The little bitch hit me. I felt my whole body begin to convulse. I was being push back so I didn't hurt the little Leech Lover. I glared at her. She was afraid, I could smell it, then her eyes flicked to mine and I could see it in their depths. She was afraid of me. The thought hit me like a semi automatic and I exploded.

She was running from me now. The reason for my existence, the reason to breathe and she was afraid of me. I saw Jake jump the rail of the deck and come running. My imprint was afraid of me and it was his fault. He hadn't protected her from the leech, I didn't care that he hadn't been a wolf then, he had let them near her, let them hurt her. I heard her sweet voice yell at Jake in terror and then the baby alpha jumped her and phased. I growled at him and we crashed into each other. I couldn't think, all I did was follow instinct.

Sam let us fight it out for a bit, then ordered us both to phase back. Jake was human first. I was still to angry, but my thoughts, tinged in red and only focused on fighting him ran back to the way he had phased jumping over her. What if he had miscalculated? He could have hurt her. Ah shit. I growled and shook, reminding myself she was fine. After a minute I was able to phase back. With my rational thoughts returning I realized exactly what I was thinking, what had happened. I had imprinted. Bella Swan, the Leech Lover, was my imprint. She was my imprint and she was afraid of me. I had terrified her. The bitter scent still clung to my nose. I began to shake again but with an order, Sam made it stop. I had to get my shit under control.

"I didn't tell her anything Paul, the order wouldn't let me. I just asked her to remember. To think about the legends I told her a while back when she first came to First Beach. She figured it out herself, or you out-ed us by phasing if she hadn't."

I nodded to him, my rage had over shadowed my thoughts, he didn't know I had imprinted on his girl. I could feel the wolf part of me growling at that. She wasn't his girl she was mine.

I pushed down those instincts and nodded.

"You should explain it all to her now Jake, imprint or not, she is one of us now." Sam told him, making Jake grin. All he had wanted was Bella. For him it was the worst part about becoming a wolf, having to give her up. A sick part of me wanted to rub it in his face that she was mine now. I held back though, I wasn't ready to share this news, I had to sort it out for myself. I never wanted an imprint, I didn't like the little Leech Lover, didn't understand how she could know what they were and still be near them, to love them.

We went back to Sam's place and as soon as I saw her I felt relieved. She was ok. She didn't look hurt or scared or in shock. She looked beautiful, delicate and calm.

I took a muffin and watched her leave with Jake. He had nearly hurt her, he had hurt her when he stopped talking to her and I had supported that, I had hurt her by it. I had hurt her and when she came here to fight back I had scared her, terrified my own imprint.

"Paul." Sam's voice was a warning and I pulled my thoughts back under control.

"Jared." I nodded to the door and he understood. Jared and I had been friends since kindergarten.

"What's up man?" Jared asked as we walked through the woods.

"I imprinted on Bella Swan." Jared was the one person I had always shared everything with, I told him all my secrets and even let him bandage me up when my stepfather had beat the shit out of me. My father had joined the army when he was eighteen and died eleven years later when I was only three. I didn't even remember him. People said my mother died with him. The alcoholic bitch inhabiting her body was just a shell. If she had loved him so much you'd think she would have wanted to protect his kid. I looked too much like him though. It only made her drink more. Then came the day I fought back and put her husband in the hospital for a change. She didn't even seem to care when he left. She just kept living out of her Jack bottle until two months after I turned sixteen and she killed herself, my father's military picture in her hand.

We had been walking in silence for a while now and were near my cabin. I was a year older than Jared and so had graduated the previous year. I should have left but I was waiting for J. He had always been like my brother and we were going to get out of here together. Until we both phased, then we were stuck here, forever. Hell at least we had each other still. Jared blamed himself, thought if I hadn't stayed here to wait for him I'd never have phased, the truth was though that I didn't mind being a wolf. I was somebody, my life had a purpose, I was a protector of my people and I still had my brother by my side. It was better than being out in the world, alone and with no purpose.

"Are you going to tell her?" Jared finally asked as he pushed open to door and went to my fridge for beers. I just shrugged and accepted the one he handed me.

