*Submission for the Fandom For Leukemia Compilation


Embry

I finished stocking the shelves of the La Push grocery store. If you could even call it that. It was more like a very mini-market. But it was a job and the cash helped. I waited desperately for the day when I had enough money to travel anywhere but Washington State. The reservation would always mean something to me, but it was stifling. Everyone was always in your business. My mother was one of the worst, though to some extent I understood why. She still didn't know of my being a wolf and part of the pack. Every morning after I had to patrol, I'd have to sit and listen to her scream at me.

I'd been grounded more times than I could count.

"Shift's up, kid," I heard my boss call from the front of the store. "You can get out of here now."

Leon was a bit of a hard ass, but he wasn't a bad guy. I finished stacking the rest of the boxes that still needed to be unpacked. I hung up the apron I had to wear and headed toward the front door. "There's still a couple boxes to be unloaded," I told him on my way out.

He waved me off. "Yeah, okay. See you tomorrow."

I walked back down the path that bordered the forest toward my house. The rain was getting heavier, so I started jogging. When my home came into view, I heaved a sigh. Relief? Regret? Who knew? It was a small brick house, simple and plain with white shutters. The inside was in need of serious repairs; dingy and worn were the words for pretty much everything inside. I tried to help my mom out by doing the repairs that I could, but I was limited in what I actually could do.

She was still at work, so I dug out a couple chicken cordon bleu and stuck them in the oven to bake. While she was gone, I managed to gather a load of laundry and get it in the washer, clean up the dishes from that morning, and get the table set for her. I finished my own dinner just as she came in the door.

Her eyes were bloodshot, she was obviously tired, but she gave me a wan smile. "Thanks, Embry."

Doing these little things always made me wish it made up for disappearing overnight and not wanting to burden her with my secret. Yet I always disappointed her in the end because I didn't want her to know.

On patrol that night, I was pacing around a bush, wondering if I smelled a vampire. My sense of smell was so strong, but for some reason I felt off that night. A soft lilac scent kept pervading my senses, distracting and tantalizing me. No flower had ever tempted me before like this, so I was confused. What did I smell and why was it turning my senses upside down?

I paced and pawed at the ground and ignored Jared's continued what the fuck, man in my head. I didn't know what the fuck. Tossing my head, I strode away from the bush and tried to evade that scent. This hadn't happened before. Suddenly, I saw a gray blur shoot from my left and dart into my line of vision. It was Leah, and a warm feeling uncurled in my stomach. I felt settled, at peace, and the scent was more natural.

Her head jerked to the side, her narrowed black eyes trained on me. We stared at each other, not understanding for a moment, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I imprinted on her. On Leah Clearwater.

Fast as lightning, I phased back to my human form, hoping she would do the same. This did not need to be spread to Jared or anyone else who might be phasing for the next shift just yet. She did the same and we yanked our clothes on. Leah stared at me, forehead knit in confusion.

"Embry?" she questioned, her eyes hard. They softened when she looked into mine.

"Shit," I breathed. Every fiber of my being was content, warm, and… happy. "How? And why now? I've seen you a million times before."

She moved closer to me, bodies like magnets, and we were drawn to each other without even realizing it fully. Leah, the woman who was always such a ball-busting, hard-ass, pain in the ass, reached her hand out and laid it flat on my chest. The warmth intensified and before we could stop ourselves, our lips touched.

A fire had ignited my mind, my heart, my limbs, and my groin. I wanted her more than life itself as our tongues touched and fought to gain the upper hand. The kiss blew my mind; all heat, explosions, fire, and heaven rolled into one. She bit my lower lip, pulling on it, before releasing it and moving back.

The death grip she had on my arms matched the grip I had on her ass.

"What the ever-loving fuck is going on?" she gasped.

"Let's go, uh, home," I stammered, "and try to think this through. Imprinting never made any fucking sense, Leah, why should it now? Maybe there was some kind of trigger that made us imprint. I never smelled lilacs like this before tonight. That could have something to do with it."

She frowned, pacing from tree to tree, and said, "I smelled vanilla spice and cinnamon tonight right before we came into contact. I think you're right; we should probably see what we can find out first."

I didn't want to leave her, and I could see the struggle on her face. Her blunt hair swung out as she spun around to head home. God, she was incredibly beautiful. I'd never really noticed before.

It was late, and I stared at the darkened windows of my house, though a small light glowed in my mother's room.

Gritting my teeth, I pushed the door open carefully and tried to get to my room as fast and quietly as possible. My mom pushed the door open and stared at me. "Where were you?" she asked. I could see the flash of frustration on her face. God knew what she thought I actually did.

"I… was out with friends," I said hesitantly.

"Embry Call, it's nearly two o' clock in the morning! There is no reason a sixteen year old boy should be out that late. I appreciate the help around the house, but this doesn't excuse you from gallivanting around at all hours!"

