I knew I shouldn't have come to that meadow.
Edward was gone for good, I had nothing left, he took everything. Everything. That's why I was so into all the new things, to create a life different from the one where he had been... and the others. I still couldn't believe that Alice left without saying goodbye. We were best friends. I seem to recall, somewhat hazily, that he said she wanted to come say goodbye. Yes, he said that before he finished me. I never should have started anything with him. Actually, that was why I was here. This place... was Edwards and mine. Everything kind of... officially began here. I had to come here if I ever wanted it to end for me.
That was what I thought anyway. I wasn't so sure about that now. Even though, it seems it will end for me here, but I didn't mean this kind of end. I didn't want to end up dinner for Laurent.
Because that's what was happening just now. At the moment, he was explaining he is here for Victoria. I didn't really listen to him. Seeing the dark eyes with red hue in his face was informative for me. He was thirsty. And still a human-drinker. And I was alone with him in a deserted meadow. How am I supposed to get out of this?
Supposedly I am very lucky that he was the one to find me. He said Victoria had something much, much worse prepared for me. My head felt full of cotton, and I couldn't readily focus on everything he was saying and doing. Maybe that's why I didn't feel especially lucky, or even grateful that it was him, and not Victoria who finishes me. I didn't have any friendly vampires to protect me now.
I tensed in preparation to set off running when he breathed in my scent deeply. I was marginally aware I didn't have a chance against an abnormally strong and fast vampire, but that didn't mean I'll just stand still and let him suck me dry.
Suddenly, he stopped smelling me and turned his head to the left. I refused to look that way, I needed to know the exact moment he was going to go for me. But then he started backtracking away from me. That shocked me speechless.
„I don't believe this," he said so quietly I almost didn't hear him.
Now I had to look. What could possibly distract the almighty vampire so much?
At first I didn't see anything. But when I glanced warily back at Laurent, he was backtracking even faster now, with his eyes still trained on something in the forest that I didn't see.
Then I saw it; something black appeared between the trees, almost like a shadow, and it stalked purposefully toward the vampire. It looked like a gigantic wolf, or maybe a dog. It was tall as horse, but stouter and more muscular. Its long mouth was grinning and showing off the jaws full of sharp big fangs. When it snarled, the sound crashed through the meadow like a long thunder.
I stiffened. This must have been the animal everyone talked about in town. Of course everyone thought it was a bear from a distance. What else could be this enormous? Why did it always have to be me who found out about all the dangerous things? First the Cullens, now this... wolf. It was walking forward only about ten meters far from me at most. Why couldn't I have seen it from distance as well, like all the normal people? What was so defective about me that I just couldn't be normal?
My mind was still peculiarly overcast, but kept clearing gradually with each backward step Laurent took. I was still horribly afraid. Now I was in the presence of not one, but two creatures that would probably do just about anything to eat me.
Still, I couldn't but notice how nice an animal that wolf was. I always has a weakness for dogs. And wolves, too, even though I never saw one up close. This one was was enormous and terrifying, but it was still beautiful. It had wonderful shiny black fur and dark eyes, and it was built more like a wolf than dog, although I've never heard of black wolves before. He seemed strong, lithe, and fast, despite its size. A beautiful, athletic animal. Pity it was going to eat me in a bit. But rather him than Laurent. Wolves were definitely nicer than hungry man-eating vampires stalking towards me. I never liked those very much. In addition, a wolf this size will probably just bite once and I'll be dead. At least I won't suffer for long, that was a plus.
The wolf growled again a I shivered involuntarily.
Laurent was still backtracking toward the trees, and now I saw his eyes were bulging out in terror. I realised he was really afraid. He, a vampire. Why should a vampire fear big wolves? It was just an animal, even as big as it was. I was the one that should be afraid. But him?
Another two beasts stalked to the meadow, a dark-grey and a brown one. They stood on both sides of the black one, which was the biggest. The grey one was just a few steps away from where I stood. I was a little confused – and relaxed, though I know that it wasn't sensible from me at all to feel that way – when I suddenly realised that those wolves didn't so much as glance my way since they came. All they did was glare at Laurent with hate a it seemed there was nothing else they cared about. Or did I just think it was hatred I saw in their dark eyes? Anyway, they didn't even twitch a whisker my way. As if I wasn't interesting at all.
