Wow, hey, HI. Remember me? So it's still technically summer, and here's that update I'd said I'd do... sometime this summer. Ugh, lame, I know. My summer became incredibly busy, between my day job and working on my edits for my next published original story. That took a lot more work than I realized, especially since it's three times longer than my last published OS was. The bright side is, this one isn't appearing in an anthology, this is one story, all mine, coming at you in November around Thanksgiving time. I'll blather on more about it down below, for those that actually care about any of this. I know you'd really much rather read the update since I've made you wait FOREVER for it. It's shorter than my typical update length, and for that I apologize, but that's just kind of where it was good to cut if off at. That said, I am 2 pages into chapter 16. I'm not going to attempt to promise when that will post. Hopefully sooner than 4 months from now. (I suck.)

Note - This chapter isn't beta'd. Any mistakes are all me. The first 3 pages of this have been written since July; I happened to be home today, the muse bit me - HARD - and I pretty much just whipped this out and decided I'd throw it at ya. Mynxi can (and probably will) scream at me later and tell me what to fix, which is why I love her so.

15.

Edward

As Bella and I left the shower, I curled back up with her in bed just long enough for her to drop off to sleep before going to out join Seth in the living room. I'd heard him speaking quietly on his cell phone, not at all pleased about what he'd just been subjected to.

"She's obviously not any kind of danger with him, Sam. If you'd been here to hear…I can't even…yuck. Trust me, she was enjoying – ugh, it's gross to even have to discuss this! She's my sister for God's sake, I don't think I need to paint you a fucking picture."

"I don't care if they fuck on top of the dining room table while you're sitting there eating Sunday dinner, Seth. You're staying put, and that's an order!"

Seth's eyes closed at the impact caused by his Alpha's order even across the digital phone line. "Fine," he bit out, pressing a button on the screen to end the call. He then looked up at me, having detected my presence from where I stood watching him from the end of the hall. "You are really the last per-…thing I want to see or talk to right now."

I sighed, resorting to the now well-ingrained human trait of running a hand haggardly through my hair. "Look, I'm sorry about that," I began, gesturing over my shoulder.

"No, you're not," he interjected. "And neither is she. It's her house."

I nodded in acquiescence. "Regardless, it was a little rude, I guess. I can see that you're here under duress, and you don't deserve to be tortured by hearing your…sister," (how odd it was for me to refer to this rancid, yet rather likeable, mongrel, as my Bella's brother) "in the throes of ecstasy…"

'Think awfully high of yourself there, don't you, bloodsucker?' Seth's thoughts interjected and I scowled at him. "Oh come on, Seth, surely you don't think your sister was putting on a performance for your benefit? How twisted would that be?"

"About as twisted as fucking a corpse."

I was angered by how callously he could speak of Bella, someone he obviously cared for as a blood relative, and my patience with this young mutt was wearing thin. "Look, you've seen that she's fine, there's nothing amiss here, and that I'm obviously not out to make her my next meal. I love her, Seth, and she loves me. So just go report that back to your little puppy pound, and leave us to it."

A tremor went through Seth's body; he was obviously pissed at the turn in conversation, but I was done playing nice. But then he leaned forward with a heavy sigh, placing his elbows on his knees, covering his face with his massive hands. "It's not that easy. I mean, as you could probably tell from my phone call, it's not like I really want to be here."

"Then why stay?"

"I was Alpha-ordered. I don't really have a choice in the matter. Of course I wanted to make sure for myself that Bella was okay. But now it's not up to me to decide when to come home. I'm ordered to stay until Sam sees fit for me to return."

He likely didn't realize he was replaying the moment in his mind, but what I saw instantly made me sympathize with the young man. The way the timbre of the pack leader's voice forced his shoulders to curl forward in submission was enough for me to realize the level of impact made by this supernatural phenomenon, the instantaneous removal of free-will in a single command. Pre-ordained by his gods, he was duty-bound to his Alpha, his pack, and his tribe; his hopes and dreams were dashed the instant he sprouted fur and a tail, learning the legends were all true.

"Just curious, what would you be doing if you weren't protecting your loved ones and the people of the northern peninsula from my kind? What did little Seth Clearwater want to be when he grew up, before he found out monsters were real?"

Seth looked up at me, his eyes narrowing as he pondered the sincerity of my question before looking down again shaking his head in disgust. "Fuck, I don't know. It's not like many people get off the rez and make something of themselves or anything, nobody I know anyway. I was fourteen when I phased."

I saw then in his mind a glimpse of his first phase, the initial moments of surprise and terror, and the sight of who I assumed to be his father lying lifeless on the ground, hands still clasped over his failed heart. Poor kid. "What were your interests? Hobbies?" Race cars and football, followed by scantily Victoria's Secret models flashed through his mind. "Aside from the usual," I added with a smirk.

