The Twilight Saga

Author: EMHW_Bear

Main Characters: Jacob Black, Wolf Pack, & OC

Genre/Universe: Post-Breaking Dawn Canon

Rating: PG13

Summary:   He Never Suspected...

I was inspired to write this story by a legend I came across about imprinting on the following website.

And for the simple fact that Breaking Dawn broke my heart!

A canon follow-up to Breaking Dawn with  twists, turns, and surprises.

What happens when a wolf is separated from his imprint?

Jacob tries to live without Nessie, selflessly agreeing to give her short childhood to Bella and Edward. Racked by boredom and loneliness, he befriends a girl with an abusive step-father. Will another heart be broken?

What sinister forces are stalking Jacob and the other wolves, and why?

Discover who Embry's father is, if Leah ever finds happiness, and how Sam and Jacob deal with having two separate packs.

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

Tags: BreakingDawn, Cannon, Imprinting, Jacob, Raven, WolfPack

Views: 584

Replies to This Discussion

I am planning on reading :) I've just been bit busy over the last few days. Sorry. I'll try to catch up as soon as I can.

I am going on holiday next week so won't have wifi

I enjoy reading this story and I think Raven is a really interesting and likeable character to put in the mix.  Her backstory with her stepfather and her missing brother also adds some interesting elements to the story.  I do wonder why neither she nor her mother have heard anything from her brother, and if he could have anything to do with all these strange goings on, though there is a strong possibility that the Volturi is somehow behind everything.  What a pity Edward isn't there to read the kidnappers' and the detective's minds.  Do the Cullens know something that made them go away?

See, you grabbed me and here I am speculating about what could be going on.

I am looking forward to read more.

Great. Thanks!!

No problem. I completely understand. I'm trying to slow down on my updating a bit to give other potential readers a time to catch up a little. Maybe I should switch to posting once a week. I'm considering, but where I am in the story, almost all chapters are somewhat cliffie. lol, I hate to make people wait too long. =D

I know what you mean...I hit a bit of a writers block on mine :) So I might post after I get back after my holiday...that's if my writers brian doesn't kick in before then

A/N This is a chapter that some of you have been waiting for, so without further ado...

Chapter 9

When a Stranger Calls

Leah silently lay stretched out on the carpet with her eyes closed, shaking her leg restlessly. Raven mindlessly rotated through the television channels, feeling very uncomfortable with Leah's silence, as well as with all the far-fetched information that Leah delivered to her. If she hadn't seen Jacob and Seth for herself, she wouldn't have believed any of it. As it was, she still found it hard to believe.

Jacob was a wolf and his sister had been taken by vampires, and Jacob thought vampires might possibly be after Raven as well. She briefly entertained the notion that perhaps she'd be waking up from a strange and fanciful dream at any moment. Perhaps a nurse, Leah the nurse, would hand her a glass of water and some medication because she was - in all actuality - confined to the psych ward at some strange medical institution. Or, there truly was a Twilight Zone and Raven had blindly stumbled into it.

She turned the channel to some stupid reality television show, trying to grasp a little of the "reality" in order to take her mind off all that recently happened and all that she recently learned.

She forced her mind into the program being aired. "I hate girls like that!" she blurted out, annoyed.

Leah opened her eyes and looked at the television set. "Don't you, though?" Leah said. "I mean… you're on television for cripes sake, show some class."

"Not only that, there's always so much drama going on, and the way those girls stab each other in the back for some stupid guy is ridiculous."

"I know. I hate that. You can see that the jerk thinks he's some gift to women, and those idiot girls are all over him, feeding his over blown ego. He isn't even good looking!" Leah sat up enjoying the conversation.

"And where do they find those kinds of girls? Always acting so prim and proper and then being a pig every time some random guy gets them alone. It's disgusting," Raven scoffed.

Leah nodded. "I know! It irritates the hell out me, too, but for some weird reason I still continue to watch it."

Raven grinned. "Well, it reminds us of everything we don't want to be."

"That's very true."

The longer they talked, the more Raven realized how much they had in common. Everything from the music they listened to, to the guys on television they thought were hot.

"You know, Jacob is probably going to want you to stay in La Push tomorrow and we'll have to somehow get your mom out there, too, at least until we know it's safe. Maybe I could have a cookout. That'd be cool. It's been a long time since I got to hang out with any girls."

"My mom will already be out there tomorrow because she didn't get to make her rounds today. You know, because of everything that happened last night. I'm just glad she's finally resting."

"Oh, I know, Jacob told me. He didn't actually 'tell me' tell me, but you know what I mean."

Raven nodded. "Besides, I can't do it tomorrow. My older brother is coming home to surprise my mom. I promised I'd try to get over there to pick him up without her finding out. He's flying into Seattle at noon and my friend Kristy said she would drive me."

