The Human Among Us (Revised) @halfofmysoul

Chapter 5: Shadow

Bella wasn't that all surprised when she sat down on the couch, Paul waited by the door, leaning against the wall. She wondered why he didn't come in more, or at least sit, but chalked it up to the thick tension in the room. She was obviously missing something but didn't know what it was. Jared didn't seem all that phased.

Bella glanced at who she knew as Embry, thanks to her brief introduction to him last year when she was visiting with her friends from school. She turned to Sam, waiting for him. "This is what we call a pack meeting, all parties included, except the imprints. We don't really concern them with these matters, but we think this has something to do with you," Bella frowned immediately at that, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth.

He gave her a reassuring smile, his kind eyes soothing the string of nerves that tingled down her spine. "Since you spent time around the Cullen's, we figure you might be able to help us. There's this vampire that showed up on our land, we've been trying to chase her all day, but to no avail. It's impossible for her to avoid us so easily, and Embry actually thought she might have some powers or something. She seemed to move before we even made one. We knew that through Carlisle that three of them had gifts. Who's to say this one doesn't?" Bella hummed and nodded. "Yeah Edward, Alice, and Jasper had gifts. Edward could read minds, Alice could see the future, and Jasper could influence emotions. Edward told me that not every vampire had gifts. Sometimes it is something from their human life that they carry over. It's possible," She shrugged.

"Well gift or no gift, this redhead is annoying. What the hell does she want?" Bella slowly turned her head to look at Jared who looked very much irritated. "Redhead?" She questioned, zoning out as she remembered that day at the clearing. Bella shivered at the remembrance of James's sneer, rubbing her wrist. "Yeah, like really red, orangey, fire red," The slight color in her face turned sheet-white, as she swallowed. "Can you show me?" She asked, leaning forward. Jared shook his head. "It's not possible. Not with you anyway. We can describe her to you," Bella winced as she bit the inside of her cheek and leaned back into the sofa cushions. "Do you know her?" Sam asked concerned. "Show me," Paul piped up.

"That's not going to," Jared was interrupted by Paul walking outside, throwing a "Just do it," over his shoulder. Sam nodded to Jared, indulging Paul for the moment. Jared walked out of the house, and Bella bounced her foot. "I'll be right back," Sam said, before walking outside. She bit at her thumb nail, glancing back outside. "Hey, I'm still new to this, but, everything will be alright. You're safe here," Embry leaned forward, placing his hand on her knee to stop it from bouncing. Bella glanced up at him, her worried expression slightly evening out as they met eyes.

The feeling of peace and comfort filled her briefly, causing a small smile to grace her face. He moved a strand of hair out of his face, smiling in return. "Here, I'll cut on the tv, distract us a bit," Bella nodded, doing her best to calm herself down. Embry found the remote and cut on the tv. The first channel was the news. "Wait," Bella said, holding out her hand to stop him from changing it. "There has been a wake of bodies just this past week in Seattle. For the first time in over 10 years, we may have a serial killer on our hands. All the victims are female, with brown hair. Many of the victims are no taller than 5'2 and have brown eyes. If you are in the Seattle area, we ask that you stay safe, and stay vigilant,"

Bella's stomach rolled, and her gut clenched as she was trying not to come to any conclusions. The pictures of the victims flashed across the screen, and Bella looked away from it. Embry turned the volume down, oblivious to her reaction.

Sam, Paul, and Jared came in minutes later, and Bella glanced at them wondering what was going on. Sam went to the backroom, before coming back out with a notebook. Handing it to Paul, he too was confused about what Paul planned on doing. After grabbing the pencil by the phone, Paul made his way to Bella, plopping down on the couch beside her. She sat up straighter, leaning close to him as she watched his fingers fly across the page.

She watched as his sketch came to life, slightly awed at his work. It briefly reminded her of Alice. Horror then settled as the sneering face glared back at her. She looked real. So real that she could jump off the page and grab her at any moment. "Sam, have you seen this?" Jared turned up the volume, the news anchor reiterating what she had just said moments before. Bella looked back down at the sketch, then back at the tv. The feeling of dread bubbled up in her stomach, and she quickly stood, bee-lining towards the bathroom in the hall.

