Here's the next chapter for you all. I hope you all like it and thanks for continuing to read this story. I still don't own Twilight unfortunately.
We need to talk.
Leah hated those four words. Nothing good ever came of them.
Sam had said them to her right before he explained that he didn't love her anymore, he now loved her cousin instead.
Her mom had said them to her when she had finally managed to phase back to human after turning into a wolf, only to find that her beloved daddy had lost his life.
And now Embry was saying them to her, a pathetically earnest look on his face.
His expression almost made Leah want to listen to him, but then she remembered how he had ignored her for the last two weeks and any feelings of goodwill disappeared. Her face settled into a frown.
"You wanna let go of my arm, Embry?"
The barely concealed threat in her voice was enough to make him look warily at his hand, but he bravely left it wrapped around her wrist. She growled impatiently at him.
To her surprise, he growled back.
Leah tried to forcibly tug her arm out of his grip, but while she was faster than the rest of the pack, their increased size and muscle mass meant that even Collin and Brady had her beat on brute strength.
They stayed frozen in position for a moment, teeth bared at each other, hovering on the cusp of violence.
A raucous laugh came through the trees about twenty feet away, and both their heads shot in that direction. Leah identified Paul and Quil's voices and nearly called out to them, but at the last minute she bit her tongue. She didn't want either of them speculating on what she and Embry were doing hiding in the forest and if she yelled for help they'd only see it as a weakness on her part. She had done everything possible to not appear girly, frail and weak to her pack mates; she wasn't going to undo all that hard work now.
The voices disappeared into the distance and she was alone with Embry once more. He didn't stay still though. Instead he gently but firmly began pulling her deeper into the forest, away from the trails and patrol routes.
Leah tried once more, futilely, to release herself from his grasp, but ended up following him just to keep herself from being dragged.
Finally, he stopped in a small clearing where the trees were packed closely together and Leah was certain that the only way they would be discovered was if a leech happened to stray in their direction.
She was now seriously pissed off.
Not only had Embry her, but he had now kidnapped her and dragged her into the middle of nowhere and for some reason, she had allowed him to do it.
Counting on him not expecting her resistance at this point, Leah swung at him with her free hand, enjoying the dull thud of impact and the crack as her fist disconnected his jaw.
He bellowed in pain and finally dropped her wrist, both hands coming up to probe delicately at his injury.
Leah stepped back, but for some reason she couldn't explain, didn't immediately run back to the beach and civilisation. A tiny part of her was curious about why Embry was so determined to talk to her when he had ignored her for so long. She was dreading whatever it was he had to say, but he had gone to so much effort to get her alone that, despite her anger at being manhandled into this situation, she hung around to find out.
"Fuck!" He had finally popped his jaw back into place. "That hurts like a bitch. What the fuck did you do that for?!"
Leah shrugged. "You wouldn't let me go. What did you expect?"
He swore loudly. "I didn't expect you to attempt to rearrange my face."
Leah felt a brief twinge of guilt, but schooled her face into a blank expression. "You wouldn't let me go," she repeated. "I won't let anyone push me about, Embry, not even you."
Dark eyes filled with confusion met hers, because he turned and walked over the opposite side of the clearing. Spinning to face her once more, he slumped down at the foot of a tree, one hand still rubbing over his aching jaw.
He sat there in silence for several minutes and finally Leah huffed and threw herself onto the soft ground as well. She wasn't going to stand there like an idiot if he was going to relax and make her feel paranoid.
She picked at the blades of grass at her feet, sneaking peeks at the boy opposite her out of the corner of her eyes.
Eventually the quiet got to her.
Embry blinked. "So what?" he asked.
Leah rolled her eyes.
"You're the one who dragged me out here. You're the one who said we needed to talk. So talk."
She shifted her hands behind her body and leaned back on them so he wouldn't be able to tell just how badly she was shaking as she said that.
Embry leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and clasping his hands together.
"Why have you been ignoring me? Is it because of the other night? I didn't mean to overstep the line if I did."
Leah gaped at him.
Her? Ignoring him?
"Excuse me?! I've been ignoring you? You've been ignoring me." She scrambled to her feet at the injustice of his accusation and glared down at him.
Embry scowled at her but didn't move from his relaxed position.
"That's total bullshit and you know it, Leah."
"It's not bullshit!" she protested. "I've seen you about six times in the last two weeks and each time you've said 'hi' and then ignored me. You haven't talked to me or sat near me or anything, apart from tonight when you stared at me during the whole bonfire."
Embry looked faintly embarrassed by that. "I didn't stare at you for the whole bonfire."
"Bella said you did," she shot back at him. "She said you didn't take your eyes off me, which given that you wouldn't come within a mile of me just yesterday has me kind of confused."
"I didn't know you and Bella were such good friends," Embry muttered under his breath.
Leah felt strangely vindicated by that, his mumbled statement proof that he had indeed been staring.
"So?" she prompted again. "Why have you been ignoring me?"
"I haven't!" Embry surged to his feet and strode forward, forcing her to look upwards just to meet his eyes.
"Sure, I've only said hello to you recently. I haven't talked to you or hung out with you, but that's because every time I try to come near you, you turn away, or you find a reason to talk to Seth, or you suddenly decide that you're going to go home early. You're the one avoiding me, Leah."
