suddenly handed him a little sister to protect, one that had been ripped from him and only now just returned. He was seeing her as if through new eyes, ones that didn't see simply the physical but also the mental and spiritual being of Bella Swan; exactly as he could with Emily. And while her father remained silent and wondering at his daughter's strange acceptance of this stranger's actions, Sam took those few quiet moments before the oncoming storm and pulled sharply at their new connection to make certain she was anchored every bit as tightly to him as he now was to her. Her sudden gasp in response caused a small, secret smile of victory to steal over his face for a moment before he hid it behind quiet determination.

And dear god had there ever been a hurricane.

The council had had no idea what to make of his connection to the non-native girl and so had attempted to force him into rejecting it. He'd refused. In his opinion, if those most affected by it were good with it, then objections voiced from outside were meaningless. Emily, who had not even blinked an eye at his new acquisition, had merely smiled and taken the nearly catatonic girl into her care with grace and aplomb. Charlie had simply shaken his head and murmured something about accepting the unexplainable, showing that he was far from ignorant about the strange and supernatural goings on in his small burg even if lacking actual knowledge, then left Sam and Bella to work things through together.

He'd smelled leech all over her that long ago night, so deeply imbedded into her skin it practically permeated the damp air through her pores. The scent of bleach and sugar had been nauseating, but he'd managed to repress the urge to be sick or even worse, phase out of sheer disgust. He had been thankful for the fact that time had erased all but the faintest traces of it, but it had let him know that she would not panic or run if she were ever to discover what he truly was. For the scent to have been that strong, she must have been in almost constant contact with the Cullens. She never said much that night, but she didn't fight him as he held her, slowly warming her up as he turned on the hot water and stood there under it with her. Nor did she argue when he told her that he simply wasn't going to allow her to destroy herself. It might have been the shock of waking up in the arms of a strange man after having removed herself so completely from all human contact, or it might have something to do with the almost imprint-like bond she now shared with said stranger, but she didn't stop him as he threw some of her things into a bag and sent her to change into dry pajamas.

That night, Jacob Black was given almost full custody of his best friend and longtime crush. Sam knew the young man was honorable, and even more important, he would never do anything to hurt Bella. Billy had, for the first time in his life, turned his back on the wishes of the other elders and allowed Bella to stay in his home while he gave detailed daily reports to Charlie as Jacob gradually put the girl back together with love and endless patience. She slowly began to learn how to smile again without cringing, though it was a while before she stopped trying to hold herself together by wrapping her arms around her body.

Embry, when he had finally phased, had been the one to put an end to that. He'd always been fond of Bella, and the very first time he had been allowed near her after he'd gotten control of himself, he'd pulled her arms down and away and simply wrapped himself around her instead, a habit he continued for months. Until one day, she discovered that the gaping hole she imagined to reside in her chest was really just a figment of her imagination. It took her a while to accept his no-strings-attached affection, but it had felt wonderful to have someone simply hold her with no expectations. Oh, she loved Jacob, but in the way a girl loves her brother. Jacob wanted more, and while he hadn't been pushing...yet, Sam could see the signs of it.

Then had come the part he dreaded, as Jacob had started to display the first symptoms of his impending change.

Bella began to live again, going back to school and renewing her friendships with the people she had pushed away. Jacob neither liked nor approved of her attachment with Sam or to Embry when his longtime friend had abruptly cut ties with him as per orders of the council or the rare times she ever saw Jared, though they all managed to remain outwardly friendly when they spoke. He was fairly certain she'd only ever seen the huge, pissed-off wolf from a distance. He learned to bite his tongue when he saw how her face would light up whenever Sam appeared because Bella never allowed anyone to bad-mouth her friends, not even another friend. So he went with her when she asked it of him, letting her use him as a shield against the advances of other young men, especially one Mike Newton who wouldn't have gotten the hint even if it had bitten a chunk out of his ass.

