Something Wild

Chapter 32 - Initiation

After the incident with Allison (which resulted in them ordering pizza), Naomi managed to escape to her room. She didn't like the feeling that Allison was growing suspicious. It wasn't safe for her to be involved. It wasn't going to help her feel any calmer to learn what her children had been up to.

Naomi decided to put that out of her mind. She emailed both Jessy and Lisa for their phone numbers, then went through and added whoever's phone number she happened to have memorized out of the people she was missing. She made sure to message them all about her new change of number. Naomi also emailed the professor of her class (the one for which she had a final today) about the "accident" and eloquently begged for a makeup exam at a later date.

One well-deserved nap later, Sam was knocking at her door. She opened it, groggy,

"Are you ready to meet the pack?" he asked, leaning on her doorframe.

Naomi rubbed the sleep from her eyes. "No. What time is it?"


"At night? And you want to go see everyone now?"

"It's more discreet. There's, what, eight of us? Nine?"

"Fair point. I'll get dressed."

Sam nodded. "Sure. Wear something you don't mind shredding."

"Well, if that isn't ominous…." She half smiled, closing the door on him. Naomi tossed on an old t-shirt that might as well have been a long crop top and a pair of denim shorts she'd spilled paint on in an unfortunate art experiment years back. She didn't bother pulling her hair into a ponytail.

"And where are you guys headed off to so late?" Allison asked as they made their way through the living room. In hindsight, it was probably a better idea to have taken the back door. Allison made no effort to hide her dubious expression. She was used to Sam's late comings and goings, but not Naomi's.

"Out for a run," Naomi said, at the same time that Sam replied, "To Emily's." They looked at each other.

"We're going for a run but we're going to swing by Emily's to try and convince her to join us," Sam clarified.

"This late?" Allison sounded suspicious, but didn't comment on it further when Sam refused to elaborate. "Well, make sure to be safe and avoid the forest. There's been all sorts of sightings of creatures in there lately."

Sam nodded. Naomi had no idea how he kept such a straight face when he was outright lying to his own mother. She didn't comment, afraid she would give them away. Allison didn't need to be involved in this life. Sam had made that clear early on.

They walked down the road to Emily's house, just in case Allison decided to peek out the window.

"I don't know how you do that," Naomi muttered.

"It gets easier the more you have to do it," Sam replied uneasily.

"So are we really going to Emily's?"

"Yup. We'll meet the rest of the pack there and formally bring you into the fold."

Naomi raised an eyebrow. "I'm your sister and Paul's imprint. How much more formally folded into the pack could I be? They all know me."

"Yes, but you've never had to share a brain with them," Sam pointed out. "It might be a little overwhelming, but you need to meet everyone again to get familiar with their scents and what they look like as wolves, and they need to do the same with you."


"Yes, Omi?"

"How different do you think we'd be if it was reversed? If I had shifted last year instead of you?"

Sam turned his head in her direction, as if questioning if he heard her correctly. He gave her a wry smile. "I'm not sure you would've been able to keep it a secret from me."

Naomi shoved him, but he barely moved. "Hey, you couldn't hide it from me forever!" He laughed.

"No, but definitely longer than you would've."

She shook her head at him. "Unbelievable."

"No sense in thinking about what could've gone differently. Though that would've been interesting. You, Jared, and Paul? I can't picture it."

She felt a pit in her stomach. "Maybe I would've imprinted on him then," she said quietly.

Sam sighed. "Don't worry about that. We don't even know if females can, or even why we imprint at all."

Naomi cast a sideways glance at her brother. She almost didn't want to ask, but of course her curiosity got the better of her. "What would you do if Leah imprinted?"

Sam did not appear to appreciate that question. Nevertheless, he had a response, if somewhat resigned. "Then I would be happy for her and wish her good luck."

Naomi nodded, content to let it drop. To her surprise, he continued.