"Umm, I don't know if Jacob's going to want you driving to Seattle alone, especially if he and Sam haven't been able to figure things out yet. It'll be way too dangerous. I tell you what, I'll take you in my Jeep. I've been dying to take a road trip anyway."

"That'd be great!" Raven was thrilled at the way Leah was opening up to her. She could see that underneath her rough and tough bitter shell, Leah was actually a very sweet, but an extremely lonely person. Raven felt saddened to know the story behind it all. Leah was awesome and she deserved better than what had been destined for her.

"Can I ask you something, Leah?

Leah nodded. "Ask away."

"How come you didn't like me when we first met?"

Leah's eyebrows lifted. "Oh … It's not that I didn't like you, it was just that … I was pretty jealous," she blatantly disclosed, shocking the wind out of Raven.

She must have caught Raven's incredulous expression. She chuckled, quickly clarifying, "Wait … not of you and Jacob. I was jealous because Jacob seems to be able to do what Sam couldn't do or wouldn't do. You know, with the imprinting and all?"

Raven pretended to know what Leah was talking about. "Could you explain that to me a little more? I'm not so sure I understood it all that well. Jacob was giving me so much information all at once. It was confusing to say the least."

"Sure. I'll give you my account of imprinting. Imprint, The World According to Leah." She snickered.

Raven grinned.

"I think of it like this, it's something like an arranged marriage. Only it's arranged by a force more powerful than us. They say it's rare, but it's been happening more frequently than we ever would have guessed. Sue says we don't know everything yet, because there has never been this many wolves at once. So, we're still finding out new things, you know? Creating or adding new legends for our posterity."

"What if someone doesn't love the person that's arranged for them? What if they love someone else? I mean, I don't like the idea of not having any choice in the matter."

"Uh huh, I feel the same way, although I'm told that we will love the person that's arranged for us," Leah said remorsefully.

Sam's imprint story came to mind, and Raven knew Leah was thinking about him and Emily. "Sometimes we know who it's going to be before hand, only it's not yet time for the relationship. That's the way it is with Jacob and Rene...zoh, you okay Raven? Damn!"

Jacob took the phone, guarding his expression from Jared, unable to look him the eyes. "Who is it? What do you want?"

"Jacob, nice to …"

"I want my family back now!" He surged with rage, quivering as he struggled to control his temper.

"Yes, my boy. No need to delay. Let's get right to the solution."

Jacob's hand rigidly gripped the hotel telephone, and little fissures began to surface from the extreme pressure he was trying hard not to exert. He listened tensely, trembling while the demands for the return of Rachel, Kim, and Brady were being made.

"We'll think about it. I need to talk it over with my pack … twenty-four hours … tomorrow, late afternoon… here at the resort."

The bald man reached for the phone. Jacob smacked his hand away and slammed the phone down vigorously.

"W-what did he say? What d-did he want? Who was it?" Jared stammered frantically.

The man interrupted, "Did he say anything about my money?"

Jacob lost it, swatting the man across the room with one mighty blow. He bounced off the wall and fell to the floor, tearfully stunned.

Sam grabbed him by the shirt and picked him up, off the floor. "Your work here is done. If you ever set foot anywhere near our lands again, my friend Paul will tear your heart out. You won't be able to hide from us." Sam snarled baring his teeth. "We can smell you."

The bald man grabbed his briefcase and his car keys and scurried out the door in horror, leaving everything else behind. Jacob picked up the hotel key and shoved it in his pocket, and Sam and Jared followed Jacob out the door. He gave the details of the conversation to all of them during the ride home.

"All he wants is for us to fly to Italy a week from Monday with some of his other bloodsucking friends and create some kind of distraction during some sort of celebration. He said we don't even have to fight. We could run if we want and that some of his more prestigious allies," Jacob held his fingers like quotation marks up by his temples, "will handle the rest. He told me that once we complete his request, we only need to return to the airport and we will all be flown home. When we're finally on the plane and are no longer a danger to him and his allies, the girls and Brady will be let go. He said they'll be home before our plane even lands. He also stipulated that we needed to take at least twenty wolves."

"You said twenty-four hours. You said we had to think about it. Of course we're going! What's there to think about?" Jared shouted, bitterly disappointed.

"Quiet, Jared! I need to concentrate." Jacob's head throbbed with frustration. "There's got to be a better way, a faster way."

"Jacob's right. Do we really want to rush into something we know nothing about? Those Italians will make some very deadly enemies. Do you really want to wait more than a whole week to get Kim back?" Sam glanced at Jared and then to Paul. "Do you, Paul? Worse yet, what happens if none of us even make it back from Italy?"

No one answered.

"Sorry, Jared. I only said twenty-four hours because he suggested we take a few days to think about it. I got the impression he wanted more time to give us more reasons to join them, to get his hands on more of our family to bargain with," Jacob explained.

Jared held his angry growl but nodded.