Right after the two wolves another pair came, and stopped each on one side. The black one was still in the middle. It could be their alfa. A leader. Packs used that kind of hierarchy. Not that I found that all that intriguing right now, to be honest. The fact that they took places to the sides of the black one meant that the rusty-brown wolf, which appeared last found a place so close to me I could easily touch it.
My breath got stuck in my chest, and if I remembered before that I could move, now I forgot about it completely.
After a while the rusty wolf actually turned its head slightly my way, and glanced at me for a split second.
Now, I am no expert, but I don't think wolves should have intelligent eyes like that. His eyes looked almost human to me.
While he was looking at me, I suddenly remembered my friend Jacob. Good thing he wasn't there with me. After... he left, Jacob helped me get out of the depression. I was slowly starting to function again, and it was all thanks to him. He didn't deserve to die here with me.
Yet, I wasn't so sure I was going to die now. When that wolf looked at me, all the fear I felt just disappeared. I knew he didn't want to kill me. He didn't even want to hurt me. I saw it in his eyes. Ok then, they must have been those bears the town talked about, that wasn't up for discussion, but they could not have killed those tourists. I knew it wasn't them. They were too intelligent, too human to murder like that. Yeah, I know they look like wild gigantic beasts, but since they came they only growled at Laurent and left me alone. They were standing right next to me, and didn't endanger me in any way. Now I even felt like they were protecting me. The rusty one was so close to me, and didn't growl once, didn't snap, didn't even taste the air hungrily. All their predatory focus was directed at Laurent.
Suddenly it clicked. Laurent was here! And he was hunting humans. He must have killed those tourists. These wolves were probably after him, they hated him so obviously it was clear to me it wasn't any kind of symbiotic relationship. Those bear-sightings must have happened when the wolves arrived on the scene, but the vampire was already gone. They only caught up to him now – here. And I, his next victim, was still alive. That didn't say anything about them not eating me anyway, though.
Laurent turned tail suddenly and disappeared into the woods. He fled. The wolves rushed after him immediately.
„No... come back!" I yelled after them weakly, before I realised what I'd said. I nearly smacked my forehead with a palm in reaction to that stupidity. I could have liked them, but that didn't mean I truly wanted those gigantic beasts to come back to me, especially if there was no Laurent here now to distract them.
That was all good and well, but I really wanted them to come back.
I groaned and dropped to the ground. Of course, that was just me. I lose one kind of supernatural creatures, so I immediately go looking for another to stick to. Even though these ones looked more super-sized than supernatural, and quite a bit at that.
But that rusty one really didn't look like he wanted to eat me.
I didn't hear any weird kind of noise coming from the forest, although beasts of that size should have made quite a racket. Who knows if they managed to catch up to Laurent. But vampires were fast, surely he got away. It was probably better that way, if they caught up to him he could have seriously harm them.
I looked around myself. It truly wasn't Edwards and mine meadow any more. There were no flowers, just tall grass that obviously didn't appreciate the dropping temperatures very much. It looked like the meadow died. Just like the relationship I had with Edward.
But it was over now. This meadow was a proof of that. It was never supposed to last. I was just holding onto the straws. The best thing I could do now was to let go, and continue my life without him. He didn't love me. If he loved me, he wouldn't leave.
I smiled a slightly sad, hesitant smile. In the end, this place really helped me. And maybe I'll survive it too, because how would the wolves understand what it was I called after them? I should probably get back to the car and home. I was here long enough. Charlie will kill me if he returned already. Especially when I tell him that I took a little stroll through the forest, all alone, while there was a bear running around.
I looked in the direction the big wolves left, and I jerked. The black one was there. He stood just on the edge of the meadow and was looking at me inquisitively. I jumped straight to my legs, and felt my lips stretch in a smile. It was the nerves, surely. I am definitely not that crazy. Definitely.
The black one wasn't alone. The other four wolves were just behind him, in the wood. I took a cautious step towards them. They didn't react at all. They really didn't want to eat me, I think. I ran my eyes over the black leader. He wasn't visibly hurt, maybe Laurent escaped?
„Did Laurent hurt you?" I asked uneasily. „It's okay if he escaped you, you wouldn't like him anyway. His kind isn't the softest on touch. You... didn't come back to eat me, did you?"
