Hello there my lovely readers. This is the end... which is both good, and bad. :) I'm putting my authors note up here because I don't want the last thing you see of this story to be me yapping at you all. :) Thank you for all your support throughout this entire journey. I'm so happy that you've all been reading and reviewing. I can't tell you how happy I am and how thankful I am for all your reviews. I really appreciate it. I'm a little sad that this is over, but I really think that this was the end of their story. Yes, there was the bonfire with Bella, but that wasn't pivotol to Kim and Jared's relationship. This was the end of their tale-in my eyes-and I hope I don't disappoint.

Thank you,

Please enjoy and review-it is my final chapter after all :).

Chapter 11

Emphasis

Jared ends up staying, just as I wanted him too, even though he does have to leave for patrol. At four I wake up, because he's sneaking out, and I sit up a little.

"Be safe." I whisper into the dark.

He turns to me and pulls the covers up around me. "Of course. But you shouldn't be up."

"Of course I should. I had to remind you to be safe."

"I'm always safe."

"Good. You better not get hurt. I need you."

"I won't get hurt."

"If you do I'll have to hurt you."

He chuckles. "You're half asleep."

"I'm completely aware of what I'm saying."

"Alright. I won't get hurt."

"Good."

"See you later."

"Ok."

He slips out the window and I fall back to sleep-though not as deep of a sleep as before.

I wake up at seven thirty and I'm a little disappointed that I'm alone but I understand why Jared had to leave, and I can handle being away from him for a little while.

I get up and take Roxy out, same as always, but I 'remember' a coat this time. It's still cold out even with a coat on-without Jared here. I miss him.

When I go back inside I light the fire in the fireplace again and Roxy plops down by it again. She's so predictable.

I end up going back into my room to grab my laptop so I can do some photo editing, and some more work on a paper for school that's due after break.

It's about nine when I hear someone in the back bedroom stirring.

Seconds later my mother comes into the front rooms wearing a pink fluffy bathrobe and looking pretty hung over.

"Morning." She chokes out, and manages a tiny smile.

"Hey. How was your Thanksgiving?"

"It was good. Yours?"

"Wonderful."

"Did you go out?"

"Something like that." I was serious when I told Mariah that I wasn't giving back the money. I'm keeping it for a rainy day.

"Well that's good."

"Do you have a headache?"

"A nasty one." She's getting a glass of water. "Think I had a little too much to drink last night. Hope we didn't wake you up last night."

"I actually wasn't asleep when you got home. I was just on the couch."

"Oh." She seems to think for a second. "I remember something like that." Then she looks perplexed. Probably trying to remember if I was alone or not. "Was someone here with you?"

"Mariah." I lie smoothly, not regretting it in the slightest. "She needed a small break from the house of cousins. She just stopped by for a little bit."

"Oh." My mom squints at the sunlight that's streaming into the house and says, "Alright, well I'm just going to go lie down."

I snicker as she walks down the hall holding her head.

I work a little more, until my phone buzzes. I open it and see that it's Mariah. I'm actually glad it's not Jared. Not because I don't want to hear from him, but because I want him to get some rest-with patrol that early in the morning he better be going home and crashing.

Mariah's text reads, Morning girlie. Plans for today?

I think it over quickly. I know I need a babysitter for Kennedy, but it looks like my parents are going to be at home all day… I respond: I might need you to watch Kennedy. If you don't care. Unsure at the moment. Parents might be watching her instead.

Her response comes through quickly, Well, it's about time. But if they can't I'm here. Kennedy will get along with all the cousins. They're leaving tomorrow.

Me: You're the best Mariah.

Mariah: Thanks. J. The real question is what are you doing?

Me: Something with Jared.

Mariah: No kidding? Well, have fun.

Me: I will. But we really need to hang out sometime.

Mariah: You're telling me. I better not get replaced by your BF.

Me: Never. Speaking of love lives, how's yours.

Mariah: Wow. Jared has turned you into a romantic.

Me: Maybe I always was…

Mariah: ;) No boys in my life… at the moment.

Me: Why do I recall a conversation about your sixteen-year-old cousin bringing his hot friend with him this year…?

Mariah: Hmm… No reason.

Me: Whatever weirdo. Talk to you later.

Mariah: Right back at ya.

When I'm done texting Mariah it's nine fifty and I finish up what I'm doing on the computer and get dressed, after a quick shower.

I opt for a pair of old jeans that are pretty comfortable and a simple red t-shirt. Then I remember what Jared said and I put a sweatshirt on just to humor him. It's way too big on me and it hangs to my mid-thigh, but I don't mind because it's warm, and I've been feeling a little cold all day.

I think about blow drying my hair, but I decide against it, and end up pulling my semi-wet hair back in a ponytail instead. It will never fully dry that way, but I don't really care. When I head back out into the living room I find Kennedy lounging on the couch watching cartoons, and I see that it's ten thirty.

"Hey kiddo. How'd you sleep?"

"Good." She glances around, looking for something near me. "Where's Jared."

Or someone… "He had somewhere to be this morning."

