Title: Still Jacob – The Story Of A Long Goodbye

Author: EnjoyyourJacob

Pairing: Jacob/Bella

Rating: T

Pre-Readers: JB and Niamhg

Beta: Mist

Thanks so much to my amazing pre-readers JB and Niamhg and to Mist, who offered to beta for me, even when I would send her my draft at the last minute. I 3 you!

I was very excited to learn that my winning bidder for the 1st Annual TR Author/Artist Auction was Dragonfly.

Here's what she wanted me to write for her: Okay, so we see tons of J/B as teenagers, and there is always a whole bunch of J/B as little kids. I want to see them old! I want to hear about them reflecting on their lives together fifty years later. All the good, the bad... their kids, their grandkids, their friends. I just want to know how their happily ever after turned out! Are they sitting on a swing watching the sun set? Are they laughing with their friends? Watching their grandson get married?

It could be anything. Little vignettes of reflection, two wrinkly old codgers getting it on, maybe even gray-haired Jake phasing one last time and Bella laughing at him... the possibilities are endless!

Anything you want to write, provided it's well into the future, the twilight of their lives. That's what I'm after. I want the epilogue.

Thank you to Dragonfly for putting her trust in me and making me her author of choice. I hope you'll like what I came up with.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain's nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, or loss of intellectual function, among people aged 65 and older.

Alzheimer's disease is not a normal part of aging.

Source: .

Still Jacob – The Story Of A Long Goodbye

Evie wasn't tall, but she wasn't tiny either. She was just average, standing at 5' 7". She wasn't slim nor was she chubby. She was just your average size. She didn't consider herself a beauty, nor did she think that she was ugly. Her hair was a funny mix of blonde and brown with a copper shade. Her skin was rather light with a couple of freckles covering her nose and cheeks.

No, she just was your average woman.

She was working as a nurse at the hospital and really loved her job.

As of late, though, she had the feeling life was going by her. Unattached with no siblings, no parents and only three close friends who very much lived their own lives now, she mainly lived for her job and her job alone.

As of late though, she felt that something was missing in her life, and watching her friends getting married and fall pregnant, she had soon figured out what she was missing. She yearned for a family of her own-a loving husband, a kid or two, a house, a garden and a dog, but... she also somehow knew that she wouldn't find what she was longing for in Crystal Falls, Michigan, the place she currently lived.

So after a lot of consideration and some heated discussions with her friends, she decided to pack up and move across the country. She couldn't even rationally explain to herself or her friends why she chose a tiny town named Forks to become her future home. Maybe the reason was that Forks was close to La Push and the reservation of a Native American tribe, the Quileute Nation. Growing up, she was told by her mom that she was distantly related to the Quileute people. It never really mattered to her before as neither her mom nor her grandma ever really talked about those family ties. Now that she was alone, she wondered if her Quileute relatives would want to get to know her.

Later, she would say she had felt an inexplicable pull in her chest, an urge that called to her to return home. A home she had barely heard about.

A home she'd never been before.

Bella Black sat in her rocking chair, knitting on a purple shawl for her granddaughter Lizzy.

Knitting had become a hobby of hers after their kids had left for college and their house suddenly seemed huge and empty without them. Back then she couldn't imagine what life still had in store for her.

Bella had turned 76 years old a couple of weeks ago, but today she felt so much older. She was exhausted to the bone. Behind her lay another night of watching over Jacob. Again, he had been in a state of agitation, startling at the slightest noise, and when he was finally asleep, he slept fitfully, turning over and around in his bed.

The days weren't any better. Jacob was moody and withdrawn, or he was restless and would wander off and get lost. More often than naught, a helpful neighbor brought him home. Sometimes, people would call that they had found him sleeping in their backyard and she would send one of her daughters or grandsons to pick him up to get him home. Her eyes had gotten so bad that she didn't want to drive her truck anymore, and she was too small to get her big lug of a husband into his seat, especially when he wasn't cooperating.

Bella sighed and stared blankly at her needles.

She still was in love with her Jacob. Even when he wouldn't remember her name and would go search for his Bells - her younger, teen-aged self -, which he did quite often. Her getting lost in the woods the day Edward had left her, had made such an impact on Jacob. It was one of the most formative experiences in his life. The one event he clearly remembered and into which he would laps back regularly.

His dementia had gotten so much worse within the last couple of months, but he was still Jacob. His protective and caring nature and his contagious laughter remained, even when he now needed help with dressing properly, putting his shoes on correctly, and handling things in the bathroom.

She missed the long talks they used to have, the playful banter, and their romantic moments. Watching him wither away scared her immensely. Seeing how he bit by bit lost his personality was horrible. It was a long, a painful goodbye. For both of them.

In the beginning he was well aware what was happening to him. He recognized his limitations and tried to cope with it. It made him sad, and often furious. He worried about the future. What would become of him? How would she manage when he would lose control over his bodily functions? Would she still be able to love him as the disease progressed?

When his Alzheimer's really started to show, it all changed dramatically. Jacob lost his independence. He wasn't able to perform the most common activities such as brushing his teeth or operating his cell phone. Speech difficulties became obvious. He forgot how to write and read. He was getting physically weaker, too.

They still had their fun moments; it lightened up her heart when Jacob's sense of humor came through. There was still kissing, and cuddling, and, occasionally, making love. However, since a couple of months, Jacob started to forget that they had sex immediately afterwards or-which was even worse-he wouldn't recognize that it was her who he had been sleeping with just now, and he would get upset about being intimate with someone not being his Bells.

It was painful and upsetting for her as well. She felt helpless about it, and lonely with no one to share her distress. Who would you want to talk about this kind of problem with? More than once, she simply swallowed her hurt feelings and irritation in favor of sharing that kind of intimacy with her husband as long as it still was possible. After all, Jake still longed for her, still loved her, but this damn dementia would make him forget. It wasn't something he could control in any way.

Bella had never given it much thought that he might go before her. It had always been a possibility and there had been one occasion when it was a really close call, but after he had stopped phasing after their kids were born, Bella had been so sure that she would be the first one to die. After all, she was the older one of them and he'd always been stronger and healthier than her. She really had thought he would outlive her by at least twenty years, but that had now changed dramatically, and she wasn't ready to let him go - not at all.

Too tired to continue her knitting, she put the shawl away and went to the bedroom where Jacob was taking a nap. For once, he wasn't restlessly wandering about or fiddling with his crafted wooden animals.

Ignoring that she had wanted to fold laundry and cook dinner, she slipped out of her shoes, put her glasses on the nightstand and lay down next to Jake. She snuggled up against him, listening to his steady breaths and enjoying his warmth.

