Chapter 1 "Seasons of My Life"
Disclaimer: Still not SM, sadly. But we hear rumors that she's considering a Jake/Ness story in the future. Huh.
Summary: Part of the "Let Love In" series. Follow up to Losing Control, our Embry and Lillah (original character) fic. Reading LC isn't necessary but we encourage it. ;) Ness decides to go away to college before her best friend Jacob can imprint. But when Jacob finds out she's leaving for Seattle he can no longer keep his secret. Finding out the truth is just the beginning.
A/N: We're sorry about the long authors note *hides* ... we just wanted to get this said.
We know this has been a long time coming but we needed a break after finishing the monster that was Losing Control.
Yes, this chapter is long. So far, this is the longest chapter we've written, but trust us, there is a LOT you need to know about what has led to the start of this story. Ness wants you to know all about who she is, because our girl is not JUST a vampire/human hybrid.
We are so excited to share Jake and Ness' story with you. So we'll stop wasting time and get on with the show. Enjoy, and thank you for sticking with us. We love every single one of you more than we can ever say. We write because we love to. You guys falling in love with these characters is a really big bonus.
Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life
Well, I've been afraid of changing
cause I've built my life around you
"Landslide" - Fleetwood Mac
Ness' Point of View
The second Dad stops the car at the corner of A Street, I know what I'm experiencing isn't real. I'm in that state of unconsciousness where you know you are dreaming but can't wake up. This happens to me often. One of the benefits of my ability is my memories playing back just like they happened in life. It's wonderful when I dream of happy times, but as this is a reoccurring one, I know it isn't the case tonight. This particular memory is from nearly a year ago, but it still ranks as one of the worst days of my life. I see out of my own eyes as the memory plays out in my mind.
I lean over to give Dad a kiss on the cheek then reach for the door handle. I'm so excited for the day ahead that I jump out of the car, my heart thrumming along as I practically skip down the street. Jacob and I are going on a picnic. Alone. I feel my cheeks heating up just considering the possibility of being alone with Jacob. We don't get to do that often these days and I miss spending time with him.
When he called this morning he asked me to meet him at the deli to pick out our food. Mom was a little offended that he didn't ask her to make something for us, but I didn't care. The food doesn't matter to me, all I care about is the company.
Turning the corner, my eyes lock on Jacob. He's tall and muscular; his masculine face handsome with dark, alert eyes and lips that are often graced with a smile. When he looks at me it causes a hitch in my breath. Yes, I am a swoony teenage girl.
Jacob Black means the world to me. He is my best friend, but I wish he was so much more. Although it's only been over the past year that my feelings for him have changed, that year is a large chunk of my life. Even though I look like I'm fifteen or sixteen; technically I'm only a few years old.
I run straight for his open arms as soon as he turns toward me. He pulls me tight against his chest, swinging me around like he always has. I love being wrapped securely in his arms, but as I've gotten older, the enjoyment has changed. As a child, being in Jacob's arms felt safe and comfortable; now there is an odd electric spark that I feel whenever he touches me. When I'm curled into his body, my own feels like it is charged. I'm acutely aware of every millimeter of me that is touching him.
Jacob gently sets me back down, but doesn't release me until I'm steady on my feet. That's when I notice Embry standing beside him on the sidewalk. Or at least, it looks sort of like Embry under that scruffy beard and messy hair. He looks rough.
"Geez Embry, what happened? You look terrible." I am concerned for him; since he, like all of the wolves, is a dear friend of mine. It surprises me when Jacob starts laughing, but I feel a small sense of relief at the sound. Surely it can't be anything too bad if Jacob is enjoying Embry's discomfort.
When I glance his way again, Jacob grins before leaning down, his lips brushing softly against my ear. I feel myself flush, my heart beating so quickly that it sounds like a steady hum in my chest instead of individual beats. I really hope he can't hear what he does to me.
Everything stops at those words; my heart, my breathing, even the blush that was making it's way up my neck pauses. Everything drops to my feet. When Jacob leans back, takes his heat away from me, I'm left with only cold chills of fear. I can hear Embry arguing with Jacob, but I'm so scared I can't focus on what they are saying.
Embry imprinted. It has been so long since anyone imprinted that I assumed it would just never happen for Embry, Leah, Seth, and... Jacob. To me, it was just something I'd heard about- never witnessed. Admittedly, I've always hoped it wouldn't happen to Jacob. I just want to keep him for myself. I've also daydreamed that somehow Jacob would wake up one day and just magically imprint on me. I know that won't happen, imprinting just doesn't work that way, but a girl can still dream.
The hope that our friendship would eventually change into more, into a relationship, is something I've clung to desperately. According to the legends I've heard; not every wolf has to imprint. They can still have long, happy lives with the people they love without imprinting. Considering that my rapid aging has begun tapering off, I thought Jacob and I would make the perfect pair someday. As long as he keeps phasing, he can live forever; just like me.
I'd wanted today, this picnic, to be the start of that change. Instead of the start of something, this day has now dashed any and all hopes I might have had for a relationship with Jacob. If Embry imprinted, then that means any of the other wolves could still imprint. Including Jacob.
I force myself to turn away from Jacob before he realizes how much this news has upset me. Pushing away my own sadness, I focus on the exciting part of the news: Embry has been alone and he deserves someone that makes him happy.
"Who is she, Embry? Anyone I know? May I guess?" I ask my questions quickly, hoping to cover up the hitch in my voice. If Jacob realizes something is wrong he will immediately demand to know what is going on. I can't admit my feelings to him. Talk about embarrassing, especially if he doesn't feel the same way.
It isn't until Embry shrugs that I finally manage to pull myself out of my own thoughts enough to realize something isn't right with my friend. He should be happy, excited to have met this woman that is his soul mate, but he isn't. He looks distressed and he seems...angry, which doesn't make any sense at all. I've never seen Embry angry before.
"You can guess, but you'll never figure it out. Enjoy your picnic you two."
Seeing a friend in pain hurts me. I want to make Embry feel better, make him laugh. Making a snap decision, I run after him, jumping on his back before he steps off the sidewalk. I'm laughing as I lean my face over his shoulder, trying to speak in my best threatening tone, "Tell me who she is or I'll bite you, Embry!"
