A/N This is the second chapter in the same day. Go back if you haven't read 'Welcome to the Jungle'

WARNING: This chapter has a warning as it mentions potential rape. Nothing happens, but thought I'd give the warning as it could be a trigger for some people. As always this story is rated M for Mature.

Thanks again to Mist for pre-reading. Also, many thanks to all of you for your continued support.

I don't own anything except my computer. Piece of sh...

Previously on Breath of Life: (BPOV)

"I'm under house arrest?" I asked incredulously.

"Oh, don't be so dramatic, Isabella. You can go anywhere on the reservation," Old Quil appeased.

How gracious of you, I snarked in my head.

I put on my most defiant look and glared at him, "I have work." And a sorta life.


I dropped my head on the table and groaned in defeat.

~B of L~

'Diversion. Make a lot of noise over there, so over here in this room, you can take a hundred million off the wall and waltz right out the front door. Oh, that's good.'

-Catherine Banning: The Thomas Crown Affair-

Chapter 21: Diversion

Songs: Come Together covered by Aerosmith; 528491 by Hans Zimmer; Mind Heist by Zack Hemsey

3POV - (Several days later)

Not this time!

They were NOT going to another meeting without him. It was high time he was in the know for once.

Finally! Jax had been at the right place at the right time to hear something.

Unfortunately, it came at a price. Makala and Bella were making cupcakes. Bella might be a tough nut to crack, but Jax knew little Makala wouldn't be able to resist his puppy dog eyes. The Ateara charm had luckily followed him into his reincarnation.

There was no way a ten-year old girl could eat all of them and, of course, most of the Pack was with him. Anyway, the meeting was more important than cupcakes.

After a fast run, he could hear raised voices. And a moment later he could see the clearing ahead.

"What does he want? He could have killed her; he had plenty of opportunity. But he tried to take her to the reservation. Why?" Paul LaHote thundered as he paced back and forth in front of four leeches.

The big oaf of a vampire just shrugged and the others remained stoic.

"Regardless of why, he has to be killed," the blonde vampiress said. "Jasper is doing some recon trying to track him. The rogue went towards Olympia after he left Newton's last week. Last night he went toward Canada. Jasper just texted a few minutes ago that he hasn't found any trace of him in Vancouver or Seattle and is heading back."

The rogue had tried once more to get on the reservation but had failed. Embry and Quil had raised the alarm at about two in the morning. The Pack knew he would be back eventually, but had decided it was time to try to coordinate efforts with the Cullens. While Jared and Sam patrolled, they decided to meet with the coven while the doctor was his most useful at the hospital.

"Uh, does Carlisle know about this?" the doctor's mate asked worriedly. Jax saw the Pack and the blonde vamp collectively roll their eyes.

Esme Cullen had been going over new blueprints when she had caught the 'children' sneaking out twenty minutes ago. As her mate was due to be in the hospital for another twelve hours, she had allowed curiosity to take over and followed the two mated pairs to the treaty line.

"What would be the point? He's sat on his ass long enough," Barbie mouthed.

"Rosalie!" The matriarch admonished.

"Worthless as tits on a boar hog," Emmett mumbled lowly as he pulled his wife into his side.

Rosalie ignored Esme and continued, "Whatever. We are done waiting for him to get us kicked out of Washington. I actually like it here."

Jax decided to walk out into the clearing. Quil and Embry turned and gave him a curious glance but quickly dismissed him. When he continued to walk across the grass the others took notice. Animals didn't approach the wolves; instincts wouldn't allow it.

And approach a coven of vampires? Unheard of.

"Is there something wrong with that dog?" Emmett asked, his head cocked in curiosity to the side. "He doesn't look like he's foaming at the mouth."

Jax huffed and continued to sniff around the leeches in large concentric circles for a moment then moved closer to investigate between them. He heard Jake call his name but ignored him. The other's quickly disregarded the dog's novelty and continued to ponder on how to eliminate the treacherous rogue vampire.

With Jax's curiosity sufficiently scratched and his nose thoroughly burning from their noxious smell, he passed the June Cleaver wannabe and noticed how immaculate she was dressed, from her perfectly coiffed hair to her very expensive looking designer shoes.

Oh, what the hell...

Jax paused halfway past the female, and promptly lifted his left leg. The entire Pack roared with laughter, and half of the Cullen's snickered at the dog's antics. The dark-haired girl groaned something about Louboutins, while the Stepford wife screeched in humiliation and promptly left the clearing. She would not be missed.

