Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended. This is just a tribute.
Thank you to willowbae, who has helped me with every single chapter of this story. She is THE BEST! :)
Nessie - the future
The weeks passed quickly after Katherine's Californian wedding, and Thanksgiving was upon me before I knew it. I spent the holiday with my family in Illinois. Things went pretty well, because we all made a concerted effort to put the past behind us and get along.
I brought them some lovely photos of Seth's wedding, and they put together a special Thanksgiving dinner just for me, which was a beautifully arranged, gourmet meal for one. I had the distinct impression that almost every member of the family had helped prepare it. The whole family sat around the large dining room table and chatted happily while I ate. Aunt Alice had taken a great deal of trouble with the festive table decorations and the atmosphere was really pleasant as I worked my way through my dinner.
My family all wanted to know how things were going with my job, which was quite funny, since there wasn't very much to say about Forks Police Department filing system, but I was touched by their sincere interest. Grandma Esme was especially impressed when I described my re-alphabetization. She said it sounded very clever and well-organized.
I was also pleased that they asked about Jake without a hint of resentment. It certainly made my life easier not to be reminded that I was caught in the middle of a supernatural feud.
The tensions, which had been flowing through my family since Uncle Jasper's slip, had also eased a little. I knew that it would take time for all of us to completely heal, but we were definitely moving in the right direction. Even Uncle Jasper seemed a little happier. He was still more subdued than he used to be, but he did smile sometimes too, and I could tell that Aunt Alice no longer felt so worried about him.
I missed Jake very badly while I was in Illinois. We had never been apart for Thanksgiving before, and my eagerness to see him lessened my sadness when I left my family at the airport. I still shed a few tears though, because I knew that I wasn't going to see them at Christmas. They reminded me that we were going to spend the New Year together, which did make me feel marginally better.
It was no surprise – given the number of people travelling home after Thanksgiving – that my flight was delayed for hours. I'd known that Jake was planning a busy Thanksgiving with his family, so I'd left my car at Sea Tac, ready to drive myself home. This turned out to be very a sensible idea, since my flight was late. I drove myself back to Forks and Jake escaped a long and boring wait at the airport.
He wanted to meet me at Grandpa's house, but once I realised how late I might be, I put him off the idea and persuaded him to get some rest and visit me in the morning instead. I could tell that he was torn, but in the end he saw sense and agreed to my plan. I think it helped that he'd had a long and exhausting weekend.
My predictions were right and I didn't reach Forks until well past midnight. The house was quiet when I arrived; Grandpa and Sue had already gone to bed, because I'd called ahead and warned them not to bother waiting up for me.
I entered the house quietly and crept up to my room. My little bedroom seemed a lonely place when I turned on the bedside lamp. I missed Jacob, and wished that I hadn't been quite so adamant when saying that our reunion could wait until the morning.
I put down my bag with a desolate sigh and stood in the middle of the room, feeling sorry for myself. The thought of spending a long night alone was hard to face. But then I gave myself a mental shake and remembered that I didn't have to face it. There was nothing to stop me from visiting Jacob right away.
With this thought in mind, I hurried to my wardrobe to find my running clothes and shoes. I got changed in record time, wrote a note for Grandpa and left the house. I didn't call Jake to tell him that I was coming, I wanted to surprise him.
I headed straight into the woods, behind the house. The forest was immersed in darkness and the ground was damp underfoot, but my heart was light as I ran. I set myself a fast pace, moving silently between the trees, and I scarcely noticed the miles slipping away. All I could think of was Jacob.
As I neared the reservation, I listened out for the wolves, but I heard nothing. No one was patrolling that night. When I reached Jacob's house, I raced out of the forest and up the front steps.
"Jake!" I called, banging on the front door, not caring that it was two in the morning. "Jacob, wake up, it's me!"
A second later the door was yanked open and before I could say a word, I was caught in a crushing embrace.
"Nessie!" Jake swept me off my feet and carried me into the house. "I can't believe you're here."
He hugged me tight and I wrapped my arms around his neck.
"I had to come." I said dramatically, sounding rather like someone in a daytime soap. "I couldn't wait another moment."
