He stopped at the bottom of his steps and inhaled deeply. He could smell everything; the pine and cedar trees, the ocean, his brothers and sister on the edge of the forest, his imprint, and HIM. He growled deep in his chest. Another male had invaded his den.
Of course, his imprint would have a plausible explanation. HE dropped something off from work and came in for coffee. HE also took a piss, that’s why HIS scent was in the bathroom and on a towel.
Yep, right to his front door. He quietly entered his house. His imprint was in the kitchen. He didn’t know why; she couldn’t cook worth a damn. Hell, he cooked more than she did.
His soft footfalls took him down the hall. Bathroom, check. He continued to the bedroom. It was faint, very fucking faint. Sweat, pheromones, and bodily fluids. He entered the master bath. The shower was still wet. No towels. She was doing the laundry. He could hear the washer on the rinse cycle. So, not long ago.
Exiting the bedroom, he went to the spare room. Clean sheets, different blanket and pillows. Again, the faint scent. Damn candles fucked with his nose. He glared at the offending objects. And she knew it. Fucked with, not killed. He didn’t tell her all the wolves’ secrets.
He left the house as silently as he entered. His Alpha stepped from the woods. Soon he was among his brothers.
“Well?” Sam queried.
“Throughout the living room, both bathrooms and bedrooms. Fuck!” He leaned over, hands on his knees. Taking a deep breath, he straightened up. “Candles, lit and unlit, everywhere. In every room. She’s in the kitchen. I haven’t gone that far.”
“How’s the pull?” Jacob asked. The pull of the imprint was tortuous at times for the wolf.
“Nearly gone. With the final confirmation, it should be no more.”
“And the wolf? His feelings?”
“Could care less. Wants the false mate gone. His true mate needs to be there, in his den.”
“And his true mate?” Leah questioned, a teasing grin crossing her lips.
He gave her a droll stare. “The only female within a hundred miles he prances for.”
“She’ll come running once she hears,” Jacob predicted.
“Go. Get this over with,” Sam said.
He nodded and turned towards his house. Another deep breath as he climbed the porch steps. He purposely made noise; a heavy footstep here, closing the door loudly, scrapping his foot there.
“Babe?” he called out.
“In the kitchen,” she called out. He made his way to the kitchen. She was at the counter, chopping vegetables.
Wrapping his arms around her, he stuck his nose in her hair. Not wet, dry. Didn’t have time to wash it. But there was an odor. He thought back to the bathroom. A can of dry shampoo was by the sink. Ah. He inhaled deeply. There it was, HIS scent. “You should have taken the time to wash your hair,” he growled.
She froze. “What?”
“It’s Thursday. Normally you change the bedding on Saturday. The shower’s still wet, and your skin smells clean, but you forgot to wash your hair.” He threaded his fingers into her hair and tightened his hold, spinning her around to face him. “I can smell HIM. In both bedrooms, in the bathroom, in your. Fucking. HAIR!” he screamed in her face.
She was scared for a moment before defiance settled over her features. “You think I don’t know about her,” she spat. “You watch her constantly. Your eyes follow every move she makes.”
“You,” his finger was a hair’s breath from her nose, “don’t even get to think about her. This isn’t about her. It never was. It’s about what a lying, cheating bitch my imprint is.”
He marched to the front door, pulling her along with him. She whimpered and tried to extract his fingers from her hair. She felt her face begin to flame in embarrassment. It was the time of the day when people were returning home from work. He was walking them straight down the road.
“Stop!” she yelled. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
“Taking you to where you’ll be wanted,” he growled his answer. He stopped in the front yard of HIS house. “Lucas Uley!”
“Stop. Please,” she begged.
“You brought this on yourself. LUCAS ULEY!”
The man in question stepped from his house. His eyes widened at the scene before him. His lover’s boyfriend had his hand in the back of her head. He could see she was trying to extricate herself from his grip. Behind them stood nine others, his niece and nephew among them. Fuck, he thought. He glanced back into the house to find his wife there. He cleared his throat as he faced the couple. “What’s going on here?”
He threw his so-called mate to her lover. She lay on the ground, not looking up. “You fucked up, is what’s going on. You know what I am. Was it some sort of challenge? Seduce the imprint of a wolf? Guess what. It worked. It worked all too well. She’s pregnant.”
“Can’t prove its mine,” Lucas said without thought. Hearing a gasp behind him, he tried to cover his tracks. “I haven’t a clue what you’re talking about. She just works for me. I’m not sleeping with her.”
