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I don't know you but I know what you did to her

She told me and I happen to believe her too

They will be 3 steps behind

You will not know what's got you

Oh so you're sorry now

All is not well, it's not ended

"We Build Then We Break" – The Fray

Chapter Nine: For That Reason

Paul POV

"Hey Charlie…yea I'm at your house. A few of us stopped by to locate Nigel and we talked Bella into a BBQ down on the Res tonight…yea absolutely. So maybe let Billy know and we will all meet at my place later on?...Sounds good. See you then." Sam told Charlie on the phone. We all knew we were in for a big talk and Charlie coming home in the middle of it wouldn't be a good thing. The turn this day had taken still shook me. I sat on a chair, Mitch sitting at my feet and I leaned down, my arms resting on his shoulders. He was pretty shaken up about the whole thing and so I was. Not only did I almost lose my imprint today but I almost lost my brother. Both my wolf and man were terrified.

Bella still sat on the couch, Sam sat back down beside her on her right, Nigel on her left. He had been freaking out when we heard him howl as the signal to phase in.

"Vampire. Fuck. Vampire! It's got Bella. Guys it's got Bella, Seth and Mitch! Fuck! Hurry Up!" He thought when we all phased in. Hearing this I howled back and pushed myself harder. Not only was Bella in danger…so was my baby brother.

"Nigel do not do anything until we get there. You can't handle her on your own." Sam ordered. A few of us started to protest…myself, Jake and Nigel…but Sam didn't waver.

The run there seemed like an eternity. The whole time we could see and hear everything that was happening through Nigel's eyes and it only drove us harder. When Bella offered herself in exchange for Mitch and Seth's safety…it had ripped me wide open. I honestly don't know if my wolf could survive anything happening to Bella. I didn't want her…I didn't want commitment and the imprint…but my wolf fell apart at those words. I had howled out in pain and my brothers whimpered at the raw emotion ripping through me. I was showing too much for the man's liking…but my wolf didn't care. My wolf ached. At those words…it was like my wolf had no purpose other than to save her. And without her…he really had no purpose at all.

The man in me though…he was torn. I wanted so badly for Mitch to walk away and for the leech to take the offer Bella provided…but the man in me was also beyond impressed. Tiny, breakable Bella…put her life on the line for two kids she didn't even know. She literally shielded my brother and Seth from death with her own body…and she never wavered. She became empowered and strong. More than willing to be their defender even though there was nothing she could have physically done to protect them. So she got under the leech's skin. She talked her into an anger so intense that the leech could hardly concentrate, Mitch and Seth forgotten as she hit Bella, causing her to fall to a heap. My wolf had howled at this too…it hurt so much…I could practically feel her pain.

I had been the first to attack, jumping right over Bella, the leech inches from her neck. It made my skin crawl knowing that my imprint had been inches from death.

Looking at her now, lost and confused sitting on the couch, covered in her own blood I couldn't help but admire her. She saved my brother's life. The man in me…he had one thing. Just one. That was a brother. And as much as my wolf couldn't go on without Bella…Paul couldn't go on without Mitch. I pulled him closer and he breathed in deep. He was worried for her, I could tell. He hadn't wanted to leave her side in the clearing but understood when I picked her up. There was no way in fuck my wolf was letting anyone be close to her but me. Not until he knew she was safe.

She had declared what we are about five minutes ago and we were all still sitting in silence, none of us quite sure what to say. There was no denying it of course…she had seen it. And there was no denying the existence of vampires for her…everything was just kind of on the table, waiting to be admitted.

"If someone doesn't speak, you can all leave." She whispered hoarsely. I sighed and looked to Sam. He was the one who should explain…he could handle it.

"Yes. We are werewolves, Bella." He said gently and she nodded slowly, looking at the wall. It would seem she was looking straight at me seeing as I sat almost directly in front of her…but her eyes weren't focused on me.

"How." She said quietly and Sam sighed.

"Well, I assume you know a few legends of our tribe?" She nodded hesitantly. He continued.

"Well it's like that. When a vampire comes to town…we catch the fever. It's like our genetics know we are needed at that time to defend the tribe and we make the phase." She sat there for a moment.

