Howl

Chapter One – Charlie's Kid

"Artemis Joanna Keen, let go of your cousin's hair!" Winston Keen's deep voice bounces off the walls of the small one-story home.

The teenager in question has her fingers wrapped around her cousin Jake's thick black waist length hair. He has a hand pressed against his scalp while his other hand is reaching blindly behind in an attempt to hit her. The pair have been left alone for mere minutes and were already causing trouble.

"But, Daddy, his hair needs to be braided," she whines as she tugs at it again.

Jake's hand finds contact with her thigh. His fingers pinch together over the fabric of leggings and gets enough skin on her thigh. "Let me go you b—"

"Jacob!" Jake's father Billy has wheeled himself into the room.

Artemis releases her grip on his hair. Though she hasn't made a sound, her teeth are grinding together. She rubs her thigh as she attempts to rid it of the pain. A look of annoyance is directed at her cousin who's smug smile makes her blood boil.

"Jacob Black, you little shi—"

"You end that sentence with anything other than are the best cousin in the world and you lose your phone privileges," Winston cuts in. His threat is hollow – all of them have been. He hasn't been able to punish either of his kids since their mother died.

"It's all right, Winston," Billy says as he adjusts his chair into his usual area of the living room. In his hand he holds the remote to the TV. The men had planned to watch this new baseball documentary. "Jake needs a female touch. Have you seen how unruly his hair is?"

Jake gapes at his father. "You never said anything to me before."

"When is the last time you brushed your hair, Jake?" Billy asks him.

Artemis presses her lips together in an attempt to fight a smile. Billy's not wrong. Jake's hair is a greasy mess in need of a good combing and trim. Growing up the two cousins had lost their mothers at a young age leaving them to be raised by their grieving fathers and Jake's older sisters. The girls, Rachel and Rebecca, could only handle so much before they flew out of the reservation without a look back. The lack of female touch was painfully obvious with the state of their home.

"Can I please braid your hair?" Artemis asks reaching for it once again.

Jake jumps to his feet. His hands are flailing out in front of him as he attempts to fend her off. "No! Definitely not!"

Any further conversation is cut short by the sound of a spluttering engine. The sound is approaching the house and from the look on Jake's face, it's someone he knows.

Without an explanation, Jake is out the front door just as the engine cuts. She knows it can't be Jake's friends Embry and Quil, neither of them own cars. Maybe a girlfriend? The thought is brushed off as soon as it comes to her mind. Someone would have told her that Jake got himself a girlfriend.

A look at her uncle's smiling face causes her curiosity to peak. He recognizes the engine and the visitor. The front door has been left open in Jake's haste to exit. Peaking through the door she can see her uncle's old orange pickup truck parked in the driveway. It's the truck that drove too damn slow and made too much noise. Jake's towering over a girl. She's pale with long brown hair with clothes that look a size too big.

As if feeling someone is watching her, the girl turns her head to look at the front door. She can see Artemis watching them. She turns back to Jake. The pair exchange a few words while Jake gestures towards his cousin standing only a few feet away from them.

They turn and Jake leads her towards the house. He's beaming from ear to ear. Artemis can't remember when he was ever this excited about something before. She can feel a bitter taste in her mouth. Two years of phone calls and emails with no single mention of a girl in Jake's life.

When the pair is close enough Artemis finally gets a better look at her. She isn't just pale, she's a ghostly white. Her brown hair is brushed but lacks volume and the attention it desperately needs. Her eyes are sunken in with dark circles underneath like she has been missing sleep for months now.

"Arty, this is Bella Swan, you remember her from back in the day?" Jake asks.

Artemis frowns when she catches the look. Bella's staring but not at her. She's focused on the scars that run down the side of her face from her hairline to her collarbone. They're three ugly pink jagged scars that are permanent reminders of her near-death experience. Bella's curious eyes are taking them in with sympathy – an emotion Artemis can't stomach anymore.

She clears her throat. It snaps Bella's attention away from the scars and onto Artemis. A sheepish look crosses her face. "I don't remember you, but I know your dad. Charlie, right?" Bella nods. "Chief and my dad are good friends…" she trails off as she realizes that the conversation isn't achieving anything.

Jake sighs and gently pushes his cousin back into the house with Bella following behind. "Dad, look who dropped by!" Jake all but cheers, "Bella!"

"I'm sure he can see that it's Bella, Jake. Your dad is crippled not blind," Artemis mutters under her breath which no one catches.

Billy is smiling, but not in the way Jake is. It's the same smile he gave her when she arrived at the airport in Seattle. He had been happy to see her alive. A sinking feeling fills the pit of her stomach as Artemis steals a glance in Bella's direction.

"Good to see you, Bella," he says before his smile drops. "Is something wrong with Charlie?"

