The next couple weeks were a blur of activity. The end of the year dance was held in the Forks High gymnasium but I opted out of going and spent the evening with the pack on First Beach instead. Though my heartbeat gave away my anxiety of a possible altercation with the she-wolf, there was no reason for it because she hadn't shown up. They turned it into a 'welcome to the pack' party for me and Paul and I had the best time, drinking and laughing with my friends and my imprint.
Getting ahold of the Cullens had been hard. Telling them their favorite pixie and first created son was now ash, was even harder. Esme sniffled needlessly and Carlisle moaned as if he were in pain but in the end they thanked me and promised to keep in touch. I felt bad for them, losing two family members that they'd adored so much, but I didn't hold onto those feelings because to me, my life is more important than theirs if they're trying to kill me.
Renee and Phil came up for graduation and we had a big family barbecue in the backyard. Paul came and Mom fawned over him like I expected while Phil ignored it like I expected and Charlie blushed and grimaced...like I expected. It was pretty awkward for everyone, needless to say, considering she was old enough to be his mother. Paul took it in stride, avoiding the more intimate touches my mother tried to place on him -like his lower back or front hip- dodging her successfully until I finally had enough and dragged him away from her. The brilliant smile he shot me along with the over exaggerated pout from Renee had me in stitches.
We hadn't decided officially to become a couple, we just were. Leah avoided everyone as much as she could, delving into her community college courses with Sam's permission. Sam, after the quick takedown of Edward and Alice, hadn't come out unscathed. His face had long claw marks from Edward's venom tipped fingernails down the right side. The scars were red and angry, pulling down the outside of his eye and lip. Each time he got near Emily, she would reach up and caress his skin softly before placing kisses along his scars. He wore them proudly. Battle scars, he called them, though the whole of La Push thought he'd been attacked by a bear. There were no other vampire sightings so patrols were let up on and everyone was feeling a lot more at ease. I was able to spend a lot of time with Emily and Kim and even little Claire, Quil's tiny imprint. Emily had started a bakery and Kim is her partner. I love to bake -and eat- so I was completely flattered when Emily told me I had a place at Wolf it Down, if I ever wanted it.
That was another thing that Paul and I had yet to discuss. We'd been tiptoeing around what I would be doing now that I graduated high school. I received a packet in the mail the day of the barbeque, stating that I had been granted enrollment at Alaska Pacific University as well as Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. Though Renee and Charlie were ecstatic, I knew goddamn well I didn't apply to those schools so I ripped up the acceptance letters and tossed them in the trashcan, ignoring the looks my parents gave me. I knew that Alice and Edward had probably sent in my essay and applications to the two places they were most likely to transfer to in the United States, in preparation for me to go with them. It was cathartic to rip up those envelopes with an almost strange amount of glee and toss them into the trash. Almost as if it signified the last piece of them I ever had to deal with.
Today, I am sitting on Paul's super comfortable leather sofa with a tall glass of lemonade on the table beside me. A soft cashmere blanket is thrown over my naked legs and I'm completely focused on the television in front of me almost in a daze as I wait for my wolf to get off patrol. Though Sam had lightened them up considerably, what used to be 8 hour shifts turned into one full circle around the rez a day. The pack was confident that their heightened senses would alert them to danger before anything could happen, whether they patrolled or not. Sam had actually taken a liking to me after finally realizing that I wasn't the bringer of all cold ones. It had been his biggest fear, a cold one coming for me and attacking Emily. I understood his fears and was glad we were getting closer.
I'd been spending a large amount of time at Paul's since I graduated last week, leaving an item of clothing here and there or even a toothbrush in the bathroom. Between the hubbub of activity that kept us busy and my own insecurities, we hadn't gone 'all the way' but I knew that I was ready now. I had actually been ready the night of my graduation but my fucking period had shown up so I halted any progress on the intimate front before Paul could even look at me lasciviously.
Dad tried to give me a hard time just a few days ago about being with Paul so much but I kindly -not so kindly- reminded him that I'm an adult now and I'm no longer in high school.
"While you live under my roof…-" He started, his face getting redder by the second, I cut him off.
We were sitting at the kitchen table, just having finished dinner, when he brought up the subject. I stood, shoving my chair away from my body with the back of my knees and placed my palms on the table, staring my father straight in the eyes.