"Fever." She said and Sam nodded. She then looked to Jacob who was sitting in a chair to her left.

"Mono." She stated flatly and he hung his head. She nodded and took in a deep breath.

"So you all know…everything." She stated more than asked. Sam sighed again and nodded.

"Yes…we do." She nodded again still out of it.

"I understand it's a lot to take in Bella…if you need time-" But she shook her head.

"It's not you guys. Ok. So you're werewolves. Fine. I'm good with weird." She said in a rush and I looked to Sam. He gave me a worried look and I looked back to Bella to see her wincing as she touched her face.

"I'm a little more concerned with dying at the moment." She said painfully nonchalantly. It killed my wolf that she was so blasé about the whole thing.

"We won't let anything happen to you Bella. We are protectors…we won't let her get to you." She looked right at me in that moment.

"You've been outside my house." I stuttered for a few seconds before Sam spoke again.

"Yes. We have been taking turns guarding you. We caught a scent in the woods close to here a few weeks ago and since then we've been on guard." She looked to me again.

"Five weeks ago in the woods." She stated and I sighed, nodding. She seemed to spark to life a bit.

"So…you knew I saw a vampire?" She asked me and I nodded. She looked to the ceiling and sighed.

"Thank God. I thought you would think I was insane." I wanted to chuckle at her response but I was still too shaken. I almost lost the two people my halves needed most.

"No…I knew. I was amazed you could tell though." She sighed and shrugged.

"Spent a year dating one. Been in a house with seven of them. You get to know the signs." She said dryly and I felt myself get nervous that she had been so close with them.

"Is…is that why you said we needed to go Bella?" Mitch asked her and I looked to her curiously. She sighed and nodded.

"I could smell it, Mitch. She was close and I knew we didn't have much time." Jacob huffed.

"Bells what were you even doing in the forest?!" She ignored him though and after a few seconds Seth spoke in a nervous voice.

"It…it was our fault." Bella looked to him and shook her head.

"Don't say that Seth…really. It's not." But Mitch spoke up too.

"No. It was. We pushed you to go in and explore and we ran off even after you said no. I'm so sorry Bella…I didn't realize…" I could hear the lump in his throat and Bella leaned forward, looking right at Mitch.

"Hey. Don't. Sweetie it is not you're fault. Neither of you could have known just how dangerous it was and I don't blame either of you for a second. Understand?" He took a shaky breath and went to object but Bella cut him off.

"No. You're young and innocent. Do not blame the cruelties of this world on yourself. She would have found me eventually. It was my choice to come after you and it was my choice to hand myself over. You boys did nothing wrong. Nothing." She told them sincerely and Mitch nodded, getting up to hug Bella. Seth followed and I couldn't help the lump in my own throat. She was amazing with him.

"Bella…why did you give in?" Nigel asked, pain evident in his voice. She shook her head.

"What else was I going to do? She's clearly out for blood and I wasn't about to let someone else get hurt because of me." I had to admire that.

"Why does she want you though, Bella?" Sam asked. We were all wondering the same thing. She sighed and stood up, looking in the mirror. She shook her head at her appearance and I got up and went to the kitchen. I wet a cloth with warm water and brought it to her so she could get the blood off her face.

"Thanks." She mumbled and started scrubbing softly, wincing as she worked. We all sat there watching as she got all the blood off, leaving a large purple and black bruise on her cheek under her eye, and a lighter, smaller bruise on her forehead. She sighed, sitting back down and we waited for her to speak.

"When I was with…Edward…his family decided to play a bit of baseball. I know…weird right?" She said as Nigel made a face. She continued. "Anyway…they need a storm to play because of the thunder and how loudly the bat cracks the ball… so they invited me out and we went to this clearing outside of town and they played for a while…and three nomadic vampires found us playing."

"Wait…when was this?" I asked suddenly. She shrugged.

"Late March? Early April?" I nodded.

"Late March. They were the reason Nigel and I changed." She looked sympathetically at us both and sighed, continuing her story.

"Well it was James, Laurent and Victoria. Once they realized I was human they were a bit aggressive and the Cullen's sent them away." She said. Nigel interrupted.