It works. Embry starts laughing, running down the sidewalk carrying me, shouting over his shoulder, "You wouldn't!"
Joking around like this feels easy and it makes me happy to know I've at least made him laugh. Feeling him relax makes me giggle even harder as I choke out, "I don't want to, but to get the information I want, I will. Just ask Jake, I'm a biter."
Embry stops where he is and I feel him glance back at Jacob. "Is that so?"
I'm confused by the smirk on Embry's face. Then Jacob's eyes dart away, to the ground, and I realize what my words have implied. I didn't mean it in that way, but I'm surprised to see Jacob so uncomfortable. Odd.
Thankfully, Embry doesn't say any more. Once he helps me down he gives me a hug. Nothing like the hug Jacob and I just shared; I don't become a ball of nerves when I hug anyone but My Jacob.
As Embry steps back he huffs out, "Fine, her name is Lillah; she's a friend of Rachel's. Now go enjoy your picnic with Jacob. I've got to go get some work done. And don't tell anyone else!"
I'm not surprised by his admission, more shocked that he wasn't interested in sharing it with me in the first place. Normally you can't get one of these guys to stop talking about his imprint. That Embry even hesitated for a moment confuses me, given what I know about the pack.
I call out after him as he walks away. "Your secret is safe with me, Embry." If there is one thing I'm good at, it's keeping secrets. My biggest secret right now is how deeply I'm in love with my best friend, but secrets have been a part of my whole life. My safety and ability to exist depend on keeping secrets. Even though I will not share this information, I'm still excited to meet his Lillah. "You should bring her to the bonfire on Saturday. I want to meet the woman that stole your heart!"
He doesn't comment, instead shuffling off to his truck. I run back to Jacob, but the excitement I felt earlier has been diminished by Embry's news.
As we wait for our order at the deli, I cautiously press my hand to Jacob's cheek. "Embry didn't seem happy about..." I can't say the word 'imprinting', it hurts too much to even think it. I pull my hand back from his face, afraid I might share more than I plan to given how emotional I am.
He lifts his eyebrow at me but when I don't respond, he shrugs, "He isn't. He thinks he can deny it." Jacob almost sounds like he is growling when he says 'deny'. "As if we could resist that connection." He glances at me then turns away. "It's impossible. He doesn't realize how lucky he is that he can have the one he's meant to be with."
'Impossible' is not what I want to hear. I sit quietly beside Jacob, doing my best not to let him see that something is bothering me. Even though it's Embry that has imprinted, it feels like I'm losing Jacob. Suddenly that application for the University of Washington that Dad placed on my desk last week seems very appealing.
I don't want to be here when Jacob imprints. Better to make a clean break and deal with the pain than drag it out and get hurt even more when he does finally meet her. My mind becomes a whirlwind of my biggest fears and worries. Losing him; seeing him fall in love with someone else. There's no one else I could ever see myself with. That tiny bit of hope I had that he could return those feelings is quickly fading. It will always be Jacob for me, even if he can't reciprocate.
Once we have our order, Jacob leads me out to his old Rabbit. Dad hates that he drives me around in this car, but I love it. He folds his body in, his shoulders brushing mine in the cramped interior. "You ready for a picnic?"
I give him my best smile, but underneath, I'm dying a little. This no longer feels like the almost-date I had envisioned this morning. He drives us to the cliffs, taking my hand and leading me through the forest to his favorite cliff, the very top one. My hand in his has always felt right but lately it feels more intimate.
Jacob sets out a blanket and the food and we settle in. I'm not that hungry, but I choke down a few bites. As he finishes up, he turns to me, grinning. He steals the rest of my food and we slide back into our natural banter, laughing and teasing one another. Even though this is how we have always been, now it feels like I'm pretending. I act like everything is fine, but my heart is gripped with fear. However, Jacob can't know how I feel, it isn't fair to burden him with my emotions once he imprints. I've seen the consequences of that with Sam, Emily, and Leah. I don't want to be like Leah.
I'm pulling myself together when Jacob sits up straight, a serious look on his face. "Ness, there's something I need to tell you."
I wait quietly, nodding for him to go on.
"I imprinted. On Leah."
I gasp for air as I sit up straight. My heart is pounding so hard it feels like it might jump up through my throat. I stretch my hand out, fumbling in the overwhelming darkness for the lamp beside my bed. When the soft glow appears, I'm able to see my room clearly. Being grounded in the safety of my bed, I analyze what just happened.
The memory of learning about Lillah being Embry's imprint and my afternoon with Jacob somehow morphed into a very real nightmare. The picnic Jacob and I had that day ended with us laughing and enjoying one another until the sun started to set. Even with the fear I was losing him after Embry's announcement, once it was just Jacob and I, we slipped back into our usual selves. He never mentioned anything about imprinting, and especially nothing about imprinting on Leah. That particular nightmare was of my own making.
It has become a huge elephant in the room for me since Jacob spends a lot of time with Leah. Of course she's his Beta; but it feels like more. I don't know what they do together and I never ask. I'm too afraid I might hear something that will put a wedge between us. Like how he'd rather be spending time with her.
Grounding myself in reality, I try to focus on all the good things that came out of that day. In less than a year, Embry has gone from wanting to deny his imprint to married and starting a family with Lillah. She did steal his heart; she also has become one of my closest friends. Had he not met and imprinted on Lillah, I wouldn't have her in my life.
My breathing has calmed down, but I'm still freaked out by the trick my mind played on me. I'm thankful for the time to compose myself since neither of my parents came rushing in. My dreams have been getting stranger and more disturbing lately. Between the dreams and the fact that some nights I can't seem to shut my mind off, I haven't had a good nights sleep in a while.
Reaching for my iPod and sketch pad I sink into my favorite thing to do after having one of these nightmares. I begin to empty my mind of all thoughts and I draw.
The room is quiet. I look up from my sketch pad, surprised to find that the black night outside my window has been replaced with the muted greys and soft peach colors of dawn. Glancing down at my iPod, I frown when I realize the cause of the silence; the battery is dead. I didn't check how much battery was left when I grabbed it.
