We walked inside, my thoughts were scrambling. What do I say? How do I defend what I've done? How can I explain myself?
Esme kept her arm around me. Edward looked at me out of the corner of his eye. I felt his gaze glued on me, as we continued walking inside, "Care to explain. You appear to be quite fearful of an outcome."
I gulped, "Your wife is still a newborn. Even though she controls it well, I can see why Jacob feared her reaction to his imprinting news." Edward stopped looking at me, "Uh," I didn't grasp why Edward was confused. "I was using her reaction as, well more or less an example." On a continuous loop was, "I don't know how to explain this." Edward was searching my brain, watching my eyes for anything. "I'd rather tell someone whose automatic response won't be to kill me."
Edward shifted, "Nobody will kill you. Just explain."
I brought up the memory of Charlie, and I in my living room. I remembered his face. Everything I said to him, "This is on my shoulders now."
Esme turned and looked at Edward, "Please tell me what's going on."
I looked down, and carefully spoke, "If the Volturri come, I will go willingly. If they have a different fate for me, I will take it."
Edward inhaled an unnecessary breath.
Esme gasped, "Leah why do you say that?"
Edwards’s eyes became wide, and fearful, "We'll protect you. This needs to be handled immediately."
I turned looking at Esme, "I'm so sorry. It's just I had to explain, or he might go to the authorities. I couldn't risk that."
Esme stepped in front of me taking my hands in hers, "Who might?"
Edward spoke, "Charlie, and regarding the nomad in there."
I felt the warmth drain, along with the color from my face. Esme's hand was on my cheek instantly, "Let's speak in my bedroom, and have you relax."
We walked quietly in the house past everyone. Esme guided me up the stairs to her bedroom. Edward joined Bella, and Renesmee.
"What's going on?" Bella asked looking up at Edward.
"Leah had to have a talk with Charlie about some stuff. She's rather upset about it." Edward offered her a smile, desperately trying to get her to give it up.
"There's more to it, then you're telling me. I don't keep secrets from you."
Edward sighed gently running his thumb across her knuckles.
"I will find out, one way or another."
Edward buried his nose in her hair, inhaling deeply, "Another is my fear."
Bella locked her gaze on him, "Outside now. Renesmee go with,"
Rosalie came over directing her to the piano, "Play me something?" Renesmee skipped over happily playing Canon in D Minor. Rosalie joined her on the piano bench, and watched as Nessie play.
Edward followed Bella outside shutting the front door behind him. It didn't really matter. Everyone in the house could hear every conversation going on. There was no true privacy.
"No secrets. What's going on with Charlie?"
Edward looked out before turning to Bella, "Your dad knows, well he had a quick run down on us."
Bella’s eyes squinted, not quite sure she was catching on, "What do you mean us?"
Edward tried to keep his composure, "I'm not angry with her at all. It was a need to know basis. Well,"
Bella quickly interjected, "Edward Anthony Cullen, you NEVER stumble over yourself. You're never at a loss for words. What needed to be known? My patience is running thin."
He gently reached for her hands to hold them, "I caught Leah's thoughts. She's had a feeling of being watched for several months. Well she was. Charlie became involved, and Leah had to explain to Charlie about us. About who was watching her?" Bella's brow furrowed, "Charlie knows. Edward," He released one her hands, to hold up his to stop her from saying anymore, "Leah's exact words were, "This is on my shoulders now."
Bella she's trying to keep Charlie safe. She's willing to give herself to the Volturri if need be. She doesn't want anyone getting hurt." Bella whipped around facing the house, Edward was in front of her, "Don't. I wasn't happy, but I understand why she did what she did. That's what matters." Bella growled, "So we're all at risk again?" Edward shook his head, "No. Please relax." Bella stormed past him, and walked back to the house.
We spoke softly upstairs. "So he was watching you?"
I nodded, "Yes. He knew that I knew your family."
Esme corrected, "Our family. You're just as much a part of it." I smiled. I relaxed considerably. "Should we go downstairs?" I asked. She nodded, "Are you sure you're ok?" I nodded, "Just a lot is all." She smiled, and we headed back downstairs.