I felt like an idiot, talking to an enormous wolf. But maybe it will catch their attention enough to not eat me if they incidentally wanted to.
The black wolf shook his head slightly, and moved. It walked further onto the meadow, closer to me, the others behind him. They stopped about ten meters from me, and the black one sat down. He was still staring at me fixedly, as though he couldn't decide what kind of animal I could be. As though he never saw anything similar, but he lived near Forks, he must have seen people already.
I felt like I could almost recognise his eyes. That was an absolute bullshit of course. I let my eyes fly over the brown and dark-grey on both sides of the black, and cast another look at than rusty coloured one. I was reminded of Jacob again. It wasn't all that strange actually, that wolf had fur the same colour as Jacob's skin. That could be why he reminded me of him. I looked at the last wolf, a silvery-grey one.
I took one look into his eyes and I froze.
„Embry?" I said disbelievingly. I only ever saw such a strange look once before – in the face of Jacob's friend Embry Call when he came visit Jacob one day while I was there. It was like a mix of amusement, curiosity, shyness and confidence and so... strange I couldn't but remember it.
The wolf's ears pricked up, his body straightened and he tensed, but I was shaking my head already by then.
„Of course, bullshit," I mumbled to myself. I looked at him again. He watched me with a strangely intense stare. I shook my head again. „Never mind me, I just can't seem to look at anything in a logical way anymore. If your were to be Embry and a wolf at the same time, you would have to be another kind of supernatural being. Maybe a werewolf. That's a complete bullshit, I know."
I shook my head one more time and took a good look around the meadow. I wasn't afraid at all anymore, though they did almost nothing since they got back here.
Who knows if I'll be seeing supernatural beings around every corner now? I frowned. I had a feeling I already heard something about werewolves before. If vampires existed, was it possible that werewolves did, too? People who could transform into wolves?
Suddenly I remembered that afternoon in La Push, when I persuaded Jacob into telling me about some of the Quileute legends. He told me that Quileutes were descended from wolves, and could transform into them – like werewolves – and that they protected their people from their natural enemy – the cold ones. Vampires. They even knew about Cullens, although they didn't believe it. Some of them, I corrected myself internally when I recalled Billy's face. He believed in those legends.
But if the cold ones were real, then...
My eyes widened, and I looked at the wolves that were still sitting in front of me.
I looked at the pale-grey wolf. Jacob told me that Embry was nervous for some time, and then he suddenly started to stick to Sam's gang. And he said that Billy was adamant about Sam Uley being the best thing to happen to Quileutes. Maybe there weren't drugs involved after all, nor anything similar. Maybe they were werewolves. How many did Jacob say there were? Sam, and two others. And Embry joined them. Four then.
There were five wolves before me, though.
I turned my eyes to that rusty wolf slowly. It reminded me of Jacob. I haven't seen Jacob since that day in cinema, and Billy wouldn't let me talk to him. Billy believed in, and worshipped the traditions and legends of their people. Werewolves were something akin to Quileute national talent. A secret talent. If Jacob was a werewolf, Billy would not tell me. My heart constricted.
Could Jacob have kept this away from me? Why wouldn't he tell me? We were friends. He even told me about vampires.
I looked at their leader. The gang was Sam's. He was their leader. In that case, this black wolf must have been Sam Uley.
The black wolf was giving me his whole attention, same as all the other ones. His dark eyes reminded me of something again, but I couldn't seem to recall it.
I saw Sam once. Well, twice, but I don't count the day I saw them jumping from the cliff, they were too far. But Sam was the one who found me, when Edward... left. I couldn't really focus on anything except my pain back then, but I still remember his eyes clearly – they were dark, and unreadable. Mysterious. Just like the eyes of this wolf. That was why he reminded me of something.
„Hello, Sam," I mumbled quietly to him. He stood up and gave me an intense look. I shrugged. „And that grey one is Embry," I glanced at Embry, and moved on to the rusty one. „I would just like to know why you didn't tell me a thing, Jacob? I thought we were friends." Even though I didn't want it, pain made its way into my voice. I shook my head again and looked at the last two wolves. They were probably the last two Quileute boys, but I think I haven't seen them yet. Nothing rang the bell of recognition.
