Hey guys. I'm very uncomfortable with "tooting my own horn" (which is why I never advertise about contests/awards) but I get so many reviews and PMs asking why this hasn't gotten "many reviews" that I'll tell you up front: this is a *repost* of a story and in its original posting it was very richly rewarded with well over 3,000 reviews. Now why I deleted it in the first place is another story... lol
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it this time around!
This fic is rated M for language, violence, adult themes and sex.
Disclaimer: Don't own a thing. Just having fun… yada, yada, yada.
Chapter One – Losing it
"Bella." It was a statement, not a question. How could Billy Black communicate so much in just that simple pronouncement? You shouldn't be here. Please don't do this. I don't want to hurt you, but I will if I have to.
For once Bella Swan forced herself to ignore all unspoken subtexts. She shoved her hands deeper into her pockets and pulled a shoulder to her ear.
"I need to see him." It was a statement, not a question.
"He's not in," Billy said carefully meeting her eyes with an electric intensity that entreated – no, demanded -she acknowledge what he didn't want to say.
"I'm sorry I really need to see him," she mumbled.
Drawing in a fortifying breath and biting her lip against its exhale, Bella resolutely pushed past him. She felt as defiant as a child who had covered her internal ears and sang pointedly "la, la, la!" And it wasn't like her at all. People had grown used to the fact that with Bella, any subtle inference was as effective as a close-fisted demand.
But she had to see him. Jacob Black had always been the only stable constant in a life that had been in constant turmoil since she could remember. It was the desperation of survival instinct that made her feel she was clawing her way down the narrow clapboard hallway. Her heart had been torn out of her body permanently, she was sure of it, when the man who she had dared to love had left her. But she just didn't think she could keep breathing if Jacob had abandoned her too.
Bella tore open the door of Jake's room without knocking. The hinges squeaked, severing the choking tension like cutting a noose from her neck. And there was Jake: sprawled out asleep on his crappy bed, in his tiny room. He looked huge – one arm draped over onto the floor and lying diagonally on the single mattress just to fit. His breathing was deep and even. Bella finally let out that exhale and felt deflated. She couldn't wake him; he looked exhausted. She would just have to wait.
Movement out of the corner of her eye made her glance from Jake's lax full lips out the window. Sam stepped out into the yard from the tree line flanked by three huge bare-chested boys. They moved strangely, synchronized, like linebackers who had taken ballet.
Bella frowned and felt her ebbing adrenaline rise up like bile, sorrow and frustration metastasizing into white hot fury. She couldn't talk to Jake, but she could talk to them.
She didn't even remember getting there, but suddenly she was hurtling toward Sam, far beyond reason.
"What did you do? What did you do to him?" she shoved herself into his chest with all of her anger. It was like pushing a brick wall.
"Watch it, little girl," snarled a voice beside her.
"What did you do? He didn't want this!" she yelled back at Sam.
One of the men flanking Sam stepped forward as if she had been talking to him. "What did we do? What did he do? What did he tell you?"
His instant intensity made Bella freeze. He was just as livid as she was.
"Both of you… calm down," Sam's resonate bass slipped between them as he pushed the man back.
But Bella didn't take her eyes off the one who now faced her down. "He tells me nothing! He tells me nothing because he's afraid of you!" she spat in the man's face.
His sneer became more pronounced as the opposite eyebrow raised slyly. And then he laughed. He laughed at her! Collegial chortles at her expense erupted around her .
Bella had never been so angry. Before she knew what she was doing she drew her hand back and slapped him. As hard as she could.
Surprisingly, the man's face snapped back with force of the open-handed blow. She blinked rapidly as he slowly turned back, his expression one of open-mouthed shock. His lips lifted in a snarl that sounded too animalistic to be made by a human throat as his body began to vibrate.
"Paul…. Paul… calm down," Sam admonished, even as he pushed Bella back.
A look of fury contorted his face as he shook his head, his feral gaze trained intently on her. Bella's eyes widened as she sucked in a breath of shock through her teeth; never had she seen such an expression. Every last cord in his neck was standing out as he bared his teeth in rage. But his eyes… his eyes were burning with betrayal.
Sam pushed her back so hard she stumbled as he continued to reprimand Paul… but she heard nothing. Bella couldn't tear her gaze from those eyes as she slowly backed up, fear blooming deep in her stomach.
As he snarled viciously, his body threw itself forward and exploded in fur not ten feet in front of her.
But the eyes were the same.
The huge wolf lifted its lip in a sneer much the same way as the man and growled once, but the anger of the man had transform with the beast. It cocked its head -a very wolf-like gesture - and prowled slowly forward with the tension and patience of a predator. A predator intent on its prey.
"Bella! Bella!" she finally heard over the blood pounding in her ears.
"Jake! Jake, run!" she screamed as she turned and launched into a sprint.
Only several yards up the hill, predictably she tripped and crashed to the ground. She watched Jake leap over her in his focused trajectory toward that monster. Bella turned and watched as her best friend burst into fur, scraps of fabric slithering down through the air. The Jake-wolf crouched between Bella and the other and growled low and dangerous. It seemed to enrage it all the more.
From that slow slinking prowl, it snarled with a grating viciousness and sprang at Jake, clearing forty feet easily. Jake met it in mid-air and they tangled in a blur of fur and snapping jaws.
Bella slowly pushed herself off the ground and stood as she tried to follow the lightning movements of the wolves with her heart in her throat.
"Jake," she whimpered forlornly watching the ferocious fight and tumble of fang and claws. She felt ill. She knew. She knew. But somehow seeing Jacob turn into a wolf the size of a pony very different than knowing. As all her own anger receded like the tide, revealing the cold hard lump of anxiety and despair where her heart used to be. She wrapped her arms around herself as hopelessness finally leaked hot and salty down her cheeks.
The two wolves tumbled into the tree line – where the men had emerged just minutes before - and Bella bowed her head as she heard the crash of underbrush and trees punctuated by staccato lupine yelps.
"Take her to Emily's," she heard Sam say to Jared.
Bella gracelessly sniffled snot back in her nose as she looked up through her curtain of hair to see Sam similarly transform and leap into the forest. It was all just too much.
"Get her to Em's!" Jared bellowed.
"C'mon Bella," Embry said as he walked toward her with an infuriating smirk on his face.
Pressing her lips together and wiping at her cheeks impatiently, Bella lifted her chin with an attempt at defiance.
"B-but… Jake," was all she could say
Quil rolled his eyes. "He'll be fine… it's Paul I'm worried about!"
Embry snorted. "Did you see Paul's face? Oh man, wolf's out of the bag now. We're going to Emily's. I'm driving," he snagged the keys out of her back pocket as he passed with a slight of hand that would be the envy of any magician.
With a stomp to her foot, Bella hugged herself harder and stumbled after the two big boys who were now arguing and placing bets on the fight.
Bella? She just concentrated on trying to breathe.