She barely had the lid up before she threw up, a mix of sobbing thrown in between. It was no doubt in her mind that the killing in Seattle was Victoria, and it was a message. "It's all your fault," A voice hissed, making Bella shake her head. "No," She moaned softly, sitting beside the toilet. She shut her eyes, her lips trembling. That cold, icy draft blew in front of her, encasing her in what felt like an embrace. A cold, dead, embrace.

"All those girls, dead because of you…what would daddy say?" It purred in her ear, like a Swansong, yet so deadly. It curled around her body as if it's been there since day one, taunting her. Trying to break her in the most of successful ways. Pushing herself off the floor, she gritted her teeth. She wouldn't let this consume her, and she knew that no matter how much she herself was at fault, the blood was not on her hands. Not all of it. She wouldn't hold the blame. This was all because of him.

She flushed the toilet, and went to the sink, washing her hands. "Belllaaaaa," It hissed, and Bella glanced up at the mirror, freezing as in the corner a dark mass seemed to materialize. "You're mine." Bella shook her head in denial, glaring back at it.

The crack that she was trying so hard to glue together was slowly breaking. Bella's life might have been altering, but that didn't mean that everything healed. She was still reeling from the Cullen's departure, trying to find herself, and was left alone with a psychotic vampire on her hands, but she wasn't about to sit back and let things hit the fan, not without a fight. Not again.

She had a different future to think about now. One where she wouldn't be a part of the undead.

"Go to hell," She whispered, staring at the dark figure with a newfound hatred.

Outside of the bathroom, the boys all stared at one another, wondering who she was talking to. "Maybe I should go check on her," Sam worriedly stated, looking in the direction of the hall. No one objected, their ears trained in her general direction. The sound of glass breaking had them standing, and before anyone could make a move, Bella was yelling, "Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!"

The bathroom door opened, and Bella came out with bloodshot eyes and a pair of bloody knuckles. "Jesus Bella," Sam was the first to move, grabbing her hand. He looked back at the bathroom and then back to her incredulously. "What the hell?" He asked, leading her to the living room.

Bella cradled her hand, and she glanced back at the hall. "You don't hear it? Can't you feel it?" She asked, the cool reserve she had seconds before slowly dissipating. The confusion on each of their faces told her enough and she frowned, looking to Paul whose eyes were on her as well. "Got any first aid?" She asked, holding up her bloody hand.

Surprisingly enough, Paul was the one to tend to her hand, plucking out the glass, as Sam, Jared, and Embry went about picking up the glass in the bathroom. "Where did you learn how to do this?" She questioned, keeping her eyes on his face. "Picked it up here and there," He replied, taking a Q-tip dipped in alcohol to swab at the cuts. "I'm not crazy," She whispered, glancing back at the hall. "I believe you," He responded, his dark eyes looking back at hers. It was almost like looking into a mirror, and she could see herself as clear as day.

"So do we," Sam said, coming from the hall with a trash bag. "We knew this wasn't going to be over, we just don't know what to expect. But whatever it is, you can't let it take hold of you," He walked outside to the trash, and Bella turned her gaze back to her hand as Paul gently wrapped it.

The silence was interrupted by a howl in the air, immediately followed by another high-pitched one. Jared and Embry walked from the hall, both of their expressions mixed with confusion and slight apprehension. Sam quickly came back inside, heading down the hall before coming back with two pairs of shorts. "Let's go. This most definitely can't be good," Bella scooted away from Paul to let him go.

Paul stayed put, knowing his presence probably wouldn't do much good. Sam nodded in his direction, the two having a quick, silent conversation. "Get some rest kiddo, don't worry about anything, and don't watch the news," He warned and was gone in seconds, the sounds of yipping faintly disappearing as they went further towards their destination.

As Paul put away the first-aid kit, Bella hesitantly walked back into the guest bedroom, looking at the dark room. She didn't want to cross the threshold of the door just yet. It terrified her a great deal that something that physically couldn't touch her, had found its way to her in a rather vulnerable state.

What felt like a slight burn slowly made way across her back, engulfing her in what felt like a tight embrace. She wouldn't have known he was there otherwise. He was somehow quieter than the others, and even they were light on their feet, but Paul was otherwise silent. She stepped forward into the room, the heat a constant at her back.