Jake seemed pleased. "Now, that's what I like to hear."
"So you don't mind being woken up in the middle of the night?" I peeked out from under my lashes and met his heated gaze.
"Do I look like I mind?" He grinned, turning on his heel and carrying me off to the bedroom.
He kicked the door closed behind us and tossed me onto the bed.
I glanced up and smiled. "I guess this is one way to say 'welcome back'."
I barely had time to kick off my running shoes, before Jacob moved over me, pinning me under his big body. He stared deep into my eyes.
"No, it's the way to say 'welcome home'."
He lowered his head and captured my lips in a searing kiss. I ran my fingers along his muscular shoulders, enjoying the smooth feel of his body, before slipping my arms around his neck and pulling him close.
"I love you, Jake."
"I love you too. So much…" he murmured, removing my jacket. "So, so much…"
And, happily for me, he spent the next two hours proving it.
When I finally curled up against his side to sleep, I was so exhausted that I thought I'd fall into a deep and undisturbed sleep. But that night, instead of the tranquillity I'd expected, my dreams were so vivid that they almost seemed real…
I found myself standing in a quiet glade in the forest. I turned in a slow circle, studying my surroundings. The light was dim, the day was fading and the sky was so overcast that no sunlight filtered through. I could smell a storm approaching.
I breathed in the damp air, drawing in the heavy aroma of pine, and without warning my heart was filled with an overwhelming sense of longing. I felt as if I had been waiting for years, but I had absolutely no idea of what I'd been waiting for. I stood, feeling strangely lost, when a sudden flash of white, moving through the trees some distance away, caught my eye.
I didn't know what drew me so strongly, but I was instantly compelled to follow. Before I knew it, I was flying through the forest in hot pursuit. I ran as fast as I could, my feet barely touching the damp ground as I flitted between the trees, trying to catch the white shadow.
I caught brief glimpses of my quarry. But however fast I ran, it was always out of reach, darting through the undergrowth ahead of me. My muscles screamed in protest and my heart felt as if it was going to hammer out of my chest, but I couldn't stop. My desire to follow was too strong. I had to find it. I had waited too long to let it go.
The ground grew steeper and I clambered up the rocky embankments, covering myself in dirt and mud as I climbed. I looked ahead and, to my distress, the white shadow wasn't getting any closer. It was moving further and further out of reach, disappearing from view. I couldn't run fast enough to keep up. Despite my best efforts, it wasn't long before the shadow was completely out of sight.
I was about to give up in despair, when I heard the sound of the ocean. I glanced around me and realised that the place was familiar. I realised that I was close to the cliffs. This gave me a fresh sense of hope, and I followed the sound of the waves in a final attempt to catch the shadow. With one last burst of speed I threw myself towards the cliff, praying that I would find what I was looking for.
"Wait…!" I cried. "Wait for me… don't go… please…"
I broke out of the trees onto a familiar ledge. I had dived there many times before. My hopes were crushed as I found myself alone.
There was nothing there, just the sea and the sky. I was too late…
And then I woke up.
I opened my eyes and found myself in Jacob's bed. I was completely disoriented. My dream was so real that it took me a second to understand that I'd only been sleeping.
I hadn't been in the forest. I hadn't chased a shadow. I had been in Jake's room all along.
I sat up quietly and took a deep breath. The emotions that I'd felt on the cliff edge were still with me; a terrible sadness that I hadn't found what I was looking for. I had been so close, but I had missed my chance.
I stayed in bed for a few minutes, trying to clear my head, but that didn't really work. I glanced at the window. The light coming through the curtains showed that daybreak was approaching fast, so I decided to go outside and get some air.
Jacob lay sound asleep beside me, sprawled across the bed. His breathing remained steady as I slipped out from under the covers and pulled on some clothes. I crept silently out of the house and onto the veranda, and perched myself on the top step to watch the breaking dawn.
The reservation was very peaceful that morning. No one was around; the only sounds were those coming from the forest. The air was chilly but I found it refreshing rather than cold. I leaned against the stair rail and took a bracing breath. The early morning dew was so thick that it billowed out of the trees in a damp mist.
