A/N: I first want to thank the awesome WolfGirlCheri and Lolabean10012007 who looked over this O/S and did fantastic beta work for me. They are both awesome for taking the time to do that for me. Also, this is a near to my heart piece. One of my first few attempts to capture Leah in a relatively good light.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or situations that may be recognized, they belong to SM.
Life… it's a funny thing. One morning you can wake up and be completely content with the way your life is going. You can wake up another day and find yourself wondering where it all went wrong. Most of the time, I found myself wondering why I had been dealt such a miserable hand in life, and how to get through it. Even though I managed to wear my poker face all the time-it had become a second skin- a few people could see, or feel, through it. Like that annoying blonde bloodsucker who manipulated emotions for example.
He had never really spoken to me in all the time I had been in and around the Cullen house. There was one time, after the battle, when we crossed paths as I was patrolling and he was hunting. He had more or less told me he saw, and felt, through the tough girl façade I constantly had up. Before he disappeared out of sight, he sent a wave of happiness at me. I had sat in that spot for a good hour wondering how the hell I could always feel so angry and sad when happiness felt so good. It wasn't until Seth had come looking for me that I pushed everything away, even though I didn't forget those foreign feelings. It took those fake emotions for me to realize that I actually wanted to be happy.
Deep down, I wanted to feel as if I belonged somewhere. I wanted to find my happiness in life, wherever that may be. I'd silently accepted that I would most likely never imprint. After all, I wasn't exactly a candidate for giving birth to strong little babies who might someday protect the tribe. No, that would mean I had to be fertile, which I wasn't. Lucky me, I'm the dried up bitter old hag that no one could or would love. Or at least, that's what I'd had thrown at me the other day for unleashing my attitude on Paul. Though he did look sorry when he realized what he'd said, the damage had already been done.
I sighed as I pushed all my thoughts away, and phased back to my normal human self. Instead of the usual shorts and tank top I normally wore, I pulled on a light yellow sundress. It was obvious I needed to attempt laundry but I didn't care, not right now at least. As I exited the woods, I came face to face with the Cullen home. They were preparing to leave, and I was a little saddened by that. Maybe it was because we'd slowly bonded during the time before the battle, or maybe it was because my Alpha would be leaving with them. He just had to go and imprint on the IT of a child. Thinking about that made a tremor run through my body, but I managed to suppress it for the most part.
It took all of two seconds for Jacob Black to come bounding out of the house, his trademark smile in place. Sometimes I wanted to punch him into oblivion when he smiled. His eyes landed on me and that smile faltered for a brief moment. I was just going to assume it had to do with the fact that I was wearing a dress, which I never fucking did. He stopped walking when he was about a foot away from me. Instantly, his arms crossed over his chest, something he'd started doing when he became an Alpha. "What brings you here, Leah?"
"What? Not happy to see me?" I snapped, unable to fully control my anger.
He sighed. "Can you ever hold a conversation that doesn't start with you being a bitch?"
"It just happens naturally; it's who I am. You should know this by now." It took a lot to keep the growl inside of me.
"Yes, I know it is," he responded. "But you haven't answered my question yet. Why are you here?"
How was I supposed to state my reason for this visit? It wasn't like I had fully thought it out. If I had, I probably wouldn't have begun it with my inner bitch coming out to say hello. His eyes watched me carefully as I contemplated how to broach this delicate issue. After a moment, I swallowed the slight lump in my throat and decided that I should just blurt it out. I've never been the one to sugar coat things in the past, and he knew this, so there was no reason to start doing so now.
"I want to come with you. When you leave, I want to come."
His eyes widened after those words left my mouth. A mere second had passed when I realized several of the Cullen's had come outside. They had obviously overheard what I had said to Jacob. Their scrutinization made me nervous, so much so I stepped back ever so slightly though I'm sure they noticed. Jacob's eyes suddenly narrowed as he chewed his lower lip just a little. When someone else came forward, I was surprised to see it was Rosalie, the Barbie bitch. She seemed calm, but she never took her eyes off of me.