She looks a little sad. I'm with you, Kennedy. I smile at her. "You like him that much, huh?"

She just nods. I sit down beside her, "Me too."

"Let's do something." She bounces in her seat happily.

"Like what?"

This stumps her. "I don't know."

"Hmm… well, you need to get dressed."

She nods eagerly. "And then we can take Roxy for a walk. Does that sound good?"

"Yay!" I've never seen a kid so excited about walking a dog.

"Alright, but you have to eat before we have to go."

"So do you!" I smile at her.

"We'll both eat."

"Good." Then she jumps up off the couch and races to her room.

I make toast with peanut butter and I pull out some fruit. She runs back into the kitchen and sits at the counter her blue eyes shining. I raise my eyebrows at her. "Did you even brush your hair?"

She looks confused for a second. Then she jumps up and runs back into the bathroom. I laugh, and a minute later she's back.

I give her a plate with the toast and she grabs some strawberries and blueberries.

We both eat quietly and as soon as Kennedy's finished she runs over to the door and starts getting dressed to leave. I put the plates away and join her.

I pull a winter coat over my sweatshirt and tug my boots on over my socks.

I call Roxy over to the door and hook up her leash. She doesn't really need one, but people feel safer when she's kept on leash. I let Kennedy walk her and I follow her down the sidewalk.

Kennedy is smiling widely despite the fact that it's so cold she can see her breath, and Roxy is happy as can be.

I'm just glad that Kennedy isn't upset about my relationship with Jared. He'll be happy to hear that Kennedy was disappointed when he wasn't there this morning.

My phone rings and I look down. It's a number that's not programmed in my phone, and I'm hoping its Jared.

"Hello?"

"Kim?" It's Jared's voice.

"Yeah it's me." I smile uncontrollably and Kennedy notices.

"Hi Jared!" She screams.

I can hear Jared's laughter over the phone. "Tell her I say hi."

"Of course." I pull the phone away from my face. "Kennedy, Jared says hi."

Kennedy beams. I talk a little softer and Kennedy walks Roxy a little farther ahead of me, letting me talk to Jared privately.

"How was patrol?"

"Boring."

"Did you get any more sleep?"

"Yes."

"Good. I'm glad."

"I miss you."

"I miss you too. But, I talked to Mariah and if my parents can't watch Kennedy for me she said she would."

"That's good. What are you guys doing?"

"We brought Roxy out for a walk."

"Are you insane? It's freezing out there."

I laugh, "You say that like you get cold. And don't worry. I'm wearing a sweatshirt and coat. I've got Kennedy bundled up too."

Kennedy shouts over to me, "Tell him to come find us!"

I just wave her off, not intending to relay the message to Jared, but he's already heard it. "Where are you guys?"

"Uh…" I glance around for a street sign and find one, and tell him the street name. "But you don't have to come find us, unless you want to. I promise Kennedy will survive."

Jared chuckles. "I'm not doing it completely for Kennedy. I told you, I miss you."

I smile widely. "If you say so."

"I'll see you soon."

"Ok." He hangs up and I smile, walking fast to catch up to Kennedy. I quickly program Jared's phone number into my contacts. The I turn to Kennedy with a smile.

"Thanks squirt." I'm actually glad she invited him.

"For what?"

"Jared's coming to find us."

"Really?" Her eyes light up. "Cool."

I roll my eyes at her and we keep walking. Two minutes later I hear someone behind us and I glance over my shoulder to see the one and only, Jared. I smile widely.

"Hey."

"Hey."

Kennedy hears our exchange and turns around with a smile. "Hi!"

Jared smiles. "Good morning. Are you the one who instigated the walk in the cold?"

She puts on her best innocent face, "It wasn't my idea."

I laugh. "It really wasn't. It was all my fault."

Jared takes my hand in his and I immediately warm up. It's amazing how quickly being in his presence can warm me up completely. The three of us walk, Kennedy holding Roxy's leash and Jared and I holding hands for another twenty minutes, until Kennedy manages to get us back to our house. I don't even think she knows how she did it.

Either way, she jumps up onto the porch, with Roxy on her heels, and I follow, bringing Jared with me. Kennedy heads straight into the house, because the door is unlocked-which means my parents are still inside.

"You can come in." I tell Jared. "If you want to."

"I do want to, but how are your parents going to feel if I just show up."

I think it over for a second. "I don't think they'll care. And it will make it harder for them to say no to watching Kennedy if you're already there."

"Kim, it's barely eleven o'clock. Aren't most people still sleeping at this hour?"

"I'm not most people. And when they aren't home we're always fully functional at eleven. Don't worry about them. Ok?"

"If you say so."

"I'll let them know that we have company."

He sighs and I can see that I'm winning. "They won't get mad at you?"

"For having company over? They better not. They know I don't have many friends, and I don't see them running off the ones I do have."

Jared smiles a little. "It's going to take more than your parents to run me off."

"I'm counting on that."

I pull him into the house and he goes into the kitchen with me, and starts helping me wash off our breakfast dishes. I look at him, "Did you eat anything this morning?"