I stayed on my step and enjoyed the magical moment when the horizon was warmed by pink and orange light. It was just what my soul needed. The dawn's raw beauty dispelled my last feelings of sadness. As I watched the birth of a new day, I was filled with certainty that I had nothing to worry about. I just had to have a little faith that my path would be made clear to me.
Just as the sun peeked above the trees, Jacob appeared in the doorway. His eyes were fixed on the sunrise.
He was only wearing a pair of shorts, and I assumed that he must have just woken up and followed me outside. He smiled and sat down on the step behind me, putting one leg on either side of my hips and wrapping his arms around my neck. I leaned back against his warm chest and glanced over my shoulder.
"I'm sorry I woke you."
"Don't worry about it." He grinned. "I'm glad I didn't miss this. I often forget how beautiful it is here. It's nice to be reminded sometimes."
"I love the peninsula." I sighed. "I think this is my very favourite place on earth."
As I said the words, I realised that they were absolutely true. Over the years, I had lived in many very interesting and attractive places, but the Olympic Peninsula was where my heart belonged, it was the only place that truly felt like home. La Push, the coast, the forest, Forks, Grandpa's house, the big house, they all meant far more to me than I could ever express.
"I'm glad to hear you feel that way." Jake held me a little closer and kissed my hair. "Because I've got something for you…"
"What's that?" I turned to discover that he was watching me with mischievous smile. "Jake." I eyed him suspiciously. "What's going on?"
He just grinned. "Open my hand."
I glanced down and discovered that one of his hands was closed into a tight fist. I instantly set to work, prying it open. Jacob didn't make it too hard for me. He uncurled his fingers very easily, and when his hand was open I discovered a beautiful ring lying on his palm.
The design was deceptively simple, a golden band, set with a smooth, oval gemstone. The stone was very striking. A pale, transparent orange, flecked with pink and red, just like the sunrise, and it was encircled by delicate diamonds, which sparkled in the morning light.
"Oh…" I gingerly reached out to touch it. I very gently stroked the warm golden band, and glanced up at Jake in awe. "It's lovely. Is it for me?"
His face broke into a wide smile. "Do you think I'd have a ring made for any other girl?"
"You had it made for me?"
"Do you like it? "
"It's amazing…" I brushed the polished gem with the tip of my finger. "What stone is that?"
Jacob picked up the ring. "It's carnelian. I found it on first beach. I was just sitting, thinking about you and I picked up a handful of small pebbles. I glanced down and as soon as I saw this one, I knew that I had to give it to you. It was so pretty, the nicest I'd ever found. I had it polished and set in a ring, so that wherever you went, you would always have a little piece of home to take with you."
A lump formed in my throat. Jacob always knew how to make me happy. "That's so thoughtful."
He just laughed and held out the ring. "So… do you want to try it on?"
I nodded eagerly and held out my hand. Jake slipped the ring onto my third finger, where it fit perfectly. He didn't let go of my hand, he stared at it for a long moment, before raising his dark eyes to my face. His expression was hopeful.
"Marry me, Nessie."
I probably shouldn't have been so surprised – after all, I was already wearing the ring – but I honestly hadn't expected a proposal.
My mouth dropped open and failed to say anything.
I had no words.
Jacob eyed me nervously. "Are you ok, honey?" He rubbed my hand. "I didn't realise that you'd be so shocked. I probably should have waited. I know what I want… but maybe this is all too sudden for you."
These words spurred me into action and I finally managed a reply. What I lacked in eloquence I made up for in enthusiasm. I threw myself into his arms and hugged him tightly.
"Yes! I'll marry you."
"Really?" Jake pulled back so that he could look me in the eye. "Do you mean it?"
"Of course I mean it." I exclaimed. "I thought you'd never ask."
Jake laughed in relief and pulled me onto his lap, and kissed me. "Well you were wrong," he teased. "Don't you feel silly?"
I snuggled into his warm embrace, leaning my head against his shoulder. "No, I'm too busy feeling happy."
He slipped a hand under my jaw and lifted my chin, and I found myself staring into a pair of dark eyes.
"Thank you for saying 'yes.'"
