A/N: First of all, I need to thank all of you for supporting this story. Twenty-one reviews for the first chapter alone is almost unheard of nowadays, so thank you so much to all who reviewed, not to mentioned those who favorited/followed this story. Almost all of you wanted Jacob to lose - and that made me laugh. XD So, hope you enjoy this chapter!


Dandelions

...

Chapter Two

[Gone are all the days of begging]


The old Embry would have backed off without another word.

He used to be a believer in the fact that if things were about to explode on his accord, it would have been better to just brush it off like a pointless wisp, to offer a hesitant remedy in averted gazes and apologetic expressions. By default, Embry Call was the kind of boy who never inserted himself into a fight unless necessary, and few as they might have been in his pre-phasing years, those meaningless tussles were usually brought on by either Jacob or Quil. Strong, silent, and still growing into his potential, he had always been there for his friends' support.

Shyness and docility had been absent in the weeks after Embry's surprising phase and this development still stood present today. Thinking that he would be a submissive wolf had been a recurring thought to frequent the older wolves' minds, but Sam, Jared, and Paul had been forced to eat their words the very moment they all witnessed Embry's first solo kill. He was the catalyst that affected the Pack's entire dynamic – however small it might have been at the time – and his instincts were rooted to sheer impulsion and remarkable prowess.

For all they knew, the old Embry was gone. In place was a man who intuitively knew the inner workings of slaughter, honing that deadly finesse down until it was nothing but perfection to the essence of a predator. Submission was no longer in Embry's mental vocabulary. The fight was in his blood, the urge to conquer strumming at his veins, and at that tedious moment, Embry ceased seeing Jacob as another Packmate, another brother bound by the same cause.

Future Alpha or not, Jacob Black's wolf was still a silly little pup who thought he could bite off more than he could actually chew.

His large body lowered so that his underbelly nearly grazed the sharp tips of the grass below him, his stance widening in mass as his claws elongated themselves from his paws and dug deep into the earth. The withers of his fur stood upright, his upper lip curling over his teeth to exploit a rather unnerving snarl, one that had Sam barking at the others to stay the fuck away. Large incisors practically thirsting for blood not of his own, Embry cocked his head to the side, aurulent eyes gazing condescendingly at the russet beast before him.

A jovial thought: Baby Alpha's gonna get his ass whooped all the way to—

Man, just shut the fuck up, Jared nipped roughly at Paul's hip to punctuate his point.

Trying to win a fight against Embry was going to be pure hell – Paul grudgingly had to admit this too – and that was enunciated the moment the white and black wolf filled his normally empty chasm of a mind with thoughts clear as the day, intentionally catching Jacob off guard for a slight second. He flashed Jacob a mental illustration of Embry planning to lunge towards Jacob's left flank. Taking the bait, Jacob instinctively sidelined to the right in a move to where he believed he was escaping on getting hurt first.

But that was the true beauty of irony – to think one thing and do the complete opposite. Right when Jacob drifted to the right, Embry pounced on him faster than the russet wolf had the chance to realize that he had just been blindsided into a trap. The loud guffaws expressed from Paul were surely unwarranted, but the bubble of perplexity that contorted Jacob's thoughts were spewing out hazily. Wait, hadn't Embry been planning to attack him from the left? He could have sworn-

The befuddled train of mental activity was broken when Embry launched his teeth straight into Jacob's right side, biting down hard. The pungency of bitter copper coated the sharp tips of his teeth, feeling abruptly uneasy as he tasted his best friend's – were they even friends anymore? – warm blood on his tongue. Embry immediately pulled out to hack out all remnants of the red fluid from his mouth, but by the time he was finished, Jacob had already rammed him fulsomely from a different angle.

All in all, the two wolves were almost evenly matched. Because of the legacy Jacob was expected to travel down to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers, he was immensely colossal in size. However, shockingly enough, Embry was close to Jacob to in size, despite being only a hairsbreadth leaner than Jacob was. In fact, it was only a brief matter of time before these two younger males would grow into the forms they were meant to have, both effectively becoming larger than the mammoth frame Sam had.

Embry had shot so many false ploys of attack to Jacob as a means for more disorientation that it was starting to make the Pack feel a bit woozy as a whole. These thoughts all flowed at a speed that would have made a normal human's mind absolutely break to pieces and yet they were lucrative as directive assaults. Jacob had fallen for nearly half of them during the first hour, inadvertently allowing Embry to pluck at his mind mercilessly to pieces until the russet wolf finally started relying on his instincts instead of the forms of deception Embry kept feeding him.

