A/N: Hello, and welcome to my new fic! I'm pretty excited about this :) I would like to go over a few things before we get started.
First of all, I'm sure most of you gathered this from the summary, Renesmee and the Cullens/Whitlocks are human. Jacob and the Shifters are, well, shape-shifters.
Second, this story is rated M for language, some sexual content in later chapters, and some violence. Most of the violence also takes place in later chapters.
I think that's pretty much it. All the recognizable characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Enjoy the chapter!
"I'm going for a walk," Renesmee Cullen said as she slipped into her jacket. "Anyone want to come with me?" She pulled her dark auburn hair up into a pony tail, put some lip gloss on, and walked to the kitchen where her aunt, uncle, mother, and father were playing cards. "Anyone?"
"Renesmee," Edward, her father, turned in his chair to look at her. "Your mother and I will be leaving the day after tomorrow, then you get three whole months to explore. Are you sure you want to go for a walk now?" He cocked his head to one side, and Renesmee smirked when his hair—the same color as hers—shifted with the movement. He had one large lock standing up straight.
She nodded. "Yes, I'm sure. It's such a beautiful day, Dad; I don't see why everyone wants to stay inside."
Bella, her mother, smiled and shook her brunette head. "It couldn't have anything to do with the walk we all took yesterday, could it?"
Renesmee smiled. "No, not at all." She'd decided to take a nap the day before instead of walk with the rest of the family.
Jasper chuckled. "Let the girl go for a walk. As long as she's home for dinner, I don't see the trouble." He winked at Renesmee, and she nodded her thanks. Her uncle had always been there to help her get what she wanted.
Edward and Bella looked at each other for a moment. "Okay," Edward said finally. "You can go. Be back by six. You have your cell phone?"
Renesmee held up the tiny phone and nodded. "Of course. Do I ever go anywhere without it?"
Bella smiled. "Be careful."
Renesmee nodded and turned to walk out the door. She skipped down the wooden steps of the house that had once belonged to her great-grandparents and breathed in a deep breath of the brisk Washington air as she made her way around the side of the building to go into the forest. Her aunt and uncle had moved into the old house after her grandmother died, and she and her parents visited occasionally. It had been over a year since her last visit, but she still knew the way the meadow her family had held picnics at many times.
It really was a beautiful day. Even in June, bright sunshine was rare for Forks, Washington, and she wanted to celebrate it. She laid down in the soft grass and stared up at the sky, admiring the contrast between the dark green of the trees and the light baby blue of the sky. There wasn't a single cloud in sight. She sighed happily to herself and thought about the months she had ahead as her fingers picked lightly at the grass.
Her parents had been married for twenty years. Although they had been married on New Year's, her father's work as a surgeon in Chicago had forced them to work out a schedule to do something special for their anniversary. That something special was a three-month trip to Italy, where her mother had always wanted to go. Renesmee was eighteen and capable of taking care of herself, and had they planned on only being gone for a few weeks, she would have stayed at home. Under the circumstances, her parents felt it was safer for her to stay with her aunt and uncle, Alice and Jasper Whitlock, until they returned. If she was being honest with herself, Renesmee felt the same way.
It wasn't only because she wasn't sure she was ready to spend three months alone. She had also missed her aunt and uncle and was looking forward to being with them. She thought of all the things they'd do. She and Alice would undoubtedly go shopping in Port Angeles a few times, and Jasper would take her fishing. She wondered how hard she'd have to beg to get him to show her how he cleaned his guns. When she was younger, she was shown only enough to know that she needed to respect the weapons. She was never allowed to touch them, even after she turned sixteen years old.
She sat up and laughed to herself when she realized she had made a small pile of grass on either side of her. She shook her head at herself and stood up. She swiped the grass and dirt off her pants as she began to walk around. She'd been thinking too much again and forgot to appreciate the scenery. She checked her cell phone for the time and smiled when she saw she had over an hour and a half before she had to go back. She slipped the phone back into her pocket.
The evergreens all around her were tall and majestic. She held out her hand as she passed them, slowly dragging her fingertips along the rough bark. She closed her eyes as she walked, allowing the cool breeze to clear her mind as she listened to the sounds around her. Birds chirping and small animals skittering around as they talked to each other. She had once wondered what would happen if she wandered too far into the woods. She opened her eyes and dropped her hand to her side as she recalled what had happened to her grandfather. That story proved what would happen.
