I heard loud thumps and felt the ground shake as I woke up a little. Once the thumping stopped, I heard a warning growl and a bark. My eyes opened to find a sandy wolf, that was as big a horse, and a black one of about the same build on the edge of the trees. The black one stepped forward some when the sandy one whimpered and took a step toward me.
I knew that it was some of the guys, but I didn’t know which ones. I’ve never seen them in wolf form, but they were beautiful in a strange way. Their coats were shiny and glinted wherever the moonlight hit them and their eyes were not of a wolves’. I would have never put the two combinations together, but seeing them together made all the difference. It was odd, but a good odd.
“Hey, guys,” I whispered as I tried to stand up. My knees were wobbly, but I did get up. I started to walk in the direction I thought I came from, but I didn’t know if I actually was or not. The two wolves didn’t follow me, so I guess I was going the wrong way.
The black one excused himself into the trees and came back as a man I had never seen before.
“Hello, Jackie,” he said in a deep gravely voice.
“Um, do I know you?”
“No, but I know you. Don’t worry,” he smiled, “I’m one of the pack, I’m not going to hurt you.” He took a step toward me and the sandy wolf gave a warning growl. Sam just glared at the wolf.
Sam lead me through the woods, one of my arms around his shoulders for support. Soon, there was a break through the trees and light was shinning through. It wasn’t until then that I realized it was pitch black out. We came upon a s mall cottage in the middle of an open prarie.
“Home sweet home,” Sam smiled.
As two little boys ran through the doorway and to Sam, he let me stand on my own, his smile only got broader, if that were possible.
“Daddy!” The boys screamed.
“Hey,” Sam laughed as he gathered them in his arms and spun in a circle.
Ash came out of the house in a sprint. She ran right into me and gathered me in her arms.
“Oh my God! Are you all right? Were you hurt? Where have you been? I’m going to kill you, Jackie, if you EVER do that to me again!” Ash’s mood changed from shock, to concern, to murderous all in about one second.
I smiled. “I’m fine. Just tired and sore. When I woke up, I was sleeping in the woods somewhere,” I pointed to the woods.
Right then, Seth busted through the trees and engulfed me in a hug. At first, I hugged him back, feeling good in his warm embrace. Then, like a slap to the face, I remembered why I was in the forest in the first place. I pushed him away and glared.
“What?” Seth asked.
“C’mon, Jackie. Let’s get you warmed up,” a woman said. She was beautiful, except for the gnarly scars down one side of her face.
“Don’t stare,” Ash cautioned under her breath. I looked at the ground.
The woman lead me inside with Ash right behind me. They sat me down in a chair by a fire and sat in front of me.
“So, why were you in the woods?” The woman asked me.
Before I could answer, Ash talked. “All I know is that if they don’t keep that guy away from her, I will personally kill him.”
I may not like him at this particular moment, but what Ash said hurt, it hurt a lot. I still loved him, just not what he had done.
“Wow, Ashleigh, I didn’t know that you could be so harsh,” the woman looked at Ash. “I’m Emily by the way,” she smiled at me.
“Jackie, but you already knew that,” I nodded to her.
“So? Why were you in the woods?”
“Other than the fact because I saw my imprint with another pregnant woman and a little girl in his arms calling him daddy? Oh, I wanted to go for a run,” I shrugged.
“What?” Emily looked at me as though I had three heads with wings. “That does not sound like Seth, especially since he met you. For the whole time you were asleep, as he liked to call it, he never stopped talking about you. And if Sam knew anything of this intensity, he would’ve told me. I think you got Seth mixed up for someone else.”
“Oh, no, honey. That was Seth. I was there with her when she started to run,” Ash chuckled without humor.
I looked at the floor. There wasn’t much else to say. Ash had covered it with those words of finality.
The door, which once stood still and closed, was suddenly full of Seth and a few other guys I didn’t recognize. I couldn’t even look at him. I stood and walked to the back door.
“Jackie, wait,” Seth’s voice called after me.
The air from outside was cold and damp. It felt nice compared to the stiff, hot air in the cabin. I briskly walked out into the night, not looking back at the voice that kept calling my name.
“Jackie, stop,” he finally said, grabbing a hold of my arm and spinning me around.
“Let. Me. Go,” I said slowly.
It was weird the way he immediately obeyed me. His hand dropped as soon as the words had left my mouth, as if he expected me to say it. I didn’t let my mind linger on it too long. I turned back around and walked to the road, on my way to my rented, run-down cottage.
