Copyright Page
This book was automatically created by FLAG on January 17th, 2012, based on content retrieved from The content in this book is copyrighted by CrystalBrooke or their authorised agent(s). All rights are reserved except where explicitly stated otherwise. This story was first published on July 1st, 2008, and was last updated on December 30th, 2008. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated - please email any bugs, problems, feature requests etc. to

Table of Contents
Summary 1. Haunted House 2. Temper Tantrums 3. Party Time 4. Waiting For Someone 5. Too Close 6. Going Absolutely Crazy 7. Well, That Was Interesting 8. Burglars With Candlesticks 9. I'll Be Back 10. Born In A Zoo 11. Everything 12. Sex God 13. Howling At The Moon 14. Guess What? 15. I've Invited Strippers 16. Bodyguard 17. Release The Hounds 18. Feather Duster 19. Boomerang 20. Headstrong 21. Swivel Chair 22. List Of Crimes 23. Naughty Quil 24. Loitering 25. Crucial 26. I'm Jus' Tipsy 27. A Little Bit DRAMATIC 28. Rules

29. All Embry 30. Serious Breaching 31. Mr Disinfectant 32. Wolves 33. Pieces 34. Hugs and Kisses 35. South Dakota 36. Flowers, Doves and a Mexican Band 37. Epilogue: Mr Forever


17 year old Claire, frustrated and angry, is a bitch. But Quil, who has been in her life forever, always comes back to her whenever she pushes him away. Will she ever find out what she did to deserve him? And could they be more than best friends?


Haunted House
Whee. I've always wanted to write a Quil and Claire story, so this is my take on it. I hope you enjoy it! NOTE: Written before Breaking Dawn was released. Just like a tattoo, I'll always have you... -Jordin Sparks

Chapter One: Haunted House I feigned excitement. I was good at it; I always appeared convincing. Quil was the only one who ever saw right through it. I was dealing with Rachel at the moment, though, and she didn't notice, too caught up in telling me all about her new dress. I'd swear she did this on purpose, knowing how paranoid and upset she made me. Not to mention jealous. Wouldn't we all love to be as rich as her, and be able to afford designer dresses? I squealed at the right moments and gushed over how perfect it would look on her, as expected of a best friend. I wasn't going to make her uncomfortable by pointing out that my dress had been purchased cheaply last summer while staying at Dad's. Why would I do that, anyway? I found my attention wandering, as Rachel proceeded to describe the intricate embroidery on the bodice of the dress. I had bigger things to worry about than whether or not Zach would find it sexy on her. (Of course he would. Zach, her adoring boyfriend, would find her sexy even if she suddenly sprouted an extra nose.) Problems. Number one: my parents had had another argument over me. And number two: Quil was mad at me. I started both problems, like always. I always started the fights. I honestly didn't intend to screw everything up again, but it just happened, and then I was left with another huge mess to deal with and a list of apologies to make. I pissed off my mother by ignoring my curfew, and the next thing I knew she was on the phone to Dad, claiming that she couldn't handle me anymore. She wanted him to travel down here and deal with me, as was his duty. But of course, Dad was too busy to do any travelling, what with his job and his new pregnant wife. Why would he really care about me, his daughter? It left a bitter taste in my mouth to know that if it were Jack instead, he would be on a plane

straightaway. He had never hidden his preference for my brother. So my parents had fought, hissing at each other down the phone. I didn't really grasp what they were saying, but I knew it was something to do with me. It always was. My parent's history was a long and complicated one. I didn't even understand half of it. We had all lived in New York - Mom, Dad, me and my older sister, Denise - and then when I was two, we took a vacation down to Forks to visit my Aunt Emily and her fiancé. And we never went back home. My mother was always vague whenever I asked her about it, saying stuff like she had never really liked New York anyway, and wanted to stay close to her sister. I knew she was keeping something from me, and I didn't know how much longer I had to wait before I found out what it was. I mean, I was seventeen; I was mature enough to handle the real reason. I winced. I guess my behaviour hadn't been all that mature over the past couple of months. Dad moved back to New York without us after six years, bringing fourteen-year-old Denise with him. He left my mother pregnant with Jack, and my eight-year-old self confused. My mother hated him for that, calling him selfish, for not putting his family before himself. They ended up divorcing. But I didn't really understand what was so selfish about his decision. Forks was a hellhole. There was nothing to do, and the sun was so rare, even in summer. I would leave in a minute, if it weren't for Quil. I'd known him all my life. Ever since I could remember, he'd been there. I seriously couldn't imagine life without him. He was my best friend. I could tell him anything. And even though half the time I didn't deserve it, he would do anything at all for me. Which was why I felt so guilty now, because once again, I had made him mad at me. I was such a bitch to him yesterday; he had been shaking, he was so angry. He just stormed out of the house and left me to stew in my own guilt and self-hatred. I wouldn't blame him if he decided not to forgive me this time. And no matter what I said to him, Quil always forgave me. So now I was worried that when I got home, there would be no Quil waiting to hang out with me and watch movies, and I'd have to deal with a phone call from Dad trying to convince me to move to New York and live with him. If there was no Quil waiting for me, I'd have to tell him yes. Quil was the only thing keeping me in Forks.

