Wolf-back riding should be classified as an extreme sport. Not many get to do it in a lifetime, hell, or even three. I am not one of the rare loony people who have gone wolf-back riding. Nope. Never once in my life. I'm not that fucking crazy you dipshits. I'm disappointed in you people. I'm not fucking stupid.

However, Shape-shifter riding…or Sam riding, though that sounds so much fucking worse and way the hell out of context…should be banned for the safety and sanity of people everywhere. Or, maybe I'm on a shitload of drugs. Or high. You can never rule out being high. It can happen to anyone. Probably. Charlie would agree. He'd say it is a rite of passage. Off the record of course. Billy, the sly old geezer, would second that motion. Silly reckless old men. No wonder I'm fucked up.

Sam is no better. This is the second time I've been thrown on his back in a week. A fucking week. And I wasn't allowed to see Leah. Again. Luckily the bitch had to visit her cousin, so she didn't really know I couldn't talk to her anyway. I guess it works out.

And now I'm on Sam's back heading to a meeting to find out what the hell the motherfucking fates have come up for me now. Ugh. I hate the fucking supernatural. Why can't the little assholes learn to leave me out of their business? But no. That's asking too much, apparently. And Billy deliberately drew this out so that I would be bouncing when I arrived. Bastard.

The meeting hall was probably the biggest building on the reservation. I almost laughed at the scene when I walked in. It was a classic Star Trek Vulcan Council moment. Everyone had their serious faces on. Plus, they were sitting up behind a platform so that I had to look up at all of them. I may have giggled, you know, just a little. Especially since Uncle Billy was trying to hide his smirk while attempting to look intimidating and/or commanding. This was the tribal elder and chief who used to smoke pot with my dad, the cop. Nope. Not fooling me, but I'll pretend, you know, to save his image. Though of course, Harry isn't so innocent either….

A throat clearing pulled me out of my disorganized thoughts and Billy opened his mouth to speak. "Isabella Maria Swan, you have been presented before the elders today so that the Quileute tribal council can confirm the presence of a Secret Keeper in our tribe once more." The power he commanded surprised me. His voice drew attention and demanded reverence. He had never sounded like this around me. He suddenly seemed to be sitting up straighter. He looked powerful. He looked like an Indian Chief.

My own voice bubbled back in response, but it was not me who spoke. I had no control over my body. "My eyes and ears belong to the elders, to the guardians, and to the tribe. I live to protect and to watch in mind, body, and spirit." I lowered my head and bent on one knee. Even Billy looked impressed for a moment, until he covered it up.

"She has answered. We have heard. We have seen. Do we offer a test?" The others answer as one.

"Let us see if the child is worthy to be called a shadow walker. Let her convince us she is chosen by the spirits." This came from a woman I did not know. Her hair fell in long silver and ebony braids, framing wise coffee eyes, eyes older than time. She stared through me and I thought I saw the hint of a smile.

Chief William Black spoke once more. He looked right at me with those usually laughing eyes and they gleamed in anticipation.

"Great spirits, show your claim on this child of the wolf. Let her resonate with your power." His voice rose in a crescendo and I could feel the command, the raw weight of the words. My body responded to the power in his still-echoing voice. My head snapped up and I stood tall and straight. I felt something bubble within me, waiting to come out. My eyes burned and I felt them change. My head flew back and a beautiful eerie howl fell from my lips and out into the wind. I watched in horrified awe as a large creature stepped from my body.

The ethereal wolf possessed a lean body covered in a mixture of auburn and tawny fur, only accented by fiery intelligent honey eyes. The creature stalked toward Billy, never touching the ground with its paws, always stepping centimeters above it. Each step it advanced, it seemed to shift and flicker, easing in and out like a flame. It stopped directly in front of Billy and bowed, once again let out a piercing unearthly cry. Almost immediately it was answered by a quickly building crescendo of keening. It was horrifying and beautiful all at once. I could feel them drawing closer. Through the noise, I heard Billy speak and saw his eyes flash in the muted light.

"Do we accept her claim?" His shout resonated throughout the hall.

"We accept." This soft-spoken statement was punctuated by the frenzied singing of the wolves, ever drawing closer. The wolf floated back to me, merging into my body. I felt complete in a way I never realized I was missing. I heard a gasp from one of the elders, but I thought nothing of it because at that moment, I opened my eyes and I could see. There was so much more beauty in the world than I had imagined. I could feel the wind around me, shifting a tugging. There were muted voices, speaking all around me. But mostly, I felt something stirring and shifting inside me, nestling inside my body and merging with every strand of my being. Far away I could hear the beating of drums and joyous laughing, and then, it faded away until I could only hear the whisper of happy signs. I stared straight ahead, listening. Always listening.

And then they came. Almost too quickly, I was surrounded by a ring of wolves, circling and watching. And we waited for something none of us could comprehend. I could smell the faint scent of apples in the air, and suddenly, I knew everything would be fine. And now, all I wanted to know was what was going to happen next.

All of the noise stopped. There was tension in the air as we all waited for the chief to speak. "We welcome Quileute Secret Keeper Kamali, our Shadow Walker and..." And suddenly, I understood. I knew the name he had given me, and on some level, I understood it.

"Spirit guide." I finished his sentence. All eyes were on me. Even Billy was mildly surprised.

"Yes, child. You are their guide," The old woman spoke once again. Billy regained his composure and cleared his throat.

"You are the Quileute Tribe's last defense. If you should fail, then none have a chance at survival." Well, shit. No pressure.

"What does being a Secret Keeper or a Shadow Walker signify, for me and for the tribe?"

"For the tribe, it means the spirits are sending out their strongest weapons. There is a storm brewing over the horizon and the spirits are strengthening our last defenses. For you, it means you are akin to our spirit warriors of old, and a sister to our wolves. You are both, neither, and more. It is your duty to protect the wolves as they protect us." He is a maddening, cryptic, useless, withholding, old man.

"Child, there will be more Keepers coming. They will join you and make the wolves stronger." The old woman smiled softly at my widened eyes.

"She is right. There are others coming. They will come to protect, to keep, to help, to rescue, and to renew." The meeting went on for a while longer. I lost focus. I couldn't think any longer. I stepped sluggishly and hesitantly towards the door. I dragged myself through the frame and came face to face with the tall wolf leaning against the wall. He smirked devilishly as my eyes met his.

"Welcome to the Quileute Council." Fuck. And then I was thrown onto the black wolf's back. Spirits help me. Hell, I'm going to need a nap and a shitload of happy pills. And maybe I'll yell at Sam. Then I might almost feel normal. Almost. Fuck.

Sorry for the wait. Lots of tests to study for and other various things. Yadda yadda. Yeah, I know. No excuses. Sorry. It took a while to get the creative juices flowing.

As always, thanks for reading and a special thanks to all my reviewers lately.