"Umm … Sam … um," Embry cut in quietly. "Quil said some of your guys heard Brady a few times today…"

As soon as they reached Sam's place, everyone but Jacob phased to hear about Brady.

Finally, some good news, Jacob thought, sitting down on the porch to wait to talk to Sam alone.

When Sam returned, he explained to Jacob that Brady came around twice, both times feeling fuzzy and ill. He felt a mixture of fear and fury as he threw himself against some sort of cage, attempting to escape. Brady felt the injections again and faded back to silence. "This means he's close by. At least within a 300 mile radius, we know for sure." Sam sounded hopeful.

"Sam, I needed to talk to you away from the other guys," Jacob stated, ready to unburden himself. "I didn't let out everything I know. I'm having trouble facing Paul and Jared, and I don't even want to think about facing Billy, especially since I found out."

"Found out what?" Sam asked, intrigued.

"Since I found out that I'm responsible for all this," Jacob continued. "I recognized his voice immediately. He's a Romanian bloodsucker named Stefan. I heard Vladimir in the background, too. They participated in the conflict in hopes that the Volturi would be defeated and they could regain control of the vampire world. I guess since the Cullens didn't do it they decided to end the Volturi's reign themselves. That's what they want our help with. It turns out that an annual event is about to occur known as St. Marcus' Day. Apparently, they have this big blood-sucking feast. Stefan said that several of his and Vladimir's allies have already received invitations to the event. The plan is that a group of bloodsuckers with the same goal as the Romanian's will stand with us outside the city. Stefan just wants to create enough of a threat to draw the guard away from the masters, then Stefan and Vladimir's prestigious allies will attack the higher-ups from within. They feel that once they take out the masters, the guard will fall in line."

Sam appeared to be deep in thought.

"I've got to accept the blame for this one, Sam," Jacob hung his head.

"I thought that's what you meant at the resort," Sam replied sympathetically. "You take the responsibility for your own exposure, and I'll take it for exposing the rest of us."

Jacob was baffled. "What are you talking about?"

"I made the choice to stand with you that day, and I gave the order to the rest of the pack. For all the Romanians knew, the Cullens could have brought you, Leah, and Seth from clear over in Siberia. I revealed the pack in the clearing that day. I showed the Romanians what to look for. So chin up, Jacob, we need to put our heads together now and focus on how we're going to get our family back safely."

Jacob felt slightly relieved and full of hope. "Well, let's go tell our packs what we know and go from there."

Jacob and Sam bumped fists in a show of camaraderie and both phased leaping off the porch.

Immediately Quil, Embry, and Seth knew everything Jacob knew. If we only knew where they were hiding them, we could just go get them right now, Embry mentally stated.

Maybe we could get a hold of Edward and the Cullens, Seth suggested.

No way, Seth! Jacob was disturbed by the idea of having to face Bella and Nessie and instantly wondered where that feeling even came from.

We've got bigger things to worry about, Jake. If you don't want the Cullen's help just because of Raven, then…Quil thought, attempting to chastise.

Jacob barked rowdily, cutting Quil off. That's not it, he quieted his mind momentarily. That's a little bit of it. But the main thing is this: we need to keep all the vampires away from here or our tribal teens will continue to transform. Plus, I promised Sam.

After the conflict ended and the Cullens left, I promised him that I would never call vampires into the area again. We'll always regret the rampant murdering that we allowed outside the boundaries of Forks and La Push to protect Nessie. Even though it was necessary at the time, we made a pact that we would never let that happen again. Before the Cullens came back here, everything was fine. We didn't even know bloodsuckers existed. Now that they're gone we want to keep them gone. And if I have to leave…I mean, when I do leave to go with them, I'll go. I won't bring them back here.

Jacob, how much do the Romanians know about us? It was Sam. Do they know how we think?

No. They don't know we can talk with our minds. Jacob could clearly see where Sam was headed. Now we're thinking. If we can get them to take one of us to Brady and the girls, we'll know exactly where they're hiding them.

After listening to Jacob's thoughts, Seth eagerly volunteered. I'll go, feeling responsible for Brady's capture. It's the least I can do.

Jacob, we'll convince them that one of our own must witness that Brady and the girls are all safe and in good health before we agree, Sam thought.

Jacob thought back, if we can get the Romanians to agree, we'll be able to rescue them. If not, we'll have to prepare to stand with the bloodsuckers, whether we like it or not.

Everyone agreed. There's nothing to do now but wait. Stefan will contact me tomorrow.

Okay, that's it for now. Everyone go home and protect your families, Sam commanded his pack. Try to get some rest and we'll meet again, after Jacob talks with the Romanians.

Very interesting twist! Let's hope the wolves' plan will work.

Yes, they had better think things through very carefully. Thanks for the review Seugnet du Toit!