Catching the time on my clock, I calculate how long I've been awake; almost four hours. I'm exhausted after having been awakened by my nightmare. In the past, when I can't sleep, music and drawing soothes me. Not so much recently. I had hoped I would fall back to sleep eventually, but based on the time, sleep won't be happening anytime soon.
Removing the now silent earbuds, I plug the iPod into the charger then carefully tuck my sketch pad back into the hiding spot under my bed. I absolutely refuse to let anyone look at my sketches; they are all too personal, so I hide them away.
Even though dawn is just starting, I know I need to get ready for my Friday morning dance class. Since it's in Seattle, Mom and I have to leave soon to make it there on time. Yawning, I stretch my back and neck muscles, feeling the blood flow return after having spent most of the night hunched over. It's funny how I don't notice that I'm in an uncomfortable position until I've stopped drawing. It's like I'm in a different world.
Drawing is something Grandmama Esme introduced me to early on, giving me my first sketch pad before I was even six months old. Drawing is one of my most cherished gifts. I don't know how she knew I would need a place to record all of my memories but I am thankful she gave me that chance. It's impossible for me to fathom what my mind would be like if I didn't have this outlet.
Somehow all the thoughts and emotions I can't put into words end up in my sketches. One glance at the most recent books and the musings of my heart and mind would be obvious. Jacob.
I can feel my cheeks heat up just thinking his name. Lately I've been filling up more sketch pads than I can count, and every single page is full of him. When I draw, I don't think about what I'm going to draw, I just start. As soon as the pencil touches the paper, it empties my thoughts, just like my hand on someones cheek places my thoughts in their head. I know I've been constantly thinking about him, but seeing those thoughts on paper scares me. There is no doubt what it all means but I can't share it with anyone.
I jump when I hear the front door of the cottage open. When I hear the familiar sounds of my parents entering I relax. They must have been hunting while they thought I was sleeping. I'm sure they now know I'm not sleeping, but I'm guessing Mom has managed to stop Dad from rushing in to check on me. I love my parents dearly but my father has a tendency to hover and be...slightly...overprotective.
I pull on leggings and a loose fitting shirt before packing my dance bag. Moving to the bathroom, I brush my teeth and hair then wash my face. As I walk out into the living room, I find my parents on the couch, both reading a book. Mom has her head in his lap and Dad is idly stroking her hair with his free hand. The sight of them like this makes me smile softly. It's always so clear how much they love one another.
Mom glances up at me only when I'm standing in front of the couch. As soon as she takes in every detail of my face with a quick glance, her normally soft golden eyes become alert. "You've been awake for a while, haven't you?"
I shrug, not wanting to make a big deal over my lack of sleep. Mom gives me one last glance before closing her book and sitting up. I sigh in relief, knowing she won't push me any further. She is very unlike my father in that respect. He does not willingly allow me to defer his attentions when he knows something is bothering me.
Mom places a kiss on his lips then stands next to me. "You ready?" she asks, her smile bright on her beautiful, pale face. I nod my head, returning her smile before leaning down to kiss Dad's cheek.
As I pull back, he whispers to me, "Are you sure you're ok?" I hold back my sigh. I should have just waited for Mom at the car. I knew I wouldn't make it out of the house without him asking me as well.
I can see the frustration on his face. He's accustomed to everyone being an open book to him. However, Mom has been shielding my mind from him for most of my life. Times like these, when I'm so overwhelmed that I'm not even sure what I'm feeling, I'm grateful for the privacy she provides me.
"I'm fine," I respond automatically before standing up, giving him my best smile. Dad narrows his eyes at me, but I know my mind is still guarded when he glances over at my mother. She gives him a smile and a nod before her hand grasps mine.
"Come on, Renesmee. You can nap in the car. Goodbye my love, we'll see you later."
I wave at Dad as we leave the cottage and head for the garage. Once we are settled, she turns on the sound system, keeping the volume low, then smiles over at me. "Close your eyes and rest. We'll be there soon."
I nod, appreciative of her understanding. I quickly fall asleep, the music and hum of the engine drowning out the memory of the nightmare that kept me awake most of the night.
The day flies by, the repetition of perfecting new dance moves distracting me from my worries. When I walk out of the Pacific Northwest Ballet school, I feel much more relaxed. While I'm not physically exhausted, I'm mentally drained. It takes my total and complete focus to hold myself back so no one notices that I'm not completely human. After hours of considering every move I make, I can't think beyond putting one foot in front of the other to walk out of the dance studio.
Mom is patiently waiting for me in the car at the curb. As I get settled, I pull my phone out to check for any messages. I'm a little surprised to see no one has contacted me today, especially Lillah. Ever since I started taking lessons at the ballet studio she has been hounding me for details about the teachers and what I've learned. Her lack of communication today worries me, given her very pregnant condition.
"Everything ok?" Mom asks as she takes off.
Touching her face, I ask if she's heard anything about Lillah. I'm hoping maybe Jacob contacted her while I was in class. That hope is dashed by the subtle frown on her face, "No, I'm sorry. How is she doing?"
Embry and Lillah's first baby is due any day now but no one can be sure when the time will come. I've even asked Aunt Alice if she can tell, but since Embry is almost constantly around Lillah, she has a hard time seeing around the blindness his wolf side causes her.
Recalling my last visit with Lillah, I recount what she told me to Mom, "As of yesterday she was feeling great, but no sign of labor yet."
Mom nods in understanding. "How's Embry doing?"
"Honestly?" Mom gives me a weird look, which makes me giggle a little. "I know he means well, but he's gotten a little crazy with the hovering. He's stopped phasing and rarely leaves Lillah's side."
A breathy "Oh" escapes Mom's mouth before a far off expression takes over her face. I'm assuming she's thinking about another birth, another worried father that wouldn't leave his wife's side. I've heard stories of my mother's pregnancy and my own birth more times than I can count. My father, it would seem, started his hovering over me before I was in the world.
Mom shakes her head briefly then smiles over at me, "That must be why Jacob seemed so exhausted when your father and I saw him this morning."
This surprises me. Jacob doesn't patrol in the mornings, especially as early as Mom and Dad were out. That should have been Leah, Seth, Jared, or Sam. When I ask the question of Mom, she smiles at me, "I was surprised to see him too. He said he was helping Sam cover for Jared so he could be with Kim and Connor."