Her grandfather was Charlie Swan, chief of police in the small town of Forks for many years. He was a good husband to his wife, Renee, and an even better father to his two daughters. Renesmee was six years old when it happened. She felt like she had never gotten the full story, but she was told that her grandfather was on a search for an animal that had killed four people when he was killed himself.
Renesmee wrapped her arms around herself and shook her head to push the thoughts away. She often had to remind herself to think of the happy times she had with her grandfather. She had been too young to remember much.
She realized as she sought out the sounds of the wildlife again that it had all but stopped. She stopped walking and listened harder. She heard the wind in the trees, but no animals. Her brow furrowed as she looked around. This was unusual.
The forest was beautifully quiet. The silence bothered some people, especially Embry, but Jacob Black found that he enjoyed the lack of noise. It was rare to experience a moment with no distractions from his inner thoughts. Even those were strangely calm as he walked along the familiar path. Sniffing the air and sweeping the trees was second nature to him; he didn't even have to focus to know that nothing unwanted was around.
There was a time in the beginning that he didn't want the fate he had been given. He would have given anything to be removed from the cherished bloodline that forced him to share in a duty he had never believed in nor wanted. As the son of the Quileute chief, Billy Black, he didn't have a choice. When an ancient native magic mixed with hand-me-down wolf genes when he was sixteen, he learned quickly that all the legends he had once laughed at were nothing but fact. There was no use denying or trying to escape the fact that he, Jacob Ephraim Black, was the first shape-shifter of his generation. He was to be Alpha to however many Shifters would follow him. He didn't want to accept it. He had no choice.
Now, fourteen years later, Jacob enjoyed the mission. He took pride in every aspect of his position and recognized the responsibility he had been charged with, having a pack of three other Shifters. It had been a shock when he killed his first Bloodsucker. The creature created out of hatred from the venom of an evil spirit so many thousands of years ago. It had been awkward at first, learning how to direct and channel his new strength. Now he was in complete control of himself at all times.
Jacob liked the hunt. He liked the rush of adrenaline and the power surging through every cell in his body as he took down another enemy. As much as he enjoyed it, however, he found that he appreciated the moments of quiet inner reflection when there was a dull patrol.
He realized a moment later that he had passed the borders of Quileute territory. There was no need to go forward; he was only sworn to protect his land and his people. As he began to turn, his heart lurched in his chest. A knot began to form in his stomach, and it seemed to be urging him to continue on the path he had been walking. Jacob had learned to never question his intuition. He didn't fight against the pull.
Instincts had never led Jacob astray. The handful of occasions that he had ignored them had gotten him into more trouble than he cared to remember. He knew there was something up; something was going on that he needed to see or do. All the same, he was confused when nothing was happening. There was only more silent forest. The animals around him hid in their homes and stayed quiet, knowing that a dangerous predator was near. It didn't matter that he would never waste his time one something as tiny as a bird or a squirrel.
A few moments later, he began to pick up on something. It was a sound he knew well; a human heartbeat. The scent that accompanied it was tangy and bitter. Fear. He was surprised when his stomach turned. He didn't usually have a reaction to the scent. It was something he just got used to after shifting for so long. There was something different about this, though. He continued on toward the person and soon found himself at a meadow, staring at the back of a pretty young woman. She looked around five-foot-six with an auburn pony tail. She was wearing a pair of faded jeans and a black, cotton jacket with a hood. There was nothing odd or strange about the sight of a girl in a meadow. He'd seen it a million times. She was probably lost, which would explain why she was afraid. The thing that confused Jacob was the way she seemed to glow. It was so subtle that even he wasn't sure it was really there. At the same time, he couldn't deny that the sunlight radiated off of her.
The tug in the middle of his body had gotten more intense, and he had to stop himself from walking out and exposing himself. Humans, especially the ones from Forks, were not kind to overgrown wild animals. He'd had more bullets put in him than he cared to remember before he stopped trying to help them. He wanted to shift, but he didn't have any clothing to put on. It was something he rarely forgot, but it had somehow slipped his mind this time. He sighed to himself and forced his paws to take him a step backward. The action caused an involuntary whimper to rise up his throat.
