Hey, I'm back. I thought about doing another chapter before the epilogue. It was important to write about Jake phasing, since he was mentioned a few times in the previous chapters.
Thanks for reading. I will be soon start another wolf/Bella story. It may be Paul/Bella as an AU in Eclipse or Jake/Bella as an AU in New Moo.
An unexpected change of events.
Chapter 6: Friendship.
The summer break came and went, the heat made its presence a little more permanent, accompanied by sunny days. The wolves had been happy with the development because it meant less vampire activity in the surrounding area. This, in turn, made the imprints happy because it meant more quality time. They wanted to enjoy as much free time as they could before Leah and Sam's baby arrived before Angela and Bella went back to school and before Jared started his career at community college. The imminent return to reality was two weeks ahead.
Currently, they were at the beach, the imprints sitting on the beach while the guys played football. They were brutally competitive but in a healthy way. Bella enjoyed watching them be themselves, free of responsibilities for a few hours a day. She came back to the conversation taking place between the girls. It mostly involved asking Leah about their plans for the baby, nursery, names, etc. It had been a month since they broke the news, she wasn't precisely showing yet, but those who were close to her as the pack was, they could appreciate the subtle changes, such as the small baby bump.
"We're still early, so we decided to wait a little to start with preparations." There was a small tint of fear on her voice. Bella didn't have any experience with little kids or pregnant women. In fact, Leah's news made her reconsider her previous belief about kids. Mainly because she had Jared, and he was the surest part of her life (aside from her dad). With Edward, despite the short time they were together, she had to suppress that part of her, since vampires couldn't procreate and all that. But ever since that talk with Jared, that same weekend of Leah's news delivery, she could see it. The kids, the house, the life, everything with him. She had had a sort of epiphany the morning after their first time when she was hugging him from behind. But she had pushed that away for the moment.
"Bella? Are you ok?" It was Angela who was calling her.
Bella shook her head and smiled. "Just spaced a little. But I'm fine." Both girls nodded.
Soon, the guys took a break and joined the three girls on the sand. Sam sat behind Leah, tucking her in his arms, placing his hands on her belly and whispering in her ear. She smiled and nodded, which made him drop a kiss on her temple. Bella smiled at their interaction. It must be a wolf thing because they were all very affectionate with their imprints. In fact, all the guys were affectionate towards each other, and the imprints of the other. Of course, that affection was fraternal.
Bella leaned against Jared's shoulder and relaxed, enjoying the sun, the company, and the sound of the waves.
"Who wants to surf?" It was Embry who asked.
"I want to." Angela had come out of her shell since Paul imprinted on her. The Angela she knew at school while she was under Edward's spell was shy and introverted. She had really blossomed, and it was a gift to see.
Paul trusted Embry enough to let him teach her the basics on the shore. It seemed like fun, but she knew she would probably drown if she tried it. But where was the fun in sitting on the sidelines? Hadn't she told Jared that she enjoyed being an average teenager with him? Wasn't learning to surf, or try it, part of being a typical teenager? What if she had zero coordination? It could be fun anyway.
She lifted her head from Jared's shoulder and nudged him with her elbow catching his attention. "Do you know how to surf?" She asked.
"Why? Do you want to learn?" He asked back without answering her question.
"Yes." She congratulated herself on sounding sure of herself.
"Let's go then."
"Jared, man…" Paul was shut down with a look from Jared. Bella wondered what that was about.
They joined Angela and Embry on the shore. He had her laying down on the board and explaining some things. Embry was looking at him funny, which made him distract Angela, who tumbled over to one side, falling on the sand. "Hey!" She complained to Embry, who snapped back to reality. He looked shocked for a few seconds and then started laughing. At least he had enough sense to reach Angela, offering his hand to help her stand. He did not apologize, though.
Jared then poorly explained how to get on a standing position on the board. Bella managed to find enough balance to go from a lying position to a crouch and then to a standing position. She celebrated her coordination, making Angela laugh. "Wait until you see if that works on the water" Embry's words erased the smile from her face and put a scowl in its place.
A few more minutes of practice on the shore got them as ready as they could be to go into the water. Luckily for them, there were enough waves to actually surf, but they were pretty tame. So no risk of actually getting hurt, or drowning.
The four of them swam with their boards, the girls with a sheer look of concentration on their faces, remembering the theory they had been previously taught. They sat for a few minutes on the boards, waiting for the perfect waves. Embry went first, teaching Angela how to take the wave. It was a small one. Paul would probably kick his ass if he let Angela got hurt or on the verge of drowning. Come to think of it, he was regretting a little this decision of being the teacher. Paul was the best surfer of them, why didn't he teach his own girlfriend?
Angela went next, and he managed to decently take on a wave, though she fell a few seconds after standing on the board. She emerged soon after laughing her ass off and getting back on the board. Bella laughed seeing her friend.
"Are you ready?" She asked Jared.
"Watch closely." She nodded and watched him. He took a bigger wave than Embry had and did a really decent job. He was a sight to behold. Muscles tensing in the right places as he switched positions on the board and surfed his way to the shore. He was magnificent. Embry was better than him, but Jared was good himself. He was decent. At least, something he wasn't perfect at.