"Why do you want to come with us?" she asked hesitantly. "Your life is in La Push."
I nodded at her words because, up until now, my life was La Push. "I simply can't stay here. When Jacob leaves, I'll have no choice but to fall back in line with Sam. My mother and Seth, they mean so much to me, but staying here, so near to him, I just can't do it. He broke me into so many pieces, and I have only recently started to glue myself back together. I don't want to go back and fall apart all over again. That…that wouldn't be good for anyone, especially not for me." I paused for a moment. "I know what I will be giving up. I also know it will all still be here, waiting for me, should I choose to return at some point. All I'm asking is to come with you to Alaska; I need this more than anything right now."
"You hate leeches," Jacob commented.
"Yes, you used to as well, but you got over it," I sighed. "Why can't I?"
He stared at me for a little while longer. No one else said a word. This was ultimately his decision because I was part of his pack, and he would be responsible for my actions if I were to join them. At first, I was certain he'd say no and I had prepared myself for that possibility the whole way over here, but now, I wasn't so sure. When he sighed, I knew he'd made a decision.
"Leah, you're certain you want to do this? You're willing to leave your family behind just to be away from Sam?"
All I could do was nod.
"Fine, but if you step a toe out of line with anyone, I will Alpha order you back here. The last thing I want to do is take away your free will, so don't make me do it, understood?"
I sat at the kitchen table watching my mom move around in the kitchen as she prepared dinner for Seth and me. She had no idea that this would be the last meal we shared for some time. As much as I wanted to tell her, I couldn't. She would do everything in her power to stop me, to keep me here, and I couldn't break her heart by refusing her pleas. Knowing that she and Seth were going to be hurt by what would appear to be my inconsiderate actions tore me up inside. She smiled at me as she placed a plate filled with food in front of me. Her humming filled the kitchen as she went back to what she was doing.
My appetite was nonexistent, but I forced myself to eat for her benefit. If I didn't, she'd know something was wrong. I stabbed a few green beans and brought the fork to my mouth. As I chewed, I realized how much I would miss my mom's cooking. After I'd managed a few more bites of food, the back door swung open and Seth bounded into the house with his dorky smile. He quickly grabbed the plate from my mom, kissed her cheek and took a seat across from me at the table. His eyes bored into me, but I didn't look at him. Eventually he began to plow into his meal. Taking his lead, I started to devour what was on the plate, even though I wanted to push it away.
When my plate was empty, I stood from the table and went to the sink to rinse it off. With a sigh, I turned around to face my mother. It was out of character, but I hugged her tightly. She was a little shocked, but returned the gesture. On my way towards the stairwell, I ruffled Seth's hair in an affectionate manner. The moment my door was closed, I wiped at my slightly moist eyes and walked to my closet. It was pretty barren because I had managed to shred most of what I owned because of my temper. Sighing, I grabbed the only suitcase I owned and shoved the essentials inside of it.
After a few moments of looking around the room, I went to my window and opened it. I tossed my bag carefully out to avoid the shrubbery beneath. It took me a moment to carefully reach out to the trellis that ran up the side of the house because of my mother and her gardening, but I used it to ease the leap out the window. I was pretty sure that I could have just jumped with my supernatural agility, but I didn't really feel the need to risk it when I had an alternative. With both feet firmly on the ground, I picked up my bag and slung the strap over my shoulder. I barely made it into the forest when I saw Jacob leaning against one of the trees.
"You aren't even going to tell them goodbye?" he questioned with a raised brow.
I shook my head and continued to walk. "I don't do those well."
"Neither do I, but don't you think you at least owe it to them?"
My eyes closed for a moment as I stopped walking. When they opened, he was in front of me. Stealthy bastard. "I don't owe anyone anything. If I go in there and tell them, they will try to stop me. I've made up my mind, and this is the best way to do this. I don't expect anyone to understand my decision, but it is just that, my decision. So back off."