"I love this dog!" Emmett exclaimed. He looked over to his mate, "Can we keep him?"

She threw him a look of annoyance, "No."

"Aaah, maaaannnn."

Jax growled but chuckled in his head. That guy wasn't so bad, for a vampire. And they had been watching over Bella for several weeks.

The canine waltzed back to the Pack side of the clearing and plopped down at Jake's feet to observe the rest of the proceedings.

Rosalie turned to the dark-haired girl, "Alice, have you seen anything?"

The Pack looked at the vampires questionly. What did she mean by seen? Jax was happy to know he wasn't the only one in the dark for once.

Emmett turned to the wolves, "She has a gift of seeing the future." At the collective growl from Jax and the entire Pack he carried on, "It's not failsafe. It's dependent on people's decisions. They change their mind, and the future changes."

Alice spoke up, "I have never been able to see anything to do with you wolves. And I can't seem to see what the rogue wants. I am assuming since Bella is involved with one of you," she nodded toward Paul, "that is why I can't seem to see her or his attempts to get to her. My visions have been few and far between with regard to her, actually they have been sporadic in general lately. I'm not sure why."

The explanation seemed to pacify everyone except Paul, who still simmered in his anger.

Rosalie and Emmett shared a glance. Alice's trepidation was as clear on her features as in her words. She was worried, and that didn't bode well for the situation at all.

A howl rose above the forest.

"Fuck, that's Jared," Jake said as he stared out into the distance. He gave a nod to the vampires and turned back to his Pack. Within less than a minute, the clearing was empty of all but Jax.

He sighed. In the dark again...

~B of L~

Later that day...

"What is that?" Elder Cameron asked his friend as he looked far away to St. James Island. A plume of smoke was rising in the air.

Old Quil cursed internally. With everything else, now they had to deal with campers on their sacred lands. "Call Jared, ask him to come over here." The other man quickly called his grandson, and within a few minutes the weary looking wolf came up to them.

Jared had patrolled the night before and had just got back from chasing the dread-locked and red-headed leeches to Canada, where they had promptly got away. He was tired, frustrated, and all he wanted to do was crawl into bed.

Just before he approached the two Elders, a noxious smell caught his attention. The smell of burning leech.

Looking in the direction the scent wafted from, he noticed the purplish smoke rising in the sky. "What the..."

His muttering caught the attention of the two older men. "Jared, there you are. We need you to take a boat and escort some trespassing campers off our land," Old Quil commented to the young man.

"I don't think it's campers." Jared said blankly, his eyes remaining above the island ahead of him.

Both men looked back to where the wolf's attention was, and looked back at him. "Why do you say that?" his grandfather questioned.

"Vampire. That's burning vampire," Jared said, nodding his head toward the purplish plume of smoke.

"Are you sure Jared?" his grandfather gave him a disbelieving look. "Why would there be a vampire burning on St. James Island?"

"Decoy?" The young wolf wondered aloud as he watched the smoke continue to loft over the water. He explained what had been going on with the leeches that escaped, Bella and Makala, and the Cullen women. It was a clusterfuck. Jake had ordered him to hours sleep before he had to take Paul's shift. No sooner had he walked into his room to lay down than his granddad had called.

Old Quil furrowed his brow. He didn't know what was going on, but he had a bad feeling. "Go. Alone. Swim there and phase so the pack can catalogue any scents. If you smell more than that vampire, come back immediately. No heroics."

With a nod to the Shaman, Jared went off to investigate.

Jeff Cameron looked at his old friend, concern on his face for not only his retreating grandson, but for the entire situation. "What the hell is going on, Quil?"

"I don't know, Jeff. I just don't know."

~B of L~


It had been several days since my, far too close, encounter with the vampire.

Billy had called Mr. Newton and asked if I could help the reservation with some community work. The business would get props for it, the reservation got some help, the Wolves didn't have to look for my ass beyond tribal lands, and I'd get a reprieve from the troll that was Mike Newton.

So basically, a win-win for everybody. I was cooking meals for the elderly around the reservation. Of course, Old Quil was magnanimous and only asked for a pie. It took great restraint not to throw it in his face when I presented it to him.

Although I was enjoying myself, I vowed today was the last day of my confinement. Five days was as much as I could handle. I needed some clothes from Charlie's and just a little time to gather my thoughts.