When I began to wake up the next day, my eyes were glued shut by old tears. I had to rub my eyes a couple of times before I could actually see anything. When I was able to see things, I wished I could go back to sleep and never wake up again. Seth was sitting in my rocking chair in front of my couch, watching me.
“Let me explain-“
“Get out,” I interrupted him.
“I said get out!” I screamed, throwing a pillow at him.
“I’m not leaving until you hear what I have to say.” The look in his eye said that he was being serious and he was not going to move until he told me what I had to hear. I stayed quiet and tried to calm the storm in my eyes.
“It- My daughter, happened five years ago,” he began. “I was young, stupid, drunk and lonesome. Over half of the pack- only Paul, Collin, Brady, Jared, and I hadn’t imprinted yet- had someone to love. Sam decided to throw a party for the whole reservation. That’s when I met her mom. I was drunk and looking for a little ‘game’. She was perfect, as drunk as I was. We moved to a separate room and made her. When she found she was pregnant, a little over a month later, she wanted to get rid of her. I didn’t have any real feelings for her, but I wanted that baby. Looking back now, I don’t know why I wanted to keep her then, I just did. Now, I’m glad she agreed to go through with it.
“About seven and a half months later, my baby girl was born. Little Isabel breathed her first breath on September 4. Her mother, Amber, didn’t want me to be her father for too long. She became engaged to Dan and wanted her to get used to the idea that I won’t always be there for her. The court came to the conclusion that five years after her birth, I could only see my girl every other weekend. With Amber being pregnant, she’ll want to keep Isabel close to her sibling when he or she comes into this world; they’ll probably forget to drop her off at my place. I was just tryin’ to spend every moment I had with her.” He smiled weakly.
I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t decide if I was touched by the fact that he cared about his daughter that much or if I was mad at the fact that he had a daughter and I wasn’t the mother. That hurt the most. I often thought of what it would be like to be a mother, I even had names, but I never actually thought of myself, personally, being a mother. But I could see myself having a child with Seth, and he already had that experience under his belt. Now, if we ever get to that step in our lives, we would be off balance. He would know what to do and be confident, where as I would be stumbling and just figuring out what to do for the child. Not having Seth’s first child hurt a lot more than I thought it ever would.
After a while of silence, him watching my face the whole time, I talked.
“Did you think that when you actually met her, that it would hurt her that your baby girl wasn’t hers?” I asked, my eyebrows casting a shadow over my eyes.
“No. I never thought that I would ever imprint.”
“You must’ve thought that you would have found love in someone. Even if you didn’t imprint, that could really hurt the girl you fall in love with.”
“Like I said, I was drunk, young, and reckless.”
“That aside, you never found it right to tell me?” I shook my head at him, looking at my lap. I could feel the lump in my throat, the tears stinging behind my eyes. I didn’t want to cry, but I couldn’t help it. He had to have known that I was in the world, specifically for him. He had to of known I was alive, somewhere deep in his bones. I know I felt it. From my fourteenth birthday to now, I’ve known.
“I never found the right time. I know, I should’ve just come out with it and tell you, but I was afraid,” he held his head in his hands.
“Afraid of what?” My voice shook as the tears started to make tracks on my cheeks.
“Please don’t cry,” he got up and sat next to me.
I may not have liked him at the moment, but when his arms wrapped around me, everything felt right. He didn’t have a kid that I only just found out about, he didn’t think that I wasn’t in the world for him. I was here, he was here, and we had this moment; this moment of understanding and acceptance.
As my tears quieted, I looked up at him. His beautiful brown eyes held my gaze. Before I could stop myself, my head was leaning towards his and his toward mine. I kissed him passionately, I told him through touch and kiss that I understood and accepted his actions. I may not have liked them, but I understood them.
Soon, he had me laid out on the couch. Before I let him go too far, I broke the kiss and he moved to my neck.
“Seth, I want to meet her,” I said.
He stopped kissing my neck, and looked at me. “Who?”
“Isabel, I want to meet her,” I smiled.
He smiled back and nodded before he began to kiss me again.
“Seth, stop,” I managed to gasp when he moved to my neck again. He stopped and looked at me with lust glazing his eyes. “I may be twenty physically, but I still have the mind of a sixteen year old. Plus, I want to be ‘clean’ for my wedding night,” I smiled shyly at him.
“If it’s that whole ‘save myself for marriage’ thing, then let’s,” the smile on his face made me smile too.
I looked up in his big brown eyes and saw the biggest and brightest smile known to man.