Chapter 10

Chances Are

The words Leah spoke pierced Raven like a thousand arrows in her back. She sucked in all the air she could before her heart and lungs stalled. The sound faded away as if she was detached from the world, in some sort of transparent bubble without any oxygen.

Feeling panicked, she briefly doubled over trying to regain control of herself. She took deep breaths and summoned the world surrounding her body to return.

Leah abruptly quit talking and began apologizing. "I'm sorry, Raven. I didn't know. I thought Jacob had told you everything last night. I was sure I heard him thinking he was telling you everything."

Raven hung her head dimly, squeaking, "He tried to… but I didn't let him."

"Raven, I'm so…so… sorry I said anything at all. It wasn't my place. I think you really need to talk with Jacob about all of this." Leah frowned, dreadfully concerned.

Raven was on the verge of tears, dying inside from hurt, but also feeling a combination of embarrassment and stupidity. He told her he loved her and she'd believed him. Why would he do that?

Knock, knock, knock, sounded at the door. Leah sniffed. "It's Jacob," she said.

Raven shot her a look that said, please don't tell him I know. She gathered herself together and answered the door, pretending nothing was wrong; however, the leftover tension was welling up.

Jacob trudged in, his appearance softer and more composed than the hard shroud of concern and concentration he was wearing when he'd brought Leah to the door. His eyes widened. "What's up?" He shifted his gaze from Raven to Leah then back to Raven. "Did I interrupt some highly classified girl talk or what?"

"Actually, I was telling Raven here how evil and awful you are," Leah sarcastically grumbled.

Raven's face felt hot, and she faked a laugh. "No, she wasn't. She was telling me how good and awesome you are," she fibbed, her voice sounding as if it was coming from someone else.

Jacob chuckled. "That'll be the day."

"You know it." Leah retorted, glaring. When Jacob turned his head, Leah and Raven shared twin expressions of relief.

Just as Leah had expected, Jacob was planning to get Raven and Abby out to La Push. "My brother is flying in tomorrow. Leah volunteered to go with me to pick him up."

"I should go too then. It's still way too dangerous."

Raven avoided his gaze.

"Unless… You don't want me to go with you?"

"No, it's fine. We figured you'd be coming." Raven forced a smile.

As Jacob updated them on all the day's events, Raven couldn't help but think about her discussion with Leah. It was becoming really hard for her to keep up appearances. She felt a painful stab of betrayal every time Jacob smiled at her so innocently. Ugh, I wish he'd stop looking at me like that! She yanked her eyes away from him.

"Seth will be around the corner at Charlie's tonight. I could stay here and keep an eye on things if you guys want me to," Leah suggested.

"Since those weren't burglars, I would definitely feel better if you stayed with us tonight."

"Okay. I'll just have Sue bring me some things and Jacob you can bring my jeep tomorrow."

"Sounds good. I better get back to Billy now," he said, reaching for Raven's hand. "Come with me outside for a minute."

Raven walked with him outside, fighting the lump that was rapidly growing in her throat as her heart crumbled to pieces. "What's going on?" Jacob asked once they were out the door. His forehead was puckered with worry.

"Nothing, I'm fine," she replied, startled by the hoarseness of her voice. She nervously cleared her throat.

Jacob slanted his eyebrow, giving her a skeptical glare. "I don't want to say you're not telling me the truth, but… you're not telling me the truth."

She forced a tight-lipped smile, knowing that if she opened her mouth she wouldn't be able to hold her sob down anymore. She turned her head completely away from him, a tear or two forcing their way out of the corners of her eyes.

"Raven," he whispered, gently directing her chin back to him with his fingertips and brushing her tears away.

Her hand immediately grasped his fingers and she brought them away from her face. "I'm just dealing with a lot right now, Jacob. I'm fine, really. I just need some time."

He pursed his lips, examining her expression thoroughly. "Hey, I'm sorry for bringing you into to all this. I really am, Raven. I'm not going to let anything happen to you or your mom. I promise."

"I know. It's okay, Jacob. It's just been a really bad day for all of us. Tomorrow will be better. I'm sure of it." This time when she feigned a smile, she made certain it was nice and broad.

"You're probably right. It has been a really long and stressful day. I should go." He leaned over and gave her a long, soft kiss goodnight.

She couldn't help but let herself fall into his kiss, finding that it offered her an abundance of momentary alleviation. She came away from his lips beaming.

Jacob grinned. "I'll see you tomorrow." He gave her a quick peck on her sore nose and dashed across the street, disappearing into the dark shadowy forest.

At long last, Raven was able to be alone with her thoughts.

Accepting the reality that Jacob was arranged to be with someone else, someday, she lay on her bed and quietly sobbed, hoping that Leah couldn't hear her sniffles. By the time, she finally ran out of tears for the night, her insides felt bruised and weak. She curled up holding herself, heaving dry sobs until her entire body felt worn out.