What the hell, Jacob, he thought to himself. You're Alpha; you have more control than that!
The young woman gasped and turned around. Her eyes were huge and brown, and the moment he looked into them, the glow around her turned to a spark. A million points of light swirled around her and into him, and a bright burning flamed through him. It started where the tug had turned into a violent yank that forced a step forward and flashed through his entire body. Had he been in human form, he would have fallen to his knees. He could barely breathe, but somehow this woman in front of him was all the air he'd ever need. As he stared at her, the world began to shift. The ground was no longer beneath him and the sky was no longer above. Everything around him disappeared, leaving only her and him together in this moment.
The forest suddenly reappeared when she stumbled backward a few steps. Her heartbeat sounded like it was about to pound out of her chest as she let out a small cry. The fear flowing around her was intense, and the most incredible urge rose up in him like he had never felt before. He loved his pack, his tribe, his father . . . He loved everything he had ever stood for and fought for. But he had never felt a need to protect anything as fiercely as he felt now. This new compulsion carried him into the meadow. He surveyed the area more vigilantly than he could remember ever doing. Nothing would get past his notice.
Renesmee had never seen a larger animal in all her life. At least not up close. The wolf was larger than a horse, and it stood there looking around with such intensity that she could swear she felt it. She had never been more frightened. She somehow knew that this was how her grandfather had died, and now she was going to share the same fate. A part of her wondered why it hadn't lunged at her yet. She wanted to get out of there, but her feet refused to do what she told them to. She fumbled as she attempted to pull her phone out of her pocket. When she finally got it, her fingers betrayed her again. The phone fell to the ground halfway between her and the giant animal.
Overwhelmed by panic, Renesmee finally regained control of her legs and turned to run. Her feet caught on an uneven patch of ground, and she fell to her hands and knees in the grass. The wolf growled, and she gasped wildly as she threw herself onto her back. She was too frightened to scream, and she raised her arm to cover her eyes, praying she died quickly.
Jacob realized that it was him she was afraid of when she reacted so violently to his unintentional growl. Watching her fall to the ground made him wish harder than he'd wished before that he had human arms to catch her. He wanted to introduce himself and learn her name and figure out where the hell to go from there. He knew exactly what had happened. Imprinting was just another of the tribe's legends that he had once laughed at. Laughter turned to dread the first few years of being a Shifter. Forcibly falling head over heels for your soulmate without even a chance to get to know her first? It didn't sound appealing to him. As time went on, he learned to just accept it for what it was and wait for it to happen to him.
Renesmee carefully peeked out from under her arm when nothing happened for several long minutes. The wolf was still there, but it had laid down on its stomach. Its giant paws stretched out in front of it, stopping only three feet away from her. She swallowed thickly and took a deep, uneasy breath. Maybe if she screamed now, her uncle would come out with his guns. She instantly felt bad for thinking that; this wolf obviously wasn't going to kill her if it hadn't already. There was no reason or rhyme for trying to injure it. She put her arm down and carefully shifted to sit up. The wolf watched her closely, and she couldn't help but feel a sense of eerie familiarity. There was something odd about its eyes, but she couldn't say for sure what it was.
As she sat there watching the wolf watch her, she began to look it over. Even laying down, it looked like it would be as tall as her. Its fur was dark reddish-brown. It licked its nose and laid its head down on its paws. She sucked in a quick breath and stopped herself from scooting back. She was still okay. Her eyes strayed down to its paws, and she felt a little uneasy at the sight of claws that were probably bigger than her fingers. She looked back up into its eyes.
"Um . . . hi?" she said. Her voice shook. "I . . . wow. You're not going to hurt me, are you?"
Jacob wanted to reassure her that not only would he never hurt her, he would protect her until his last breath. He grunted, annoyed that he couldn't speak in a way she'd understand, and just shook his head.