With a quiet thank you, she slipped into bed without another word, trying to sort out everything going on in her mind. As she drifted off into sleep, she could still feel Paul's presence within the room, like a pulsating energy.

Paul tilted his head as Bella drifted off to sleep. He took note that not once did she falter around him, fear him, she even defended him on two occasions. She knew the gist, nobody liked him, and he didn't like anyone. It threw him for a loop. She was different from Kim or Emily. He could give Emily some credit that she tried at first, until he literally snapped at her.

Paul had one rule, and Sam knew that rule. It was just a matter that Sam forgot to actually reiterate it to Emily. He phased some time after Jared, and Sam had invited him over so that he'd get used to how everything went down. Thinking Paul was like Jared, friendly, she tried giving him a plate of food to which he neither acknowledged nor batted an eye at.

His silence confused her, and being her nurturing self, no one's fault really, she attempted to touch him. The dangerous thing about Paul is that he knew his strength, he knew his limits, before and after he phased. He grabbed her wrist that day in a vice-like grip, causing it to sprain. It took weeks to heal, and even though Emily didn't blame him, she stayed as far away from him as possible. Sam almost tore him a new one, but the bulk on Paul alone made him go against it. No one else needed to get hurt. That tension grew just a night ago when Paul resuscitated Bella. He was gentle, didn't have to shift his weight, or think, and Sam knew that what Paul did was intentional. He didn't want to see a gentle girl like Bella get hurt, physically, or emotionally. But he knew deep down that it was futile. The moment Paul questioned him, Who is she? It was over before anything began.

Sam knew then that trying to keep Bella away from Paul would be a lost cause because he made a choice. Paul chose to not hurt her, he chose to save her life, and by making that choice, he has chosen to defend it. He didn't set a limit. He didn't set a pre-coursed introduction. It wasn't that she was now pack, not really, it was her, and her alone that made him choose. She treated him differently, in just a day, trusted him, and it was something he'd cherish.

She looked monsters in the eyes and chose love, and if she could do that for them, he knew he was no different. Granted, some would call Paul a cold, heartless bastard that really had no care if the world burned in fire. It was true though. If the world burned, he'd let it. Maybe.

There was also something about the way Bella didn't push or prod. She was like a breath of fresh air, broken, yet somehow still standing. She was a fighter, and with the right push, she'd overcome it. She was delicate in a way he'd never seen any woman be. She didn't lust after him upon sight, almost shit her pants out of pure fear alone. She touched him, with no hesitance, with the intention of soothing and calming.

Her touch was warm and inviting, serene, and a look into her eyes affected nothing. It was indeed true that Paul could not, and would never imprint, and it wasn't because he was dark, different, a different breed, no. He was the only one strong enough.

Bella rolled over in her sleep, sighing softly. She lifted her hand, moving a strand of hair out of her face. Laying her head back down, she froze, eyeing the dark shadow that stood against the wall. It almost looked like a cloak, and it was facing her, and even though Bella saw nothing, no eyes, not even a face, she could feel it, staring holes into her head.

She gripped the sheets, watching it, wondering what it wanted. That icy cool spread forward, the figure seemingly glided towards her, and Bella leaned back and away, her hand reaching behind her for the lamp string.

She fumbled behind her, knowing she'd tumble to the floor in a matter of seconds, but she felt like if she turned around, it would lash out and swallow her whole. Her hand made contact with jeans and a leg, that leg shifting upon contact. She turned around, scrambling onto the body that sat in the chair next to the bed without a second thought. The chair rocked backwards before the body under her shifted his weight to bring the chair legs back down to the floor.

A blast of what felt like an ice bucket being poured on her made her shudder, and she held onto the body in fright. Long arms curled around her, her heart beating loud in her ears. She swallowed, heavily breathing against their neck. She couldn't control her shaking, afraid to look back at the bed, but she did anyway, seeing nothing.

She finally snapped back into reality, realizing that the body she happened to be on was Paul. Her cheeks reddened, and she cleared her throat. "Sorry, I…I saw something," She mumbled, still shaken by the event. She uncurled her arms from around his neck, realizing that she was practically straddling him. "Oh god, I'm sorry," She attempted to scramble off him, but the squeezing of his hands around her waist stopped her. "Relax," He rumbled softly, easing her with just a tiny quirk of his lips. The smile took away from the look in his eyes, the fire that raged beneath the black pools of nothing.

