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Chapter Fourteen: The Word Of The Day Is Wolf
I forced Paul to sneak in later that night and sleep over. It was a little selfish to ask him to spend his last few hours with me. It disturbed me to admit I was affected by Paul. In fact he affected me more than I ever could have imagined. He stole my attention. The rain and thunder here in Forks screamed, even the fog whispered, his name. He was everywhere, in every picture and drawing; if you looked hard enough you could catch him in the reflection of my eyes. The breath left my lungs with a single one of his looks. But I didn't care, I didn't mind. Who needs to breathe to be alive? Not I. All I needed was Paul and those brown, brown eyes. What a sick obsession it was. Yet I knew nothing about Paul. And he knew even less of me. But tonight I would try to change that.
"Tell me something about yourself." I mumbled hesitantly.
Paul looked shocked for a second before recovering quickly.
"I was born here and I grew up here. My dad split on my mom when she was around seven months along, haven't seen hide or hair of him since." He mumbled.
"Was he a shifter like you?" I blurted without thinking.
Ok I did think about it but I didn't mean to ask about his absentee father. Curiosity got the best of me. I mean who knows, it could be hereditary or something.
"Maybe. I wouldn't know," Paul furrowed his brow, "anyways what about you?"
"You know, the usual orphaned prodigal artist." I said sarcastically and he cracked a grin.
"It must've been hard without a dad." I sobered up quickly.
Paul gave a careless shrug. But I still felt horrible for him. My dad and I hadn't been very close, especially as I got older. The face I shared with my mother got in the way of having a real relationship, but I loved him a lot. If not for the endless shifts he took to support my expensive hobbies, and me I will always love him for the way he loved my mother. He raised me and made me who I am today. Life without my father was impossible to imagine.
"You never told me about your mother." Paul said softly.
"My mom's name was Deirdre, which was her grand mammy's name and my middle name. Her thirty-fifth birthday was a few weeks ago. She had hair darker than my blackest set of paints and her eyes were as light as her hair was dark. I only ever saw pictures of my ma but everyone says we look alike. I don't remember anything about her, but I think about her a lot. My da said he was lucky when he married her that she only picked him for his voice. Apparently he had the voice of an angel. He used to sing me to sleep when I was younger and Paul he did, he really did have a voice of an angel." Once the words started tumbling out, they wouldn't stop.
Paul wiggled lower so that I was laying down near the top half of the bed and he was near the bottom half; his head was pressed into my lap as he hugged my legs to him. I dug one hand into his thick, midnight colored locks. The other hand I ran up and down his back. And do you know what the amazing thing was? I kept talking and stroking and eventually crying, but Paul didn't move or say a word. Not once. It was the nicest thing anyone had done for me.
Eventually the roles reversed and we began exchanging stories and tidbits about our childhoods and fears. Paul told me how his first time shifting felt and I told him about the first serious piece of art I made. Between the heavy topics were the light ones, chatting about the scar on underside of Paul's jaw and my intense aversion to frosting. We spent the rest of the night like that, wrapped up in each other, until the rosy fingertips of dawn lulled me to sleep. And when I woke up, Paul was gone.
The next day I drove up to Port Angeles, ready for a hellish day of work at the photography shop. The Boss was doing major cleaning which meant a full afternoon spent hauling, cataloging and coaxing him to sell a few things; he would spend his day with his feet up, cold iced tea and the dusty record player. But I guess that's why he hired me, so he wouldn't have to work. I was looking forward to it though, anything to keep my mind off the impending battle today. Sure it was a little weird to think while I was dusting off camera lenses, a team of werewolves and vampires were fighting against a freakish army of demons from hell . . .or rather Seattle. But if Lou played the records loud enough and I focused on the junk at hand, I wouldn't think of all that.
"Boss, c'mon just sell a few of these. How're you going to maintain all of them anyway?" I hollered, quickly disassembling a Pentax before cleaning it.
He had five cameras of the same model. Yes I counted.
"It breaks my heart to hear you ask me that." He groaned, pulling out a pack of those infernal Marlboro Reds he smoked.
"You know those are worse for your heart. They don't call them cowboy killers for nothing." I replied dryly.
Second hand smoke was not a pretty thing, so I ran to open a few windows.