Renesmee wasn't sure what to think when the wolf shook its head. It was a blatant move, as if it had truly understood what she'd said. She let it go; the thought made her uneasy. She was quiet for a minute, but somehow it felt like she should say more. "I've never talked to a wolf before. I don't know what to say. Um . . ." She felt ridiculous, but decided to just ignore it. She was alone; no one else would ever have to know she might be a little crazy. "Well, first of all, my name is Renesmee."
Jacob perked up when she mentioned her name. He could feel her calming down, and it pleased him when she continued speaking. He sighed contentedly and just let the sound of her voice wash over him.
As she told the wolf about Chicago, she felt the strangest urge to try to pet it. She licked her lips for courage and got onto her knees. It didn't pull back or even seem on guard at all as she carefully reached out her hand. She realized that it could probably rip her arm off at a moment's notice, but nothing happened when her fingertips met the course fur on its muzzle. She got more brave and inched forward on her knees as she slipped her hand up to the wolf's forehead.
"I can't believe I'm petting a wolf," she said quietly, mostly talking to herself. "My parents wouldn't believe it either." She decided not to tell anyone about this encounter. Not only would they not believe her, but her father would undoubtedly make up some excuse to either take her with them just in case. It would just be easier if they didn't know. She looked up when the wolf's ears perked. It didn't open its eyes or lift its head, but one ear twisted around toward the trees at its left.
Another presence in Jacob's head alerted him to another Shifter taking their wolf form. The essence of the thoughts that passed between them told him that it was his beta, Quil Ateara.
Jacob, what the . . . Whoa. Quil stopped when he caught on to what had just happened with his Alpha. All the legends said that imprinting was the strongest and most powerful thing any Shifter could experience, but he hadn't believed it. Seeing it through his Alpha's eyes made him understand.
Jacob huffed. Whoa is right. What's up?
I hate to break up your little powwow, but you need to come home.
Jacob growled. He didn't like being told what to do by anyone, least of all someone in his pack, but even more he didn't like being told to leave Renesmee.
Renesmee jumped back when the wolf rumbled. Either it was going to change its mind about killing her, or something was around that was upsetting it. "What is it?" she asked.
Give me a minute.
This is serious, Jake. Your father interrupted Claire and me for this.
An image of a dark-haired woman stripping against the post of a bed flashed between the two wolves. Jacob sighed. One bad thing about sharing thoughts through the pack mind was that nothing was blocked. No matter how private or embarrassing, everyone saw everything.
Important or not, he couldn't leave yet. He needed more time with her. I said, give me a minute.
Fine, but I'm not shifting back.
Jacob growled again. You'll do what I tell you to do, Quil. Go back to my place and let Billy know I'll be there soon. And leave some shorts on the back porch.
Quil mentally rolled his eyes. Yes, O Mighty Tallest. Whatever you say. After an image of a sarcastic salute, Quil's presence disappeared.
Jacob licked his nose and looked at Renesmee. She was staring at him with wide brown eyes, and he sighed to himself. He couldn't leave her. He had to, of course, but he couldn't. He forced himself to his feet and shook himself off. Renesmee held up her hand to block her face from the grass flying off of him, and she giggled. The sound made him shiver in the best way. He looked around the meadow, searching for any dangers. He wanted to tell her to go home so she wouldn't be out here alone. Since he couldn't speak, he leaned his head down and gently nudged her foot with his nose.
Renesmee furrowed her brow. It was obvious that the wolf wanted something. She was unnerved again at how much it seemed to comprehend. She stood up slowly and spotted her cell phone on the ground right next to the wolf's huge paw. She knew she'd never have a prayer of explaining a crushed phone, so she quickly leaned down to pick it up. The wolf was staring at her again when she stood back up. Its eyes bore through her as if it could see straight to her soul. She coughed nervously. "I, um . . . I should probably get home. You know, my parents are probably wondering where I am." She checked her phone. There was still a half an hour before she had to be there, but somehow she felt better with the excuse she'd given.
The wolf grunted and took a step closer to her. She swallowed, and her eyes widened when it lowered its massive head again and nudged her stomach. She lifted her hand and ran her fingers through its fur a few times. "Maybe I'll see you sometime again? I will be here for three months." It nodded, and she fought a shiver. "Goodbye, Wolf."
