Leah gets her first tattoo and a little more than she expected...

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Beta'd by dontcallmelee and project team beta

Chapter 1 - Branding

Seth and I were sitting at the kitchen table. It was mid-morning, and I was eating my third bowl of cereal. I think Seth was on his fourth, maybe even his fifth; either way, he was scoffing it down so quickly I was actually starting to feel nauseous.

I would never get used to how much food we needed to eat. It was proof again that being a wolf majorly sucked. How Mom could even afford to feed us was a mystery to me – in just six months the grocery bills had quadrupled. To make matters worse, she was not only feeding us, but the pack, as well.

I don't think Embry ever realized how lucky he was, having his mom on the outside. I'd kill for my mother not to know about the shape-shifting thing. At least then the pack morons wouldn't be able to just rock up at my house and invade my personal space.

I suppose I still had one thing to be grateful for – the dogs hadn't actually invaded my room yet; that was the one sanctuary I had left, and even our beloved alphaSam – wouldn't dare approach me in there.

Sam... I hated even thinking his name, and I would never understand how he thought we could still be friends. Sure, he knew me once – and to be fair, he still knows me – but he lost the right to care the minute he imprinted and left me. He was deluded to think that I would actually want to interact with him. It was bad enough being in his traitorous, cheating head when we were both phased. He could fuck right off if he thought he had any right to talk to me outside of it, let alone in my own house.

"Leah, is there any reason you're growling at a bowl?"

Seth's annoyingly enthusiastic voice broke me from my mental rant, so I growled at him instead. He rolled his eyes at me dramatically, and I started to worry that I was losing my touch. Unfortunately, since we'd became werewolves, I couldn't threaten him like I used to.

And why was that?

Oh yeah, because Sam had put me under some stupid command to stop me from fighting with anyone in the pack. He said it wasn't fair and it wasn't a healthy working atmosphere. Screw him! It was yet another thing he got to take away from me – my heart, my life, and now my free will. I was on a leash and getting extremely pissed off about it. The only thing I had left was my anger, and I couldn't even vent that.

I heard Seth shoving his chair back and glanced up at the clock - it was time. Seth and I were being initiated as shape-shifters today - pack style. I couldn't imagine anything less fun; I think I'd be more enthusiastic about sticking pins in my eyes!

Overall, today seemed stupid and pointless, which just about summed up the over-hormonal boys. I mean, I'd already suffered the tribal ceremony. Hadn't I paid my dues?

Anyway... back to the point - today was the pack's version of our initiation, and we would get the privilege of being branded with a tribal symbol! Well fan-fucking-tastic! It made sticking pins in my eyes more and more appealing by the second!

I honest-to-God was already scarred enough emotionally; I certainly didn't need physical proof that my shit life was real. Unfortunately, once again I was getting no choice in the matter. Sure, I could have just gone along with it - I didn't actually mind tattoos - but as I was not doing this through my own choice, it was out of the question. Besides, I wasn't going to be giving anyone a quiet life about anything. Oh no, if I was in hell, I'd make sure everyone else joined me!

I didn't move from my chair until Seth came round to my side of the table and started whining.

I looked at him in disgust. "What's wrong with you? How can you even be excited about this, about everything?" I shot him a warning scowl to add effect, but he ignored me and went to his happy place.

"Come on, Leah! It's fun! We get to have a tattoo today. None of my friends at school have one. I'll be so cool. Everyone will know I'm in a gang with Jake and Sam!"

"You're such an idiot!" I snapped.

"No, I'm not. Jake said that..."

I cut him off before he could make me vomit by talking about his man crush. Why he even thought he was so brilliant was beyond me; all Jake ever did was gripe about that Bella girl who loved the damn leeches.

He needed to get over himself. Did anyone see me complaining about Sam?

Well, yes actually, all the time, but I'd earned the right, seeing as I was with Sam for years. Jake was just a stupid kid with an unhealthy obsession; one that went against everything our pack existed for. To my disbelief, he was also supposed to be the true Alpha instead of Sam, but Jake couldn't even man up to the responsibility. Hypercritically, it was okay for him to choose what he wanted, but everyone else just had to do as they were told.

"Don't talk to me about Jake, or how fantastic any of them are." I stood up and stormed out of the kitchen, quickly returning to my brother with a picture frame from the lounge. "There is only one man who you should ever look up to, and it sure as hell isn't Black or Uley." I slammed the picture of Dad into his hands.

"Lee... that's not fair." His voice dropped, and he just stared at the photo sadly.

I hated hurting him, but I had to make him see that being a wolf wasn't the best thing to ever happen to us. It was dangerous, and he was still a kid - and impressionable at that. Excluding my own personal thoughts, Sam and Jake were both bad role models.

I knew my tactics were brutal, but tough love was a Clearwater trait, and it was a somewhat effective approach at getting my point across.

So why was Seth looking like I'd broken his heart?

Goddamn it! He was still my baby brother, and I was a moody bitch who now felt guilty.