"Good thing I'm a photographer and not a cowboy." Lou continued inhaling his choke stick while I went back to organizing.
By the time my third break of the day rolled around I was nearly a fourth of the way through cleaning everything. Meanwhile Lou hadn't even put a dent into his record collection. Fate would stick me with a hoarder for a boss. A tuna melt sandwich and ice cold Pepsi later, I took out my phone to see more than a few missed calls from Danie. I practically choked when I saw the time. It was nearly eight in the evening. By this time all the Kung Fu fighting should be over. It seemed I was a little too good at avoiding my problems. But why had Danie called me so many times . . . unless something happened. She wouldn't call unless it was important; Danie wasn't a phone person as much as a 'talk your ear off in real life' person. She had good news, bad news or horrible news to give me. The good news could be that the Cullen vampires and La Push wolves had won the fight. The bad news could be that they had won the fight but sustained injuries. And although I like to think that wouldn't bother me, the thought of anyone getting hurt made me sick to my stomach. Even Rosalie. The horrible news would be that they lost and Danie had been calling me frantically to report the death toll and to warn me to get the hell out of town. In that case I had a bag packed in the hatchback for Debra and I.
"I have to take off Lou. Tomorrow's my day to pick the music though, don't forget." I whipped off the apron and nametag, nearly tripping on my way out.
"Drive safely!" He called back.
I waved bye before throwing myself into the hatchback and burning rubber. I was eager to get back to La Push but nervous for what I would find when I did. What if Paul . . .
"Stop." I shook my head furiously, trying to physically shake the thought out of my head.
The car swerved into the adjacent lane and I straightened the wheel quickly, ignoring several blaring horns. I turned the radio on; blasting whatever was playing as an attempt to keep my thoughts away from the worst-case scenario. But it did little to distract me; still I crossed into La Push territory without any other near accidents. When I pulled into the Black residence there were several cars parked outside, including a shiny and out of place BMW. I hopped out of the car, barely taking two steps before tripping onto the hood of the hatchback. Nearly everyone was gathered on the porch, bathing in the light of the moon. I did a quick tally and realized only one person was missing. Who was it?
Jared stood off to the side and Kim was wrapped around his waist. Sam stood with his hands massaging his neck; his face was lined with worry. Emily was fussing over the younger boys, Brady and Colin. Danie looked equally distraught, her hands were wringing the edge of her shirt. Seth stood beside Danie, whispering something in her ear. I almost missed Leah and Paul arguing in the corner. The sight of his muscular, shirtless back nearly brought tears to my eyes.
"Paul!" I cried out, practically throwing myself at him.
He gently caught me, surprise written all over his face whilst I yanked him into a bone-crushing hug.
"I thought you were . . ." I couldn't finish the sentence.
Paul set me down for a second, I took the opportunity to fiercely inspect him for wounds or bruises, and before I could finish he was already pulling me up into the crook of his neck. My converse clad feet were planted on top of his bare ones.
"I'm fine. I'm alright." He mumbled into my hair.
After several minutes I heard an agonizing scream. It was coming from inside the Black house. My eyes must have looked like saucers when I realized who was missing and whom the screams were coming from.
"Jacob?" I whispered to Paul.
He gave me a grim look of confirmation.
"What happened? Is he alright?" I placed my palms against Paul's chest, pulling away slightly.
"God, what was he thinking? I had it!" Leah burst out suddenly.
"Leah that's enough." Sam warned carefully.
She scoffed before stalking off towards the tree line. A few seconds later there was another scream and I blinked slowly. What was going on in there?
"A newborn pinned Leah and Jake jumped in without thinking. The damn thing grabbed him from the back and broke all his ribs." Paul explained.
"I thought you guys were fast healers." I winced when Jacob's screams gave way to choked sobs.
"We are," He nodded, "his ribs healed crooked so Carlisle has to break them again and set them so this time they heal correctly."
Break all his ribs, again? My throat suddenly felt dry and I struggle to swallow. Paul grabbed my hand and led me farther away from the house. I stumbled after him, still disturbed by the tortured noises coming from Jacob.
"It'll be alright, everything is going to be okay." He sighed quietly.