Carlisle, Jasper, Alice, and Emmett sat with Fred quietly talking. "I meant no harm to her. I just couldn't risk her seeing me."
Edward walked in quietly joining the others, "I'm not sure you're aware of what you've done to her. You've put her in a bad place. She's terrified, although she won't admit it."
Fred met my gaze from the top of the stairs. Esme kept an arm around my waist, as we quietly made our way down. Carlisle was at the bottom waiting for us. His warm eyes helped me relax a little. "You're not in trouble, so you can relax." Esme smiled, and hugged my shoulder gently.
"Thank you." softly escaped from my lips.
Bella growled, and bared her teeth at me. She spoke through gritted teeth, "You stupid wolf. You’re a filthy mutt. You misplaced being. What the hell is wrong with you? You couldn't keep your mouth shut. I know you're miserable, but risking my dad’s life?"
Edward was behind her, placing a restraining arm around her waist, "Bella, love don't. It's not her fault."
She growled, "Let me go. I will take care of this now. GET OUT! “
Jacob just walked in, "Back off of her." I looked at Jacob, "I swear," He cut me off, "Bella leave her alone. You knew it was bound to happen. You had to tell him someday."
She shot a glare at Jacob, and then her eyes were back on me, "That was my place to tell him. Get this thing out of here."
I pulled away from Esme, "I'm sorry." She reached after me. I pulled away gently. I could feel Bella follow me to the front door, "You are the most hurtful person I've ever met." I swallowed back bile, with tears and left without saying a word.
Bella turned to a room full of eyes on her. "I thought you were my friend. You used to be the friend who used to be easy going. I never would have expected something like that from you. Leah maybe, but you Bella; well no." Jacob looked at Bella, as the anger radiated off of him. His fists were clenched tightly. His body trembled as he fought the urge to phase.
"Jacob you said we were different. You didn't blatantly tell him what we were."
Carlisle interjected, "Your father was going to bring authorities in. Then it would have been an even bigger mess."
Esme was hurt, "Leah's so confused right now. She's hurting badly. Never would I expect her to trust us, let alone me. She's not a cruel person. She’s very misunderstood. You owe her an apology."
Emmett looked at Rosalie, and she shrugged.
Fred looked down, "I caused her a lot of problems inadvertently. I stayed close to her, but hidden. She thought she was pregnant. I have the ability to repulse people, and make it so they can't see me. Well she couldn't see me, and became nauseated, and had vomiting. It happened for several weeks."
Esme moved beside Carlisle who held her. Her soft voice broke the silence, “She was devastated when her pregnancy test was negative. She cried herself to sleep that night. So please don't attack her." She looked at Bella, who’d knotted her hands,
"Now I'm truly the bad guy. I need to find her."
Edward looked up, "She's in the woods somewhere. She's in human form, just quiet. I'm not prying, just watching."
The Cullen's house phone rang, "its Hunter calling."
Alice spoke softly, and walked over answering, "Hello Hunter. Hold on one second." Alice handed the phone off to Esme. She excused herself,
"Hello," Hunter was nervous, "Is she there?"
Esme walked over to the windows, and looked towards the river, "Yes. She's in the woods. She's quite upset. We also have the visitor whom she followed. Are you coming here?"
Hunter kept driving, "Yes. Charlie, and Sue stayed back just in case."
Esme’s voice was so soft, “Alright. Well be careful. We'll see you soon."
Hunter smiled, "Will do. Thank you." He hung up, and tossed the phone on the seat beside him.
Carlisle walked out behind her, "He's on his way?"
She nodded, "Yes, and she was clipped by a car, but insisted she was ok. I'm worried about her."
He kissed the top of her head, "I am as well. All we can do is be there for her." Carlisle wrapped his arms around Esme, holding her in a tender embrace.