She soon fell asleep, dreaming of days long gone. Subconsciously, she became aware that he shifted and curled himself protectively around her like he would do each night ever since they had started sleeping in the same bed. It gave her a sense of peace, and she slipped deeper into her dreams.

When she awoke a couple of hours later, it was dark outside. Rain pelted against the windows. The place next to her was empty. An annoying beeping sound rang through the otherwise quiet house.

"Jake?" she called out and sat up, feeling her worrisome nature kick in. "Jake, where are you?" She put on her glasses and reached for her walking stick, foregoing the shoes. She walked down the hall as fast as it was safe for her. Age hadn't actually improved her clumsiness. There was light coming from the kitchen and the closer she got there, the more prominent the high-pitched beeping became.

"Jake?" she asked again, rounding the corner. The kitchen was empty. The small lamp on the dinner table was switched on, filling the room with a dim light. The refrigerator stood wide open. That was what caused the alarm going off. She quickly checked the contents of the fridge. "Ah, Jake... raw steak again?" She shuddered. As much as she loved him, it didn't mean that she had to like his newly developed eating habits. His dementia caused him to run on his basic instincts most of the time, which included that he would eat meat uncooked when he could get his hands on it. Must be a remnant of his being a wolf for the greater part of his life. But wasn't it a relief to know that he still managed to find himself something to eat when he was hungry?

Calling upon her humor-taking things not too serious made living with him a lot easier-she shook her head and chuckled to herself as she closed the refrigerator.

"Well, at least you didn't burn the house down..."

She then felt an icy wind waft into her kitchen, bringing with him rain and foliage.

"Damn!" she muttered and crossed the room, grabbing her cell phone from the kitchen table on her way.

As she closed the back door, she dialed her grandson. His sleepy voice answered the phone on the third ring.

"Gramma? Was'up?" he asked groggily, his deep voice rough from sleeping.

Bella quickly looked at her kitchen clock, but her old eyes didn't manage to read the time in the semi-darkness. "Did I wake you, Matu? What time is it?"

She heard a rustling through the phone, knowing that he probably went to sit up in his bed now.

"Two in the morning, Gramma, but it's okay. I have to get up for patrol anyway." He yawned loudly. "Did Gramps go for a walk again?"

Bella nodded, before realizing that he couldn't see her through the phone. "Yeah, your gramps let himself out through the back door... I forgot to lock it when I went to bed."

"Go back to bed, Gramma, and don't worry," Matu said soothingly. "I'll bring him back and take care of him. You just sleep; tomorrow will be another hard day for you."

"Okay..." Bella answered and rang off, but she couldn't go back to bed. She cranked up the heat in the bathroom and pulled a pre-cooked meal out of her freezer to put it in the microwave.

When his Alzheimer's was diagnosed, she had sworn to herself that she would do anything to help him and to protect him in every way possible. It didn't take long for them to make their first experiences with impatient doctors, unfriendly nurses, rude cashiers and people, who were unsympathetic with his condition in general.

Of course, that wasn't what they experienced every day, but it was what left the greatest impact. The thing was that Jacob mostly didn't even remember why people were angry or impatient with him. However, he still understood that he must have done or said something wrong, and then he would feel embarrassed or distressed, which caused an entirely different problem-uncontrolled phasing in the wrong places. Even if Jacob didn't phase regularly anymore, it didn't mean he had lost his ability to do so.

But how did you keep a shape shifter from phasing when he'd forgotten the concept of phasing and solely acted on instinct? What did you do to keep him calm when there was a violent aspect to a wolf's nature that he had to constantly struggle to control? More than once, he phased spontaneously out of confusion or distress. It was pure luck that he didn't expose the secret to anyone just yet. Until now, they had been able coax him to phase back just in time.

Bella had become almost overly protective of him. For one thing, she hated when people didn't treat him with respect and looked down on him because of his unpredictable behavior. The other thing was, of course, that she needed to protect the secret.

He had done so much for her. He had put her back together when she was depressed and broken when Edward had left her. He had saved her from drowning when she had recklessly jumped from the cliff, hoping to hear Edward's voice. If she had known what a chain of events this action would kick off, she never would have jumped.

Edward, thinking she had died, went to the Volturi to get himself killed. Alice had persuaded her to come with her to Italy and save him. This had exposed her to the Volturi, the Vampire rulers, and Edward and Alice had promised to the Volturi that Bella would become a vampire.

When she returned to Forks, Jacob still stood by her side, trying to make her see reason. She was so set to get back with Edward that she cast Jacob aside without giving their blossoming relationship a second thought. Although her actions had hurt him beyond anything, Jacob still stayed her friend. He didn't stop loving her. When he learned about Victoria and her army of newborn vampires, he had convinced his pack to fight together with the Cullens so she would be safe again.

Then came the day of the fight, and Edward, in a moment of immature jealousy, revealed to Jacob that she accepted his proposal and was going to marry him.

As Jacob wanted to dive headfirst into the battle, she finally came to her senses. On the mountaintop, they had shared a kiss so passionate, she finally realized to whom her heart really belonged. And the rest was, as they say, history.

Well, not really... because the Volturi had come looking for her- She stopped that train of thought. It was too painful to think about that fateful day. Her eyes wandered to the black-framed picture of a handsome young man. Oh yes, they had paid a high price.

She concentrated and went back on the task at hand. Going down the memory lane would not do her any good right now.

Yes, now it was her time to be there for Jacob. She hated that she had to rely so much on their daughters and her grandsons now that old age made her joints ache, her feet even more unsteady and her hands tremble. However, she still could make sure that when they brought him back, Jacob would be greeted with a cozy, warm home and a warm meal.

After two weeks of getting familiar with her new home by painting the walls of her simple one bedroom one bathroom house and unpacking all the boxes, Evie started her first day at the Forks Hospital.

Forks Community Hospital wasn't even close to the size of the hospitals she was used to working at, but it was pleasant for a change. For once, she was going through her shifts without the irritating noise, stress and adrenaline rushes.

The next two weeks she became accustomed with her new colleagues and got to know her unit. As Forks Hospital was really small, they got to treat all kinds of illnesses and injuries and people from young to old-just how Evie loved it. With mighty interest and with the knowledge in mind that she descended from their tribe, she studied the few Quileute patients that were admitted to the hospital.

At the same time, she'd never before felt more like an outsider. Her fellow nurses were quite nice, but they were also reserved and stayed to themselves. She realized that making new friend wouldn't be so easy here. Thanks to her 12 hour shifts, she didn't make contact with her new neighbors other than to say hello and goodbye.

When she came home at night, she now usually searched the internet for information about the Quileute Nation, studied their official website and even tried to learn their language, listening to a couple of videos she found. She knew practically nothing about her own heritage, but learning about the Quileute history gave her the feeling that she was starting to connect with her lost heritage.