He shakes his head, but smiles at me. "I'm fine."

I scoff, "Fine? You're the bottomless pit. You're hungry. You're always hungry."

"I really am fine."

"And we really have leftovers." I head to the fridge and pull out the leftover turkey that Emily sent home with us.

"It's hardly breakfast, but I doubt you care."

He grins sheepishly. I make him a quick plate and stick it in the microwave. When it's heated I hand it to him and he sits down at the counter, eating hungrily. Go figure.

"You know, you should probably learn to cook for when your parents leave you by yourself and I'm not here to provide Emily's leftovers."

He smiles. "Well let's hope that doesn't happen."

While he's eating I take the opportunity to go down the hall to my parents room. I knock on the door lightly and poke my head in.

My mom is watching TV on the king size bed-still in her robe-and my dad isn't in the room so I assume he's in the master bathroom. I smile at mom and say, "Just wanted to let you know we have a guest."

Mom looks me over carefully, "And this guest isn't Mariah?"

"Nope."

"Alright. Thanks for the head's up."

"It's why I'm here."

I duck into my bedroom for a second and I grab my old purse-bag and the new purse that Mariah had put all my stuff in and take it out into the kitchen. Jared is still at the bar, except Kennedy is sitting next to him, and the closer I get to them the more I can hear their conversation.

"…My friend Taylor said that for Thanksgiving she was going to a water park."

"That's cool."

"Nah, I think our Thanksgiving was better."

I smile as I enter the kitchen and Jared glances at me. "I agree with you." He says, still looking at me.

I feel my cheeks heat up under his gaze, but I can't fight the smile that tugs at my lips.

I start on my task of transferring my things from the purse I used yesterday to the one that I'd been using before that. I don't carry much, a wallet, some lip gloss, pack of gum, cell phone, and that's about it. I don't really carry much else.

It takes all of five minutes for me to switch purses. Jared watches me out of the corner of his eye, while still managing to listen to Kennedy. I can't help but notice his eyes on me-all the time. It's like there's a part of my brain dedicated to that specific task: know when Jared is watching me.

I try to function normally with his eyes on me, and that proves harder than I'd thought. It takes more thought than it should to be able to go to the fridge and pull out a bag of chocolate chips.

I vaguely recognize that Kennedy has scampered off to go do something that five year olds do, and Jared is simply watching me, curious and amused all at once.

I turn to him and smirk. "What can I say? You already know I have a major sweet tooth. And I already ate breakfast."

"Ah, yes. Unlike some people, you, Kim, can fend for yourself."

"Exactly." I can't help but giggle. I hold the bag out to him, "Want some?"

He takes a few and looks at me, trying to figure me out, presumably. "Why do you keep them in the fridge?"

"What's better than cold chocolate? Well, that and I really hate it when I find that the chocolate has all melted into a big clump. It's just… not orderly."

"Hmm…" He looks thoughtful. "You're so… neat. It's cute."

I can feel my blush, and I'm glad that my skin is a darker tone, as opposed to lighter. "Thanks." It's soft, but not really shy. I'm once again shocked by how easily I've been able to become myself with Jared. And Emily, and the whole gang really.

I grin at the preposterous word-gang. I know that there were rumors about the boys, being hooked on drugs. Or being in some cult or gang. If only people knew the truth. They were a pack of adolescent boys who were really wolves. I think it would forever change people's opinions on gossip.

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. People always need someone to look down on, and it's rarely ever themselves.

Jared catches my goofy grin and raises an eyebrow. "What?"

"I was just thinking about all the rumors flying around, and how stupid they seem now that I know about-" My mother walks into the kitchen and though I wasn't really talking loudly before I know she heard some conversation and I can't stop now without it seeming suspicious. But I certainly can't continue on saying anything about the wolves. Instead I continue, without really missing a beat. "The whole tutoring thing."

Jared doesn't know what to say to me, after my flawless cover-up, but he looks impressed-just a little light in his eyes. I'm glad he trusts me with his secret.

He recovers quickly though and responds to my statement in a totally believable way. "Yeah, it's ridiculous how quickly people jump to conclusions."

"I think it's just sad." I say softly, proud that only Jared and I know that we're really talking in code-a thinly veiled one at that, but still a code.

If my mother is surprised at seeing a boy in the kitchen she doesn't show it. I'm impressed though, because she's fully dressed-in casual clothes-and she only looks a little hung-over.

My mom turns to me, expecting me to introduce Jared, even if she already knows his name. In La Push introductions aren't a 'get to know you' thing, they're more of a way to distinguish a bond. It's all about the titles.

That's why I'm a little proud when I say, "Mom, this is my boyfriend, Jared." I turn to Jared. "Jared, this is my mom."

Jared looks completely at ease with me calling him my boyfriend and I'm glad. He holds a hand out to my mother and says, "It's a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Conweller." I don't know why I'm surprised that he knows my last name-I mean, I know his-but it still makes me smile.

"Please," My mom shocks me a little with her words. "You can call me Julia." Her smile is warm and I'm taken aback by how welcoming she is. Maybe she can tell how important Jared is to me.