Jacob left Renesmee inside, and walked out following my scent. I found a down tree, and sat down on it, and wrapped my arms around my stomach. The warm tears left wet trails down my cheeks. My shirt was damp from me crying. I felt so worthless, like a failure. I clenched my eyes shut and felt my body shutter with each inhale of breath. Soft sobs echoed through the vast woods. Warm, strong arms were around me, "You are the best second in command, I could have ever appointed. You didn't have to follow Fred, but you did to keep us all safe. I'm glad you're part of my pack. Ignore Bella. She gets scared, and when she does, well."
I rested my head on his shoulder, "Nobody knows what I went through."
Jacob's mouth twitched, "They were filled in. I'm so sorry."
My breathing was ragged, "Just not meant to be."
Jacob kept me close, "If it's meant to be, it will be."
Bella looked at the floor, "I didn't even think."
Emmett held Rosalie close, "We've all done it."
Fred looked around, "I need to provide you all with more information. There's a lot you don't know. I would like everyone here."
Rosalie smiled, "I will go get Leah."
Emmett smiled, "I will tag along."
They glided towards the front door, and left. Edward looked at Bella, "Relax, and talk to her calmly."
Esme, walked out with a mug, which had steam coming off of it, "Hot Coco for her." She set it on the table, and sat down. Carlisle stood waiting.
Jacob looked at me, "Was it just a clip?"
I shrugged, "I think so. I felt the hit, but there was too much going on. My adrenaline was coursing through me like never before. It's been a bit since I phased. I’ve been trying to control it."
Jake nodded, "I understand. Sam needs to know about the new vampire. I will handle that."
I cringed, "Yeah thanks. How's Seth been?"
He shrugged, "Doing his own thing. When we've phased, he's usually thinking about drawings. Your brother seems interested in floor plans."
I smiled, "Maybe a future architect."
Jake laughed, "Architect by day, wolf by night."
Rosalie, and Emmett approached slowly,
"Family meeting. Mom made hot chocolate for you." Emmett grinned.
Jake let me go and I stood up. Rosalie linked arms with me, "I think we're going to be good friends." This was totally unexpected.
"Hell froze over. Blondie’s befriending a wolf?" Jake smirked.
Emmett's laugh was loud, and boisterous. "I know where you live Jacob."
Rosalie smirked. We headed back.
Carlisle greeted us at the front door, "Everything's ok."
I smiled a little walking in. Bella stood up and started towards me. Rosalie moved in front of me pushing me behind her, "Don't!"
Bella shook her head, "I promise I just want to apologize."
Rosalie didn't move. Emmett looked at Edward and thought, "Never would I expect to see this happen." Edward smirked.
"I'm really sorry. I was just angry, and spoke without thinking. Maybe we can talk later?"
I nodded shyly.
Rosalie walked me over to the couch, and Esme patted and open spot beside her, so I sat with her. She moved my hair off my shoulders, and Fred handed me the warm mug. He smiled at me, and I couldn't help but smile back.
He squatted in front of me, "I'm so sorry for any pain I may have caused you. I was just trying to get in touch with the Cullen's, and well I knew you knew them. I watched you that night, because I was truly concerned."
I reached out slowly, and touched his cheek, "I forgive you. I understand why you did, what you did."
He smiled and took a seat closest to the couch, in a single seat. I could feel his gaze on me. I wasn't as on edge. I looked up and around.
"That's me. You were extremely on edge. I'm helping keep the atmosphere calm."
Jasper gave a charming grin. Alice had her arms wrapped around one of his. The others made themselves comfortable on the remaining furniture. Jacob appeared with Renesmee. She'd grown again. She was standing beside him, their hands intertwined. I saw best friends, not an imprint mate. I just smiled.
Fred waited until everyone was settled, "I was created in Seattle, back when Riley was around. Well I kept to myself, along with a friend of mine. We were supposed to meet up, but she never came. She was young; her name was Bree, Bree Tanner."
Esme looked at Carlisle, and then looked down. "The Volturri killed her." Was all Edward said?
Fred's silence spoke so much. It took him a few minutes before he spoke again, "Well I decided you couldn't be that much of a threat, or you would have found me."
