"Will you take me down to see Charlie?" my mom asked, as she rolled her wheelchair into the hall to look at me.
So I could get another reminder that I'd failed completely? I didn't think so. "Call and ask Samantha to give you a ride." I could hear the all too familiar bitter rage and grief in my voice.
"Don't be like that, Julie."
"Why not? You won't tell me anything. Frankly, if I didn't know better I'd think she was your daughter and not me." I knew it was harsh. I knew I shouldn't say it. I didn't care, my own self loathing left me no room to care how much I hurt my mom.
"You'll learn what's going on soon enough." Her voice was sad, and I knew I should apologize for my behavior. I didn't. "I'll call Sam." She rolled backwards out of the hall and into the main area of the house.
It had been more than nine months since Beau had died. At least, that's what the papers said. I knew better though. Beau hadn't just died. I knew that truck he'd been in at the time. After all, I'd grown up riding around in that truck. So I knew, there was no way someone would fall asleep at the wheel doing sixty in that vehicle. It was too loud when you got it to that speed, wheezing and choking up the whole time. No one would sleep through that.
It really only left one option. Beau had intentionally driven into that ditch at that speed. He'd meant for it to happen.
And I'd seen the signs, and been too blind to help him. He'd been hanging out with people that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, going so far as to start mimicking the one's dressing style, Edythe, had showed a genuine paranoia of the supernatural, and he'd been legitimately unhappy here. All he would have had to do was give the truck to someone else and every box would have been checked on the depression checklist. Of course, he'd decided to take the truck with him instead, but I still should have seen it coming.
I should have tried to help him. I would have helped him if he'd just asked.
It had been nine months since I'd hacked my hair off in a moment of rage filled grief.
And it had also been nine months since my last period. The local doctor said it was normal for people who were particularly stressed and grieving to have irregular periods or lose them all together but had insisted that once I got back to normal they'd come back.
I didn't see how I was ever going to "get back to normal." I could have loved Beau, if he'd only stayed long enough to give me a chance. I could have shown him real happiness.
But he was gone, and all that was left was the ever festering rage telling me I should have done more and the bitter grief that pulsated with a life of it's own.
I heard Sam's truck pull up outside.
I didn't want to see her look at me with her omniscient eyes that seemed to say she knew something I didn't. I yanked open my window and slid out of it. Then I started to run as hard and fast as I could, pushing myself to run faster, hitting the dirt road leading two different directions in no time at all.
I could go left and head toward the beach and the road to Forks, or I could go right and head toward the cliffs. I went right. I didn't want to run into Quilla and Embrianna. I didn't want to talk to them and try and pretend to be happy. I wasn't happy. I hadn't been in months. If it weren't for my mom needing me...
I stopped the thoughts in their tracks, pushing myself even harder until my lungs were physically burning every time I took a breath, until my heart was pounding so hard that I could feel it. It wasn't enough to drown out the pain, the rage, the grief. It was never enough.
I pushed myself even harder.
I ran until I was deep in the the forest, probably having run a good ten miles, perhaps more. I wasn't sure. I knew at least a couple hours had passed since I'd taken off. I knew it was a bad idea to be in the woods, the sightings of the massive bear that had supposedly been killing campers had mostly been in the forest. Though it had also been spotted around Forks, down by Newton's Olympic Outfitters, even over at First Beach.
I didn't care. And even though I was physically exhausted, every muscle in my body screaming that I needed to rest – I was shaking from the strain on my muscles – it still wasn't enough.
I spun around, slamming my fist into a tree hard enough to bust open the skin on my knuckles. The physical pain felt good, something that I could focus on other than the emotions that never got any better. I shrieked, smashing my fist into the tree again. I felt something in my hand break, and the pain brought tears to my eyes. I was shaking even more violently. I ignored it, tightening my fist, I swung at the tree.
In the space of a tenth of a second, everything changed – my sight blurring and my head screaming something was wrong – pieces of clothing fluttered to the ground. What hit the tree wasn't a fist, but a massive, brown paw.
I fell to the forest floor on all fours – four giant paws, that was. I tried to demand what was going on, but what came out was a series of wolfs.