He lifted her easily, setting her on her feet. He stood, towering above her tiny frame. The loss of his heat was immediate as he removed his hands. He pulled back the covers, glancing at her. "You didn't have to…" She murmured, walking around him and getting back into the bed. "I know," He replied. "What if it comes back?" She asked quietly, glancing up at him. She felt like a little girl, thinking of the monsters under her bed. She could only see him due to the moon that shined through the window and she wasn't lost on the metaphor's life seemed to throw at her. Like a beacon, the moon always shined on him in some way or form. "It won't," He replied, and Bella took his word for it, laying back down. Now aware of his presence, the nerves were slowly rising through her body, making her overly self-aware.

She closed her eyes, doing her best to lull herself back to sleep. The bed dipped beside her, and she stilled, turning on her other side to face Paul as he laid beside her. His attention was just as transfixed on her as hers on him, and Bella didn't know the inner workings of Paul, didn't understand why he was like the way he was, but she took it as an invitation of sorts.

She laid her head on his shoulder, a small sigh of content escaping her lips as his strong arm wrapped around her waist, and before she could even think about the uncertainty, it was lights out.

When she awoke the next morning, she was alone. She rolled over, her face in the pillow where Paul's head laid. She gave a small hum at the scent he left behind. She stretched, yawning, looking around the room. She could hear pots and pans rattling in the kitchen, and after tidying up and showering, she made her way out of the room and to the kitchen.

She came around the wooden frame, smiling at Emily as she moved about. "Morning," She chirped, startling the poor woman so the point that she shrieked in fright, turning to glare at Bella. "Jesus. Make some noise," Bella softly laughed, glancing at the suitcases. "Are you going somewhere else? How was visiting your family?" Emily nodded, stirring a pot of grits. "Yeah, Sam told me about the vampire in the area. He thinks it's best I stay with my family for a few days, just to assess things. Oh honey, don't look so down. None of this is your fault, and quite honestly, I haven't seen my mother since last year. I won't be gone long, about a week," Bella frowned, but nodded. "Still, I'm sorry you have to leave on the account of me. Let me help," Bella and Emily cooked side by side in silence, Emily making plans to go out with Bella when she returned. She wanted to get to know the girl that would be in their lives. They made plans to go out in about a week, hoping that the vampire problem would become non-existent.

"Hey, Emily? I was wondering what you could tell me about Paul and Sam. There seems to be some underlined tension between them, but I haven't had a chance to ask. If you don't mind," Emily subconsciously rubbed her wrist and glanced at Bella. She led her to the table, the two sitting down. Handing Bella a cup of coffee, Emily sighed.

"Sam and Paul don't get along because of me," Bella tilted her head, waiting for her to elaborate. "Paul doesn't do well with contact, and he doesn't like to be touched. I don't know why, but I accidentally touched him, unaware of his personal space. He uh, sprained my wrist. It was an accident and not his fault, but Sam hasn't really gotten over it. I've been told you two have gotten kind of close. Sam's eyes almost bulged out of his head when he came back to find you two in bed," She chuckled, a small laugh erupting from her body as Bella blushed. Laying her hand on top of Bella's, Emily smiled. "Don't let what happened to me deter you from being friends with him, and don't worry about Sam. Paul needs someone. We all do. He's….different with you," She noted, a dreamy look in her eyes. She could just visualize the two.

Bella had a newfound likeness of Emily, seeing as she really was a kind-hearted person. Bella smiled, sipping on her coffee. "Eat up before the boys get back, or you'll have nothing," She smiled, getting up from the chair, but not before smoothing a hand down Bella's hair.

Emily was perfect. The perfect woman to whom she was slowly seeing as a brotherly figure. She now understood Sam's reluctance and anger towards Paul, as she would be the same way if it were her in Sam's shoes. She didn't blame either of them and knew they each had to come to terms with it.

"Wait, last night…did someone else phase?" She asked, and Emily nodded in confirmation. "Two. Twins." Bella could only hum at that. She didn't know how good that was, but maybe in numbers, they could catch Victoria.