"Mom," I started to say, wearily, but she cut me off.

"Don't give me that woe-is-me look. Those other boys are not a good influence on you. You're grounded for the weekend, you understand me?" Her voice was screechy in her frustration.

It was nothing new, so I merely nodded and shut myself in my room. Flipping idly through a magazine, restless and impatient, I waited until I heard the even breathing that indicated my mom was asleep. I slid the window up and eased outside. It was nearly time for Quil and Jake to go on the last patrol, so I waited impatiently until they showed up.

"Dude, what's up with you?" Jake asked immediately. He was eyeing me closely. Jake had that uncanny ability of knowing something was going on even if we tried to hide it. I always figured it had to do with the fact that he was the true Alpha.

"I…" my voice faltered, but the happiness warming me from the inside calmed me down. "I imprinted on Leah."

They both stared at me, jaws slack, and none of us spoke a word for a few moments. Finally, Quil coughed out a surprised laugh. "Wow, Leah? I mean, you guys have seen each other a bunch of times, so how?"

I shrugged as I fell in step with them. "I don't know," I admitted. "Both of our senses of smell were kind of off-kilter. I smelled lilacs and she smelled vanilla spice and cinnamon and then we both felt it; that shift. I'm kind of freaked out about it, especially telling Sam, but I can't help wanting to be with her and feeling happy about it."

Jake looked concerned, and I felt a little guilty. He'd loved Bella for so long and while he absolutely hated imprinting, he couldn't seem to help wanting that connection to her. We'd finally chased off the Cullens, but she was still trying to adjust to the loss.

"Look, we need to patrol," he finally said. "But don't worry; we'll be with you when Sam finds out."

Quil smacked my back. "Yeah, we got your back, buddy."

It was an unspoken truth that I was more uncomfortable around Sam now because of the situation with us quite possibly being related. The thought made me twitchy, knowing my mother could have been impregnated with me by Sam's deadbeat father. One of these days, I figured I might work up the courage to ask her, but she was adamant about not talking about my supposed dad. Or maybe I could do some digging and find out that way.

The next couple of days I spent with Leah in secret, avoiding Sam, and trying to gather more information about imprinting. There really wasn't much of anything, though when I spoke with Billy and Old Quil in private about it, they both said that the mechanics of imprinting could change over the course of time and packs. There was no reason it had to be upon first sight anymore because times changed.

So, while Leah always drove me nuts before with torturous thoughts about my parentage in front of everyone, I could now barely keep my hands off of her. We were sprawled on the cliff rocks, overlooking a gray, choppy ocean and all I could do was obsess over how soft her skin was. I slid my finger down her sweat-dampened chest and solid abs. I never thought solid abs on a woman would be so hot, but it totally was.

Fascinated by how the muscles quivered when I did that, I licked a droplet of sweat off of her. She patted my bare ass and said, "For a first-timer, you did well, Embry." Just her hand on my ass had my dick shooting straight back up again. She gave a muffled snort. I eyeballed her, pretending to be annoyed.

"What? I have fantastic recuperative powers. You should know that."

She grinned. "Well then, big boy, let's have another go."

When her slim – but scary strong – thighs tightened around my hips and she hovered over me, I figured I really had gone to Heaven. Her perfect breasts swayed above me, and I thought I might explode with sexual need. She apparently liked to tease, too, because when her hands – and then her mouth – brushed over me, I nearly rolled and fell off the cliffs.

She snickered and proceeded to drive me insane with her absurdly clever tongue…and then impale herself on me. I just held onto her hips and drove myself forward, trying to hold on and keep up. Afterward, we lay in a sweaty tangle, much like the first time. "Even better," she purred, patting my head.

I nipped her shoulder. "What am I, your puppy?"

She proceeded to woof into my shoulder, making us both laugh.

That evening, I knew I had to tell Sam. If he didn't already hear something, he'd probably smell our scents lingering on each other and we all had to meet tonight, so it was unavoidable.

"Dude, you had sex! I can't believe it!" Quil exclaimed yet again. I knew I'd never be able to hide it from him and Jake.

"Dude, give it a rest," I said, but I couldn't help laughing. "It's not like I was doomed to never have sex. That'd probably be you. You'll be the last one."

Jake was laughing as Quil catapulted himself at me.

"Come on, Quil," Jake said as we wrestled. "You know a chick would put out for Embry before you."

We ended up in a three-way wrestling match.

Trying to smooth my hair as we reached the meeting spot, clearing my throat, I felt the weight of what I was about to do. I caught Leah's eye as I joined the group. Quil and Jake were right behind me.

"We're right here, man," Quil murmured from behind me. He kicked the back of my knee, though, making me stumble slightly. Figures he couldn't let my beating his ass go. I turned around and landed a punch to his shoulder.

It didn't take long as soon as we joined the rest of the pack.