Jacob very nearly had, one night after they had gone to the movies. He'd begun to shoot upward in height, while displaying the unusually aggressive behavior typical of a pre-phase werewolf. He'd chased away the foolish but thankfully not suicidal Newton with bizarre and unprovoked hostility, before Bella had insisted on driving him home after becoming concerned over his amazingly high 'fever'. She seemed to attribute his behavior to a sudden strange illness and shrugged it off.

Sam, however, knew better. He'd known that it was the territorial act of a pissed off alpha werewolf. Newton was simply the last impetus that pushed Jacob over the edge and he'd phased that night for the very first time. And like the time when Sam himself had first phased, the Elders had once again made demands. They not only ordered for Jacob to stop keeping company with Bella, they also attempted to force Sam to use the Alpha command to keep Jacob muzzled over his werewolf status. Unlike last time, Sam refused, arguing that it was not in Bella's best interest. They had once again demanded to know the nature of his own connection to the girl, refusing to believe that it was something as inevitable and permanent as his bonding to his mate because they had never heard of such a thing in The Legends. He had replied that he was her brother, no more or less, and that he would not remove Jacob from her just when she needed him the most. Their hypocrisy knew no bounds as they informed him that Jacob did not need her at this time to distract him from his duties as a protector. He had finally snarled and asked just in who the hell was the boy supposed to protect if he were not allowed to protect the ones he loved, gave them the verbal 'finger', then stalked out to the tune of their outraged spluttering.

After Jacob joined the ranks of the supernatural, he had spent the required week that it took to get himself under control in the woods with most of the others, but he had called Bella every single night. He had told her that he had a kinda big thing to tell her, but wanted to tell her in person and not over the phone. During that time, Sam had impressed upon the newest wolf that while his friend had spent time around vampires, she had not done so to hurt anyone. And that under no circumstances could he be angry with her for not telling him about them, because how could he ever expect her to keep his own secrets if she freely blabbed someone else's for the simple reason that they were good friends. It had been a bit of a hard pill to swallow, but in the end, he had understood.

Since then, Bella had managed to spend more time with Charlie, especially after Sam further broke the rules by finally informing him about werewolves, vampires, and his daughter's strange ability to draw both of them to her. He'd understood that when Jacob would climb through her window to sleep in her bed, it wasn't about a horny teen getting one by him, and Bella had compromised by leaving her door wide open to show that she wasn't hiding anything unseemly. No one found the need to tell him that Jacob loved her in a non-platonic way, or that he had finally forced himself past the boundaries of brotherhood and into the uncomfortable zone of awareness even if she was not ready to reciprocate. Some nights she spent in Billy's home with her Jacob-shaped teddy bear, then still others she spent curled up on the sofa around Embry while he quietly watched TV and gently threaded his fingers through her hair to help her sleep, simply content to keep her company while Jacob was out on patrol.

Sometimes, Sam half wondered if the quiet male hadn't somehow bonded himself to Bella in the same way he himself had.

She learned to enjoy the outdoors on hikes and picnics in the woods that sometimes could only be reached by riding wolf-back. She swam with them at First Beach, then later at Second Beach when the Pack took her with them. It had been an unseasonably warm year, and Bella, finally properly fed and cared for by a woman that was able to see beyond her own flaky needs, was finding herself more healthy and energetic then she could ever remember. She'd even gained a golden glow to her seemingly permanently pale skin when she'd taken to wearing tank tops and cropped cargos to combat the overheating inflicted by the contrary sun and her high-temperature companions. Not to mention all the time spent in a bathing suit wrestling with horse-sized werewolves in the water and learning to cliff-dive while wrapped securely around Sam, Embry, Jacob, or one of the cheerfully accommodating twins because even she knew that letting her solo-dive was trouble just waiting to happen. Her hair had lightened with strands of dark gold and red, the faintest of freckles dusting themselves over her cheeks.

And during that time the Pack had expanded to unheard of proportions.