Jacob nodded again, and a little piece of himself broke off when she turned to walk away. He wished he could walk her home. Business was business, though, and he had an idea of what Billy and Quil thought was so urgent. With one final look at Renesmee's retreating figure, he put himself back together as much as he could and ran back home.
"What's so serious and important that it couldn't have waited a few more hours?" Jacob asked as he walked into the house. He brushed his black hair away from his forehead, but no matter how many times he repeated the action, it always came back.
Quil stood next to Billy in his wheelchair in the living room. Billy had a mixture of pride and impatience in his eyes.
"You got a present," Billy said. "It's in the kitchen."
Jacob had figured as much. He and Quil went to the table where the square, foot-tall mailing box sat. Before he opened it, Jacob checked the address. "No return address."
"Did you expect one?" Quil asked. There never had been a return address.
Jacob huffed. "No, I guess not. Let's get this over with." He opened the flaps and looked inside for only a second before turning his head away with a disgusted grunt. He no longer felt queasy at the sight of blood or severed body parts, but this was a little extra gruesome.
"Brain stew, anyone?" Quil asked.
"Aw, Quil, that's gross. Shut up." Jacob closed the box and checked around inside the box. "No letter this time. I guess he thinks he's finally got his point across."
Quil shook his head. "If he thought that, the demented fucker wouldn't send anymore of this shit."
"You think. Jesus Christ, if I at least knew where the hell these were coming from . . ." Jacob trailed off, not even sure how to finish the sentence.
"You'd sit back and feel sorry for the schmuck who had to play donor, but you wouldn't do anything about it."
Jacob's ebony eyes flashed to Quil's ochre ones. "I would go after him and kill the fucker like I've sworn to do," he growled.
"You've sworn to protect La Push and its people, just like the rest of us." Quil knew this was a sensitive subject, and he didn't want to step on anyone's toes—least of all his Alpha—but they all knew what would happen if one Shifter went alone. "Leaving it to go after one Bloodsucker is not doing it."
"So we just keep letting him get away with that?" Jacob pointed to the box.
"What other choice do we have, Jacob?" Every few years, they received a gift. It was never at the same time, and it was never expected. But every time it happened, Quil and Jacob got into the same argument. "He knows that the Shifters won't leave the area unprotected. He also knows that if he pisses you off to the point that you leave the pack by yourself, you'll be almost as vulnerable as that guy." Quil jerked his thumb toward the table. "Without an alpha, we would be, too."
"I'd make you Alpha before I left, Quil."
"Jacob, shut up. You're not going anywhere." Jacob and Quil turned to see Billy wheel into the room. "You got another one, huh? What is it this time?"
"You don't want to know," the two Shifters said in unison.
Billy chuckled. "I'll believe you."
Jacob grunted again, frustrated. He was trying to sleep, but all he could do was wonder what Renesmee was doing at that moment. It was after well midnight, so she was probably sleeping. If she was, he wondered what she was dreaming. He hadn't done much but think about her since he saw her in the meadow. He remembered how the sun had made her hair shine and her skin shimmer. He remembered the way her laughter bubbled out of her and echoed around the clearing. It rang in his ears as he thought about her. He would give anything to hear it again, or to see her smile and her eyes beam with happiness.
He closed his eyes and let thoughts of her run through his head. Eventually he drifted off to sleep and dreamed of her holding his hand as they walked along the cliffs of First Beach. When he woke up again, clouded sunlight had brightened the room. His stomach growled, and he got up to find something to eat. As he surveyed his cabinets, he thought about Renesmee again. He wondered what she would be eating for breakfast. He grabbed a bowl for some cereal and sat down at the table. He remembered the exact shade of her eyes and how her hands felt running through his fur.
Jacob looked up with a start to see Billy wheeling himself up to the counter. "What?"
"You were having a staring contest with your breakfast. I was just wondering who was winning."
He looked down at his cereal, furrowing his eyebrows. "I guess I'm not really hungry." He wanted to know where she was staying and if she was safe there. Was she happy?
"Jacob Black, not hungry? What's next?"
Jacob smirked and took his bowl to the sink. "Fire and brimstone, maybe?"
"What's on your mind, Jake?" The question was asked with a tone that let Jacob know his father knew exactly what was on his mind.