Suddenly it was as if I was in three places at once. I was still here, standing on four animal legs, in the depth of the forest, but I was somewhere else too. Staring at a scene from two different locations.
"...Most nomads aren't brave enough to just walk up to a place that smells like a fortress." The double tinged ears left me reeling. I was hearing and looking at a man that reminded me of Beau from two different spots, but it was impossible, Beau was dead. Besides this young man didn't smell like Beau had. Who was he?
Jules! The exclamation came from the two places I was seeing and hearing. What in the hell was going on with me?
"You will tell me, if you find out who it is. So we can dispatch the vampire." I let out a snarl through my mouth, the sound shocking me, but matching my anger towards that voice which I recognized. She came to my house practically daily after all. Samantha Uley, the name was a curse in my mind.
Don't think like that, Jules. I know this is disorienting and confusing for you, but Sam will help you. You'll see. Everything will make sense soon. I finally recognized the voice that accompanied one of the set eyes as being Jaelyn Cameron. And if Sam was standing talking to the Beau-like being, that meant that the other set of eyes had to be Paula, it was the only rational option here
Bingo. Paula's voice, sarcastic and loud.
"How would I get ahold of you if I figure it out?" It was the young man again. He was stiff as he spoke. Who was this man that reminded me so much of Beau?
It's a vampire, not a man. Paula again.
"Come to the place where we've met before and wait there. It wouldn't take us very long to realize that you're there." Sam giving the young man orders like he was some sort of lap dog to pull around on a string. One of the young man's hands clenched into a fist. I'd punch her too, if I was him. He looked like a man to me, not some mythical creature.
"Very well. I will do that." His voice was cold like an arctic wind.
We need to get Sam's attention.
We need to tell her that Jules has finally changed.
You want to shift back and tell Sam? He already got an eyeful of you once. I'm much too modest, myself.
I snorted, the only thing modest about Paula was her short hair.
I heard that.
Why don't you shift?
Through their eyes, I saw Sam open her mouth to reply even as Paula and Jaelyn continued to bicker.
SHUT UP!I screamed in my head turning my head to the sky and letting out an ear piercing howl.
Instantly, they both shut up, as if they had absolutely no choice but to be quiet.
In front of their eyes, I could see Sam mouth a word, it looked suspiciously like my name. Then suddenly Sam shivered rigidly for a mere moment – reminding me of my own exhausted muscles causing me to shake earlier – and then Sam burst apart, pieces of the sarong she'd been wearing floating in the air a moment before falling to the ground. What fell to the floor on four paws was huge with black fur. If it was about half it's size, I'd say it was a wolf.
Jules, stay where you are. I recognized the voice in my head as belonging to Samantha.
I growled. I wasn't about to take orders from her. The young man might be willing to be pushed around by her, but I wasn't
You need to stay there, Jules. You aren't too far away from the border, and you're safe while you're on that side. You aren't on this side. Not with the vampire I was just talking to on this side.
Vampires aren't real. Sam started running in my directions, the other two – completely silent – running at her flank.
I heard it through their three sets of ears as the young man they'd left behind started to follow them. Paula started to stop, wanting to spin around and attack, wanting to protect them. But suddenly Sam's voice was thinking, whip-sharp.
Don't, let him follow us over the border if he's that stupid. We'll have proper justification for destroying him, then.
Paula picked back up her speed as if by some force outside of her control.
Who is the young man? I needed answers. Everything was twisted.
Suddenly the thoughts flooded me.
He's a member of the Cullens, you know the myths that you told him because you didn't believe them. Well, they are all true.
He's Beau Swan, or at least what's left of him.
Really he's just a monster.
He truly did kill himself just like you've long suspected, just not in the manner you thought.
He's a bloodsucker that would kill his own father in an instant if given half of a chance.
He's a killer.
A freak of nature.
He's the reason we're like this. The reason I had to break up with Lee-Lee.
He'll destroy the the tribe, kill everyone in Forks.
He's a disease that needs to be exterminated.
He's why Elliott is scarred forever.
He should have left with the rest of the freaks.