"Ugh! Stop with the mind-reading stuff! That shit's just spooky. I don't know. My mom and dad did back-breaking work every day for years – well, not so much for my mom, now that she's with Charlie. But I used to wonder what it'd be like to have the kind of job that involved putting on a suit and tie, carrying the briefcase, and all that. Not coming home with filthy ripped jeans and bleeding, callused hands like my pop. He was a proud, hard-working man, but maybe he didn't have to work so hard all those years if he'd had a different kind of career, and I could've had him around a little longer, you know?" He shook his head. "That's neither here nor there for me though. The Great Spirits handed me my life's chosen path, so it doesn't matter now anyway."

"You're not going to be doing this forever, you know," I told him gently.

"Sure, I'll probably get taken out by a leech. Thanks for that vote of confidence."

I sighed, exasperated. "That's not what I meant! You're going to eventually stop phasing. Your forefathers did, so shall you. You'll need something to fall back on for a career to support yourself, won't you?"

"Well, I'll find odd jobs I suppose, plus we do get a small stipend from the tribe…"

"A stipend? Really Seth? Is that how you want to live? Provide for a family? What if you imprint?"

"What are you getting at, Edward? Spit it out already!"

"Why don't we make the most of your situation here? You can't leave, right? Let's find you an apartment, for starters, because I'm not going to stop fucking Bella, and yes, she's always that loud." Ignoring Seth's cringe I continued, "You were sent here under the guise of going to school, and there are plenty of fine colleges and vocational schools to choose from, you should enroll and work on getting something in place for your future. You did graduate high school, didn't you?"

"Yes, Mom made sure I finished school. I graduated early. But listen, I really don't have much money to work with here and…"

I waved that off. "Don't worry about it, I'll pay for it."

"No, you won't."

"Don't be silly, I've got tons…"

Seth snarled. "No. You. Won't. I won't be a charity case. I'll get a job."

I sighed. "Well, I can see you feel rather strongly about that. Can I at least pay for part of it? Your apartment deposit at least? They're ridiculously expensive here; especially if we can move you into this complex which would probably be most ideal for your situation, since I'm assuming the idea is for you to stay with her or closely by her."

"That's the idea…"

"So you'll do it? May as well seize the opportunity while you have some time away from the reservation, right?"

He held up his hand. "Let me think about it, okay? And stay the fuck out of my head while I do."

"Fair enough. Care if I hang out here and watch some TV? She's out for the night and, well, I don't sleep."

"I thought you had a home, why don't you go there and watch TV all night? Or maybe go chase down some rabbits and possums for a midnight snack?"

I smiled at him. "I brought an overnight bag, and am quite well-fed for the night thank you. Also, possums, Seth? Really? Gross. I already told you, we're not changing up our routine just because you're here. And my routine is while Bella sleeps, I either catch up on the daily DVR or I read. I have nothing to read at the moment, so DVR it is."

"Just dying to catch up on Cupcake Wars, huh?"

"Fuck off, Seth."

Bella

Motherfucking tequila. I love it, but it sure doesn't love me.

"Edward." I whispered his name, knowing he'd hear me all the same.

My door clicked open almost immediately. "Tylenol, love?"

"Huh uh. Have you ever made a Bloody Mary?"

He chuckled. "Coming right up, babe."

I closed my eyes, willing the pulsing in my head to go away, concentrating instead on how fucking much I loved that sexy vampire, who would be coming back in here with my miracle remedy in 3..2..

"Here you are, beautiful. I think I made it a double – hopefully it's not too strong."

There were definitely perks to being with a vampire. I took the glass from him gratefully and took a swig. It was strong, it was spicy, and it was precisely what the doctor ordered. "It's perfect, baby, thank you."

"Bartending stint in college," he chuckled. "Fabulous way to meet girls. I take it you have no major plans this morning," he added, lying down beside me on the bed and curling a cool hand over my hip.

"God, no. Oh, shit. Seth's here. How's Seth? Aside from being completely traumatized by last night?" My poor little brother. Tequila brings out my frisky side and, well, my head wasn't the only thing that was sore this morning. Which reminded me… "What happened to all the feathers?"

"I did some clean-up when there wasn't anything on TV, I hope you don't mind. Seth's still snoring in the guest room. We had a good chat last night after you fell asleep."

I crooked an eyebrow at him over the rim of my tumbler as I took another sip. For a vampire, he had some drink mixing skills. "No blood? All limbs remained attached?"

"We're good. He was a little…as you put it – traumatized – by our activities last night, and when I suggested he return to La Push and report all was well, he explained he was ordered to remain until further notice."