and I struggled to catch up with the conversation. I half smiled at her. just a little. I would have loved to have told Rachel to wake up and live in the real world. yeah. Zach's party. It was all anyone ever talked about at the moment." "Me too. what do you think. and he was way out of my league. "I can't wait for the party already. "I know. I'd always had a little crush on him. here's another exciting topic. Aaron was Zach's best friend. it's going to be great. reminding us of our homework." Rachel agreed smugly. Claire?" Rachel's voice brought me back to the present. He won't be able to resist. almost afraid to go home. It's the perfect situation for you to talk to him!" I rolled my eyes."So. For me. and proceeded to invite the whole school to what looked like the party of the year. She sighed wistfully. It didn't make any kind of -8- . but the bitchy side of me was taking a rest. Our teacher yelled over the babble of talk. winking at me. worn out from tormenting Quil yesterday. it was just another event to attend where I had to wear a mask and act like I was blissfully happy with life. "Eh. He ignores me totally. ever since Rachel and Zach got together. I see him everyday at lunch. "Aaron's definitely going. because he let us talk for the last five minutes of class. "Right. The reason for the dresses. Ugh. Rachel had thought this an astounding idea on his behalf. He liked to think he was one of the cool teachers. saving me from any further discussion over Aaron. my heart sinking a little bit. "Yes." I sighed. It was something Rachel wouldn't let me forget." I said vaguely. The bell rang. "Rache. pacified." I said. Oh. I packed my bag gratefully. attempting nonchalance. Being the supportive girlfriend that she was." Rachel added. lifted out of my black mood. "Really?" I asked. Why would he talk to me at the party at all?" "It'll be a different atmosphere! And you'll be wearing an incredibly sexy dress! Right?" I shrugged.

and I really didn't deserve him. always me who made him unhappy. her eyes widening a little. Do you want to come with me.something with a lot of guitars and screaming. And I was trying to prepare -9- . in case Quil wasn't there. The logical part of me was screaming at me that he would be there. Everything was upsetting me. but I had never really looked at him in that way. I wanted to be a strong person. I really. I hated all teachers. He was my friend. But then I was afraid that finally. She thought he was absolutely gorgeous." Rachel said.difference with me. I had taken things too far. He was. dragging my feet a little. "Have fun. it was always me to start our fights. I'm going to Zach's. I think Quil's waiting for me. My face crumpled as climbed into my car and started the engine. "Oh. Quil had gotten me into the band. I think. I didn't know what was wrong with me lately. I furiously blinked the tears away. I hated crying. I didn't want to think myself as weak. exasperated at the boy bands and dance music I used to listen to. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I just appreciate what I had? Quil was the most amazing person ever. It matched my mood." "Talk to you later. I saw it as an immense sign of weakness. Life always sucked that little bit extra when we weren't talking. I kicked at a small stone. Yet. "Nah. I asked Rachel if she needed a lift home." "You too. really hoped Quil wasn't still mad at me. pushed him right over the edge. because he was always there. right. I struggled with myself the whole way home. I could be as bitchy as hell to him but he always came over to watch another movie. I was trying not to feel too hopeful. I stuck a Linkin Park CD on and turned it up loud . I suppose. To take it any further than that would just be weird. She had never really gotten over her own little crush on Quil." I headed in the direction of my car. I tried to pull myself together. hang out with us?" "No. I desperately hoped he was." Well.

" he said. "Sure." I said. It promises lots of gore. the man himself leaning against it. and he laughed again. vowing to myself that I wasn't going to do anything to screw this up again. Claire? No one else will watch scary movies with me. "I admire the park job. Quil and I were both horror movie fanatics . and Quil's jeep was parked outside. I was sick of being the person who caused all the commotion." "I don't blame you. the better. threw off my seatbelt and leapt out. sighing at the diagonal parking. "Yes. "I am too. Interested?" He held up a DVD with an ominous-looking house on the cover. "What would I do without you." "It would be a tough existence for you. I'd have to move it before my mother came home. That was rude.10 - . He beamed at me as I rushed over and threw my arms around his waist.the creepier. I glanced over at it. "I'm sorry. his warm arms wrapping themselves gently around me. "Thank you.myself for an empty driveway." He wrapped his arm around my waist and messed up my hair as we walked towards the front door. I was a bitch. I parked the car hastily." I mumbled. "No one to hold me when I scream at the jumpy . that's for sure. "What the hell are you sorry for?" "I stormed out." Quil laughed. I pulled away from him. I sighed in relief as I pulled into my drive. I was sick of hurting Quil. staring with amused eyes over at my car." I said dryly." he commented. "I brought another thriller." Quil said dramatically. I could feel the vibrations of it against my cheek.