"Don't. Do not go there, Dad. I love you so much and I am so thankful that you let me live with you for my last year of high school. You put up with me basically ignoring you for that guy I called a boyfriend for months." I said with a sneer on my face when I brought up Edward. "But I'm not in high school anymore. I'm 18, have been since school started and you've constantly treated me like I was 12. I grinned and beared it for the most part because you're my father and you deserve respect in the utmost form. Please, don't abuse that respect. Don't give me some foolish ultimatum."
The words I spoke hung thickly in the air. I didn't need to tell him what would happen if he gave me the ultimatum just like he didn't need to finish his threatening sentences about living in his house. I never did understand why parents thought they would win if they threw that out there. While I would always love and respect my father, I wouldn't stand for being made to choose, not by the man who was supposed to be my support system for my entire life.
With that thought in mind, since Charlie wasn't saying anything else at the moment, I sat down and took a sip of my root beer. "Support me. Be my daddy. I'm not naive enough to think you're not just looking out for me and I'm not dumb enough to tell you that I know what I'm doing. I don't." He reached across the table and grasped my hand that was wrapped around my soda can.
"I know you don't, kid. I'm just looking out for you. I don't mean to be overbearing but I know your mom was kinda loose with the rules." He paused when I scoffed but I waved a hand dismissively for him to continue. His words were an understatement. "I do support you. I guess I just miss you."
"Aw, Dad. Even if I moved in with Paul -" A choking sound left my dad's throat and I bit my lip to hold in my smile as I rounded the table to embrace his shoulders. "-I will never leave you. La Push is so close and with you spending time with Sue and Billy so much then we'll be able to be around each other as much as we are now."
He chuckled shortly as he awkwardly returned my hug from his sitting position. "You make it sound like a dream but I'm not dumb either, Bells. I know we won't see each other all that much. Thanks for trying to appease me though."
We hugged again when he stood up and he made me promise to continue cooking for him, whether I live in his house, Paul's house, or across the states.
Paul entering the house from the back door brought me to reality from my memories and I smiled at him as he ducked to kiss my head on his way to the shower. This was a routine for him. He only had to circle the rez once but he claimed his wolf wasn't satisfied unless he circled it a few times and rubbed his scent along some trees near the Forks boundary. I think it's overkill but to each his own. Watching him head straight for the shower like he always did, I got up and folded the blanket, placing it on the back of the sofa.
The weather was unseasonably warm, even for mid-June, so even in my cropped light blue shorts and lace tank top, sweat was forming on my chest and back. Don't ask me why I even bothered with a blanket at all. Habit, I suppose. Making Paul something light for supper, I felt his presence before I heard him because he's almost impossible to hear coming unless he wants you to. He wrapped me up in his arms from behind and placed open mouth kisses along my shoulder and neck.
"Are we going to talk about college yet, babe?" His hot, liquid caramel voice drizzled over my skin, lighting my nerves on fire and I pressed my body back into him.
"Sure. Here." I said as I handed him his sub sandwich and a bag of chips and I joined him at the island on a tall stool. I was dreading this. Paul stressed how he wanted me to make something of myself, go to school because he couldn't. He is tied to the rez for the foreseeable future and even if he can stop phasing in the years to come, he would be too old or have too much responsibility doing something else to go to college and focus.
I fidgeted with my lemonade glass that I'd brought with me into the kitchen as a light breeze swept through the house. I had the front door open and the back door open so it created a nice path for the wind to cut straight through the kitchen, giving the staling air some place to go.
Finishing his sandwich in no time, he crunched on a chip and raised an eyebrow. "Well?"
"I'm not going to college." I blurted, keeping my eyes on my twiddling fingers.
"What?" The question was low, uncertain, but I kept my eyes down. He stopped eating and placed the bag of chips onto the countertop.
Suddenly, the words poured out of me as I looked up to him, pleadingly. "Please don't be mad! I want to work with Emily and Kim here on the rez. I thought I wanted to be a teacher and go to college and learn so much more but I love baking even more than I love teaching. I don't want to sit in a stuffy college so far away from the people I love only to realize that teaching was never what I wanted to do in the first place. If I'm having regrets and worries now then I know I won't want to finish what I started but I'll feel obligated to. Emily already told me I can work with her and Kim whenever I want but I haven't given them my answer yet because…"
Paul's loud, happy giggle cut me off and I stared at him. I loosened my fingers from my cup because my knuckles hurt from clenching them around the cool glass so tightly.
"What's so funny?"
"You're not leaving me!" Standing abruptly, Paul swept me up in his arms and swung me around. I wrapped my arms and legs around him like a koala and hung on, giggling into his neck as he laughed.
When he finally set me down on my feet, I took residence up on the stool again and waited for him to do the same. Popping a chip in his mouth, he smiled brightly at me.