Jared stayed with me that night and the next day we all saw Jake's conversation with Bella running through his head. The kid couldn't block any of his thoughts. I watched as she practically begged him to not say he had imprinted on her. I had made my decision. I would watch over her, keep her safe and make her happy. The imprint made it impossible not to need to be near her but with the way she hung around Jake I could do all that without telling her about the imprint.

That afternoon Jared came with me to see Sam. He didn't like that I wasn't going to tell her but agreed that it was my choice. I didn't want her or the pack to know.

Time passed and I carefully hid my relief and happiness every time Jake played a memory of her in his head. She was so beautiful and she was alive and growing healthier by the day. She was also so hurt and it killed me that I couldn't make her happy, take away her pain. It also made me angry, she wasn't this weak, I knew she wasn't, why didn't she see that? How could she not know how strong and beautiful she was?

The morning Harry Clearwater had a heart attack I smelt her on the cliffs. The redheaded leech was in the area. Embry had caught her scent at dawn.

She looked so sad sitting there, I wanted to rage at her but I didn't want her to be afraid of me again. Every time I thought about the way she had looked at me that day, the scent of her terror filled my nose and my heart felt like it was being stabbed with a crooked knife, twisting in my chest to do the most damage.

She wasn't unhappy enough to kill herself was she?

"Hey Leech Lover!" I called out striding out of the woods towards her. "Thinking about jumping?" I prayed she would laugh at me or roll her eyes.

"Why not?"

"Besides the storm rolling in?" I asked her, my heart feeling like it might beat out of its chest. I always felt like this around her. A war was waging within me. The wolf part that wanted to take her, to claim her as ours and the man part that wanted her to choose me. It was a difficult battle but the man won, the wolf couldn't fight against hearing her beg Jacob in his memory, she didn't want to be an imprint.

Her next response shocked me back to the moment, "So take me over."

I just stared at her for a few seconds in surprise; I had not expected that. "Why?"

"To be free." Her quiet voice answered.

"You want to jump off a cliff with a building storm to be free?"

"Yes." She nodded and stood facing me, her chin raised in determination, "So?"

I fought for control and tried to exude an image of nonchalance as my heart tried to beat its way through my chest, "It'll be cold."

"You're like a hundred and ten degrees."

"One oh seven and I'll be fine. You'll be cold." I was a little worried, I could keep her safe but she might get sick.

She didn't care, "So?"

I just watched her, trying to read her. I wanted to take her over, to give her what she wanted. It was the first time I had ever found something she wanted, just for herself. Even if it was jumping off a cliff in a coming thunderstorm, slightly mad or not I couldn't deny her. I would be able to keep her safe. I would also get to hold her in my arms, something I never thought I would be able to do. "I think you might be losing it Leech Lover."

She shrugged and our eyes met, sending a jolt through me, "Maybe, or maybe I'm just trying to get it back."

Her answer made me laugh. "Fight crazy with crazy huh." I tried to shake away the feeling looking into her eyes had given me but I knew, it was crazy but I had seen something in her eyes, something that called to me and I knew I could love her. If only she would choose me.

I pulled her into my arms and carried her over the cliff. The feel of her softness against me was doing strange things. My body was reacting in a manner I would expect it to holding a soft, beautiful woman but it was my heart, trying to beat its way out of my chest and the content purr of my wolf side that surprised me. She smelled like summer wild flowers and warm woman, she smelled like home.

I didn't even think as I pulled her into my arms and carried her home. The place she belonged, I just needed to make her strong, make her see it. I needed her to choose me.

That afternoon passed to quickly. Every second with her was precious. She was funny and smart and so beautiful. She was also not as broken as she thought. I could see her there in her eyes, buried under the sorrow. I would do whatever it took to free her. I would kill the redhead. I would even let her leave me. I could love her enough to do that. I already did. I would love her enough to teach her to be strong and to set her free.

Three days later, she was at the bonfire with Jake. I want to rip his hands off everytime he touched her. When she smiled at me in the food line I had almost pulled her into my arms and kissed her senseless but I couldn't I had to be stronger than that. She needed me to be strong. She needed me to set her free.

I robotically ate the tasteless food and tried not to look over at them, lest I rip off Jacob's arm.

"She's coming." Jared whispered to me.

I looked up and saw her drop next to Kim, there was mischief in her eyes, "You never did say how you felt about arson."

