"And so, as the Third Wife glanced at the battlefield around her, she knew that unless something drastic happened, she would lose more members of her tribe. Taking a knife off the body of one of her sons, she plunged the weapon into her heart; the scent of blood distracted the Cold Woman long enough for Taha Aki to destroy her. In the end, it was the sacrifice of the Third Wife that had won the battle." Grandma Calore retold the legend with such passion that eight-year-old Zara Calore hung onto every word, awe stamped across her face.
"I hope I can be as brave as the Third Wife was," wished Zara, admiring the Third Wife and the love she had for the people of her tribe.
"You already are, my little Wolf. Her bravery runs through your veins." Grandma Calore placed her hand atop Zara's heart. "You are the descendant of one of the bravest tribe leaders we ever had. Never let anyone make you forget the power you hold within."
"Tell me more about the imprints." Zara exclaimed, loving the precious moments spent with her grandmother.
Being part of the Quileute tribe meant that Zara had been raised on legends of the Shapeshifters and the Cold Ones; she loved hearing them and still gasped in surprise despite the numerous times she had heard them. Once her grandmother had finished explaining the bond of an imprint and the way it made both parties feel, Zara decided that she wanted an imprint. She wanted somebody to care that much for her when she was older. She wanted somebody that she would go to the ends of the Earth for, no matter the consequences.
"I hope to have a love like that someday." Leah Clearwater dreamed, staring off into the distance with a wistful look.
Leah and Zara had been best friends since the day they were born. Their mothers had been close friends since they were children and so, the young girls had been forced together and hadn't separated since.
"So you shall, Leah. Any young man would be lucky to have you. Both of you will achieve great things. Zara, the power lies within you."
Zara didn't understand what that meant until many years, and much heartbreak, later.
At sixteen years old, Zara had had a devastating year.
On that miserable day, the entirety of La Push had turned up to pay their respects to the late Grandma Calore. The Quileute tribe had all lost a family member; the old woman had looked after everyone at some point. Now, they would never hear her stories, eat her cooking, or see her smile, ever again.
Sat between her parents, Zara shed some tears once the reality of the situation sunk in. Despite no longer believing them, she would never hear her grandmother relive the ancient legends, trying to convince her granddaughter that they were real. As she had grown older, Zara's belief in the stories faded but she still visited her grandmother to hear them, just to make the old woman happy.
"I'm so sorry, Z." Leah pulled her friend in for a tight hug, tears streaking her own cheeks, as she whispered soothing things.
"I just can't believe she's gone." Zara managed to choke out, sobbing into Leah's neck.
"Me either but she wouldn't want you sitting her in tears. In fact, if she saw you right now, she'd hit you with her slipper."
Zara let out a disturbing sound that was a mix between a snort of laughter and a painful cry. The two girls remained locked in their embrace until Sam Uley came along to offer his condolences and drive Leah home.
Recently, the Calore household had been filled with the screaming and accusatory words of her mother and father.
Trudging down the little path to the beach, she intended to spend her afternoon sat on the beach, wallowing in self pity as she thought about how much her life had changed. She had lost her grandmother, her parents were on the brink of separation, Leah spent less time with Zara and more time with Sam, and Zara was facing the end of Freshman year.
Kicking a rock out of the way, Zara threw herself down onto the sand and stared out at the waves, relaxing with their calming movements. Earlier that day, the teenager had returned home from school to an empty house, shattered picture frames and a shitty note. Trying not to cry, the brunette angrily dug her hands into the sun and tried to blink away the moisture in her eyes.
"Want to talk about it?" The sudden sound of Leah's voice pulling Zara out of her suffocating thoughts.
"My dad. He left us. I came home and all his stuff was gone. He left a note." Zara scoffed with an emotionless tone.
"Did he tell you why?" Leah shuffled closer to her friend, trying to give her some warmth.
The other girl didn't even know she was shivering.
"His excuse was that he didn't want me living in a house full of arguing so he did the 'noble' thing and removed himself from the equation." Zara finally shed some tears. "The reality is that my mum discovered him cheating after previous claims that he wasn't, he kicked him out and he went to live with the mistress."
Leah didn't know what to say.
"Do you want to know what I can't believe? Is that he didn't even say goodbye to me. He's my father and all I got was some note."
"I know it hurts but you've got me. You've always got me."
Somehow, Zara knew that she could trust that. Leah was the one constant in her life. Nothing could tear them apart. However, Zara knew that she would get through this on her own. Grandma Calore was right – the power lies within.