"That was sweet of him," I mumble. Jared's wife and imprintee, Kim, just had their first baby a few weeks ago. Jacob took me over to see them last week. Kim was doing great and even mentioned attending the bonfire tomorrow night. Of course, Connor, their son, is adorable. Soft black hair covering his head and chubby little cheeks. He reminded me of Sam and Emily's little Eli when he was born. The baby epidemic amongst the pack would be funny; but it's hard to laugh when it's so obvious these children are wanted and adored.
"It was sweet, but he seemed a little cranky about it." Mom winks at me. "I'm guessing he's having to cover for Embry too. Downside of being the Chief!" Mom and I both snicker at the nickname she gave Jacob years ago. Technically he is the Chief and the pack Alpha, but he hates to be called that, so Mom loves to rub it in his face every chance she gets. It drives him nuts.
Once our laughter subsides, she quickly returns to the reason for our conversation, "Give Lillah a call if you are worried. I'm sure she won't mind."
Mom's right. I probably won't get to see Lillah today and I am concerned about her. The decision made, I select Lillah's smiling face next to her phone number on my cell. When the phone picks up I'm surprised to hear Embry's deep voice answering.
"Embry? Is everything ok?" I ask, sitting up straight and worrying at my bottom lip with my teeth.
Before he can say anything, I hear Lillah in the background, "Embry, give me that! I can talk on the phone, baby!"
There is a shuffling then Embry grumbles, "Hold on." I just barely manage to contain my giggle at his surliness.
As Embry hands Lillah the phone, I can hear her speaking to him, "I love you, but you need to relax." Lillah's voice is not reprimanding or harsh; it's soothing and light. They counterbalance one another so well.
I hear Embry sigh as his voice drifts farther away, "I just want you and Halona safe."
Embry and Lillah found out a few months ago they are having a baby girl. If Embry was excited before, that piece of information sent him over the moon, and over the edge into uber-protective-daddy-mode.
Lillah's light laughter fills my ears. She sounds so happy, just as she has every day since she and Embry married. The joy in her voice makes me smile. "Hi Ness, how was dance?"
We launch into a quick conversation about my day then Lillah updates me on the little one. Nothing has changed since I visited her last night. "We had a check up today and the doctor said if we don't have any action this weekend, she'll induce Monday," she finishes. I can hear the overwhelming excitement and nerves in my friend's voice.
I squeak out a little sound of surprise. Now that they have a semi-date it makes it even more real. I can just barely hear Lillah murmur, "I know. She'll be here soon." I imagine her looking down at her belly, smiling. This news would explain why Embry is even more anxious now. I bet he's almost bald.
There is a commotion in the background and Lillah sighs, but I can hear the laughter in her voice as well. "I better go. Embry is trying to put sheets on the crib. I really don't know why he's bothering when she's not going to sleep upstairs for at least a few months." I snicker along with Lillah before we say our goodbyes. I feel much better when I click "end" on my phone.
"Monday?" Mom asks. I know she heard my entire conversation, but she still allows me to tell her the details.
"If not sooner. She's so perky," I tell her, shaking my head in exasperation. "I don't see how she does it. Her stomach is-" I pause and hold a hand up to Mom's face, showing her images of my time with Lillah yesterday.
Mom grins as I pull my hand back, "Yes, I see what you mean. She really is a lovely woman, and so perfect for Embry."
I nod in agreement. I once told Lillah that she and Embry remind me of my parents. They just seem to understand and compliment each other. While there were a lot of things they had to work through to get to where they are now, they support one another and their love is unconditional. I sometimes wonder if I will ever have that for myself or if I'm eternally going to be this third-wheel.
Mom's thumb presses gently in-between my eyes, "What's going on in there?"
I give her a smile then show her the comparison I was making between her and Dad and Lillah and Embry. She gives me a soft smile, commenting on a thought I didn't share with her, "You will have that some day."
Shrugging, I don't respond. Mom sighs then changes the subject, "How was dance?"
As we speed toward home, I show her my day. While I'm able to verbalize, around my family and Jacob, I still prefer to use my ability to communicate. It is just my way, but I do try to talk more now, especially since I've grown so close with some of the imprints.
I breeze through a review of my morning ballet class. As much as it is my favorite class, I don't have a lot to share with Mom. My time in class flies by because I completely throw myself into the positions. It is another way to escape the thoughts constantly floating through my brain. I thoroughly enjoy dancing, especially ballet.
"Ivy says my quatrieme devant is improving," I tell her quietly, my voice coming out in a whisper of embarrassment. I pause in my flashbacks when she glances over at me.
She reaches up and runs a finger along my cheek. "It looks lovely. You are so much more graceful than I ever was." Her words make me giggle a little. Uncle Emmett loves to tease and share Mom's human mishaps every chance he gets.
She gives me a huge grin when I show her a flash of Ivy, my teacher, and I out at lunch. Her grin turns to slight concern when I get to the part where Ivy tried to convince me to audition for the Professional Division classes. Mom raises an eyebrow at me but I tell her about my turning Ivy down, again. Mom smiles, understanding that while I enjoy dance, it isn't my passion. I don't have the desire to dance professionally.
We are zooming through Port Angeles just as I wrap up, showing Mom some of the more interesting moves from my afternoon modern dance class.
She gives me a happy smile and pats my leg, "I'm so glad you've made a friend in Seattle. Ivy seems really great."
I give a quick nod in agreement, but don't comment. We fall into a comfortable silence as we get closer to Forks. I'm constantly amazed that my mother has been so willing to give up one day each week this year to take me to Seattle and back for dance. I shouldn't be surprised, I remind myself; my entire family supports and encourages my love of the arts. Even Grandpa Charlie will put on a tie to come support me at a recital.
My family aside, I'm often overwhelmed by the support I receive from my best friend. I know Jacob doesn't care for the arts, but he is always there with me. When I was younger, I never questioned why he joined us on trips all around the world. As I've gotten older, I've wondered more and more about Jacob's true motivation. Even when he is standing right beside me, doubts about whether he is there for me or my mother jump to the forefront of my mind. Once upon a time she was his best friend. As much as he is my best friend now, I can't help but to wonder if the reverse is true for him. They had a special bond, but I'm not sure if he ever moved on.