I had told Paul as much while I cooked him, Makala, and myself chocolate chip pancakes. It was comical how his fork stopped midway to his mouth as I told him. I could tell he wanted to growl, but couldn't with Makala next to him. She didn't know he was a big puppy yet, but was supposed to find out at a big bonfire the next evening. I thought Paul would have been happy about it, but he wasn't.

The last few days had been unnerving, but there seemed to be a storm brewing on the horizon. Which was really ironic, because the normally rainy Washington coast had been quite sunny as of late. As the week passed, my nightmares became more intense. Vampires, werewolves, and a crying Chase were the regular actors. They tended to be the same in nature. My fleeing in the woods behind Chase until I reached the ocean. If I was lucky, I woke up before the demon caught me. Other times, not so much. After one terribly disturbing dream a couple days ago, I couldn't handle being touched by even Paul for most of the morning.

I had left out most of my conversation with the vampire out when I had told Paul and the others about it. They thought he only wanted to kill me on the Rez as an ultimate fuck you to them. However, there was more to it I was sure. My blood was not the prize, and I doubted even raping me would have been. I got the distinct feeling that I was a means to an end. The feeling was normal for me; my parents only tolerated me. I wondered what Paul's fascination with me was beyond feeding him and bumping uglies with him.

Okay, that wasn't fair. Paul and I really got along well, and I was falling for him fast. He was only worried about me. It seemed it was more than just about my screaming myself awake. He didn't volunteer anything though, and I had learned long ago to not ask questions that I was afraid to have answered.

Anyway, Paul had been near insufferable lately, flat out demanding I not leave the reservation. I totally suspected he would lock me up in his bedroom if not for my pig-tailed shadow.

I felt as if I was in a cage. It was irrational I knew, but I couldn't ignore the oppression of it. It was hard to admit without sounding ungrateful. They were protecting me. I doubted heads of state were guarded as well. The rogue vampire was dangerous, my plastered arm was proof of that. I understood Caveman Paul and the Elders' concern came from a good place.

However, it still pissed me the fuck off.

Paul had just went off to some tribal meeting and then he would go to his 'reservation job'. In other words, he would be looking for vampires in between lifting his furry leg on trees. I had told him as much once, and he had been less than amused.

I had initially been pissed at myself for not catching on earlier to all the fuckery going on around me. But in my defense, it wasn't like Paul was Superman and all he did was put on a pair of glasses to disguise himself as Clark Kent. He turned into a freaking giant wolf. A wolf, I might add, that I had not even seen yet. So, I was feeling a little bit better about my complete lack of observation.

My current concerns, however, stemmed from the almost oppressive sense of foreboding that followed me around like a dark cloud. It would have been nice to spend my restless nights relieving my anxiety with sexual gratification. But for whatever reason, Paul was holding out on me. Weren't guys supposed to like sex? Weren't werewolves all Nine Inch Nail fans and their motto was 'I want to fuck you like an animal'? If it wasn't, it should be.

Yesterday I had even caught myself humming 'Closer' as a not-so-subtle invite. Paul had abruptly left and I'm pretty sure went swimming instead. Not quite an ego boost.

It was just as well, because I was already edgy. And an edgy Bella, was a busy Bella.

So to distract myself I cooked, baked, and canned vegetables. And I cleaned. Beside the mountains of food I had prepared, I had cleaned Old Quil's, Paul's, Billy's, and Hank's houses. They had not asked for that of course, but I was using counter space in all four kitchens. Each kitchen had to be cleaned before I could start cooking and it just snowballed from there. I was like Mr. Clean on speed. It was a disorder, I was sure, but I had more pressing matters.

Like getting off the reservation for a few hours.

Amidst the cooking and cleaning, I spent a lot of time with Makala. It was amazing to watch her fascination with all we were doing. For the second time in my life, I felt the loss of not having a sibling. I could see now that I was Makala's Reggie, the pseudo big sister to teach, and more importantly distract me from the heartache of having no mother.

For better or worse, I partially filled those shoes for Makala LaHote. It would end up biting me on the ass, I was sure.

And today we were making cupcakes for no other reason than it was Thursday and homage must be paid. We had just pulled the last batch out of the oven to cool when Makala had determined we had no sprinkles. Although I had long ago outgrew my need for such things when my buttercream frosting would more than suffice, I didn't argue. It was the little things in life, and I was ten once too.

We walked over to Ateara's store, but they were out and didn't expect a delivery of things until the following Monday. We grabbed a few things for dinner and walked back to Paul's house.