I was fuming. "Goddamn Sam and his Alpha orders! I mean, did he really think he couldn't have just asked Seth to do it, me being his step-sister and all, and he would've done it? He had to resort to a fucking order?"

"Shh, getting mad like that's just going to make your headache worse. It bothered me too, that's why I made him the offer that I did."

I took another swallow, pleased to encounter a salty green olive, stuffed with blue cheese. "Oh my God, Edward, this is amazing," I moaned, chewing blissfully. "What offer?"

"Help him find an apartment, preferably here in this complex so he can abide by the order and not have to be subjected to our, ah, activities, get him enrolled in school, and give him a chance at a future, once his obligation as protector of the Pack has been fulfilled."

"And he accepted?" I was incredulous. Seth was a little more open-minded than the rest of the wolves, but not enough to readily accept help from a vampire.

Edward shrugged. "He's still thinking about it. But he seemed to be seriously considering it. I offered to just pay for it all, but he was really offended by that idea."

"Sounds about right."

"So if he accepts, he'll agree to have the apartment deposit paid, and he's finding a job to help with the rest."

A few seconds passed while I thought about it. "I think I there might be an opening in the mail room. That's a good work schedule for a college student and I think it pays a buck or two over minimum wage. I wonder if he'd be interested in something like that?"

Edward smiled, his eyes looking as though he were thinking about something else. "I'm almost certain that's exactly the sort of thing he'd be interested in."

"Great!" I drained my glass, placed it on the nightstand beside me, then swung my feet out to stand up. My head felt tons better already. "Stay here. Give me two minutes in the bathroom."

"Okay…" he said with a half-smile. "Whatcha got in mind?"

"You'll find out in two minutes."

x~x~x

I was straddling Edward, our bodies still joined, my heart pounding, cooling my sweaty face against his chest as I came down from my orgasmic high when his cell phone rang. I groaned and Edward tightened his grip where his hands still held me at my hips.

"Don't move, darling. I like you just where you're at and I can reach my phone from here," Edward murmured. He released his gentle grip on one of my hips to retrieve his phone from the nightstand, then swore softly. "It's Alice. Looks as though she's texted a bunch. Do you mind if I answer?"

I sighed. My anger was fading toward my former best friend to the point of tolerance, but dammit, why now? "Do I have to get up?"

"No."

Fair enough, because I liked where I was at too. "Be my guest."

"Hello, Alice…yes, I'm sorry, I've been a little, er, pre-occupied….Yes, she's right here, actually…."

I sat up, looking at him in alarm. There's no way I was talking to her right now. He placed a finger over his lips, shaking his head to calm me. He pressed a kiss on my forehead as I lay my head back down on his chest as he continued his conversation.

"Right, sorry to worry you. Seth arrived last night so you're probably going to have to get used to some blind spots, sister dear. Now before I go through the twenty-five texts you've sent me, is there anything I need to know right away that you can just tell me on the phone?"

I held my breath until Edward noticeably relaxed. "Good…Yeah, sure I can do that…that would be great, thank you, Ali. You don't have to do all this, you know." His voice dropped significantly lower. "Maybe it will. I know you do. Me too."

I sat up again and looked at him warily. He became uncomfortable and then I knew they were talking about me. I rolled my eyes and got off of him, padding toward the bathroom to take a shower. "Yeah, I gotta go, Alice. I'll get back to you with those soon, okay? My love to the family…Yeah I don't know yet. I gotta go. Bye."

He was behind me before the water had a chance to get hot. "Sorry."

"So what was the crisis?" I asked, without turning around or acknowledging his apology.

He whispered in my ear, "Seth's going to accept the offer. She saw me and you looking into the apartment two doors down for him, which is apparently becoming vacant as of this weekend, wants to help with arranging some paint and furniture for it. Discreetly of course, before he gets a chance to see the place, and let him think it's a furnished apartment."

That gave me pause. "Oh. Wow. Well, that's… nice of her." And it was. She had no reason to help Seth out; Edward and I were more than capable of handling this. I refrained from stomping my foot in irritation, because the fact of the matter was, other than she was simply doing this because for one, it was a reason to shop, and two, she loved to decorate, she also knew it was a huge step toward getting back in my good graces. Well played, diminutive vampire, well played.

"I'll tell her you thought so." I could hear the smile in Edward's voice.

His phone, which he still held in his hand, signaled a text. I spun around and glared at him. "Don't you dare fucking respond to that."

Stupid smug psychic vampires.

We emerged from my bedroom to find Seth seated with a massive plate of eggs and bacon. Alejandro had darted down the hall, most likely to my room and under my bed, as soon as the door opened, a slice of bacon clenched tightly between his jaws.