A hot flush began to creep its way up Leah's neck.
She knew what he was talking about, but that wasn't her avoiding him, was it?
She was just protecting herself from getting hurt. He wouldn't talk to her so she wouldn't let him see that it bothered her. She didn't think she was stopping him from coming near her in any way.
"I'm not avoiding you. Why would I?" She was still determined not to let him see that his words were bothering her.
He blew out a gust of air in frustration and then tipped his head downwards to stare at her again.
"I don't know." He shrugged. "After what happened the other night, I didn't want to push you. I know you don't normally like the pack looking at you like you're a girl, so I just figured you were embarrassed that I'd seen you... like that," he added awkwardly. "So I thought that that was why you didn't want me anywhere near you."
He raised a hand and tentatively placed it on her shoulder. To both his surprise, and hers, she didn't immediately shrug him off.
"I shouldn't have reacted that way in front of you. It was stupid."
She tried to brush off her insecurities. Who cared if he thought she had been psychotic and pathetic that night? She could shrug it all off; shrug off her worries, and shrug off his concern. It had been a moment of weakness and now she was over it.
Now if only Embry would get that she was over it.
"You are entitled to your feelings, Leah. You don't need to brush them aside like that."
She shook her head. "I'm not brushing them aside. I'm just telling you that I was having a stupid moment and it's over and not a big deal. So, don't make it one, okay?"
Embry's hand fell from her shoulder. Leah could make out the faint look of disappointment on his face.
"Okay," he agreed. "If you want it like that -"
"I do," she interrupted him. "Just forget about it."
Embry took a step back, and then another, and hung his head. She really didn't like the defeat apparent in his posture and found herself shuffling forward. Even with her practically under his nose, he refused to look up at her.
Leah couldn't help feeling bad that she had shut him out so abruptly when she knew he meant well, but old habits die hard.
She swallowed heavily and licked her lips. "I didn't mean to avoid you," she offered.
He didn't reply and she felt compelled to keep talking.
"I didn't even know I was avoiding you. I thought you were avoiding me. I don't... I'm not..." She tried again. "I'm not great at letting other people...close."
Embry finally looked at her again, studying the expressions that crossed her face. She had preferred it a lot better when he wasn't looking at her like that. All her fears felt exposed in front of him when he looked at her like that.
Like he understood her.
Leah shook her head again. "I'm sorry."
He ran the back of his fingers over her cheek, the same way he had in the dark of her house that night. It made Leah shiver.
"I'm sorry too," he said. "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. I just wanted to know what was going on. I wanted to help, if you'll let me."
In a mirror of that night, he cupped her cheeks and lifted her face so he was staring into her eyes. The intensity of emotion in his face was almost too much for her to bear.
"I don't want you to avoid me, Leah. I don't want you to feel awkward. I want to be your friend, if you'll let me."
He offered so much and so little at the same time.
Leah felt a pang of disappointment shoot through her, even though she had never wanted anything else from Embry in the first place.
But then maybe she had gotten her hopes up just a little when she had caught him checking out her ass. In that moment, she knew he had seen her as an attractive woman and a part of her had loved that, had loved that someone still saw her like that.
But, if he had suggested something more than friendship, she would've punched him again.
It would be nice to have someone other than Seth and her mother to talk to again though. Hell, between him and Bella, she was making friends all over the place today.
"Leah." He called her attention back to him. "Please."
She couldn't say no. He was offering her a lifeline and she would be stupid not to take it.
"Sure." She tried to smile. "Friends."
His answering smile was a lot wider and more genuine than her own. He looked so happy at her agreement, that she was almost convinced that she had made the right decision. She just had to cross her fingers that he didn't screw her over like all her other friends had done once Sam had vanished.
Leah had made her decision though. She would be friends with Embry, but she wouldn't expect anything else from him. It was dangerous to trust other people and she wasn't willing to put herself out there fully. Not just yet, anyway.
Embry was standing pretty close to her for just a friend, and Leah stepped back again, his hands falling from her face as she did. Taking his cue from her, Embry backed away and shoved his hands in the pockets of his cut-offs.
"Want to walk back to town with me," he offered, "seeing as we're friends now?"
Leah couldn't stop herself from rolling her eyes at him, but she tempered it with a brief smile.
She jerked her head in what she thought was the right direction and moved aside so that he could walk in front of her. It wasn't that she couldn't find her way back to La Push easily enough, but more that she didn't trust him to watch her back just yet. His earlier hesitance now replaced by a sly grin, Embry nodded at her and they began the walk back to the town.
When they reached the edge of the forest nearest her backyard, he paused and turned to face her.
"So," he began. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" Leah quickly searched her memory and vaguely recalled Sam saying something about a pack meeting at the bonfire earlier that evening. "Oh right. Yeah, I'll see you then."
"And you'll actually talk to me then?" he prompted.
Leah scowled at the reminder. "Yes, I'll talk to you, although not if you're going to be a jerk about it."
"Love you too, Lee-Lee."
He disappeared before she could yell at him for using that hated nickname, but as she snuck quietly back into the house, she noticed that she was smiling again. Her fingers traced over her mouth as if she couldn't quite believe it.
Maybe being friends with Embry would be better than she expected. She could only pray that tomorrow he didn't let her down.
She slept soundly that night.