Chapter 23

Michelle POV

The house looks the same but I don't know if it was me but there seems to be a gloomy feel about it. Shaking my head, my hair feels light and weird on my head which makes me smile. I keep the toys in the car just in case the little girl sees them as I make my way inside the house.

Emily is sitting on the dinner table, staring at nothing. Sam is making something in the kitchen whilst Embry and Jake are sitting in the living room both looking bored. I can hear someone in the shower and another asleep. I walk into the living; giving my brother a wave hello. Jake and Embry look up and smile at me as I enter. I go to sit on the armchair, seeing as the sofa is full. A girl around the age of five - possible six - is sitting on the left side of the couch next to Jake.

She's the closest to me as I sit on the armchair. Her hair is brown and in curls down her back, her eyes are the same colour as her hair. The strange thing is though that her eyes are big and full of life unlike everyone else in the house, "I'm Clare." She smiles, all her baby teeth straight only one from gap where ones fell out. Her smile is warm as I look at her.

"Michelle." I answer as I slump on the chair and turn on the TV, even though Jake and Embry are giving me No gestures. I flicker through the TV and find Powerpuff girls on for Clare. Jake is giving me a gesture to turn off the TV but I ignore; wanting to give the child something to do instead of staring at a wall.

"Why the hell is the TV on?" Jared's voice yells as I look at a wide-eyed Jake.

"Because Clare needs something to do!" I shout back but get the remote snatched off me. The TV switches off; making my wolf pissed off and for Clare to whimper in disappointment, "What the fuck, Jared? Not all of us are in depressed grief mode!"

His dark eyes blink slowly as I look behind him to see Paul, Sam and Emily coming into the living room to see what all the shouting's about. Jake and Embry move to protect Clare as Sam and Paul do the same to Emily. I find Jared shaking violently but on the other hand I'm not even quivering, "You're a heartless bitch!"

"I don't know the woman so how can I mourn her death?" I hiss but it seems to push him too far as his fist flings into my face. The room is deadly silent as my hair only covers half of my face as the spot where he hit is throbbing. I can hear Paul growling dangerously low but he doesn't make a move towards Jared. Clare is sobbing behind Jake and Embry as I do the only think I can think of.

Instead of hitting him back, I keep my head down as I run out of the back patio door and towards the woods…

I make my way towards my dad's house my mind on the swelling starting on my cheek. I seriously need some ice on it! I wonder if Jake and Embry are taking Clare out of the unstable house. I stop in my wolf form outside of the white house as I hear a woman's moan and a man's grunt followed by a line of dirty talk coming from the house. Turning back around eyes wide I phase to my human form, feeling some on else phase to wolf. I make my way – naked - through the forest towards Billy's…


Thankfully I can hear the TV on when I make my way towards the red cabin. I can hear the voices of Harry Clearwater, Billy and Charlie Swan in the living room; no one else I can hear. I go around the back towards Jake's room to see his window wide open. Climbing through the window, I go straight towards his drawers; I pull out a pair of his boxers for shorts and his Queen of the Stone Age t-shirt.

Going back out the window, I turn to knock on the door hearing them mute the TV and Billy's wheelchair to comes to the front door, "Michelle, what…" He trails off when he sees my face. How bad is it? Seriously I want to know why it hasn't healed? "What happened?"

"I went home, turned the TV on for Clare so she doesn't get bored and then got hit in the face by a pissed off Jared. I ran to my dad's only to hear sex noises so came here, got some of Jake's clothes and here I am…" I butter out, my cheeks burning as Harry comes up behind Billy only with Charlie, "How bad is it?"

"Bad…" Harry says his eyes on the bruise.

"Bollocks!" I whisper, "Is it alright if I stay here, Billy. I really don't want to go back to that house. It reeks of grief and makes me depressed. I also don't want to get attack again…" I put on my puppy dog eyes and a slight pout as I watch them soften at my expression.

"You can have Jake's bed. Rachel is at Rowan's." Billy says as I walk into the house, closing the door behind me.

"What about Clare? What if one of the wolves loses it?" Charlie says as he sits back down on the sofa. Since when the fuck did he find out about all this? "Billy and Charlie have just told me before the game started."

"Oh right…" I nod, "Can I borrow the phone and I'll call Jake and get him to bring Clare over."

They nod as I go to the house phone. Picking up and typing my house phone into the phone. I wait until someone picks up, "Hello?" It's my imprint and he doesn't sound like a happy bunny…No wait shouldn't it be not a happy wolf?

"I need to speak to my son." I say, making my voice deeper to sound like Billy, "Its Billy…" I add at the end as silence fills the other end; Crap! Was my voice rubbish?

"Jake!" Paul shouts as I beam, "I miss you, Michelle, I'm sorry I didn't protect you…" Paul adds as I freeze, silently cursing myself for my poor acting skills, "I love you; please come back to me…"

"I will give you space to get over your lose and grief, Paul, also the fact that I don't want to see you with a swollen cheek." I whisper at the end of it as I hear his deadly growl from the other side of the phone.