The fight bled on far longer than it should have, far longer than Sam should have allowed it to progress, and it was up to the point where neither of the feuding wolves realized that the sky was already painted in soft hues of orange, red, yellow, and the faintest shade of green that bordered the blue from the sun that was minutes into setting.

No doubt the earth beneath them all shook as one wolf shoved the second to the ground. No doubt people were wandering outside their front yards, trying to find out what exactly was the source behind the sonorous snarls and growls that echoed through that tiny little town of La Push. No doubt these two wolves were weary, not because their muscles strained with exhaustion but because part of them – the human part of them – realized that Packmates shouldn't fight like this. Brothers sure as hell shouldn't fight like this.

No doubt Bella was currently attempting to burn down the Blacks' floorboards by pacing incessantly.

But Jacob was stubborn and he kept on persisting. Well, so did Embry.

Nullifying his mind void of thoughts in the way the Pack had already been accustomed to, Embry phased to human, nimbly sliding underneath Jacob's furry body to land in between his front paws. At Jacob's stunned confusion, Embry used that to his advantage and wasted no time in grabbing Jacob's wolf by the back of his neck with a rough hand before twisting them both completely and slamming Jacob headfirst against the ground. Chucks of gritty earth flew where Jacob's furry head landed, a russet paw reflexively swinging out.

Embry leapt away from the wild paw and phased back all in one effortless motion. A furious growl rippled through his body then, the sound of his raging heartbeat philharmonic to his perked ears. Jared's increasing impatience, Paul's bouts of amusement, Sam's urgency for this fight to be over – all sensations Embry had no choice but to be susceptible to. Rolling the grappling tension away from his shoulders, Embry dove into the air-

STOP.

It was an Alpha command, so forceful that Embry jerked back to the ground in a flurry of commotion, bucking under the order. It hadn't come from Sam, that much he was sure of, and the black and white wolf bellowed under the weight of the requisition. Muzzle shoved into the dirt, unable to lift himself back up from the gratuitous demand, Embry let out a terrible strangled noise at the sight of Jacob peering back at him indifferently, almost like he had already won.

So much for claiming that he didn't want to be the Alpha. Jacob bared his teeth at the lowered wolf's form, hovering over a struggling Embry as he dipped his face lower to growl right into Embry's face. Submit now.

Sam's rebuttals were deferred at this point, coming up short next to the one who was supposed to be Alpha. Whether Jacob wanted the position or not, it didn't matter – he was far too embedded into his wolf to stop. Embry hated the fact that each time his opponent extended himself higher, he himself drooped down even lower than before to appease him.

SUBMIT, EMBRY.

But behind that browbeating coercion, there was a smug, lilting voice: Bella's mine anyway.

And at that, Embry cracked.

He clung onto his humanity in desperation, fighting tooth and nail for the remnants of the man – of the boy – he used to be, unwilling to let that familiar part of himself be ripped from his bare hands. Inconsolable hopeless filled every fiber of his being as Embry watched the altruistic and humane aspect of himself being stowed away into a tight box, locked on every crevice, and tucked deep into the farthest corner of a broken man's fragmented mind before the wolf swerved up to the surface, taking over Embry's body completely.

Embry didn't stand a chance when his wolf brightened his eyes into the oddest set of jaundiced yellow the Pack had ever seen him in. His hackles were rigid with starving anticipation, his head tilting in that lofty, patronizing way. Unconsciously, Jacob mirrored the other wolf's movement, tilting his head in mild perturbation. Jacob blinked a couple of times, a chill rattling against his body when the black and white wolf shot him an uncharacteristically dark smirk, showing way too much of his sharp teeth than Jacob liked to see.

Jacob had quickly gotten a hold of his wolf right when Embry lost control of his. Embry...?

With a succession of quick barks that sounded much like humorless laughter, Embry's wolf snapped his neck up and knocked itself into Jacob's form, his jaw instantly locked around Jacob's throat. As a result, Jacob descended to that realm of panic, frenetic in escaping this steel-like grip about his thick neck that threatened to cut him off from his air supply. The whimpers of pain that racked at the inside of his throat transcended to full yelps belonging to that of a petrified puppy.

Getting back up was proving to be a laborious endeavor for Jacob. Every time he even attempted to inch his way back up, Embry's wolf would shove him down with a heavy claw and the hold around his neck would furl around even tighter. Rocked by this imbalance, Jacob felt the widening prickling of skin, the coarse blood that was starting to matt around the fur where Embry's wolf had his canines pierced through. Jacob's hind legs trembled under the mere exertion.