Evie also searched the box with photos of her family, hoping to find out more about her ancestry and her family history. She more or less came up blank other than what she already knew from her late mom.

According to her mom, Evie's great great-grandmother Frida Harper had a secret affair with the Chief's -married- nephew when she was a young girl. Discovering that she had gotten pregnant, her parents had sent her away from Forks so nobody would learn about their daughter's pregnancy. After all, Frida had broken several of their rules and neglected her social status. Having a relationship with a married man was bad enough, but to hook up with a 'Red Indian' and getting yourself pregnant from him shook their foundations and beliefs. It was unacceptable at that time.

So Frida had cut all her ties to her former life and moved to Nevada. From there she had gone to Colorado until settling down in Olathe, Kansas. She never got married, never contacted her parents, never reached out to her son's father. She only lived for her son Ben.

Evie's great-grandfather Ben-again according to her mom-had quite a temper, but whenever someone would provoke him and his temper threatened to get the better of him, he would disappear to God knows where. After his mother died, he'd roamed the country, only settling down when he fell in love with his future wife Violet.

With Violet he had his son Connor. A second child must have died as an infant, but she didn't know for sure.

Evie pulled out a picture from the box that showed her great-grandfather Ben with his wife Violet and his son Connor. Ben looked tall and heavily muscled. He had straight black hair which he wore in two braids. A very pronounced arch of his nose and his russet, weather-beaten skin made his Native American background quite obvious.

The next picture had Connor as a middle-aged man on it, surrounded by his wife Mary and four children. Evie's mother Robyn stood out most, as she was the only child who had inherited Mary's strawberry red hair and freckles all over her skin.

Evie was very fond of her memories of her grandma Mary. She had adored Mary and loved her Italian accent. Mary was the soul of their family. Evie very faintly remembered that her Granmary, that is how she used to call her grandmother when she was little, took care of Evie's great-grandfather Ben.

Ben had died at very high age when Evie was about 5 or 6 years old. She remembered helping her grandmother comb his hair and braid it each morning whenever she and her mom were to visit them in Kansas. She also recalled how her mom called him a crazy old coot because of his superstitious lectures and his warnings about supernatural creatures.

Evie, however, had loved listening to the stories he told. They were fantastic stories, full of heroes and villains, talking animals and spirit walkers. Sometimes, he insisted that she take his stories seriously. Then, he would tell her about the Pale Ones, creatures of the night, that would kill you to drink your blood. He would let her recall how she would recognize such a creature, and she would recite: Blood-red eyes, sickly pale and ice-cold skin, supernatural strength and speed. She had to promise him to never go anywhere alone, especially not in the dark and to run if she ever encountered a Pale One. Evie promised, but even being so young she had wondered, should vampires really exist, if she even stood a chance to outrun them.

Her Granmary died of breast cancer the year Evie started high school. Her grandfather Connor followed soon after. That left her alone with her mom. Well, mostly. She sure had her dad, too, but he was a drunkard and only showed up occasionally when he would need money. The both of them rather saw him leave.

Then her mom got sick with breast cancer, too, but even the quick, intense treatment couldn't save her life. Within a couple of months, she succumbed to her disease.

Evie now was completely alone, and while she got along quite well in life, she still missed being part of a family.

That left one question open. With that pull she still felt in her chest, what was waiting for her; here in Forks?

It was around 3.00 a.m. when they brought Jacob home. He was shivering, his shirt was drenched, his feet were bare, but he seemed to be in a great mood.

"I'm home," he called out, grinning all over this face.

"Here's your Bells, Gramps," Matu said as he led Jacob through the door.

"There you are!" Relieved, Bella rushed over to Jacob and gave him a kiss on his cheek. "Where did you go, honey?"

He looked at her, confused, and tilted his head. "Uhm...home?" He then grabbed her and pulled her into a tight hug.

Bella squealed in surprise and shock. "Damn, Jake. You got me all wet!"

"That's what she said!" Quil said, as he stepped through the door. His booming laughter filled their home, and it distracted Jacob so he let her go. Bella brushed down her clothes and slapped Quil over his back.

"Oh, shut up, Quil," Bella said with a smile, and tried to shove Jacob towards their bathroom. "So old and none the wiser."

Quil had never stopped phasing, and he still looked like 25. He had always loved being a wolf, and since Claire and he never developed a romantic relationship, he saw no reason to stop phasing. Sometimes, he would joke and say he should have imprinted on Jake instead, as he was the one Jacob had the closest connection to. If Bella didn't get Jacob to cooperate, Quil almost always could.

Quil only laughed and ruffled through her white hair. "That is why you love me, Bells, don't you?"

"I love you, too," Jacob said to no one particular, studying with great interest the pictures on the wall that their daughter Brianna had drawn. Brianna was extraordinarily talented drawing portraits. She earned her living with drawing pictures and portraits.

"Bells, I'm home now," Jacob said again.

"Yeah, you're home now!" Bella confirmed and started to peel his shirt off. "Let's get you out of your wet stuff though... We do not want you to get sick!" She fussed over him, but she was too small and he was just standing there unmoving. "Jake, come on..."

Jacob shoved her hands away and went back to studying the wall. "I'm home. No Cold Ones out there tonight. I'm not letting them get you. I'm home now."

"You are home now, and you did a really great job protecting us." Bella tried to stay patient. She knew that getting impatient around him made things only worse, but she was tired and he was soaked. She didn't want him to catch a cold. "But it was raining outside, honey. You are cold and wet. You need to change out of your clothes."

"I don't want to," Jacob said petulantly.

"Let me, Bells," Quil cut in.

Quil and Jacob still got along very well, and Quil was the only one to talk Jacob into things he actually didn't want to do with endless patience and lots of good naturedly teasing. "Jake, do you want me to help you into the shower?"

"No. I don't want to take a shower. I'm good."

Bella turned around when she felt a soft touch on her shoulder. Her grandson Matu stood there and held out her knitted sweater for her to slip in.

"Here, Gramma, you're freezing. I made tea for you. Come sit with me, and I tell you where we found Grampa."

Jacob chose that moment to shuffle around Bella and to take a closer look at a picture on the wall. "Who is that?"

"This is your daughter Lana," Quil said and put one of Bella's knitted afghans around Jacob's shoulders.

Jacob pointed to a young man on the same picture. He asked, furrowing his brow with concentration, "So she is his husband?"

Bella stepped aside. She didn't have the strength to go through this ordeal again. Jacob would now walk along the line of pictures and ask his questions to all of them. It hurt Bella to realize how much he had forgotten and how many things were unexplainable to him.

Quil worriedly looked at her, gesticulating with his hands that he was okay when she left the room. He said to Jacob, "No, she is his mother. See, the boy standing beside her is Micah. And this is his little brother Matu."