I almost want to laugh at myself for all these suspicions I have about Jacob. First Leah, now my mom. The problem is, as much time as I spend with him, I don't know what he does when he's away from me, or what he's thinking about when he's with me. He's my best friend, but we don't discuss things like who he's seeing; he doesn't mention it and I'm afraid to ask. I've never known of him to go on a date, but I'm sure he has; he's just never talked to me about it.
Geez, my mind is all over the place.
As we exit out of the Olympic National Park, I notice Mom is watching me closely. Wanting to distract her from whatever she might have seen on my face, I ask her how the rest of our family is doing, knowing she visits them while I'm in class.
Mom hesitates for half a second, almost like she's considering whether to answer or push back for answers from me. Finally her face breaks out into a happy smile. She tells me stories of their antics, especially uncle Emmett. I miss him and the others so much it makes my chest ache. It feels like forever since they moved away. I wish I had more time to spend with them too.
As we speak, I'm reminded once again how very lucky I am to have such amazing friends and family. They are the only ones that know the real me, what I am; but they don't treat me any differently. No matter what happens in the future, I know my friends and family love me unconditionally.
I'm curious when Mom stops the car in front of the main house instead of going to the garage. I brush her cheek with my fingertips, my question asked in the moment my skin touches hers. She just smiles at me, "Your father is up here, but I don't know why."
She's out of the car in a flash while I move a little more slowly. As a half human my speed isn't quite the same as the rest of my family's. I've also been trying to work on humanizing myself more.
I can hear Mom and Dad speaking in the hushed tone they use so often, so I take my time. As much as I know they both love me, there are times I feel like my presence is interrupting them. They were married such a short amount of time before my birth. I sometimes wonder if they wish they'd had more time alone. Of course, neither of them would ever admit that. In fact, I can almost hear Dad shouting his denial. They are still a pair of newlyweds though, and sometimes it's just gross, so I try to give them a little extra time alone.
"Welcome home Renesmee. How was dance?" I hear Dad's greeting before I even reach the door. When I walk in, he's sitting at his piano with Mom leaning into his side. He's wearing a smile on his face. He's always so happy to see me come home. I love him more than he can possibly imagine.
I move swiftly to his other side, touching his cheek as we hug, showing him the abridged version of my day. As much as I appreciate him staying out of my head I do love sharing things with him. It is a contradiction, to be sure, but I like knowing that I can share only the stuff I want to show him. He seems thrilled when I freely give him a glimpse into my day.
Once I finish, he releases me, but brushes his hand against my cheek, "Of course you are talented, how could you not be?" I pause, hesitating just a second before lightly touching his cool cheek again. I'm curious as to why he's at the main house. He smirks when he sees my question. "Seth is meeting me here. I have a surprise for him."
My curiosity must show on my face because he answers me without my asking this time. "He'll be here shortly. You can find out the surprise when he does. Until then, why don't you go look in the kitchen. A package arrived for you."
I can plainly see the huge white envelope sitting on the counter as soon as I walk into the kitchen. As I get closer, it's obviously addressed to me. Once I pick the package up, the large purple "W" is all I see. This is from the University of Washington. My stomach twists up into knots.
I take my time opening the envelope, both excited and dreading what is inside. I carefully pull the contents out, setting everything on the smooth marble. I go piece-by-piece, reading every slip of paper, every brochure included. It only takes me a few minutes to go through it all, but it feels like a lifetime.
This is my freshman welcome packet from the University of Washington. It has all the information on my classes, freshman orientation, and a reminder that I am not signed up for on-campus housing. The realization that time has flown so fast hits me and knocks the breath from my chest. I knew it was coming but it seemed far off in the distant future.
I filled out the application after I found out Embry had imprinted. As time went by and nothing changed for Jacob and I, I forgot about that snap decision. That is until I received my letter of acceptance a few months ago. My parents were so proud and excited, they began making plans for our move right away. I managed to push leaving for Seattle to the back of my mind; trying to avoid the inevitable under the guise that I had plenty of time to tell my friends about my departure from Forks. It was always "eventually" to me.
In my mind I knew I had to tell them but my heart wouldn't allow it. Even though I'm excited to reunite with my family in Seattle, leaving my friends behind hurts more than I ever imagined it would. Now that it is all in front of me I feel myself begin to panic inside. At the same time, my heart breaks, knowing I can't put this off any longer. I have to tell them I'm leaving. I have to tell Jacob; I know I will miss him more than anyone. Will he miss me?
I feel someone behind me before I hear a sound. Inhaling deeply I catch the familiar scent of my mother. Her presence relaxes me immediately, as it always has. The weight of her hand lands on my shoulder. Neither of us speaks until I'm able to gather my emotions and turn to her.
"Have you told anyone?" her musical voice is sympathetic.
I shake my head, unable to speak around the bubble of emotions still stuck in my throat. What would I say? How do you tell your best friend goodbye? I know it's just a few hours to Seattle, Mom and I just made the drive today, but it's not the same. Jacob can come over here any time. I won't see him, or any of my friends from the tribe, like I do now, on a whim.
Mom brushes my hair behind my ears before I feel her thumb touch the very corner of my eye. When I look up, she's frowning. "You know you don't have to do this? You don't have to leave if you don't want to."
Taking a deep breath I try to vocalize what I'm feeling. "I want to go. It's an amazing opportunity. I just don't want to leave-," I cut myself off, not wanting to speak the name on the tip of my tongue.
Mom doesn't say anything, just nods her head in understanding and pulls me into a hug. After a few moments of silence she leans back and gives me a hopeful smile. "Esme has found your father and I a house just a few miles from campus. That way we'll be close to you, but you can still have your own place."
I force my head to move up and down. I know the entire family is anxious to have us in Seattle. Ever since Granddaddy Carlisle and Grandmama Esme moved there after my first birthday, the rest of the family has slowly followed them. The only reason we are still here is because of Grandpa Charlie and my friends. The people of Forks have no clue I'm the daughter of Edward and Bella Cullen. If it were to ever come out, even as a rumor... I shudder at the thought. That is one of the reasons we should go soon.