"Want to have a proper bonfire then? Thought we'd have to work you up to that one." I winked and at her blush, the wolf reared up, begging me to pull her into my arms and kiss her.

"Nope."

I pushed down my instincts and tried to think rationally, "Let's not risk the forest, we can trash it if you want though, might be more satisfying anyways."

Her smile sent a thrill through me, "You got a baseball bat?"

"I can procure one."

"Let's go."

"Now?"

"Why not?"

I shoved the last of my burger in my mouth to keep from kissing her and wondered how she would react to the wolf, at least as him the lust faded/

"We can drive or you can ride a wolf."

"Really? Wont that hurt you?"

Her concern warmed my heart and I laughed feeling lighter than I could remember. The idea of riding me seemed to excite her and before I could let that thought get away with me I left. "I'll go phase."

I could hear Jared confused, "What?" and chuckled as I burst into my wolf. I knew Sam would check what the hell was going on so I carefully focused my thoughts. First on scenting for fear on Bella but there wasn't the slightest trace and I wanted to do a happy dance. Instead, I started to jog, thinking about the woods, the route to take that would be smoothest for her and about destruction.

We reached the property line of their home and Sam ordered me to stop. Bella slid off my back and I whined at her unable to phase back until Sam lifted the order to wait. He, and all the pack had followed us. They were all curious. I just thought at them that Bella asked me to bring her here and focused again on different things to keep them all out of my head.

Sam stepped out in loose fitting shorts and talked with Bella. He nodded at me to let me know I could phase and then he ordered Jared to stay with us. Jake didn't like that and I couldn't help returning his growl.

We went into the house and she led us up to one of the rooms. She looked lost and so sad for a minute and then dropped to her knees.

"Jared out." I ordered him and pulled her into my arms, needing to hold her, to comfort her. "Maybe not so ready for this yet."

She shook her head, and I felt her take a few deep breaths to steady herself. My strong and beautiful imprint. She stood and asked me to teach her to bat. I was happy enough to hold her again but as I felt desire for her growing I stepped away. I didn't want her to feel that pressed against her ass. I might want her but I wanted her to want me.

She really did a number on the stereo and CDs but didn't stop at that shelf. She trashed everything. It was the hottest thing I had ever seen. Then as if she could smell my desire she turned and kissed me. The wolf side of me pushed to the surface and I growled with need.

"Fuck me Paul."

"Bella." Her name came out part groan and part plea. I wanted her, needed her so badly it hurt.

"You don't love me. I don't love you. Tomorrow you might imprint or Victoria might kill me. Tonight, right now, I want you to fuck me." Her words stung a little because I did love her and I wanted her to love me to. But she wanted me. It was a start.

The wolf side won and growled in triumph as I gave in and kissed her with everything in me. She kissed me back with the same level of violent desire.

I had to be inside her, now. I pulled back to let us both breath and to strip her though I couldn't stop kissing her, I needed to taste her skin. The scent of the vampires lingering in the house disappeared in the waves of her scent pouring out of her. I knew she wanted me, but I needed to be sure she wouldn't regret it. I had to ask. It nearly killed me to do it.

I reached for him, "Bella?"

"Paul, please, now!"

I was lost to her. I knew she was a virgin so I tried to be careful, to build her up and at least send her over once before taking her. I nearly lost it when she wrapped her legs around my hips drawing me closer.

"Yes, Paul, fuck me, now."

I tried to go slow, to let her adjust but she felt like pure heaven. Her tight, wet heat enveloping me. I reached her barrier and trembled with the effort to hold still. I kissed her to capture the pained cry as I broke through, claiming her as mine. I tried to take it slow but it was so hard to hold onto my control, I needed her so badly. She met me with each thrust and with her nails digging into my back as she urged me to move faster, I lost it, pounding into her faster and harder, growling while she panted my name. I slid my hand to her center, I needed her to come with me and she did, clamping around me like a vise and wailing my name. The orgasm ripped through me, more intense than anything I had ever experienced. I couldn't breath or move for a minute.

Then she laughed, the bell like sound so full of joy as she kissed my shoulder and her words filled me with hope, "If you don't imprint tomorrow, can we do that again?"