"Has any imprint ever said 'no' to her wolf's proposal?"
"Not that I've heard." He chuckled. "But there's always a first time."
"Not today, there isn't." I assured him, moving my hand into view behind his head, so that I could admire my sparkling new engagement ring.
Jake noticed what I was doing and lifted my arm from around his neck, so that he could see the ring too. He held my hand gently, as if I was very precious and delicate, and pressed soft kisses onto my knuckles.
"I must be the luckiest man alive." He smiled tenderly. "I love you, Nessie."
He looked so happy and proud that I had to kiss him again. "I love you too," I repeated. "Always."
I stayed on his lap and we fell into a comfortable silence, just enjoying the peace and quiet of the new morning. This silence was finally broken by Jacob.
"Well, I guess this is the last bit of calm we can expect," he said. "Once we tell everyone that we're engaged, they'll be no stopping them, especially Alice. You know what she's like when it comes to weddings."
I glanced up uncertainly. I hadn't wanted to spoil the moment by speculating on how to organise a wedding when the groom's family were wolves and the bride's family were vampires… and they weren't speaking to each other.
"Um…" I replied. "I thought that maybe we could keep it small. You know, just you, me and a couple of witnesses, the way that Leo and Katherine did."
"That's a nice idea." He smiled. "But I don't think we'll get away with that. You can bet that Alice has already booked a caterer. You should have heard her in the background, when I called your dad and asked for his blessing."
"What?" I stared at Jake in shock. "Are you serious? You spoke to my dad?"
"I thought that it would be important to you to involve your family."
"I can't believe that you did that…"
"I didn't want to start our married life under a cloud. I wanted everyone to be happy for us. And they are."
After everything that had happened, I knew how much it must have cost Jacob to call my father. And he'd done it for me, because he wanted me to be happy.
"Thank you," I whispered, feeling the words to be entirely inadequate. "Thank you very much."
"You might not be thanking me when Alice gets going. Your family are already planning to visit the big house at Christmas and she's bringing fabric samples."
"They're staying in the peninsula?" I shook my head in disbelief. "You agreed to that?"
"I had a long talk with Sam and Carlisle, and we've decided to reinstate the treaty and the old boundaries. I don't know what Jasper plans to do, but I think that he'll probably come for the holidays too. He won't be on tribal land, so we've agree that it's ok."
I sat in stunned silence, trying to comprehend this new development. The news that my family were no longer banned from the peninsula lifted a heavy weight from my heart. I could hardly express what it meant to me. But Jake must have known that, which was why he'd offered the olive branch.
Jake stared down at me, quietly gauging my reaction. I lifted a hand to his cheek and looked him in the eye. My words came right from my heart.
"I love you, Jacob Black. You're best thing that ever happened to me. I couldn't be happy without you."
His face broke into a wide smile and he pulled me close. "Then I guess it's lucky that I feel exactly the same way about you."
Leo - the future
I arrived home at four in the morning. I'd been away for nearly two weeks and I was unbelievably glad to be back. As I pushed open the front door, I could hear Hal rustling around in the study. The rest of the house was silent. I walked quietly through the unlit hall and poked my head around the study door. My brother was sitting at his desk, absorbed in his work. He glanced up and smiled.
"Hello. Did you have a nice time?" He asked innocently.
I suppressed a smile, only Hal could make my hunt for two degenerate newborns sound like a pleasant country vacation.
"Yeah." I nodded quietly. "It was fine."
"Good, I'm glad you're safely home. Katherine will be relieved to see you."
I had spoken to Kathy nearly every day, but I knew that she'd been worried about the trail. It was all Brandon's fault. Halfway through the first week he'd called the house and very helpfully told her that the newborns were complete psychos. This was an exaggeration – they were only slightly deranged – but she'd taken his statement very much to heart.
Kathy hadn't given me a hard time about it, but the tone of her voice had almost brought me home. In the end it had been her who'd persuaded me to keep going. I guess she thought the world would be a better place without those two freaks in it. Or maybe she just understood that I wouldn't be satisfied to leave a trail unfinished.
"Is my girl asleep?"
"I think so," Hal replied in a hushed voice. "She went to bed three hours ago."