When she was all cried out and too tired to hurt anymore, her insides fell numb and she began to ponder Jacob's every expression toward her, basking in his "I do love you" sentiment over and over again. To those words, she added the wonderfully tender yet passion saturated kiss he graced her with before he left. Every fiber in her being told her that he was telling her the truth. Jacob loved her!

Before drifting off to the gray morning light, she came to a decision. She decided that whatever time she could have with him was better than no time with him. She wasn't going to punish herself or Jacob for something that was beyond either of their control.

The hidden sun gave the overcast clouds a silvery glow. Jacob was standing by the water tossing rocks into the gentle foaming waves. Raven felt peacefully happy watching him. He flashed Raven his perfect smile, the one that always caused her tummy to flutter.

"It's time!" he said excitedly. Raven could see the happiness shimmering from his eyes as he knelt beside her, taking her by the hand. "Raven, I love you, but I love Rene more…Okay?"

"Huh?" Raven shook herself.

"I said, are you okay?"

She and Jacob were sitting in the airport terminal while Leah roamed around the airport trying to keep herself from falling asleep. "Just tired I guess. I didn't get much sleep last night."

"Are you sure?" Jacob pulled his brows together in concentration, studying her mannerisms closely.

Raven glanced down and saw that she had unknowingly shifted herself as far away from him as the chair would allow, and she was leaning her shoulder in the complete opposite direction. She blushed, discomforted, and frantically scooted back toward him, winding her hand through his.

"So much has gone on these past couple days. I just want to tell you that I'm really glad we're able to be together," she urgently stated. She didn't want him to get the sense that anything serious was wrong between them. She was truly grateful to be with him.

"Me too," he agreed, smiling with his eyes as he leaned over to kiss her. There it was again, the familiar tumbling in her tummy that Jacob had a knack for causing. She huffed in defeat. It was clearly evident she was hopelessly in love with him, regardless of what that meant for her in the future.

"Flight 719 from Fayetteville, North Carolina is arriving on schedule," blared over the intercom.

Hearing the announcement of River's flight, Raven bounced with excitement, anxiously awaiting him.

"I was so lucky that he was already scheduled for leave. He said he just got back from somewhere overseas and really needed a break. My mom is going to be so happy to see him!"

Jacob pointed at a guy in a military uniform walking into the terminal. "Is that him right there?"

Raven glanced over and said, "No, he won't look like that. He's top secret."

Jacob's eyes widened in surprise. "What do you mean, like special forces or something?"

Raven nodded. "He's Delta Force, actually. But you can't tell him I told you because no one is supposed to know who he is. River said he'd look regular. I just hope I can recognize him. It's been so long. He has dark hair and dark eyes just like me."

Raven examined everyone that came off the plane and into the terminal. She spotted a very muscular guy in faded jeans with a regular white tee shirt on that somewhat resembled River, but he was too tall. This guy was probably about six-four or six-five. While River had always seemed tall to her, she didn't remember him being that tall. Additionally, this guy's hair seemed too long for the military. It was a little longer than Jacob's hair, although Jacob's hair really wasn't all that long either. No one else was getting off the plane and Raven was starting to worry. The guy got closer, glanced at her, and a smile spread across his face. Raven jumped up, rushed over to him, and threw herself into his arms, giving him the tightest hug she could muster as tears cascaded down her cheeks.

River had gotten so tall! Lucky for him he takes after dad's side of the family, Raven mused wiping her happy tears away.

She noted a concentrated air of dignity and self-confidence about him, and he was just as handsome as she could remember.

He set Raven down. "Wow! Let me take a look at you. I was half expecting to see the tiny little tomboy with a great big head, and you know what? Here she is," River teased.

"And you look like an old man," Raven teased back. "Just kidding… You look good for an old man."

"Hey, I'm not that old!" River laughed.

"How old are you now? Twenty-six?"

"Just about." River nodded. "Getting up there, I guess."

"Come on, I want you to meet Jacob," Raven said, excitedly pulling River by the arm. She had already told him all about Jacob over the phone.

When they approached him, Jacob stood up. River stopped, slightly taken aback. "Damn, Jacob, Raven never told me she was dating the Incredible Hulk."

Jacob cracked a smile. "Hey what's up?" he greeted, extending his hand.

River shook his hand forcefully. "Are you sure you're only seventeen?" he asked with joking suspicion.

"Actually it's more like eighteen in a couple weeks," Jacob answered cheerfully.

"We're going to get River's duffle bag. We'll be right back."

"Okay, I'll go find Leah and we'll meet you at the entrance way," Jacob replied, casually strolling away.

"Jacob seems like a decent guy," River remarked as they waited at the baggage claim. "So, how's mom doing? How's she taking things?"

"I think she's doing fine. I heard her crying a little yesterday, but she was going over bills. She's worried about whether or not we'll make it on her income alone. I'll get a job, too, though."

River scowled, upset. "Money worries are what got her with that idiot loser in the first place."