My wolf gave a tired protest, she had come to me, she wanted me, I should claim her now but I couldn't, not yet. I wouldn't trap her. I had to set her free. That was what she wanted and I knew it was what she needed to but at least for a little while, I could have at least part of her. "Yeah Leech Lover, we can do that again whenever you feel up for it."

"Come on then Wolf. I have a grand piano to destroy."

I kissed her and pulled on my shorts. She was amazing and I was so fucking screwed. I knew when she left it would kill me but as she glanced at me with a smile before taking a swing at the piano I knew I would happily die to see her that carefree and happy again.

"Jake's gonna kill you." Jared nodded at me, grinning from ear to ear. I could read my brother as easily as he could me, what he really meant was, good for you dude, claim the girl already.

Bella was the one who surprised me, "It's none of his fucking business." She told him, chin held high. "We are friends but he is not my keeper and I can fuck whoever the hell I want to, it's my life." I was so fucking proud of her. I laughed and stripped out of my shorts and it hit me, if I lost her, nothing else could ever matter.

I phased as the thought hit me. My mother must have been my fathers imprint, only he hadn't phased. I would never do to her child what my mother had done to me but I could suddenly understand why she had been so lost. She might have been a terrible mother but she had remarried so a man would be in my life and she had lived until I was old enough to survive alone before letting go.

Jared listened to my thoughts but said nothing. His thoughts were calm and helped to calm me. The revelation hurt and the one thing he did think at me was an image of us with a bottle of Jack sitting on my couch. He was always there when I needed him, a silent support.

Jared was right, Jake was pissed and it was almost funny. I just sat back and watched. Sam would never order me away from Bella. He couldn't, she was my imprint. Jake would just have to deal with it. She had come to me. She wanted me, not because an imprint made her feel obligated to be with me but because she had desired me and judging by the eye fuck she sent my way, combined with that pretty little blush always gracing her cheeks, she still desired me.

She was also upset with Jake and like last nigh she filled me with joy and pride as she stood up for herself and for us being together. "Fuck you Jacob Black." She paused and the pack held their breath, "Oh no, that's right, that's your problem, I fucked Paul not you." I held back a laugh but a snort escaped. "No one would be alpha ordering you away, would they? No it's fine if you play with my heart and claim to love me until you imprint right?"

"Bella…" Her name came out like a plea from him but she just cut him off.

"No, I love you" that one hurt even with the second part, "like a brother but I will not be ordered or manipulated to do or not do anything. This is my life and if I want to screw Paul or any one else it is none of your damn business." She turned to Sam, "If he does imprint, great, I hope she is wonderful. I don't love him." Ok, that one really fucking hurt and I think I might have whined a little because Leah looked at me funny and Jared sent me a look that screamed, we'll have a fight and bottle of Jack later. I tuned back into Bella. "I don't think anyone here has ever gotten the impression that either of us holds a secret love burning for the other. We fucked. Maybe we'll do it again. Really though it's none of your business."

Sam nodded, "I agree." Of course he did, he already knew she was my imprint. I was grateful that he was keeping it to himself though.

"Sam!"

"Enough Jacob. It's their lives and they can make their own choices, both are aware of the possibility he'll imprint." Sam turned back to Bella, "None of us want to see you hurt again Bella but it is your life, you can do what you want with it. At least screwing Paul you actually seem to be living again."

She looked happy at that and then relieved when Sam agreed the discussion was over. "Thanks Sam. Now can we maybe possibly not talk about this anymore?"

After Bella left Jacob attacked me. Guess I wouldn't need to take the pain out on a fight with Jared later after all and I wasn't concerned with holding back fighting Jake, the fucker attacked me and wasn't holding back.

Sam finally got us separated.

"She deserves better!" Jake growled at us. "How can you do this Sam!"

"It's her choice." Sam stayed calm against Jacob's rage.

"No!" He growled, "You saw her after Cullen left, you know Paul is going to do that to her. He'll get bored and screw someone else." I growled at him, "Or he'll imprint and she'll be left like Leah." Leah and Sam both growled at him that time. "She shouldn't have to suffer. I love her. I swore I would protect her and keep her from ever being hurt."

"She's my imprint." The confession shocked even me.

