AN: AN: Much as I wish I did, I don't own Twilight or anything related to it (besides my stories). I started this story idea when I was stuck with some writers' block for chapter 60 of "The Wolf and His Girl", but I decided not to post it then so I could focus on getting that story completed first.
Writing my Jared story has really helped me see how much I like the wolf pack. This gives me the chance to play with them again, but in a different vein than I have with either of my other stories. I have in mind to move on to other pack members after this is finished.
Sorry it's taken this long since I finished "The Wolf and His Girl" to get this story started. I got caught up in revising "Wolf" to post a more mature and polished version on the Jacob-Black-N-Pack and Twilighted sites (same penname and story title if you're interested in checking it out). Then, I was wrapping up my final few weeks of graduate school (I graduated yesterday). And…I ended up deciding that the teaser chapter I'd posted in "Possibilities" wasn't really how I wanted to start this story after all. So that meant coming up with how I did want it to begin. I've now figured that out, so here you are: the first chapter of "Jagged Edges Heal".
So, to set this up: Twilight happened like SM wrote it. But in this story, the Cullens moved on early in the summer (instead of in the fall like in New Moon). Anyway, here you go (hoping for lots of OMG's like MC7575 gave when I showed her part of this back in early March).
I walked in the front door of my cabin to the sight of my wife Emily bending over the oven to remove a tray of cookies and to the sound of the phone ringing over the babbling of our baby son Levi.
"Uley here," I answered the phone.
"Did you hear?" Jared demanded.
"Hear what?" I demanded of my Beta.
"They're gone!" Jared was stoked.
"The Cullens, of course. My mom was in town today, and apparently the doc resigned from the hospital. Something about getting a new job offer down in Los Angeles. They're already down there."
"Gone?" I sagged back against the kitchen counter, unable to truly believe it, even though I knew Jared wouldn't lie about something this important. "Jared, I want you to take a run up near their place—try to see if it's true."
"What was that about?" Emily asked me.
"It looks like the Cullens may have moved away. We're checking it out."
Before long, both Paul and Jared were running into my house. "They're gone!" Paul crowed.
"House is empty, and the furniture is all covered up with sheets. Cars are gone from the garage—man, that was a huge garage; wonder how many cars they had?"
It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I reached for Emily and spun her in a circle, kissing her soundly once I'd set her back on the ground. "This calls for a celebration. Em, can you pull some stuff together for a picnic on the beach? I'd say this news calls for a bonfire."
Emily gave Kim, Jared's imprint, a call, and between them they pulled a spread together. My mom was recruited to babysit for the night. The guys and I went down to the beach to pile up the driftwood for the fire. It ended up that we weren't the only ones to gather on the beach. Even though we were among the few, other than the elders, who knew what the Cullens really were, others had felt uneasy around the Cullens whenever they'd been encountered in town.
Emily and I left the party a while after dark, abandoning the group in favor of a private celebration. We were just stepping up on the porch when I heard the phone ringing inside. I mentally groaned, even as I reached to answer it. "Sam Uley here."
"Sam, it's Billy," the voice of our elder was stressed, with a touch of panic.
"Billy? What is it? Is something wrong?"
"I got a call from Charlie Swan. His daughter Bella went for a walk in the woods after school, with her boyfriend. Her note said she wouldn't be gone long, but it's dark now and she still isn't back."
"The Cullens left town, Billy," I informed him, his panic sparking my own. Had they kidnapped the girl? Killed her?
"What?" he was stunned. "Sam, will you and the boys—"
"On our way." I hung up and turned to Emily, relaying the news to her. Heading outside, I stripped and phased as soon as I hit the trees, howling to get Jared's and Paul's attention.
'sup, boss? Paul asked. Thought we were off for the night?
What's up? Jared asked a moment later, once he'd phased into the pack mind. His under-thoughts complained about being pulled away from Kim—I understood and shared his feeling, but wasn't indulging either of us.
Bella Swan went for a walk in the woods with her leech boyfriend after school; she isn't back yet. Her dad's got a search started, and Billy asked us to help.
Think he snapped and killed her? That why they left so fast?
Paul! Even though he was just saying what I'd already thought, it wasn't something I wanted to consider. Charlie Swan was a good friend to two of our elders, Billy and Harry Clearwater, and even if she had associated with the vampires willingly, she didn't deserve such a fate.
What's the plan, Sam? Jared asked.
Our best bet was to start where Bella had last been at for sure: at her house, and follow the scent trail. We met up and ran that way. Fortunately for us, the forest backed up to the Swan house, so we wouldn't have to risk revealing ourselves.
Our noses caught the strong stench of vampire, layered over progressively older trails of the same odor.
It's like a stinking red carpet, Paul complained.
Heads in a straight line to that tree beside the house, Jared noted. I was grateful he was my Beta instead of Paul; Jared had a cooler head, and used it.