The Pack mind had cumulated into nothing but disarray. Stop, Embry! You're going to kill him! Sam's voice couldn't register itself the way it used to in Embry's mind. He only clamped his teeth down much harder, shredding ruthlessly through skin, fur, and bones. Another thought tickled him – Jacob was trying to use his inner Alpha voice like he did before, but Embry was too quick. He knocked it away like it was nothing, feeding himself on Jacob's weakened state and thriving at the newfound power that coursed through his body.

Both Paul and Jared threw themselves at Embry, forced to intervene. Jacob was trapped in a state of intense agony that spoke wordlessly to all the other Packmates – even Quil, who wasn't even present – but Embry.

At the pressure of the two other wolves on each side of him, Embry's wolf buried his teeth in profoundly. SUBMIT, JACOB.

It shouldn't have worked, it really shouldn't have, but nothing could have explained it when Jacob suddenly crumpled beneath him under the heavy compulsion of those words without a fight. His body bowed over in the consumption of this unsettling loss, too fatigued to be embarrassed at the brazen turn of events. He submitted to Embry as though it was the easiest thing to do in this world because it required no thought to do so.

Embry's yellow eyes reverted back to their usual browns, slowly relinquishing Jacob's slumped body from his slightly aching jaws. It was a rare moment for the Pack to be utterly silent as Embry disentangled his fur from Paul and Jared's mouths – not that he met much resistance for it anyway. They were all reeled over in shock, but none more than the victor of the fight himself.

Because in order to have pulled off an Alpha command, he'd have to be a default leader like Sam. Unless he was like Jacob-

Unless it was his birthright.

Holy shit. Yeah, Paul seemed to have summed up this whole clusterfuck perfectly.

Jerking his head, Embry turned back to Jacob's haggardly lupine face, brown eyes meeting brown eyes. A quiet recognition lied beneath the depths of one pair while harrowing realization dawned onto the other. The latter one, Embry, was thwarted by the thought: he and Jacob were brothers in more ways than one. The word bastard could finally be eradicated from his mindset.

He leaned down to lick at Jacob's snout gently, muted so sorry's pouring out from Embry's system in the process. Even while his relationship with his mother was hanging by a fragile thread, she still meant the world to him. For a little lonely boy who had grown up without a father, family meant everything to Embry. So quietly, ruefully, Embry decided for himself right then and there that he would not seek out Bella Swan's affections like he had originally planned to. She was Jacob's to take.

She was his brother's to take.

Embry had won only to lose in the end. But then again, did he ever have a standing chance to begin with?

He slunk away as quickly as he could – Wait a second, Embry, hold on – and playing ignorance to the implication behind Sam's words, he darted from that ruined field of grass and sought whatever solace the forest could provide him. His mind was on autopilot, transporting the Pack to that recognizable plane of eerie nothingness again, but by the gods, he was so fucking angry.

Abigail Call didn't know what was coming when the front door to her house unexpectedly swung open with a thunderous bang, violently ricocheting against the opposite wall before the door leaned forward awkwardly, hanging onto the fractured hinges of the frame. Heart beating a multitude a minute, she clung onto the kitchen knife between her shaking fingers, preparing for whatever dangerous psychopath actually broke the entrance to her home.

She could only gawk when she realized that the culprit was her own son.

Before Abigail had a chance to reprimand him, Embry beat her to it by furiously spitting out: "BILLY BLACK?!"

"W-What about Billy Black?" Abigail sputtered out, stunned that, for the first time, Embry was actually raising his voice at her.

"Oh, I don't know, Mom," came a bitter response and Abigail was way too preoccupied with how her son was radiating with a dangerous vexation to even wonder why on earth he wasn't wearing a shirt. "The fact that he's my fucking father?"

Abigail took a trembling step back, involuntarily hitting the kitchen counter. "How did you...?"

"Does it really matter how I found out?" Good sons weren't supposed to back their mothers up into a corner like how Embry was doing, but he couldn't stop now. Both man and wolf needed something to compensate for Abigail lying to him for so long. "I asked you for years who the hell my father was and you always told me that he fucking left and never came back! Who knew he actually lived right around the corner of this godforsaken town, right?"

"Embry Call, don't you—"

"Goddamn it, Mom!"

The sound of flesh colliding with metal exploded in her left ear, prompting her to drop the kitchen knife out of fright. The scream that was close to pouring out of her mouth got caught in the alcove of her throat instead, residing there for her to choke on it. It looked like Embry was about to hurt her, the way his sloe-colored eyes gazed at her with an unfathomable expression, absolutely spearing her when his upper lip lifted in what looked like a noiseless snarl. His white teeth shined like lethal pearls against the copper of his skin.