"Laurent…dreadlocks?" She nodded.

"He was pretty easy to take down." Jared said with a smirk and I felt a bit better knowing we had killed one of the vamps to cause our lives to change forever. She looked stunned.

"You…you killed Laurent?" Jared nodded.

"Yea! It's what we do, Bella." He said with another smirk and she shook her head, stunned.

"Continue, Bella." Sam said gently and Bella nodded.

"Well… Edward could…see some vampires have gifts and he could read minds and-"

"Wait." Embry said. "You're ex-boyfriend could read your mind?!" She scoffed.

"Not mine. Everyone else's, but not mine." I looked to her curiously.

"Why not?" I asked and she shrugged, looking down.

"Carlisle speculated that I have a mental shield…apparently I'd make a pretty cool vampire." She mumbled as if she didn't want to talk about it. I agreed. Though I was glad that the leech couldn't get in her head.

"Anyways, he said James was a tracker…a gift that makes you like…some sort of expert hunter. The hunt was his obsession and he became obsessed with me. The Cullen's…they had to get me out of the area fast…so I…I had to make it believable. We knew James would be listening so I got into a fight with my dad and told him I was leaving…" She sighed and fiddled with the sleeve of her sweater.

"I…I left and James was following us so…the Cullen's split up. A few of them planted a fake scent trail to lead the tracker away while two of them took me south to Phoenix."

"Phoenix… Isn't that where you had an accident in your hotel room?" Jacob asked and Bella looked to him and sighed.

"I know I'm clumsy…but I'm not that bad." She said with a hint of humour. "That's the story…yes. But that's not what happened. We were hiding in Phoenix and somehow James figured out that he had been tricked and went through my school records here in Forks…he figured out where I lived in Phoenix and called me from the house phone there. He…he told me he had my mom." She said shakily and a few guys gasped.

"You're kidding." Jake said and Bella shook her head.

"No…told me that if I wanted her to live…I had to get away from the Cullen's and meet him at my old ballet studio."

"What did you do?" Jacob asked and Bella snorted.

"What do you think I did? I got away and went to fucking save my mom." She said passionately. Once again…I couldn't help but admire her. She was so fierce when she needed to be…so selfless.

"But…when I got there…I realized that he had a recording of my mom from a video he found. He had tricked me." She was looking at her sleeves again and I felt my wolf getting angry. I wasn't sure I wanted to know what happened next.

"Bella…" Jacob said and Bella snapped her head to him.

"What would you have done if someone had Billy, hm? I did what I had to do, Jacob. I thought he had my mom. I wasn't going to let her die because of me." Sam held up his hand before Jacob could speak and spoke in a soothing tone.

"Let's let Bella speak, guys." She took a deep breath.

"Well…I didn't know what to do…I tried fighting back…but it was useless. He threw me around a bit…broke my leg. Put me through a few mirrors. By the time the Cullen's got there and found me I was bleeding all over the place…" She spoke as if it was yesterday. She was no longer focused on the now…her eyes had glazed over and it was like she was reliving it. She touched the back of her head.

"My head…it hit a pillar." She said quietly and touched her thigh. "My leg…a piece of glass impaled into it…" I looked to Sam. I knew that Phoenix story wasn't right. He shook his head and looked back to Bella.

"And then…he…he looked at Edward. And he…he bit me." In that moment I saw red. I was out of my chair and pacing…Jacob was hollering. Sam was trying to calm people down…all the guy guys were livid.

"He fucking bit you?! How are you still human?!" Nigel asked and Bella took a long and shaky breath. I looked to her, unsure of where this was going. She had to be human…I could hear her heartbeat…the blood pumping in her veins…she had to be…

"Edward…he…he sucked the venom out." She told us and I looked to Sam who looked just as shocked.

"He did what?" Jake asked and she nodded.

"He sucked the venom out of my blood until it was clean." She lifted the sleeve of her right arm and exposed a large, crescent shaped scar. It was pale white and looked like it didn't belong. I went to her immediately and ran my hand over it.