Sam stared at me, his eyes narrowed, and I could see him thinking pretty hard about something. I met Jake's eyes and he gave me a look that said careful where you tread. "Embry," Sam said his gaze speculative. "I can sense something different about you. What's going on?"

I swallowed hard, glancing over at Leah. She had steadily been moving closer to me, and I realized with some surprise I had been doing the same to her. It was like a light switch flicked on in Sam's head as soon as it happened.

"You…imprinted? On Leah?"

I felt my stomach clench as I saw the mix of emotions on his face. First it was shock, then denial, and then finally anger which he tried to hide. He knew he had no right to be angry. It wasn't something either of us could help, plus he had Emily. It didn't stop the barest hint of a snarl, the curling of his lip to flash razor sharp teeth at me.

"We imprinted on each other," Leah stated coolly.

Everyone was staring at us in shock. "But…how?" Jared asked. "I mean, you've seen each other numerous times…"

"The best we can figure, going by what Old Quil and Billy had to say, was that as time goes the facts that we know about imprinting can change as new packs are formed each generation. Leah and I must have had some kind of connection, but the time only came recently for us to give it a try."

Sam wasn't pissed really, but he was a little perturbed by the idea. Leah snapped, "We're telling you as a courtesy, Samuel. You have no reason to be pissy about it. You're happy, I'm happy, so let it go."

I knew it would take a bit for him to adjust, but Leah's words still had an affect on him. She didn't pull punches and he would never go against her after what he did. Plus, it didn't hurt having the true Alpha in your corner, I figured, as Jake moved up next to me. It was disturbing as a friend of his, but I could feel dominance oozing from him.

Leah smiled slightly, and I reached out to squeeze her hand, knowing we'd get through this together no matter what happened.


Quil

It totally sucked that Embry had sex before me. Hell, I was the ladies' man. They all knew it. It wouldn't take long for these girls to realize my full potential of making them happy. As in, introducing them to big Quil.

It seemed like Jake and Bella could move in that direction, too, and I had no prospects on the horizon. Now was the time for me to go out and strut my stuff. It was only a matter of time.

"Quil?"

Guilty, I glanced up, my hand already inching down my pants at the thought of having sex. Nothing like having the mood ruined by your mother calling for you. I sighed. "Yeah, Mom?"

"Embry and Jake are here."

I hurried outside, eager to get out of the house, and maybe find some kind of action. Maybe some hip-thrusting action after I ditched these two losers. Jake gave me a smack on the shoulder that would've felled any normal man…probably even a tree as well. But not me. I was a solid powerhouse of a wolf.

"We're having a bonfire tonight," he told me as we fell in step and headed into the woods toward the cliffs. I'd almost forgotten we planned to jump off them today. I plowed through the brush behind Jake as I thought about tonight. Prospect of meeting some chicks? Hell yeah!

"Sounds good," I said. "A big one, I hope, one where the Makahs come as well…with some chicks."

Embry snorted. "Yeah, good luck with that man."

I chased him the rest of the way.

We reached the top of the cliffs, and I arrowed my body into a diver's pose. Jake snickered. "You joining the Olympics, Ateara?" With that, he gave me a shove, completely messing up my dive.

I landed in the water with a crash, popping up further away to see Embry and Jake falling. It was like they'd dropped from the sky and their combined weight sent a massive wave washing over me. I flipped over, floating, and waited till they reached me. Just as they did, I sent a massive wave of my own by slinging my arm through the water.

Satisfied that I gave them both a muggy, I paddled away before they could attempt to drown me.

"Loser," Embry gasped, done choking, when he reached the beach. I laughed, gleeful, and was pelted with pebbly sand by Jake.

After a number of jumps, we dragged our waterlogged asses to Jake's house to stuff our faces. About four ham and cheese sandwiches later, a bag of chips, a gallon of coke, and we were glued to the television. I battled Embry for dominance in Jake's war video game. "Yes!" I crowed as I managed to aim and shoot Embry's crotch with my AK-47 before he got me.

I gloated, giving him a shove. "Dude, I schooled you! I kicked your sorry ass, and I blew off your junk."

"Yeah? Well, I can kick your ass in real life!" And the next thing I knew, he had me pinned.

Suddenly, Jake kicked us both. "Hey Bells," he said meaningfully, pretending he hadn't just been playing a video game with us.

Reluctantly, I pulled myself off of Embry to see Bella standing there. She looked a little confused, her eyebrow cocked at us both. I grinned at her, leaping to my feet. "Hey Bella, how's it going?"

She cleared her throat and said, "Uh good."

I watched as Jake gave her a squeeze, his eyes going all dippy and soft. He was so pussy-whipped. We made our way to the bonfire, and I watched Embry break away immediately to go to Leah. I grimaced as he took her face in his hands and kissed her. It was more like he was eating her face or trying to tongue plunge her throat. Gag me.