"You need to tell your friends. It won't get any easier if you keep waiting." Mom's lips press softly against my temple before she moves back slowly. "Why don't you run upstairs and change? I'll make sure your father doesn't tell Seth his surprise until you get back." I glance down at my clothes, surprised to see I'm still wearing my dance gear. My morning seems like a lifetime ago.
Mom is gone before I can respond. I take a couple of deep, calming breaths before going upstairs. I head for Aunt Alice's bedroom, since she is the closest in size to me. I pass over all of her high fashion clothes, instead reaching for her hidden stash of shabby-chic. I'm pretty sure she stocks this portion of her closet just for me. I don't come to the main house often, but every time I do, the perfect outfit is waiting.
There is a pair of floral print shorts, a simple tank top, and a loose fitting sweater; I grab everything and run to the shower. Once I'm clean, I quickly towel dry my hair, get dressed then head downstairs. Just as I reach the bottom step, Seth comes walking through the front door.
Every time I see him, I can't help smiling. Seth has this easy, light quality about him that draws everyone in. It seems that no matter what is going on, he is always laughing and enjoying life. Seth is very handsome but somehow that is always an afterthought for me. When I look at him, all I see is my friend. As close as he and I are, I've never felt a spark with him. Never been drawn to him. Not like I am with Jacob.
Seth grins wide at me as I cross the living room to him. "Hey Ness! The countdown is on! Forty-two days."
He pulls me into a tight hug before I can ask him what he means. Once he releases me I manage to gasp out, "Forty-two days until what?"
He looks shocked, "Your birthday, of course! It's all Jacob thinks about."
I hear my father give a soft "Hmph", but when I look up at him, his face is perfectly calm. I glance back at Seth when I hear him laughing loudly. I give him a questioning look but he just shakes his head at me. Must have been something Dad read in Seth's head. Neither of them says more so I let it go.
Dad grabs Seth's attention again and directs him to his piano, where there are now two large boxes set on top. Odd. I don't know why he would be giving Seth a gift.
"What's all this, Edward? My birthday isn't for a few more months." Seth elbows me lightly when I move to stand next to him.
"This is your surprise. Go ahead, open it." Dad steps away from the piano, moving to wrap his arms around Mom. The both have huge smiles on their faces. Whatever this is, they are excited to share it with Seth. Dad looks like a kid on Christmas morning. It's so funny for me to see him with Seth; you would never know that "technically" they are natural enemies. They act like best friends.
After Seth opens the first box, I peer around his arm, placing my hand on his shoulder. All I see is what looks like a picture frame. Seth lifts it up slowly then turns to Dad, "Are you kidding me? You actually pulled it off?"
"I more than pulled it off. Open the other box." There's a hint of satisfaction and smugness in Dad's voice.
I'm still trying to see what the first box contained when Seth opens the second. "Seriously, Edward. This is too much."
"It's not too much, you earned it. I've never seen anyone so dedicated to studying. I don't know how you managed everything. With patrolling, working and your assignments; I was thoroughly impressed."
Seth moves to shake Dad's hand and I finally have a clear shot. Within the two boxes it looks like there are framed degrees. Looking closer I can see they are from the University of Washington. The first is a Bachelors degree in Education. The second is a Bachelors degree in History.
I'm stunned. I knew Dad had been working to get Seth some sort of accreditation but I never thought he'd actually get him two degrees. Of course, Dad is right, Seth definitely deserves it. For the past two years, when he wasn't patrolling or working, he was here. Dad taught him early on, then he brought in Granddaddy Carlisle and Uncle Jasper as needed for additional "course" work. Seth had wanted an education but wasn't interested in leaving the reservation.
I'm brought out of my musings when I hear Dad say, "I'm just glad they arrived now. I was worried they wouldn't get here before we left."
My head shoots up at his words. Oh no.
Seth laughs, "Oh yeah? You and Bella going away for your anniversary?"
I see Dad glance at Mom then turn to me. Dad clears his face then gives Seth a tight smile, "We are going away for our anniversary, but that's not exactly what I meant."
Seth stops smiling, his head now bouncing between looking at my parents and looking at me. Dad and I are having a staring match. Finally Seth asks, "What exactly do you mean, Edward?"
My father gives a soft exhale then looks at me, "I'll let Renesmee explain." Of course he will.
I suddenly want to stomp my foot in frustration and shout, "This was all your idea," but manage to bite my tongue.
Clapping Seth's back, Dad shakes his hand again, congratulating him. Mom gives Seth a huge hug, exclaiming how proud she is of him. They slowly back out of the room, leaving Seth and I alone. The room is quiet, neither of us saying anything. I'm trying to figure out what to say, how to explain this to him.
Seth starts pacing across the huge white living room, his dark form blurred by the tears stinging my eyes. He finally stops, but I can't read his face through my watery eyes.
"Tell me it's just them. That only Edward and Bella are leaving." He sounds pleading and desperate. I don't know why he's getting so emotional, but I can't worry about that right now. His words are like a fist clenching my heart. My hand moves to rub my suddenly sore chest; as much as I've been dreading telling my friends, I never would have imagined experiencing physical pain. I just barely manage to shake my head back and forth to answer his question.
"How soon? Were you going to tell any of us or just leave in the middle of the night?" Seth pauses, giving me a chance to respond. Just as I decide what I'm going to say he speaks again. This time his words are soft, worried, "Have you told Jacob?" Why did he have to go for the jugular?
However, his question confuses me. I can tell Seth is upset about the idea of us leaving, but he almost seems more upset that Jacob doesn't know. Why is Seth worried about my telling Jacob more than any of my other friends? I'm finally able to speak as my confusion at his reaction pushes aside the lump in my throat, "Not yet, but I will. It's really not that big of a deal, though. I'm going to attend the University of Washington. We're just moving to Seattle."
"It is a big deal, Ness." Seth shoves his hand through his wild hair. He takes a deep breath, then steps right in front of me so I have to crane my neck to look up at him. "Ness, your friends deserve to know this. Especially Jacob."