"It's cold…like they would be." I nodded and sat in Sam's vacated seat beside her, holding her arm in front of me examining the scar. My wolf was in panic mode. She had been bitten…she had almost ceased to exist…I almost never…

"Then the Cullen's ripped him apart and burned the pieces. James…he was Victoria's mate. So now she wants to kill me to get back at the Cullen's. I nodded. It made sense.

"This was under your cast." I said and she nodded. That had been why I never saw it. I looked to Mitch as he spoke.

"What did…I mean…what did it feel like?" We all looked to him a bit confused.

"What do you mean, sweetie?" She asked kindly and I felt my heart swell at the endearment she showed my brother.

'Hey now. Leave that bullshit for the wolf.' The man thought harshly. I couldn't help it though. It was like two worlds melding into one with her and Mitch in the same room.

"I mean the…the…when he bit you." Bella looked a bit shocked and I held my hand up, leaving the other on her scar.

"Mitch. No." I told him flatly and Bella looked to me.

"No…it's alright. I don't mind. You mean the venom?" She asked turning back to him. He nodded uneasily. Everyone looked to her as she thought, silent for a few moments.

"Let me put it this way…I mangled my hand on your brother's face. That hurt…more than I can describe." Nigel cringed at the thought, and I knew he was remembering sitting with her in the hospital. She continued.

"I would rather punch him fifty times over again and manage the same injuries or worse…than go through another minute of the venom." She told us seriously. I wrapped my palm gently around the scar…protectively. I thought it would repulse me…the feel of the vampire skin but…it was Bella. My wolf just wanted to protect.

"Really?" Sam asked shocked and Bella nodded.

"The venom is like…it's like…burning. But it's not burning like you'd imagine it's…it's like lying in fire. It's in your veins…in your blood…in your heart. You can't do anything but scream. And you can't escape it. You just burn constantly. There is nothing but fire…and you…you beg for death." She confessed and I couldn't help but pull her into my side. I cringed at the thought.

"No more." I told the room. It was an order. And it stuck. Everyone was silent. It made my insides shake violently. To think they had their hands on her…they bit her and harmed her…I'd fucking find this bitch. And when I did I'd kill her. No one else got first crack…I did. I couldn't handle it…those words coming from her…it hurt me. I've never felt pain like this…not until today. Nothing compared to hearing her say she was surrendering her own life though. I bit back a growl at the thought. I won't stop until I'm sinking my teeth into that bitch…she won't even know what hit her until I force her to look into my eyes as I light her on fire.

I held Bella close until I felt calm enough to release her. I didn't leave her side though…I stayed close just incase.

"So…why did the Cullen's really leave?" Sam asked hesitantly after a few moments and I heard Bella's breath hitch.

"You don't have to answer that." I jumped in, glare set in place at Sam. My wolf clawed at my skin. 'How dare he ask my imprint painful questions!'

"I uh…it's ok." She said hesitantly and I saw Sam shrink a bit beneath my stare. He knew how it felt to be protective of an imprint and I was glad he respected it.

"They…they threw me a birthday party in September. I was…I was opening my gifts." She said, tracing her scar on her arm like it held all the answers.

"I was so clumsy…I uh…I gave myself a paper cut." I felt my stomach lurch.

"What did they do." I said deathly quiet. Bella put her hand on my leg instantly and I calmed a bit, but not much.

"Shh…relax." She told me softly and I ignored the smirks from the guys. They had never seen this side of me.

"Jasper…he uh… he's newer to their diet and still struggles a bit. He lunged at me…but Edward…he pushed me out of the way. I…" She took off the sweater she had on, leaving her in a green tshirt. She lifted the sleeve exposing a scar about four inches long on the inside of her right arm.

"I went through a glass table." She told us and I put my hand onto hers, which had never left my leg. I needed her to keep my wolf grounded.

"Anyway…my blood practically cleared the room…everyone but Carlisle. He stitched me up and Edward drove me home." I watched her as pain filled her eyes. I glared again at Sam who looked guilty. I knew he hadn't wanted to hurt her…but my wolf didn't care at that point.

"I knew…something was off. But he insisted it was ok…and then…they disappeared for three days. And when I came home from school he was here. He…he asked me to go for a walk and…and he…" She had started to cry and I pulled her into my side, her tears falling onto my chest.