Jared is more shocked than I am, but he doesn't take long to recover and speaks with a grateful smile. "Alright, thanks."

"How did you two meet?" My mother asks us both, though I'm not sure who she wanted to respond. I take over, somehow recognizing that lying to my parents is my field of expertise.

How else can I explain why the guy I've had a crush on for years finally noticed me? Imprinting. But that's not the real-world story. And now it's up to me to design the cover-up. I decide to keep it to the truth, at least a little.

"Through school. Jared and I share a desk in history and…" I pause for a minute. We've shared that desk all year. What could have brought us together so suddenly? "We uh, had this project. It was a partner thing. That was how we really got to know each other."

"Sounds like fun."

You have no idea. Jared chimes in, helping the story seem more credible. "Well, without Kim I wouldn't have passed."

"Oh?" My mom is actually paying attention to us, and she looks amused.

"I was out sick for almost the entire chapter that we were working on. Kim basically taught it all to me." He cuts his eyes to me and I can tell what he's thinking about-the history notes.

Our cover story is good enough.

Mom smiles, "Well, don't let me ruin anything." She grabs a bag of chips from the top of the fridge. "I was just retrieving some essentials."

I roll my eyes behind her back and turn back to Jared. When my mom is far enough down the hall I sink down onto the barstool next to him. He turns to me, a smirk on his face. "Nice save."

"What? The 'tutoring' thing?"

He nods. "I would have croaked."

He raises his eyebrows. "Why are you so good at this?"

The way he says 'you', implies that he sees me as a good girl. Time to clear that up. "I'm no angel. And if Mariah has taught me anything it's that a good cover story is lying gold. Without a cover you're just digging yourself into a whole. The more people who know the cover the better-and you have to keep the facts the same for everyone you tell otherwise it comes back to bite you.

"You'd be surprised. My parents still believe that when I was eleven I left a window open and a wind gust blew over my mother's favorite vase. No one will ever know that I actually threw a tennis ball for Roxy that went awry."

Jared smirks. "Well now I know."

"You wouldn't tell anyone."

"I don't know… I could go tell your mom." He grins deviously, a playful light in his eyes.

If he wants to play games, then so be it. Kennedy is in her room and my parents are in theirs. We are alone. "You could." I agree lightly, before dropping my voice to a whisper. "But I wouldn't."

He's watching me closely, and his breathing speeds up. I think he's catching my meaning. I'm teasing him, and I love it.

I move closer to him-close enough that I can feel the heat radiating off his body-and I still want to be closer. I resist, and focus on taunting him.

Somehow he's able to say, "Oh really?"

"Really… because if you're planning on tattling on me I might have to move away…" I trail off and take a tiny step back, separating us.

Apparently it's more than Jared can take and his hands come up to my hips, almost instinctively, drawing me back to him. His lips are so close to mine that I can feel his breath on my face.

I lean away a little though, not allowing him to kiss me yet, waiting for something. He senses this, and sighs-a big exaggerated sigh, "I won't tell."

I smirk at him. "I figured as much-" But that's all I get out before Jared's lips capture my own.

I should be concerned, considering the fact that my family is strewn about the house, but I'm not. It's literally impossible for me to think about anything other than Jared.

My fingers go to his hair of their own accord and one of his hands comes up to cup my cheek softly. It's a heated kiss, but I pull away after only a few seconds-how, I will never know-but I do know why.

I smirk at him, "My parents are right down the hall." That's the only reason I'm able to take my lips of his.

And even then I can't bring myself to move out of his arms. They are too warm-too comfortable. "Unfortunate."

"Yes." I agree with a smile. "But also rare. So it's not something we have to worry about all the time. And, even better, my mom likes you."

"How can you tell?"

"I don't know. Mother-daughter thing?" I shrug and he laughs. "That, and she let you call her Julia."

"Well, I'm glad one of your parents likes me."

"Don't worry about my dad too much. He's never been super protective."

"Good to know."

"Then again I haven't ever brought a boy home…"

"Not helping." He growls lightly-growls.

"Seriously, don't worry."

He rolls his eyes. Then his eyes drop to my neck, and I'm confused for a moment. Until he lifts his hand up to touch the necklace that I'm still wearing.

"You're wearing it." He looks shocked.

"Does that surprise you?"

"A little."

"I've barely taken it off since I got it."

He grins a little, "How long is 'barely'?"

"The amount of time it took me to shower this morning."

He nods thoughtfully. "I see."

"I really love it."

"You keep saying that."

"I mean it more every time I do."

He rolls his eyes, and reluctantly, but quickly releases his hold on my waist. I follow his lead, suspecting he knows something I don't-and he does. Moments after Jared hears movement I do, and I realize my dad is coming down the hall.

I should feel nervous, but I don't. "Morning Dad." I smile at him a little. "Did you guys have fun?"

"Uh…" It's clear he has a headache. "Yeah. How 'bout you guys?"

"We had the best time." And I'm sure Kennedy will tell them about it later when I leave.