I took the photo from him. "I'm really sorry, Seth. I just needed you to remember. Six months... that's all it's been since we phased and Dad died. "

He refused to look at me and kept his eyes on the ground, while shuffling his feet sadly. "I know that... I just... I'm not you. I get that you're hurt, but you're strong - I'm not."

"Seth, what are you talking about? I'm not strong, I'm an emotional wreck. You've got more courage than I will ever have. You just get wrapped up in things so easily, that I worry you'll lose sight of the bigger picture," I consoled him, putting my hand on his shoulder in support.

"Leah?" His small voice was nervous and his head was hung low.

"Yeah?" I answered cautiously.

He looked up at me with tearful eyes, and his words were no more than a whisper. "I miss my family."

I looked at him with confusion. "We're still a family."

"No, we're not. When Dad died, so did everything else in this house," he said sadly.

"That's not true, Seth. It just takes time."

"I know, but it's been six months, and you and Mom still refuse to deal with the fact he is gone. You lock yourself away and want to be alone, and Mom's always with Charlie and avoids this house like a plague. None of us ever spend any time together. I don't think you realize it, but you barely even talk to me, and when you do, it's only to be mean. It hurts. I miss Dad loads, but I miss you guys as well. We used to have fun, but we don't anymore. So, yeah, I like the guys because they are fun, and I think they're cool because they're like big brothers and they look after me. When I'm with them things don't seem so sad. Am I a bad person for that?"

I sighed. "You'll never be a bad person, Seth." It hurt to hear how badly I was letting him down. "Look, I know I'm not the best person at saying this stuff," I started to shuffle my own feet awkwardly, "but, I still love you. A lot of stuff has happened, not just with Dad. Being a bitch is just my way of coping. But, if you ever need me, don't you ever think that I won't have time for you. You are my brother. Whatever happens with the pack, you are my true blood and you will always come first. We are Clearwaters, remember?"

"...and Clearwaters stick together." He smiled slightly as he finished off the very unoriginal family motto.

"Look, I'm really not keen on this tribal tattoo, but we have no choice. However..." I gave Seth a mischievous grin. "...I have an idea."

Seth's usual goofy smile returned. "I know that face! What are you thinking? Are we going to egg Sam's house again?"

"Not this time, little man. Maybe next Halloween, and we'll use feathers next time as well."

I laughed, remembering how Seth and I had trashed Sam's house after I found out he was cheating on me with my cousin. Yeah, Clearwaters stick together! I was determined to prove this to my brother today and already had a plan in mind as I dragged him out of the house.

We started off walking down the old dirt road from our house towards the other side of the rez, but soon we were pushing, play-fighting and chasing each other around. Both of us were also laughing, which was something I hadn't done in months... not since Sam left me. We gradually slowed down as we started hitting the more populated area, and I threw an arm around Seth's neck affectionately. That was how we stayed until we reached Sam's place.

On arrival, Sam was waiting on his porch, and he smiled at the sight of us. I immediately released Seth, but gave my brother a quick smile that told him it was nothing personal.

"Seth, Leah, you're actually on time!" Sam exclaimed impressed.

"Well, I'd be more than happy to leave if that's a problem!" I said dryly.

Sam just raised his eyebrows at me, and Seth jarred me in the ribs.

"No, it's cool, Sam. Me and Leah are looking forward to this!" Seth was practically vibrating with excitement.

What had I unleashed?

Giving my brother permission to be happy might be something I was going to regret.

"Really?" Sam said skeptically, looking back at me.

"Whatever, let's just get this over with!" I snapped and shoved past Sam, walking straight into his house. He didn't deserve my manners.

Immediately, I braced myself for the hugging assault from Emily. How I'd managed not to bitch-slap her upside the head yet was beyond me. I was extremely pleased when I realized I couldn't smell her in the house. I did, however, smell all the wolves. I supposed everyone would have to be here for this. It's surprising they hadn't actually sold tickets for the 'branding of the bitch of La Push', or even fought over which one of them got to do it - wouldn't they just love to have that little power trip!

I paused in the hallway and let Seth and Sam catch up to me and lead the way. I followed Sam into the living room, where - as suspected - the whole pack was lounging around. Everyone jumped up and started making a fuss of Seth. I watched them interacting with him, while I leaned against the door frame. Maybe it wasn't so bad that Seth looked up to them. Taking in the scene before me, it was clear that Seth was accepted and cared about. I knew I couldn't really begrudge him that. He wasn't me, and he didn't need to suffer my pain or be alone.

"I guess you're going to be one of my canvasses today?"

The deep, husky voice came from over my shoulder. I turned to see an older, much better-looking version of Paul, looking at me, intrigued. He was wearing dark blue jeans and a white vest, which showed off his muscled arms and several intricate tattoos. What really caught my attention, though,were his piercing green eyes.

So this was Tristan – Paul's older brother and tattooist extraordinaire.

