Author's Note: Thank you CassyKinz for reading through this and helping to smooth out the rough spots. :) You were a wonderful help!
Sunday, Big Guy only showed up long enough to run her usual track with her, then pushed her home.
Monday, Paul was predictably absent from school.
Jared skipped history, so she chose to sit at a picnic table outside that day. The air was cool, and few others wanted to brave the elements, so she had the added bonus of being alone. Just as she situated herself, Jared showed up, looking like he hadn't slept since he'd peeled away in the truck that night.
"How is he?" She asked quietly when he slumped onto the bench beside her.
"He'll be all right," Jared told her, sighing, his eyes closed as he held his head in his hands, his elbows braced on the table. "The first few days are the worst."
She nodded, as though she knew what he meant. "That's what happened to you," she said and watched as his head jerked slightly to verify she was right. "It looked horrible."
He finally opened his red-rimmed eyes to look at her. "Yeah." He nodded slightly. "I'm sorry for yelling at you," he added even more softly, forcing her to her lean closer to hear.
"Yeah, that ticked me off," she said, proud of herself for her honesty. "But I made an allowance for your concern for Paul."
"It wasn't Paul I was worried about," he informed her, turning in his seat so that his whole body faced her. "I was scared to death you were going to get hurt. You have no idea how close a call it was."
Her heart stuttered for a moment, though she didn't know why. Jared, on top of being random, could be melodramatic as well, it seemed. She pulled back, intending to roll her eyes, but the fear on his face stopped her. He had genuinely been afraid.
Paul's change. What was the boy going to change into? She'd had a long time to think about that low growl. The impossible, crazy, ridiculous, totally mental theory that had reared its ugly head over the last thirty-six hours jumped up and waved at her again.
You are my favorite flavor. What kind of boy says that to a girl? She had to test him.
"Amanda called yesterday," she said, looking at her tray.
"How'd she do?" he asked, referring to a song recital she told Big Guy about.
That was all the confirmation she needed. He was him. Embarrassment and humiliation slithered through her, stealing her breath and causing her face to flame, compounding her misery. "You are such a bastard, Jared."
Any other girl would get up and run, as far and as fast as they could. But she just sat there beside him, stabbing at her meatloaf with her spork over and over again. He cringed, but he didn't ask her what she was talking about.
"You are a jack-ass." She stabbed the mushy substance a few more times. "You are a pig. You found that all hilarious, didn't you? All that rambling about how lost I am over you."
"How could I stop you?" he asked with a scratchy voice. No explanation. No apology. "But to bring reality into this, you do realize that you are mad at me for hearing a secret…and not because of a major secret I kept from you this whole time."
She stabbed at the chunks of meat on her plate a few more times. Yeah, she knew this was ridiculous. She had everything backwards. But she felt like she'd been knifed in the back.
"Why?" she asked finally, turning to glare at him. Anger went a long way to mitigate the humiliation. "Why did you do it?"
He dropped his hands on the table beside hers, but didn't touch her. He didn't need to. His heat reached out and burned her, keeping the cool day at bay.
"Because you needed me," he said.
She breathed in to refute him, but realized she couldn't. "Explain."
"You didn't need a boyfriend," he said. "You were so alone. You needed a friend. I need to be whatever you need. So I was your… I guess I was your pet." One side of his face twitched. "I tried to repay you for sharing yourself with me," he continued. "I tried to give you all my crazy stories, too."
But that didn't negate the fact that he sat there listening to her moon over him. He knew about her journal! Her eyes rolled up into her head as the lids closed, and she dropped her head.
"Bastard," she mumbled in her misery.
"So, just to make sure we have this straight…it's not the wolf thing you are upset about."
"No," she agreed. It was the humiliation. And, she realized with no small measure of mirth, the fact that she'd lost her pet wolf!
There was a moment of silence. Finally he breathed in deeply. "Just when I don't think I can love you any more than I already do, you pull the rug out from under me."
"It's only been five days," she pointed out morosely, without raising her head.
"How did you figure it out?" he asked, and she turned to look at him finally. He was so exhausted. So physically and emotionally wore out. Against her better judgment, her anger began to dissipate.
"You're hot," she started, and saw that same cocky look Bug Guy gave her that first day. "Temperature-wise," she clarified with her eyes narrowed. And he nodded like he was placating her. "Your eyes are the same," she continued. "The way you kissed me the other night."
Jared smiled at her with the memory, and she wanted to thwap him for his ego trip. But his unexpected shyness stopped her.
"I'd been dying to do that since the first day," he admitted. "Every single time you touched me, I wanted to melt into you. I wanted to show you what you do to me."
Wow. She had that kind of power over him?
"Mostly," she finally said after she found her breath again, "mostly it was the pull."
He just looked at her for a second. "The what?" he asked.
Sighing, she tried to explain. The boy already told her he loved her in a backhanded fashion; it was time to be honest in return.
"The pull," she said. "There's…there's this invisible bungee cord that is stretched between us. My end is hooked up right here." She pointed to her diaphragm. "The harder I try to pull away from you, the tighter the cord stretches." She shrugged. "Once I realized Big Guy wasn't going to eat me alive, the same cord fused between me and him."
Suddenly, his head dipped toward hers, and the soft touch of their lips meeting erased any lingering bad will, stealing her breath and shooting electricity through her body. His warmth surrounded her, filled her until she thought she'd explode with it. She felt one arm encircle her waist, pulling her closer while the other wrapped around her shoulders.
She had just felt his teeth gently nip at her lips when an annoying voice intruded.
"Jared and Kim, the bell rang ten minutes ago." Their heads swiveled around to see Ms. Henderson standing at the edge of the table with one hand on her hips, looking at them with forced patience. "Unless you want detention, you need to get to class within the next three minutes."
"Yes Ms. Henderson," they said in unison.
She turned her face back to Jared to see that he had the same dazed expression. They both shared mirroring goofy smiles. There was still so much to work through, but they both felt it- this unquantifiable energy, this new beginning, this promise. From now on, they both had someone who could see them.
Everything would be all right.
Ending Author's note: This is the final chapter, so my story is complete. Thank you everyone who read and commented. I tried to stay in cannon, what little there is. I based Kim's reactions to Jared on Claire and Renesme's human form of imprinting. They both were very possessive and unconditionally accepting, and I made Kim similar. And I based her friendship with the wolf on my friendships with my dogs! lol! I had a dog once who would sit and listen to me for as long as I wanted to talk, laugh, cry, or whatever. He'd walk until his legs fall off, if I was with him. And if I was sick, he'd crawl into bed with me and insist on snuggling close. So that's where this story came from. :) I hope I was able to entertain.