"Alright then, we worked out some details for the drive to Alaska. You get to ride with Rose and Jasper," he smiled as we continued to walk together.
I groaned. "Of all the fucking people, I get stuck with the prick who can feel my emotions, and the bitch whose head I would love to accidently take off. Some looking out for me, mighty Alpha asshole."
Jacob let out a loud laugh as we walked through the forest. Phasing would be easier, but I didn't feel like chewing through the strap of my bag so I could carry it. After a few moments, Jake phased and said he'd catch up, that he needed to speak with Sam before we departed in the morning. I hoped that he wouldn't be mentioning my presence just yet. There was no doubt in my mind that Sam would run and tell my mommy on me; he was a baby in that sense. I wanted to laugh at the thought of a grown man who tattles to other people's mommies. Before the smile could appear on my face, pain ran through me.
I managed to suppress the intense emotions as I approached the Cullen house. The sugary bleach smell assaulted my nostrils. It used to bother me and cause me to phase on the spot but now… now I wasn't bothered by it at all. I'd become accustomed to it when the packs split because the leech lover went and got knocked up. The whore should have just kept her legs fucking closed. For the longest time, I wondered how a dead piece of marble could even have living sperm; the entire concept really baffled me, but I pushed those thoughts away. My presence would be known to the Cullen's, and I didn't need dickhead reading my thoughts.
Jack and Jill went up the hill…. I thought over and over as I stopped walking.
Branches snapped behind me and I felt Jake's presence as he stepped out of the trees. He didn't say a word as we approached the stairs that led into the house. Another scent wafted through the air and hit my senses. It was sort of sweet, but I swore it smelled like cinnamon and chocolate blended together. My eyes snapped towards Jacob who didn't seem to notice the difference, or maybe he was used to it?
"Is there a human here?" I asked as I focused on the sounds, realizing there was an extra heartbeat coming from within.
He glanced at me with a confused look, but he seemed to understand as he opened the front door. "Do you remember Nahuel?"
The name was familiar, but I couldn't place it. "Not really."
"He was the one that Alice and Jasper went to find. The one who is like Nessie, and was the proof she wasn't dangerous," he explained as the door shut behind us.
"So, he was the other IT," I muttered which earned me a sharp look from Jake. "Well, I think IT is better than some of the other choice words that I could call them. I'm not apologizing so stop giving me that look. You look a little constipated, kind of like how Jasper looks when he's around humans."
"Very funny," I heard filter down the stairs and I almost smiled.
"It's true. It looks like you need to take a gigantic crap. But hey, at least it doesn't look like you want to eat them."
Jacob sent me a glare that kept me from continuing as I followed him into the kitchen where Esme and Carlisle were holding a whispered conversation. When we entered, they stopped speaking and smiled at us. Obviously Jake was right at home as he quickly disappeared, leaving me with the leeches. I felt a slight tremor run through my body, but managed to keep it at bay so I didn't phase in the expensive looking kitchen. "I'll just go sleep in the woods."
"Nonsense dear," Esme beamed. "Edward's old room is empty. It's all the way up the stairs and to your right. There is a bathroom as well, so make yourself at home until morning."
With a brief nod, I turned and exited the room. I made it up to the second landing when I ran into Rose. She looked like she was actually waiting for me. Her eyes locked onto mine, and I wanted to throw some random dumb blonde joke at her. It was incredibly hard to bite it back. The last thing I needed to do was create an even worse tension between us, especially since I was going to be trapped in a vehicle with her soon. I waited for her to move-she was blocking my way-but she didn't.
"If you want, we can leave now. We weren't really expecting you until the morning, but we are ready to go. Jasper wants to be with Alice since she left this morning with Emmett."
I nodded. "Sure."