It was easy to see that they were related; he had the usual copper skin and jet black hair of our tribe, but he had Paul's eye color and strong, defined facial features. He wasn't quite as toned as the pack boys, but they were unnaturally so. He was, however, still taller than me and well-proportioned, and, if my math was right, he was about twenty-five. I certainly knew he was another one who left this place the minute he turned eighteen.

I should have figured the pack would drag him back from Seattle for this. He didn't know what we were, but he had done all of the others tattoos under the pretense that it was an initiation thing into the 'gang' - it wasn't exactly a lie. Besides, no doubt in his line of work he saw all kinds of weird shit.

Now that I was looking at Tristan, I admit I felt a bit happier about the whole thing. I had figured Paul would be doing the tattoo - having learned the basics from his brother - and that was not something likely to end well. Plus, it would make my earlier idea actually possible.

I returned my attention to his question. "Yeah, the other one is my brother over there." I nodded in the direction of Seth.

"Cool." He grinned back, showing me his dimples, while his eyes trailed up and down my body approvingly.

I was horrified to feel myself blushing and quickly turned away from him before anyone noticed. Luckily, the guys still hadn't finished greeting Seth, and it took another minute before they finally noticed my presence, by which time my cheeks felt cooler.

As the pack looked between Tristan and me uncertainly, I quickly realized that I was blocking his way into the room and that the guys were waiting for me to say something bitchy. Instead, I merely muttered a half-hearted hello and edged into the room, trying to remove myself from everyone's focus. Unfortunately, I was too late.

"Yo, bro', watch yourself with that one. She'll have your balls off," Paul said, laughing.

Oh, how I hated him! He was forever cracking jokes and making snide remarks at my expense. Sometimes I could rise above, but this wasn't one of those times. "Go fuck yourself, Paul," I snapped back angrily.

"Much rather you did it for me." He winked.

I clenched my fists, and for the first time mentally thanked fuckwit Uley for one of his many commands. A giant wolf, ripping Paul to pieces in front of an outsider would not be good.

"See what I mean." Paul walked over and nudged Tristan with his elbow; they both laughed.

Uh! I should have known Tristan was just as bad!

"Knock it off, Paul. Leah, kitchen - you can go first!" Sam ordered.

What an idiot! Why did he never intervene at the start?

I stormed off into the kitchen, ignoring the mutters and laughter coming from the rest of the morons in the room behind me. I noticed that the table was already laid out in preparation. A few minutes later, Tristan walked in, still grinning, and looked at me amused. I glared in return, and he just shrugged it off.

"Right, little Miss Feisty, take a seat." He pointed to the kitchen chair.

I sat down reluctantly and allowed my body to go limp as he started to reposition my arm to get a good angle to work from. He said very little words, but I noticed as soon as he went to work the majority - note I only said 'majority' - of his earlier arrogance disappeared.

"Ok, so..." He looked at me questioningly.

"Leah." I finished the sentence for him.

"Right... Leah. Is this your first tattoo?" He was currently rubbing an alcohol-based substance over my upper arm.

My wolf nose curled up in distaste, but I managed to answer. "Yes."

"Lucky me, then. I get to be the first to mark you." He smiled confidently, but didn't take his eyes off my arm as he worked.

I unwillingly let out a growl, and only then did he pause to look up and raise an eyebrow at me; was he amused or confused? I couldn't tell.

He returned to his work anyway and picked up what looked to be a stencil of some kind. I watched as he placed it on my arm. When he pealed it back, a template of our tribal symbol was on me. Next, Tristan put some kind of gel over the outline, set up the needle machine, and took firm hold of my arm. "So, this shouldn't really hurt too much, but if it gets uncomfortable, just say, and we'll take a break. It's an intricate design, so it will take a while, okay?"

"Yeah, that's fine. I've got a high pain threshold anyway." I tried to reassure him with a smile, but it could quite possibly have looked like a grimace.

I sat patiently as he silently went to work. I could hear the boys in the lounge, messing around and cracking stupid jokes. I tried to keep my focus on them as the outline of the tattoo was imprinted into my skin. It didn't hurt overly, but it was uncomfortable, so gradually, I let myself drift off into a daydream. I thought about Sam, Seth and my father, remembering my life before and comparing it to the shitty deal I had now; I lost track of time.

"Are you okay? Do you want me to stop?" Tristan was looking at me worriedly.

"Yeah, I'm fine," I snapped. I hated being brought back to reality.

"You were frowning." He looked concerned, but then I supposed it was his job to check his customers were okay.

I looked down to see the outline was pretty much complete.

"Wow. That looks pretty cool, actually." I surprisingly liked what I was seeing. "Good job."

"Thanks, but I'm not finished yet. I've got to fill it. Sure you don't want a break first?" As he spoke, he gently cleaned around what he had already done.

I noted my blood on the cotton bud and turned my nose up in disgust again; he caught what I was doing.

"Aw, not squeamish of a little blood, are you?" He playfully wafted the bud towards my face and laughed. "High pain threshold, but no stomach, huh?"