Sam was eyeing both of them, though he kept his distance. Our big, bad Alpha was a little more than bothered about this. Emily caught his attention, though, and I could see him relax. I wandered over to the table with all the food, checking out some of girls that had come for the party. There was Bri, with her long, brown braid, dressed in a little white skirt. She was hot, but our fling had never quite worked the way I wanted it to.

She was into Paul, which pissed me off. He was currently pretending not to see her, though I knew that ass wipe was well aware. Then I saw Mary, black hair loose and down to the middle of her back, and wearing jeans and a top that showed off her boobs. I'd meant to look her up, but she'd been dating that asshole I'd ended up getting into a fight with not long ago. It had completely ruined my chances of going to the movies with Bella and some of her hot senior friends.

Mary was alone, though, so I licked mustard off my lips after inhaling my hot dog and prepared to go over there.

"Hi Quil," I heard a friendly female voice say over my shoulder. I turned and saw Sue Clearwater, reaching out for a plate.

I started to say hi in return, but in the blink of an eye, my stomach twisted itself into knots and I felt more at peace than I ever had. Sue was looking at me the same way and horror waged with happiness inside of me. We stared at each other in shock, reaching the same thought at the same time, and I began to back away. Oh holy fuck, this wasn't happening.

"Quil?" Sue looked just as horrified, but I couldn't even bring myself to open my mouth and say anything.

My mind waged its own war with what I wanted to do – walk over there and be as close as possible with my imprint – and the fact that this was Sue Clearwater. The woman who took care of everyone on the reservation, who was friends with Billy Black, and oh shit, was the mother of Leah and Seth, and the girlfriend of Chief Swan. They were all going to kill me.

"I… I can't," I stammered slightly even as I was reaching out toward her. I'd always liked older women, but Sue? As much as I felt the pull, I had to get out of here. "I'm sorry," I whispered before I took off.

I heard Jake yell something as I flew by him, but I didn't stop. I had to get away, to think, and I couldn't do that anywhere near anyone else. The woods were quiet as I phased, the only sound the rustling of leaves and my paws pounding the earth. Over time, we'd all learned to be careful what we thought, so I kept my mind a blank and thought only of the forest sounds around me until I got far enough away to phase back where no one could hear me.

I didn't know where the hell I was, but I finally stopped and collapsed against a tree. Resting my face in my hands, I couldn't help the wild laugh that escaped me. I'd found someone that could make me happy, did make me happy, but it was wrong in every possible way. It was weird that Embry had imprinted on Leah, but Christ, I imprinted on Sue? How the fuck was I ever going to tell anyone about this?

I sat there, mulling it over, until I exhausted myself and fell asleep against the tree.

When I woke, it was morning, and I stood and stretched to get the kinks out of my back. Rubbing my hands over my face, I remembered, and felt a smile blooming on my face. And then I remembered more and struggled with what I was feeling. It was exhausting. I headed home, aiming straight for my room, but my mom was waiting for me.

"Where were you?" she demanded. She knew I was wolf, but she also knew I wasn't supposed to patrol last night.

My mouth watered at the scent of frying bacon and eggs. "I had to fill in for someone last night. It was sort of last-minute, and I didn't have time to stop home first to tell you. Sorry."

She eyed me suspiciously, but let it go like always. It was too much of an effort. "Okay. I have to go to work, but I made you breakfast. Billy wants to talk to you afterward; he called just before you came back."

My heart gave a sickening thump, but I just nodded. After she left, I inhaled my food. After a shower and change of shorts, I ventured outside. I didn't want to face Billy Black right now, and I could only hope Sue had told only him so far. It would be so much worse if she told Chief Swan, who would probably come after me with his gun and shoot me.

Jake called out to me as I started down the path. Wincing, I turned to find him and Embry coming up the path behind me. "Dude, where'd you blaze off to last night?" Jake asked with a laugh. Jake was family, though, and he knew me better than most people. There was concern in his eyes, but I just grinned.

"Sorry, man. I'd met someone, so I took off and we had a little rendezvous later in the woods."

Embry's eyebrows shot up. "You got some action? Wow. The world must be ending."

Jake snorted as I half-heartedly threw a punch. Embry blocked it, laughing. "So. Who's the oh-so-lucky girl?"

Girl? I wished…yet I didn't. My heart nearly quivered in my chest with excitement at seeing Sue Clearwater. Smiling wanly, I just said, "You wouldn't know her. She's older than us."

That was an understatement.

Laughing, they both hounded me before I managed to shake them off. When they finally let up, heading off to work – I promised Jake I'd meet him a little later in his garage to do my share of car repair - I continued on to Jake's house in a hurry before he saw me. Billy was inside, staring down at the wood carving in his hand. I cleared my throat awkwardly, and he glanced up.