"You wanted me to go." I stated, still feeling euphoric from his reaction. I'd thought for sure he would be angry with me.
"I wanted to support you." He countered, licking his lips of the extra salt that had gathered there. I wanted to do that for him. One side of his face tilted up into a crooked smirk as he watched my eyes watch his lips. "You can do whatever you want, Bella. I didn't want you to stay for me. If you were going to stay, even if you take online college courses, I wanted you to make the decision for you."
I nodded. "I have. I mean, you're always a factor. We're us and we're bonded and I lo-like you so much. So you're always a factor. This is something I really want to do though."
Paul's eyes were lit up mischievously. I knew he heard my slip. As much as we'd been tiptoeing around the college talk and the sex, we'd been slinking even further away from declaring our love. We both knew how we felt and even though we'd outright said we were falling, we hadn't made the actual leap yet. We could feel it through the bond, doubling our feelings for each other. There just hadn't been a moment to tell each other yet. I'm not exactly sure what we're waiting for but we are obviously waiting for something.
"Then work with Emily and Kim. Stay in La Push forever with me." He paused, standing in front of me, pulling me off the stool and entwined his fingers with mine. "Move in with me?" His words were whispered and full of hope.
My breath caught and I didn't waste one second. "Yes, I'll move in Paul." My grin nearly cracked my face as I pushed up the balls of my feet and pressed my lips to his.
A moan left his mouth immediately as it connected with mine and our hands were everywhere. "Let's go to the bedroom?" Paul breathed the question and I nodded.
There's a small window air conditioner above the dresser, keeping the room a lot cooler than the balmy 80 it seemed to stay throughout the rest of the house the last week or so. I welcomed the cool air the moment it hit my sweat slicked skin, Paul's hand in mine as he towed me along behind him. Shutting us into the room, he turned to me with an aroused glint in his eyes and I stared at him a moment, my chest heaving with anticipation. Slowly stalking forward, Paul placed his hands on my hips, his thumbs tracing along the small strip of skin that's exposed between my shorts and top.
The feeling had goosebumps erupting all over me and had nothing to do with the chill of the a/c. Arching my chest into his, I pushed up, pressing my lips into his even harder, more demandingly. The sound he made in the back of his throat, the way he pulled my hips into his, had my panties drenched. Sensing that I needed some friction, any kind of friction, Paul's knee slipped between my thighs and pressed against my hot core.
"Oh God." I whispered to his lips.
Humming, I felt him smile and push his thigh into me harder as I started to buck against him gently. The feelings of euphoria that coiled tightly in my belly sang through my veins with the movement. He pulled back and looked deeply into my eyes, staring straight at my soul, just as he had the first time I met him. I read the question easily and nodded, stepping out of his embrace. My fingers grasped the hem of my tank top and pulled it over my head, leaving me topless. The chilled air puckered my nipples as I bent over to pull my shorts down my legs. When I looked back up, Paul was completely naked.
Giggling, I raised an eyebrow. "Eager much?"
He nodded his head and scooped me up, lying us on his large bed, mussing up the sheets as well as my hair as we scooted up onto the pillows. This isn't the first time we'd been completely naked with each other. Just a week before Paul had invited me to take a shower with him. Though I had been extremely timid and shy, the warm water combined with his hot, caring hands washed away any of my insecurities. The way his intense gaze traveled over me left me with no doubts as to how much this man thought I was attractive. He made me feel attractive.
"You're all set?" He murmured as he kissed a trail down my left arm where he lay beside me. His hand clutched at my abdomen, keeping me in place as if I wanted to leave his side.
I knew what he was referring to, of course. When I knew I was bound to get intimate with my wolf, I had gone to see Dr. Gerandy and re upped my birth control. I'd been on it since I started my period, per my mother's orders, but had let it lapse when I moved to Forks. Adjusting to the foreign medication had been a little tricky, as it caused me to gain a few pounds and made my breasts tender as fuck but it had been a good month and everything was peachy keen. Apparently, Paul loved the extra pounds I put on, which had settled themselves happily at my hips and ass. I'd been pretty glum about that, wishing they'd split apart and some had dove to my breastage. Not in the cards, it seemed.
Walking my fingers up his arm and cupping his face as I turned toward him slightly, I nodded. "Of course. Do you still want to use a condom to be sure?" I offered.
Scoffing as if I'd offended him, he grinned. "Not really."
Without sparing another moment, he connected our lips again and pressed his body into mine, pushing me down into the soft mattress.