He began regaling me with stories of the battle, toying with my hair all the while. I wanted to be distracted and absorbed by his touch but our conversation was punctuated with screams. Eventually the screaming stopped and then another car joined the BMW. It was the disgustingly rusted truck that belonged to none other than Bella Swan. She raced out of her truck, only pausing to have a brief conversation with Billy before entering the house. I couldn't stop the brief shot of anger I felt towards her. That stupid freakish vampire army had been after her. All of these boys had put their lives on the line to protect her. What if someone had died?
"Are you angry?" Paul asked abruptly.
"Incredibly. You guys almost died for one little girl." I didn't even hesitate to say it.
Again, I had no tact. He looked a little shocked. I'm sure he was expecting anger directed towards him. After a few seconds of silence he finally spoke.
"It's our duty to protect the people in this town, no matter what. You, your aunt, all those little twats from school and Bella. Everyone. It's the way it is." Paul said solemnly.
I knew that. It didn't make me any less angry. Or scared. This was his job. It came with the package. Tall, dark, handsome and occasionally puts his life at risk for the greater good. After Bella left the rest of the group slowly poured into the Black's house to thank Carlisle, check on Jacob and offer condolences to Billy. I slowly walked in their small home, feeling very out of place. Danie looked right at home; she joked with Jacob for a bit and even gave Billy a big hug. I hung back feeling unsure of how I fit into this dynamic. While I had been holed up in my house and hiding from everyone, Danie had been making her place in the La Push . . . pack I guess. Not just as Seth's girlfriend but as their little sister almost.
"Come on." Paul motioned for me to enter the room.
Jacob was lying on a little bed. He was covered in a cast and buckets of sweat; a ridiculous amount of morphine was on an IV drip connected to his arm but he still looked like he was in pain.
"Hey." I smiled timidly.
"Long time no see." Jacob replied hoarsely, returning my smile.
I giggled nervously and asked him how he felt. Jacob played off the pain to which Paul laughed sardonically.
"You're not impressing anyone in here or within a hundred mile radius. We all heard you screaming." I pinched Paul viciously after that little comment.
We both wished Jacob a speedy recovery, well I wished him while Paul complained loudly about having to pick up his shifts for patrol, before ducking out to let him sleep. Billy accepted our hugs and made me promise to show my face more. I didn't want to offend him so I went along with it, even if I still felt a little odd.
No Diana, I reminded myself, they risked their lives to protect yours. Jacob got hurt because of it. The least I could do was swallow my pride and say hi to Billy and Jacob every once in a while.
Oh how I would regret that promise.
I spent the next few weeks dropping off horribly made desserts for Jacob and Billy. Jacob had long since recovered but it seemed he was still off patrol duty for a while. He explained that it was in case shifting into his wolf caused any stress on his still fragile bones. It reminded me that while the La Push boys were strong they weren't invincible. Either that or Jacob wanted a few more days of rest. I dropped off the desserts with the hope that I could sneak away but Paul, Embry and usually another person would come knocking on the front door as I was leaving. I was starting to think either Jacob or Billy was ratting me out. Honestly it might have been both of them.
Paul would suggest going for a hike or a swim, which I would always turn down. Then Embry would suggest it but practically force me to say yes, threatening to tell my aunt about our supposed liaisons in the forest. At first I laughed off the threats but then one day he said he would use my naked photo of Paul as proof. That shut me up real quick.
Which meant I had to increasingly deal with the obnoxious Paul and loud Embry.
"Hey stranger." I heard a voice call out.
I turned around to find Bella and Edward, walking hand in hand. I gave her the once over and when I saw the slightly red lips and ruffled hair I practically gasped. They had just been kissing. Of course. I mean it's Friday night and Port Angeles has plenty of couples crawling around this time.
"Good to see you alive and well." I managed to say, avoiding Edward's eyes.
I always forgot that fancy little mind reading trick he had, which meant he had heard my thoughts about them kissing and was probably listening to me kick myself over it now.
"You too." She nodded.