Quil was soon to tag along in his friend's footsteps and enjoyed the easiest transition from young man to young werewolf Sam had seen yet. Seth and Leah had rapidly followed suit. Watching his daughter phase in the living room after a drunken fit while raging over her loss of Sam to her cousin had thrown Harry Clearwater into a heart attack that the man had been lucky to recover from. Then there had been Pierce and Macey, the aforementioned pair of identical twins who had come from home from a long stay at the Makah reservation and had almost instantly begun the change as they stopped to visit with an uncle on their way home in La Push. Collin and Brady were soon to follow and at thirteen years old were the youngest wolves ever to phase. The last had been a young man named Shay who had turned just last night.

He had no idea why there was such a large pack this generation, but it made him wary of the possible reason behind it.

Bella poked him in the ribs again when she noticed the distant look in his eyes and he turned to give her one final grin before turning onto the drive of Forks High. She hurriedly pressed a smacking kiss against his cheek before scrambling over the seat towards the door.

"I'll be by to pick you up after school," he called after her and she waved over a swiftly retreating shoulder in acknowledgement as she raced towards the dreary building. He wondered, as he drove away, if it was ridiculous of him to be proud of her for only managing to stumble once.


The hours seemed to drag out forever for Bella as she sat listening to the never ending droning of the history teacher. She repressed a yawn and forced herself to keep her feet from tapping impatiently against the floor. Her phone buzzed in her left thigh pocket, startling her for a moment before she reached down and checked her inbox for the text message that had almost had her slapping at her thigh for what had almost felt like an unwanted groping.

-Not going to be able to pick you

up, sorry. Will send someone

to get you after school and hope to

see you sometime tomorrow…Sam-

Bella stifled a groan while quickly keying in a response to let him know she'd gotten his message, before going back to concentrating on not having her brain melt out her ears from sheer boredom. She only just managed to keep from jumping up and cheering when the last bell rang and she escaped out the door to enjoy her Friday afternoon.

She made record time in hurrying to her locker and liberating her bag, before scurrying down the halls towards the front door so she would be easily found by whoever would be sent to take her home for the night. Charlie had gotten an extra day off and he was already in La Push with Billy on an extended fishing trip. She grinned to herself, knowing that those trips of theirs had truly very little to do with fishing and more to do with getting pleasantly buzzed and doing the guy-version of gossiping like ten year old girls. A small part of her brain kept a kept an ear trained for the sound of any familiar voices so that she didn't accidentally get fully lost in her book while some poor werewolf was left to sniff her out from amongst a crowd of hundreds.

The sound of a well-tuned monster of a motorbike distracted her for a moment, and she lifted gaze just in time to catch sight of the almost predatory presence of the man on the huge black beast. It seemed to purr all too eagerly between long, wickedly muscled thighs that flexed deliciously under well-worn jeans. Said jeans looked soft enough to make her palms itch with the sudden desire to stroke up and over. She blinked, following the line of his body upward over tight hips that looked disturbingly bare of anything like underclothes as he slowly crept forward along the curb, seemingly looking for someone amongst the swarming throng of bodies. He drew eyes like a trainwreck, though something about him just as swiftly caused them to turn away as if unconsciously aware of how dangerous he just might be, the big bad wolf who had long ago tossed his sheep's clothing by the wayside. Bella had to force her own eyes away when she realized that the smooth grey-blue knit of his shirt was snug enough to display abs so tight and hard they could only have been intended for the pleasure of lips, tongue and teeth.

She swallowed uneasily, not used to such a strong, visceral reaction being caused by a stranger's body as she struggled not to squirm and somehow draw his attention to her, the response of all good little prey. Her eyes scanned over the parking lot, now more motivated in her search and wishing that she saw anyone at all from the pack, even Leah. Though to be fair, Leah wasn't nearly as bitchy as she tried to pretend she was.

