Hey Hey Hey! So I know. It's been a while. But better late than never. Enjoy lovelies!
I own nothing.
"Hmmm Hmmm Hmmmm" Bella hummed a soft tune in her head.
She was sitting in the middle of her living room floor wrapping presents. Her mother was in the kitchen fixing tea and Alice and Paul were in her room coloring. She had banned them both from the room because neither could keep a secret and Bella didn't want the surprises of everyone's presents ruined.
Her mother came in and Bella heard the thud of the mug hit the table next to her.
Her mother rummaged through the pile of boxes.
"Remote control helicopter?"
Bella smiled. "Quil"
Her mother laughed. "That fits."
Her mother signed the tag and helped Bella tape the paper over the box.
Though Bella was enjoying the time with her mother, she couldn't help but feel anxious. Someone was watching them. She didn't know who, or what, or why, but she could feel it. And it was getting closer.
Bella sat straight up.
"Hey mom would you go up to the house and get the metallic bows? I want a green one to put on the silver paper."
Her mother smiled, delighted her daughter had inherited her love for design.
"Sure sweetheart. I'll be right back! Oh and the camera is the box to your right side."
Bella smiled sheepishly. "Thanks mom."
Bella waited until she heard her mother's hum disappear up the hall to the main house.
As soon as she was far enough away, Bella unfolded herself off the floor and threw the afghan off the couch over the unwrapped presents.
"Paul!" she called, moving to the front windows and trying her hardest to look outside at what she knew should be a peaceful afternoon with fresh fallen snow on the ground.
He appeared beside her in seconds, Alice in his arms.
Bella didn't respond for a moment and Paul finally noticed the tension in her shoulders.
He shuffled Alice to put an arm around Bella, pulling her in closer to the safety he offered.
"Paul," she whispered breathily, "there's someone out there."
His back went ramrod straight. "Which direction?"
"Through the trees. Up high Paul, like in the trees."
He slid Alice down his body and she immediately attached herself to Bella's leg, sensing she needed to be close.
"Stay inside" he growled as he shucked off his shirt and threw it in the basket by the front door.
Bella led Alice over to the couch and let her continue wrapping presents for the boys. Bella sat in the chair petting Alice's hair. Bella turned her head up with a plastered on smile as her mother reinterred the room.
"I found the green bows that will be a perfect match for the silver paper you have!"
Bella smiled with fake enthusiasm. "That's great. Though I doubt any of the guys will notice if the bows match." She laughed.
Her mother smiled. "Alice will, wont you honey?"
As Alice assured Esme that she would make sure someone noticed the pretty bows and chatted about other random things, Bella turned her head toward the window.
She could still feel the eyes. They were watching. And Paul still wasn't back.
Bella stayed at the window as her mother and Alice finished up wrapping the few presents left.
As soon as the last bow and ribbon was tied her mother stood up, brushing off her knees." I think I will go see what your father is doing. Will you be alright sweetheart? You've been quiet."
Bella turned around, trying to smile. "Sorry mom, just thinking I guess. I'm not used to it being so quiet."
"Speaking of quiet, where are the noisemakers?"
"Working at the garage. There was a big wreck down the road about a week ago and it seems like they got all the cars from it. They're trying to get them turned around and out as soon as possible."
Her mother smiled and placed her hands on her daughter's shoulders. "That's great sweetie. If you get lonely just march yourself up to the house, alright? Your father and I don't like that we don't see you or Alice much anymore."
Her mother's tone wasn't scolding, just a little sad, and it made Bella feel even worse. She really had been ignoring her mom and dad, and they had been so nice and accepting to all the strange and often partially naked men running around their yard.
Bella kissed her mom's cheek. "I'll make it a point to come up more often alright? And for you to come down here too. The doors always unlocked mom, even if there is a herd of boys in here at the time."
Her mother smiled. "The boys are always welcome in the house. You know that Bella. Now, I must go check of your father. If I leave him alone too long he tends to break things just to prove that he can fix them." Her laugh carried as she turned on heel and trotted her way through the hallway to the main house. The door at the other end of the hall clicked softly at its closing.
Alice was in the main room with the television on, her eyes closed and breathing deep. Bella sighed and turned back to the window. She didn't know how long she had stood there until a lone sound broke through her revere.
It was the howl of a wolf, far, far away.
Bella cooked. Like a madwoman. For at least two hours after that howl had broken though the afternoon calm, and more had soon joined in.
No one had been home yet, but as soon as they were through her door she would be ready. With whatever they needed. Open arms and plenty of food were a good place to start. Alice had woken at the howl of the wolves, and was since coloring at the kitchen table.
Bella heard feet hit the floor as Alice jumped from her chair.
Bella turned around just as Alice's hands hit the window.
Soon enough the front door opened and Alice's excited squeal filled the room. Embry caught her with a laugh and picked her up. Bella had her hands braced on the counter waiting for news.