A few moments later, I was tossing my bag into the slightly cramped trunk of her car. When I heard a noise behind us, I noticed Jasper entering into the garage, behind him was a slightly familiar figure. The chocolate and cinnamon scent intensified as the two men approached us. My focus snapped away from them as I climbed my ass into the backseat of Rose's fancy car. It was soon after that someone sat beside me.
In the silence, I realized his heart was beating and my head snapped to look at him. His hair was a deep brown and pulled into a clip at the back of his neck. The skin that stretched over his beautifully defined arm was slightly tanned. I assumed they would both match, even if I could only see one. When his head turned and his light brown eyes met mine, I cursed under my breath. It wasn't enough that this IT was gorgeous; no, I had to fucking feel like gravity shifted. My genetic dead-ended ass would imprint on a fucking guy that was half bloodsucker.
This was going to be a long trip-a really long trip.
The snow was falling outside. I had a bird's eye view of the backyard which had been covered in a white blanket for the two weeks we'd been in Alaska. It was really pretty to look at, but it was cold as shit to run around in. Even with my increased body temperature, cold was still cold. My eyes drifted away from the outdoor scenery when I saw Jacob shaking snow out of his hair as he exited the forest with Bella, Eddie, and Nessie, the thing child.
Normally when the Cullen's held family meetings, I bolted out the door and phased. It let me get away from them before they could try to include me. I may be staying in their house with them, but I wasn't their family. Mine was back in La Push, and I had it on good authority that they were beyond pissed at me for my little disappearing act. Who could blame them though? If the situation was reversed and Seth had pulled the stunt that I did, I'd be coming after his ass with a vengeance.
At first I thought that maybe they just didn't care. After all, they all knew where the Cullen's were heading, so it wouldn't have been hard to track my ass down. Jacob had admitted that he paid a little visit to Sam. In turn, there was an Alpha order put in place to keep anyone from coming to Alaska, period. I shouted a few profanities at him for talking to Sam, but I came to my senses. Of course, being as stubborn as I am, I wouldn't apologize for flipping my shit on him; he was only trying to help. I just walked off and showed him the polished nail on my middle finger. He wasn't all that pleased with my attitude, but he was putting up with me being here. At this point, I think everyone knew why I hung around, whether I'd ever admit it or not. Denial is beautiful thing.
A throat cleared and pulled me from my mental ramblings. I glanced around and noticed every member of the family was seated around the large oak table, including Nahuel. It bothered me that he hadn't left, but at the same time, I was a little relieved that he was still around. Of course, every single time he tried to talk to me, I had a few choice words for him. He seemed particularly upset after my comment about whether or not he was a man. Because, you know, ITS aren't male or female, so wouldn't that mean he isn't a man? Of course the hurt look on his face bothered me, and as much as I wished I didn't care, I sort of did. Well, not until Jake beat the shit out of me in wolf form for inadvertently insulting his imprint.
Another throat cleared, snapping me out of my reverie. I looked around slightly confused, until I remembered: Meeting. Oh, right. My attention immediately went back to the Doc. He had an eyebrow slightly raised as he watched me with an amused expression. With a glance around the table, I realized almost everyone was watching me. I took pleasure in the scowl on Edward's face, and realized he caught my musing about the whole he, she, or it thing. If you don't like my insults, Eddiekins, don't stick your sparkly nose in my thoughts. There, that earned a slight growl from him.
Carlisle really should get his throat clearing checked out-three times in a two minute span. "If you two will concentrate, we have something that needs to be discussed," he stated. His tone sounded strange, forced. Whatever we were going to be talking about, he didn't seem to want to be here for it.
The fact that he seemed to want to be somewhere else made me wonder if this was about me. I wasn't exactly the most pleasant person when you blindsided me. Then again, I don't think I had a pleasant bone in my body. That, coupled with my bad attitude and irritability, made for a slightly dangerous encounter. In a way, you could say I had PMS 365 days a year, without the shitty bleeding for a week part. The one good thing about my whole infertile thing was that there was no need to shove an absorbent sponge into my vagina. Are vampires attracted to women when they bleed? Oh, better yet, does that mean that there isn't a time a leech wouldn't go down on a girl? I asked in my head, earning one hell of a growl from Edward.