Jake's head shot over to me and I repeated it, all the pack silent and focused on us, shock running through all of them as I opened my mind and let them see it all. The moment I imprinted on her, every thought and decision I had made about it, including the decision to let her leave me. I loved her enough to see her strong and set her free. I shared it all with them, including all the fear and pain.

"You can't just let her leave." Leah surprised me. Imprinting was one of the things she hated most about us.

"I have to."

"It'll kill you. It's already killing you!" She argued.

"Tell her." Jake surprised me as well. I thought he would understand. "It has to be her choice Jake. You know she would stay. She would be with me because she felt she had to. It would destroy a piece of her. She needs to see how strong she is, she needs to stand on her own and be free. I can't trap her like that."

"No one is to tell Bella about this." Sam ordered them all. "This is Paul's imprint. It is his choice."

"She deserves to be happy. If she's his imprint she'll be happy with him." Jake argued. The fucker was just throwing me for a loop today. "I love her." He focused on me, "I wish more than anything it had been me. That is hardly a secret but it wasn't me and as much as I want her you were meant for her. You can make her happy. You might not deserve her and it will take time for me to see you with her but Paul, she deserves to be happy and with the man who will love her like only we can love an imprint."

"She deserves to have the choice Jake. She needs to feel strong and be free to fall in love or not on her own terms and not feel trapped by supernatural shit."

The pack was divided but with Sam's order, none of them could do anything about it. Jake would avoid us for a while, he was unhappy with me still. Not because I had slept with her but because I hadn't claimed her. The kid was pretty selfless, I could see in his mind that mixed with his love and concern for Bella, part of his objection was fear for me. We all knew it would kill me when she left La Push. It already hurt so much but I was used to pain, I would suffer ten times this to see her happy.

She spent more time on the reservation, she was with Emily and Kim almost every day. She had made the pack her family and even introduced me to Charlie, not as her boyfriend, we were friends. We were fucking like bunnies but still she held that we were friends and together on a day by day basis. If I didn't see her for a couple days she'd smile at me and ask if I'd imprinted. I always told her no and she'd grin and ask if I still wanted her then. Without fail the wolf would rise and I'd pull her into my arms for a searing kiss.

Charlie cornered me one afternoon outside Billy's house.

"I know you and Bells are more than friends." He said gruffly.

"We're dating," I shrugged, "She's not really ready for commitment."

He sighed and shook his head, "No, she isn't but she is so much better."

"Stronger every day." I agreed.

"You don't hurt her." He glared at me.

I met his eyes and couldn't lie, "I'd die first."

He looked surprised but I knew he believed me, "You love her?" It wasn't rally a question.

I nodded, "She's everything to me."

"She plans to leave in the fall."

I nodded, "She needs to go, to stand on her own."

"What about?"

"I love her enough to let her go Charlie." I told him sadly, "I'll be here waiting if she ever comes back."

"Go with her. She's happier with you."

I wished I could, "She needs to know she can stand on her own. She needs to be free, to feel strong and sure of herself again."

He nodded, "You're a good man Meraz. You take care of my baby. I know she loves you more than she'll let herself admit, even just to herself."

His words filled me with hope.

Six days later we caught the bitch. A few of us were hurt but as the others celebrated around the stinking bonfire I felt only fear and sadness. Bella was free to leave now. She was safe. Jared came over and sat next to me.

"Jack?"

I nodded and we sat watching the flames a while longer. We all went to tell Bella and celebrate at a proper bonfire. Jared and I didn't drink that night. Bella came home with me. She spent the entire night. Charlie didn't even protest. I think he hoped she'd admit she loved me and stay. We both did.

She did stay the summer. It was the best summer of my life. I tried not to think of the fall that crept closer faster than it ever had before. My Bella came out of her shell that summer. She laughed and played. We hung out with the pack, went cliff jumping and fucked even more than before. She was half living with me and Charlie had me over for dinner every other week and joined the pack and elders once a week for dinner on the reservation.

Then September first came. We all had hoped Bella would change her mind at the last and not leave. Watching her go was the hardest thing I had ever done.