"She is his husband then?" Jacob now studied the other child.

Matu walked up behind them and put his hand on Jacob's shoulder. "No, Gramps. Lana is Matu's mom, too. She is a girl. Girls can't become husbands."

"Huh-huh, and why is that?" Jacob asked, already interested in the next picture.

An amused snort came from the direction Bella had gone. She stood in the kitchen door with her hands clasped over her mouth. She blinked. Then giggled.

It was either sleep deprivation or sheer exasperation, but she really started to laugh.

Sometimes, all you could do was facing hurtful situations with as much humor as you could muster. "Matu, do we need to have the sex talk with your grandfather now?"

Matu stared at her with wide unblinking eyes. "Gramma!" He heaved a sigh and turned to Quil. "Your turn, man. That is... that's just... too much?" He shook his head and walked into the kitchen, pulling his grandmother with him.

Quil turned to Jacob who looked at him with expectant eyes. "You're a man. So you are a husband," he said and Jake nodded in understanding. "You're Bella's husband."

"Who is Bella?"

Although Bella was in the kitchen, she still heard Jacob ask. His question was like a stab to her heart. It pained her, but she had to peek through the kitchen door and watch her husband.

Quil showed Jacob a beautiful wedding picture. "This is your Bella. This is Bella Swan. You got married 50 years ago. She is your wife."

"She's hot!" Jacob exclaimed with a click of his tongue.

Quil put his arm around Jacob's shoulders and slowly steered him towards the bathroom. "That she is!" he confirmed to Jacob. "You remember the lovely lady who was standing right next to you a couple of seconds ago? That is your Bella."

"I like that." They passed the kitchen and Jacob added, "She is my Bells."

Jacob abruptly stopped in front of the black-framed photograph. "Who is that? I haven't seen him in a while." He studied the picture of the young man with his hat and gown he wore on his graduation day. He furrowed his brow and his hand went to his chest in an automatic reaction.

"It's our Gabe, honey," Bella said, the pain over their loss lacing through her voice.

Jacob frowned, thinking hard. "I don't remember him," he finally admitted and all of them could see that he became frustrated over it.

"He is your son, Jacob." Bella wrapped her arms around his waist, hugging him as hard as she could in attempt to soften the blow that was coming. "He died 23 years ago."

Jacob stiffened and Bella knew he was trying to access that memory. "I can't remember," he finally ground out. "What's his name?"

"Gabe. You used to call him Gabe... for Gabriel... and you loved him very much."

Bella gently stroked Jacob's hands. She knew it made no sense to tell him how Gabe had died, trying to protect her from the Volturi vampires who had come looking for her. Jacob would forget about the horrible fight and Gabe's death right away, but the memories of loss and pain would linger, leaving him depressed and upset.

It was enough that the memories of that night were burned into her brain. She clearly remembered the shock when those vampires suddenly blocked the road and ripped her out of her truck. The terrified screams of her little grandsons in the backseat, the desperate pleading of her daughter still rang in her ears. Gabe's angry shouts had filled the air and within seconds turned into growling. He had phased out of his skin for the very first time and attacked out of instinct, without knowing how to protect himself.

He was bitten before Jacob, Paul, Quil and Embry, the few remaining wolves of the pack, could be there to help him. They ripped into the three vampires with a vengeance, but the damage was done. Jacob was severely hurt. One of the vampires had slashed him open from his chest down to his stomach. Gabe writhed on the floor as the vampire venom destroyed his internal organs and he slowly bled to death.

Jacob had never been the same.

Sometimes, she wished she would be graced with memory loss as well, but then she thought that Gabe would last in her memories and that was soothing in a way.

"I'm cold," Jacob said, pulling the three of them out of their dark thoughts.

Quil reacted quickly. "Come on, Jake. I'm gonna help you with your shower."

Matu took Bella's hand and led her back into the kitchen. He made her sit down and handed her a mug with sweet-smelling tea. "Gramps made it really hard for us to find him this time," he reported. "He sat on the cliff staring out into the sea... I don't know for how long... Thanks to the rain, we couldn't even follow his scent." Matu frowned. "But Micah finally remembered that Gramps loves to sit there in the summer so we went there."

"Oh, thanks so much, Matu. You're a good boy. What would I do without all of you?" Bella pressed the hand of her grandson. "Where is Micah? Didn't he want to come in?"

"Micah stayed phased with Caleb. We aren't sure but we think we found a fresh trail... It's hard to tell with the downpour, but Gramps was so agitated earlier... We don't wanna take any chances. The night would just be too perfect for a leech to cross our lands." Matu stood up and went to the door.

Bella felt a cold panic reach out for her. "Promise me you'll be careful, Matu." Her breaths suddenly came in bursts, and she clasped her hand over her chest.

"Gramma, calm down. Gramma, please." Matu kneeled down before her and took her in his arms. He was strong and warm, and for a moment she allowed herself to imagine it was Jacob who was holding her. "I promise, Gramma. We'll be careful. We are prepared. Quil taught us. It's not like with Gabe... I promise."

Bella stayed seated at the kitchen table after Matu had left and slowly drank her tea. She heard Quil and Jake's voices from the bathroom. Eventually, Jake started singing an old Quileute chant and Quil fell in.

The deep voices and the monotone singing made her sleepy. So she decided to go to bed. She could trust Quil that he would take care of Jacob while she was sleeping.

That's just what he did and she appreciated it so much.

It was three weeks into her new job, on a Wednesday, when Evie got to know Jacob Black.

Like every other day, she arrived on her unit at 7.00 am. She checked on the crash carts and supplies and while talking to the night shift nurse for unusual happenings throughout the night, she read through the patients' profiles. Then she started with her routine; administered medication, changed surgical bandages, helped her patients with their personal hygiene and made their beds. In the early afternoon, she was told to expect a new patient with pneumonia. Currently he was currently looked over in ER.

As she was still the "new" girl in her unit, the two elderly nurses who shared the same shift with her felt obligated to enlighten her about the patient, his medical history and his family while they were having lunch. Evie learned he was suffering from Alzheimer's and that he was mainly being taken care of by his family. He'd be in hospital occasionally for check-ups or whenever he would need medical help that his family couldn't provide.

She got some eye rolls as they told her about the overprotective, hovering wife and the constant flow of visitors that, according to the nurses' report, occasionally made tending to the patient's needs awkward. Both nurses agreed that they felt they were being monitored by his extended family as if they wouldn't know how to do their jobs.

Evie felt uncomfortable about the way her colleagues talked about this patient and his family, so she cut her lunch break short and went back to work. She was called down to the ER unit to pick up her patient and bring him to his room.

The Blacks were an elderly couple. He lay in the hospital bed, sleeping, hooked to an IV. He was so tall; they had to put him in an extra-large bed. She was a tiny old woman with white hair and a walking stick. She stood next to his bed, looking stressed and flustered.