"Very funny, and no to both questions. Let's just get this done, shall we," I said dryly.

Tristan was still amused though. "Ok, Missy, whatever you want!"

I took a deep breath as he started up again with the needle. I stopped myself from laughing at the thought that my arm was being colored in - I hardly wanted a stroke to go amiss.

"So, what's it like being the only girl in the group?" he mused.

I watched his face; he was biting his lip in concentration. It was quite a sexy lip, actually, much nicer than perverted Paul's.

I knew I had to be careful about what I said. To him, I was willingly a member of the La Push 'gang' - not a bitter harpy and she-wolf.

"It is what it is. Sure is nothing else to do around here." It was at least easier to keep things as near to the truth as possible.

"Right, sure. So you join a bunch of guys and get a tattoo because you're bored? Aren't you and Sam like four years older than most of them?"

"Well, yeah, but so what? And, how would you know anyway?"

"I may have left the rez', but I still visit. I've seen you around; you and Sam are together, right?" He had actually stopped what he was doing and was looking at me curiously, awaiting an answer.

"Err... we were," I stated, surprised by his knowledge. I tried not to dwell on the pain that shot through my chest as I thought of my ex and my cousin.

"But, not now?" Tristan smiled and went back to his 'coloring'.

"No. He lives in this house with my cousin," I said a bit too abruptly.

"Ouch," he stated.

"Yeah - ouch! Maybe you'll pay better attention next time you visit. They've been together for over six months." Why was I even discussing this with him? I was sure Paul would have been more than happy to dish the dirt.

"Well, I've been here before, but you're the first woman I've met with them. I was beginning to worry my brother was batting for the other team, if you know what I mean."

He laughed, and I couldn't help but join him as an image of Paul and Sam making out filled my head. It was disgustingly hilarious; I didn't know which one would be the bitch in that relationship.

Tristan continued. "You've got to admit though, a load of buff teenage boys, running round half-naked together is not normal. Yet here you are - the little hotty causing up a stir!"

"I'm hardly a 'hotty'. Besides, they all hate me."

He chuckled at my response, "So, why did you join this little club again?"

I realized I wasn't giving our story any credit. I tried to cover my tracks with my normal brash attitude. "Look, what's your point?"

"Nothing. You're just a mystery, and I'm intrigued."

I was beginning to see who Paul got his annoying-ness from. "Whatever."

"Sure." He let out a light laugh. "There you go... all done, Leah."

I felt him cleaning my arm up for the last time, and I quickly scrutinized my tattoo before he covered it lightly with a bandage. I really did like it, and it made my mind up for me.

"Right, keep that on for at least two hours," he nodded at the bandage, "you will need to clean it after that, but do it gently and dab at it - do not scrub. Apart from that, try and keep it dry. Showers are okay, but not baths and avoid any knocks to the area until it's healed. The boys know the drill if you're unsure of anything."

I stood up, and it felt good to stretch my legs; I'd been sitting still for quite a while. I turned to Tristan, who was cleaning up and getting ready for Seth.

"Hey, Tristan, thanks. Like I said earlier, that did look really good."

He quickly glanced at me and laughed. "I know. I'm brilliant. You don't need to tell me!"

I ignored his overconfidence. "Whatever. Can I ask a favor?"

"Try me." His green eyes caught mine.

"I want another tattoo."

"Oh no, have I unleashed an addict?" he joked. "You have something in mind. I take it?"

"Yeah, but not just on me."

"Huh?" He looked at me confused.

"I want it done on my back below my neck, and then the same on my brother." I waved my hand behind me, showing him the spot I had in mind.

"Oh, I get it - it's a family thing. That's cool. So what do you want?"

"If I draw it, could you use it as a template?" I knew what I wanted but doubted I would be able to find a picture to match it.

"No problem. When do you want it done? Because the only thing is, that I've got to head home tomorrow." Tristan was now washing his hands thoroughly, but he still didn't look away from me.

"Well, would tonight be okay? It's kind of a surprise for my brother, though, the design part of it."

"Yeah, if you can manage to do the design this afternoon and drop it round mine, then it's no problem." He nodded.

"Cool. You're staying at Paul's, right?"

"Sure am."

"Okay," I said, closing the conversation.

"Okay." He mimicked me and smirked.

I turned tail and walked back into the lounge. "You're up, Seth!" I shouted.

He bounded off into the kitchen excitedly and left me with the rest of the pack. They were playing some computer games and arguing. I stood behind the sofa watching.

"Busy as always?" I said sarcastically, aiming at no one in particular.

"Happy as always?" Embry quipped, looking back at me over his shoulder.

Jared and Quil both sniggered, as they were hunched over the controllers button-bashing.

"How was it?" Sam asked softly from the nearby armchair.

I threw him my normal hateful glare. "Fine. Can I be dismissed?"

"I suppose. Although, it wouldn't hurt you, if you actually spent some time with everyone," he grumbled.