The complete silence upstairs implied that she was sleeping. I smiled and left Hal to his studies. I quietly climbed the darkened stairwell. Kathy and I both stayed in her bedroom whenever I was home, but I still kept all my gear in my bedroom. I was desperate to see her, I had missed her like crazy, but I didn't want to disturb her rest, so I went to my room to dump my backpack.
I tossed my pack into the corner; I couldn't be bothered to go through it until the morning. Sitting on the edge of my bed, I stripped off my jacket and boots. I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I looked pretty messed up. My clothes were covered in grit and mud, and there were a couple of fresh scars on my forearms. It was probably a good thing that I had a chance to get cleaned up, before my wife caught sight of me. I heaved a weary sigh and grabbed a clean towel, and headed for the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later I was back in my room. I towelled off my well-scrubbed body and dug a clean pair of shorts out of the cupboard. I was now in a reasonable state to face Kathy and I prayed that she wouldn't notice the new bite-marks right away. The last thing she needed was another reason to worry about me.
I crept across the dark hallway to her room and gently pushed open the door. My breath caught in my throat when I caught sight of my mate. It didn't matter how many times I saw her, Kathy still blew me away.
She lay on her back, completely motionless, in a deep trance. The only light in the room was filtering in through the window from the streetlamp outside. I could clearly see her beautiful profile, illuminated by the soft orange glow. Her eyes were closed and her thick hair swept across her pillow and around her shoulders.
I breathed a sigh of relief that she was safe and sound. I hated being away from her and I was never able to relax until she was back in my arms again. Closing the door quietly, I crossed the room and leaned over her sleeping form. Brushing a loose curl from her brow, I whispered her name.
Her eyes flew open, and I found myself staring into a pair of warm golden irises.
"Leo!" She smiled, reaching up and wrapping her arms my neck. "I'm so glad to see you."
"I'm glad to see you too, beautiful." I lowered my head to kiss her. She returned my kiss and pulled back the bedclothes. I crawled over her, caging her with my body. "It's been too long."
"You're right." Katherine surprised me with a swift roll, which put me on my back and landed her on top of me. She rested a hand on either side of my head and raised her body so that she was looking down on me. Her voice dropped to a husky whisper. "But now I've got you where I want you…"
"Are you so sure about that?"
"I'm absolutely positive." Kathy smiled.
I slipped my arms around her waist and tugged her down, enjoying the closeness as she lowered her body onto mine. She felt perfect in my arms, warm and tender.
"God," she breathed, resting her cheek on my collarbone. "I missed you so damn much. I got scared that you weren't going to make it back."
I heard the catch in her voice and felt a wave of guilt. Tucking her head under my chin I murmured. "I shouldn't put you through this. I'm sorry."
Katherine shook her head. Her soft hair tickled my throat as she hid he face against my shoulder. "No, it's ok. This is what you are, I'm fine with that."
I pulled back and stared into her face. "No, it's not ok. I know my tracking is hard on you, Kathy. I promise I'll cut back."
"You don't have to do that…"
"No, I really do. I shouldn't be making you worry. It's not fair."
She raised her hand and gently brushed her knuckles against my cheek. I could read the understanding in her eyes.
"Leo, you need to hunt. You wouldn't be happy if you couldn't. Honestly, I don't mind, as long as you're careful. And I know you have been since we got together." She didn't look away, adding intently. "Just promise me that when you fight, you win."
I smiled at her fierce expression. "I'll do my best."
"Good." Kathy nestled back against me, apparently satisfied by my answer. "I hate going on vengeance missions."
Her words caught my attention. I glanced at her sharply. "Are you serious?"
"About what?" She murmured, idly kissing my throat.
"What about it?"
"If something happened, would you try to avenge me, Kathy?" My mouth suddenly felt dry. "Would you…?"
I prayed to God that she was just joking. The thought of my precious angel hunting for revenge made me feel sick. She could be injured. She could be killed.
Katherine raised her head and looked me straight in the eye. Her voice was cold and deadly. "If someone hurt you, Leo, if someone took you away from me, it wouldn't matter what I had to do, or how long it took me. I would make them pay."
