Author's Note: I'm sad to say that this is the end. There will not be a sequel, however, Seth's story takes place about four years after the end of this one and will include all my original characters as they are mentioned. In addition, once I have completed all six Pack stories, there will be an extended epilogue story entitled The Pack that you can all be on the look out for. Thank you all for you continued support and comments about this story. I can honestly say that I am probably one of the luckiest authors to have such loyal readers. Thank you all!
It was kind of depressing to see the school year end. Especially knowing that it was our last year. La Push High School had been a source of much joy, many tears, and even more hardship. But after four years, it was finally over. Jake and I were going to be moving on to bigger and better things. "Jacob Black," the principal called. I wasn't going to lie; I was kind of impressed that he made it this far. I was sure that he was going to have to drop out at some point. But he had figured out everything and how to take care of it.
He held potluck Pack meetings in our living room every Sunday. Everyone came over and talked about anything and everything that could be happening. He ran the morning shift of patrol, from three in the morning until seven. And then we went to school. He didn't sleep all that much, but somehow he was managing to get it all done. He'd even managed to get into a mechanical engineering school. Sam had used his own degree to open a garage. I think that the plan was for all of the guys to have a job, to have a way to make an income. And while Jake knew nothing about cars, he did have a degree in business and a solid plan.
Kim and Jared were planning their wedding, although I think that it should be called Kim's wedding. Sam and Emily, while still unmarried, were expecting their first child. Leah and Nate lived in their blissful married paradise. Nate was going to the police academy in hopes of getting a job that I'm sure my father would be more than willing to offer. I actually think that Dad was waiting for Nate to finish up his schooling. Leah was still the bitch on the Rez, but she had definitely mellowed out around the Pack. Whatever had happened between Nate and Sam had brought peace to the rest of the wolves.
I had never met anyone that I had as much fun with as I did with Leah and Penn. It was common knowledge that Charlie, Emily, and Kim were the nice imprints in the Pack. Leah, Penn, and I had bad habits of being pains in the asses and just straight out bitches. And, of course, there was little Claire. I kind of felt bad for Quil; all of his friends were going to be married and having children that were the same age as imprint. He didn't appear to be too upset by it, though. He thoroughly enjoyed spending time with the little minion. She knew about the wolves, but called the guys puppies. She definitely had no fear of them.
I guess I hadn't been paying attention though because the next thing that I heard was, "Ryanne Swan." There was a pause during which nobody moved. "Ryanne Swan," he repeated. I was jarred out of my little reverie and knocked back into the moment. I stood up, my royal blue gown flowing around my ankles despite my five inch heels. In a practice motion, thanks to Leah and Penn, I made it down the stairs of the bleachers and across the little stage and back to my seat. The rest of the ceremony was a blur. It was just like every other ceremony that I had ever seen. "Ladies and gentlemen, this year's graduating class!"
There was a roar as we all stood up and threw our caps like everyone did in those cheesy movies. In the next instant, I was being crushed against Jake's chest and flying through the air. He spun me around until I was laughing and choking on my own throat. Only then, when I was moments from dying, did he put me down. He captured the back of my head in his hand and pulled me down for a dangerous kiss. It had only bee a few minutes later when we heard chuckles from behind us. "Okay, okay, you two. Break it up," Dad commanded. He clapped Jake on the shoulder and pulled me into an awkward hug. But it was always awkward when Dad showed real affection.
"You... You didn't invite Bella and Edward to this event did you?" I teased. Jake growled but wisely kept his mouth shut.
"No," Dad said, drawing out the 'o'. "I did not invite your sister to your graduation."
"Oh, sure; I had to go to hers but she doesn't have to go to mine," I grumbled. Again, Jake snarled at my jesting. Dad opened and closed his mouth like a fish, talking about how he assumed that I wouldn't want Bella there but he would have invited her if he'd known. I eventually took pity on him and told him that I was kidding. "Let's get back to the house," I suggested.
Jake and I had worked hard to get all the food prepped for our graduation party. It wasn't just us this year. And instead of spending a fortune to get everyone a party of their own, we combined it all into one giant bonfire. You know, true Quileute style. The parents had decided to remain at home, where the noise and boys excessiveness wouldn't be able to bother them. So now, Jake and I were walking down to the beach toting all the food that I'd made. "Are you glad to see that it's over?" I asked him.