"She won't take him back. I heard her say so on the phone. She filed a restraining order and is already seeing a lawyer on Tuesday. Besides, she told me after all these years she deserves to be happy."

River sighed, relieved. "She does. We all do."

"She's going to be so happy to see you, River. I can hardly wait." Raven grinned, contemplating the look on Abby's face.

Leah was facing Jacob when Raven and River came up behind her. "Leah, this is my big brother River," Raven introduced.

Leah spun around nonchalantly, gazing down at River's extended hand. "My pleasure," River said.

"Nice to meet you, too." Leah lifted her eyes upward while taking River's hand. Her legs buckled and she wobbled backward in a glazy-eyed stupor.

River clutched her by the arm. "Whoa! Are you all right, Miss?" he inquired, as he steadied her on her feet.

Raven tossed a worried glance at Jacob. His jaw was hanging open; but, judging by the engrossed glint in Jacob's eyes and curious grin on his lips, it was easy to see he was enjoying the scene enormously.

"I so… know what's going on right now," he mumbled under his breath.

Interesting turn of events!  Did Leah just imprint?

Hi Seugnet du Toit,

Yes, she did. Leah's happiness was like a bonus to me in this story. I thought she deserved it. Thanks for the review =D

Chapter 11

Calm before the Storm

"Hi, Mom, I'm home!" River called, striding into the house and up the stairs like it was an everyday occurrence.

There were no words to describe the expression on Abby's face when she saw him. She was utterly speechless. River picked Abby up and squeezed her tight while rivulets of joy sprung from her eyes.

She was overjoyed. Immediately wanting to mark the occasion as special, she decided to cook a big welcome home dinner for River. "We're celebrating this evening. You two should stay," She said to Leah and Jacob when Raven called them inside.

"We have to be somewhere right now, but we'll come back later," Jacob politely explained. He tilted his head toward the door, gesturing for Raven to follow him. "Embry and Quil will be across the street watching, but I need to take Leah with me. We'll be back as soon as we can."

He kissed her quickly, grazing her jawline with his fingertips as he walked away. Raven's heart bounced elatedly. She thought it odd that Jacob peered over his shoulder and smiled at the very same time. She blushed as she smiled back at him and waved.

When he crossed the driveway, it occurred to her that her troubles scarcely invaded her mind while she was in his presence. She was pleased by how easily she got through the day without letting him know what was eating at her.

Immediately, after he drove out of sight though, her reservations returned. She felt torn with part of her wanting to forget what she knew and try to be happy for the time being, and the other part of her wanting to confront Jacob to find out where or how she fit in to his life. She concluded the latter thought was a terrible idea because she was afraid of what his answer might be.

Kristy came over a while later to meet River. She sat at the kitchen table while Raven diced tomatoes, onions, and a jalapeno for the salsa. Kristy rested on her elbow with her chin in the palm of her hand, gazing across the room to where River and Abby sat talking. "Gosh, Raven, he's amazing!" She quietly exclaimed. She couldn't take her eyes off of him. "It's hard to believe he's your brother."

"What?" Raven huffed with a laugh, lightly pushing Kristy's shoulder. "What's that supposed to …I can't believe you just said that."

Kristy grinned. "I just meant because he's so tall. How come you never mentioned him to me before?"

"I guess the subject just never came up. Besides, he's way older than me, and you, for that matter. He's almost twenty-six."

"He doesn't look it. He's… really, really, good looking! And what a bod." Kristy gawked.

"Okay, that's enough." Raven giggled, placing her hand on Kristy's cheek and directing her eyes away from River. "Remember you're too young for him."

Kristy rolled her eyes. When Abby came back into the kitchen to check on her cooking, Kristy hopped up, swayed over to River, and began asking him all kinds of questions. River politely conversed with her, but anyone could see he wasn't picking up on the signals she was putting out there.

Leah's not going and that's all there is to it, Sam decreed. I know you can see how dangerous this will be for her, Jacob, especially if she's focused on some guy.

Sam doesn't want you to go Leah. He thinks you won't be able to concentrate because of the imprinting. He might have a point.

That's a load of bull, Jacob, and you know it! Leah growled. You can tell Sam to bite me.

Jacob's belly rumbled, and he let out a few low woofs at Leah's snide response. I'm not telling him that. He's worried about you, that's all.

If this were one of the other wolves, no one would have a problem. You know how many times I've had to put up with everyone else's freakin' imprinting. I know I can control my thoughts a hell of a lot better than anyone else around here can. What does he care? He can't even hear me.

Sam feels that your head won't exactly be where it needs to be to keep yourself from getting hurt. Admit it, at this very moment all you can think about is how you're going tell River about us and what his reaction will be.

That's not fair, Jacob. And don't I have the right? Besides, if Seth goes, I go.

I'll tell you what, Leah. I'll give you until we leave tomorrow. If you haven't gotten control of your imprint concerns, then you'll have to stay behind. Remember what happened the last time?