In fact, she was so intent upon seeing a familiar face that she missed it when the big biker slowed to a stop in front of her. Reluctantly, she returned her gaze to him, her eyes skimming over impossibly broad shoulders and silky hair so deeply black, it shone with blue lowlights against his dark amber-golden complexion. Those shoulders were sloped with thick muscle, well matching the arms that rippled with power under his beautiful skin. The corner of his viciously sexy mouth kicked up with seeming amusement, wide and masculinely decadent as he returned her gaze from behind the silver-framed shades that completely obscured his eyes. A small dimple winked at her from his lean cheek as he enjoyed the helpless ogling that was just short of her very first involuntary eye-fuck. A sharply peaked brow lifted in question as he tilted his head as if to get a better view of her in return and though she'd never considered herself to be at all religious, she had the sudden and devout belief that the Devil had been having one hell of a good day when he'd made this male.

Oh God and she'd thought Jacob was beautiful…

"There you are." His voice, a low husky rumble that reminded her of a well-satiated animal, sent a ripple of shivering awareness down her spine as her eyes widened momentarily in shock.

"Sam sent you?" He didn't look like anyone she had ever met and certainly not a Quileute werewolf. And she was unnerved further when she stepped closer and caught the faintest trace of alcohol beneath the scent of something deliciously spicy and utterly male, realizing that he had been drinking. The hard jerk of his entire body as he shifted the bike made her rethink his ability to safely drive her anywhere, much less himself.

"Mmhmm." He sounded less like he was agreeing with her and more like he'd just tasted something warm and sweet that he very much enjoyed.

"I'm going to need a ride …" Her voice was hesitant as she slowly shoved her book back into her bag.

"I'd be happy to give you one." She was three seconds from smiling in response to his seeming enthusiasm when the subtle suggestiveness in his tone caught her attention and drove her to turn an embarrassing shade of pink. His face betrayed nothing but curiosity over her sudden blush, however, and she decided that she must have been mistaken. Her hormones were obviously trying to make her think he was as aware of her as she was him. Maybe, her reason offered, when you had a voice that sounded like long nights of rough sex, you really couldn't help sounding suggestive. Besides, she was all too aware of the fact that he was far more male than she had been equipped to handle, not even with both hands and a shock-collar. Thoughputting a leash on him might be kind of-

Bella flushed even harder and pinched herself sharply in reprimand. God, she didn't even know his name and she was lusting over him!

"Are you…well, er." She'd pretty much babbled herself into a corner before she managed to spit out the needed question. "Are you actually sober enough to get us both safely home?"

His dimpled smile, though seemingly innocent, somehow made her uneasy. "You want to drive?"

"I'm not…" She bit her lip as she cut off her rambling, considering his offer while wondering if she should just call Sam. Because something inside her was warning her that if she accepted his invitation, she was letting herself in for a great deal more than the face value of what he was offering. He scooted back a bit to make room for her, mutely inviting her to take over.

"Well, crap," she finally muttered to herself in resignation. Because she couldn't very well let him continue to drive drunk like she was almost certain he was. Nor did she feel like riding along and praying that his inhuman reflexes would keep them from crashing despite his intoxication, because it would take away from her ability to keep from peeing her pants if he happened to take any crazy chances like they all seemed fond of. And yeah, he made her uncomfortable, but she was a grown-ass woman damnit! She could handle it.

She braced her hand against his outstretched leg as she reached around to secure her bag to the back of the bike. Then, she tried desperately to ignore the slow and almost teasing flexing of his thigh under her fingers as he allowed her to use her grip on him to balance herself while carefully pulling a leg over the wide tank of the bike. She shifted a bit to get a feel for the weight of the machine and almost stumbled right back off when the male slowly pushed forward behind her until her bottom rested snugly against his hips. She was reasonably sure his intent was probablyjust to redistribute their weight properly, so she blocked out the way the feel of his body against hers made her want to push herself back against him harder. She was already slightly nervous over the fact that she was pretty sure the gleaming beast of a motorcycle was actually heavier than she was. "Right, then. You might want to hold on, though, um-?"

She felt his chest vibrate against her body with quiet laughter as his arms obligingly came up and wrapped around her stomach, his right hand absently curving down over her hip as he pressed himself up against her back.

"I'm Paul."