"You know, I still care for her," he said. "I probably always will. It's...different from how I feel about Emily." He let out a dark laugh. "To think...the only two women I've loved, and I've hurt them more than anyone else."

Debatable, she almost said, thinking of Allison, but she kept that to herself. Naomi wrapped an arm around one of his, pulling him closer as they continued to walk, a little more slowly. "You carry a lot of guilt for both of them. I don't think either of them would want you to keep holding onto it." She smiled. "Well, maybe Leah did, for a little while. But I don't think she does anymore."

Sam chuckled. "We'll see. And don't worry about Paul. It'll work out."

"You keep saying that." She rolled her eyes playfully. "But I suppose you're right… I have too many other things to worry about."

"Those are going to be okay, too," Sam said. "We'll get through them all together."

Emily's house came into view. They jogged up the steps and into the house, immediately leaving behind the quiet darkness of their walk to be greeted by lights and the cacophony of the pack.

A mixture of voices greeted them. Naomi and Sam waved and headed over to where Emily was sitting at the counter, writing on a notepad. Sam came up behind her and pressed a kiss to her cheek, taking her by surprise.

"Sam!" Emily chided with a smile. She gave him a quick kiss, then turned to give Naomi a hug. "And Omi, glad you're here."

"What are you working on?" Naomi asked, eyes flickering down to the legal pad. Emily's eyes widened before she followed Naomi's gaze.

"Oh, this? I got a job at the school, teaching the little kids arts and crafts," Emily said. She waved the notepad. "Lesson planning."

"What? That's great!"

"How much planning could there be to arts and crafts?" Sam asked, a teasing grin on his face. Emily narrowed an eye at him.

"Most of it is managing limited supplies for a group of rowdy youths," Emily replied pointedly. "Sound familiar?"

Naomi laughed. "You have plenty of experience with that."

"Omi!" Embry's voice was accompanied by him throwing most of his upper body weight onto her shoulders as he wrapped his arms around them. She nearly had the breath knocked out of her. "You running with the wolves tonight?"

"Not if you kill me first!" she complained. He snickered and pulled away from her, raising his arms as if innocent.

"Well, come on, then!" He hollered and clapped Quil and Jacob on the back as he made his way outside to the backyard. The two boys chased after him, throwing playful taunts his way.

Naomi watched them fondly until Paul came into her line of sight. She didn't quite know what to expect from him — was he mad? Sad? Somewhere in between? But, after a few seconds of holding his gaze, he merely smiled charmingly at her. It reminded Naomi of when he'd first shown up at her door and wanted to take a walk, when he thought his cheeky sarcasm and flirting would be at all helpful in pursuing her. She couldn't decide how she felt about that smile's reemergence. It felt more like a front than anything else.

"You made it to the party," Paul said, spreading his arms as if to gesture around them.

"Is this what we're calling a party nowadays?" Jared piped up, shaking his head in disapproval as he ducked under one of Paul's arms. "Not one barbecue or bonfire in sight."

"Don't act like you didn't get fed anyway," Leah sniped, crossing over to them. She had her signature look of displeasure — lips downturned at the corners and eyebrows just barely pulled over her eyes. It wasn't enough to mar her features, but plenty to show her disdain.

Sam raised an eyebrow at Jared, who rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish grin. "Appreciated eternally, Emily," he said quickly.

For her part, Emily swatted at him with a hand towel, a smirk on her face. "Don't make me tell Kimmy," she threatened. Jared groaned.

"Never a moment of peace, huh?" Naomi said, a smile pulling at her lips. Her eyes flashed back to Paul, and she held his gaze for a few moments, trying to discern his thoughts. He was always so good at hiding them.

"Rarely," Sam said. He placed his hands on Naomi's shoulders. "Come on, let's join the others outside." He steered her toward the backyard, barely giving her a chance to wave goodbye to Emily before she found herself in a group of people quickly shedding their clothes as they ran into the woods.