Throw that in my face, why don't you!

I'm not… I'm just saying. Do we have a deal?

I guess so, but if Sam asks anything else about me, tell him to mind his own freakin' business. I'm not his problem anymore.

The smell of charcoal grilled steak permeated the air around Raven's house causing Jacob's mouth to water and his stomach to growl as soon as he hopped off Leah's jeep. It was the next best aroma, compared to Raven's. He caught her fragrance coming from the backyard and followed it to the rear of the house. Raven was standing on the deck tending to the meat. Her eyes sparkled brightly at the sight of him. He smiled inside, eased that whatever had been bothering her the previous night seemed to have vanished. "We would have gotten back sooner, but someone needed to freshen up and unsuccessfully attempt to beautify herself," he gibed, flicking a disgruntled glance at Leah.

"Jerk," she snapped. "Raven is there anything I can to do to help?"

"No, everything's ready inside. Go ahead you guys. I'll be right behind you." Leah and Seth walked inside while Jacob grabbed the plate of meat from Raven's hand. She piled the last couple slabs onto it. "What's wrong with Leah? She looks upset," Raven asked.

"The Romanians agreed to let Seth see Rachel, Kim, and Brady as a show of faith. She's worried right now, but I know that being here with …" Jacob caught himself, "just being here will make her feel better. She'll tell you later."

He and Raven walked inside. Leah was helping Abby set the table in the dining room. He spotted Kristy sitting beside River in the living room, making googly eyes at him. Jacob tilted his head in their direction. "What's going on over there?"

"Oh, I think she's trying to hit on him or something." They both looked over again and quietly laughed. "I told her he was too old for her but…" Raven shrugged.

"Let's see if Leah has anything to say about it." Jacob sneered devilishly as they spied Leah enter the living room and River turn his attention to her.

"Why? What's that look about?" Raven inquired. "You look like the cat hiding Stuart Little in his mouth."

Jacob smirked happily. "Never mind, Leah will tell you about it later."

"She better!"

By the time dinner was over, Kristy caught the hint that River wasn't responding to her interest in him. She finally gave up and sat down beside Raven, Jacob and Seth. "Oh, well, you're right. I'm too young for him, but it was definitely worth a try."

"Don't worry about it, Kristy. Embry's right across the street," Jacob taunted.

"Oooo, goody, goody," she mocked, clapping her hands and getting to her feet. She narrowed her eyes in scorn at him and stormed into the other room.

Jacob and Seth cracked up. "Behave you guys," Raven scolded, trying to hold back her smile. "You should have reminded me they were out there. I bet they're starving. Go tell them to come eat."

"Sure, but they won't be wearing any shirts," I hope they have moccasins with them. The guys had come to find that it was easy to strap on thin leather footwear during the few times they were able to prepare themselves ahead of a patrol.

Kristy's attitude lifted as soon as Embry walked in the door. It was probably the no shirt thing. Everyone was chatting and joking, and all seemed fine for a spell. Kristy must have liked Embry more than she let on because they scooted off to a corner by themselves and not much more time passed before they were saying goodbye to everyone and leaving together.

"See that? I know about these things," Jacob gloated.

"Oh, shut up!" Raven giggled, shaking her head at him.

Eventually, everyone else left, except for him and Leah. "Leah and River are really hitting it off," Raven brought up.

Jacob nodded. "It's a good thing, too."

Raven narrowed her eyes questioningly.

The next thing Jacob knew, River was announcing that he was feeling a little wired and needed to get out and unwind. Way to go Leah.

"Leah's going to take me to the bar & grill here in town, but I'll be back soon."

We'll see, Jacob thought as they walked out the door.

It was a beautiful evening, one of the rare times when it would be clear enough to see the stars after sunset. The breeze held a crisp coldness, but it was hardly noticeable when Raven was in Jacob's arms.

Raven thought about how they never had company over before because Mike was always so rude and unfriendly. As it was, she could barely believe that she and Jacob were together at her home with no one to fear. They sat outside on the deck in the backyard looking up at the sky and talking. "I love it when the sky looks like that, a red moon," Raven observed. "It looks so pretty that color. Too bad it doesn't stay that way long."

"I think that happens because the moon is so close to the earth that the particles from all the filthy pollution turn it red," Jacob explained.

"Way to ruin it, dufus!"

Jacob laughed. "That's what I heard."

"It's pretty anyway." Raven sighed.

"Seriously, though, my mom used to say that a red moon was a cosmic sign of divine awareness." Jacob gazed at the moon, his expression softening as he reminisced. "I can't remember how she exactly put it. But, she said that if you concentrate or meditate on something of extreme importance to you under the energy of a red moon, you would have some kind of an awakening. Receive clarity on your life's path, divine inspiration or intervention. It was like a promise that you would receive the answer to…something like that. "

"That's neat. Does it actually work?"