Bella decided to take on the next wave, concentrating on keeping her balance and remember everything Jared told her. She wasn't delusional enough to think she was going to be perfect at first, or as good as Embry or Jared. She had the hope to be at least like Angela, take the wave, stand up for a few seconds. But she really didn't think it through. She not only did not manage to stand on the board, but she got hit by it on her forehead and got tangled in the wave, so she basically rolled under it to the shore, the board tied to her feet. A pair of hands got her out of the water. Once she was out she gasped for air. Luckily she was unharmed, aside from a little cut in her forehead from where the board had hit her.
"Are you alright?" Jared's worried voice was all over her. He had untied the string of the board from her feet, helping her to get into a sitting position on the sand at the shore.
Once she managed to get enough oxygen in her body, she laughed and said she wanted to try it again.
"Maybe tomorrow, the waves are getting quite big, so it's better not to risk it. Come, let's go back to the guys." She nodded and hissed. "yeah, the board hit you on the head. It's nothing serious, but you're going to sport a bruise on your forehead for a few weeks." She shook her head.
"Trust me to find a way to hit my face with a surfing board."
"It's actually common when you're learning. Jared couldn't even manage to stay lying on the board when paddling on the wave." Jared smacked the back of Paul's head for his teasing.
"Seriously?" She laughed. "So, I managed to outdo your wolf in a complicated activity."
He rolled his eyes playfully. "I was newly phased, so these two," he pointed to Sam and Paul "found an unconventional way to help me blow off steam." What he didn't say was he got cocky and thought that because he was a wolf, all aspects of his life would be enhanced, just like he had a keen hearing, keen sight, and smell he thought he could have a keen balance as well. That had been a low blow to his ego. But it had been fun.
Sam shook his head a the banter that Paul's confession caused between him and Jared. Angela met Bella's gaze and they both rolled their eyes amusedly at their boys.
However, the fun was spoiled by a howl close by. Bella and Angela got confused. But Leah knew that meant one of the guys they were keeping a close eye on, had phased. That meant they had to leave. On cue, the guys stood up, said their respective good-byes, and ran out of the beach.
"There goes the day off." Mumbled Leah.
"What happened?" Bella mirrored Angela's confusion.
"The guys had been keeping a close eye on some of the guys that were showing signs of phasing soon. Embry's phasing caught them off guard, so they started paying attention and noticed that beside Jacob, Quil, my brother, and some others were showing signs. The howl means that someone phased. It's instinctual. The wolf knows how to alert the pack of the newly phased. As they are only four, they cannot just send two to manage with the newly phased. So they all went."
"Do you have any idea who could it be?" Bella asked concerned about the new member of the pack. Jared hadn't brought up the subject of the first phase after he first told her the summarized version of it.
Leah sighed and stroke her small bump. "Probably Jacob. Either him or Quil. If it is Quil, Jacob will soon follow. Quil is more level-tempered than Jacob is, but since Embry phased, they had been hurt and angry. Quil doesn't actually believe that crap about the cult or whatever Jacob believes. He just knows there is something we're not telling them. He has lived with his grandpa since he was little, and he respects him, so ever since Sam phased and Paul and Jared followed, he has been hearing good things about the guys."
Bella frowned. "But Billy also speaks highly of the pack. Why does Jacob believe the cult thing?"
Leah shrugged. "No idea. He can be a pain sometimes." There was something she wasn't telling them.
"What are you not telling us?"
"I think that Jacob has a crush on you, and that has made him angry at Jared and to an extension the rest of the guys. That's why he thinks they've brainwashed you or something."
Bella rolled her eyes. "I like Jake as a friend. But he really needs to get over it. It's been months. He knows I'm with Jared. Do you really think he hasn't gotten over it?" She seriously hoped it wasn't the case.
In the woods, Jacob was snarling, growling, and uncontrollable. Sam tried to talk to him, ease him into calming himself, but Jacob was too confused to understand what was going on. Paul nudged Embry, silently telling him to step up. He was one of Jacob's best friends, so he might be able to get to him.
"Jake, it's Embry. You need to calm down and let us explain what is happening with you." His calm voice managed to get Jacob to stop pacing. Although his thoughts were still all over the place.
"What the hell? Am I a wolf? How the hell did that happen?"
"The legends of the shapeshifters are true. Every time there are vampires nearby, the gene kicks in and a new pack forms. It's an instinct to protect. You've been showing the symptoms for over a month now."
Sam proceeded to explain everything. Shapeshifting, patrolling, vampires, imprints, etc.
"So, you're not a cult or a gang" He said reflectively.
"We are a gang alright, but not that kind." Jared answered, laughing in his head.
"This imprint business…Is Bella involved in that?"
Jared rolled his wolf eyes and nudged Jacob a little harder than necessary. "She's my imprint. So, get over your crush for her. It's not gonna happen." Jared warned seriously. If there was something more sacred than their legends, it was the imprints. They were sacred. Each wolf was commanded to respect them, to protect them. The rules prohibited the wolves from damaging an imprint in any way or form. It's their most sacred rule.