Quil usually jumped whenever I screamed. wheedling about how much I loved the books and how stupid he was being. Why did I say that? Why was I always such a bitch to him? That was uncalled for. werewolf horror movies were the only films he absolutely refused to watch. as the camera focussed on the same house from the cover of the DVD box." I snuggled closer to Quil as the creepy piano music started. my own personal radiator. I bit my lip." I said. "Ghosts? Zombies? Werewolves?" Quil dropped the DVD on the ground. "You big oaf." I said. It was weird. settling myself on the couch while he fiddled with the DVD player. I was the one to scream at the jumpy bits." "Isn't it? No one else has ever come up with that idea. like usual. probably. "I'm not an oaf.11 - . he scoffed and kept throwing words around like "fake" and "idiotic". He finally gave in. He was reluctant to let me watch Harry Potter. as the supposedly frightened girl on the screen explored a room she wasn't supposed to be in. I hadn't meant what I said at all. and when Lupin transformed into a werewolf. for God's sake." Quil commented." Quil said. ." "I wonder how many clichés they reused. I sighed with relief. He wouldn't let me watch them either. I snorted." he said. like you could do so much better. And he wouldn't tell me his big problem with them. Nothing scared that guy. "That's original. "She should win an award for acting so terribly. "I think this house is supposed to be haunted. I was worried that I had annoyed him again. what's this one about?" I asked." "All of them.bits…" I laughed. he collapsed on the couch next to me and put his arm around me like always. He was roasting. But after pressing play. except for me screaming in his ear when he wasn't expecting it. I kept on at him though. "So. "Oh. suddenly quiet.

But I love you anyway.12 - .But Quil just sniggered. Claire." . "You wound me.

Who am I to question his very obvious bad taste in movies?" I laughed. struggling to get the car keys out of my pocket. She blasted the horn again when she saw me. A car horn blasted from outside. but I couldn't help selfishly wishing my life was a bit better. and that I was lucky. rolling my eyes.all added up to another terrible scary movie. so. "Well. and I had been for the past few months. climbing into the car and starting the engine. and an extremely fake looking ghost . . "You're off the hook. "Oh shit. holding his hands up defensively. "You bloody spastic." I leapt up from my seat and ran outside." I grumbled. my car blocking her space. making no effort to get out. Why did everyone else have a much better life than mine? Why was everyone else happier than I was? I knew I had a lot more than most people had. Rachel's life was a million times better than mine. I leaned back into the seat. that was eighty minutes of my life that I want back. I was in a constant bad mood though. "Embry mentioned that it was good." "Hey. she was popular. maybe that was too dramatic. a bad script. and as a result. She had a loving boyfriend. the guy I liked ignored me. I cut the engine and sighed." he said. no one liked me. I felt so restless. yet I didn't actually want to do anything. Bad acting. Well." "Excellent. My mother was halfway in the drive. as I parked the car properly. Quil. "Alright!" I yelled. Meanwhile.Temper Tantrums Thanks for the reviews! Lurrve xox Chapter Two: Temper Tantrums I sighed the second the movie credits finally rolled. I was starting to turn everyone against me by my bitchy behaviour." He beamed at me. "You really know how to pick them. and everyone adored her.13 - . the car. I felt like I was drowning in a black hole." I said. making me jump.

maybe then I'd consider being nice to her. while I mentally started kicking . Who was he to preach at me? He wasn't there when my mother started to needle me." I decided on the spot to drive to the beach. "I'm so sick of her at the moment. glaring out of the windshield. "I'm just saying! Maybe if you met her halfway. he still liked me. "I can't win with you. He greeted my mom.14 - . "Why don't you just go ahead and say it. I was rebelling against everything these days. I'm not really in the mood for putting up with her." he said. It had no effect on me." He sighed loudly. "Are you going somewhere?" he asked. Claire. grinning. If she was nice to me." I jerked my thumb in my mother's direction. it will make you feel better. for some completely insane reason. she might ease up on you…" he trailed off. I glared at him out of the corner of my eye. Well." "I actually don't.I watched Quil stroll casually outside to see where I was. You're the one who always starts it. I thought about it. "You shouldn't give your mother a hard time." Quil frowned at me." "Fine. in a calming voice. loped over and stuck his head in the passenger window. "Get in. and climbed into the car. annoyed. Claire." "What are you . maybe a walk would sweep away the black cloud hovering over my head. though. "She's doing her best." He folded his arms. starting to sound more and more like my dad every time he opened his mouth." "Loser. I started the engine again. say it.her representative or something?" I snapped at him. "And why the hell not? She's always at me lately. Quil? That I'm the one who always starts it? Go on. finally frustrated. and seeing that I wasn't about to get out of the car any time soon.