"Hello, Mrs. Black. I'm Evie. I'm responsible for your husband today," she said and shook the hand of the old lady.

The woman responded with a curt nod of her head. "Get us out of here," she then said grimly. "I just have had enough!"

"Okay-" Evie unlocked the brakes of his bed and started to push the bed towards the elevator. "Let's pick up his papers on our way out."

An ER nurse walked up to Evie and smiled at her, revealing a set of perfectly white teeth. "You must be the new girl. I'm Vera. How do you like it here in Forks?" Without waiting for Evie to respond, Vera handed her Jacob Black's chart. "The doctor had to sedate him," she said to her and added in a conspiratorial voice, ignoring that the old woman would nevertheless be able to hear her, "That one is quite a handful. Didn't want the doctor to give him his exam. Tried to fight us off..."

"Like I said before... he doesn't like the doctor... and YOU!" The old woman explained harshly and turned to face Evie, sending her a warning glare. "Jacob isn't doing good with strangers when he is put in an unfamiliar environment. If you had given him time to adjust-" She paused, looking pointedly at the ER nurse before continuing. "He usually cooperates just fine."

Vera huffed impatiently. "We've got more patients to attend to than just your husband, Ma'am. We don't have the time to wait for all of our patients to adjust..." Stressing the last word, she turned around to leave and said to Evie, "The doctor will check on him later this evening. He should be out for the next couple of hours." She then leaned down and advised quietly, "You should consider restraints for him or you'll run after him all the time."

Evie shook her head, shocked about her colleague's arrogant behavior. "Where I come from we used to treat our patients and their family with the utmost respect," she blurted out before she could stop herself, but she just had had enough. "I don't think Mrs. Black is too happy about the way you're talking about her husband!"

"Too bad," Vera sneered. "And you better watch out, Evie. Here in Forks, the new nurses don't go and tell her colleagues off." She whirled around and rushed back to her desk.

"What a bitch," Evie muttered, again talking without really thinking. "I'm sorry, Ma'am-" Before Evie could finish her apology, the old woman cut her off.

"No worries, Evie. She's just like her grandmother Lauren. But thank you for standing up for us." She reached out her hand. "Please, call me Bella." She then quietly called out to someone in the waiting area. "Benny, Megan, let's go!"

Benny was about ten years old and playing on his Nintendo. He was a good-looking kid with raven black hair that stood up in every which direction. Next to him sat his mother Megan sipping coffee from a Styrofoam cup. They both jumped up, both of them looked more than happy to go. "This is my granddaughter Megan and my great-grandson Benjamin," Bella introduced.

Benjamin took the overnight bag standing by his mother's feet and hung it over his shoulder.

"Did you have to wait very long?" Evie asked, after greeting Megan and Benjamin, trying to get all of them into a conversation to make them feel more comfortable. Hospitals tended to scare people.

"Long enough, but that's partly Jake's fault," Bella answered. She tried to hold up with Evie, and although Evie went at a slow pace, it still seemed too fast for the old woman. "He really has a bad day... Should have brought Quil with us. If anyone can get Jake to cooperate it's Quil. "

"Quil is your son?" Evie noticed that Bella seemed to be very fond of the man she was talking about.

Bella smiled softly and shook her head. "No. Quil's our... friend."

The boys suddenly tripped. The overnight bag slipped from his shoulder and almost bumped into Jacob Black's bed.

"Watch out, Ben," Megan quietly called.

Slightly irritated the boy answered, "Yes, Mom." He switched the bag from his one shoulder to the other.

"Do you want me to take that bag, Ben?" Megan's voice had an irritated ring to it, and she nervously run her hand through her hair.

The old woman shook her head and rolled her eyes. "He's got it, Megan."

"Wouldn't be the first time he takes a closer look at the floor, Grandma," she woman snapped.

"Jeez, thanks, Mom." The boy huffed and adjusted the bag once again.

When Evie looked at him, she caught him staring at her. She smiled at him encouraging, and he quickly looked away, his russet skin turning a shade darker around his ears.

"Would you please open the door for me?" she asked the boy when they reached Jacob Black's room for the next couple of days.

He hurried to comply and Evie pushed the bed into the room.

She located the bed right beside the window and plugged in the power cord. Then she hung the IV bag on its pole that was situated beside the bed and checked that the solution flowed properly. At all times her every move was watched with hawk eyes by the old man's wife and the boy who awkwardly stood by the patient's head. The boy's mom had apologized to make a phone call and went out of the room.

While Evie took her patient's overnight bag and put his clothes into the closet and his toiletries in the bathroom, the old woman fumbled around with her patient's blanket, smoothing out any wrinkles she would find. She clearly was anxious.

"Do you want a chair, Granny?" the boy asked the old woman, putting a chair next to the bed without waiting for a response. The old woman sat down with a sigh. She leaned her walking stick against the bed, and it slit straight to the floor with a bang.

"Shoot," the old lady hissed. "Damn stick will never stay where I put it." She bent down to pick her stick up, but the boy beat her to it. They almost ended up crashing their heads together. They grinned at each other with loving familiarity. To the nurse it looked as if both of them were rather clumsy.

"Jake," the old woman whispered into her husband's ear. "It's only for a short time, honey. I'm gonna get you back home with me as soon as the antibiotics work and you're feeling better, okay?" She pressed his hand comfortingly, but naturally, Jacob Black slept through it.

"He's going to sleep for a couple of hours," Evie explained to Bella after checking his chart. "The doctor gave him a pretty high dosage... You can go home now if you like. Dr. Morris is going to see him around 8pm tonight."

"I'm going to stay until Quil can be here." Bella turned in her seat and asked Evie to come over.

"Evie, I heard that you're new to this hospital... and you seem nice enough to... understand..." she said quietly but resolutely. "I'm going to tell you a couple of things about Jacob and us. So you already know that Jacob has Alzheimer's and put in unfamiliar places he is going to be confused and feel threatened. He will become upset and angry. When he is angry, he can get very... aggressive..." Bella paused, tenderly stroking her husband's hand. "I don't want him to be scared and angry. My Jacob shouldn't feel this way." Her voice shook a little, and her eyes moistened.

Evie put her hand on Bella's shoulder compassionately. "Mrs. Black, I will personally see to it that he will feel comfortable."

"Call me Bella, Evie." Bella looked up at Evie. "That would make me feel more comfortable, you know?" Bella smiled at her tiredly. "Thanks for your commitment, but there is no chance you can spend all your working hours in this room, Evie. Jacob needs constant company. At every hour of the day... and every hour of the night. That is why there's always one of our family members with him. Familiar faces will give him a sense of safety and belonging... even if he doesn't know most of us by name anymore."