"Can you try to not be so crude?" he snarled.
I smiled. "Can you stay the hell out of my head? Oh wait, maybe you can just pull your head out of your ass, or does Bella like it when things are shoved…"
I was cut off by Carlisle's fist coming down on the table. All heads snapped in his direction, and it was clear as day that he wasn't amused by the childish behavior Eddie and I were showing. The Cullen's didn't scare me, but seeing the Doc so annoyed brought out a tinge of fear, especially since he rarely ever showed any sort of anger.
"I won't say it again, concentrate. We are here to discuss a certain matter. Please refrain from acting like two-year-olds until we are done. Can you both handle that?" he questioned, looking between Edward and I.
Edward muttered a yes, and I simply nodded. When Carlisle was satisfied with our answers, he spoke again. "Jacob, I believe you should start this off."
He sighed and sent me an apologetic look before he opened his mouth. "We need to discuss your imprinting, Leah."
What. The. Fuck.
I felt my anger come spiraling down on me. With slow movements, I stood from the chair I'd chosen earlier. My eyes were locked on Jacob as my shaking hands came to rest on the table. The tremors were intensified as I looked at him, his words repeating in my head. They wanted to discuss my imprint-MY IMPRINT. It had nothing to do with any of them, not one. How fucking dare they decide that this is something that needed to be discussed at a family meeting! My lip twitched, and I felt the heated glares of everyone on me.
"I. DON'T. ," was all I could bite out.
Jacob's demeanor changed in a moment's time as Nessie clung tightly to his arm from the seat beside him. His eyes narrowed into slits and a low growl filled the room. Our eyes were locked on each other, and I was ready to jump over the table and take his ass out. Alpha or not, he had no fucking right to bring this up. If he wanted to discuss this then fine, but not here, not now. This was not acceptable. I felt a hand on my shoulder. Without a single glance to which it belonged to, one of my hands came up and flung it away forcefully, my eyes never left my piece of shit Alpha.
"Calm the hell down," Jake whispered, his body shaking ever so slightly.
I leaned further in towards him. "NO," I spat venomously, so close to losing the control I fought so desperately to keep.
"SIT DOWN, NOW," he all but yelled, his Alpha timbre reverberating through the room. Unable to control my actions, I found myself sitting in the chair and shaking madly. His narrowed eyes were still on me when he spoke again. "You will not phase now; that's an order."
"Jake," I heard Bella's voice tinkling through the air.
"No Bells, we are doing this. I was hoping we could do this like civilized adults, but clearly Leah doesn't know how to act like a grown up," he snapped at her, and then turned his words to me. "I don't like taking away your free will, but you have to suck it up for now."
He shook his head slightly, his calm presence slowly returning. "Like I said before your outburst, we need to talk about the imprint. It's been pretty obvious that something is up with you. You have barely been eating and I doubt you've been sleeping."
No shit Sherlock, I was pretty damn sure that those lovely bags under my eyes weren't just a decoration. In fact, I think I had managed to get a whole ten hours of sleep in a whopping fourteen day time span. Yeah, I guess that means I'm not sleeping enough. Food, what's that? I haven't eaten an entire plate of food in who knows how long. Very observant, mighty Alpha shithead; so proud of you for stating the obvious. Maybe I should make you an award for being Captain Obvious. Do you like macaroni? I used to be a pro at gluing them to paper plates.
"She hasn't," Dickward stated. It became a little more obvious why they made this into a family meeting. They were using Eddie to pick everything out of my head. "My name is Edward. She caught on, by the way, but I doubt she'll be able to fully block me."