Then my dad proceeds to notice Jared. He isn't particularly surprised-leading me to believe that mom prepped him, or maybe even asked him to come meet Jared.

"Dad, this is my boyfriend, Jared." I say, gesturing at Jared, who's standing beside me.

"Jared this is my dad." Jared shakes my dad's hand.

"Nice to meet you sir."

My dad isn't as quick to jump to a first-name basis with Jared. Instead he says, "It's nice to meet the guy that's put a smile on Kim's face."

Did they really notice that I've been happier? I'm a little surprised.

"What are you kids up to today?"

I glance at Jared and I answer. "Well we're hanging around here until six thirty-ish. And then we're going to the beach for a bonfire with some of Jared's friends."

"What are you doing with Kennedy?"

It takes everything in me not to laugh-hysterically, and I know Jared notices. The way he says it makes it sound like Kennedy is my child. Like she's my responsibility. And I suppose she is. However, I didn't give birth to her. And it cracks me up that my father seems to forget that Kennedy isn't my child.

"Well you and mom are home tonight." I say stupidly.

"Your mother and I had plans for later."

If you recall, Kennedy isn't my child. "Is there any way you could cancel?" I'm not backing down. "I mean, I wouldn't want Kennedy to be all alone tonight." Though I know that I'd cancel my plans before leaving Kennedy alone tonight. I just want to see what my father will do.

"Kim, your mother and I count on you to be there to watch Kennedy. I don't see how it makes sense for us to cancel our plans."

"But it makes sense for me to cancel mine?" I don't raise my voice, or change my tone. I simply stare him down.

"You're her older sister."

"You're her parents." I'm more on edge now.

My father sighs. "We'll discuss this later."

He leaves. He walks back to his bedroom and shuts the door. My mouth falls open and I turn to Jared. I'm laughing, but not out of humor. My laughter is incredulous.

I think Jared can tell I'm losing it, because he wraps his strong arms around my waist and pulls me to his warm chest. I try to focus on my breathing. On steadying it so I can stand up without Jared supporting me.

I'm not used to having anyone to lean on. I'm the strong one. That's how it is. That's how it was. I can feel the tears spring to my eyes-but they're irrational tears. Tears of joy. I've never been so happy to use past tense.

Hot tears are sliding down my cheeks and Jared pulls away from me so he can examine my face, only to find me crying. He looks like he's in physical pain.

"Hey, don't cry Kim. Come on, please?" He brushes the tears off my cheeks, but I can't seem to stop crying-I'm overwhelmed with emotion and I hate it. I just hate being out of control. And I hate that I'm hurting Jared.

I suck in a ragged breath. "I'm fine-" Inhale. "Just being emotional." Inhale. "I'm actually happy." Inhale. Laugh. "Girls are weird like that."

"Are you lying to me?" Jared looks cautious.

"Seriously?" After the lying conversation we'd had… "If I were lying to you I think I'd come up with something better than that. It sounds stupid. I hardly believe it."

He chuckles and hugs me tighter. For a few minutes we just stand there, together. And I relish the strength he brings me. I am still strong, but now I can see that there's strength in emotion now too. I love him.

"I love you." I feel the need to tell him a hundred times. "So much."

Jared laughs. "I love you too, Kim. More."

"Liar."

He doesn't argue, but I get the feeling we could go round and round. It makes me smile. I'm glad that I've stopped crying.

"Sorry about that." I step away from Jared a little. "I swear I'm not usually that emotional. I just..."

"You don't have to explain it to me." He says softly, though I can tell he wants to help me in any way that he can.

"It's fine. I just… I couldn't get over how nice it is to have someone there for me when my parents do stupid things. It's good to be able to break down once in a while. Therapeutic."

Jared looks skeptical, but doesn't comment. Then he seems to look at me again. "You're so strong." I blush and shake my head. Before I can protest Jared cuts in. "You are. I don't know what I did to deserve you."

I sigh. It's the kind of argument that could go on for eternity: I don't deserve you, no I don't deserve you. "Don't even get me started on the 'deserving' crap."

Jared chuckles.

"I assure you," I say softly. "You're everything I've ever wanted."

I can tell by the tension in his body that he doesn't believe me. Mariah knows about my long-time crush on him, but he doesn't. I wonder if he thinks that I'm the one who's only attracted to him because of the imprinting. It was painful for me, and I only lasted mere minutes before asking him if the only reason he noticed me was because of the imprinting.

He has never asked me. And I doubt he ever will. Suddenly, I want him to know.

"Jared?"

"Hmm?" He moves away just enough that he can see me clearly.

"Did you know that I liked you before you imprinted on me?"

He looks confused, momentarily, but then he looks skeptical. Like he can't fathom why someone would like him.

"I did." I insist. Now I feel awful. Like he should have known this whole time that I love him for more than his post-first phase body and wolf imprint bond. He should have known this whole time that I liked the Jared he was before too. "I had a huge crush on you."

He doesn't say anything, but he's reading my face carefully.

"I'm not lying to you. Telling the guy you love that you had a hopeless crush on him before he noticed you isn't something that you just make up."