"No, no, Charlie is okay. I came to see Jake, I didn't mean to intrude," Bella says.

"No, it's all right. I doubt you remember me, but I'm a friend of your old man. Winston Keen," he introduces himself. Though he does raise from his seat he does no offer his hand. Though Winston is a hugger, he knows other people aren't comfortable like that.

Bella nods, "So I hear."

"Can you stay for dinner? Winston's making chicken," Billy eagerly asks.

"Whoa, since when did Winston agree to make dinner?" Winston asks. "But yeah, please stay for dinner. We can even invite Charlie up. Haven't seen him in a long time."

Bella laughs. Artemis can see its to cover her discomfort. It's a tactic she uses herself. "It's not like you guys won't see me or Charlie again. I promise to be back again soon – so much so that you'll get sick of me, Billy."

"Ha! Uncle Billy would prefer you being here. He'd actually have someone to talk to that doesn't have the IQ of a goldfish, right Jake?" Artemis jabs him in the ribs with her elbow.

He wraps his arm around her shoulders and pulls her tight into his side. "Like you're any smarter."

"I wasn't the one that thought Santa was real until I was thirteen."

"You little sh—ouch!" Jake yelps as Artemis pinches his side. He pushes her away from himself. "You bitch."

Artemis gapes at him then turns to face her dad. "Daddy! Did you hear his foul mouth?!"

"So, Bella," Jake turns to his friend. "What do you wanna do?" he asks.

"Whatever it was you guys were doing before I interrupted?"

While his cousin is distracted by her dad Jakes takes this opportunity to get Bella out of the house. "I was heading out to work on my car, but we can do something else?"

Bella shakes her head. "No, that's perfect. I'd love to see your car."

"Okay," Jake hesitates as he sees Artemis is watching them now. Her eyes are narrow and she looks upset with him, something is coming, he just knows it. "It's out back, in the garage."

Bella waves goodbye to everyone in the room and starts to leave. "See you later. It was nice meeting you."

"Nice to meet you too, Bella," Artemis smiles wide. Her voice is a sickly sweet and Jake knows she's going to say something to embarrass him. "Don't do anything stupid you two. Make sure you're being safe," she winks.

Bella's face turns a shade of pink while Jake coughs awkwardly, they both knew exactly what she meant. Winston smacks an open palm against her shoulder blade. She jerks forward at the force but maintains her smile of satisfaction at the results she received.

"Are you trying to keep Jake single forever?" Her father asks.

Billy laughs. "He does that all on his own, Winston."

Rolling her eyes Artemis grabs the remote and changes the channel to MTV. It doesn't go over well with the men in the house. They quickly kick her out of the living room and flip the channel back to the previous one. She decides she might as well make herself useful and start working on dinner.

It doesn't take long into the dinner making process to get interrupted. Jake's two best friends since infancy, Embry Call and Quil Ateara, walk into the Black house without knocking. In the sixteen years of their existence the pair had only knocked once after Quil was lectured by his mother, Joy. She was horrified to witness her son displaying any lack of manners.

It came as no surprise to either Billy or Winston when the pair greeted them with toothy smiles and no apology. The men point them in the direction of the kitchen where Artemis is stood over the stove. Her back is turned to them as she hums a melody to herself while prepping the chicken cutlets. One quick dip through the egg wash, a coat of flour, then a generous slathering of breadcrumbs before being dropped into a pot of boiling oil.

Embry's hand reaches for the one piece of fried chicken on a dinner plate beside the stove. Before his fingers can graze the crispy coat a wooden spoon whacks him on the back of his hand. A cry of pain escapes his lips and he looks at his friend. She looks angry.

"I missed you," he squeaks out.

She rolls her eyes in response then leans over to plant a kiss on his cheek. "I missed you, too."

Quil whines from beside them. "I also missed you!"

She turns and gives him a kiss as well. As she pulls away she notes the changes in their appearance. When she left the reservation, the pair were two scrawny fourteen-year-olds with chubby cheeks. She'd been surprise with Jake's growth spurt and it was no different with the boys. Everyone stands well over six feet which makes her feel much smaller than she already is.

Their features are sharper and both have a much more muscular build than they did before. Unlike Jake, the pair had kept their hair short. Quil's curls still gave him a boyish charm.

"Jake said you got pretty beat up but holy shit, Arty," Quil says as he takes note of the scars. They are still fresh so their pink color is a noticeable contrast to her naturally tanned skin.

Embry punches his best friend's shoulder. "You look beautiful," he compliments her.

Laughing she pulls Embry down into a warm hug. It's been a while since someone outside her family has called her beautiful. She had once been the girl everyone talked about, beautiful tanned skin, dark silk like hair with enticing brown eyes. Then her accident happened and she lost her sense of beauty. No one looked at her the same way anymore.