Not important now. Find her scent, I ordered
Got it, Jared reported a minute later. It's mixed with his, heading down this trail.
We tracked the mingled scents a short distance into the trees. Looking back, I could catch a clear glimpse of the house. The two scents thickly permeated the small clearing, so they'd obviously spent a while here today. Where did they go from here?
His heads off this way, Paul announced.
Hers heads…this way, Jared jerked his head in a slightly different direction than Paul had indicated. What was she doing?
Following him? I wondered. But why? I shook it off. She had left this clearing alive, at the very least; why she'd come to be here, and why she'd left could wait until we found her.
We put our noses down, tracking Bella's scent. I took the center, while Jared and Paul flanked me; I wasn't taking the chance on missing her if she had changed her course.
We've gone, what, a couple miles now? Jared noted.
Yeah, I agreed.
Wonder how she managed it?
I moved around a tree and almost stepped on her. The small figure was curled in a hollow beside a fallen tree. She was completely motionless. Her clothes were damp, and covered in mud and forest debris. Found her, I reported to my brothers.
Is she alive? Paul wanted to know.
Yes, she's alive. I regarded her for a moment, noting her barely detectable respiration. My glance lingered for a reason I couldn't determine. I didn't know why, but somehow, she was important to me—to us. The feeling reminded me some of how I felt about Emily—no, it was how Paul and Jared felt about Emily, how Paul and I felt toward Kim.
You think she's an imprint? Jared considered the idea, automatically thinking about Paul, the only one of us who didn't have an imprint.
Uh-uh, Paul denied. Not me.
I don't know, I replied. You'll have to look at her to be sure. I could be wrong about the feeling, or maybe it just means we'll get another brother and she'll belong to him.
Why would anyone else join us? The bloodsuckers are gone?
I don't know. We'll see. Either way, we need to get her out of the woods. I'm going to phase back. She'll have to be carried home; she's in no shape to walk.
Neither argued with me; they could see in my mind how bad off she was.
You two head home. Let Emily know what's going on. I backed away from the girl and retreated around the tree to phase. Dressing quickly, I returned to her, bending down next to the form that still hadn't so much as twitched.
"Bella? Bella, I'm Sam Uley. I'm a friend of Billy Black. I came to find you and get you home." She offered no indication of awareness. I picked her up and began retracing my path back to her house, keeping a good pace, but slower than I could as a wolf. I was nearly there when I heard soft, heavy footfalls. I looked over to see Paul's grey shape emerge from the darkness, followed by Jared's brown form. He was carrying a backpack, the strap between his teeth. With a toss of his head, it flew to land at my feet. I crouched, balancing Bella, and reached for it. Now dressed in his cut-offs, Paul crouched to help me.
"Cover," he explained, while pulling out a shirt, boots, flashlight, and a GPS unit. "Can't have you walking out of the woods with her in only a pair of shorts. People would notice if a barefoot guy found her with no equipment."
"Good point," I agreed. I passed Bella over to him, and quickly donned the boots and shirt. Reaching to take her back, I saw that her eyes were now open, but were completely dark and empty. My heart clenched—no one alive deserved to carry such an expression. "Might as well get it over with," I suggested. Paul grimaced, but looked down at her, then sighed in relief when nothing happened.
Settling the girl back into my arms and the backpack over my shoulder, I covered the rest of the distance to the Swans' yard, Jared and Paul following me as soon as they'd pulled on the clothes from the pack Jared had carried. When we were clear of the trees, I caught the eye of Harry Clearwater, who was standing next to Charlie Swan and his police cruiser.
"Charlie," Harry said, pointing in my direction. Charlie's eyes followed the gesture, then started running toward me as soon as he registered who I was carrying.
"Sam? How did you find her?" Charlie pulled up next to me, hands reaching out toward his daughter.
"Billy called us out. We got lucky and ran across her. Charlie, we need to get her inside and have a doctor check her out. She's soaked and it looks like she fell down. I didn't feel any broken bones or find any blood, but she hasn't responded to us."
"Thank you, boys," Charlie offered, distractedly, already turning toward the house with Bella now cradled against him.
"No problem," I replied, though I doubted he heard me. Harry nodded in thanks, before turning to follow Charlie, and his nurse-wife Sue, into the house. I saw Billy sitting in his wheelchair nearby, his son Jacob beside him. Jacob looked at the three of us suspiciously, and I wondered again if the girl might be a future imprint, might be Jacob's imprint. However glad I was to have Emily, and Jared to have Kim, neither of us wanted this potential imprinting, not if it meant that another of us would lose control of his life. We lost ourselves in the crowd of searchers heading for their homes, ducking into the dark forest to head home to way we'd come here.
I hope you enjoyed this. I know we didn't see either of our featured pairing in this chapter, but that will come. This just sets things up. I hope to keep a nice and consistent updating schedule with this story. Reviews are welcomed and appreciated.