„I don't think I know you two."
The black wolf stared at me a bit longer, with the two unfamiliar ones looking at him, almost as if they wanted to ask him something. He didn't tell them anything, just made a noise sounding like a small huff, and he turned to leave.
The others followed.
For a second a stood there like a stone, surely they didn't want to leave now? Without telling me anything, or even hinting if I was right or not. They couldn't leave me now!
„Don't leave!" I gasped weakly, almost against my will. The rusty wolf turned its head back to look at me, but I don't know if he wanted to tell me anything. He turned back right after that one look and disappeared between trees.
My knees gave way and I fell down again. How could they up and leave, just like that? And Jacob, too? Simply ignoring me, as if I wasn't even there and said nothing? Was I really that unworthy of anyone's attention?
I felt the familiar sharp pain invade my chest again, and drew my arms around me. I just couldn't understand what just happened. How could they leave?
„Bella," a calm voice came to me from the edge of the clearing. I raised my head sharply.
There, on the edge of the dead meadow stood Sam Uley, dressed only in cut-off pants. Behind him, other figures were emerging.
I was so relieved that if I wasn't already sitting I would fall again. So they didn't leave after all!
„I thought you left," I managed to get out faintly.
He shook his head and approached me slowly.
„I think we have some unfinished business here. We can't leave until we solve it."
Clumsily I made it to my feet and looked at them all again. My eyes fell on one of them, and I immediately thought I'll fall again. It was Jacob, but he changed drastically! How could he change so much in such a short while? He was enormous! He was good few centimeters taller, wider in the shoulders too, generally he was more robust, and he cut his hair. He looked just like the others. And he was seventeen!
„Jesus Christ, Jacob, when did you change so much?" I blurted.
He gave me an uneasy smile. „In the last couple weeks, Bella."
„That's when... you started to change?"
He didn't say anything, just made a face at me.
„Talking about that, care to tell me how you found out about us?" asked Sam. I looked at him hesitantly. Jacob told me he shouldn't be talking about those legends, could it get him in trouble if I told Sam?
„Well... I found out about your legend that you are descended from wolves and don't like vampires, so I... just kind of put it together now."
„How did you find out about that legend?" Sam asked again, still in that calm voice, but I didn't completely trust it. The last thing I needed was to put my friendship with Jacob in jeopardy.
„I'd rather not tell you, I don't know if it wouldn't put the person responsible in trouble. And even if it is a secret I don't think it should be a problem, it didn't even cross my mind to believe it back then. Well... not quite," I mumbled. „What I mean is that the person who told me didn't do a mistake or anything, such stories are nothing but stories to others."
„Not quite so for you," observed Sam.
„But I'm not completely normal," I screwed my face. „If I didn't know that... well... that a part of it is true, I wouldn't think it might all be true."
„I assume you are talking about Cullens now?"
I twitched. I still wasn't over the fact that they simply left me, just because poor Jasper slipped a bit. No one could have known I will cut myself with paper, for heaven's sake! Nothing happened to me, they didn't have to leave! But of course, who would care about what a simple human wanted? Alice was my best friend. How could she leave and not say goodbye?
„How did you recognise Embry?" continued Sam, when I didn't answer his question. Or maybe I did. I shrugged.
„He had the same look in his eyes as he did before, when I saw him at Jacob's house," that earned me a questioning look from Sam.
„You recognised him by his eyes?"
„By his look. If someone can pull of looking amused, shy, curious and confident all at the same time, a person will remember it. I recognised you by your eyes as well. It just helped me a little bit that I knew you were something as leader of your... your... pack?" I finished quietly to myself. Could it be a pack? They were wolves.
„You only saw me once," Sam remarked, almost as if he didn't believe me. I frowned at him.
„I saw Embry just once, too," I objected. „I remember you. You were looking at me the same way as that black wolf a while ago did. And Jacob has fur the same colour as his skin is. You can be recognised."
I moved my eyes to the others, to look at the two I didn't recognise. Maybe I will see some distinguishing features now?
My eyes got stuck for a moment on one of them, whom I recognised as Embry with some difficulty. Before he was tall and thin, now he was taller and robust, though he looked a little less muscular than Jacob and co. He was staring at me in a nearly captivated manner, as if he never saw anything like me before. He was the only one still wearing long hair, although it only reached a little below his ears now. I diverted my eyes a little self-consciously.