Taking an abundant gulp of air, Abigail spared a glance to where Embry's fist had landed and almost fainted at the sight. His clenched hand was rested numbly against the upper half of their fridge, which now sported a monstrous dent around her son's hand. The metal of the fridge had curled away from where his knuckles were slanted and she was sure nothing could fix the amount of damage he had done all just by one single blow. What shocked her more was the fact that his hand didn't seem bruised or bloodied at all.

Her small gasp was what brought Embry back, her face exploiting a jumbled mess of horror and panic. His nose wrinkled, smelling the scent of fear that wrapped itself around her just by remaining in his formidable presence. His momma was scared of him. The wolf lurched back with unyielding shame, ears flatting against its head whenever Abigail tried her best to regain her breath back. His wolf ducked its head and ran to hide in a dark corner, leaving the diminished man to deal with the awful repercussions of losing control.

"Mom..." Crushing guilt that gnawed at him whole. "Mom, I didn't mean to—"

"I-I just remembered," Abigail interrupted in a shaky tone, averting her gaze to the side because, honestly, she couldn't look at him straight in the eye after what just happened. "I have to work the late shift at the hospital. You handle dinner by yourself, okay?"

She was already scuttling out of the door, not even stopping to look at the way the front door was hanging on precariously.

Embry remained hunched over in front the fridge, his hand still leaning against the busted metal. His other hand moved to grip the counter that his mother had been leaning against, providing a useless sense of stability to him. Lost of breath, he heard his mother fumbling with her set of car keys, dropping it to the ground a couple of times before she backed out of the driveway hectically. The worn tires screamed at the pace she was pressing on, the noise grating at his ears, and he listened until she was halfway to Forks

With a cacophonous roar that sounded just as animalistic as it would have been had he phased, Embry lifted the wooden table that served as a place to dine and hurled the damn thing so hard, it rapidly broke into two pieces the very minute it clashed with the wall. The chairs didn't fare any better – his hands would barely touch those artifacts of furniture before they quickly became disfigured in some way or another. He paused in his voyage of destroying his kitchen/dining room, sniffing the air.

"Are you done yet?"

Sam let out that inquiry very carefully before he found himself pushed against the wall, a large hand wrapped around his throat, hardened fingers digging into his skin with all intentions of choking him to death. He had vaguely wondered how Embry had gotten this fast, but that didn't matter at this point. It was a good thing then that Embry had such a fantastic hold down on his thoughts. It the Pack was given even the tiniest of peeks into this boy's mind, they would be swamped by it all.

For all purposes, Embry was a goddamn genius when it came to the leeches. Right next to Paul, he was one of the best fighters of the Pack, and with that being said and done, it was also undeniable that Embry's wolf was one nasty son of a bitch that Sam wouldn't ever want to wish on even his worst enemy. The aforementioned son of a bitch was nose-to-nose with Sam, nostrils flaring to deny the restraint left in him, dark brown eyes brimming with yellow-gold around the edges.

"Embry." Sam managed this through the tightened fingers around his neck, staring right into Embry's snarling face as calmly as he could without turning blue at the effort. It was a quiet second or two before his throat was free from the suffocating grasp.

The younger male of the two stepped away from his Alpha, eyes narrowing only slightly as he lowered himself into one of the chairs that had escaped Embry's earlier destructive tantrum.

"Wanna talk about it, kid?"

No, he didn't want to fucking talk about it, Sam. Go ahead and fuck yourself.

Embry only grunted.

"Look, what happened with—"

But Sam didn't get very far in this small lecture of his. "I meant that I didn't want to talk about this, Sam." It just didn't go that way with him. Hell would freeze over when Embry decided that he would embrace his 'inner woman' and actually have an emotional heart-to-heart conversation with Sam Uley of all people. "Let's just forget about it, alright? I'll find a way to submit to Jake later."

"It doesn't work that way," Sam bit himself from grinning at the ridiculous notion. "It's hard enough getting you to listen to me sometimes, even with the Alpha order. Your wolf isn't going to back down so easily," he prodded on when the sensation of Embry's glare started burning the side of his face. "In fact, he's kind of a dick."

The wolf just about threw a loud fit at the insult, but Embry shoved against his wolf, somewhat agreeing with Sam for once.

"You don't want to be Alpha, but I don't think you have a choice anymore. You pretty much solidified yourself as a candidate for the position the moment you ordered Jake to submit, not to mention the fact that we know its in your blood now—"

"Fine, but Jake's still growing—"

"And so are you." Sam leveled Embry a gaze so copious, it would have given anyone a headache just trying to analyze what that gaze truly meant. "You think you've stopped growing as a wolf? Not a fucking chance in hell, Embry. You and Jake are still pups for god's sake."