"No, butI might hurt you if I'm around any longer than necessary."

Oh, how I wished I could hate him!

My scowling was interrupted by Paul's arrogant voice. "Let her go, Sam. She needs to dwell on the fact that everyone will know she belongs to us now."

"Hey, Paul, you know that your brother thought you were gay, right?" My voice was even more bitter than normal, but everyone still fell about laughing at him. Okay, so I suppose it was kind of funny seeing Paul shut his mouth. I decided to leave on that high note and trailed off home.

The rest of the afternoon was spent peacefully, designing the tattoo I wanted. It may have seemed really stupid, but after everything Seth had said in the kitchen, I wanted him to know that we were still connected and always would be. The pack was his family, but we were also a unit away from that. He needed to know that I would always be behind him and that although we may be opposites, we still needed each other. The last six months I really had abandoned him.

By the time it was done, I was pleased to see I still had a knack for art. It had taken most the afternoon, but I figured Tristan would be done with Seth, so I headed over to Paul's house.

When I arrived, I knocked on the door, hoping that Tristan would answer, but unfortunately I had no such luck!

"Well, well. I never thought I'd see the day Leah Clearwater came knocking on my door. My brother's in, so if you want to screw me you'd better be quiet." Paul grinned.

"You're such a pig!" I said, disgusted.

"And you're a bitch, we can be animals together." He moved his hand out to touch my arm, and I stepped back from the door; he was only doing it because he knew Sam had forbidden me to lay him out.

At that point, Tristan came down the hall and shoved him out of the doorway. "Fuck off, Paul. You wouldn't even know how to please a woman. Why don't you go and watch some porn in your room."

I had never been more pleased to hear something so vulgar that didn't come from my lips. It was quite surprising that Paul backed down automatically; maybe it didn't matter that he was a wolf, his brother was still his Alpha. I couldn't help but feel smug, watching him retreat upstairs to his room.

"Sorry about that, my brother's a dick." Tristan grinned, hearing Paul's door slam shut.

"Tell me about it. Look, I got the picture." I handed him the template from my pocket.

"Cool. That should be easy enough to do. What time do you guys want to come over?"

"I don't know. When's good for you?" It was him doing us the favor, so I wouldn't impose.

"Well, Paul's going out for the night at about eight, so how about then?"

"Okay. What will I owe you?"

I would have to take the money out of savings, but it wasn't like I had any future plans and Seth was worth it.

"Tell you what. Don't worry about it! It's payment enough seeing someone get under my brother's skin like you do."

"That's too generous." I couldn't let him do it for nothing.

"Don't be silly. I had no other plans anyway. If you feel guilty about it, though, maybe we could just go for a drink or something next time I'm around?" He smiled kindly.

I stood there, briefly stunned. A drink? Did he mean like a date?

Thoughts of Sam flooded my mind, along with guilt. Even considering it made me feel like a cheater. It was then that I realized how stupid that was and that Tristan was still waiting for my answer. I was nowhere near ready to date again, but at the same time I knew it was easier to say yes and then get out of it later - who even knew when he would be back? "Err... Yeah, I suppose. I'll see you at eight, then."

"Yeah, see you later!" he said, beaming as he shut the door.

As I walked away, I heard Paul shouting down the stairs. "Why the fuck is she coming round later?"

"You little prick, were you eavesdropping?" Tristan hollered back angrily.

"Well?" Paul snapped.

"It's nothing to do with you. Now mind your own business, or I'll start telling your little gang about when you used to wet the bed."

After that, there was nothing but silence. Although, I had a huge grin on my face – oh, how I loved wolf hearing sometimes! Tristan might be related to Paul, but he certainly wasn't in the same category of bastard.

By the time I got back home, Seth was waiting for me with a matching bandage on his arm.

"Hey, sis! They're really cool aren't they?" He was clearly buzzing from his tattoo.

"Glad you like it, because we are getting another one later!"

The minute I said it, he actually screamed in excitement. "Ah! Is that what you had planned! Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! You're the best sister ever! I mean like ever! Oh my god, what are we getting? When?"

"Calm down. Christ, I think everyone in Forks just heard you!" I scolded.

"Sorry, sis. It's just so cool. Just me and you, yeah?"

I couldn't help but chuckle. "Just us, tonight, and you can go first so that you can see as soon as it's done."

"I love you, Sis. This will be much cooler than the pack one." He skipped off into the house, singing "Clearwaters stick together".

It was my turn to roll my eyes.

Thankfully, we had a few hours to spare, so I went upstairs, took a careful shower and changed. I spent the last hour flicking lazily through a magazine, not really paying attention to anything. Just as it was reaching eight o'clock, Seth came running into my room. "Ready?"

I closed the magazine and stood up. "Come on then, Pipsqueak."

This time, when we arrived at Paul's house, Tristan answered. "Hey guys! Do you want to come round the back? The garage still has my gear set up from when I lived here. It's all clean, of course." He smiled as he led us around the house.