When the groceries were put away, I looked over at a dejected Makala. "You still want sprinkles?" She smiled at me, a dimple peeking through, and nodded her head. We had been cooking non-stop for almost a week. It was nice to cook something for just ourselves for once. And if we wanted sprinkles, by God, we'd have them.

I smiled back, "Okay. We'll go to the Thriftway and grab some." Although Forks was outside of the reservation, the little I knew about the Wolves afforded me that they had incorporated the neighboring town into their patrol area. Plus, the leech had been in the area late last night and was chased to Oregon.

Makala and I were laughing and singing along to the music on my crappy radio. As we approached the outskirts of the reservation, the mood in the truck changed. Makala was quiet and when I chanced a glance at her, she had a fearful look on her face. She was staring at the highway ahead of us, panic coloring her features. When I turned my head back to road, my eyes widened.

All I was cognizant of was the image of a raven haired woman standing in the middle of road. Her arm was extended, her hand urging me to stop while her head shook back and forth. I slammed on the brakes, my right hand extending to ensure that Max's seat belt worked as well. The sound of tires screeching tore through the cab of the truck, but I paid it no concern. Neither of us said anything, the only sound was our labored breathing. Our attention remained fixated on the woman before us.

I almost sighed in relief that someone had finally seen the same thing as me for once. But when the woman's soft, whispered words made their way to my ears, any momentary peace I had poured out of me like water through a sieve. "No. Do not leave the reservation."

At first I didn't recognize her, although I knew that I had seen her before. A flash of a picture on a mantel crossed my mind, and I gasped at the same time as Makala when realization came to me that this was Jane, Makala's mother.

"Mom? Mom!"

"Go back," the woman implored again.

Before I could get my bearings, the passenger door was wide open and Makala was flying toward the ghostly figure in the middle of the road.

"Makala! Don't!" I screamed as a threw my door open and ran after her.

By the time I caught up with her, the apparition was no longer visible. Makala was crumbled on the asphalt, sobbing into her hands. I wanted to sit down and wrap my arms around her in comfort, but we were in the middle of the damn highway.

We needed to move.

I bent down and pulled us both back up as I tried to console her the best I could. We began walking slowly back to the truck, but abruptly stopped when we heard a door slam. I looked up but there was no car that had driven upon us.

A cold shiver ran down my back, cluing me in that we were no longer alone.

A sense of dread filled me instantly as I slowly turned to face my rusted truck. Leaning against it casually was the psychotic blonde vampire from last week.

Oh God, no!

He stood next to the passenger side, a malignant and triumphant smile on his face, his clothes dripping wet as if he had been swimming in the ocean.

I took a deep breath, trying to think of something, anything, that would get us out of this. First, try to negotiate.

"Look, I'll go with you. I won't fight you…"

"James," he said patronizingly as he bowed.

Nice, Bella. Now you are on a first name basis with your murderer.

"Just let her go, James, and I will do…" I closed my eyes and finished, "whatever you want." I swallowed the bile that rose up my esophagus.

"Bella?" Makala squeezed my hand and pressed tightly behind me. I watched as his eyes went from a vibrant red to a soulless black as he peered around me.

He scoffed and returned his eyes to me. "You are not in any position to bargain."

"The wolves will be here any second." She said optimistically to herself, I mentally added.

I prayed they would be.

James laughed menacingly, "Oh, I highly doubt that. You see, I have arranged a little... hmmm, diversion." His black eyes twinkled with excitement. "Your mutts are halfway to Canada right now. By the time they realize I'm here it will be too late."

I looked around the deserted highway and realized just how fucked we truly were.

I closed my eyes and asked a question that I truly didn't want the answer to.

"What do you want from me?" I squeaked pathetically.

He turned slightly to settle his terrifying gaze on my young companion and then met my eyes again. "Who said you were the one I wanted?"

~B of L~

The monster in front of me seemed to bask in the look of absolute horror that I'm sure was on my face. I swallowed the bile that started to creep up my throat again.

A whimper escaped Makala's throat beside me. I kept my protective stance in front of her.

"Don't worry. I have every intention of dining on you too. You are merely the appetizer. The initial offering to quench certain hungers so that the main course can be fully appreciated."

"Bella?" Makala's soft voice trembled against my back. I so wanted to tell her everything would be fine, give her the comfort she was clearly begging for.

If that aberration was in fact Makala's mother, I hoped to God she would tell the girl what I knew would be overheard if I dared speak.

That Makala should run while I distracted him. Because a little time was the only thing I could offer her now.