"Did you just curse, Sam?" Embry retorted scathingly. "I didn't think Emily let you."

Only slightly bristled, the Alpha glared at the younger one and instead of Embry averting his gaze in respect like he was supposed to, he met the hard expression head-on. At this development, Sam shook his head to himself. "See what I mean? You don't understand the concept of surrendering. You're a major pain in the ass," he added with an unhesitant chuckle.

"Funny, I always thought that title belonged to Paul," Embry inserted right afterward, vainly fighting off a grin when the corner of his lips twitched in amusement. Seeing this, Sam didn't bother hiding a small smile of his own.

Leaning back against the chair, Embry silently surveyed the lines and corners of Sam's face, having done this many times before in his pre-pubescent to early teenage years. There had been a time where he had been convinced that Joshua Uley was his deadbeat father, and after his dramatic phasing, his half brothers had been narrowed down to Jacob, Quil, or Sam. Never in a millions years had he ever consider the fathers belonging to his two best friends.

On the other hand, Sam sort of already knew that Embry was Billy Black's illegitimate son. Why? Because the day Embry ran out on Bella from his and Emily's kitchen, Embry had later on pleaded with Sam to not tell Jacob. It wasn't really a plead; the way Embry forced his way behind those words made it to be an actual order instead. An order with a tone that clearly bypassed the one Sam normally used at random intervals of time and one that extended throughout the entire Pack. That alone should have been the biggest clue to who his paternal parent was.

Embry thought that he was lucky that Jacob was three months older than him, therefore giving Jacob the right to being future Chief of this tribe one day. With Embry's Makah heritage, he didn't think the people would take him becoming the Chief all too kindly. However, still in terms of age, this didn't go quite the same way when it came to being Alpha of the Pack. Dominance was something too natural, something that had to have been inherent inside the man before phasing. And after what happened, it was tipping over in Embry's favor, whether he wanted it or not.

Why not just give everything to Jacob? Let him be Chief of the tribe, let him be Alpha of the Pack, let him have his fucking imprint-

As though he knew exactly what Embry was thinking, Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah, try denying the imprint bond. I'd like to see your ass fail for once."

"Damn, I don't even know why I imprinted on her," Embry muttered, completely slumping against the wooden chair while crossing his long legs by the ankles. "Is she even part Quileute?"

Sam's shrugged his shoulders, his body half-leaning against the wall. "I'm starting to think that it really doesn't matter who you imprint on." At this rate, he wouldn't be surprised if Paul imprinted on another man...although that thought was really fucking hilarious. He made a mental note to remember this the next time he patrolled with Paul.

"I kind of wanted to find my soul mate the long way, not with this wolf voodoo shit."

His response was a derisive snort. "With your attitude? Who'd be stupid enough to fall in love with you?"

"Sam? Shut the fuck up."

Both shape-shifters knew that Embry's words was a direct order.


"You sure you don't want to make me that sandwich?"

"Quil,"Bella uttered for what seemed to be the umpteenth time that evening, hell bent on continuing her prolonging process of pacing the floorboards away. "If you want a stupid sandwich while your best friends are trying to kill each other, go make one yourself."

The burly male let out a hearty laugh. "Aw, Bells, don't be like that."

"Leave the girl alone," Billy Black supplied in that wondrously soothing tone of his that helped a great deal with Bella's bursting nerves. The man was seated in his recliner, flipping through the channels on his television set nonchalantly. "Quil, be a man and make the sandwich yourself—and while you're at it, be an even greater man by making me one too."

"Wait, why—"

"It's perfectly fine if you don't want to," Billy added with a simple arch of his eyebrow, not at all taking his eyes off the television screen. "I can always call Claire's parents and tell them that their family's presence isn't needed for the next bonfire. It's up to you, son."

The next few minutes passed in blissful silence as Bella watched Quil's face transform into that of shocked terror. He bumbled out a couple of incoherent words that didn't at all make sense before he fled into the kitchen, creating a small hazard for himself as he frantically searched for bread, roast beef, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. Bella couldn't help the tiny semblance of a smile flitting across her face when Billy sent a sly wink at her before his attention bounced back to the football game on the screen.

She hadn't realized that time had passed by that quickly, judging by the way the sun was almost finished setting from the sky. Her stomach rumbled moments after Quil was busy turning the Black's kitchen into a disaster zone and maybe she should have told Quil to make her a sandwich too. Maybe she should have offered to make them dinner, considering she had been staying in this house for a long while now. But there were knots in her stomach that prevented her from even thinking of eating.