"Quil," was all he said, and he motioned me to sit down.

I sat, but in true Billy Black fashion, he didn't say anything right away. So, I sat across from him and watched him carve out a small pattern in the figure he was making. Finally, he said, "I thought you might feel more comfortable meeting with me instead of your grandfather. I know this is delicate."

I stared down at my hands, frowning. "Why?" I asked the only thing that popped into my head.

He sighed. "I don't know. This is unusual. Imprinting on children or adults is very rare. With children, it isn't as big a deal as it sounds because you're just there for them as they grow older. With an older man or woman, there's no stopping what could naturally happen."

It was a confusing idea. I only saw Sue for a couple minutes before I took off. Did I want our relationship to be like Embry and Leah's? Or Jared and Kim, Sam and Emily? It definitely wasn't as creepy a thought as it would've been before this happened. I met Billy's eyes, and I felt all kinds of confusing emotions which I generally sucked at and avoided. I was a man after all; why did I need to feel guilt, sadness, and want to avoid sex?

"I'm not sure how I feel other than… you know, happy when I think about her," I said, my stomach pitching yet again.

His eyes softened. "Quil, you need to talk to Sue. I just wanted you to know that I'm behind you. Sue hasn't mentioned this to anyone but me, and I'm under the impression you haven't said anything either."

Miserable, I shook my head. I'd confided in Jake and Embry my whole life, fought like hell with them, and had my first porn experience and beer with them. But now it felt like everything was being royally fucked up and I didn't know what to do.

Sue was waiting for me outside when I left Billy's. I was grateful at least for his support when she turned to face me. The look in her eyes had my step quickening and oddly enough, I felt like crying. It wasn't like me at all. But once I reached her, she threw her arms around me and everything felt right.

Her forehead pressed to my shoulder, and I closed my eyes. Breathing in her scent was incredible. She smelled like fresh air and laundry. She leaned back, her eyes warm and haunted. "I don't understand how this happened," she said. "What on earth are we going to do?"

I had no idea. My throat felt tight, and I was afraid I'd do something stupid like cry. When I had better control, I muttered, "I don't know. I'm happy, but…"

She nodded, leading me toward her house. Fearful, I glanced around, but Leah, Seth, and Charlie were nowhere to be soon. So, I followed her inside where she pulled out some leftover fried chicken for me. Sue had always been an incredible cook.

"How did this happen?" she asked again. "I mean, I've always thought of you as another son. This isn't fair to you. I'm older and a woman's body, well, changes and I don't think you need to deal with that."

Now I was thinking about saggy boobs like I'd heard my grandmother complain about before. And how she peed a little when she sneezed. I stared at Sue's boobs and then flushed feeling like a moron. She saw it, and I could see the faint but amused expression on her face. She did have nice, boobs, though.

Smile fading, Sue said, "Plus, I have Leah and Seth to think about, and oh God, Charlie." I could see how much this was hurting her even as she reached for my hand for comfort.

I swallowed with difficulty and said, "I don't know how to tell anyone, but someone's going to see the difference in me."

She stared at the table and I struggled to find the words. "Embry… Embry said Billy told him that imprints through each differing pack can change with circumstances. This doesn't have to be a disaster, I don't think. I mean, we can be friends or something instead, right?"

She looked up at me, confused, and I could see the very fine lines at the corner of her eyes and occasional streak of gray hair. Strangely enough, I liked it. "Maybe we should test it," she whispered.

The thought excited me – hell, I was a teenage guy after all – but it also scared the ever-loving shit out of me. We moved toward each other and when our lips met, I felt a little dazed. Her mouth was warm, curious, and it felt really good. Shakily, I encircled her with my arms and we kissed again, a little harder and deeper. And her boobs felt normal, though I was trying to ignore that. Struggling a bit, I tried breathe past the lump in my throat.

Sue's brow was furrowed when she pulled away.

"It felt, well, great. I mean, it was right, but there was a feeling there like it could be something else?" I said, not sure how to phrase it.

She understood what I meant, which was a nice change. Being misunderstood sucked, but being my imprint she knew. "This is going to take a little time to figure out. I know what you mean, but maybe we should think on this."

I left in a daze. My hands were jittery, my mind a blur, and I just walked through the woods for awhile until I reached Bella's house, surprised yet not this was where I ended up. I knew Jake would be here. Inside I could hear the buzz of their voices and I waited, staring, until Jake finally came out. He sensed me right away and came back towards the forest. "Quil?" he said, his eyebrows scrunching together.

I stared at him, his concern, and I turned around and slammed my fist into the nearest tree. It shuddered under the impact and then I just sat on the ground and the tears finally fell.


Jake

Holy shit! I couldn't believe it. I'd just imprinted on Bella! We sat in her room, and she looked up from the college application she was filling out and it slammed into me with the force of a Mack truck. Her bow of a mouth – top lip heavier than the bottom – curved into a shocked smile.