Naomi stood frozen as all but Sam and Leah disappeared into the trees. Even Paul, after giving her a lingering stare, reluctantly joined the rest of them. She looked between Sam and Leah, feeling nervous.

"What do I do?" Naomi asked, feeling dumb.

"You phase," Leah responded, in a tone that did not help. "I always hang back or find my own place to phase, so I figured I'd keep you company."

Naomi resisted the urge to reach for Leah's hand for comfort. "Thank you."

"You've only phased the one time," Sam said. "Do you remember what it feels like?"

She shook her head. "Not at all. It was like I was on autopilot."

Sam nodded. "You'll recognize it when you phase now, though, since you won't have that fighting instinct to distract you."

Naomi looked back at him, trying to mimic his strength. He had so much of it — really, he'd changed so much in this last year. It was almost heartbreaking. But he was strong, and she was proud of him for having such a good heart.

"Well?" Leah asked, crossing her arms over her thin shirt. "Are you gonna let us phase in peace?"

Sam dipped his head, not quite meeting her eyes. "I'll see you both in a few," Sam said. He took off in the same direction as the other wolves.

"Come on," Leah said, grabbing Naomi's arm. "Let's find a tree or something. Far enough from the boys but out of any open area."

They were just barely inside the forest when Leah let go of her, walked a few paces, and began shimmying out of her shorts. Naomi panicked. Was she supposed to do that, too?

"What, you want a show or something?" Leah taunted, barely out of her shorts. "What are you waiting for?"

"I didn't really think about this part of phasing," Naomi said uneasily, wrapping her arms around herself. Leah paused, taking note of Naomi's stance. She looked down at her clothes, cursed, and pulled her shorts back up.

"Okay, fine. Just because you're not used to it and you need a chaperone, I'll sacrifice these clothes. But you're paying for a replacement."

Naomi nodded quickly, feeling a little less self-conscious already.

"Are you ready?"

" do I know?"

Leah furrowed her brows. "You just decide to do it."

Naomi stared. She felt so out of place. Leah sighed impatiently.

"You can't be scared. You have to want to."

She really didn't. "Can you help me? I don't know how."

"How to want to?" Leah's eyebrows raised. "Um, okay. Your brothers are out there waiting for you. Your werewolf is out there waiting for you. If you don't phase, everyone will have cleared their schedule for nothing, so get your ass in gear and poof, furball."

Naomi frowned, wrapping her arms tighter around herself.

Leah blew air from her nostrils, her eyes darting to the woods. "Want me to go first? Would that help you?"

Naomi wished that phasing was like jumping into a pool, where she could just hold onto Leah and be pulled into the water alongside her. But phasing was not like that. They each had their own pools and diving boards. She knew she shouldn't have, but she agreed.

She almost missed it when Leah phased. It was a quick explosion of limbs and fur — the wolf body was so much larger than the human it belonged to that Naomi wondered where they got that extra mass from.

Leah-wolf snorted and pawed at the shreds of clothing before her feet.

"I'll buy you new ones," Naomi offered. Leah rolled her eyes, as if saying that was obvious.

The wolf nudged her, causing her to lose her footing. Luckily, Naomi caught herself before she fell. She wasn't as lucky the second time Leah shoved her, this time with more force. Naomi landed on her bottom and hands, wincing at the impact. It didn't hurt so much as startle her.

Naomi closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She tried to channel whatever it felt like when she was a wolf. She dug her hands into the soil and tried to imagine prancing along it on four legs. It felt...fake, of all things. She was too anxious to feel any kind of meditative calm or tie to nature.

And, truthfully, she had barely paid attention to nature when she was a wolf. She had only paid attention to Paul and to making sure she was following him. But no one was in danger now. Paul wasn't running off somewhere. She had literally no idea how she was supposed to phase.

"I can't do it." Naomi opened her eyes. Leah was pacing back and forth. The wolf came closer, narrowing her eyes at Naomi.

Slowly, figures emerged from the shadows. They weren't far enough to be visible to passersby — not that anyone would be — but she was able to notice their approach.