I really didn't recognise the remaining two Quileutes, I just hazily remembered seeing them in Charlie's living room, when Sam brough me. Well... Charlie brought me in, but Sam found me. That doesn't matter right now, anyway.
„Uhm... hi," I tried unsurely. „I think I saw you two in Charlie's living room, when... that night, when Ed..." my voice got stuck and I grit my teeth desperately. How am I supposed to get over it, when I can't even say his name out loud? He left me, for him I wasn't good enough. Like a bratty kid who doesn't think something good enough for him, so he just casts it away. Am I supposed to mourn this kind of man – vampire – so much, I can't even say his name? „when Edward left," I finished venomously. Then I blinked. Well, that sounded a little weird, as if I hated those word alone, not what they actually meant.
No one commented on it though, everyone turned to Jacob, who suddenly hissed quietly:
„Are you serious?"
When I looked at him, he was glaring murderously at Embry, who in turn was still watching me with that same... fascinated look as before. I blinked and averted my eyes again, disconcerted. What was happening? Why was he looking at me that way?
„Jacob, Embry?" ask Sam neutrally. One of the unfamiliar two boys suddenly laughed.
„You're not serious," he snickered. „Another one?"
„Jacob? Is something wrong?" I asked.
Jacob laughed without any trace of humour, still trying to burn right through Embry with his very eyes. I thought Embry was his friend. Why was he looking at him like that, then?
„Aah, nothing's wrong, only dear Mr Wolf here just imprinted on you," his voice was practically dripping sarcasm.
„He just what?" I asked at the same time as Sam warningly said: „Jacob!"
Jacob looked outraged when he turn to Sam. "Why are you telling me?"
"You know it can't be helped, and you know Bella doesn't know everything about us."
"Well, she is going to know now, isn't she? She can be told everything in one go just as well," Jacob snapped cynically.
"Another frequency," I concluded, and sat down again. I had no idea what was happening right now, but it was obviously something known only to them. It wasn't so long ago I tended to have the same feeling when talking to the Cullens.
Lips of one of the Quileutes, the only who hasn't said anything yet, twitched and he grinned at me.
"Just explain everything to her, Sam, maybe she'll manage it. It's not as if things should get easier with a wave of a magical wand," the other unfamiliar guy cheerfully said. Sam was quiet for a while, but then he shrugged.
"Just keep your distance from Embry for now, okay? Bella has right to understand. And you, Embry," he waited until Embry turned to look at him, then he continued. "You keep your distance as well. For now."
Jacob growled again, but didn't do anything, just dropped to the ground closer to me in resignation. I looked at him out the corner of my eye.
"You should stop growing like this. No one will believe that you're younger than me. Do I really have to feel like a dwarf?" I complained. Jacob didn't smile, but his face relaxed a bit, and he looked at me.
"I though we already agreed that I'm the older one."
"I was the only one who knew that, though," I objected. "Everyone will know now, and no one will have to tell them anything. That's now fair."
His smile slipped a little. "Lot of things are not fair."
"Bella," said Sam, and I turned my head to him. Everyone was sitting now, and looking at me. Wonderful. "How much do you know about us, exactly?"
"That you transform into wolves, you don't like vampires and you have a treaty with C... Cullens saying they can live here, as far as they don't hunt humans," I summarized.
Sam nodded. "The Cullens can not only hunt humans, they can't even bite them and are prohibited from trespassing on reservation land. We protect our people from their like. There are some other things we have to tell you, do you have some questions before we start?"
I blinked. They had to tell me?
"Umm, why did Jacob change and why now, why do you change and how do you change?"
"Change happens to those who are descended from another werewolf – or shape-shifter we could say, as we transform at will. Jacob's grand-father, Ephram Black, was the alfa of last pack. He was the one to make the treaty with Carlisle, the leader of the Cullens. When vampires appear in the vicinity of the reservation, the whole transformation process starts anew and the descendants begin to change to protect their kin. We cannot say who will change when, there's no system to it. I can't even explain how we change. The first change occurs through strong negative emotions, like anger. Young wolves - the ones who started changing only recently - are quite moody in the beginning, their anger is fast in coming and they can't control themselves very well, yet. It's quite easy for them to lose control, and therefore it is very important for them to avoid confrontations as much as possible. They could transform suddenly, and accidentally hurt people who stood too close to them."