I watched in slow motion as James began to advance on us. I wrapped an arm around Makala behind me and took an answering step back. His smile only grew bigger.

A gush of wind stirred the loose strands of my hair, and when it fell back in place I found that the highway was a lot more crowded.

I immediately recognized someone from the Cullen family, Rosalie I thought. The same dark-haired girl from the diner was beside the blonde with a vacant expression on her face as if she was daydreaming.

As perplexed as Rosalie appeared, and much as I knew I was, it was the look of confusion on the pixy's face that worried me the most.

James bowed in introduction, much as he had to me earlier. He gave the blonde a long, appraising leer that made her practically snarl at him. He chuckled and moved his eyes to the smaller girl and the smile quickly fell off his face.

He stared at her, his head cocking to the side as he studied her elfin features.

Seth Clearwater broke out of the trees to the right of us, and quickly stood in front of me. Half relieved to see him, half annoyed he was blocking the train wreck before me, I grabbed Seth's arm and moved slightly to the side so I could peer around him. I could tell he was speaking to Rosalie in hushed tones.

Completely oblivious to the newest arrival, James' face had morphed into one of complete and utter fury. "You!" the red-eyed demon yelled at the dark-haired girl.

Uh-oh, time to go.

The petite female vampire snapped her eyes open at his roar, panic the clearest emotion on her face. "Alice?" Rosalie questioned nervously next to her. It was apparent to me that Alice didn't have an explanation for the other vampire's reaction. Something told me that was a really bad omen.

On the other side of the highway, a red-haired woman and a dark-skinned man with dreadlocks stood along the tree line. When they had arrived, I had no clue. They slowly began to approach, flanking the psycho. Their eyes flitted from person to person in bewilderment, like there were more people standing around than expected.

I would have gladly opted for Makala and I to leave the vampires to their own devices, but reasoned there was fat chance of that happening.

The redhead's eyes seemed to bore into mine, as if my very existence was an affront to her. The feeling was quite mutual.

The other male was moderately better dressed than James. He adorned a tacky dark blue-purplish suit with no shirt. Had he not been a vampire, I might have asked where he had misplaced his pimp hat.

I looked at the expressions on everyone's face and knew it was time to bolt. James' face promised violence, and the small, dark-haired girl's face wore more confusion with every passing second.

Rosalie's face held equal amounts of fear and resolve. She looked at Seth and mouthed to run. One of his arms snaked around me while the other circled around Makala. He tucked each of us under an arm and ran like Satan himself was on his heels.

We blasted into the forest. I assumed it was the forest, but we were moving so fast I couldn't discern any one object. At points I thought I saw tree trunks and there seemed to always be a canopy of green overhead.

Seth ran so fast it was like we were flying. Whether this was the usual or he was trying not to rattle us, I was not sure. But my arm sure appreciated it.

However, the wind did whip past at a burning pace. Makala kept her face planted against Seth's warm chest. I reached for Makala's hand and squeezed it to reassure her that I was still there. That we would be okay.

I only hoped we would be.

I felt, rather than heard, Seth's chest rumble with a growl. I wasn't sure for the cause, but was fairly sure that it was nothing good. No sooner than that errant thought went through my head, I noticed we were being pursued.

Peering over Seth's shoulder, I could see the dark-skinned vampire chasing after us, my eyes meeting his vibrant red ones. A sneer lifted on his lips as my eyes widened in fear.

Must go faster!

The vampire jumped up and landed on the trunk of a tree only to vault himself into the cover of the canopy above as his dreds trailed behind him. It gave me the weirdest sense of deja vu. He moved up the trees like Chow Yun-fat in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, almost as if he was floating up branch to branch. Reggie's boyfriend had been obsessed with the movie, taking us three times to the theater to watch it. He had been mesmerized; I've not seen dogs stare at bacon like he had that screen.

I felt an unsettling sense of awe as I watched the way the vampire seemed to defy physics. But I was pretty sure I was in a world now that Isaac Newton had no knowledge of.

But I digress.

I tried to alert Seth of our shadow but my mouth was as dry as cotton. Seth barreled at a faster clip though, regardless of my lack of warning.

I hoped he had a plan because I had nothing. I was woefully out of my element. I could bake near anything from eclairs to French baguettes, but this?

What do you do when a coven of vampires are after you and your charge? I should have read Bram Stoker. Anne Rice's Interview was only moderately helpful, but I couldn't see myself yielding a sickle with barrels of kerosene like Brad Pitt had. I figured I lacked motivation; I hoped I continued to go without.