"This is why you're my favorite."

"I am deeply offended," Quil says. "I thought you don't pick favorites."

She scoffs. "Embry called me every day. When did you call? Oh! That's right, to wish me a belated birthday."

Quil looks over at his best friend who is avoiding eye contact.

"Where's Jake?" Embry asks.

"He's out back in the garage. Let me get daddy to finish cookin' and we'll go."

The trio walk into the living room where the two older men are talking passionately. The TV is on a commercial break, some advertisement for a lawn mower. She taps her dad's shoulder. "I got some chicken waitin' for the fryer and the potatoes are almost done for the mash."

"And where are you goin'?" Winston asks turning in his seat. His blue eyes are squinted as they sweep over the three teenagers.

"Out back to see Jake, Sir," Quil answers.

Billy smiles, "Can't live a moment without each other?"

"Naw, Billy, that's the love of my life," Quil grins.

The group make their way out of the house, around the corner and down the path to the garage. It's out of the way and not an easy access. Artemis wonders why Billy and her dad had chosen to even build it there.

"Jacob?!" Quil shouts for his friend.

Artemis rolls her eyes. "You don't believe me?"

Quil shrugs. "You don't know. You could be bringing us out here to murder us. Harvest our organs and feed our bodies to the res dogs."

"I don't think Artemis has the strength to take both of us on," Embry comments.

"Yeah, that's true… but, you never know. She could be loaded. We didn't frisk her for any weapons."

"Jake!" Embry's shout is playful yet the boys quicken their pace. "Are you here?"

"Yeah!" Jake shouts back.

"I told you he is!"

Quil shrugs his shoulders. "You've been gone awfully long."

"Two years, Quil!" she shouts holding up two fingers. "Two years doesn't turn someone into a killer."

"Tell that to Ted Bundy!"

"Do I look like Ted fuckin' Bundy!"

"No," Quil says. "You could pass as the joker. Wanna know how I got these scars vibes."

Artemis pushes the doors of the garage open. "Jacob, take your friends back. I don't want them."

"Hey guys," Jake greets in a somber tone. He's not pleased to see them.

"Hey Jake," the boys greet back. Both turn their focus on Bella now, someone neither of them have seen before. When their stares get them a smile from her, Quil pounces. "Hi there," it's meant to sound smooth, but to Jake and Artemis it sounds like he's trying too hard.

"Quil, Embry – this is my friend Bella."

"Charlie's kid, right?" Quil holds his hand out towards her.

"That's right," Bella confirms taking his hand into hers.

He flexes his bicep in an attempt to show off.

"Nice to meet you, Quil," Bella says as they release their hands.

Embry steps forward, hands shoved deep in his pockets. He's nervous. Artemis can't help but find it adorable and coos to Jake who laughs. "Hey Bella, I'm Embry, Embry Call – you probably already figured that out, though."

"Nice to meet you, too."

"So, what are you guys doing?" Quil asks, not once has his eyes moved away from Bella.

Quil means no harm, he just doesn't get the attention from girls he wants. But the staring has clearly started to make Bella feel uncomfortable, so Artemis slides up beside him. She pinches his side causing Quil to yelp and shove her away. "You bitch!"

Jake clears his throat. "Bella and I are going to fix up these bikes," he answers.

The inner mechanic is triggered within the teenage boys. They leave the two girls standing by the Volkswagen Rabbit Jake has been working on to huddle over the old Harleys. The Rabbit has gone a long way from the pictures Jake sent her when he bought it.

There's something about the boys on the reservation and their mechanic skills. Every guy she's ever had contact with seems to know everything and anything about cars and how to fix them. Meanwhile, she can see that Bella is just as lost with their conversation as she is.

"You understand anything they're saying?" Bella asks.

Artemis shakes her head. "Naw, I'd learn Latin quicker than I'd know what whatever it is that Embry just said."

Bella smiles.

"I'm surprised Charlie let you get a bike. He was always on my brother Jesse's case for ridin—Oh!" Artemis notices the look of panic that crosses Bella's face. "Charlie doesn't know."

"Yeah, could you please not tell him?" she asks.

"That's badass, Bella. Your secrets are safe with me," Artemis promises. "God knows how many times I've broken the rules."

Bella smiles. "Thanks."

"It's no big deal. Like I said, your ol' man got on my brother's case all the time for riding his dirt bike. I think Charlie forgets he was a teenager once too. Most dads do."

"Is your brother the one who crashed into a tree?"

Artemis laughs. "Of course he tells you that story. Naw, that was my best friend. Paul got distracted and crashed. Broke his arm only, thankfully. Charlie and my daddy had a field day lecturing us about the importance of bike safety."