I took her lovely face in my hands and shook my head. "Don't talk that way. I wouldn't want you to do that. If the worst happened, you should let one of the guys take care of it. They wouldn't need an excuse, they like killing. There'd be no need for you to get your hands dirty."
"Oh, so I should just let one of your buddies handle it, and put it out of my mind?" Kathy pulled herself away from me and sat up. "What would you do if someone hurt me?" She glared down at me stubbornly. "Would you let just let it go?"
I propped myself up on my elbow and frowned. "No, of course not." I felt a little insulted that she could even ask.
"Well then, know this." Her expression was grim and completely unyielding. "If you don't want me to go out for revenge, you'll just have to stay alive."
I wanted to argue with her. Tell her she was out of her mind, but then I caught sight of her scarred shoulders and arms. It hadn't been easy to persuade Katherine to talk about how she got those bite-marks. When she finally told me the stories, it had taken a fair amount of self-control not to put a chair through the window. I wanted to tear the sons of bitches who'd hurt her to pieces. But it transpired that I was too late. Kathy had already done the job.
The truth was that she was a lot tougher than I liked to acknowledge. Kathy was a fighter. I'd seen it with my own eyes. Like the way she's survived her first few dangerous months as a newborn, when I'd been foolhardy enough to take her tracking with me.
I still don't know what the hell I'd been thinking. I must have been crazy to take such a chance with her safety. I was an idiot, and it made my blood run cold to think of the risks I'd taken with her life. But she'd come through them like a trooper. Kathy was a pacifist in principal, but in practice, she did whatever she had to do. And I could see that on this matter there was no changing her mind.
"Ok, fine," I muttered grudgingly. "I'll stay alive."
After all, if I was dead how the hell could I keep my obstinate wife out of trouble?
Kathy gave me a long, appraising look and smiled. "Good." She then proceeded to make herself comfortable, lying down beside me and pulling the bedcovers over us both. "Well, I'm glad that's settled," she added, as if we'd been arguing over the colour of wallpaper.
I stayed on my back and she scooted towards me. Kathy lifted her head and tucked herself against my side, as I absently shifted my arm under her neck. I was still distracted by our conversation, but she placed a palm on my cheek and turned my head to face her.
"Hey. You ok?"
"Sure." I didn't like to admit that I was worried. "I'm just tired, that's all. It's been a busy fortnight."
"I know how I can help you…" She smiled.
I cheered up a little. "What do you have in mind?"
Kathy lifted her head and looked at me thoughtfully. "You need some sleep."
"I'm pretty sure that's not what I need."
"That's what you think, but you seem kind of stressed. A trance might relax you."
I could have told her what would relax me more, but instead I grumbled. "You know I can't do that. It never worked for me."
Kathy wore the expression of someone who was humouring a small child. "You never really gave it a shot, Leo. You were always too impatient. I know you're unlikely to fall into a full trance, you're not experienced enough, but I'm sure that I could help you relax." She then fixed me with a pleading look that I had absolutely no hope of refusing. "Please let me try."
"Alright, fine." I gave a sigh of resignation. "Just tell me what I have to do."
Kathy ignored my reluctance and smiled happily. "Don't worry, you won't regret this. Just lie back and close your eyes."
"Aren't you going to swing a pocket watch in front of my eyes?" I smirked.
"You realise that the more time you waste, the longer this will take?" She didn't look very impressed, but she still added persuasively. "Come on, sweetheart. You're worn out… please, let me help you."
She was right, I may not have been physically tired, but my hunt had left me feeling really drained. Giving up my petty resistance, I dutifully closed my eyes and eased back against the pillow, and Kathy started speaking in a low voice. At first I didn't think it would work. I felt a fidgety and uncomfortable, but as I listened to her words I started to feel their effects.
Katherine spoke in a soft, steady rhythm, telling me what to listen for, guiding me down a quiet mental path until my body began to unwind. She made me focus on my breathing and I lost track of time. Minutes – or hours – passed and my breathing gradually slowed, until, for the first time in years, it ceased altogether.