"Bells?" I whispered, afraid of breaking the spell.

"Jake?" she whispered back.

I did what I had wanted to do since I laid eyes on her when she moved back to Forks to live with Charlie. I kissed her immediately just in case this was a fluke. The heat in my limbs, the utter joy I felt wasn't false, though. I held her head between my hands and kissed her, over and over, parting those perfect lips with mine.

Her mouth drove me insane. When I finally pulled away from tongues, teeth, and her quick bursts of eager breathing, we just stared at each other. I'd always hated imprinting. Even in some ways, I still did. I didn't like choices being taken from people, so I was a little afraid because I wasn't sure how Bella felt about me. She loved me as a friend, but she was still grieving Edward and the Cullens leaving. This was taking away her ability to fall in love with me naturally, which was what I truly wanted.

She looked at me, shell-shocked. "Jake, you imprinted on me?"

I nodded, dropping unceremoniously back onto the bed as my knees felt strangely weak, watching her expression carefully. "I did. Are you okay?"

She reached toward me from her desk chair, and I stretched out to reach her and we laced fingers. Just that simple contact was enough to have every muscle in my body relax, to make me smile. Her pretty brown eyes focused on mine, and she smiled back. She looked every bit as happy, which was exactly what I always wanted. But I couldn't help that niggling doubt and worry.

"I'm okay," she said, and reading my mind added, "Jake, I know you never liked imprinting. I know you love me and was waiting for me to move on fully. I know it wasn't easy for you."

I simply nodded. It was well-known fact by now.

She bit her lip, squeezing my hand. "I wonder if the imprint happened because of the shift in my feelings."

My eyes widened in surprise, but I kept quiet as she thought about it. "You know I always loved you, but I've just begun to realize the past couple days that anything leftover I felt toward Edward has melted away. And I've been thinking about you more often, realizing that I've been in love with you and just wasn't aware of it."

My grin grew wider, and she laughed. "You mean that?" I asked. "If that's the case, then I feel better about imprinting on you. I don't like choices being taken away from people, the fact that imprinting can ruin lives. I wanted you to fall in love with me naturally."

She moved next to me on the bed and whispered, "I do love you, which is why I think we imprinted on each other. We were pretty much meant to be right from the beginning. You're my best friend and we have a steady foundation for us already, so this was pretty natural."

Relieved, I wrapped my arms around her and kissed her until we were both breathless. She laughed when I tried to tug her down on top of me. "Whoa, cowboy. Let's slow it down a bit. I have to go to work now anyway."

I pouted, making her snicker, but left her house happy as she headed to work. The scent hit me, though, and I turned toward the forest in the back of the house. I could sense someone there.

"Quil?" I called out quietly to him, worried when he just stood there, not moving. That in and of itself was unlike Quil. He always had a ton of nervous energy.

When I reached him, he turned, slammed his fist into a tree, and collapsed. I raced over to him, not knowing what the hell to do. When he glanced up at me, he was trying to fight back the tears, but not fully succeeding. Quil had never cried, especially not in front of me, and I stood there, helpless.

"Quil, what happened?" I finally found my voice. I knelt down, unsure, and reached out a hand to him. He shrugged it off, trying to hide the breakdown, but there was no use. He looked furious, upset, and sort of happy?

He dropped his face in his hands. "Oh shit," he groaned his voice cracking. "I don't know what to do, Jake."

Freaked out, I yanked his hands away from his face. He glared at me out of red, teary eyes. "I imprinted!" he yelled, the news bursting out of him furiously.

"Oh," I said, relieved that's all it was. "Quil, that's not so bad. I just…"

"You don't understand," he spat out. "I imprinted on Sue Clearwater."

Complete shock had me falling back flat on my ass. What?!

"Jake, help me," he pleaded. "I'm so fucking happy, but I'm so fucking freaked out. This is going to ruin everything!"

Embry and Leah. Leah's mom. Bella's dad was dating Sue. Holy shit, this was a disaster. I could see, feel, Quil's internal struggle. For a guy I knew my whole life that never showed anything close to an emotion other than happy, I was at a loss for words. "Okay," I said taking a deep breath. "Okay, we'll figure this out. Does anyone else know?"

"Your dad," he said despairingly. "He told me he'd support me, he wasn't sure this had to be anything scandalous, but I didn't know who else to go to. Sue is going to have to tell Seth and Leah. Charlie, too, and he's going to kill me."

"Go home," I advised. "Quil, go home and pull yourself together. My dad's right. We don't know what this is yet, but we'll figure it out. I'll help you tell everybody else when the time is right."

He stood up, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. He finally really looked at me and said, "You imprinted, too. I can tell."