I looked at Fred, "I'm sorry you lost your friend. I'm willing to be friends."
Fred's smile warmed me, "I would love that. Thank you so much."
Carlisle smiled; Well you may join our coven, on one condition." Fred looked at him, and Carlisle continued, "You must only drink the blood of an animal. We don't live on human blood. It will take you some time to adjust. Bella is the newest vampire. She was only turned several months ago. She may be of some help controlling the urges."
Fred smiled, "I can manage. Just need some hunting tips and guidance."
Jasper spoke, "Obviously you survive on human blood, but there've been no reported deaths, or missing people."
Fred smiled, "Sadly it's considered stealing, and that alone bothers me. Blood banks are how I've survived. The thought of taking an innocent like, is not how I live."
Jasper smiled, "Well I'm welcoming you, if you choose to stay."
Emmett grinned, "Someone to watch the games with."
Fred laughed, and relaxed, "Absolutely."
Alice smiled, "I shop for everyone. Hope you don't mind."
Fred smiled, "Style is good."
Rosalie leaned against Emmett, "Welcome to the family."
Edward looked at him, "I'm the one who can read your thoughts, everyone's except hers." He gently placed his hands on Bella's shoulders.
She reached up, interlacing her fingers with his, "I'm a shield. It's hard to explain."
Fred smiled, "Maybe show me sometime."
Bella gave a gracious nod agreeing.
Carlisle smiled and held Esme, "We're the "parents" to the group per say. You'll learn the cover story."
Renesmee let go of Jacobs’s hand, and gently touched Fred's cheek. A slight shutter told everyone she was showing her talent, "You've grown quite a bit in such a short time." She giggled, and ran back to join Jake.
Carlisle looked at Jacob, "This is Jacob Black. He's the alpha of his pack. He's a shape shifter.
Fred nodded, "I think I've seen you before. La Push reservation?"
Jake nodded, "Possible. I do still patrol at night sometimes."
Fred smiled, "Your eyes, and scent. You and, Leah carry it, but also slightly different."
Things were calm, which was nice. I drank the coco, and set the mug down. A twinge of pain traveled down my leg, from my hip. The small gasp, which no typical human would have heard, had all eyes on me. "Come on let's make sure you're ok." Esme spoke.
"It's probably a bruise, nothing serious. Her liquid gold eyes were pleading with me silently. I stood up, and walked out of the room down the hall. She followed and opened the rather large sun room. I stepped in, and she shut the door behind us. I carefully slid down the pants and exposed my hip. She looked carefully, "It's red, and slightly swollen."
I sighed, "I'm feeling it. Adrenaline is wearing off." I carefully slid my pants back into position. I remained quiet for a minute.
Esme stepped in front of me, "What is it?"
I looked up, "I shouldn't be sore. Wolves, well were supposed to heal immediately, or close to it. It's not dislocated. If there were any fracture I'd know."
She looked slightly concerned, "Did you phase on impulse, or did you choose to?"
I thought about it, "A little of both."
She pushed my hair behind my ear, "Let's see what we can find on shape shifters." She led me to Carlisle's expansive study.
We were looking over a book, "Nothing. I have no idea."
Warm hands were on my shoulders, causing me to startle, "Hi baby." Soft lips tickled my ear lobe.
I turned, looking up, "Hi there handsome."
He smiled, and hugged Esme. "So what are we looking for?"
I looked back towards the book. "We're trying to find out healing abilities in shape shifters."
Hunter’s eyebrows rose as he walked around, and squatted beside me, "What happened? Don't say it’s nothing."
I stood up and the pain had become more intense, "I was clipped by a car on 101. It's hurting more so now than before."
Hunter stood up bedside me, "Nothing's broken?"
Esme shook her head, "No it was red, with slight swelling."
Hunter looked at me, just as a soft knock drew our attention to the door,
"May I come in?" Carlisle's voice slipped through the small opening.
"Of course you can Carlisle." Esme replied, and he walked in joining us.