She ate like Emily advised, not realizing how hungry she was till then. After eating, she washed her dishes and decided to phone Charlie. It's been about two and a half days, and she needed to check-in. Going towards the house phone, she dialed the number from memory, listening to it ring before Charlie came on the other line.

"Chief Swan," He answered gruffly, sounding confused as he didn't recognize the number. "Hey Dad," Bella greeted sharply, smiling to herself at his intake of breath. "Bells. Hey, glad to hear your voice. How are you feeling?" Bella twirled the cord around her finger, mulling the question over. "I'm doing great, well as great as I can be. Sam and Emily are really nice, and I made a new friend or two," She babbled, her heart swelling at hearing his laugh. How could she have ever thought to let him go?

"That's great, I'm glad you're feeling better. Things here are a little tense. We've connected the case to a string of murders down in Seattle. I don't want you coming up here any time soon, and be careful," Bella nodded, frowning. "You too dad. Call me when you get in for the night?" She asked, staring through the window at the trees. "Will do. Love you sweetheart," Bella mumbled her I love you and hung up the phone. "Emily, I'll be right back," She called, already heading out the front door.

She peered through the shrubbery of trees, pausing for a moment. "Jacob?" She asked softly, leaning over to get a better glimpse. "Bella! Come here," He hissed. Bella quickly looked around to make sure none of the boys were phased, before walking through the greenery. "What are you doing here? You shouldn't be here," She warned, turning to look over her shoulder.

Jacob turned to face her with an expression she didn't recognize. "Come with me," He said, grasping her hand, pulling her into the woods. She barely had time to react before she was jerked along. She tugged, turning to look behind her, finding that Sam's home was getting farther and farther from view.

"Jake, what the hell, stop. Let me go," She snapped, planting her feet in the dirt and leaves. He let her arm go, and Bella stumbled a bit before righting herself. She eyed him warily, watching as he walked around her in a circle. She distanced herself a bit, too following his movement.

She rubbed her arm, frowning at him. "It feels like you just came from a freezer. What the hell are we doing out here?" She asked angrily, throwing him a glare as she rubbed her arm. She swallowed as he eyed her. He looked different somehow, not the same person she saw yesterday.

"They can't protect you Bella," He whispered, circling around her slowly. Brows drawn; Bella looked him over. There was no way he could… "I don't know what you're talking about," She whispered, backing away from him. She looked him over, eyeing his brown t-shirt, and long brown pants. She made a small noise in her throat as she glanced at his bare feet. Not a scratch was on them. Why was he barefoot? She then glanced at his toes, her lip curling in disgust as his toenails were turning black. "Jake, I think," She glanced back up at his face, her eyes widening in horror as he smiled a toothy smile, his teeth a rotting yellow and black gums. His eyes were no longer brown but a vibrant blue color.

"You're not…" She whimpered, fear washing over her in an instant. "No," He purred, and before her eyes, 'Jacob' grew in height, his body turning to a dark, cloaked figure. "Oh god," She whispered, her fight or flight instincts kicking in. In what felt like slow motion, she felt her body being propelled to the side and down. She yelped as she hit the ground. Lifting her head, she could feel a trickle of blood down the side of her head. She turned over on her back, her eyes widening at the figure before her. It smiled evilly at her, and Bella kicked up some dirt, turning back on her stomach and getting up. She made a run for it, sprinting through the trees, hearing the deathly yell. "THEY CAN'T SAVE YOU!"

She weaved in and out of the way of the trees, taking once quick glance behind her. Her eyes widened as she could see it, gliding behind her a few feet away. She screamed as her flip flop caught on a root, and she tumbled forward, gasping as she was coming upon a small cliff full of dirt and leaves. She tumbled off the small cliff, landing on her hands and knees. It was probably 10ft drop, and she quickly got back up, stopping as before her was a large gray wolf. She didn't have to guess as to who it was, the dark black pupils staring back at her gave her an inkling. She didn't hesitate to sprint forward, grasping at the soft fur, pushing her body against the wolf.