Her eyes were drawn to Sam immediately, who stood out as the black wolf of the group. She easily found the russet wolf that was Jacob, who was even larger than Sam by a bit. A little further down the line, her eyes finally landed on the silver wolf that was Paul.

Sam was staring — they were all staring — and Naomi couldn't help but feel the pressure mounting. She felt ridiculous, sitting there in her old shirt and shorts, waiting for something, anything, to happen.

Leah snorted again, pacing back and forth. The wolves were fidgeting and looking back and forth. They seemed to be having some kind of conversation, though not one she was privy to. Within moments, the black wolf wandered off, replaced by her brother, wearing his cutoffs.

"Sometimes it takes a minute," Sam said. The tone of his voice made her realize it didn't usually take this many minutes. Naomi was starting to sweat. The rest of the pack, Paul included, was already phased and waiting expectantly. She couldn't meet their eyes. "Omi?"

It took her a second to realize she was shaking her head. She brought her hands up to cover her face, not caring about the dirt she was spreading to her cheeks. "I can't. I-I don't know."

Nothing happened for a minute. She couldn't look at them, but she had to know. Naomi peeked through her hands at Sam, who was watching her carefully from a distance. She lowered her hands a bit. Sam approached and crouched in front of her. His eyes scanned her face.

"Not that I'm happy you're feeling pressured," he said, "but I was kind of expecting the stress of that to push you to phase." Sam frowned. "I don't know why you're not."

He didn't need to say it, but she heard it. No one else had had this much trouble.

The silver wolf broke ranks with the other pack members. Paul slowly came towards her and placed his chin on top of her head. Naomi let out a sigh of relief almost the second her cheek buried into the fur at his neck. She brought her hand up to bury in his fur and felt much calmer.

"We'll have to work on getting you to phase," Sam said, "but Paul's got the right idea. Let's use this time to introduce you to everyone." Naomi felt the growl that started in Paul's throat. "She's pack, Paul. This is what we're here for."

With only a snort, Paul moved away. Sam nodded as the silver wolf settled down on the ground to her left. Even with him laying down, he was so massive that Naomi could hardly reach the top of his back from where she was sitting. She ran a hand through the fur on his side and allowed herself to pretend it was mostly for his benefit.

Sam had the rest of the pack line up and take turns coming by her so she could get familiar with what they looked and smelled like. Everyone was distinct enough that she could keep track, more or less. Seth was sandy-brown. Quil was a chocolate brown. Embry was a gray, slightly darker than both Paul and Leah, and he had black spots on his coat. Leah and Paul were actually the closest in color, but they were also the two wolves she was most familiar with. It was easy to tell Leah's smaller, lankier form apart from Paul's larger one.

Eventually, the wolves trickled into the forest as some phased back and others opted to run home in their four-legged forms. Unsurprisingly, Leah was in the latter group. Paul eventually left her side to go phase back, and Naomi found that she was almost sad about it.

By the time everyone had either left or gone to phase back, Naomi and Sam had moved to the porch. They were silent, but Naomi knew they would end up talking about things in private later. It was their way. Paul, freshly human, emerged from the between the trees wearing shorts and a pair of shoes. He jogged up to them. Naomi only saw his brief hesitation because of her enhanced sight — she was sure of it.

"I'm heading out," Paul said. It was directed at Sam. His eyes flickered over to Naomi, and his mouth opened to say something, but he closed it again. Sam nodded in acknowledgement.

"I'll call if anything changes," Sam said. She wasn't sure what he was referring to. It could've just been her transformation, but it sounded like more.

Naomi watched Paul leave, wondering when she ended up the one pining.

Hey hey. Thanks for hanging in there with me! I promise to always update, even if I'm not always sure of when it'll happen. I definitely can't let a whole month go by between chapters.

I'd love to hear what you enjoy the most about the story - romance, family, friendships, etc. :)