There was no denying it, just as there was no denying my imprint was easy. I nodded, and he gave me a weak smile. "I'm glad for you." His own happiness warred with misery, and I clasped his shoulder wishing I could make it easier. It was just like I worried about. Imprinting could royally fuck up someone's life.

Later that evening, after talking to my dad about it, I headed toward Quil's house.

"This won't be easy, Jake. Be the Alpha you were meant to be and help guide Quil through this. He's going to need his leader, his friend behind him," my dad called after me.

With that heavy weight on my shoulders, I wished Bella was done working. I needed to see her, to talk to her. It was ripping me up inside because I knew she was going to be just as upset. Her dad was finally happy and at peace. And we now had to explain everything to him. Quil was in the kitchen, pacing, and I was glad Joy wasn't home. Joy's name was pretty much a lie. She put a roof over Quil's head, knew his secret and dealt with it, but she never connected with Quil. It was just as hard on him when my mom died because she had been the one he'd go to first.

He scrubbed his face over his hands. "You know I was thrilled to be a wolf. I'm a damn good one, too, and I love hunting vampires. And this is my reward; something so awesome and horrible at once."

I sighed, leaning against the table. "Being a wolf may be fun at times, but it's not easy either. There are consequences just as much as there are good things about it. Come on, let's go find the guys. We might as well get this over with."

We trudged through the brush toward First Beach, but just before we reached the sand I heard a commotion behind us. I turned to find Leah take a flying leap in her wolf form and slam into Quil. She was human a split second later, her face twisted into the nastiest snarl I'd ever seen on her.

"You sick, fucking prick," she snarled. "Only the most foul of us would imprint on a woman twice their goddamn age, who was happy and with someone, and is my mother!" She was raging, her fist drawing back to strike him.

I grabbed her around the waist, easily hauled her off, and threw her back a few feet. "Leah, back off!"

"Don't you dare lay a hand on my imprint!" Embry was struggling to remain calm while glaring at me.

He lost it for a second when faced with Quil. He punched him, while Quil, shell-shocked, didn't even try to block it.

"Stop it!" I roared, pushing every ounce of Alpha willpower into my voice. Embry and Leah crouched, furious at having to bend to my will. Embry's hand was on Leah's neck, in a calming gesture, though, so I knew he was settling down.

The whole pack was there, stupefied, staring.

"This undersexed asshole imprinted on my mother!" Leah yelled. Seth moved behind his sister, his control better handled, but he was standing with his sister. The pack was going to fall apart if something wasn't done; everyone began yelling and talking at once.

"That's enough," both Sam and I stated and everyone fell silent.

"Leah, Seth, Embry, you all know Quil had no choice in the matter. This is how you treat your friend? Your brother?"

I saw Embry's jaw quiver. He'd been Quil's friend for a long time.

"This doesn't have to be a disaster," I said quietly. "Quil is just as upset as you all are. He didn't ask for this, and he came to me for help. Cut him some slack, will you?"

Quil was quiet, his eyes on the ground. He finally looked up, struggling for composure. "Leah, Seth, I'm sorry. I never wanted this, but it happened. I talked to Billy, about the circumstances of Leah and Embry imprinting on each other and how it didn't happen like we expected. He said it could very easily be something other than romantic. For me and Sue."

Seth was struggling with his own emotions. "Do you know if it is? Have you done anything with my mother?"

He looked sick, and Leah looked even more furious.

"We, uh, kissed," Quil admitted. His eyes warmed at the thought of Sue. "That's it. It was to see what we felt, that's all."

"Sick," Paul groused.

Sam shot him a look of death, silencing him.

"I don't want this to come between us," he added. "You're all my family. I just want Sue to be happy."

I heard a soft crunch behind me, and Bella was standing there. Her eyes, so confused, met mine. She moved closer to me and finally said sadly, "Quil imprinted on Sue? How could this happen? My dad's finally happy."

Her voice shook. "Why the hell would this happen?" Tears clogged her throat as she stared at Quil, hurting for her father.

She struggled at first when I wrapped my arms around her, but our connection to each other had her relaxing against me after a moment. I smoothed her hair. "We'll figure this out, honey. We're going to need to talk to your dad."

"You imprinted on Bella," Embry said dully. The fight seemed to have gone out of everyone.

I nodded, but none of us said a word.

"I think we're done here," Leah said coldly and turned away.

Everyone left quickly, leaving only me, Quil, and Bella. She was sniffling quietly, but trying to hide it. Quil took a step toward us, and Bella pulled herself together. "Quil, I know enough to be aware you didn't have a choice. It's really upsetting, but if Jake's behind you, I'll try."

He pulled Bella into a hard hug and then squeezed my shoulder. "Thank you both. I need to be alone right now, but I'll talk to you soon."

After he left, we made our way back to my house. Dad was out, probably fishing with Charlie, so we closed ourselves off in my bedroom. I held Bella against me, tilting her head back to kiss her. Her breath came heavier as we fell back onto the bed.