She took in a sharp intake of breath as the figure emerged from the cliff she just fell, stopping as if blocked by a barrier. The wolf growled low in his throat and Bella let go of his fur and he stood even bigger, and taller in size, essentially hiding her from view. Bella watched in amazement as the fur on his back rose, sticking out stiffly. The blue eyes flickered in her direction, and Bella shivered. She grasped at the fur, moving over barely an inch, effectively removing it from sight. Howls sounded from different directions, and she peered through the opening between his front legs to see the figure gone.

The wolf shrunk down, molding into a human shape. Her attention was still transfixed on that spot, only shifting her attention to look at Paul.

His eyes raked over her, eyeing the Knick on the side of her head with disdain. Taking his thumb, he wiped the side of her head. He hesitated for a second as she leaned forward, her head on his chest. He took it in stride, his arm wrapping around her body firmly. She could only sniffle, her wide eyes staring into space at nothing. Without turning around, Paul caught the shorts thrown in his direction. Bella didn't even bat an eye as Paul pulled away from her and pulled on his shorts.

Sam was the first to phase back human, the others following suit after seeing as there was nothing to chase. He made his way to her, stepping on a branch in the process, making it snap. The sound caused Bella to jump, and she shook her head a bit. Sam engulfed her into a hug, smoothing her hair back. "Shhh," He soothed, laying his head on top of hers as she cried silently.

He glanced at the rest of his pack wondering how that thing got anywhere near her and none of them even smelled it. Bella pulled back, wiping her eyes. "It looked like him," She hiccupped, her terrified expression working Sam up even more. "Who?" He asked, frowning as Bella turned around, pointing towards the small cliff. "He-He was outside, and I-I-I followed and then the woods…his toes, his face, it could touch me," She babbled hysterically, grabbing her arm, looking at Sam like a deer caught in headlights. "It touched me," She drew in a shaky breath, her skipping heartbeat loud and clear to the supernatural creatures around her.

"Paul get her out of here. Now. Levi, trail them and keep your eyes and ears open. I want you standing guard at my place. Embry, with me. Jared, Jamie, keep an eye out for that leech," Sam ordered. Everyone went their separate ways, and the young teen trailed behind Paul and Bella.

Bella was still babbling, although incoherent, trying to explain what happened. Paul stopped in front of her, getting down on a knee, level with her. "Calm down," He said, spreading her fingers apart with his own. She nodded, taking in a few deep breaths. He then cut his eyes to Levi. Levi…they weren't sure which bloodline he and Jamie came from, but given his name, they assumed Uley.

Levi was the spitting image of Jamie, with short brown hair, a square jaw, with a low brow line. Jamie instead had jet black hair, something he did to tell he and his brother apart. "Phase, and scout. You need to have all your senses open. Warn me if you catch a glimpse of anything," Levi nodded and cast one more glance at Bella before phasing. He was much smaller than the others, just 16, and he was a dark brown, a small black stripe running down his back.

Who would've thought, just yesterday he and his brother got into a heated argument, and in place of two legs, there were four; thoughts bombarded by other people. Paul watched Levi drop low then turned his attention back to Bella.

Bella was still rubbing at her arm, a distraught expression on her face. Seeing as she was now missing both of her shoes, he gently lifted her into his arms, holding her close to his chest. She wrapped her arms around his neck, remembering Emily's story. She dropped her arms into her lap, brows furrowing. Feeling his eyes on her, she tilted her head up, a small hum making way from her throat.

"Sorry. I-I'm not.." She sighed, trying to find the right words. "Emily told me that you don't like being touched, and I noticed there was something between you and Sam, and she told me what happened…when she…I uh, I don't want to cross any…" She trailed off at his blank, somewhat amused expression. "Does it look like I don't want you touching me?" He questioned, jostling her a bit in his hold. While she knew he wouldn't possibly drop her, she still wrapped her arms around his neck. "I guess not," She chuckled softly, unable to help herself as she put her face in the space between his shoulder and neck. "It looked like Jacob. That, that thing. It dragged me out here and…it's rotten. Black toes, yellow teeth, Jacob's face was…it was peeling off," She mumbled into his neck, some of her words slurring together.

He seemed to understand, his hold tightening on her just a bit. "It wasn't real," He said softly, glancing back down at her. Her brown, doe eyes stared back at his, vulnerable to the world to see, and that would be the glue. The invisible tether that would pull these two beings closer than anything imagined. An imprint would do them no justice; it wouldn't do them right. They weren't meant to be, and that's exactly what made them perfect.