Embry, carrying a giggling Alice, came over and kissed Bella on the forehead, wrapping his free arm around her shoulders and pulling her in for a hug.
"Everyone's fine Bells. The only thing hurt is Paul's pride."
Bella breathed a sigh of relief.
She squeezed Embry around the waist and rested her head on his chest. "Thank God."
Then. "Why is Paul's pride hurt?" she wondered.
Embry smiled as he let Alice down to go get the picture she had been coloring to show him. He left his arm around Bella's shoulders as he turned and stuck a finger in the sauce she had simmering on the stove.
"mmm God Bells, that's amazing."
He gaffed as she slapped his arm with a laugh.
"Paul's mad at himself Bells. You were right. There was someone out there, a leech. You knew he was there before any of us did. Paul's mad at himself that there was a leech that close and he didn't sense it. Plus we didn't get it. It's still out there, and Paul blames himself. Although he shouldn't. That damn thing was so high in the trees that the scent wasn't there."
Embry shook his head.
"Where is everyone?"
Embry sighed. "Its Brady and Collin. Old Quil called, says they're showing signs of the change. Jake's over there now with Jared and Quil. Leah was sent home to check on Emily, and bring her over here, and everyone else is still trying to track the scent. And then there's Paul, who is sitting outside phased refusing to come inside."
Bella startled. "Why won't he come inside?"
"I told you Bells, he's mad at himself. He was in here with you guys and didn't sense the leech sitting right outside, watching you guys. I've gotta say I can understand. If anything had happened to either of you, none of us would forgive ourselves."
"But Em, nothing happened. Nothing will ever happen with you guys around. I have complete and utter confidence in you."
Embry smiled and kissed the top of her head.
"Thanks Bells. But maybe you should go tell Paul that."
Embry walked away to go join Alice and Bella turned to the stove to turn down the burners. She then went to the door and put on snow boots and a heavy coat. Embry came over and wrapped a scarf around her neck and pulled gloves from somewhere. She smiled in thanks as she heard the porch light clock on and headed outside. She walked down the steps and then a few paces into the yard before pausing.
Bella sighed. "Paul I know your out here. I know you don't want to come inside, but maybe you could just come to me? I have a cookie."
She pulled the said treat from her pocket and held it out in front of her. Soon enough Bella heard crunching of snow directly behind her and spun around. A wet snout nudged her hand where the food was located and Bella released it with a laugh.
She petted his head while he munched.
"You know Paul, I really wish you would come inside. There's much more food. And cookies. And there's even some pie. There's cherry, your favorite. And I'm sure that there's only one slice left. You know how Seth likes cherry too. If you're out here, he's gonna get to it first ya know."
The wolf just huffed.
Bella walked over to the porch and set down on the stairs.
"Its not your fault," she whispered into the night.
She heard a grunt growlish thing that sounded sarcastic.
Bella cleared her throat. "You know, I was never a wuss when I was younger. I guess that comes from growing up in an abusive household, but it made me tough. I always thought that as long as I knew my surroundings, I was okay. But then I was blinded. And things weren't quite so simple. I found myself jumping at the smallest of noises, a car door, a sneeze. Stupid things."
Bella paused. She smiled as she shook her head back and forth, laughing at herself.
"God, I was so mad! I was mad at everything. Renee, my mom, Phil, the asshole she married, Charlie, the man who was supposed to be my father but ran off and left me with those people before I was even born. You know who I blamed the most? Myself. I hated myself. I was weak and defenseless. Had to have help showering, couldn't even begin to dress myself. I couldn't run around outside or play in the woods that I had always loved. I remember trying once, right after the accident. I was living with Esme and Carlisle, it was before we moved here. I ran into a tree. Tripped over something about 20 feet in."
Bella threw her head back, elbows behind her, supporting herself on the stairs as she continued.
"Daddy came and found me. Only took him an hour before he came looking. Mom says that she was surprised he waited that long. I am too." She laughed.
She smiled and turned her head to the stars. "I realized something after that. I wasn't going to be indestructible. I would make mistakes. I would ask for help. And guess what was the most surprising thing I realized. Life. Goes. On. It's simple, so simple that its almost inconceivable. But it's the truth. No matter what happens, life goes on. And guess what? Life is going to go on after today. The boys will come home, there will be two new pack members to welcome, we'll eat, we'll watch movies, we'll camp out in the living room again and just be together. Some will leave to patrol, to protect us while we sleep. And then we'll wake up in the morning and go to work and school and put up more Christmas decorations, and go on. Nothing will ever touch us Paul. Me or Alice. You wont let it. So I have nothing to worry about, ever. Ya get me?"
A human hand tugged her elbow until her hand was free to be tucked into his.
"You trust us that much?"
Bella scoffed. "Silly boy. You boys are my life now. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm so happy now. I have never been happier in my entire life than I have been since all of you walked into my life."