Bella wanted to make sure both boys were okay, and by this, it was a subconscious indication that she had no problem ripping Jacob a new one for even starting the fight in the first place. As for Embry...well, she still wasn't sure how to act around him yet.

Part of her suddenly wished that she hadn't focused all of her attention on Jacob before he surrendered the majority life to a wolf. She wondered if she had paid more attention to Embry – or even Quil for that matter – would it have changed things? Would she have hung out more with Embry as opposed to Jacob? Embry had been a quiet thing upon first meeting him, reserved in his ways, refreshingly polite in his demeanor. If she had known him even more, perhaps she could have found a kindred spirit in him.

It surely wasn't like that now.

She'd be a liar if she said that ever since slapping Paul that fateful day, Embry didn't brush across her mind occasionally. Here was the truth: he was on her mind all the time. One full week of pondering how breathtaking his face really was up close, seven days of remembering how heat swarmed around her – in more ways than one – when she was in near proximity to him, one hundred and sixty-eight hours of marveling his sinuous lips, the sensuality of the structure, and approximately six hundred and four thousand, eight hundred seconds of thinking that maybe, just maybe, despite being at ease in his presence, Embry Call was more dangerous than Edward Cullen.

Edward Cullen.

Embry Call.

There was a ridiculously strange pattern erupting here and it was surprising how this was the very first time in a week since she had thought of the vampire that had left her. Odd. Bella didn't go one day without thinking of Edward and now-

The rest of that thought died in a short train wreck when the door to the house burst open.

Her eyes widened at the sight of Jacob's half-clad form, all six-foot-seven inches of him completely covered in some of the worst bruises she had ever seen, ranging from blue to purple in various places. The majority of his wounds had already closed up from his trek back home, but it didn't defeat the fact that his body was still loitered in blood and horrendously ripped skin. There was this god-awful gash that started from the nape of his neck and curved all the way towards the front of his throat, extending even into the beginning outline of his collarbone.

Bella was certain that she was getting better whenever her eyes saw something particularly bloody, but her heart pretty much halted to see the pallidity of Jacob's bone sprouting out from that gory mess that draped across his throat. It was such an incorrigibly deep wound that the brunette female doubted that Jacob's fast healing abilities could save his neck without leaving a scar in its wake.

"Oh my god, Jake!" Get a washcloth to wipe the blood away, make sure he sits down and – wait, where's Embry?

Did Embry fare better than Jacob or was the former bleeding his way home?

Before Bella had the chance to fetch a wet washcloth, Jacob grabbed her shoulders tightly and kissed her.

She had always been so used to the sensation of cold marble touching her lips that Jacob's warm mouth had taken her by shock. His lips were soft, despite the hard exterior he carried as a shape-shifter, but that was really all she noticed. There wasn't anything more amazing to this forced kiss than that fact. Her arms remained listlessly limp at her side. Frozen, her mind naturally took its course and backpedaled into conjecturing whether or not Embry's lips had a similar feeling to Jacob's.

Were they just as soft or were they softer? Well, Embry's mouth did have a beautiful curve to it-

Shivers began to languidly crawl up her spine, although it wasn't because of the Quileute boy who was her best friend in these recent months. No, it derived from the Quileute boy she barely knew, and in the back of her mind, Bella knew that this was ultimately more insane than voluntarily subjecting herself into a relationship with a vampire.

Her pale hands slowly fisted themselves at her hips, a conscious thought to maybe shove at Jacob's chest since this kiss was clearly going nowhere in its duration of time. Bella hadn't responded to the kiss at all and Jacob, unknowingly, stopped trying after a few seconds had passed between them. She didn't have the chance to push him away as she should have immediately done so because Jacob was already pulling away, a devastated expression etched onto his face.

Jacob backed away from Bella, his hands leaned back as though he had just burned them. Wide-eyed and staggering, the huge male crept until the back of his knees touched the couch, making no effort to remain stable as he let himself fall backward onto the piece of furniture. Laid out on the proverbial surface, something called Jacob's heart started to break at the seams, but it was flushed out by the dawning realization that the one girl he had been in love this entire time was not for him.

She never was. Kissing Bella was close enough to kissing Rachel or Rebecca. It felt so inextricably wrong.

"Jake?" Bella tried in a cautious murmur.

"Nothing," was an empty response from his mouth. This type of understanding couldn't come without a twinge of pain. "Bells, I felt nothing."

Both teenagers had forgotten that Billy had still been in the room right up until the moment where the elder man leaned over his chair to pat tenderly at Jacob's hand. "It'll be alright, son."