He doesn't look convinced in the slightest.

I close my eyes, trying to think of a way to prove it to him. A way that doesn't involve calling Mariah and asking her to plead my case, which would be humiliating. Then, I have an idea.

I take Jared's warm hand in mine and tug him behind me toward my room.

"Kim, what are you-?"

"Just sit." I command, pointing at the bed, and closing my bedroom door. He complies, like a puppy dog-the idea makes me snicker at the irony. That, and because when I tell him to sit Roxy sits as well. Apparently I'm using the same tone I use when I command my dog. I can't fight my smirk.

But I have a reason for being so demanding. I head to my desk and pull open a drawer and find what I'm looking for. It's a simply black notebook with a hard cover binding all around and a magnetic foldable piece to keep it shut.

I take the book over to him and sit beside him on the bed. I open it and he watches me curiously, trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together.

"Kim," He says cautiously. "What is that?"

"This?" I gesture to the book, still flipping the pages. "It's my journal." I'm not really paying attention to him anymore.

I know it was the beginning of the year… After Jared and I were seated next to each other… When I finally find what I'm looking for I can't help the heat that rushes to my cheeks. I remember thinking that if Jared ever saw what I was about to show him I'd die of embarrassment, right on the spot.

"Kim?" Jared is confused, and it's obvious.

I take a deep breath and remember that I trust him. And honestly I do. If I can get this off my chest I'd be perfectly comfortable letting him read my entire journal-there's nothing that I wouldn't tell him in here.

"This is proof."

"Proof?"

"Proof that I had a crush on you. From the beginning of the year."

His raises his eyebrows a little and looks shocked.

"When I told Mariah that I had a crush on you she dared me to do this-I agreed because I made her swear that if this ever got out she'd shave her head."

Jared looks very confused. "Then why are you showing it to me now?"

"Because it doesn't matter if you see it now."

"Why?" He's so clueless-it's kind of cute.

"Because," I just shrug. "You already know how I feel about you, and this was just a silly dare that happened months ago."

"Ok…"

I hand him the journal and he looks at me dumbly. "Just read it."

When he sees my handwriting it's like something finally clicks in his brain. "Kim, this is yours. It's private." He tries to hand it back to me, but I'm not taking it.

"Jared the only thing I wouldn't have wanted to you to see in it is what I'm trying to show you-so for once let your curiosity take over."

"If you wouldn't have wanted me to see it why are you showing it to me now?"

"Because it's the proof I need."

"Proof of what?"

"My crush on you." My voice is almost a yell and I laugh. "This is ridiculous. You, sir, are getting a once in a lifetime look into the complexity that exists in the female mind. Don't pass it up." I laugh, but I know I love him for protesting. Any other guy would probably read it and laugh and Jared won't even read it.

He's not giving in that easy, "Kim, seriously. This is none of my business-"

"Jared Cameron, read the stupid page."

He studies my face for a moment, and apparently decides that I'm serious. Finally.

His eyes skim the page, and then freeze. And then I know that he's spotted it. There on the right corner of the right page it neat printing it reads, Kim Cameron. All because of Mariah's goofy dare.

I wasn't about to not do it. And turns out it's working in my favor today. Documented proof of my crush on Jared: my name and his-just like we were married.

"Do you believe me now?"

Jared's eyes move from the page to my face quickly. He nods, and smiles down at the journal writing.

I'm sure I look confused, and Jared brings his chocolate brown eyes to meet mine. "I like the way that looks." He admits, smiling sheepishly.

I can feel a tingling-like butterflies, only much more pleasant-in my stomach. I know he's serious. He sets the journal down on the desk carefully, as if it will crumple if he doesn't handle it with care.

Then, suddenly, he's back at the bed, kissing me fiercely. I can't imagine having gone this long without knowing that Jared didn't just notice me because of the imprinting. I'd just assumed he knew about my feelings for him from before. I have no idea how he did it. Even I'm not strong enough for that one.

I had basically forced him to tell me that imprinting wasn't forcing him to love me, but I hadn't given him the same comfort.

I'm not sure how I manage to form all these thoughts while he's kissing me, and it only takes seconds before even those thoughts are few and far between.

Ten seconds later I'm not thinking at all. I'm just kissing Jared with all the passion I have, because I understand what he must have felt like, and I feel stupid for not clearing it up for him sooner.

When I can't stand it any longer and I have to breathe I pull my lips away slightly only to find that I'm not sitting on my bed any more. Somehow, during our heated kiss, or my mangled thoughts, we shifted so that I am lying underneath Jared on my bed. Granted, he isn't crushing me, but we are probably closer than we've ever been to one another.

Even that is barely registered above the sensations that his lips are creating against the skin of my neck. Eventually I can't take it any longer, and I just have to kiss him again. I pull his lips back to mine and he meets my mouth with his with great enthusiasm.

I can't help but smile into our kiss, which makes him smile too. We're both smiling and kissing and it takes me a minute to remember what brought on this onslaught of kisses. Him seeing my first name with his last name.