Edward laughed. "God, I hate that cat."

"Hey!" I protested, scowling at him. "He's been warming my bed for much longer than you have. Oh wait, you don't warm my bed. Good morning, Seth. Save any for me?"

"Um…" He looked guilty. "The cat took it?"

I sighed. "That's fine. I'm still kind of full from that Bloody Mary anyway."

Seth looked at me and then turned an accusing stare toward Edward, who rolled his eyes. I sighed. "Jesus, Seth. It's a drink. Think V8 juice and vodka. Plus olives and celery."

Seth relaxed. "Oh. Gross, for breakfast?"

"For hangovers. Yes."

He shrugged, shoving an egg-yolk sodden piece of toast into his mouth. "The fuck is up with your cat?"

I narrowed my eyes at him. "Nothing is wrong with my cat. I have a vampire and a werewolf in my house; exactly how else would you expect a domesticated animal to react?"

Seth swallowed, chugging down half a glass of orange juice to wash it down. "I'm trying to make friends with the little bastard."

"Lost cause, man," Edward intoned, not looking up from the crossword puzzle he was rapidly filling in on my Saturday morning paper.

"Apparently. Because he's a little bastard. He's sitting there in the corner, ears laid back, hissing and growling at me while I'm cooking, so I offer him some bacon, right? I'm all 'here, kitty-kitty, come get some, I'm nice, I won't hurt you', and hold out that nice thick piece of bacon. So he comes closer, closer, fucker even starts to purr a little when he sniffed at it. Once he gets it in his jaws, I go 'aww, there you go, good kitty', I didn't even touch him, and that motherfucker growled and swiped at me, ripping the back of my hand clean open! Not that you could tell now, of course." He held up the back of his hand, which showed four faint lines across the back. "Midnight snack, Edward. Just sayin'."

"Seth!"

"Don't think I haven't considered it, but I prefer to eat a different kind of pussy," Edward grinned.

"Edward!" My jaw dropped as he and Seth actually bumped fists over that. "Really, you two?"

"Didn't sound to me like you're complaining in there, Bells," Seth opined, gesturing down the hall toward my bedroom. Edward snickered.

"Sounds to me like we need to find you your own place," I snapped, sending a glare to Edward that sufficiently silenced his giggles. Dick.

Seth sobered. "Oh, yeah, about that. Uh, Edward?"

Edward raised his eyebrows at Seth, who just gave him a short nod. If I hadn't already had an idea what that was about, that would've driven me ape shit right on the spot.

"Cool," said Seth with a nod, looking much more at ease.

"Well, shit, glad that's settled," I drawled.

"Edward can read minds," Seth said defensively.

"You don't say! Guess what, though? I don't! Don't do that shit again. We use our words here."

Seth was taken aback by my harsh tone, but I wanted to make sure that message was loud and clear to the both of them right now. "Oh…well, I'm going to look for an apartment here in this complex. Probably gonna do some job hunting this weekend too."

"Sounds good. Should check into when classes start too. Probably be able to find info online for most of the schools," I encouraged. "I bet some have some have summer sessions if you wanted to get going right away, or you can wait 'til fall if you want. As for jobs…I may have a lead for you, but let me check further on that first, okay?"

"Okay, cool. Thanks, Bells."

"No problem. I'm glad you're here, Seth. It's kinda nice having some family around again." I smiled at him and squeezed his hand. "Even if you do eat all my fucking bacon."

"It was the cat."

A/N~ I adore the Seth/Edward dynamic, I always have. Sorry again for making you guys wait so freaking long for this. I had to put a lot of work into "Tongue-Tyed" (the new book - and can I just say, if you've read "The Dare", this is ten times the quality that "The Dare" was, I'm really stoked about it), but AFU has been lurking in the back of my mind too. I hope, now that I'm nearing completion of work on TT, that I'll have more time to play around with this as well.

For those interested in keeping tabs on the status of "Tongue-Tyed" (sneak peeks, blurbs, check out the new cover), or anything else I happen to be working on (sometimes I write random little posts and snippets just because), I encourage you to check my blog, jordynmckenzie-dot-com, and/or follow me on Twitter, "at" jordynmckenz. I had a Facebook page for a while, which, while it was super fun page, it took even more time and creativity away from my writing than I had to give. So the website and Twitter are pretty much it for now. Things may change later on, I dunno...

Anyhoo, mad love to you all. Thanks to those of you who continue to stay with me, and for those of you who just came aboard - make yourself comfy and enjoy the ride. It's a long one, but it's worth it.

Anyway, hope you loved this. I had a blast writing it.