"I'm coming over!" He hisses before passing the phone over to Jake before I can persuade him otherwise.

"Hello?" Jake answers.

"I'm going to be quick, Jakey. Bring Clare to yours. I'm at yours but beware of Paul, he seems to be deadly because I have a swollen cheek."

"Paul just ran out the house…"

"Fuck! You could have stopped him, Jake! Now I have to deal with my pissed off boyfriend. Thank you!"

"Sorry." I can hear him shrug, "I hope you okay now though. I'll tell you what happened when I come over with Clare. Can I bring your Ford GT?"

"Yes, it has Clare's birthday present in for tomorrow." Silence is the answer I recieve.

"It's her birthday tomorrow?"

"Yep." I pop the 'p'.

"I'll be over as quick as I can." We hang up as I warn Billy about Paul coming over. He doesn't seem bothered.

"Do you want me to shoot him so he'll go away, Michelle?" Charlie offers as I wink at him.

"No thanks Charlie but for future events I'll keep that offer in mind." I smile just as I feel the imprint pull calm, telling me he is near and I hear his wolf's paw running frantically on the ground, "He's here. I'll go outside and speak to him." Without another word, I go back out the front door and sit on the steps overlooking the forest and drive. Surprisingly there's a mirror on the floor which I find weird. Looking at my cheek in the mirror, it's forming as a lump and is turning purple; it is about the size of a fist and takes up all of my cheek.

Thank god the prom has passed…

"Michelle…" Paul breathes as he jogs towards me. Putting the mirror down I stand up just in time to be wrapped into him arms, "I'm sorry. So sorry. Please forgive me…"

"There is nothing to forgive, Sweetie." I smile, pulling back and standing on my tip toes so I can rest my forehead against his, my nose on his.

"Yes there is. I let him hit you…" He says, stroking the bruise with a feathery touch.

"You were protecting Emily…"

"But I should have been protecting you…"

We go silent then as he sets me down on my feet. His hand is under my chin and his other hand on my waist, "You've just lost someone special to you, Paul. You need time to get over it. I'll stay at Billy's until everyone has calmed down."

"I want you though." He whispers, his face becoming closer to mine, "She was only a friend."

"A friend that you slept with for the first time and had a relationship with. She must mean more to you, Paul."

"You're the only girl I've ever loved and ever will love. Megan wanted a prize, I was her prize. I felt nothing towards her but lust. It was just a shock that she died."

"I am still giving you space, Paul; only a couple days." I smile as he pouts but nods his head in understanding. Jake drives up the drive then, "We aren't breaking up, Paul, so don't worry I will come back."

He kisses me passionately then. My new haircut scrunched in his hand and his nose pressed into my none bruised cheek. I kiss back enthusiastically. We pull back too quickly for my liking, "I like your haircut by the way." And with that he jogs back towards the forest.

"Bye then." I whisper as Jake climbs out of the car with Clare.

"Wow, that's a nasty bruise." Jake comments as Clare hangs onto Jake's hand tightly.

"You've always been a charmer, Jake!" I huff as we go back inside to see the game finished on the TV and the men talking in the living room about the results.

"Hey, Clare, how are you?" Harry asks from the armchair. She shrinks into my side, her cheeks scarlet. I laugh softly as I stoke her hair in a soothing motion.

"I'll sleep on the couch tonight. You and Clare can have my bed." Jake says as I say good night to the men and make my way to the bedroom, Jake following, "Here is a bag with all Clare's stuff in."

Nodding, Jake goes to get us all drinks as I help change Clare in to her pajamas. Jake comes back in with a cool glass of Coke for us and a glass of apple juice for Clare. She drinks it all before snuggling into the pillow and falling asleep quicker than you can say 'Clare is asleep on Jake's bed…'

"So what happened when I got hit?" I asks, my voice a whisper but his hearing can catch what I'm saying.

"Paul attacked Jared. I got Clare and Emily into your room as they had a fist fight in the living room. Sam helped Paul whilst Embry and I tried to get them off of Jared. I might have put a kick in by accident and the same with Embry before Sam finally snapped out of it and ordered Paul to go and see if you're in wolf form or not unconscious in the forest somewhere. Luckily you weren't.

"Jared calmed down but couldn't stop cursing but all his bruises healed - unfortunately. Sam was shouting orders until we all calmed down. Emily came back in and she actually seemed her normal self again. Paul came back, didn't talk to any of us but I could smell the guilt burning in him. The phone rang. Paul seemed amused but also worried as he was on it, handed it me and then shot off out the house. I talked to you on the phone. Then I told Emily that it was Clare's birthday tomorrow; and let me just say that it seems Emily is her old self again. She started ranting and raving then cursing at Sam etc.

"She told me to take Clare to you so I did. The rest you can figure out for yourself."

"Well…" To be honest I'm speechless.

It seems Jared hitting me has got everyone out of their grief and back on with their lives. Go me!

"Sleep, Michelle. We'll speak more in the morning…"

With that he leaves. Stripping off the boxers I'm using for shorts I climb into bed next to Clare and was fast asleep quicker than Clare…