I bobbed my head slowly as I digested the information. "Why did you say there are things you have to tell me? Why do you have to tell me who you are?"
Sam glanced at Embry. He was still staring at me, a little less fascinated, but with a great intensity.
"Are you familiar with the concept of soul mates?" he asked me. I blinked again.
"Do you mean people who belong to each other? Like two halves of the same thing?"
Sam nodded. "It's rare, but if a werewolf sees their second half after they transform for the first time, he recognises them immediately, and gets attached to them. It's as if everything tying you to this world - family, friends, gravity even - suddenly disappeared and all those ties were replaced by one strong one, which ties a werewolf to his mate. It's a very strong tie, and nothing can break it. The imprint - the mate - is all that matters to that werewolf anymore. Nothing is more important. We call it imprinting."
I frowned thoughtfully, biting my lip. "Is it something like love at first sight?"
"Not exactly. If the wolf saw his imprint before he transformed into a wolf of the first time, nothing would happen. The connection only appears once he becomes a werewolf. And it is a lot stronger that what people understand under love at first sight, or love generally, really. It's a lot stronger, and permanent. The werewolf who imprinted will never care about another woman, just his imprint. He will do anything for her, he'll be anything she'll want and need. It could happen that a werewolf would imprint on a child, the age doesn't matter here. If that happened, the wolf would be the best brother and friend the child could wish for. When the child grows up, and if she wants, he will be something more to her. Everything he'll care about is his imprint, and her happiness."
"What if that person dies?" I chanced a hesitant question.
"If she dies, the werewolf loses everything tying him to this world, and to his humanity. He will not care about existing without her. If he's still shifting in the time of his mate's death, he will lose his humanity and will spend the rest of his life wandering the woods like a wild wolf. If he's not shifting anymore he'll die, sooner or later, but he will not take on another woman. Even if he was to live for twenty more years after her death."
"Can you stop being werewolves?" I could just stare at him. I thought supernatural beings couldn't turn themselves on and off.
"Once. It's a conscious decision. The werewolf simply stops shifting. It takes a good self-control and a strong will, but it can be done. After some time, he will start ageing again and will be able to die a natural death. He won't be able to transform again, even if he wanted. Other than that a werewolf is basically immortal. All injuries takes shorter to heal and he's so fast and strong he can kill even a vampire, but he still can die. Just not the natural way, unless he decides so."
"You... you can kill vampires?" I gasped faintly. One of the unfamiliar guys laughed.
"You only need to tear them to pieces and burn them. Not so difficult, don't you think?"
"But..." I stared at him. "But they're like a marble! And poisonous! And strong and fast!"
"We are strong and fast, too. Strong enough to bite their granite bodies apart. Against a strong pack such as ours that one sucker had no chance at all," he smirked with satisfaction. My jaw fell.
"You killed Laurent?"
"The vampire preparing to attack you was called Laurent?" Sam perked up. "Do you know him?"
"He and two other vampires were passing by when the Cul... Cullens played baseball. The used to play during thunderstorms, when they would not be heard. I was with them at the time."
"When was it? Did something happen?" Sam interrogated me quickly.
"It was last spring. One of them, the other man, was a tracker and wanted to eat me. The Cullens protected me and he saw it as an interesting game with a desert at the end," I shivered, and rubbed the wrist he bit subconsciously. "The others tried to lure him away while Al... Alice and Jasper got me far enough. We went to Phoenix, but he found us and nearly killed me by the time others caught up, and killed him."
"You were lucky he didn't bite you," came Sam's frowning remark. "Or we wouldn't be talking right now."
"He did bite me, actually. Ed... Edward sucked the venom out," I said quietly, and showed him my scar. All werewolves gasped as one.
"How could he suck the venom out and not kill you?" the other unfamiliar werewolf exclaimed in shock. I shrugged.
"Save for Jasper, they all had a good control. Jasper had the biggest problem with it, Carlisle told me that his life before he joined them was very... different. Edward lived with Carlisle longer than any of them."
Sam was silent for a bit, deep in thought.
"Jasper is that tall fair-headed one?"