True to his word, the garage was tidy and spotless. Right in the middle of the room, there was a re-positionable black leather chair, with a bright light hung over it. A stool was also set next to it.

"Who's first?" he asked, gesturing to the chair.

I pointed at Seth, who was positively beaming. Tristan got started right away, and I have to admit it was entertaining, watching my usually energetic little brother force himself to sit still. So much so that I spent most the time sitting at the front watching him, and only the last part of his tattoo standing behind Tristan, watching the design come together. When he finished it looked perfect; Tristan had done another good job.

"Can I see now? Please!" Seth whined.

Tristan stood up and fetched a long mirror from the back somewhere and passed it to me. "Here, you can have the pleasure."

It was actually quite a nice gesture, and as he handed the mirror over, our eyes caught. I felt myself blushing again at the intense look he was giving me, but couldn't bring myself to break eye contact. There was definitely something about him that was incredibly attractive.

Luckily, Seth was getting more impatient by the minute, and his whining became the perfect moment-killer. So without further ado, I held the mirror up behind him so that he could look over his shoulder and see.

"Cool! It's the moon and the sun, right?"

My brother was a little slow sometimes, bless him.

"Yes, Seth." I confirmed and thought he deserved an explanation. "You are the sun, shining bright and vibrant. I am more like the moon for my own reasons. They're inside of each other because we are a unit, yet they are also opposites. More importantly though - the world wouldn't work if one of them was missing; that's how I see you, Little bro, and I chose where it is because I will always have your back, just like you always have mine."

"Aw, Lee, I love it! Thank you so much."

He hugged me, before I sat him back down for it to be temporarily covered up. Once it was all clean and set, Seth started to get fidgety. I loved him, and sure we just had a moment, but he could still bug the hell out of me – he was my brother after all.

"Hey, Seth, if you can't sit still, go for a run or something, quit bugging me."

"Sorry. Do you mind though? Seriously? I want to go show the guys." He knew I wouldn't stop him and was half-way out the door already.

"Yeah, yeah, go on then." I waved dismissively.

Shouting a quick thanks to me and Tristan, he flew into the night.

The voice behind me was amused. "Crazy kid."

"Yep." I spun and faced him. "My turn?"

"Yeah. You're going to have to strip, though." He grinned cheekily.

I suddenly realized I was wearing one of Seth's old baggy t-shirts, and he needed access to my back to do the tattoo. I wasn't really worried; my body was in brilliant shape, and I was sure that he would be used to it as a professional. He turned away politely, and I pulled the t-shirt off before lying on my front in the chair, much like Seth had.

"I'm decent," I called.

He turned back and followed the same procedure as earlier.

"Now, Leah, is this your first tattoo?" he joked.

"No, this weird dude did one earlier today," I replied, surprisingly relaxed.

"Weird dude, huh? Wow. Better watch out for him, then. Don't want to start losing my clients to a 'weird dude'. You'll have to tell me how I compare afterwards."

As he got to work, I realized the sensation was different this time. I think that because I couldn't see what was happening, everything felt more intense. As I relaxed into it, Tristan took the opportunity to hold some light conversation.

"That was really nice what you said to Seth earlier."

I smiled even though he couldn't see. "Thanks. I know it seems odd, but he needed it, I think."

"It's not odd, it's very sweet." He reassured.

"Sure." I snorted.

"No, it really is." He paused for a minute. "Okay, so you have to spill: How are you all so toned?"

"Err... we just work out," I said, nervously.

"Just work out? It's that easy?" It certainly didn't sound like he believed me.

"Yeah." If he started asking me the kind of workouts we used, I was screwed.

Tristan let out a disappointed sigh. "Leah, you're a sister, right?"

I felt the needle start to dig into my back as he spoke.

I winced. "Last time I checked I was."

"So, if I asked you if you were all taking some sort of enhancement drug, you'd tell me, right? You wouldn't let either of our little brothers get messed up in something like that?"

It was hard to think of prick-face Paul as someone else's version of Seth. I wanted to laugh hysterically at the idea of drugs causing our growth spurt, though.

"Drugs? You're kidding, right? If that's what you've been thinking then you can stop worrying."

"That's okay, then. Thanks." It sounded like there was relief in his voice.

We remained in silence for a long length of time, but I finally broke it. "So how come Paul's such a jerk and you're not."

"Who says I'm not?" He chuckled, and as he did, his cool breath tickled my skin.

"Well, you don't act like it," I stated matter-of-factly, trying to ignore the goosebumbs that had just erupted over my skin.

"There might be a reason for that, though." His voice made it sound like he was grinning.

"Like what?"

"Maybe I'm hoping to impress a girl." His concentration on my back still continued.

"By not being yourself?" I couldn't see how that would help anyone.

"But I am being myself. I used to be just like Paul, but then I left and I grew up. Now I'm just a jerk in moderation. " There was humor in is voice as he spoke.