Paul sighed and put his head in the hand that wasn't holding onto her. "Same for us. Having you makes all of us stronger, happier. But it also makes us weaker. We feel the need to protect you so strongly that slipping up even the smallest bit….
Bella slipped her hand into his and rested her head on his shoulder for a moment, neither of them saying anything.
Then she stood up. And stood on the step below where Paul was sitting. She could feel his eyes on her, wondering where she was going, so she help her hand out to him.
"Come on wolf. You can be my seeing eye dog to make up for whatever it is you think you've done. Lead me inside."
Paul was happy to do just that and did better than just lead her inside, he hauled her over his shoulder and carted her though the front door, Embry and Alice joining in to help shuck Bella of her snow boots and jacked before she was carried through the entire house, a stubborn look on her giggling face. Through Embry and Alice, a kitchen that had food simmering on the stove, through the hallway that led to the main house and past a mother that was doubled over in laughter and holding onto a fathers arm who was smirking at his daughter. Bach to the cottage, where more of the pack had wandered in, Jacob not bothering to wonder aloud why his imprint was hanging over Paul's shoulder, smirking every time he took a step when she got to smack his butt.
This prompted Alice to demand to also be carried around, so thug began the tradition of carrying the imprints like sacks of flower long past their protests and demands to be let down.
Paul eventually released Bella to his Alpha and plopped himself on the couch, watching whatever cartoon Alice had left running.
The few that had wandered in gave the couple their space and Jacob led Bella outside to talk for a moment. She wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Im so glad your home." She told him. Jacob returned her embrace.
"Bella, we need to talk."
She sighed. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, something scary was watching me. You didn't get it this time. Itll come back. You'll get it next time. I'm safe. Alice is safe. Paul was here. He kept us safe. You don't care. Your still worried. Lalalalala"
Jacob paused for a moment before laughing slightly and pressing a kiss into the top of her head. "Pretty much. But I don't think you understand the seriousness of the situation. Bella, there was a leech. Outside you're of your home. Watching you. I don't think-"
"Our home." She corrected him. Jacob halted. "Huh?"
Bella, sighed. "You called it my home. And that is not correct. It is our home. Yours and mine. Paul and Alice. Embry and Quil. Emily and Sam. Leah. My parents. It belongs to all of us. It is not just my home anymore. It is the home of my family. And I do understand the severity. Don't you think I know that whoever this was could have put their hand through the chest of everyone I love? I know that very well Jacob Black. But that did not happen. And you came home. And that's all that matters."
Jacob sighed and let it drop. "Your right Bells, I'm sorry. It is our home, and I will try to never refer to it as anything but again."
Bella sighed happily and burrowed closer to the one she loved.
"Can we go back inside now? Your warm and all, but its like a million below zero out here, and there's food inside. Warm food."
Jacob kissed the top of her head. "As amazing as that sounds I have to pass. I left Seth and Jared with Collin and Brady but I promised that I would only be gone for a moment. Plus I need to steal Paul too. It might take all of us to convince them human again." Jacob threaded his fingers though Bella's hair and turned her face up toward his.
"Im sorry baby. I would like nothing more than to go inside and eat what you have prepared for us and be with my family. But they need me. They're only 15. Same age as Seth. Which is why I have him there, because they know him best. Go to school together. But I don't know. They need to not be scared. Being calm is the only way to phase back. Im sorry again. Your not mad are you?"
Bella scoffed and used what little room she had to hit him in the chest. "Jacob your such a dumbass sometimes. I would never be mad for helping your pack. But I have an idea. You or Embry or someone once told me that it was scariest when you first change because no one around is human and your surrounded by these giant wolves and then you realize that you are one too and that's even scarier. So what if you cant get them to calm down enough if you brought them here. You know, see someone that dosn't turn into a giant scary beast?"
Jacob was already shaking his head. "No way Bells. They have only been turned a matter of hours. That's not something I would even consider until we got to the week mark and it would still probably be a no then too. Its just too dangerous. That's why the newbies don't get near their families for long periods of time after they change. The littilest thing sets us off when we cant control ourselves yet."
Bella smirked up at him. "You know best darling. I was just suggesting. Before you leave come say goodnight to Alice and take some dinner for yourself and the boys."
Jacob kissed her on the lips.
"You're an amazing lady Miss Swan."
Bella smiled smugly. "Im aware."
Jacob was howling laughter as he followed her into the house and went straight for Alice, who was currently back in Paul's arms.
Bella rounded up food and dessert and made used lots of concentration to write PAUL over the container containing his cherry pie. For being blind she had always been told she had quite nice handwriting.
She bagged it up in a gym bad that could easily fit over the shoulders in human or wolf form. Bella got a kiss on the top of the head from Paul and gave him permission to hurt anyone who tried to take his pie. Jacob kissed her on the mouth in front of everyone and Alice and Embry made twin gagging noises. Bella was still beet red and giggling as she waved to them from the front door.
So…..eh? Review lovelies! I always love reviews! As always, thanks for reading!