Jacob huffed, not taking it that seriously. "Jake, he's serious. You must understand that." Embry reached this time.
Jacob nodded and asked to could he phased back to being human. Paul taught him, taking a little pleasure in making it slow. He didn't like the way he had talked to Bella the past few months. This was his way of getting a little healthy revenge. Bella was Angela's best friend, those two spoke about everything. By extension, Paul had spent more time with her, getting over whatever misguided opinion he once had about her and her (brief) relationship with a leach. She had become like a sister to him. In fact, Jared also thought of Leah and Angela as his sisters. The same with Embry.
Paul managed to get Jacob to phase back to human, groaning at the naked idiot in front of him. Sam and Embry phased as well, leaving Jared and Paul in wolf form.
"Thanks for having Bella's back." Paul laughed.
"And I thought I was sneaky." Jared laughed as well and phased back. They strolled back to where they had left their clothes. Getting Jacob to be human again hadn't taken that long, so the guys were able to rejoin the girls at the beach.
For some unfathomable reason, Jacob had stripped before phasing. It shows how messed up they could be at the moment of the first phase.
Jared sat next to Bella and she happily hugged him. Relieved to have him back in such a short time. "I had resigned myself thinking I wouldn't see you until way later." Jared chuckled and kissed her cheek.
Paul sat behind Angela, putting his hands on her thighs, higher than would have been considered appropriate with another public, but the pack never judged. In fact, Angela thought they must know each kinky secrets, with that shared pack mentality. Sam asked Leah if she was feeling alright if she wasn't to warm, and if she had re-applied sunblock. She said yes to the first question, no to the second, and yes to the third.
Jacob strolled with Embry at his side. Bella smiled politely and waved at the coming boys. "Welcome to the gang." She said. Embry laughed.
"Are you going to welcome every new member like that?" He teased.
"I might." She teased back.
Jacob observed the dynamic in silence. He didn't know Embry and Bella were so close. He wasn't flirting with her, but he had a familiarity with her that felt foreign to him. He spent most of the afternoon in silence, observing. Bella noticed it, but she thought he might be overwhelmed a little. Jared was being weird. His right hand was on her thigh. Despite him being affectionate with her in front of the pack, he never made any sensual moves on her. She liked it, but it felt a little weird. She wondered if his wolf had something to do with it.
"Walk with me?" She asked him. He nodded, and the strolled farther from the pack, not precisely out of earshot, but enough to have some sort of privacy.
"What's with the thigh grabbing, and neck nibbling?" She asked without a pause.
Jared actually blushed. But before he could answer, she spoke again. "Is it reassurance again? Did something happen while you were gone?"
"No, it's not reassurance. I'm subtly reminding Jacob that he needs to respect the imprint. And that whatever fantasy he has of getting together with you, it's not gonna happen."
She smiled. "Well, by all means, remind him. I like it." She blushed lightly.
He chuckled and leaned down to kiss her. It was a fierce, passionate kiss. She jumped and wound her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck. He groaned and buckled his hips, making her gasp. "I love you" She whispered when they broke apart. Remembering that they were within earshot of the pack, and even though they wouldn't judge, it was still a little disrespectful. They walked back to the group, getting howls and teasing comments from Angela and Leah. Bella rolled her eyes but smiled unapologetically.
Just after a week back into school, Jacob knocked on Bella's house door one afternoon. He had taken a liking to being a wolf, as Jared and Embry had. Paul still has trouble accepting everything, but he was happy with how things were. Bella and Jacob fell into an easy friendship, though they were not as close as Jacob would have liked at the beginning. But the past few weeks, he had observed and learned about the pack and about the imprints. He also realized his crush on Bella had subsided for a more fraternal feeling. He needed to tell her that and erase any trace of awkwardness.
"Hey, Jake." She greeted, stepping aside to let him in.
He hesitated nervously. "Are you alone?" He didn't want public. She nodded. Jacob came inside and walked towards the kitchen as he had done every time he had come to visit with his dad.
"Is everything alright?" She could see he was nervous. And that he needed to talk.
"Yes, yes. I just wanted to say sorry."
"huh? Sorry, for what?"
"For my behavior the past month. And if I made anything uncomfortable in the last few weeks. I was struggling to understand what I was really feeling." She nodded, encouraging him to continue. "Before phasing, I had a crush on you. I knew at some point you got into a relationship with Jared, and that angered me because, in my mind, I had always tried to make a move on you, to get your attention, but you didn't see me as more than a friend. But when I phased, I thought I felt the same. I realized a week after I phased that I wanted to be just your friend. As you are with the rest of the pack. I don't harbor a crush on you anymore. At least not romantically, anyway. I wanted you to know that. And that any residual romantic feelings I may have are not like that." He scratched his neck. She understood what he meant with the last sentence.
"I'm sorry too. I think I led you on sometimes instead of being openly honest with you." She owed him honesty.
"It's ok. I should have backed off when you walked with Jared at that bonfire." His smile had a hint of teasing that made her laugh.
"We both made mistakes. We got over them. Now, we're friends. Do you want some food?" She summarized.