"I don't know. I never tried it. We'll just have to take my mom's word for it. She took her spirituality very seriously."

"I hope it works because I've really got to do some meditating."

"Oh, yeah, on what?"

Raven tugged at her ear, realizing that if she was going to say something about Jacob's imprint that this was her moment to do it. "Can't talk about it right now, maybe someday though." She frowned.

Jacob brought her hand away from her ear, and his expression sobered. "Well, can you talk to me about what happened to you the other night?" he asked, his eyes drifting to the day-old darkening of her bruised nose and blue shadowed under eye tissue.

She elusively replayed the incident to him, feeling it unnecessary to go into details. His remorse over the episode was already clearly evident every time his eyes swept over her face. "I don't know how in hell I let you go back there." He grimaced, second-guessing himself as he kissed her on the nose. "I should have walked you to the door and scared the holy hell out of him."

"In hindsight I think it was the best thing that could have happened for all of us because it finally made Abby stand up to him," Raven reassured, noting that had it not happened the way it did, she wouldn't be with Jacob at that very moment and River wouldn't be home either.

Jacob shared the conversation between himself and the Romanians with her. "They said that Seth had to show up alone. They'll know if anyone attempts to follow. They'll allow him one phone call to let us know that everyone is fine. The down side is Seth will have to stay there until we return from Italy. Stefan told me someone would meet Seth in the same clearing that Brady was taken from tomorrow, late afternoon, and Seth will contact us about twenty-four hours later. Sam feels that Brady is closer than the Romanians want us to believe. We'll already know where Brady and the girls are by the time Seth makes the phone call. The beauty of being linked the way we are."

"It all seems so unreal," Raven muttered, feeling a chill.

Jacob folded his arms around her securely. "Let's change the subject. I can tell that it scares you."

"I'm sure River likes Leah. He called her a beauty after you left today," Raven confided.

"Leah's pretty cool… after all," he said as if he'd just realized it, "she'll have roughly twenty-four hours to get her head together."

"What are you talking about already?" Raven demanded. " First, you were making me impatient and curious. Now, you're just making me mad."

"Sorry." Jacob chuckled. "I shouldn't tell you because it's Leah's story to tell, but since it involves your brother, I will. Remember the imprinting I was telling you about?"

Raven flinched, instantly certain Jacob saw it. She quickly recovered herself and comprehended what he was getting at. "Leah and River," she whispered in disbelief. "Does he know?"

"He won't know until she tells him. I bet she'll try to do that tonight. Sam doesn't think that I should let Leah come with us tomorrow. He thinks her head is too full of your brother right now. Leah's really worried about Seth, though, and insists that she be there to keep him safe. I won't make her stay behind unless it is absolutely necessary for her own safety. Besides, Seth can take of himself… can't say that to her, though. Anyway, she has roughly twenty-four hours."

"It really does scare me. If I was Leah, I'd stay home if I had the chance," Raven admitted.

The moon lifted from its pretty color as the darkness fell around them. Jacob squeezed Raven tighter, pressing his hot cheek against her face. She turned and met his eyes, and could feel the heat radiating from his lips as he gently pressed them into hers. She couldn't help herself. She maneuvered toward him, pressuring him flat to his back with her body, and returned his urgently zealous kiss. Her body was reacting to him with a mind of its own and his response was equally excited.

She was overwhelmed with passion. Until a tiny thought invaded her mind, she felt ashamed for allowing herself to be as weak as she was where he was concerned, particularly knowing all that she knew. Suddenly, she wondered why he would even allow himself to continue knowing what he knew.

His hot skin burned through his clothes causing her body to begin to perspire as he traced her teeth with his tongue. She felt hands moving up her back to the nape of her neck and into her hair, holding her firmly. Immersed in his kiss, she shifted more fittingly against him letting every thought aside from his obvious reaction to her body's movement, fly completely out the window. All of a sudden, Jacob jerked himself upright into a sitting position, knocking Raven off him. She bumped her head on the wooden floor and sat up quickly, rubbing her head in confusion.

"Raven, make sure you lock everything up before you go to bed tonight. I don't think I can stay awake much longer," Abby said.

She glanced over her shoulder to find the door swinging open and her mom poking her head out. "I will, Mom." Raven tugged at her ear, beet red as she gave Jacob a grin of relief.

"I knew I heard something. Sorry about that," Jacob whispered, smiling adorably.

Raven put her arms back around him, catching her breath. She softly kissed his neck and felt him shiver. She wondered how she'd ever get along without him. "Jacob, what's…?" She stopped short, halting the words that were on the tip of her tongue. Going on with us?

"What's what?"

"Never mind… I forgot what I was about to say," she mumbled.

"Are you sure?"

"Mm hm."

"All right then. I should go now. I don't want to wear out my welcome with your mom after only one evening."


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