I have to know… I pull away enough to bring my lips to his ear, "Did you mean it?" My voice is a whisper that he wouldn't be able to hear without his enhanced senses.

He does hear though and he brings his own lips to my ear, and his warm breath tickles when he speaks. "Mean what?"

I take a deep breath, "That you liked seeing…"

"Kim Cameron?"

I nod, and he smiles. "I might have understated it. I loved it."

"Ok," My breathing is ragged and he captures my lips for some more heated kissing.

Eventually I need to breathe, otherwise I'll faint, and he realizes how intimate our position has become. He quickly moves off of me, looking apologetic.

I give him soft, short kiss. "Don't feel bad. I enjoyed that." Hopefully my emphasis on the word lets him know exactly how much I enjoyed it.

"Me too." He smirks.

"You believe me though, right?"

"Yes."

I sigh with relief, then I ask, "Jared, how did you last that long?"

He looks confused. "What are you talking about?"

"When you told me about imprinting I basically asked you if the only reason you noticed me was because you imprinted. I never considered how you'd feel about it…" I can't say I'd like being in his position: the girl that he was suddenly in love with hadn't even known he existed until the rest of the student body wouldn't shut up about him. Or so he thought. "I'm sorry." I say softly.

"Don't be. I never asked."

"You should have. I would have told you. You deserved to know."

"Well, you just told me."

"Little late now."

"Haven't you ever heard the 'better late than never' saying?"

"It's a silly saying."

"Oh really?"

"Really."

I hear a muffled, "Kimmy!" From Kennedy's room and I sigh, standing up, leaving Jared in my room.

I go to Kennedy and sit beside her. "What's up kiddo?"

"Am I going to Mariah's tonight?" I feel a pang in my chest-that she knows mom and dad won't be here for her.

"Um… I don't know yet. You want me to go talk to mom and dad?"

She nods quickly, and I see the doubt and hope in her blue eyes. The worst part is I'm not sure what she's hoping for, and what she's doubting.

I slip out of Kennedy's room and go to my parent's room. They've opened the shade so some of the natural light is coming in, but it's still a little dreary in the room. I address my mother, still miffed at my father's stupid comment.

"Should I call Mariah, or will you and dad be home to watch Kennedy?" The tone of my voice doesn't leave room for negotiation. Either Kennedy goes to Mariah's, or they stay home. I'm not backing down.

My mom tries to keep her voice steady, but I can see the caution in her eyes. She seems nervous about my sudden change of heart. Like it's abnormal for a teenage girl to want to get out of the house from time to time. Like I should be perfectly content raising my little sister for them. "Mariah probably can't do it on such short notice-"

"Don't put this on her. I asked her yesterday."

"Kim, why would you ask her when you knew we would be home?"

My silence is my answer. But not in their minds. "I didn't."

"You just said-"

"Know you'd be home. Or that you'd actually stay home."

Her eyes widen when she understands what I'm accusing them of. But she doesn't comment further. She just says, "Your father and I will stay home with her." It sounds like she's trying to convince herself.

"Good. I'll let Mariah know she's not needed."

"Thanks Kim." My dad hasn't said one word to me, and I'm fine with that.

I quickly go tell Kennedy the news, and, much to my dismay, find that I can't tell if she was hoping they'd stay for her, or if she was hoping Mariah could babysit her.

"Isn't that what you wanted?"

She shrugs. "I haven't seen them in a while."

"Maybe they'll have a movie night with you."

I can see her excitement, "You think so?"

"All you have to do is ask them."

She gives me a hug. "Thanks Kimmy."

I can't help but feel like a mother should be the one receiving hugs like that. But I hug her tightly and go back to my room to retrieve Jared.

"Listen," I sigh a little. "I know it's cold outside, but honestly I need to get out of here. You want to come with?"

"Absolutely. Where are we going?" I smile at his enthusiasm.

"Anywhere."

"The beach?"

"Perfect."

It takes ten minutes to get out of the house. I have to tell my parents we're leaving early and that I'll be back. I don't ask if I have a curfew-I decidethat I don't.

I also have to say goodbye to Kennedy, who isn't exactly thrilled to see me leave, but I promise her 'sister time' tomorrow and that cheers her up.

By the time Jared and I make it to my car, because he walked here and his is at home, it's four o'clock. We have a few hours before the bonfire, so Jared takes my keys and drives us up to first beach.

As much as I'd love sun, its November in La Push, which means overcast if we're lucky and rainy if we're not. Today we're lucky. Though it's cloudy it's not too cold-probably upper forties and Jared's close proximity makes it easy to forget the chilly temperature. My sweatshirt helps as well.

Jared and I walk hand in hand down the beach, talking about whatever comes up, and it's very relaxing. My lingering anger toward my parents fades drastically in Jared's presence and warmth takes its place. I like the warmth better.

When we're heading back toward the car-Jared intending to take me to the bonfire spot a little early-his phone rings. He looks down and checks the caller ID before giving me a guilty look.

"It's Sam. I have to take this."

I nod. "Of course. You shouldn't worry about answering your phone around me. I won't freak out of anything. I've done it to you once or twice already."