Only I knew she was lying because I didn't look well, hell I barely looked alive. My sleep cycle was still fucked and I still had nightmares. Jasper was doing everything he could but he could only do so much. I hadn't even bothered to call him all week because every time he came he would preach to me about facing my fear. I didn't really get what he meant at first because I had been spending a lot of time with Paul lately. Granted it was always with others, Embry or Jared and Kim and sometimes even Danie and Seth. Wasn't that enough? According to Jasper it wasn't. I needed to face Paul the Wolf not just Paul the Man. You can see why I would hesitate to do that.
"What brings you to Port Angeles?" Edward's question brought me back from my musings quickly.
"Oh I work here in a photography shop." I pointed towards the dark building I just came out of.
"That's cool. Jasper told us you're an amazing artist." Bella smiled sincerely.
"Oh I don't know about all that," I snorted, "but I've got to head home. Enjoy the rest of your night."
I made a beeline for my car, not bothering to listen for a goodbye. What an awkward encounter.
Later that night I was painting my nails with my aunt. It was our girls night, something she invented to spend more time with me. I, of course, invited Kim and Danie. My aunt invited her friend Susan. After burning our taste buds off with pad Thai, we began discussing what was apparently a 'must' in every sleep over. Boys.
"None of you guys are having unprotected sex are you?" Debra asked casually.
Kim and I both choked on our noodles while Danie smiled like a Cheshire cat. Leave it up to Debra.
"Cause if you're doing it raw then please at least take the pill. An STD is one thing but a baby . . ." Her friend Susan chimed in.
I just about screamed when she said that. Looks like I wouldn't have any help in roping in my wild aunt tonight.
"Jared and I aren't there yet." Kim coughed politely.
"Really? Seth and I are. But I totally tested him before we did anything and he knows not to come near me unless he's wrapped up." Danie supplied easily.
I about fainted at the thought of little Seth and her going at it like rabbits. She was ruining the poor kid's innocence!
"I thought you guys were still mad at each other?" Kim mumbled.
"Danie wait, how did you test him that night in Embry's truck?" I suddenly remembered.
"We're over that now and puh-lease Di, all I did that night was bl-" I shot up out of the room, screaming nonsense before she could finish her sentence.
They all burst into laughter, except for Kim bless her soul. Danie, my aunt and Susan were a deadly combo. When I got back they all looked at me expectantly.
"I'm not having sex with anyone right now, there's no one I would even consider doing anything sexual with!" I blurted out before scooping another chopstick full of noodles into my mouth.
"What about Cameron?" Danie accused.
"Or Embry?" My aunt wiggled her eyebrows.
"Paul?" Kim squeaked.
I sent them all hateful glares, especially Kim.
"Cameron and Embry are just friends, Paul is . . . I don't know what he is but he's not anything to do with sex." I dismissed.
Speaking of Cameron I hadn't hung out or heard from him in a while. We exchanged friendly texts but I continuously blew him off whenever he asked to hang out. Honestly it wasn't cause of all the drama that had happened, although that was a big part of it, it was mostly because I knew he wanted more. Love triangles were messy and La Push had enough of those, if anything Embry had told me was true. I couldn't deal with two guys trying to screw me. Especially when one of them was a werewolf. My phone buzzed, interrupting the disturbing conversation at hand.
I thought we were working on your avoidance problems...
Ah shit. Way to ruin the night even more with a guilt trip. I quickly tapped back a reply, careful not to let Debra see. She would kill me if she knew I was texting.
Oops I thought it was the nightmares we were working on: p
A few seconds later I heard another buzz and snuck a glance at my phone.
How's sleeping without your trusty medication?
I didn't know if I was being paranoid but it sounded really harsh. Is that what Jasper thought? That I only liked him for his abilities? I actually considered him a friend. I immediately sent him as heartfelt a reply as my stupid nature would allow me.
You're more than a good nights sleep.
And as skeptical as I was to his request I answered 'ok' because Jasper's friendship meant a lot to me. He had been there for me at a time when I was convinced I needed no one.
Face your fears, face the wolf
How could I have let this happen? Stupid, stupid girl. When Jasper told me to face my fears I should've just sent him an "loljk" and stopped texting him. But no, I had to be a decent person and go out of my way to show him I cared. Even if it meant this. "This" was subjecting myself to gradual exposure of my biggest fear.
"Okay Di! I'm going to do it." Paul tossed his shirt off and his rippling muscles mesmerized me for a brief second.