Round and round the voices went in my head. I couldn't tell who one was from the other. It was causing a blistering headache. I screamed, another howl raising in the air, this one louder than the first.
Sam put voice to my misery. Quiet, let me talk to her.
Beau Swan is dead. I was there when his casket was put in the ground. I threw a handful of gravel on his grave.
Did you see his body?
It was too damaged to have an open casket. You know that. You saw the same papers I did. I knew she had, because I could see the papers in her mind the instant I had started to think about them.
I could tell from the other two, that even as they're thoughts were almost entirely muted, they were nearing the border.
The Quileute border that is meant to keep the Cullens on their side of the line.
And is supposed to keep us on our side! I knew the legend of the treaty. The complete one, not the abbreviated one I gave to Beau all those months ago for the purpose of scaring him. What I hadn't known was that he'd actually believed them
Perhaps if you'd kept your mouth shut the way you were supposed to, he'd still be alive.
You're telling me that he is following you. That makes him alive.
That just makes him not buried the way he should be.
And even though the other two were essentially muted, I still heard the snarky, Or cremated.
All three of them breathed a mental sigh of relief, in spite of what Sam had thought earlier, none of them actually believed that Beau would cross onto our land. They'd all seen how hard he was trying to make them believe that there was still some part of him that was human. Of course, none of them believed that. And as I listened to these general beliefs without any actual thoughts behind them, I started to believe them too. It would be so very easy too fall into this... instinctual pack mentality.
I started to fall.
Just then, Paula spun around, sensing he was still following them. She growled and snapped her teeth, preparing to gather her body under her and launch herself at him. Intending to take his head off. It only took a moment for her instincts to register.
My reaction was instantaneous. NO!
Every muscle and bone in Paula's body froze up under the force of my demand.
You will not touch Beau.
"Either kill me or let me see Julie," Beau snarled the worlds. For this first time I recognized something that very definitely wasn't human in him at all.
I. Can't. Move. Towards him. Paula mentally screeched, turning her head to look at Sam for help
I won't be able to usurp her order, Paula. Jules is the born alpha. Sam's thoughts tried to cut off, but still I saw. In a flash of a second and a half I was overloaded.
What am I? How did I become this, this thing? How do I stop being it? I growled as I looked at my own reflection in the ocean. I'm supposed to be meeting Lee-Lee tomorrow so we can go look at rings. I can't show up to her looking like this! Some giant black creature straight out of a myth.
A week passed and nothing changed for me. I still couldn't go back to looking like a human. I wondered if Lee-Lee had sent out a search party. How worried was he that I wasn't around. I howled in agony. Why couldn't I just wake up already.
Another week passed, I was still this freakish creature. I was ready to jump into the ocean and see if I could drown myself. At least then this nightmare and misery would end. At least then I wouldn't have a million questions with zero answers. That was when Holly Clearwater found me. She explained it to me, made me understand that the stories I'd grown up believing were fiction, silly superstitions passed down for generations, were true. Not only were they true, but they were part of my history. She told me how I had to calm myself in order for me to find my human form again. I finally managed it.
Months passed, I couldn't tell Lee-Lee any of what was going on with me, the genuine agony that filled me every time I met his eyes and couldn't just will the imprint connection so I could explain it all. Then his cousin, Elliott Young, showed up. The realization I'd found that one perfect speck of light in my life. The realization I'd imprinted to THE WRONG MAN. The inability to change it. The forceful break-up with Leland that followed. His realization when he noticed that I was now looking at his cousin in a way so similar and yet so very different from how I had once looked at him. His promise that if I pursued a relationship with his cousin then he'd be sure my guts would find there way onto the ground after he filled me with led from Holly's shotgun. The moment when I wondered if it would actually work. If I was taken to that spot of death where everything began to fade, would I be able to find that love for Leland again in that last moment so I could tell him just how sorry I truly was for destroying him so badly.
The weeks that followed, the camping trip with Elliott, his disbelief as I told him what I was. Because I could tell him. That was the curse of all this. He was my supposed soul mate, so he could know it all. He would know why three lives were ruined. His. Mine. And Lee-Lee's. All because of those Cullens. The ones I wanted to force to leave before they destroyed anyone else. The anger in Elliott as I told him everything. He didn't believe me. The one sloppy moment ending in instant regret as my claws destroyed Elliott's once handsome face.