"I'm sitting right here and I, too, have a name. It isn't SHE, it is Leah," I snapped, glaring at him as I crossed my arms over my chest.
Sometimes I hated being in a house full of dead bloodsuckers. It felt as if they thought they were better than everyone else, especially Edward and his arrogance with his ability to invade people's minds. This wasn't the first time he had spoken about me as if I wasn't around, when I was actually a few feet from him. Maybe if you want me to have even a slight bit of respect for your name, you can do that for me.
"Why have you been causing yourself pain? Why not just accept what fate handed you?" Jasper asked, seemingly shocking everyone by speaking. I knew he wasn't one to pry, but his words kind of caught me off guard.
It dawned on me that he had managed to keep his mouth shut the entire trip here. He surely had to of felt the barrage of emotions I'd experienced from the imprint, but yet remained silent. That made him earn a little respect in my book, his words now also increased that. I knew he wasn't attempting to force information out of me; he was curious and he made sure to send a wave of that at me so I knew his intentions were well-meaning. Before I answered his question, I did my best to muster thanks towards him. He nodded slightly, acknowledging what I had done.
"Before I answer that, why didn't you bring it up when we were on the way here? You had to of known?"
He nodded again, this time it was more prominent and meant for everyone to see. "I felt the similar emotions when Jacob imprinted on Nessie, even though I wasn't here in the exact moment it happened for him. As you've learned, I don't stick my nose into anyone else's business unless it somehow involves me. Imprinting does not, and I could feel how intense your feelings were. I also knew that you were struggling to process them. There was no reason for me to interfere in it in anyway; it's something you must do on your own."
"My life was destroyed by imprinting, fate was unusually cruel to me," I sighed looking down at the table, all my anger had completely vanished and pain flooded me. "I lost the man I thought was my future, my forever, because of a stupid imprint. He didn't even seem to care that he'd broken my heart, and I don't think I have accepted that, not even now. What I think it really comes down to is that I needed to know it can't be fought, that there is no loophole. I know you may not understand, but I needed—need-to know that for sure."
"Did you get an answer yet?" Jasper asked quietly.
"Yes. I know that there was nothing he could have done to break what fate had planned. I'm trying to accept that. I don't feel like anyone else when they have imprinted. All those feelings, they are still there and are in the very forefront of my mind. They didn't just go away or become dull. Jacob was over his love for Bella so quickly, Sam loved Emily instantly, but me, I'm so clouded by everything else that I can't feel anything else."
Silence stretched over the room, and it was then that I remembered all of the Cullen's were here as I expressed myself. My body didn't let me forget how close my imprint was; I always felt when he was near, and when he was far. It bothered me, but I'd learned to accept that small bit of what fate threw at me.
Several minutes passed when a slight sigh broke the silence. "Maybe you can't feel anything because you haven't been able to let go of the past." His silky tone seemed to have a calming effect on me, and that scared me. "We all have our skeleton-filled closets, but they only haunt us if we let them. Sometimes you have to open that door and face it all one last time in order to move past what you were trying to keep locked away. Let it go, Leah. You won't ever be happy until you do."
"How can you be so sure?" I whispered.
He slowly rose from his chair. I was stunned at how tall he really was. I'd never noticed it. His movements were slow, but precise, as he made his way to where I was seated. I wanted to look at him, to study the handsome features I'd been trying to ignore for two grueling weeks, without much luck. So many things spiraled through my mind as his few steps seemed to take forever. My traitorous eyes met his, and he hesitated for a brief moment, but didn't stop. When he reached my side, his slightly tan hand came out towards me. Do I take it? My eyes drifted away from his intense and dark ones, and fell to his outstretched hand.
One simple gesture could possibly change everything.
I knew that I couldn't deny that he was my imprint. The constant pull I felt wouldn't be ignored. His presence, so close to me, was bringing me an immense amount of comfort and I just couldn't help but wonder what giving in to everything I'd been fighting against would feel like. Would I finally be able to sleep again? Could I eat an entire meal and keep it down? I couldn't help but think back to the happiness that Jasper had shown me. Would accepting my fate bring me that intense happiness that I so secretly craved to have? Do I take his hand, or do I shun him?