Although Evie would have needed to tend to her other patients, she pulled the other chair from the table and sat down next to Jacob Black's bed. She felt it was important to simply take some time and listen to Bella Black.

The boy went back to playing with his Nintendo.

"I need you to immediately call me when he runs away," Bella continued talking. "It is crucial that I be called when he wanders off and make no mistake... he will wander off!"

Evie nodded dutifully. "Of course, Mrs. Bla- Bella. I will call you if he runs away."

Bella shook her head. "Not IF, Evie. It's WHEN! That's how it is with him. He's a restless and hyperactive person. Always has been. There is no keeping him in bed or in a room for a longer period of time. That is why there is always one of us with him. He's calmer when he's in our company. Familiar company soothes him. So remember to call me, okay? I don't care if it's in the middle of the night or whenever. Just call me and I'll be there."

Bella wrote down her cell phone number and the number of her landline for Evie who put the numbers down in Jacob Black's chart and on Bella's insistence also into her private cell phone.

"Stay out of his way when he starts getting angry. Let him have his space! Don't confront him or try to discuss with him. It will only make it worse. We will see to it that always one of the pa- guys is with him. They can handle him!"

Bella pressed Evie's hand quite hard to demonstrate that she meant business. "You need to promise me, Evie. No matter what made him angry, but you need to stay out of his way. Especially when he starts shaking!"

Evie knew that relatives often felt embarrassed, sometimes even responsible for the patient's behavior. "I understand," she said. "But we are used to dealing with Alzheimer patients. It's okay for you to take yourself out of caretaking for a couple of days."

Again, Bella shook her head. "It's for your own safety. You don't want anybody to be assaulted by my angry husband when we can avoid it."

"Furthermore, none of the staff is allowed to perform any exams on him without me or our grandsons or Quil Ateara present," she insisted. "Jacob hates to be touched by people he doesn't know, so he needs to have someone around him he recognizes. Besides, it's what Jake stated explicitly when he learned about his condition."

Evie dutifully nodded and wrote Bella's instructions into Jacob Black's chart.

"Also," Bella pointed to Jacob's arm. "You wanna secure his IV way better. He's going to pull it out otherwise. And as soon as it's safe, please, remove the IV. He's going to be a lot calmer when he's not hooked to the IV. He's going to take his medication without causing any problems if you hide his pills in his food..." She cleared her throat and lowered her eyes to the floor. "Just stuff it into a meatball like you would do it with a..." She shrugged and smiled apologetically. "...dog."

Jacob Black was still sleeping when Evie left in the evening.

He was sleeping again when she returned the next morning.

The nightshift nurse informed her that Jacob had a high fever throughout the night that couldn't be controlled. His wife and a friend had rubbed the patient down with lukewarm water several times and made him drink lots of water. Also the patient had been coughing a lot. Towards the morning, the fever had finally broken and he had fallen asleep. The wife and the friend were still with him.

Evie went into Jacob Black's room. When she came in Jacob opened his eyes.

"Good Morning, Mr. Black," she introduced herself to him and lightly touched his shoulder. "My name is Evie. I'm your nurse today."

Jacob just looked at her, too exhausted to even croak out a greeting.

"Good Morning," she then addressed Bella and the man who sat next to her. "I heard you all had a rough night."

Bella looked tired and worn out. She gave her a small smile. "Evie, this is Quil. Quil, this is Evie, the nurse I told you about."

Quil gave Evie a curt nod and otherwise stayed focused on Jacob. "When do you think will the antibiotics will kick in? His fever really has us worried," he finally asked.

He was massive, and Evie couldn't stop herself from gawking at him for a moment. He looked fantastic with his tall build, broad shoulders and that black buzz cut. She guessed that he would be younger than her by a couple of years. His eyes, however, spoke a different language. They contained the wisdom of age and a seriousness from someone who had seen entirely too much.

"Normally, it takes about 24 to 48 hours until you can see an improvement. Right now, he gets Ibuprofen through his IV to keep the fever down." Evie said and then focused back on Jacob and laid out the ear thermometer and the sphygmometer.

"Mr. Black, I'm going to check your vitals now." She spoke slowly so he would have time to react, but utterly worn out from his fever, Jacob didn't protest at all and fell asleep while she took his pulse. That made it easy for her to take his temperature, measure his blood pressure and to give him his antibiotics through his IV.

That day, Jacob slept most of the time. Bella finally gave into her exhaustion and left the hospital around noon for a couple of hours to get some decent sleep. Quil stayed with Jacob.

The second day, Quil was replaced by another equally massive man. On the third day a young man named Micah took the place of the guard dog (Quil's saying). He too was impressively tall and heavily muscled. He had some resemblance to Jacob and when Evie heard him call Jacob Gramps, she knew where to put him among the constant flow of relatives and friends visiting Jacob each day.

Next to Jacob's 'guard dogs' there was always someone else with him in his room. The nightshift nurse said there were visitors even at night.

His family was always touching him. Be it a baby sleeping on his chest, or his granddaughter knitting a blanket with her feet propped up on his bed and her toes touching his side, or his friends, old men like him, reading to him from a newspaper and their hands casually touching his shoulder.

Evie was fascinated.

It was the first time she saw a family as tight-knit as theirs. She couldn't put her fingers on it, but there was something special about the way they all constantly touched and interacted with each other...

Evie loved being in this room. Although Jacob was severely ill, the room buzzed with buoyant happiness and life. Bella was with him most of the time and was always talking to him. She told him stories from their life, told him how their great-grandkids were doing in school, or what was going on in the world. Sometimes, Evie saw that

Bella was crying and her heart broke for her.

When Quil was there or one of those huge guys, they would sing to Jacob or talk to him in their native language.

Evie was fascinated by Jacob Black as well. On the third day, he finally sat up in his bed, and Evie couldn't stop looking at him with quiet awe.

Jacob Black was a tall man who must have been impressive in his youth. Although covered with deep lines and wrinkles, he still had a ruggedly handsome face. Long black hair with white streaks fell past his shoulders. His shoulders were broad, his arms were muscled in a way she'd never seen it in a man his age. There was not an ounce of fat on him. He held himself upright, what made him even be bigger than tall Quil Ateara.

Even with his Alzheimer's Jacob Black had something regal about him. He projected an aura of quiet strength and carried great authority that made you naturally respond with respect. In some way, he reminded her of the Great Native American Chiefs her Granmary had talked about so much when Evie had been a child.

Evie realized that she formed a special bond to him and his family-all professionalism aside. While listening to Bella talk to him, Evie learned that he'd been the Chief of the Quileute tribe until his fifty' birthday. Then he had handed his job over to their son, Gabe. At this point, Bella usually stopped talking and chose to talk about different parts of their lives.