"Shhh…it's ok, Bella. It's ok." She continued to cry and we all remained silent. Jacob's eyes had tears in them remembering that day. He had been so afraid for her…he loved her so much. I sighed as she clung to me, trying to compose herself.

"H-he…he told me that…that they were leaving. That…that I w-wasn't good for him. That he…that I didn't belong in his world and that he was sorry h-he let it…let it go on f-for so long." She cried and exposed her traumatic experience to us. Looking around the room I knew everyone felt the same. We were angry. How dare he lure this girl into their world and then say that to her.

"A-after everything… everything I've been through…after I…after I trusted h-him. He…he just l-left me there." She stood up fast and paced the room.

"I…I risked my life to be with a vampire. A vampire that c-called me his…his own personal brand of heroine because my b-blood sang to him. I put myself in a house with seven vampires…broke my dad's heart, ran across the country, got caught up in some sick, twisted game with a nomadic vampire…was thrown through glass…into pillars…had my leg broken…I was bitten. I was put in the hospital, forced to continue lying to my parents, gave up on a normal life, spent my birthday party a bloody mess…and he fucking left me out there. Alone. And left me with no one to turn to." She ranted and we all let her. She desperately needed to get this out of her system. She could finally talk. It hit me that she had never uttered these words before…they were for us. The pack. She looked in the mirror again and shook her head, another tear falling down her cheek.

"And now I'm being hunted…because of them. Because Victoria wants revenge on them…" She turned to face us.

"I'm just…I'm beyond tired. You know? I didn't ask for this…I didn't ask for any of it." I motioned for her to come back and sit beside me and she did, leaning into me on her own accord this time.

"Bella I'm very sorry you went through all that alone. Had I known how bad it was…I would have extended a hand to you before it came to this." Sam said honestly. I know it hurt him deeply to know that a person so close to the Res…so close to protection…had been so hurt by vampires.

"It's not your fault…I just…it's hard to escape it. They get all up in your senses and you don't even realize you're being dazzled until…until it's gone." I looked to Sam and he shared the same curious expression.

"What is dazzled?" Sam asked and Bella sighed.

"Vampires… to humans they're so alluring. Their appearance…voice… scent. It's all very pleasant. And they can do this thing where…it's like brainwash really. They look into your eyes and just use their abilities to make you agree with them." I looked to Sam horrified. Had they done that to her?

"What do you mean make you agree, Bella?" She shrugged from her position at my side. I had my arm over her shoulders and she was finally relaxing. 'It's the imprint. Yes. Protect her. Touch her. Need her.' My wolf chanted and I willed it away.

"Well…for example…a vampire could probably convince a victim to literally just turn their head and become dinner. Just with their ability to dazzle." I pulled her closer. All my anger at her for being so willing to be with him…with them. It was fading. Fast. Had they fucked with her mind?

"I mean…I know they didn't do it in the beginning…I was just understanding… but it's a bit euphoric to be surrounded by them. Their voices…their scent. It was like being doped up all the time…I know Edward would use it to win arguments though. He always thought he knew what was best. He coddled me a lot…he even took the battery out of my truck one time to keep me from coming to see Jake." She said, glancing at him. She sighed at his horrified expression.

"I suppose he knew about the wolf gene thing. Said he didn't like me being down at the Res where he couldn't keep an eye on me." Jacob just hung his head. We all know he had felt a bit abandoned when Bella was dating the leech…and he just realized it wasn't her doing.

I couldn't help but grow a bit soft for the girl…and it wasn't because of the imprint. It was because the man in me could recognize struggle and perseverance when it was placed in front of him. Bella is more than I expected. She's a survivor. She was in a bad relationship with a controlling vampire…she looked death in the eye numerous times and always vowed to protect others…she had been through a lot. Looking at her still bruising face and over to Mitch who remained unharmed…I held Bella close. She wasn't the brat I thought she was. She was a strong girl that needed a hug.

A few of us, Mitch, Seth, myself, Bella and Sam drove to Sam's house in his truck and the rest of the guys just ran.