Two days into knowing one another, a stretch within itself, it would only grow stronger. Bella didn't know Paul from Adam, and he sure didn't know her from Eve, but wolves and even humans to an extent were instinctual. They followed what they felt were right. Paul ran on nothing but instinct. Every human, wolf alike, made his body tingle. His way of telling himself that these people, no matter who they were, were to be held at more than arm's length, and he had to do whatever he could to keep them there. Bella though was different. It was more than a tingle, and there was a moment of curiosity within Paul that he had to know. She was hard to read, but he knew that there was something honest within her, a fierceness. When he learned that had been fraternizing with the enemy, it wasn't distrust that crossed his mind. It was her loyalty. Over a year just about, and not once did she spill the secrets for the world to know.

The moment she asked him to the beach, knowing just enough about him that would make her want to stay away, was where it all began.

"I promise that it won't get you again," Her arms tightened around his neck, and she whispered, "I trust you,"

Paul slowly closed the bedroom door behind him, making sure Levi was outside before making his way towards the stuttering heartbeat in the kitchen. Emily glanced up at him from the dinner she was making, immediately breaking eye-contact with him.

She wiped her hands on the dishtowel probably three times before she turned around to face him. "She needs you," She blurted out, covering her mouth immediately. Paul sunk down to the chair, gently kicking the other one out, a silent invitation for her to sit.

Emily tilted her head at him, the question evident on her face. She hesitantly sat down in the chair but made no move to scoot closer to the table. Using his foot, he tucked his shoe under the wooden frame pulling it closer to him. He glanced at her wrist, before meeting her brown eyes. They were wide, cautious, as they should be.

"I wanted to apologize," He stated, even his voice holding a sincere tone. Emily hummed in surprise, brows raising high. "I, no. It wasn't your fault. I should've known better," Paul didn't disagree or agree, but he turned his attention to the room for a second before looking back at Emily. "You care for her, and I can see she already feels the same. She likes you," Emily swallowed, audibly gulping as she wondered where this conversation was going. She was still trying to wrap her mind around the fact that he was even talking to her. "She…I like her. She's….calming. So," He stuck out his hand, waiting patiently for her to make a move. Her small hand grasped his, and she lightly smiled at him.

He just nodded, a mutual respect now between them. He'd like her as long as Bella did.

When night fell on LaPush, everyone was stumped on what to do next. No sign of Victoria, and for all they knew, she could've left. They were still unaware of her and Bella's connection. The weird figure didn't return that night, and Sam had himself a new house guest. He only tolerated Paul's presence because he seemed to work with Bella on a level he just couldn't grasp.

He laid in bed with Emily, surprised at hearing the little truce Paul initiated, his attention fully on her. With Paul in just the next room, he knew Bella was fine. She was excited and talked about the encounter, then about Bella and so on.

The two newest members of the pack were getting their first lesson alongside Embry who was picking up the ropes rather quickly. The wolf life was exhilarating for them, and it somehow brought Jamie and Levi closer to each other. They liked living a wild life, their minds not even thinking about what they would tell their parents or how they would juggle school. They were also curious about the human that hung around at Sam's.

They didn't ask many questions about her, just observed the inner dynamics. By the end of the night, one twin was paired with Jared and Embry, both older boys becoming quickly annoyed by the constant chatter in their heads. Can you two shut the hell up for once?

Jared's snapping at Levi's hind legs caused the younger boy to adhere, following behind Jared. Embry didn't have to say a single word to Jamie as he replayed what Jared had done just moments ago. Jamie seemed to get the gist.

At the Black household sat a very lonely Jacob. That lonely feeling was slowly starting to bubble into a wave of simmering anger. All his friends were gone, and it was all because of Sam. He even told the girl he was crushing on. He briefly remembered Quil in that moment of his anger, the boy a friend of Embry's. He and Jacob never really talked much, but that was until Jacob noticed Sam lurking around him. Maybe he could snatch Quil up before Sam did. Billy watched his son with a frown. One day, he'd be where he belonged.

Everybody belonged somewhere.

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