I nodded. I hoped he didn't blame himself for what happened on my birthday. It really wasn't his fault. Who could have expected me cutting myself with paper?
"Do you know, by any chance, why that vampire returned here?" Sam asked after a while. I nodded unhappily.
"He said he was here in favour of Victoria, checking the surrounding for her. Vampires are not happy when someone kills their mate. James was Victoria's mate."
"What are you saying?"
I offered him a confused look. "Well, I guess Victoria isn't exactly happy that E-Edward and other Cullens killed her James. Laurent said she's going after me now. Mate for mate. Except I obviously am not... Edward's... mate," I grumbled quietly. I flinched, when angry cries and snarling erupted around me.
"That vampire wants to kill you?" Jacob yelled furiously, and jumped up. He was shaking slightly. But that was nothing compared to Embry. He was snarling through gritted teeth, and his hands, forced into fists, were trembling so violently I saw them blurred.
"Embry!" Sam's voice cut through the general noise like a whip. "Calm down. I don't think you want to transform right now."
Embry's eyes turned to mine with a dark look that caused me to shiver. I never saw him so furious. Even though I only saw him once, except for today, he looked so shy and calm then that this look was so... foreign for me to see in his face.
"Em... Embry?" I stuttered. It seemed my voice had a magical effect on him. His trembling subsided and the dark look was overpowered by a strange sparkle. The fascinated little flame that was making me so nervous appeared again and the smiled at me. I looked down. I really didn't know why he looked at me like this. What did he see to make him look like that? He didn't seem so taken by me before. But this look was still better then the fury.
Suddenly something occured to me and I tensed. Sam said that that... imprinting or how he called it, only happened once the werewolf started shifting. And Embry... when he saw me before, in Jacob's garage, he wasn't a werewolf yet. I raised my head sharply, and stared at him. Was it possible that... Jacob did say something along the lines of Embry imprinting on me. Oh, hell.
"Ehm, Sam?" I looked at the older Quileute carefully. "When you were talking about the imprinting thing... did something like that happen to Embry say... ten minutes ago?"
Sam nodded silently and stared at me intensely. "That's why we need to explain everything to you. Imprints have the right to know everything."
Jacob growled again and I paled. I really couldn't say I wanted another Edward, or any other boy for that matter. Definitely not one which looked like he will stalk me every day, like Edward did. It didn't say anything about the depth of the feeling in the end.
"But... Edward..." I stammered without real context.
A weird wailing sound came from Embry, and when I looked at him, his face was screwed in pain. My eyes widened and my back straightened in sudden fright, when I realised how that must have sounded.
"No, I don't mean it like that! I don't want Edward!" I assured him quickly, frightened, although somewhere in the deep recess of my soul I wondered that I can suddenly say his name without problem. "I just that... he was crazy for me as well and he left me. In the end I didn't mean much to him. It was not so long ago and I... I just don't want to go through that again," I finished weakly, my eyes fastened on my nervous hands. I didn't want to look at any of the boys who heard what I just said.
"Bella," Sam said in the end. "Embry imprinting on you doesn't mean you have to be with him. And he will not force you into anything. You are the centre of his universe now, everything that matters. He doesn't want you to be nervous or afraid about what is expected of you. If you are not ready to be his girlfriend, then he will be your friend or anything you need, really. If you are not ready for another relationship, or don't want one with him, then you will not be with him. You don't have to fear anything from him. He will just protect you and he'll feel a certain pull to you, but he won't bother you. Nothing changed, you just have someone now who will like you regardless of what you say or do."
I gave a weak nod and glanced at Embry. He wasn't staring so much anymore, but his look was still a little more intense than necessary. But that didn't bother me so much. I offered him a small smile.
"Okay then," I said slowly, trying to decide if it really was okay. I looked at Sam. "Well, is there anything else you want to know? I should go home, I told Charlie I'll do some laundry today or will go to Jessica for some math work, but he's probably home already, and I guess he already called Jessica, so..." I made a face. Charlie will definitely be happy, not knowing where I might be. And when he finds out I was in the woods when he expressly told me not to go there alone... hell, I completely forgot about that. That won't be good at all.
"When we separate, I'll run home and call him that you were at our place, and are on your way home. I'll just say you lost track of time, that you wanted to call him but forgot," offered Jacob.