I feel my confusion morph to irritation. I know why Jacob is so important to me, but I don't get Seth's insistence. "I agree my friends need to know, but I really don't see why Jacob is so special. I doubt he'll even miss me." I know my words sound bitter and childish, but I can't help myself. I'm sure he won't have a problem finding someone else to hang out with when I'm gone. Like Leah.
Seth is now the one looking confused, "Ness, I don't know what's going on with you, but trust me, it will kill Jacob if you leave."
My heart jumps at Seth's words but I can't be pulled in. The reason I'm leaving is because I can't be here when Jacob imprints, or falls in love with someone. Through my pain, one of my many doubts about Jacob escapes. "He has Leah to comfort him." As soon as the words leave my mouth they feel petty. This is the first time I've spoken this fear aloud to anyone else, but I already regret my words.
Seth takes a small step back, his eyes widening as he moves. Once he stops, his eyes roam over my face then he starts laughing. Loudly. He doubles over, one hand gripping his side while the other slaps his thigh.
"What is so funny?" I ask, completely annoyed by this reaction. My hands curl into fists.
"YOU!" he gasps out. He takes a few minutes to compose himself. When he manages to stand up straight and minimize his laughter to a random outburst, he responds in full. "You are what is so funny. You don't actually think there is something going on between Jacob and my sister, do you?"
I clench my teeth together, not wanting to answer him; so, I just shrug. Yes, Leah is Jacob's second in command, so of course they would be close. However, recently I've noticed they have some sort of a special connection. He never talks about her to me, which makes me even more suspicious of what might be going on between them.
Lately I've sent him texts or called him and he hasn't respond. When I've asked him about it, he shrugs it off, explaining he was taking care of something with Leah. Also, he doesn't know it, but I've seen the texts she sends him.
Got a minute?
Can we talk?
You coming over?
The one that hurt my heart more than Jacob can ever know came last week while we were watching a movie.
As soon as it appeared on his phone, Jacob jumped up and was out the door, barely saying goodbye to me before he ran to her. I had to keep reminding myself I don't have a hold on him. He's free to go to Leah if he wants to. I don't even want to know what they do together.
I can feel jealousy building up in me again. I hate feeling like this, but the idea of Jacob with Leah makes my stomach hurt. I'm even more upset that Jacob probably doesn't feel the same way; that his heart wouldn't break at the thought of me with someone else. Not that he has any reason to be jealous. I'm never around guys that live outside of the reservation. And most of those guys are attached.
Seth laughing again grabs my attention. When he pulls himself together, he returns to my side, dropping his arm on my shoulder. "They are just friends, I promise."
I want to disagree with him, tell him about the texts I've seen, but Seth starts chuckling before I can say anything. "Besides," he says, once again gasping for air around his mirth, "my sister is too much for Jacob to handle. I'm not sure there is a man alive that can take her on."
He pauses, then grins down at me, composed again, "Trust me, there's as much going on between Leah and Jacob as there is going on between you and I."
His words make me stop and I bristle at them. As I consider what he just said, I step out from under his arm. My feet carry me over to the sofa without my thinking about it. I look up at Seth again, trying to see beyond someone I've been friends with all my life. He's right, nothing is going on between the two of us. Why is that?
While he was here studying with my dad, we shared "classes" together, Dad splitting his time between the two of us easily. After a while, Seth started arriving before Dad told him to or sticking around after lessons were done. We even started hanging out when we didn't have classes. Nothing big, just talking to one another, commiserating over Dad's teaching style, being friends.
Talking led to text messages, and I found myself texting Seth as much as I was Jacob. More even. Seth confided in me that he hadn't told anyone about taking lessons with Dad. Because of that, I felt like he and I were in some sort of exclusive club; the only two people in the world that could understand each other.
In all that time, though, never once did I see Seth as anything more than just a good friend. What is the difference between Seth and Jacob? They are both wonderful friends that I can't bear to lose. Both are handsome, strong, smart men that any girl would be lucky to know. I have fun with them, they both get me. There's no big reason I can put my finger on for why I don't have feelings for Seth.
I'm speaking before I know what I'm going to say. "Why isn't there anything going on between you and I?"
"What?" Seth gasps, his nose wrinkling like he just caught a foul smell in the air.
I'm taken aback by this reaction, but I soldier on, trying to understand. "I just mean- we are good friends. I like you. We get along great. Neither of us is- with anyone..." My words slowly taper off as I lose my courage to speak. This might be a mistake. I probably shouldn't have brought it up now, but I'm struck with the need to figure out the difference.
Seth's shoulders drop as he exhales slowly. He moves to sit next to me. He's quiet, examining his hands for a minute or two. Finally, he looks up at me, but his normally joyful eyes are sad. "I like you too, Ness, but we just aren't like that."
I have to look away from him. I don't want to see him looking so sad, especially when it comes to discussing having any level of interest in me. It should hurt me to know that he doesn't feel anything for me, but all I feel is relief. Why do neither of us feel anything for the other? As much as I know it pains Seth to talk about this, I press on, needing to understand. I know I'm thinking in circles, avoiding the real issues, but I can't stop myself.
"How do you know?" My voice is barely above a whisper, but I know Seth can hear me.
Seth taps my shoulder. I turn my head but I can't look him in the eye. Instead, I examine his hands now. "I just know, Ness. I'm not the wolf for you."
"You could be," before the words are out I know I'm wrong, but I say them anyway. My desire to understand, to figure out what the difference is between my friendship with Seth and my feelings for Jacob pushes me past my lack of attraction to Seth.
Seth moves one hand slowly up. I follow the movement until I'm looking into his eyes. He gives me a smile; not sad, but sure of his words. "But I'm not."
I want to argue with him, but my heart says he's right. I wage an internal battle with myself. While I don't feel for Seth like I feel for Jacob, he's still a good friend, still a good man. Why couldn't he be right for me? It would be so simple. Maybe it would stop this constant confusion.
A few of my questions spill out of my mouth without me realizing it. "Have you ever been in love?"
I clap my hand over my mouth, trying to stop talking. Seth grins wide before he taps his temple with his finger, "No, but I've seen enough of it in my head."