He walked over peering over Esme's shoulder, "Pain?" He asked. I remained quiet. "Charlie received a call, and called us. Someone said they saw a rather large animal come darting out of the woods. They felt the car make contact. The animal took off. A busted fender is what they reported. The speed along that part is 45mph. You're phasing back to human form, and still in pain. Something's going on."
I sighed, "We know."
Hunter pulled me carefully into his arms. He gently kissed my temple. "I think, I'm losing my wolf, or shape shifting abilities. There's technically no threat. I know that now. I may only phase, when I want to."
Carlisle took a moment to process what I was saying, "That's a very strong possibility. Let’s see what we come across. We can sit down and well compare ideas."
I smiled, "Sounds good. What about Charlie and mom?"
Hunter smiled, "We'll see them in a bit. They're spending the weekend with us. Bella, Edward, Jacob, and Renesmee are as well." Hunter informed me.
Esme smiled, "Full house. That's good because we need to hunt."
Esme, and Hunter left the room chatting. They were talking about decorating ideas of all things. Carlisle looked at me, meeting my gaze, "You find something?"
I shook my head, "If it doesn't get better, the pain, I will have it checked."
He smiled, "I'm always here."
I smiled, "It's a bruise most likely. I also have my mom for the weekend."
He smiled, "I'm glad you've grown comfortable with us. It means a lot to us. Esme considers her you one of her own now. I do as well."
I felt a surge of happiness course through me. I hugged Carlisle without thinking. He quietly returned the hug. We continued to read, and chat but couldn't find much.
"Well listen, I want you to get home, and REST. Heat the hip, and take it easy."
I smiled rising, "I will." We walked back out to the living room.
"Alright, we’re packed. Let's go."
Renesmee couldn't contain her excitement.
I smiled, "You packed enough for a week."
She smiled shyly, "I was hoping to stay for a week.
I smiled, "What will you do while I'm at class, or working?"
She quickly replied, "Shopping. We could go to Seattle."
Bella smiled, "Renesmee you can't just decide."
I smiled, "Actually it will be nice."
Rosalie came over to me, "I was hoping to steal you just to talk with you quickly. I know you need to go."
I looked at her, "Uh sure."
She smiled and led me away from the others. "Oh I will miss you guys. Call please."
Esme hugged everyone. "We will grandma." Renesmee smiled, and went along hugging the others. They all talked quietly.
"Listen I stood up for you because, at one time, Bella was in your shoes. She knew what we were, and risked our safety with the Volturri. As you can see, we're safe. I understand you telling Hunter, and Charlie. I can't thank you enough, for protecting all of us when she was pregnant. Plus with the battle, you're like a sister to me." She took a moment and smiled at me, before placing a small white box in my hands. I looked at it, then her. "Open it." She smiled.
I did as I was told. Inside there was a silver bracelet with a round charm. Engraved in cursive it read, "Special Sister" with a small heart below the writing. "It's a Pandora. You can add charms as you'd like."
I carefully put it on, and smiled. "Rosalie I can't thank you enough. I'm sorry I was so,"
She stopped me, "Water under the bridge. The river continues to flow in one direction. You'll never see the same water again. So let it lay down stream."
I hugged her, "Thank you."
She smiled, "Alright you need to get home, and relax. Call if you need anything. Love you sis."
We walked back out.
We were in the car and all set to go. Edward and Bella were driving up with Renesmee, and Jake. "Promise to call, email, or even text."
Esme smiled. "I promise I will."
I let go of her hand, and put the window up. We all waved as we headed down the long drive way. I felt a lump in my throat, and Hunter squeezed my hand.
Edward smiled softly following behind us. "What are you smiling about?" Bella asked.
“Leah’s a bit sad to leave. She found out Esme and, Carlisle consider her part of the family."
Bella smiled, looking back at Jake. "I'm glad to hear that. She's felt out of place for a while."
Back at the big white house, the remaining Cullen's gathered, getting ready for their first Hunt with Fred. "The blood won't quench your thirst for human, but it allows you to survive. With time your eyes will become our color. That will take several months."