"Thanks, Jake, but you won't make it."
One of the unfamiliar guys, the more talkative one, laughed again. "You spent a lot of time with vampires and you know we killed that Laurent. Jacob will make it. He'll probably make it home faster than you'll make it to your car."
"Oh," it still didn't want to stick with me that Jacob was now vampire-fast. "Fine then, that would be perfect. Thanks, Jacob. Erm, sorry, what's your name?" I looked at the unfamiliar one who talked.
"And your?" I looked at the other one.
"I am Jared Keyanas."
"I'm Bella Swan."
"Are you free tomorrow after school?" asked Sam.
"Then come to Jacob's place, we can take care of the rest of it then. Just tell me how that Victoria looks like."
Embry growled again, when I answered. "She has red curly hair reaching her shoulder blades, red eyes like all vampires who are not vegetarian, and... well... she is vampire perfect. She's about 175 cm tall, that's probably all I can recall," I frowned, trying to remember more.
"That's enough. There won't be a lot of red haired vampires running about. If she appears we will know," Sam stood. "So see you tomorrow, Bella. Do you need a company on your way to the car? Won't you get lost?"
"I've got a compass, I shouldn't," I wasn't so sure though.
"Where's your car?"
"Down, under the hill, to... north-west is a blind road coming off the main road. I left the car almost at the end."
"One of us can go with you to make sure you get there safely. Jacob will run home in the mean time and call your father."
"You... probably won't get lost?"
Paul rolled his eyes.
"Have you seen a wolf which gets lost in the woods?" Jared asked me with amusement. I shrugged, embarrassed.
"I haven't seen a wolf before seeing you. And you are not real wolves, anyway."
"Will it bother you if Embry goes with you?"
Jacob scowled, but remained silent. Embry perked up and smiled. He looked so excited at the prospect I couldn't say no.
"No, but... Embry, would it bother you to go as wolf? I just that I have to get used to this," I waved a hand between us. "And until then I'll probably be a little nervous around you. If... it doesn't bother you..." I trailed of nervously. The last thing I wanted was to hurt him when he looked so happy. Embry just smiled again.
"No problem," he said and stood up. He walked into the tree line. The others stood up as well.
"Where did he go?" I asked, when I finished getting the dirt off my clothes.
"If he shifted with clothes on, the clothing would tear. That's why we only wear pants in the forest. We tie it around our ankles before we transform. Their width stays about the same after the change."
I blinked, and blushed a bit. Strange, I didn't notice the pants tied around their ankles before. But I was probably too shocked and frightened to care about the legs of gigantic wolves. Their teeth were more than enough for me.
"I see," I mumbled.
The grey wolf emerged from the forest and approached us slowly. I couldn't help but look at him nervously.
"Well... I know you are Embry, but this is really strange," I said uneasily.
The wolf suddenly looked very unhappy, almost as much as when he thought I wanted Edward.
"Hey!" I protested immediately. I felt very uncomfortable when he looked like that. Especially when I was in the company of his other wolf-colleagues. "I don't mean anything by that. But it is a little strange, walking through the forest with a wolf the horse size, isn't it? I just have to get used to it, don't worry, it will be easier than getting used to... that other thing," I finished lamely.
The wolf stopped looking unhappy and nodded enthusiastically.
"Okay, so... I'm running, Bella. Will you be fine?" Jacob asked unwillingly, suspicious eyes trained on Embry.
"Sure, fine. Don't forget to call Charlie, okay? Will you really make it on time?"
"No problem," smirked Jacob. "I'll just tell him you lost track of time, and forgot to call. Make up the rest if he asks."
"Okay. So I'll see you after school tomorrow," I smiled at him a waved.
"Yes, tomorrow. See you, Bella, return safe," Sam said, and moved toward the tree line. The others murmured their goodbyes or waved at me and disappeared between the trees. In a matter of minutes I was left at the meadow with Embry, and I couldn't hear the others at all anymore.
I looked at him.
"So what now? Are we going?" I tried smiling at him. He waved his tail and walked to the tree line, more or less the direction I came from. I followed.
AN: So, this is it for now. Just an idea of how things could happen. I haven't decided yet if I'll continue and finish the actual Embry/Bella ship.