He smiled, though it looked more like a snarl. “Doesn’t matter. If she’s not fucking you, she’s fucking someone else. Cause that sure as hell’s not my kid.” He looked down at the woman on the ground. “The imprint’s broke. I’ll have your shit sent to your parents. Don’t come back to my house.”
“Forks Police Department,” she said.
“There’s a domestic disturbance on Cedarcrest Road in La Push.”
“I’m sorry, but Forks PD doesn’t cover La Push. Have you tried the Tribal Police?”
“Girl, your wolf just put on a show,” the caller cackled.
She frowned. “Leah?”
“Yeah. He did it. Dragged her ass down the street and threw her onto Uncle Lucas’ lawn. Bitch is preggers.”
She glanced at the clock, sighing. “I get off in two and a half hours.”
“You’re seriously going to wait?”
“I can’t leave work. The minute I step out that door, Charlie will be blowing up my phone.”
“You’re right. Dude’s scary like that. Listen, I’m going to get off here and go help pack. Any words for him?”
She bit her lip. “No. I’ll say them in person.”
The house was dark when she pulled into his driveway. No wolves were around. Was he? She let herself into the house.
“Bandit?” she called out.
He grinned at the name. She’d given all the wolves nicknames. Such as Collin was Frosty because it looked as if he frosted the tips of his hair. She received her own name. Well, names. They all called her something different. “I’m here, Snow.”
“What are you doing in the dark?”
“Contemplating.” He looked her up and down, and swallowed a groan. Charlie was a stickler about uniforms. Everyone had to wear one, even the secretaries. He silently thanked the Chief every time he saw her in her form-fitting uniform.
“Big word, Bandit.”
He chuckled. “Ten steps forward, Snow. Now, turn to the right and take three more. Sit.” She sat right next to him. He threw his arm over her shoulder. “Heya, Snow.”
“Heya, Bandit. How are you? Really.”
He sighed. “I never wanted it. You know that. I wonder if she didn’t somehow manufacture one. I’ve always tugged on it. It’s just in the past year it’s started to fray. It broke completely today.”
“How could she make one up? And have you feel it?”
“I don’t know, but think about it. I’ve sat next to her for how long? Asked for a pencil one day, two weeks before school ended, and BAM! Imprint. It never felt right. I’ve felt the others’ imprints. Theirs were comfortable. Mine felt like a shirt that was a little too tight.”
“Pretty much. Paul and Seth dropped her shit off at her parents’ an hour ago. Her dad apologized while her mom was crying. They saw everything.” He sighed and laid his head back on the couch. “Tomorrow we’re getting rid of everything else. Gutting the whole place. Redoing it.”
“Wiping her out?”
He growled. “If only I could. Five fucking years, Snow. We could have been together and happy for five years now.”
She pondered for a moment. “I don’t think so.” She felt his jerk. “Think of where I was back then. Still getting over the effects of the venom poisoning.” She rubbed her wrist. “It took a lot for me to come back to myself.”
He absently nodded, thinking about it. Harry died, she nearly took a drunken tumble off the cliff, Leah slapping the shit out of her, Quil fucking her. He grizzled at the last one.
She turned into his chest. “Shh. It was before he phased. You know that.”
“How’d you know what I was thinking about?”
“You just said Hershey’s name.” She started to get up. “Jared. I’m not having the La Push gossip mill dragging my name through the mud because I stay over the same night you throw out your girlfriend.”
“How long, Bella? I’ve waited six years already.”
“A month, maybe two.”
She crawled into his lap, hands on either side of his face. “A month or two before we’re seen in public together.” She rolled her hips. “That doesn’t mean we can’t bump uglies in the meantime.” He captured her lips in a fierce kiss, all teeth and tongue. He actually whimpered when she pulled away. “But not tonight. You’re pissed, and Charlie will be calling soon. Go tear up some trees and restock the kindling and firewood.” She climbed off his lap with difficulty. She really didn’t want to leave. “We’ll go shopping tomorrow while the pack clears this place out.”
He nodded, though she couldn’t see him. He stood and hauled her into his arms for another knee-weakening kiss. “Go before I have the Chief over here wondering why his daughter’s uniform is so dirty. I never changed clothes. You have drywall dust all over.”
“Dammit, Jared! Now I have to sneak in.”
He just laughed, putting his forehead to hers. “I know it’s too soon to say it, but I feel it.” He tapped her chest right over her heart.
“I do, too.” She placed her hand over his. She pecked his lips before disengaging his hold. “Tomorrow we’ll start on our happily ever after.”