That night Jared showed up with a bottle of Jack. A few minutes later so did the rest of the pack. They didn't understand my decision and most hated it but they stayed with me. After two days it was to much. Leah told me I was a dumb fuck and to go get her and force her back here. I wolfed out and stayed that way for weeks. It hurt to much to be human.

I hurt all the time. It was Charlie who brought me back. He came onto the reseration looking for me and got in a fight with Jake who phased. After it was all explained to him I found him in the woods near my house.

"Paul!" He called. "I know you're all furry and shit. Come out. I brought some whiskey."

I trotted out of the woods. He was a little afraid but held out the bottle of Jack. "La Push is out of my jurisdiction and drinking laws are for humans, come on."

I phased back, and he looked away blushing. I didn't say anything as I went into my house and pulled on shorts. Charlie had followed me in and sat at the table.

The man became like a father to me after that day. We shared anything we heard about Bella and shared a meal a couple times a week. He was a good man and as much as it still hurt, having this one extra connection to Bella helped some.

Then came the call that Renee was dead. I ran to Sam and told him I had to leave. He helped me book a flight to Florida so I would be there when Bella landed. I knew they all hoped I'd bring her home with me but I saw her onto a plane to Chicago and returned to La Push. The time I had spent with her was heaven but watching her leave was just as painful the second time around. As soon as I was home, I phased. It was only two days this time. Charlie showed up with Jared.

She came home for Christmas. We all pretended things were the same as when she left us. We all prayed she would stay. She was living with me for the weeks she stayed and we all had Christmas at Sam and Emily's house.

"Ask her to stay." Charlie pleaded with me as she packed to leave.

I shook my head at him, as much as I wanted to believe she had come home when she arrived for the holidays I knew she hadn't. This was only a visit. I was beginning to accept that she might never come home. She might never choose me. I hadn't realized that I had been able to let her leave before because part of me thought she'd be back.

I made an excuse and ran out, I phased in the woods. I couldn't watch her leave a third time. I ran for weeks before going home. Bella had made her choice and it wasn't me. The pack, the elders and Charlie were all there for me. I hurt all the time and the pack hurt with me. I hated it but I couldn't force her by telling her about the imprint. She needed to be free, she needed me to let her go so I had to do it, no matter how much it hurt. I loved her enough to let the wolf suffer.

It was March when the Cullen's came. I wanted to tear them apart. The whole pack did. We were edgy, my pain affecting all of us, the pain filling us with rage that demanded action.

We heard the roar of Edward and I got a sick pleasure knowing he would have been able to tell what had happened there. He would know I had taken her innocence there in his room, the fluids of both our bodies spilling out of her onto his couch.

He wasn't with them when they came to meet us. It was still hard not to kill them all. Luckily, Sam was able to stay relatively calm. They had come for Bella. My Bella.

I went home and Jared came to sit with me. I knew I had to really let her go. I also knew it might actually destroy me. I pulled out a paper and pen, took another shot of whiskey and wrote her a message. She had to know, she had to have the choice, them, me, a regular human. Whatever she wanted, I would let her choose but she had to know I loved her.

Leech Lover,

Sometimes we need to do things for ourselves and fuck what everyone else thinks. Take what you want, be strong, be happy. I did love you. I do love you. Take care of yourself.

Wolf.

I gave the letter to the doctor leech and then phased. I didn't run this time. I just wandered into the woods, curled up and lay there. The pack came and settled near me. Charlie and even Emily and Kim all trekked out as well. Brining food and checking on us. The pack mind was relatively silent. My mind ran over Bella's face when she smiled, the way her eyes shone when she laughed. Then on patrol a week after the Cullen's left. Seth caught her scent.

Bella had come home.

Why?

Did she turn the Cullen's down? Did they not reach her before she left Boston? Was she back to say goodbye?

I didn't want to let myself consider that she might have come home for me but my heart still swelled with hope.

I got up and the others with me were running by my side, Seth and Embry running patrol joined us, then Sam and Leah who had been checking on things at home.

She was at my cabin. She had come to see me first.

I phased and pulled on shorts, the pack all only a second behind me. I stepped out of the woods.

"Imprint yet?" She asked me standing. I shook my head no. "I want to jump off a cliff, will you take me?"

I didn't understand, she had come all this way, to go cliff jumping? "Of course." I'd do anything for her.