When our eyes met once more, I couldn't deny what I saw there. Until now, I hadn't really thought much about vampires and mating because he was only half-blooded. My mind wandered to what I was searching for, and it came crashing down on me in an instant. If I had imprinted on him, then his vampire half must be mated to me, or at least I thought so. I found myself looking away from Nahuel and towards Eddie…Edward. When our eyes met, he just nodded faintly.
My eyes shot back to the man who still had his hand out to me, waiting for me to accept. His eyes were now pleading, and I wondered just how long I'd been lost in my thoughts. As I started to react, I felt guilt wash over me. For a moment, I thought it had been Jasper, but it was all me. If I had been hurting myself so badly for two long weeks, was he hurting if I was his mate? Did he feel all the same pain that I did? What a fucking mess imprinting and mating are, I thought, as I finally made my decision.
As I slipped my hand in his, I watched his face. He seemed pleased, but he also seemed shocked that I had given the response I did. It kind of surprised me as well. Two weeks ago, I would have shoved him away and laughed when he stumbled, or something anger related. It was my thing. I didn't really know how to be anything but sad or angry; it's all I'd been for a long time. Neither of us moved, and I still wanted to know how he could be so sure that I would be happy.
He must have seen the question in my expression. "I'm so sure that you will be happy because I want to make you happy. I have an eternity to do so. I think we should finish this conversation elsewhere." His eyes drifted across the table to Jake. "Can you lift the order? I think Leah and I need to be alone to talk now."
My heart raced as he led me out of the house, my hand clasped with his. I was scared, something that didn't happen very often. It felt like hours had passed before we finally reached the tree line. He released my hand and turned his back to me. I took the moment to remove my clothing and phase into wolf form. After a moment, he turned around and sent a small smile in my direction. As he started to move deeper into the snowy forest, all I could do was follow him. His run speed was slow enough that I could keep up easily. It wasn't long until we reached a snowy meadow.
His back was to me and so I took the time to phase and quickly replace my clothing. He didn't turn around so I took the few steps and put myself beside him. I glanced up at him, the hard lines of his face seemed so hard, but they softened when his head turned to look at me. There was the slightest tug at the corner of my mouth, but I managed to fight the urge to smile. It kind of shocked me a little that I found myself wanting to do such an action. Smiling…it was so foreign to me.
After a moment, he moved his arm and took hold of my hand. For a second, I wanted to pull away, but that didn't last. I found my hand grasping his as he gently pulled me towards a large tree at the edge of the meadow. He released my hand as he sat with his back against the tree. At first, I wanted to keep standing so I could easily keep him at a distance. Just because I was here with him didn't mean I was ready to completely give in. Instead of standing though, I found myself moving to sit beside him. Our bodies were so close and I felt a sense of comfort when my knee brushed his jean-clad leg. As I was about to pull it away, his hand came to rest on my leg, and I felt slightly paralyzed by his touch.
I couldn't help but dwell on how warm his hand felt on my bare skin. It was nice, really nice. For some reason I expected him to be icy but I never really considered that he was part human, his heart still beat. It was currently beating at a steady pace and that too was oddly comforting. My eyes wandered to his chest, which was covered by a thin gray tee-shirt. As I continued to stare at where his heart was located, my hand had lifted and was moving towards him. When I realized what I was doing, I allowed my hand to drop like a dead weight. Surprise ran through me when he removed his hand from my knee. He turned to face me, now resting on his knees in the white blanket covering the ground.
"It's okay, go ahead," was all he said.