For a moment, Bella's mental processes ground themselves to a complete halt as everything she'd ever heard about this wolf ran through her head. Bastard was the top of the list highlighted with a bright and shiny gold star. Antagonistic, hostile, brutal and malevolent were some of the kinder things she could remember being said. Jacob often said that he had the morals of a pit-viper and hated everyone nearly on sight. He thrived on his rage and was far more prone to break your arm than shake your hand. He had no use for the female species, because he didn't have enough patience for pretending to like them long enough to get into their pants. Sam was always slightly uneasy around him, though Paul had never really disobeyed an order and when pressed for answers, he'd been strangely ambivalent. Though on one thing he'd been certain: there was something not quite right with Paul, either in human or wolf form. He'd kept Bella at a distance from the volatile wolf, not trusting him to not undo all the damage-control he'd worked on his sister-imprint. Now, Bella had to wonder if his currently teasing and almost laid-back demeanor was a result of his intoxication, and found herself almost thankful that he was drunk if that were the case, even if it left him a little more physically friendly than she was comfortable with.

Sneaking a peek up at him over her shoulder, she was a little stunned to realize that he was actually even prettier than she'd realized, with his high cheekbones and the clean hard line of his jaw, and a part of her sort of wished that he'd take the silver shades off so she could see his eyes. One good mental head-smack later and she had herself back under control enough to gun the engine.

Suddenly, the strange lack of chatter in the parking lot registered in her distracted mind. Looking up, she saw the small group of people that had gathered to watch her and the stranger and cringed, all too aware of the rumors that would fly on Monday. It only got worse when she caught sight of Mike, Jessica, Lauren, Tyler and Eric all standing towards the front, already whispering back and forth to each other. It may have only been a couple of brief minutes since Paul had pulled up the drive of the school, but it was long enough to cause the required damage to her peace of mind. And there was no mistaking the sour look on Mike's face when he saw the huge male who must have looked like he was just short of outright cuddling her.

It was at that particular moment in time that Bella fully appreciated the fact that this particular werewolf was less than socially polite. Mike's jealousy must have seemed pretty damned amusing to him. That or maybe he just couldn't help himself when presented with the opportunity to torture him further because she went utterly and helplessly still as she suddenly felt him slowly nuzzle a stray lock of hair away from where it had worked itself loose. It was as if he were simply removing a vague annoyance from where it brushed against his skin, as he almost casually breathed a line of chilly-hot air up the line of her neck to urge the strands down along the nape of her vulnerable throat.

Bella jumped as what felt like the shock of a cattle-prod jolted down her spine from the point of contact with her neck. It set all of her nerve endings dancing wildly under her skin and she half wondered if it were possible for one's vagina to have a seizure, the sensation was so acute. She just barely stopped herself from squeaking in surprise and was excruciatingly aware that her blush was once more painfully apparent.

Oh god, she really had to get some distance from him before he did something to irreparably damage her ability to function normally.

Mike's face looked positively green with jealousy, his lips tightly compressed and his fists unconsciously clenched at his sides. Bella felt Paul's arms curl around her just a fraction tighter as if to goad the younger male further. The low rumble of mocking laughter simply confirmed his intent, though she somehow missed it when Mike all but recoiled at the sight of the malicious grin turned on him just before Paul stretched his foot back and kicked them off the curb, forcing Bella to either steer the beast or crash.

It proved to be a highly efficient distraction, even after he pulled his legs up and stretched them down along the outer line of Bella's own, and she quickly forgot all about the possibly disastrous gossip that would run rampant through the drama-queen population of Forks High. All she could do was worry about keeping herself and her passenger alive long enough to get them home.

And she'd thought Mondays were rough…

a.n. – to start with…I'm not a Twi-fan…you might even say I'm rabidly anti-canon Bella. That being said…the weres are just too sexy NOT to play with. There are also not nearly enough Paul fics to feed my addiction, so I have to make my own, but meh.

This story was beta'd by my ever faithful partner in crime, Chaoswingdragon…long may she put up with my horrible typing skills, lol. And as always…reviews are food to kind and do not starve me…Unseelie Sidhe