"It might be dangerous."

He shrugged, "Werewolf."

"That might not save either of us this time around. Hell it's the thing that might kill us."

It filtered through my thick skull, she didn't want to jump off a real cliff but a metaphorical one, "No, but it might come close." I knew if she left me again it would kill me though. I needed her to choose me, not just for a little while, but to give her whole heart to me as mine already belonged to her.

She nodded, her words filling me with warmth and hope, "Its worth it."

I took an involuntary step closer to her, I needed to hear her say it, "Say it."

"I want you." She sighed and her eyes met mine with such intensity and love it nearly drowned me, "I love you."

Two steps and I had her in my arms, I would never let her go again. "I love you." I admitted and kissed her with all the pent up love, lust and anguish of the last few months. I lifted her into my arms and carried her into the house. The pack was forgotten. I had my Bella in my arms. She had chosen me. I had made her strong, set her free and she had chosen me.

I carefully stripped her. Kissing every inch of her skin, her soft little hands ran over me sending hot chills through me. I needed to taste her, to rub her scent all over me and to burn mine into her.

It wasn't until she moaned my name that I moved over her and slid into her. I claimed her body as she claimed my soul. My Bella was home. She had chosen me.

When we lay panting in each other's arms, sated and content, I knew it was time. I had to tell her. I just hoped she wouldn't be upset with me for keeping it from her.

"Bella?"

"Mmmhmm?" She kissed my chest sounded relaxed and sleepy.

"Don't be mad."

She leaned up to look at me, awake, alert and worried. "Why?"

"I'm not going to imprint." How did I explain to her that I had lied every time she asked me if I had yet?

"You don't know that but its ok. No relationship comes with a guarantee and I told you, it's worth it with you." She sounded so sure and it made me want to kiss her again, to claim her as mine.

I had to tell her first, "Ours does."

"What?" She looked so adorable with her brow furrowed together.

"Ours does come with a guarantee, if you want it."

The question was just a breath, "Paul?"

I had to explain, I hadn't meant to lie to her really. I had only tried to give her what she wanted. "You begged Jake to say he didn't imprint on you. You didn't want that."

"Right but he didn't."

"No." I took a fortifying breath, "I did."

"What?" She screeched sitting bolt upright now.

"I imprinted on you Bella." I waited for her to say no, to reject it.

"When? How? Why didn't you tell me?"

She was going to let me explain, I needed to make her understand, I had only done it for her, to give her the choice. She needed to know I would always choose her over everything, even my own life and happiness. "That afternoon you yelled at Sam and then hit me. Our eyes met right before I phased. I didn't tell you because it wasn't what you needed or wanted and in the beginning I was a mess over it all. I wanted you to choose me Bella, I knew you would stay here for me but I needed you to be free. You needed me to let you live and make your own choices for a while. It killed me. You have no idea how hard it was and then the Cullen's came looking and I was so scared. Sam nearly ordered me to go after you and the guys all wanted to just kill them but you needed to decide what you wanted Bella."

Her eyes were watery as she gazed at me "I love you." She kissed me and my heart felt like it might burst with happiness.

"You aren't upset?" I had to be sure.

"You suffered when I left. You must have hurt so much and you did it for me. You gave me a choice even when that choice was taken from you."

She understood. She always understood me. "That day I took you off the cliff. I might have imprinted before and it made me want to be near you and to protect you but that day, looking into your eyes, I knew I could love you and I did, I do, not because of the imprint but because of you. Everything about you makes me happy, even the things that drive me crazy; I missed them when you were gone. The way you always scold me for being rude to the others, the way you look at me with part annoyance and part blush when I make an inappropriate comment, the way you wear my shirts all the time, the way you babble in your sleep, the list of things I miss about you is long and complex. It starts with your blush, stops at the freckle you have on your left hipbone, detours to how clumsy you are and passes through the over-thinking rambling of your thoughts."

She laughed and kissed him again, "I love you Paul. Your possessiveness, your nagging me to eat more, pushing me to stand up for myself, everything. No one I met could stand up next to you. It was only ever you."

I tugged her down and kissed her with all the love and passion I felt for her. My beautiful, strong, brave, mate, I lived for her and her alone and she was home. Finally and forever, home.