"I guess. I think it would be harder if we weren't in a Pack, you know? Like if we didn't already see each other every day," he said.
"Oh, Jake, are you getting all emotional on me?" I teased. He glared at me and gave no response, just continued walking. "It's not like things are going to change any time soon." He shrugged, which immediately had me on edge. I had learned that when Jake responded like that, it usually spelled disaster for me. "Hey Leah!" I shouted when I saw her and Nate swaying to their wedding song. I kind of wished that I was one that was good with art because they definitely made a wonderful picture. Penn's scream hit my ears and immediately had me on high alert. Except that it was a shriek of laughter. She was sitting on Embry's shoulder while he walked dangerously close to the ocean, pretending to teeter and stumble as he went. Penn had a white knuckles grip on his hair as she tried to keep her pin straight hair from getting wet.
We parted ways while I went to say hello to all our friends while Jake moved to deposit the food on a picnic table. He clasped hands with Sam, who was rubbing Emily's slight bump on her stomach. While the sight of her made me happy for Emily and Sam, it caused a pang of bitterness in my heart. Nessie had chosen to move down to South America with the Amazonian clan that had been here to witness for her more that a year ago. She was closer to the young hybrid boy that we had met back then too. So the surrogate daughter that I'd spent so long taking care of was gone.
And I was ready to start a family of my own. Jake and I didn't have very many bills at the little cabin. We used a wood burning stove, drew water from the well, and used old school oil lanterns. Jake helped out with the bills at his fathers, but Rebecca was now living there. She kept house for him and Rachel when the other girl came home. I didn't see a reason why we couldn't get married and have children...
Except for the fact that I hadn't been asked. I couldn't expect Jake to do that just yet. After all, he'd had so much on his plate as of late that I didn't want to add anything. God forbid I tipped the delicate balance on which our sanity lied. I wasn't one of those girls to drop hints or try to get him to see what I wanted. Jake would do whatever he wanted whenever he was ready. And while patience wasn't one of my virtues, I was capable of possessing the quality when the time called for it. And where Jake was concerned, it was called for. Unfortunately.
By the time the party was in full swing, I felt like an old lady. I stared at the faces of my family, my friends, my Pack. I looked at each and every precious face, thinking back on the various memories I had with each of them. And everyone was happy, even those who didn't have imprints. "Babe," Jake called quietly. I leaned back so that I could look at him, resting fully against his chest. "Let's take a walk."
I nodded and rose to take his hand in mine. Years since we had started our relationship, I still marveled at the feel of his hand around mine. It was like security manifested. His thumb drew lazy circles around mine while we walked away from all of our people. "What's on your mind?" I asked. I knew him, better than I knew myself. There was something that told me what he was feeling, what he wanted, before he ever managed it himself.
"You said something earlier," he began.
"Whatever it is... I probably meant it as an insult," I interrupted. He laughed and pulled me in tighter to his side. We were standing on the rock where he'd first told me about him being a wolf, after the fight with Paul.
"No, babe. You said something about nothing ever changing." I nodded. Nothing about our lives was really changing. I mean, we didn't have to go to school every single day, but we still had class and work and all those fun things. We would still see our Pack everyday. Nothing was changing. "Annie girl, I'm ready for things to change."
"Okay..." I began. "What kind of changes?"
"Annie, I don't want to keep things going the way that we're going," he said. My heart thumped out of pace in my chest and my breath hitched. But I told myself that I needed to calm down. There's no way that Jake would do this to me. Right? His hand slithered down my arm and caught hold of my fingers. He shifted my wrist and played with my fingers until I felt something cold slide up my finger. I was no longer holding my breath. I was panting quietly, trying to keep him from hearing. "I love you, Ryanne Lee Swan. But I'm sick of saying that name. Marry me?"
It was simple and demanding and totally like something that we would do. I sighed heavily in response, pretending like I was slightly distraught by the idea. "If I must," I conceded. I giggled as he pulled me close and kissed me deeply. "Do I get to finish your house training now?" I asked when we broke apart.
"I love you, Ryanne Black," he said in response, pulling me up against his chest so that I was lifted from the ground.
"Not quite a Black yet."