Fred nodded, "Understood."
Carlisle smiled, and shook hands, "Welcome to the coven."
Esme smiled, and then hugged him. Fred's smile showed such happiness, because he now had a family.
I dozed off in the car, while we headed home. Hunter called, and told them we were on the way back. I'd startled awake from a dream, quickly looking around. We were entering Port Angeles.
"Babe what is it?"
I took a deep breath, and shook my head, "Bad dream. We were in a bad car accident."
He smiled, "It was just a dream."
We'd pulled up to the intersection of W 8th st, and S N St, and were waiting, for the car in front to turn. The car in front turned and it was clear. Just as we started through the intersection, a car blew through it. Hunter hit the brakes. I heard a thud, and just felt the car spin.
The car stopped, after crashing into a parked car. Our car was facing Edward's head on. I sat there in shock.
Hunter looked at me, "Baby are you ok?"
I couldn't answer right away.
Edward and Bella were out of the car, and at ours.
My door was flung open, "Leah are you ok?" Bella stood there. Bella looked at him, “Go ahead I’ve got her.”
Hunter climbed out, and ran to check on the car that blew through the red light. Edward was on the phone with 911. "I...I...," I couldn't talk. I carefully undid my seatbelt, and I climbed out. I stood there in disbelief. Then I was doubled over vomiting in the middle of the intersection. Bella rubbed my back with one hand, while holding me with the other.
"They're on the way. I'm going to check on the other car."Edward said before leaving us.
Bella nodded, "Ok." She pulled out her phone, and called Charlie back at our house, "Hello?" Bella spoke clearly, and calmly, "Dad get down to W 8th St, and S N St. There's been an accident. Nobody appears hurt. Leah's sick,"
Charlie cut her off, "On the way."
She shoved her phone back in her pocket holding me. I sat back down in the car, and just held my head, and felt tears flowing. "I was asleep in the car. I had a dream we were in an accident."
She squatted in front of me, "Charlie is coming. You're ok. Breathe alright. Are you hurt anywhere?"
I took a mental checklist. “No. I think I’m ok. I’m just shaken up.”
She looked at me, “Hunter’s checking on the other driver.”
The sirens blared, and blue and red lights flashed. All kinds of voices were surrounding us. "Leah are you hurt anywhere?" Charlie's fatherly tone took over his regular one.
"I think she's shaken up. She had a dream about an accident, just before it happened." I climbed out, and went around Charlie. I just looked at our car. The front left fender took most of the hit. It didn't appear that we could drive home. My mom was busy checking on Renesmee, and Jake.
"I want to go home." I started to walk.
"Whoa,” Charlie quickly caught my arm, “get in the back of your moms car." Charlie had me tucked against him, and as we walked.
"Everyone's ok Nessie." Bella walked over to the car. Charlie helped me in the backseat. I sat there as the noise hummed around me. It was like my brain had floated away for the time being. “She’s like ice. In the trunk there’s a blanket. We need to warm her up. I can’t have her going into shock. Leah Hun it‘s mom. Can you talk to me?”
I looked up at her slowly.
“Hey it’s ok.” She pulled me tightly against her, and rubbed my back, “Shh baby its ok. It’s the scariest thing in the world. You’re both ok.” Charlie handed her the blanket, and she wrapped it around me. She climbed in the back seat with me, and just pulled me close. I didn’t have anything to say. I just wanted to go to sleep. I sobbed softly falling asleep against her.
The next thing I heard was, “Hun we’re home.”
My mom gently woke me, and climbed out. I made my way up to the porch, and fumbled through my pockets trying to find my keys. Hunter was beside me unlocking the door. I turned the knob and headed inside. I walked through the house back to the sunroom. I pulled the blanket off the back of the couch, and wrapped it around me. Hunter sat down, and pulled me against him. He gently stroked my hair as we sat there in the darkness. “I will always keep you safe. I love you. Promise me one day, soon, you’ll marry me.”
I smiled, and whispered, “Yes.” I slowly dozed off against him.