"No worries," I said quietly. "We'll figure this out. Right now, let it be just me and you."

She held on to me, her fingers slowly stroking through my hair. I buried my face in her neck, inhaling her scent, and began to peel the clothes off that were keeping us from skin to skin contact. Bella nodded when I glanced up at her, and I knew it was going to happen. The uncertainty melted away, leaving the touch of our mouths on each other's bodies, the brush of hair over skin, and the feel of muscles shifting under silky skin when we finally came together.

We held on to each other, overwhelmed with the sensations, and I reveled in the sounds she made as our hips finally found a rhythm. In and out, slower and then faster, until we both – a bit unsteadily and frantically – reached orgasm.

Bella's head was tucked under my chin, and she murmured, "I love you."

I smiled, smoothing her hair back. "I love you, too."

Over the next couple days, I worried about Quil and obsessed over having sex with Bella. Quil had disappeared after the confrontation in the woods and no one had seen him since. I knew he needed the space, the time, to work things out so I was trying to be patient. Everything was so unsettled among the pack. The third night, I was patrolling near sunrise at the top of the cliffs and found him.

He was just standing there, looking out over the ocean. "Hey man," he said as I phased back. He punched me in the shoulder, which was more like the Quil I knew.

"You look a little clearer," I said examining his face.

"I feel a little better. Sue and I met up, and I think we might actually get through this without having to be, well, you know."

I wasn't sure if that was true yet by looking at him, but he seemed more hopeful about it, so I didn't say anything. "Good. My dad has been looking into it as well. He's not finding much about imprinting out of age range, but he did find one case that stated it wasn't a traditional relationship. He seems to think it happened because you needed a stable and loving woman in your life."

Quil looked at me, and I could see the hope in his eyes. It was common fact that while he loved his mother, he had never had that mother-son relationship since my mom died. "As much as I love Sue, this makes sense. It does feel different and I can live with that."

"We have to talk to Charlie tonight, though," I admitted. "He's getting a little suspicious."

"I'll be there with you, too," a voice from behind us said. I'd heard him coming. Embry stood there awkwardly. There was confusion and conflict, but I could see the guilt clearly. "I'm sorry, Quil."

Quil shrugged, but his gaze never wavered from Embry's. A stare down ensued, manly style. "Why? Did Leah give you permission to forgive me?"

Embry's eyes narrowed slightly. "No, but we talked it over. I was going to come find you no matter what. Look, we all freaked out and rightfully so, but you didn't deserve to be hammered like that. She knows it, though she isn't ready to face you, but I told her I needed to talk to you and that you were my best friend."

Quil looked uncomfortable. None of us were used to baring feelings like this with each other. So, in true guy fashion, Quil just shrugged. "It's fine, I guess, but I owe you a punch to the face some day."

And just like that, it was over. It wouldn't be so easy with Leah and Seth, though.

That evening, Quil, Billy, and Sue came over to visit with Charlie. He looked confused, and said, "Sue? Quil, what are you doing here?"

I squeezed Bella's hand when she flinched at Charlie's words. Embry, Leah, and Seth waited outside in support – and partially to keep calm in Leah's case – and we sat down with Charlie. He listened quietly as first I explained the truth about the legends and what imprinting was. Sue tried to explain her feelings, and his expression remained tight and occasionally bewildered. Finally, he just looked hurt which I knew was upsetting Bella.

"I still love you," Sue assured him. "We're figuring this out as we go, but I don't want to leave you, Charlie. And I need you to know this is no one's fault."

His gaze was hard as it landed on Quil. "This is a hell of a lot to dump on someone, but somehow it doesn't surprise me completely. You should have told me all this from the beginning, Billy. I deserved to know."

Billy nodded regretfully. "I'm sorry you had to find out this way."

"It's fucked up is what it is. Whatever this nonsense really is, it shouldn't involve children."

He took it better than I expected, though he didn't want to be near anyone other than Bella. I kissed the top of Bella's head. "Go be with your dad, honey. I'll talk to you later, okay?"

Bella gave us all a hug. "Charlie's a little upset, but I know he'll come around. Just give him a few days, Sue."

Sue nodded, looking certain of that, so I knew it would be okay. She headed home after giving her kids and Quil a hug.

"I'll see you tomorrow," I said to Seth and Leah.

"Yeah, maybe we can get together and shoot the shit," Quil said, a bit hesitantly.

Leah stared at him stony-faced and finally said, "Shove it up your ass, Ateara."

The three of us laughed, knowing that was the best response Leah could give. She would fully forgive Quil in time. Embry and I grinned at each other as Quil spotted Mary near the trail opening with a friend. With his trademark smarmy grin on his face, he waved us off and headed over to her. She smiled eagerly at him in return.

The pack, our family, would eventually continue on just like always.