"So who's the girl?" I was slightly intrigued.

He coughed.

"Well?" I prodded.

"Well... she's sexy as fuck, hangs out with a load of guys . . . and now... she has a hot, looking tattoo on her back."

I felt him blow coldly on my tattoo again, this time on purpose, and the feeling against my recently torn skin caused a tingling sensation I hadn't felt since I was with Sam. I also realized who he was ever so obviously referring to and immediately started to freak out.

You see, since phasing six months ago, losing Dad, and obviously being betrayed by Sam, I hadn't even considered guys. To be honest, I didn't even feel like a woman anymore - losing your period and turning into a supernatural beast did that to you - and yet, here was a fit guy, quite clearly flirting with me, and I had no idea how to react. My only option was to leave before I could embarrass myself and show how inadequate I really felt.

I immediately sat up and spun around to make my exit. Being able to move twice as fast as he could, I failed to realize Tristan was still sitting on the stool next to me, and our faces ended up inches apart.

He glanced down, and I blushed, realizing I was sitting in my bra. He didn't move, but his voice changed to something husky as he glanced over me again appreciatively. "Sexy as fuck..." he repeated. There was a hungry look in his eyes that made me feel wanted.

I felt a shudder run through my whole body, settling below my stomach. Holy hell; I was getting turned on by Paul's older brother. Despite my insecurities, my body was naturally reacting to him.

He eyed my lips and licked his own. "You know... when I said I'd seen you around earlier, I was being honest. Then when you said you weren't with Sam, I was extremely pleased."

I tried to regain some sanity; I loved Sam and I shouldn't have even been considering Tristan's hands running all over me... dear God, Leah, get a grip! "Err... I have to go."

"If you say so." He grinned again, but didn't move - nor did I.

"I do say so." I tried to reaffirm my intentions, but my body still didn't budge.

If possible, his grin only got wider, and his lips inched closer to me instead of away. "What are you scared off? I'm single, you're single. I like you, I'm pretty sure you like me." His overconfidence was surprisingly sexy.

I suddenly became angry, and for once, it wasn't with myself - it was with Sam. I was 20 and yet here I was living my life like a celibate nun while he was off fucking my cousin. That just wasn't right.

What was wrong with me having a bit of fun?

Was that such a bad thing?

Was it such a crime to let myself go for once and just feel something?

I knew what the answer was. I came back to reality and looked in to his seductive green eyes. Somehow I forced myself to let everything go – the girl inside me wanted to live, for however short a time. She had been buried beneath the wolf for too long.

"You're pretty sure I like you, huh?" Did I just say that?

He chuckled and moved even closer. Our noses were now touching. "Am I wrong?"

"No, but I might need a little help deciding... just to be sure." My voice was becoming more of a whisper with each word. I was nervous, but at the same time felt empowered.

"Well, I think I have just the solution."

Before I could respond, he kissed me softly. Thoughts of Sam ran through my head one final time, but I shoved them away and focused on Tristan's gentle lips. After a while, his hand cupped my face before moving round to the back of my neck, where he twisted his fingers into my hair.

At that point he tugged slightly, which caused me to open my mouth in surprise. There was no hesitation on his part, and he took the opportunity for his tongue to find mine. He tasted sweet, and I immediately craved more of him. What started off as a tender and sweet gradually began to change. A battle soon began between us as my mouth came to life and fought against his, trying to deepen the kiss. His lips felt almost electric against mine and a sense of want and urgency settled within in me.

I needed more of him.

My hands slowly found their way down Tristan's shoulders, feeling his firm muscles flex beneath my touch. He was wearing an old wife-beater shirt, which he somehow managed to look hot in, but right now it was an item of clothing too much. I fisted his shirt in my hands, frustrated by the garment when all I wanted to do was run my hands over his chest.

He chuckled against my mouth. "Someone's eager."

Normally, my defenses would come into play and a sarcastic remark would slip out, but I wasn't that Leah at this point. I was the girl I used to be, just a little more durable. I found myself smirking and gestured at my shirtless top half. "It only seems fair."

Tristan pecked my lips before tearing his shirt off and raising his eyebrows in amusement. "Better?"

"Much." I surprised myself and left a trail of kisses across his broad shoulder. I noticed the intricate tattoo he had over it and found myself standing and following it around his back. Using my finger, I lightly trailed across its outline. The tattoo started out as a detailed pattern, but as it fell across his back it turned into the head of a wolf. The image had a Quileute style to it, and something about it called to the beast in me.

I made my way back to the front of Tristan, smiling as he remained sat on the stool. He pulled me between his legs and against him, grasping my ass. Even with me standing, we were still face to face.

"What are you grinning at?" He laughed, leaning into my neck and inhaling me.

"Your tattoo. It's a Quileute wolf," I said, shuddering as his tongue flicked across my neck.

"I like the old stories," he mumbled against my skin. "They fascinate me. Not as much as you do, though," he said huskily, reclaiming my lips, but more forcefully than before.