"So…when my dad asks…I fell coming up the porch." She said, indicating her face. She had showered the rest of the blood and stress off of her and we had left the Swan house not long after she had shared her stories. She had been ridiculously accepting of us…didn't need further explanation than the basics. Sam chuckled.

"Don't you find it a little deflating that people so easily believe this clumsy crap?" She laughed a bit too from the front seat. The boys and I were in the back.

"Well…a little. But it comes in handy when you're Bella Swan." She said sarcastically and I couldn't help but chuckle.

"So…landed on a rock, huh?" I asked her. She knew what I meant. She turned in her seat with a grin.

"Well I couldn't really tell him I punched a dick head werewolf in the face…could I?" Sam and the boys laughed at that. I just raised my eyebrow.

"Hah. You didn't know I was a wolf then." She shrugged.

"Yea but no normal person has a face like a fucking tank." She said, turning back around in her seat. Mitch laughed and leaned forward to see her.

"Now that you know he's a wolf, would you do it all again?!" She laughed a bit and turned in her seat to see me. She smirked and nodded.

"Oh yea. Without a doubt." I felt my skin bubble a bit nervously…but pleasantly. My wolf liked it. That was the moment I imprinted…and she just said she'd do it all again if she had the chance. 'Get ahold of yourself Lahote!' The man screamed. But looking at the playful light in her eyes she seemed…lighter. She seemed like she had gotten a lot off her chest and she just looked better…even with the bruising. My wolf knew. He could feel it in her soul. She turned back around and Sam gave me a smirk in his rearview mirror. He knew what her words had done…he could probably hear my heartbeat racing. We were mainly quiet the rest of the way there, except for the occasional discussion between Mitch and Bella. He liked her, I could tell. He gave me a smirk when she got out and I ruffled his hair.

"Shut up, peanut." I told him. He just laughed.

"Hey guys, took you long enough! You…holy fuck Bella! What happened?!" Charlie yelled at the sight of Bella. Billy was just coming back over from speaking privately with Jacob…no doubt Jacob filled him in. He looked horrified and looking at Bella didn't help that at all.

"It's alright dad, it looks worse than it is. I checked the mail and when I was coming back in I tripped on the stairs. Hit my head off that cement planter we have on the porch." I had to hand it to her. Girl lied like it was her fucking day job. Charlie examined her carefully, still very concerned.

"Did you go to the hospital?!" She shook her head.

"No, the guys were there and they gave me a hand. Really dad…I'm fine. I promise." He let the issue drop but I knew he wasn't happy about it. Billy looked to her with sad eyes, knowing the truth. A vampire had gotten ahold of her. I went over to him.

"All that…to protect Seth and Mitch." I told him. Harry and Sue were sitting with Billy at the fire while Charlie and Bella spoke to Nigel, Nigel assuring Charlie that Bella didn't have a concussion. I guess he wasn't quite done with it yet.

"She what?" Harry asked and I nodded.

"She literally put her body between the vampire and the boys…and offered herself in exchange for their lives." Sue gasped and her hands flew to her mouth. Harry had tears in his eyes. Billy just shook his head.

"She never ceases to amaze me." He mumbled. Seth came over and Sue hugged him to her immediately.

"Bella protected you?" She asked quietly and he nodded.

"Mom…she was incredible. She didn't even hesitate. Now that I think about it she's so small it probably looked funny…her shielding us…but she did. She kind of reminded me of the third wife." Seth said and I couldn't help but agree. Brave and selfless…'And she's mine.' My wolf roared proudly. I sighed, listening to her tell Charlie about how Mitch was going to come help with the ramp because he wanted to learn some handyman skills. I couldn't help but smile. She didn't even know what she did for that kid today. She gave him protection yes but…she gave him something our mother never did. Love and compassion…she babied him. She made him feel wanted and cared for in the face of danger…she sacrificed herself for him. She invited him to come and learn a skill from her dad…she gave him that sparkle in his eye. I could see it as he grinned at me, knowing I had heard the news and I smiled back.

She gave him a place to feel at home. She gave him hope. And for that reason…and that reason only… I adored her.

There you have it ladies and gents! Progress. Major progress! Hope you all enjoyed! REVIEW!