I could no longer hear Kathy's voice, and without that anchor my thoughts dissipated and I floated away; weightless, formless and completely relaxed, drifting in the ether.
I don't know how long I was suspended, but the darkness was suddenly shattered by points of light, weaving together before my eyes, creating a new universe and binding me to the earth once more. My spirit was caged in corporal form and I found myself standing on a sheer cliff, overlooking the ocean.
Black clouds hung low in the sky and dark waves pounded the rocks below. A thick forest of firs grew behind me, stretching both ways along the coast. The scent of pine was heavy on the air, combined with the smell of impending rain.
I had a familiar feeling and I glanced around me. I had seen this coast before, but I couldn't place it. And I had the distinct feeling that I wouldn't normally be welcome.
But this time it didn't matter. I knew that for sure, because this wasn't now. This hadn't happened. This wouldn't happen for a very long time.
A small movement caught my eye and I glanced to my right. Out of the trees, a short way along the cliff, stepped an enormous wolf. He was a magnificent beast, huge and powerful, with a coat of the purest white fur that I'd ever seen. It glowed with a strange iridescence, luminous in the gloomy light.
The snowy wolf slowly approached the cliff edge, moving with an easy grace, and came to a standstill right on the brink. He stood for a long moment, just watching the ocean. He then took a step back and vibrations wracked his body and he transformed before my eyes. In an instant the beast became a man.
The man was as striking as the wolf. He was well over six feet tall, strong and muscular, with straight, black hair falling past his shoulders. He lifted his head and I saw his face. He was undeniably handsome with high cheekbones and a strong jaw, but his expression revealed that he was more than just a pretty face.
He didn't look more than twenty five, but he surveyed the scene with a furrowed brow and a look of grim determination. His air of seriousness made it clear that he was a man to be reckoned with; someone who had lived a hard life and understood that authority had to be earned. And my instincts told me that he had plenty of authority.
He finally turned his back on the sea and strolled towards the treeline. Just as I wondered where the shapeshifter was going, and if I should follow him, he took me by surprise by turning around and running towards the cliff edge. I sprang forward as he flew over the brink, and watched in awe as he hurtled towards the sea in an absolutely spectacular swallow dive. As he plunged into the ocean I heard a sweet and very familiar voice calling.
"Wait…! Wait for me… don't go… please…"
"Leo… Leo!" Kathy's alarmed voice broke into my thoughts.
Katherine was afraid and my instincts kicked into action. I was wrenched away from the cliff and back into myself.
I opened my eyes with a jolt. "What the hell…?"
"Oh, thank God." I heard Kathy gasp.
Without a thought, I rolled her under me, pinning her down and crouching into a protective stance above her. My lips were pulled back, exposing my teeth, as I snarled harshly and scanned the room for the danger.
Nothing was out of place and all I could hear was the ticking clock. Katherine lay frozen below me. Her breathing was short and I could feel her body trembling. After a few moments, she reached up and gently rubbed my chest.
"Hey, it's ok…"
I stopped growling and tore my eyes from the doorway. I glanced down at my wife, asking fiercely. "What frightened you?"
Kathy gave a shaky laugh. "You did." I must have looked as confused as I felt, because she shook her head and said. "I'm sorry. I just didn't expect you to go under so deep. I couldn't wake you up. And you weren't breathing…"
"I don't need air." I frowned, stating the obvious.
She looked slightly embarrassed. "I know. It's stupid. I always stop breathing when I fall into a trance, so I shouldn't have been bothered when you did too, but it scared the hell out of me. And then you wouldn't wake up..."
I took a deep breath, pulling myself out of my defensive mode. That's when I noticed that I still had Kathy pinned down. She looked uncomfortable and instantly I released my hold and backed off the bed.
"I'm sorry." I scanned her body, feeling ashamed. "Did I hurt you? I didn't mean to."
She sat up and replied sheepishly. "It's ok, I'm fine. You didn't hurt me. I'm just sorry I overreacted. I didn't mean to freak you out."
"I could say the same thing."
Kathy moved into a kneeling position on the bed. I rolled my shoulders and tried to calm the hell down. My blood was up and I knew that I was way too jumpy. I didn't like being around her like this. I was too dangerous. I needed to get out of the house until I'd cooled off.