"Thanks." He answers the phone quickly. "Sam?" The way he says Sam's name, its like a greeting, a question, and a complaint all rolled into one. I have to fight a smile.

Unfortunately I see Jared's expression turn serious quickly-a response to what Sam is telling him.

"No. I'm with Kim."

I can tell by the way he says it that that will not be true for much longer. I sigh internally, but I understand. It's his job, and his duty to the tribe. To protect us from whatever I was supposed to learn about tonight. Whatever made the boys start phasing-I think. I suppose that will have to wait.

Jared is still talking, "I don't know. I will talk to her about it."

He glances at me. Then toward the car. And then toward the woods-more specifically toward Sam's house through the woods.

"I can be there in less than half an hour." And with that he hangs up. I was right. He has to go.

I mask my sadness at him leaving, for his benefit. I shouldn't be distracting him while he's doing…whatever he's doing for Sam.

"You have to go." I murmur softly.

He nods, obviously upset.

"I'm sorry."

"About what?" He looks baffled by my apology.

"I don't know. You look upset. 'I'm sorry' seemed like the best response."

"Don't worry about me Kim. I'll be fine. But yes, I do have to go."

"That's fine. You can go, you know. We brought my car. I can drive myself home."

"I'm sorry Kim, I really don't want to go."

"It's fine. I get it. You have to go…" I trail off-realizing again that I don't know what he's doing.

"Sam needs my help, apparently-" He's cut off by a loud howl echoing from the forest far off. If I didn't know who it was I'd be frightened, but now that I do know the distressed sound makes me fear for the wolves safety.

"Jared," My eyes go wide. "If they need you, go. I am fine here."

"No no, Kim. There's no trouble."

"It sounds like trouble."

"It's not trouble. It's just a…"

"A what Jared? This thingyou're protecting the tribe from?" My voice isn't combative. It's simply curious and concerned.

"Sam just told me another one of us just phased."

My mouth falls open in shock. "Jacob Black?"

"No, Embry Call."

I'm shocked. I'd been watching out for Jacob to go missing from school, but he never did. Apparently I'd missed the signs in Embry, one of Jacob's friends.

"Wow." I breathe softly.

"Yeah," Jared agrees. "We didn't really see that one coming. With Jake's bloodlines we'd all seen him phasing next. Especially with the vam-." He catches himself and shuts up, glancing at me knowing his mistake.

"You don't have to tell me Jared. It's fine."

"I want to Kim, but I don't want to scare you. I thought with the legends tonight you'd finally know everything and then we'd be ok, but now the bonfire's canceled so the pack can deal with Embry and help him phase back, so…"

"Jared, seriously, I can wait."

"You shouldn't have to."

"Then tell me." I offer.

"Can you remember that I can protect you? That I will always protect you?"

"Of course you will."

"It's…" He breathes deeply "The reason we're phasing, and the reason we have to protect the tribe is… vampires."

Vampires? Vampires. Obviously the blood drinking type-what with all the 'protecting'. And if the vampires cause phasing there must be some close. Vampires. The word echoes in my thoughts, but I think I mask my shock. It doesn't really scare me-wolf boys and vampires. Makes sense. In a weird, fantasy world. But this is the real world. And I guess it's full of fantasy.

"Vampires, huh?" In the abstract-this is something I'm telling you with no real, tangible proof sort of way-it doesn't shock me at all. Though I think I'd be scared to death if I were meeting one…

"Yep."

"Wow."

"Yeah." Another howl comes from the forest. "I would explain it all to you Kim, but I don't really have enough time to go into the politics of it all. I promise you're safe here though. If you weren't I'd send you away. We'd go somewhere safe."

"I believe you."

"Really?"

"Really. If you tell me it's safe it is. I trust you. I love you. Now go help the pack. They need you."

"I love you too." He says it as thought that's the only thing I said. Then he kisses me softly, but firmly.

With just the kiss I can tell that he doesn't want to go-but he has to. And that he loves me, and that he'll be back. And that I'm totally safe here.

When he pulls away he turns and runs to the forest.

I watch as he disappears into the woods, already pulling his shirt over his head when he reaches the tree line. That in itself looks odd considering he's not even going to the water and it's barely forty degrees out-a fact much more prominent without Jared's heat beside me.

I miss him already, but I know that he has a job to do. My wolf boy. I smile at the thought.

My life has gone from utterly normal to utterly abnormal in days. Now my world exists with vampires and shape-shifters and who knows what else. I still don't have all the details, but I know Jared will tell me everything soon, and I'll get to hear the legends. But maybe we never really know everything. Maybe there is more out there than just the vampires and wolves. Either way, that's not what's important to me.

Jared is what's important to me. And I know he'll always come for me. He has come for me since day one. He came to my house, and he's come back ever since.

And even after everything from our relationship so far, and for what I know will come in our future, I think that one of my favorite things will be that it all started out with my silly comment-the one that made him feel 'normal' when he needed it most.

Our whole relationship, crazy as it is, began with a simple comment.

It all started out normal.