Suddenly, the vampire flew at us from our flank. Seth must have seen the threat in his peripheral as he turned in the nick of time to protect us. However, Makala and I were launched airborne at the subsequent collision. Our bodies roughly hit the ground, the impact only slightly cushioned by the bracken.

"Fuck!" I exclaimed as I rolled to a stop, my arm throbbing in pain.

I quickly opened my eyes, and found Makala only a few feet away. Her eyes were clenched shut and her hands were covering her ears.

Vicious snarls brought my attention to the supernatural fight thirty yards away. The vampire was battling a giant sandy haired wolf that I assumed was Seth.

I pulled up to my feet quickly and rushed to Makala. A brief inventory determined that despite her being scared to death, she was relatively unharmed. A damn miracle considering there were trees everywhere.

A crash startled us as the vampire smashed into something in the distance. The Seth-wolf stood protectively in front of us, his hair standing on end as deep growls leaked out of him.

He was a warrior, and God help me, I was proud of the little shit.

When the distinctive cracking of wood reached my ears, I knew it was time to leave. It looked like Seth was holding his own, but we weren't going to wait around to find out. The last thing we needed was to get caught in crossfire of a falling tree or be here if Seth failed?

I put my finger to my mouth to keep Makala silent. Why, I had no clue. I figured vampires could hear ants pass gas.

Grabbing her hand, I began running through the woods as fast as I could. All I could think of was to get as much distance between us and them as humanly possible.

Human. The word had a whole new meaning. Nothing like getting kicked down a notch or two on the food chain to change your perspective.

All I knew was all of our lives would be different after today. None of us would avoid the fallout. Not Paul or me. Not the child running behind me or the one risking his life to save our lives.

I shook my head to dispel the thoughts and pressed on. I couldn't lose focus.

I had to get us to safety. Where the fuck that was, I had no idea. But it had to be ahead of us, because only death lingered behind.

As if to punctuate my thoughts, Seth's panicked howl rose up behind us.

I quickly wended our way through the trees. The only thing louder than the terrifying sounds in the distance was the staccato of my racing heart as it beat widely in my ear.

We burst out of the trees and were met by the expansive Pacific Ocean. A storm was brewing in the distance and the surf was rough.

I recognized the area from my youth. The cliff was tall, nearly fifty feet, and the water was deep.

An idea began forming in my head.

What the hell are you thinking, Bella? The girl almost drowned not a week ago!

In the distance, I could still hear sounds of a battle raging on. But for how long? Brave Seth may have been, but he was still young. If it all went tits up, how long would we have? Minutes, seconds before those monsters descended on us?

I realized my nightmares all ended in this spot. And each one ended with me waking as I came out of the tree line or screaming my last breaths away in terror while staring into soulless, red eyes. But there was no chance of waking up from this living nightmare. And waiting? I couldn't do that either, because it wasn't just my nightmare anymore.

I turned again and looked over the water. My head was telling me I was out of my mind to even attempt this, but my gut... my gut couldn't fight the feeling we were safer in the water. Because I knew nothing would come from waiting on this ledge except Death.


"Bella?" Makala whispered in confusion. We had been standing at the edge of the cliff for less than thirty seconds, but time was a precious commodity when vampires were chasing you.

While squeezing Makala's hand to hush her, I stepped in front of the her and knelt down. Hugging her to me, I whispered in her ear, "Trust me?"

Paul, forgive me, I thought as I squeezed the girl to me. All the feelings between Paul and I would be irrelevant if his sister died on my watch. I remembered the tongue lashing I had gotten for the near drowning that wasn't even my fault. Now? Now I was jumping off a fifty foot cliff into rough seas with the young girl.

I will burn in hell for this.

Makala bravely nodded her head, but her frightened eyes belied the action. Her world had been obliterated in a little less than an hour.

"I need you to take a deep breath." Her breath caught as she realized my intentions. "Do not let go of my hand. When we make it to the surface, we will hide," I quickly whispered in the terrified girl's ear.

Makala pulled back and looked into my eyes, a thousand questions in her large, grey irises.

She pointed to my arm, concern on her angelic face.

Oh, good point. Yeah, this was really going to hurt.

As I rose to stand, I raised our clasped hands to my lips and kissed them to calm her nerves, mine too.

This was going to work.

It had to.

With a silent prayer to whoever was listening, we jumped, hand in hand, into nothing but air.

Thanks for reading!