"Yeah," Bella hastened to sputter out, wriggling her hands nervously behind her back. "Nothing has to change between us. Jake N' Bells, remember? We'll always have that." Whatever revelation might have surpassed Jacob right now, they would always be friends, that she was sure of. Becoming blind to Billy's presence once more, Bella added: "I'm really sorry, Jake, if I led you on or anything—"

"Are you kidding me?" Jacob started laughing, but it wasn't the usual bright laughter she was accustomed to. This laugh was a little more disheartening to hear from his mouth. "I'm the one that kissed you and you're apologizing to me? God, Bells...you're fucking crazy."

In the short silence that abruptly took over, Jacob and Bella shared a soft gaze together. It was wordless, but between the two of them, this was one of those moments where they were able to express as much emotion as they wanted, regardless of her innate awkwardness and his overpowering rapture. He felt spurned and the comprehension that they weren't meant to be together really hurt. He could have done so much damage if he had chosen to pursue Bella right after Embry's unpredictable act of stepping down.

Jacob deserved to hurt himself, but Bella didn't deserve this.

Neither did Embry.

He spared the girl another look, one to which Bella understood quite well. This wasn't a one-time tryst and it was an instant switch-off for him – it was purely unrealistic for anyone to believe that Jacob would get over this in one single night. Bella would gladly make herself sparse from his life, giving him as much time he needed, as long as it ensured that he would be okay again. She demanded too much of his time on a weekly basis, more so knowingly than less, and it was time to stop being selfish.

"I'll give you all the time you need," Bella spoke quietly, answering the unspoken question that lingered in the air like a bulk of pressure, the unwanted elephant in the room. "It'll...it'll be okay, Jake. I promise."

"Jake N' Bells..." Jacob mumbled, a little unsure, a little insecure.

Bella would have none of that. "Jake N' Bells," she repeated firmly.

The smile that followed wasn't the usual ear-splitting grin she recognized. The sunshine of his real smile was cowering behind a thick shade of anguish, a hefty shade of despondency, but small beams of light poured through – enough proof that the sun wasn't gone, just blocked by temporary clouds that surely wouldn't remain there forever. Not if Bella could help it.

The gentle look Billy sent her made her just a bit uncomfortable, but she summoned enough energy to smile back.

"Here!" Quil chose that moment to stumble into the room with a loud raucous, all but throwing a plate on Billy's lap, a plate consisting of a roast beef sandwich that looked questionable in her point of view. "Don't call Claire's parents. I haven't seen Claire in weeks, Billy!"

"What the hell are you talking about, Quil?" Jacob broke away from his depressing daze and shot his friend a look of irritation.

"Nothing," Billy chirped, sending Quil a look before staring down at the sandwich, shrugging his shoulders when he had nothing better to eat than what was given.

And then she remembered that Jacob was still bleeding all over the couch. "Crap, you're still hurt!"

Without another word spoken, Bella rushed into the kitchen and grabbed the washcloth she was supposed to have already gotten. After dampening it with water, she proceeded to wipe the blood away from his skin, halting a couple of times when Jacob hissed at the cold touch on his raw wounds. Her eyebrows furrowed slightly as she cleaned the injuries, coming to chew the inside of her cheek.

"Bells, I can practically hear you thinking from over here. You worried about Embry?"

She blanched, hands twitching at she did the necessary ministrations on her skin. "How'd you know?"

"This imprinting shit works fast," he muttered too low for her to hear, though it wasn't lost to Quil's ears. "To be honest, he kicked my ass. He came out of the fight way better than I did." Of course, Jacob looked far from happy at the fact.

(Billy looked extremely proud at this.)

"Serves you right," Bella uttered, resisting the urge to harrumph right at him. "You started the fight in the first place. And what's this about telling people that I'm your girl?" she narrowed her eyes and flicked Jacob's nose, satisfied when he flinched at the sharp touch. She wasn't going to show that her fingers were burning with minor pain after that small flick.

"I had to try, Bells," Jacob shot her another small grin.

"Well, I don't see why you had to—" Bella cut herself off when something unnatural swung at her.

Her chest suddenly ached with a discomforting pain she had never felt before – not even when Edward left her – and she couldn't feel the fingers to her hands. Bella's heart felt as though it was placed right beside her ear, reverberating loudly in the cartilage of her shell that she couldn't quite hear the frantic shouts belonging to the various men around her. She had the spastic need to run somewhere, to someone, because something terrible was happening.

