Leah Clearwater glanced at her best friend. Here she was in the flesh; not on the other end of a phone or on the receiving end of an email. She was really here. Rachel Black. If Leah was honest with herself, she would have to admit that she never thought she would see Rachel in La Push ever again. She knew the memories La Push brought up in Rachel's mind; most of them bad. Her mother's death; her father's neglect; her own guilt at leaving Jacob behind. It would be too much for most people to handle but Rachel was strong. She always had been. She was also very determined; she wanted to make something of herself; to get out of La Push and never have a reason to come back. But forces are strong and Rachel felt drawn back to the place she had grown up. Like it or not, Rachel was stuck with this place. And more importantly she was stuck with Leah who had been her friend through the thick and the thin.
Rebecca Black had been good to her sister but not good enough. Rebecca was everything Rachel wasn't: bubbly, fun and flirty but also reckless, irresponsible and self-centred. She'd left Rachel to do the hard stuff and Rachel did it without question. Rebecca was the boss; the dominant twin and Rachel had never grown her own back-bone. That's where Leah had always come in very handy for Rachel. Leah Clearwater was fierce, feisty and above all, loyal. She would never have let anything happen to her Rachel. When Rachel had left to go to college, Leah had felt like a part of her had been torn away. And then, later, when Sam had ended their relationship and ran off with her cousin, Leah needed Rachel more than she had ever needed anyone before. But Rachel wasn't there. Quiet, understanding and patient Rachel who was always there when you needed her wasn't there when Leah needed her. Leah had begged her to come home but Rachel had argued that she couldn't leave Rebecca in Washington D.C. all alone. But then Rebecca left her. Rebecca had always been like that; you have to do this for me but I don't have to do the same for you. She was selfish and cruel but Rachel couldn't see that.
Then Rachel returned one day out of the blue. She'd come to Leah's house first; she was afraid of returning home; to the place she had sworn that she would never return to. Leah had been shocked; she'd been angry but she'd been delighted too. Her best friend had come home. Rachel had apologised for not coming when Leah had needed her. She also spoke of her fears of Jacob's reaction; would he accept her back or would he hold a grudge? Leah had known exactly what he would do; Jake, after all, was very like Rachel herself.
During their years apart, Rachel had changed. She was no longer Rebecca Black's mousy little twin; she may still have been little but she definitely wasn't mousy. She was feistier, more independent and was no longer afraid to speak her mind. Leah had felt so proud that day; the little girl she had protected in the playground was now a young woman. It hadn't surprised Leah when Rachel had told her about Paul; there really was no way Paul would have been able to resist Rachel, imprint or no imprint. She really was stunning with glossy black hair that cascaded gently over her shoulders in perfect curls; big chocolate brown eyes, perfect russet skin and plump full lips. They were cute together, Paul and Rachel, there was no denying it. But Leah was jealous; she was happy for her friend but she was also jealous that Rachel had been back for ten minutes and had already found the man she would spend the rest of her life with. Why couldn't that have been her? she asked herself bitterly every time she saw them together. Why wasn't she allowed to be happy? Leah knew she was being selfish but she couldn't help it. She knew Rachel had been through so much in her life and deserved happiness but Leah felt she also had the right to be repaid for all that had happened to her.
Rachel had been furious with her after discovering her secret. It took her a while to understand that Leah hadn't been allowed to tell her about the wolf thing. Only Paul had that right. Rachel and Leah had quickly discovered how easy it was to fall back into life as though Rachel had never left. They had a bond that no-one could break. They understood one another and they accepted one another; flaws and all.
Leah knew that Rachel missed Rebecca though; Rebecca was a part of her and always would be. But Rebecca never called; emailed; texted or sent a letter. It confused and hurt both Rachel and Jake. Their sister didn't care; she was happy and that's all that mattered. That was all that had ever mattered in the Black household. That Rebecca was happy. Rebecca had always been Billy's favourite; probably because Rebecca was very like him. It didn't mean he spent any time with her or was any closer to her than he was to the others but Rebecca was his "little princess". Anything she wanted, she got. This preferential treatment would never have happened when their mother was alive and it made Rachel and Jake feel inadequate; useless; unloved. It was the reason Rachel had never had a boyfriend in high school; she was too self-conscious and insecure to realise that she was beautiful and she could have had anyone she wanted. Leah had always tried to get Rachel to date but she never wanted to. She couldn't see the way boys looked at her when she walked by; she couldn't see it when boys flirted with her in class; she was oblivious.