"Aooww!" Embry howled playfully as Paul stepped out of his shorts.
I squeezed my eyes shut and told myself to get a grip. I could handle seeing him. . . I'd done it before. I opened them and realized quite some time had passed; everyone had been waiting on me. Paul stood, completely nude, hands over his jewels and looking a little uncomfortable.
"O-okay, go ahead I'm ready!" I called back, sounding not the least bit 'ready'.
He let go of his ahem, not-so-little guy, and rolled his shoulders. I squeaked and slapped a hand over my eyes just as a tremor ran through him. Not a second later, Embry was wrenching my hands away from my face and pointing excitedly at the massive wolf that stood in place of Paul.
"Holy shit." I breathed, stumbling as Embry pulled me back to my spot.
Run Diana, book it! My brain was yelling at me but Embry wouldn't let go. Paul the Wolf ambled towards us and I was more than a little pissed that even as a 'gruesome terrifying creature' he was beautiful. His fur was silky steel color and his eyes were a lighter hazel. I reminded myself to keep looking at his eyes, they were the only part of him that didn't scream 'gigantic wolf beast that can tear pathetic five foot human girls to pieces'. In fact they were oddly human, evoking the same feelings in me that his amber and chocolate human counterparts did.
"That's enough for today." I said as I realized Paul was only a few feet away from me.
He phased back immediately and covered himself before running back for his shorts.
"You did good today." Embry shot up and drew a line on the dirt where Paul the Wolf previously stood.
It was about a foot closer than yesterday's line and leaps and bounds away from last week's line. Following Jasper's advice and confronting my 'fear' was much easier said than done but after working at it, I was (I must admit) glad that I did. My nightmares had all but ceased and I spent nearly every waking moment with Paul. Even when he got on my nerves and I kicked him out (which happened a lot), he would come back apologizing and begging me to let him stay. He claimed that it felt 'funny' to be away from me; when I tried to get him to explain he would feign confusion. It was still a little weird to hang out with him so often. Not too long ago it had taken his life being in danger for me to even call him. Now it was like I couldn't take two steps without him nearby.
"Can you go home?" I asked through a mouthful of sandwich that Paul had made.
I may or may not have swiped it off him.
"You just use me for my sandwich making skills and hot looks." He pouted playfully.
I gave him a blank stare before slowly bringing my sandwich back up for a bite.
"You're not hot." I flatly stated.
Except with the crap in my mouth it came out "yoo ot haw". Paul shot me a wicked grin and slowly lifted his shirt up, revealing that torso sculpted by god himself. I didn't even realize my jaw was unhinged until he smiled smugly at me.
"If that's your way of attracting me. . . it sure is different than how most girls do it." Paul sniggered.
"I don't want to attract you I want to repel you!" I opened my mouth periodically, giving him a clear view of the grotesque, saliva covered shit in my mouth.
"C'mon kid, you'll have to do more than that to gross me out. I'm unfortunately friends with savages, remember?"
"Speaking of your boyfriends, don't they miss you? Why don't you run along and visit them?" I groaned.
"No need to sound so jealous, you know you're my one and only." Paul winked lazily.
Instead of replying or paying attention to my dumb heart, which decided to conveniently miss a beat, I just opened my mouth again to reveal more chewed up food.
Chapter 13 had a lot of time skipping since I didn't want Diana to suddenly get over her fear of wolves/Paul but I also didn't want 3 chapters dedicated to avoiding her problems (not fun to read or write) so if you feel like there's been a 180 in the way she acts remember TIME SKIPPING aka Di has spent a lot of time struggling with her emotions.
Gah okay after chapter 15 I will definitely go back and do major revision of previous chapters for grammar errors (there will probably be a lot), inconsistencies, spelling, flow etc. I'm a night owl so I do a lot around two or three in the morning, which isn't exactly ideal in terms of how coherent I am lol.
This story has so far kept with the original plot but I'm cooking up a few ideas to stray away from it. I'm a little interested in your thoughts on that. Feel free to pm me.
Decided to end things here on a fluffy note. And no, your eyes do not deceive you I have updated a mere 3 days later. 15 will be out in a week and a half. But 16 might take longer since I'm going to start revising.