The walls around her heart clamped together tightly, prompting her to breathe in small gasps as she inadvertently leaned into Jacob's embrace, caught in between hyperventilating and letting out painful coughs each time she was hit with this intricate wave of fear and anger, so much anger, that was currently driving her deranged. Bella shook violently, wracking at her pale body to make it seem frailer than it usually was. Brown eyes darting wildly from side to side, she didn't see Jacob or Quil leaning in to see what was wrong with her.

Embry.

"D-Don't!" she gasped out, wiggling frantically out of Jacob's arms, pushing herself towards the door on wobbly legs. She didn't care if she had to crawl her way out of this place – she needed to leave. "Where...where does Embry live?"

All three men merely stared at her.

"Where does Embry live?!" Bella shrieked like a frightening banshee, waking them all from their temporarily stunned state.

Twenty-five seconds later, yes she counted, Bella was handed a small piece of paper with Quil's chicken scratch of a writing sprawled over the surface of it, displaying Embry's house address. She didn't hear Billy advising the boys to stay put and let her be. She didn't hear Quil cursing over the place, somehow coming to the conclusion that something must have happened to Embry for it to have affected Bella like this. She certainly didn't hear Jacob sighing before he frowned at his father, claiming that they needed to talk about something rather important.

Bella flew into the driver's seat of her rickety truck, uncontrollable tremors pulsing through her fingers as she attempted to slip the keys into the ignition. She thumped at her chest to stop the ache that spun there, but that gesture only proved to be the wrong thing to do as she erupted into more irrepressible coughs. Driving was starting to be an imperilment for Bella, even by her reckless standards, considering she almost swerved off the road four times during the drive there.

Even in a small town like La Push, Embry's house was twenty minutes away from the Black's house. Too damn far away. By the time she arrived at the modest two-story structure, she was sure her heart was trying to claw its way out from her chest. She tripped over her feet while bounding up the steps, but she barely registered the impact, senseless to the way her palms and knees got scraped against the pavement. Her world was already spinning and falling towards the ground didn't make much of a difference.

Her mahogany hair was mussed from running her fingers through it too many times, and she thanked god or whoever it was out there that the front door was already open. Well, it was broken...but she didn't pay any attention to that.

"Bella?" She had come face to face with none other than Sam, eyebrows knitted together at the sight of her. He opened his mouth to say something else, but a blaring crash shattered against a wall further into the house.

"No," Bella instantly said, inching away from Sam's hands when he tried to steer her right back out of the house. "Embry? Is Embry okay?"

Another rupture of a noise was her response and that was all the answer she needed. Bella quickly ducked under Sam's arms, wondering how she had pulled off that move that quickly from the back of her mind, and she strode into what she assumed to be the living room.

The curtains that hung from the windows were torn into immeasurable pieces, the stuffing of the couch had been ripped out and spread across the wooden floorboards of the room, a broken vase lied forgotten in a vast corner, and the dark television set that was connected to the wall didn't look so much like a television set anymore, not with the wide cracks and holes that adorned the screen.

She dared a step towards Embry's stilled form in the middle of the room when he let out an earth-shattering howl that shook the walls and drove a wedge straight into her core.

Smelling her, the man turned – a human Embry with yellow eyes.

Bella bit back muffled gasp when he suddenly lurched towards her, muscled arms extending around her. Embry jerked her body in swiftly, desperately, her small front ramming against his chest with unparagoned fervor that seeped through his body language. His arms were bruisingly tight around the span of her waist, a large hand molding directly into her hipbones. The fingers of his other hand visibly shook as he hysterically shoved her soft hair away from her neck, almost snarling with impatience.

Once the snow of her neck was bare and in a vulnerable position, Embry quickly leaned in and stuck his nose at the curve that joined both her throat and shoulder blade together. He snuffed at her skin, inhaling in the familarity of warm honeysuckle that resided there. This time, she did let out a small squeak when he swallowed her body into his arms and lifted her a few inches off the floor just so that he could run his nose all over her neck, even lingering the tip of his nose at the nape.

She had clutched at his forearms for support, unnecessary as that was, but Bella didn't realize that her arms were slowly coming to twine around his own neck, fingers barely grazing the back of his hair. For the first time in a long time though, Bella knew that she was in the right place at the right time. Her heart had stopped thumping so hard and her chest lessened in pain from feeling Embry all around her. She sighed softly when his hand slowly trailed up her back to bury itself into the tangles of her hair.

I don't even know you, Embry.

Hell, she didn't care.

"What happened?" Bella mouthed in a silent whisper, knowing that Sam would be able to decipher it from where he was standing.

"It's his mom." And they shared an apprehensive glance over Embry's shoulder. "She's missing."

/ to be continued


Leave a review? What do you think happened to Embry's momma?