More time passed, me promising that I'd find a way to allow him to live his life free of any compulsion he might feel toward me, even if it meant taking a gun to my head. The moment when Elliott started to comfort me, telling me everything would be alright.
The moment that Jaelyn shifted and I had to show her what I knew, then, a few months later when Paula shifted for her first time. The realization that one of us had to become the leader because none of the ones who would be the natural alpha were old enough. Learning to force my will on the others by sheer belief and effort, stepping into the role that I knew I would someday pass to Jules when she changed, or if she never did, then to Sarah or Quilla in order of dissension of power.
I blinked trying to organize the massive overload of thoughts that had just hit me, trying to digest them.
Barely two heartbeats had passed since all the memories and thoughts started. Paula was still staring at Sam.
Let him follow us. When Jules gets a whiff of him, she'll kill him herself. Once again, I saw more than she wanted me to, I saw that she believed if I was a little resistant she could help push my nature forward with her Alpha skills. It wasn't a full formed thought, barely even articulated in the depths of her mind. But I was still able to see it.
They started heading to me again. I darted forward, deciding to meet them. If Beau was some sort of vampire, not that I fully believed it, then there was no point in having him meet me at that tree where I'd drawn my own blood in my anger.
You aren't thinking clearly, Julie. He isn't human, he isn't your friend. Not Sam, but Jaelyn, her own thoughts hitting me so suddenly and so hard I almost crumpled under the weight of them.
I was on the way out of La Push, full ride scholarship at Yale due to my Native American heritage that I'd spent months getting verifiable documents to prove it. Then absolutely everything changed. One day I was a normal girl, and then I just wasn't. I ceased to exist in an instant, becoming some brown being that resembled a dire wolf, then genuine fear that I was alone in this new world I'd been thrust into. My fear-filled howls in the night.
Sam's voice in my head helping me remember who I was, helping me to understand every, the forceful realization that I would never be able to leave and move on with my life. Being told that I would never be able to let my mom know what was going on. I struggled with myself even as I managed to shift back to human.
The weeks that I pretended to be sick while I learned to control my temper before I finally decided I was as ready as I was going to get and headed back to school. The moment that the world stopped spinning and started rotating in a new direction as my eyes landed on Kirk. It was probably the first time I'd ever noticed him in all the years we'd gone to school together. The amazing realization when it turned out he was already head over heals in love with me, his notebook filled with dozens of sketches of me. Some by myself, others with him in them.
The short months that followed until suddenly I realized just how evil of monsters the Cullens really were. We confronted them. Sam, Paula and I. At first, only six of them were there, standing on their porch and staring at us in shock. Clearly they hadn't realized that we were still here to enforce the treaty that had been made.
The leader, calling the other one home with a cell phone. I whined, there wasn't enough of us to end in anything other than our own bloodshed. That was why the treaty had been made, of course, to prevent it. Sam and Paula might have been prepared to die for this, but I finally had someone who was worth living for.
The missing vampire appearing on the porch and hurtling over it, putting herself halfway between us and the rest. She wasn't the only one to appear though, a new vampire appeared on the porch. It was the human boy we were here to avenge. His eyes were vividly red. Suddenly I was ready to kill these vampires.
I was still running, my paws missing a step under the heavy burden of these new memories, but I still raced forward. I stopped in a small ravine.
A moment later Sam, Paula and Jaelyn entered the ravine. I got my first real look at them.
Sam was a huge, solid black wolf – her eyes as piercing black as her fur, except for the thin gold iris. On her left was Paula, a dark silver fur that bordered on brown with dark brown irises, and to the right was Jaelyn, who was a solid brown fur except for the dark gray mask shape of fur around her eyes.
Through their eyes, I saw myself for the first time. I had an almost copper tone to my fur, and they noted that I had to be as big as Sam.
Then Beau entered the ravine. He was farther from me than them, but still my eyes locked with his. They were gold, not blue anymore, but they were still beautiful.
The world righted itself.
Beau was still alive.