My hand instantly lifted and came to rest on his chest, above his beating heart. I could feel the steady pounding beneath my hand. As I continued to feel and hear his heart, my eyes fluttered closed. There was so much comfort radiating through me because of this simplest of actions. It was in this very moment that I finally realized how human he really was. His hand came to rest over mine. For the first time in a while, I didn't feel angered to have someone touch me. It was quite the opposite.
Why was I fighting this so hard when the emotions were so wonderful?
"I'm still very much alive, Leah."
I felt myself nod. "I know. It's just hard to accept. Part of you is what my kind is meant to kill, but the other part, is the part that I'm supposed to protect. I have hated Nessie because I thought she was such an abomination, but I honestly never tried to understand."
"We all judge a book by its cover from time to time," he sighed. "I did it to you without realizing. Everyone always said you were such a bitch, caught up in your own thing. I kind of let that cloud my view of who you were. When I spent time watching you-no, I wasn't trying to be creepy before you ask-I saw how sad and angry you looked. It made me realize that maybe you weren't the person I'd assumed you to be."
"I've been sad and angry for a long time. It doesn't surprise me that people think of me in a bad light. I've done things to deserve that kind of negativity," I admitted, feeling sadness run through me. "I made everyone around me deal with my feelings because I couldn't. I've managed to alienate a lot of people. It may seem like I've never given a damn but I have. It made me angry to see how everyone thought of me, and it made me sad to know how miserable I seemed to make everyone else. That was not what I wanted. I never wanted any of this."
One of his hands still rested on top of mine, which was still firmly planted on his chest; the other came up to rest on my cheek. My eyes shot open and met his dark gaze. There was so much written on his face, but I couldn't decipher any of it because he managed to mask it all very quickly. This was one of the rare times when I wish I could channel Jasper's ability and discover everything Nahuel felt as he sat here before me, an unreadable book. Empathy aside, I wondered if he would just tell me if I made an effort to ask him. The worst he could do was ignore my question and not tell me.
"Can I ask you something, Nahuel?" I whispered softly.
He nodded slightly. "You can ask me anything you want. I'll do my best to answer."
"What are you feeling right now?"
"I will tell you, but I want you to tell me what you wanted before you became a protector for your tribe," he responded.
I swallowed the slight lump in my throat as my mind wandered back. That was a time in my life when I was optimistic, when I was actually happy and content with my life. It was before I lost the man I wanted forever with, before I became a shape-shifter, before I contributed to my father's death. All of that felt like a thousand years ago, but it hadn't been all that long ago. My mind racked over all the things that I had wanted then.
"I wanted to be happy. I pictured myself walking down the aisle in a beautiful white dress with a gorgeous groom waiting for me. There were times when I thought about my stomach swollen with a child that I could love, and would love me in return. I wanted to be married, to have a family of my own. I just wanted to be happy. That was all that really mattered. I thought I would have all of that with Sam, then fate intervened and completely messed everything up. She took the man I thought I would have all of those things with from me, she took my father too, and she took my choices from me when she decided that I needed to phase. I lost so much, I don't think anyone ever realized how shafted I felt. All I wanted was my happily ever after."
He nodded slowly. "I'm sad, I'm happy, I'm hurt. I am so many things that it is hard to name them all. Sitting here watching you as you open up about all of this, it breaks my heart, Leah. I just can't help but feel how sad you are. I don't want you to feel how broken you do; no one should ever feel that. But I'm happy too. I'm happy because you are letting me in, whether you realize it or not. I know this is going to take time, but this is a nice start, compared to the last few weeks. Just so you know, I am very much a man."
"I might make you prove that at some point," I said, attempting to smile a little.
His smirk was firmly in place as he responded. "I have every intention of proving how much of a man I can be. I also have every intention to supply you with your happily ever after as well. We will get there, I promise you that. You just have to want it. You have to let me help you get there, Leah."
My eyes felt moist and I felt like an emotional little girl as I nodded. "Just don't give up on me. I think everyone else always has."
"Never," he whispered leaning into me. "I'll never give up on you." With those words, his lips softly met mine.