I kissed him back with the same ferocity. There was something about this man that pulled at my insides. He was sexy as hell and set my body a light with just his touch. The tenderness was gone from both of us now as hands suddenly came to life, touching and teasing and stroking each other's bodies. My bra was quickly lost, and as his palms kneaded my breasts, I let out a low moan. My body continued to combust inside as he tugged sexily on my lip with his teeth.

Without even realizing, I found my hands fumbling at his belt, desperately trying to release him from his remaining clothes. I was beginning to get frustrated, when I heard his belt clatter to the floor, with his trousers in tow. He stood at that point, kicking the stool away and stepping out of his pants. Tristan pushed his body against mine, and I felt his erection through his boxers straining against my stomach.

The thought that I had turned him on only intensified my need. I was therefore pleased when he didn't hesitate to pull my shorts down in return. I gasped as his fingers trailed over my hips and his tongue trailed down my chest to my stomach, as my panties followed suit. I felt nervous being completely naked before him, but it didn't last long as he stood and pushed me back so my cheeks rested on the tattoo chair. He kissed me again, and I crawled backwards onto the chair, taking him with me.

To my surprise, his hands clasped my ass and lifted me up. Spinning us quickly, he swapped positions, sitting on the chair himself and pulling me so I was straddled over his lap. I looked at him, confused by the sudden movement.

"You really think I'm going to let you lie down and ruin my artwork?" he grinned.

Those fucking dimples could easily be the death of me. As I thought that, I let out another gasp as he ground his hips against mine and his erection pushed against me. There was only one thing left separating us, and I wanted it gone. I lifted myself up slightly and felt below us, teasingly crawling my hand into his boxers. He groaned as my fingers wrapped around his firm length and stroked him back and forth. Each time I repeated the action, his hips would buck and his fingers ran up and down my back. Eventually, my need for him became too much and I pushed the material down, allowing him to spring free. I started to lower myself down, but he stilled me.

"Don't you want to use something?" he genuinely asked.

"I trust you, and I'm covered." I didn't wish to explain anymore than that, but it was the truth nevertheless.

Nodding, he kissed me gently as I lowered myself down. He used his own hand to guide himself inside me, and as he filled me to the hilt, we both groaned. I didn't waste time and started to move up and down, grinding my hips against him, before letting him slide as far into me as possible - again and again, over and over he thrust in time with me, hitting a place inside that felt oh-so-good. When I didn't think I could take anymore, my fingers clamped onto his shoulders and a wave of ecstasy rolled through me, causing my toes to curl. As my orgasm melted away, I felt his movement change and a sense of urgency building. The thought of him coming inside of me was enough to get me going again, and to my own surprise as he filled me with his release, I came once more. Sated, we fell back together into the chair, and I rested my head against his shoulder.

Tristan wrapped his arms around me as we came down from our own personal highs; I had forgotten how good sex could be.

Eventually, he regained his breath, and his heart beat steadied. "Wow, I never expected you to be so strong." He laughed into my hair.

I looked at his body, seeing just how deep my nails had dug into him. I hadn't realized I'd used my wolf strength and felt slightly guilty. For some reason, that was enough to bring me back to reality and what I had just done started to dawn on me. I couldn't help but imagine what Sam would think of me and immediately moved to get off of Tristan. Reluctantly, he kissed my cheek and let me go.

I started to collect my clothes very quickly and get dressed. All the while, he sat naked in the chair watching me curiously.

"You don't have to go, you know." His voice had lost its earlier confidence, and he now seemed unsure.

"Yeah, I do." I knew I had spoken bluntly and regretted it almost immediately, especially when I saw his fallen expression.

I couldn't help it, though; I didn't quite know how to feel. I had just slept with a stranger. Sure, I'd enjoyed it, and I'd definitely wanted it, but I stupidly felt like I'd betrayed my heart. I had been wrong thinking I was ready to let Sam go.

I threw Tristan his pants, hoping he would take the hint. Luckily he did, and he started to get dressed, too. Once fully clothed, we both stood, looking nervously at each other. I didn't understand why he seemed so awkward. I knew why I felt this way, but this was what he had wanted, right?

"Well, thanks for the tattoo, and err... everything," I said coldly, unsure how a person was supposed to exit after meaningless sex.

"You're welcome. I'd still like to take you out for that drink though sometime, if that's okay?" he asked, with a disappointed smile.

"I err..." I was about to make up some excuse as to why that would be a bad idea, but then I didn't need to because Paul's car could be heard pulling into the drive. "I have to go. Your brother's back."

Before he could answer, I was out the door and running into the forest. I paused inside the tree line, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I realized I did actually like Tristan, so why did I just sleep with him then blow him off? I could have sworn he looked hurt. I really needed to deal with my Sam issues.

Suddenly, I heard Paul's booming voice in the garage. "Why the fuck does it smell like sex and Clearwater in here?"

I didn't stick around long enough to await Tristan's answer.