Evie didn't want to pry, but she assumed that something must have happened to Gabe.

Their two daughters, Brianna and Lana, had been at the hospital as well, visiting their dad. She had also seen the granddaughters Megan and Lissy with their children, and one of the two grandsons. His name was Micah, and he was one of the huge 'guard dogs'.

Evie had so many questions, she was so curious to learn more about Jacob Black and there was this deep feeling inside of her, a feeling that told her that she wanted to belong to that family. The pull she had felt in Michigan and that didn't go away when she moved here, had increased since Jacob was admitted to the hospital, and it was especially strong when one of those huge guys were around.

Of course, there was no real explanation why she felt that way. Maybe, Evie simply started to become desperate out of loneliness.

She didn't know, but then came the day that would change her life.

With Jacob slowly getting better, the trouble began. He hated being confined to the hospital room, and he didn't hesitate venting his displeasure. Now Evie understood why Bella insisted that always one of those huge guys were with him. More than once, Jacob tried to rip out his IV. He also tried to take off his hospital gown, but he gave up on disrobing after his grandson Micah dressed him in his own clothes.

On the fourth morning of Jacob Black's hospital stay, Katie, the night shift nurse, complained to Evie that Jacob had paced up and down the hospital floor all night and had constantly asked her all kinds of questions. At least, one of those Quileute giants had been with him and told him to back off, because actually Jacob Black had kinda scared her.

Katie then swooned over the man that had been with Jacob. Evie smiled knowingly. She got to see a lot of man candy these days as well.

"His name is Matu," Katie said. "He's looking so damn not. He seems to be a nice guy, too. We talked a little before he left this morning."

"Oh, I haven't seen Matu as of now," Evie said as she tightened her scrubs and pulled her hair into a bun. "Did you get to know Quil, Micah or Caleb already? I don't know what they feed them over there at the reservation... They are all so tall and bulky."

"Must be a genetic thing," Katie said with a shrug. "My grandma says when she was young most of the young men from La Push were that massive. Today there are only a few of them. Did you know that Mr. Black has been their Chief?"

"Yeah, I heard his wife talk about it. He must have been impressive when he was young. Alzheimer's is really a curse..." Evie shook her head. "Just think about it... to lose all your memories."

"I'd rather not think about it. It makes me wanna cry, really..." Katie handed her a couple of patient charts. "Mr. Tabbers and Mrs. McNeill need blood tests done this morning. Mr. Schneider, Mrs. Greene and Mrs. Smith are on NPO. Mr. Black will have a chest x-ray around 10 am."

And so Evie's day began.

Evie was tired when she finally left the hospital for the day.

She zipped up her jacket. The wind was icy. She was sure it was about to rain again. She hurried across the parking lot and got into her car. As she started the car, she saw a movement out of the corner of her eyes. She looked up and gazed across the nearly empty parking lot to see a shadow move along the edge of the trees. Evie recognized who he was more by instinct and because Bella had warned her that it would happen.

She got out of the car and broke into a run when Jacob Black disappeared between the trees.

"Shit," she muttered and ran faster. "Mr. Black, stop!"

She reached him some seconds later. He was dressed only in his pajama pants, and he was bleeding a little where he had ripped out his IV. She was sure he had to be freezing.

Jacob intently gazed into the trees as if looking for something.

Evie reached out her hand and said to him, "You can't wander off into the woods all by your own. It's dangerous!"

He ignored her and walked further into the forest.

"You'll be getting cold, Mr. Black. You're not dressed for the outside. You need to come back with me," she stated as she followed him, letting her stricter "nurse voice" lace through.

He didn't respond, just kept on walking. He walked quite fast.

Pale moonlight filtered down, barely reaching the ground. The dark didn't seem to faze him at all as he simply walked around smaller boulders or stepped over fallen trees. The glow from the hospital shown through the low hanging branches, but the further they went into the woods the more it diminished.

Evie stumbled after him. She again called him by his name and ordered him to come back with her. Her efforts were without success. They were deep in the woods by now and she worried they might get lost. She had never been out in the forest at night. There were strange sounds and noises surrounding them. She didn't know about the wildlife in Washington State at all, but she had heard about wolves and bears roaming the woods.

She was scared.

"Mr. Black!" Evie begged and grabbed his arm, yanking it a little to finally gain his full attention.

"Mr. Black? Mr. Black is my father." He sort of growled at her and then shrugged her off. "I'm Jake!"

"You need to come with me, Jake." She said quick thinking. She grabbed his wrist, trying to pull him along with her back to the hospital. She had to get him out of here and fast. It was too cold and he was barely dressed "You need to get back. Your fever will flare up if you don't get back inside soon."

She shrugged out of her jacket and put it around Jacob Black's shoulders. Of course, it was too small for him, but it would give him at least a tiny bit of warmth.

Evie asked, "What are you doing here anyway?"

"I'm looking for Bells. She didn't come home. Maybe she got lost in the woods. It's dangerous. I need to find her." He looked around with worried eyes. "Charlie called my Dad. Everyone is looking for her."

She didn't know what he was talking about, but if he was lost in one of his memories, then she would go along with whatever he thought was happening right now.

Evie's thoughts raced as she tried to think up an idea how to get him to cooperate with her so they would get out of the forest.

"Okay, Jake... Why don't we get inside and call Bella on her cell phone? You know she always has her cell phone with her," she suggested, hoping that this would convince him to follow her inside.

"You don't understand," he argued and marched further into the forest. Her jacket slipped from his shoulders and fell to the forest floor. "I need to find her. I need to protect her. It's what I am!"

"But, Jake," she insisted, getting anxious. She picked up her jacket and put it back around him. "Bella isn't in the woods. They found her. She's waiting for you at the hospital." The lie slipped from her lips easily.

Like a switch flipped, his shoulders sagged. Her jacked fell down again. He turned around, unerringly striding back to the hospital.

"You're always getting yourself into trouble, Bells," he muttered, shaking his head. "What shall I do with you?" He took Evie's hand. His grip was tight, but not too tight. His thumb swept across her hand in a soothing manner.

Evie's foot caught in a root and she fell forward, but before she met the ground, strong arms swept her up as if she would weigh nothing. "Watch out, Bells," he said tenderly and pulled her into his chest. His overheated chest.

"Dammit, Mr. Black!" she cried out in shock and struggled to be let down. "Your fever's flaring up again! We need to get back!"

He stopped dead in his tracks by her shout. Pulling her away from his chest and studying her face, he almost dropped her when he realized; "You're not my Bells!"

"Of course not! I'm Evie. Your nurse," she responded, staring up at him sternly. "Now let me down so we can get back!"

He set her on her feet and she started walking, hoping it was the right direction. He followed her now without resistance, but then there was a noise farther away from them.