Right. Wolf mind share. Seth has seen almost all of his brethren imprint. That's not the same though the rational part of my mind screams. I need proof. Something that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is nothing between Seth and I. That it's not even a possibility. Clearly, I am grasping at straws, looking for reasons, but I can't seem to let this go. I have to know.
Pulling myself together, I sit up straight, looking Seth in the eye. I don't blink as I make my request for proof. "What if we kissed? Just to make sure there isn't anything between us." I know it's a ridiculous request but I can't help but make it.
Seth cringes, even going so far as to stand up from the couch. He starts pacing again. He stops beside the piano then turns to me, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Why? You like me!" I want to stomp my foot. Is there something wrong with me? Seth won't even kiss me? Am I that repulsive to him?
Seth is calm as he speaks, making me feel like a child throwing a temper tantrum. "Yes I do, as a friend, but Ness, I can't do that. You should talk to Jacob. We both know it's not me you want."
"We can't always have what we want." My frustration changes to anger. He doesn't say anything more, just stands there calmly while I flip out internally. I want to throw something at him just to get a reaction. Instead, I throw my words at him, "Besides, it doesn't matter what I want, it will never happen. If you aren't the guy for me, there's no way Jacob ever could be. He only sees me as a kid... a friend."
Seth remains quiet. As the silence stretches on, my anger subsides as quickly as it flared up. As rational thought kicks in again, I try to consider another course of action to understand the differences. Pleading. Possibly that will work.
"I leave for school in less than two months. Please, won't you help me? I can't go off to college without being kissed. You are the only one who can help me." Wait. What am I doing?
He continues to give me the silent treatment and adds in a roll of his eyes for good measure. Finally though, he crosses the living room back to the sofa. I don't look up at him when he stops in front of me. My heart is pounding at the possibility that he might consider my request. I need to understand why Seth can't be more than my friend. To know why Jacob can't be either. I don't move though, afraid if I do so it will be to push him away. While my brain is wanting proof, my heart is screaming out that all of this is wrong.
I see him bend at the waist then I feel something brush the top of my head. He steps back, smiling down at me. "Sorry Ness, that's the best you'll get out of me. I'm not the only one who can help you, and you know it. Just- talk to Jacob. About college, going away, this kiss thing. Trust me, he will want to know all of it. That's the most help I can give you."
He turns to the door after grabbing his newly acquired degrees but stops before he walks out. Seth's normal huge smile is back in place. As upset as I am right now, it makes me feel better that our conversation doesn't seem to have made him feel awkward at all.
"Hey! I forgot to tell you! My mom finally invited Charlie to the bonfire. He's going to be there tomorrow night."
"Really?" This surprises me out of my funk. Grandpa Charlie and Sue have been close forever, but he has never attended a bonfire.
Seth chuckles, "Yep! That won't be awkward at all." Seth's sarcasm even manages to make me crack a smile. "Just think, if they ever get married, you'll be my step-niece, or something like that."
"Oh, now that would be awkward," I give him my best fake smile.
He grins back at me in return, "No, what would be really awkward would be having your vampire mother as my step-sister. Talk about uncomfortable family gatherings!"
Seth winks at me before heading out the door. Of course, I know he's kidding. I feel like I'm a part of the tribe because of my close friendship with everyone. The same is true for Seth; he is practically another member of my vampire family.
Unable to sit up straight any longer, I sag into the couch. I feel the tears I managed to keep at bay slide down my cheek. I feel bad for pushing Seth like I did. I know he doesn't feel that way for me, just like I don't feel anything more than friendship for him. My mind is so full of questions and I have no answers for any of them. Stupid overactive half vampire brain.
As my tears fall faster, I grow more upset with myself. I didn't want to kiss Seth. What I really want, what I've been thinking about for months, is to kiss Jacob. What if I had kissed Seth? My nose wrinkles at just the thought. That would have been...bad. What would I have said to Jacob? Because, of course, Jacob would have found out; with the wolf mind link and all.
I pause in my crying as I consider this. What would Jacob do if he ever found out? While I didn't kiss Seth, I wonder if I had kissed Seth if it would have made Jacob jealous? I'm torn between hoping Jacob never finds out about my embarrassing display and hoping he does find out and is wracked with envy. Not that I want him to go after Seth. Clearly, this was not of Seth's doing. No, I want him to be jealous of me asking Seth. So jealous-.
I sigh, my tears starting up again. I'm being ridiculous. Jacob just doesn't see my that way. He's my best friend, always has been, and hopefully, always will be.
Mom comes to check on me a short time later. She asks me question after question but I just can't answer her right now. I'm exhausted and embarrassed.
When she catches on that I don't want to talk about what happened, she just sits beside me, letting me cry myself out. Once I'm done, she takes my hand, leading me back to the cottage. We don't say anything on our walk, she just hums a song.
She pauses at the front door, giving me a quick hug. She whispers against my ear, "If you want to talk, I'll always be here for you."
Fresh tears sting my eyes, but I manage to push them back as I nod. Dad isn't in the living room when we walk in, so I use the opportunity of his absence to straighten myself up. I move quickly to the bathroom.
Once I've wiped all the tear streaks away, I wet a washcloth with cool water then move into my bedroom. I close the door and sink into my waiting bed. I drape the washcloth over my eyes, hoping it will reduce some of the swelling from my crying.
I close my eyes, needing a little rest after my long day. Plus, Jacob will be here shortly for our weekly movie night. I need to look as calm and relaxed as possible, because I now have one more secret to keep; he can't find out what happened with Seth.
I am a big idiot.
A/N: So, there you have it. We are off on the journey of another story. Hope you enjoyed!
If you haven't yet, head on over to our page on FFN (www[dot]fanfiction[dot]net/~stupidleeches) and check out the "Drawn to You" preview we posted in the "Let Love In Series Outtakes" story (Chapter 7). It's Jacob's point of view of an event in "Losing Control" but it gives you a little insight into his mind. Hold you over until next time.
Speaking of next time, our plan is to post every other Tuesday. As much as we loved posting every week, given how hectic life & work has been for both of us, we don't want to over promise & under deliver. So, we'll see you in two weeks with Jacob's POV.
DON'T FORGET, IF YOU HAVE PRIVATE MESSAGES TURNED OFF, WE CAN'T REPLY TO YOUR REVIEW!