Bella nods. "Your dad and Charlie grew up together?"

"Naw, my daddy's from out East. They met through uncle Billy. Bonded over being the only white guys in a group of Natives."

"That's nice. What does he do?"

"He's a doc at Forks Hospital. Well, he was, I don't know if they're gonna give him his job back."

Bella thinks about Carlisle. Thinks about how now that he's not in Forks, the hospital must be in need of a doctor. But there is a selfishness in her that doesn't want to inform Artemis about this.

The lack of response from Bella leads Artemis to think that Bella's only asking to seem polite. The gesture doesn't sit well with her. She would much rather have a conversation with someone willing to get to know you than someone who is just asking to keep a conversation going.

Their conversation dies out as they watch the boys in silence.

After a few minutes of the boys shouting over one another about a specific part, Artemis notes the time. "Dinner should be ready soon."

Bella takes this as her cue to go. She slides out from inside the Rabbit and gives an audible sigh, it grabs Jake's attention. He gives Bella an apologetic look. "We're boring you, aren't we?"

"Yes!" Artemis whines as she throws her head back in exasperation.

"Naw," Bella replies. "I just have to go cook dinner for Charlie."

It's an excuse, a valid one, but an excuse because Charlie is due home soon. He wouldn't mind a late dinner, but it would give Billy and Winston their excuse to call their friend over. "You sure you don't wanna stay and have Charlie come by?" Artemis extends the invitation from earlier again.

"No, no it's all right," Bella declines.

"Oh… well, I'll finish taking these apart tonight and figure out what more we'll need to get started rebuilding them. When do you want to work on them again?" Jake asks.

"Could I come back tomorrow?" Bella asks.

Embry and Quil nudge each other, they're smiling at their best friend. They're looking at their best friend with pride, a girl is actively seeking to hang out with their best friend. Artemis finds this both comical and pathetic.

"That would be great!" Jake doesn't hide his excitement.

"If you make a list, we can go shop for parts," Bella suggests.

Jake's face falls. "I'm not sure I should let you pay for everything."

At this Artemis coughs. She knows Jake is strapped for cash. He's been working odd shifts at the local shop to help his dad out since Billy can't work anymore. The Rabbit project has been mostly funded by monetary gifts from Winston.

"Jake, if I took these to a mechanic, how much would he charge me?" Bella asks.

At this Jake smiles. She's got him. "Okay, you're getting a deal," he admits.

"Not to mention the riding lessons," Bella adds.

Without missing a beat Quil leans over to whisper something into Embry's ear. It's not hard to assume it is something suggestive when Embry snickers. Jake smacks his friends on the back of their heads and tells them to get out.

Bella cuts in. "No, really, I have to go."

She's already walking towards the exit. "I'll see you tomorrow, Jacob."

When she's out of sight Jake's two friends let out loud and obnoxious Woos. He lunges for them, taking them both down them with ease. Once all three are on the ground – fist start flying. They're wrestling and hitting each other. Jake's got the upper hand, he has always been the largest out of the three of them.

"If either of you so much as sets one toe on my land tomorrow, I will cut your balls off," Jake warns them as he hold Embry in a headlock.

"Harsh much, Buddy?" Embry taps on Jake's forearm for release.

"How am I supposed to have kids?" Quil asks grabbing the crotch of his jeans.

Jake releases Embry from his hold and gets to his feet. "Who would want to have your kids?"

Still sprawled out on the ground and holding his crotch. Quil lulls his head to the side to look up at Artemis. She's standing with her arms crossed and a scowl etched on her face. "You wanna make some cute kids?" he asks.

She brings a finger towards her mouth and pretends to gag.

Embry howls with laughter.

Quil isn't happy about that and reaches over to punch Embry's thigh. "Shut up. At least I can talk to women. What was that earlier? Embry – Embry Call, but you already knew that."

"Guys! I'm serious!" Jake shouts. "I need you three to promise me you won't come over tomorrow."

"I promise not to ruin your date," Quil says.

"I got shit to do with my mom anyway," Embry shrugs. "She's got me running errands in Forks and Port Angeles."

Jake looks over at his cousin. He's waiting on her to promise the same.

She raises her eyebrows.

"Artemis."

"Jake. I'm staying at your place until mine is set up, remember? Or did the sight of Bella Swan turn your brain into mush?"

"Go on a date with me tomorrow," Quil suggests.

She laughs. "No."


Thanks for reading!


Author's Note:

Hi guys,

This is a Paul Fan Fic story but we won't see Paul right away. We have some chapters in between before I can bring him back into Artemis' life again.

This story is mostly based off of the books. I will be putting in some scenes from the movies.

Thank you!