His head whipped around.

She saw something white between the trees. Then it was gone.

She gasped.

A night bird screeched.

He sniffed the air.

A twig broke.

He growled and then, he bolted.

"Jake!" she called out. "Mr. Black, stop!"

Within the blink of an eye he vanished between the trees and the darkness swallowed him up.

"Shit!"

Panicking, she ran after Jacob and fished her cell phone out of her back pocket. She should have done that way sooner! "I cannot believe it!" She scrolled down her list of contacts. Blinded by the bright light of her cell, she stumbled again.

She felt a sharp tug and then a pain in her left ankle. She fell forward and this time there was no one to catch her. With her arms outstretched reflexively to cover her fall, she hit the ground hard. Her phone fell out of her hand. She heard a crack when it made contact with one of those huge boulders. On her hands and knees, Evie scrambled forward, trying to locate her phone, but she found only the broken halves.

The battery was gone no matter how thoroughly she searched the floor.

"God dammit!" she cursed out loud. What was she going to do now? Go back to the hospital and get help would be the best thing, but she didn't know which direction she needed to go. While running after Jacob, she had gone deeper into the woods than she'd realized. She couldn't see the lights from the hospital anymore.

Suddenly, she became aware how precarious her situation was. She had no sense of direction, no functioning cell phone and she sat in the Olympic Forest in the middle of November with a probably twisted ankle. Her jacket was lost, and the first raindrops dribbled down on her. Just her kind of luck!

Farther away, she heard a ruckus as if some animals came stampeding through the trees.

She had to get out of here.

She stood up and lowered her injured foot to the ground, testing if she was able to walk. The pain was bearable, her anxiety not so much. In the darkness that surrounded her, the sound of her own breathing was so loud she feared it must be heard throughout the entire forest. Her heart thundered in her chest so hard she could feel it in her throat.

Holding her hands out in front of her, she made the first few cautious steps. Then she stopped. Where should she go? She couldn't remember where they came from. She didn't know in which direction Jacob Black had disappeared. Would it be better if she sat down and waited for the morning to come? But what about Jacob Black? She had to find him!

Suddenly, she felt watched. It was a strange feeling that made her shudder and her neck prickle.

"Jake?" she called, hoping that he had returned.

Out of the trees trotted a huge animal.

Evie slapped her hands in front of her mouth, but the frightened squeak escaped nevertheless. She peered into the darkness, trying to decipher what kind of animal was standing there before her. It had the size of a bear, but it didn't look like a bear. It looked like a huge-a gigantic-wolf.

Its fur bristled as it walked closer with its muzzle pulled back revealing sharp white teeth. It growled at her menacingly.

She scrambled back from it, naked terror flooding her. "Oh God... Please..." She pleaded, trying to fight the panic. What were you supposed to do in a situation like this? She settled with a lame, "Don't eat me. I don't taste good..."

All of a sudden, a woman stood before her. "I beg to differ. I bet you'll taste very good!" The woman's hand closed around her throat and yanked her up.

The wolf barked, his hind legs poised to jump.

"Tut-tut, be a good doggy and go home," the woman said to the wolf.

The wolf crouched and flattened his ears. It looked as if it wanted to attack.

Evie struggled. She felt her feet dangle in the air. She lifted her hands to pry the woman's hands off her neck. Black dots danced before her eyes from the lack of oxygen.

The woman laughed at her and shoved her against a tree, while watching the huge wolf out of the corner of her eye.

"You come any closer and I'm gonna break her neck." This time the woman's voice was sharp and cold.

To Evie recognition slowly trickled in. The woman's blood-red eyes, her pale, cold skin and her extraordinary strength... it all reminded her of the people her great-grandfather had warned her about.

"Vampire!" Evie choked out.

"No Shit!" the vampire mocked Evie and tilted her head. "Fight me! It just makes you taste all the better!"

Evie felt her brain become sluggish. She struggled again, but her arms and legs were like lead.

Suddenly, something huge leaped out of the darkness and knocked into the vampire.

The vampire lost her hold on Evie and Evie fell to the ground.

She cried out in pain. Dizziness crept up on her. Everything swam before her eyes. A mass of fur and paws and teeth moved around the vampire. She curled into a ball, trying to make herself as small as possible. Horrible screeching noises cut through the air, and then it was quiet.

Before her eyes, the wolves shimmered and turned into men. Her eyes rolled up into her head. It all was just too much.

Someone started talking to her, but she was so tired. Pain radiated up her leg. There was a dull throb in the back of her head. Everything hurt. She just wanted to sleep.

She felt herself slip in and out of consciousness. Her breaths were fast and shallow with shock. Sickly sweet fumes polluted the air. It made her cough and her lungs burn. Then she heard distinct voices.

"That's Evie from the hospital," said one commanding voice. She had heard that voice before. It was Quil. "Micah, get your gramps to phase back. Let him see the leech is ashes."

"Already done," the other voice said. "I called Gramma, too. She'll be there as soon as she can."

"Let's take them out of here, Matu," said a third voice. "Gramps is freezing."

"She is hurt," a third voice stated. It was the most beautiful voice she had ever heard.

"We shouldn't move her. We don't know about her injuries. The leech had her by her throat."

"Jacob Black," she eventually croaked. Her throat was sore. "You need to find him."

"He is here. Jake's with us. He's okay," the beautiful voice said soothingly. "You're alright. You can trust us, Evie. You are safe now." A gentle hand brushed her hair out of her face.

"Who is that?" a fifth voice cut in, which Evie recognized as Jacob Black's. "What is she doing here?"

Evie fought to open her eyes, but she failed.

"It's Evie, your nurse. She followed you into the woods. She wanted to bring you back to the hospital," Quil explained.

"That is awfully nice of her," Jacob Black said. "But I don't want to go back to the hospital. I want to go home!"

It was the last thing she heard for a while as she gave in to the urge to just sleep.

"Come on, Evie. Open your eyes!" There was that beautiful voice again.

Evie fought even harder to wake up. She wanted to see the owner of that voice.

Evie inhaled deeply. She shifted, testing her aching body. She rolled her shoulders, wiggled her fingers and her toes. Finally, she let her eyes flutter open. Blinking away the blurriness, she focused on the face of the man hovering above her.

She could barely make out his features in the dark, but she didn't need to. She felt that strange pull in her chest come to life. Their eyes locked, and she knew she had finally found

home.

Epilogue:

The fact that Jake saw the vamp getting killed eased his wolf and his unconscious desire to rescue Bella from the forest. It lessened his desperate need to search for his Bells, stemming from the years of regret not being the one to find Bella. He had found some sort of closure on his past, living the rest of his life in relative peace and contentedness.

Evie moved to La Push and married Matu Black. They lived happily ever after...