Jacob turned around and stared at Billy with intense eyes. "Nothing." He would make his father admit he already knew.
"You know, you're usually a pretty good liar. Even if Quil hadn't spilled the beans last night, though, I can see it in your face and the way you carry yourself. Is she pretty?"
Jacob huffed. "Beautiful."
Billy waited for his son to say more, but the silence only stretched on. "Okay, so what's she like? What does she think of you?"
"She's from Chicago, visiting her aunt and uncle while her parents go on some vacation. She probably thinks I'm huge and hairy." He wanted to know what she would think of him as a man. Would she be frightened like she was with him as a wolf, or would she trust him?
Billy laughed. "Well, where does she live? When will you see her again?"
Jacob hated not knowing the answers. He shrugged and pushed away from the counter. "I don't know."
"You know what this means, right?"
It meant a lot of things. It meant he was more Alpha now than he had ever been before. It meant every single part of him had been irrevocably changed. A part of him felt more powerful than it ever had before while another part sat staring at the gaping hole inside him where she belonged. Until she was his—truly his—he couldn't be complete. "No, Dad; what does it mean?"
"It means you better warn the others. Now that you've imprinted, the rest are fare game."
"I'm sure they'll be thrilled."
"I'm going fishing today with Harry. Do you want to come?" Billy already knew the answer, but he never felt right if he didn't at least give his son the offer.
Jacob squeezed Billy's shoulder. "No, thanks, Dad. The rest of the pack needs to know what happened yesterday."
Billy nodded. "Good luck, Son." He patted Jake's hand and wheeled away to get ready for fishing.
Jacob picked up the phone to call Quil and get the pack together.
"So you've imprinted, huh?" Embry said as they all sat around Jacob's living room.
"That's not really the point of this," Jacob said.
"Yeah, but it's more interesting." Embry never understood why they all had to sit around and talk about some box that none of them could do anything about. So some person got killed by a psycho. Big deal. If it wasn't on his land, he wasn't concerned about it.
Seth sighed. "This means any one of us could be next, doesn't it?"
Quil laughed. "You make it sound like we're standing in line for murder. It's imprinting, Seth. It's a good thing."
"Yeah, but I'm in love with Natalie. I don't want to imprint and have to leave her."
Jacob leaned over to pat the youngest member of the pack's shoulder. "Don't worry, Seth. You could very well imprint on Natalie. You know it can't happen for you until it happens for me. Even if you don't, though, there's nothing that says you have to imprint just because I have."
"Yeah, I guess you're right."
"Why am I the only Shifter who hasn't fallen in love?" Embry asked. He ran his fingers through his chin-length black hair. "Everyone around me is talking about some girl they're madly in love with, and all I've got are stories of the last chick I slept with. It's pretty pathetic. You guys are seriously missing out on some fine ass."
"I think you're the defective one, Embry," Quil said. "You're the one missing out on the connection that would make you happier than a tight pussy ever could."
"No way, man. It's better to be unattached. That way you get the joys of fucking without the hassle of pretending you like the girl."
Jacob growled. "That's enough." The rest of the Shifters were silent as they looked at their Alpha. "We are not here to bicker about who has the best love life. We're here to talk about a brain in a box. You can argue about shit that doesn't matter when we're through. Until then, focus, or I will give you a command to go without sex for a week. Do I make myself clear?"
Quil, Embry, and Seth nodded, and they got down to business. There wasn't much other than alerting the rest of the Shifters of the situation and trying to get ideas on how it could be stopped. Of course nothing viable was mentioned. Jacob hadn't thought it would, but he had to give it a shot.
After the rest of the pack left, Jacob took a piece of twine from his room and ran out the back door toward the trees. He tied his pants to his ankle and shifted. On his way back to the meadow where he'd seen Renesmee, he made a plan to follow her scent and the very least, find out where she was staying. He couldn't deny that he hoped he'd be able to see her again.
A/N: Thank you for reading and for giving this new story a chance. It is going to be another long story, so there will be many more chapters :) I'd love to hear what you thought of it.
I'm on Twitter, SheeWolf85 You can check out pictures of the Shifters on my tumblr, the link is on my profile. The banner for the story is also there.