Kathy seemed to read my mind and reached out to me. "Don't go. Stay with me." She climbed off the bed and took a step towards me. "Come on, Leo. We both know you're not going to hurt me."
I eyed her uneasily. "I should probably get some air."
I reluctantly allowed her to slip her smooth hands around my waist and move in close. She rested her head against my chest and tightened her hold. She felt really good in my arms. I wound my arms around her and took a deep breath, drawing in her comforting scent. Kathy must have felt my body relax, because she gave a contented sigh.
"Mm… you feel nice."
As always, I found her irresistible. Within seconds my resistance had melted, and I found myself leaning in and gently brushing my lips along the column of her throat.
"You feel better, beautiful."
Kathy turned her head and kissed me. When she finally pulled away, her expression was curious. "So… what happened?"
"Huh?" My focus was still on her mouth.
She smiled. "When you were under? What was it like?"
I shook my head. "Don't know quite what happened. It was really strange." Kathy waited patiently as I tried to find the words. "At first I felt disconnected… and then… then I saw someone."
She looked serious. "Who did you see?"
I shook my head in frustration. I felt as if I should know, but the answer was just out of reach. Katherine raised a hand to my cheek and gazed up at me with wide eyes.
"Who was it, Leo?"
My frustration eased. I was no longer concerned about my strange dream.
All I could see was Katherine, and all I could think of was how much I loved her. Her past, present and future were inextricably bound to mine. Fate had dealt her more than her fair share of troubles, but she'd never lost her humanity. I was sure that she deserved a reward.
And, out of nowhere, an image of the white wolf flashed through my mind and my inner voice finally made itself heard. This time it wasn't whispering, it shouted the truth. Just as it always had, my intuition showed me the way and I immediately knew who was in my vision.
My cool heart was warmed as I gazed down at my mate and realised what the future held for her. I had never been surer of anything in my whole life. I caught her in my arms and squeezed her tight.
"Leo, what's going on?" Kathy laughed in surprise as I lifted her off her feet.
She wrapped her arms around my neck and I stared into her sweet face. She looked justifiably confused, so I gave a wide smile and shared the good news.
"I saw our godson."
~*~ THE END ~*~
This end note is going to be a bit longer than usual, so here goes…
First of all, I can't believe that I've just posted the last chapter of the story!
I started posting it over two years ago, and I can honestly say that there have been many times when I seriously doubted that I would finish it (I probably wasn't the only one!). The plot was clear in my head, but there just seemed to be a lot to write!
For everyone who's made it this far (75 chapters, to be exact) I am so unbelievably grateful for all your time and interest. You'll never know how much it means to me. Thank you very much :)
When it comes to thank yous, I also have to mention my beta, willowbae. She has given me continuous entertainment, moral support and help, and I could never have done this without her. She is truly a wonderful friend and a perfect beta.
And, for my reviewers, I would never have posted the whole story if it hadn't been for you too. I am pretty sure that I have the nicest reviewers ever :)
In the time since I started posting this story, I had moments when I felt tired or discouraged. The people who let me know that they were still reading motivated me to keep going. I am so glad that I did, and I am so grateful to everyone who took the time to give me feedback. It made all the difference.
There are a number of people who faithfully and regularly reviewed, and I have to say an extra thanks to them. It means so much to me that they did, and I feel really lucky to have had the chance to get to know them better. I am going to miss our little conversations *sniff*.
And while I'm on the thank yous (although she won't read this) it seems right to mention Stephenie Meyer, because she invented the world of Twilight and has taken a positive attitude towards the fan fiction community (unlike some authors). Twific has enriched my life and I feel very lucky to have the forums in which to read and write it :)
It's going to be strange not be working on this story, sad but also quite liberating too, as it's taken up quite a lot of my time.
Who knows, I might actually have a chance to work on The Black Pirate (which I put on hold to finish The Tracker). I enjoy writing that story and I have some more ideas for it, so it might be nice to get them written down. Maybe after Christmas…
Anyway, that's about all for the moment! Thank you for reading, have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Lots and lots of love,