and I breathed in the salty air. We arrived at the beach and I parked the car. Rachel was forever trying to make every situation romantic.15 - . Quil did the same. What was I doing? Was I trying to push away the only person I actually needed in my life? Did I want to be alone? I swallowed. It confused me whenever I thought about it. I was just fed up with everything. My dad didn't give a crap about me. We just walked along the stretch of the shore in silence. hand in hand. He took my hand and led me down to the sand. I didn't even know my sister. I was extremely jealous of Rachel-and-Zach. the unit. I sighed. and what they would make of it. even if I was completely in the wrong. it was always like this. I was jealous of Rachel." he said. have you any exciting news?" Quil asked. "What are you thinking about?" he asked me. The Quil I remembered back then looked a lot like the Quil I knew now. . He wasn't that much older than me now. and then unfolded his arms. but that was his job. He was always so sketchy whenever I questioned him on his age. "It's OK. An easy. My mother was keeping things from me. Pissing him off for no reason. I'd been such a cow to him earlier. I did wonder what someone like Rachel might think if they saw us. My brother bugged the life out of me. at the most twenty-one. And I used to be such a quiet. and I didn't know if I should bother waiting around anymore. which he returned. I was sick of waiting for Aaron to notice me. passive person. uncomplicated friendship. I wondered why he even bothered with me. "So. I took off my shoes and socks. so I didn't blame him too much. I remembered Quil used to take me here to build sandcastles when I was younger. I loved the beach.myself. and then I always tried to end it. the Quil from my memories didn't look any younger than that either. "Nothing much. He stayed frozen like that for another second. I gave him a small smile. But with me and Quil. And as for Quil… I was sick of treating him like he was no better than everyone else in my life. wanting to feel the sand in between my toes. but literally. kicking at shells. "I'm sorry. He always got so touchy whenever I brought up the question of his age. I decided to just let it go. I frowned. platonic. who kept me from strangling them all." I said in a small voice. We both jumped out. There I go again. I always started the fight. appearing at my side. when he was the one person who kept me sane." I said.

Quil." That was good enough for me. I'll try. He told me he was sworn to secrecy. He could read every emotion on my face. And then I was frustrated. I was glad. I parked the car and got out. But I felt like even if I did. finding another way to bug the life out of me. It frustrated him. "Stuff to do. But he didn't press the issue. I felt resentment surge through me. Wasn't it about time people started treating me like that? "Correct me if I'm wrong. "Unfortunately." He grinned at me. Quil suggested we go home after an hour. But I didn't want to annoy him again. Quil never gave much away about his life. Why did everyone treat me like an immature little girl? I was almost an adult. anything like that. "I don't know if I'll be able to make it. I'd stopped asking questions. where he worked." he said. making a face as he dug for his car keys in his jacket. "Are you leaving?" I asked him. He was scrutinising my face. So I reluctantly drove home. "Shut up. he got way too touchy when I started asking too many questions. what he did when he wasn't with me. knowing that it would just be a waste of my time." Quil said." I shrugged. I couldn't hide absolutely anything at all from him. My brother had dumped his bike in my parking space. Why was I always the one left in the dark? Why was everyone so convinced that I couldn't be trusted to know the truth? I fumed. no one would listen. but I can sense a major tantrum brewing."Not really. He didn't want to hear what I wanted to say. you know. just annoying me further. because at the end of it all. "I'll see you after school tomorrow?" .16 - . I really wanted to scream. people to see…" he grinned at me. I scowled at him. I exhaled loudly. that if I screamed so loud I tore my throat. joining Quil where he was standing next to his jeep. I don't know which one of us was more frustrated with the other." "Cool." Quil smiled. Quil climbed out of the car to move it for me. I'll probably have a rubbish time without you there. because he couldn't answer me. I still didn't know anything. It was annoying. "Everyone is talking about Zach's big party. I looked up. You should come. He was worried my mother might be worried. and I wanted to tell him that that was no incentive to go home.

"Maybe. laughing at him. Would it kill her to just once take my side? I stormed off to my room. I breathed in the scent of him. asking my advice on what colour shoes to wear with her dress. if I had a bruise for the amount of times you have insulted me. maybe not. had said . "For the stuff I said. Not only would I be able to revel in the novelty of finally being declared an adult. My mother was watching TV on the couch. But I'd still crawl back to you for another bruise. It was only a month until my eighteenth." Quil surprised me by laughing. you dumped your bike in my parking space. And I couldn't wait." He shrugged. playing his Nintendo. I dug my mobile phone out of my school bag to check for messages. in a long-suffering voice. I'm staying well away from Embry's collection this time. slamming the door." "Oh." I sighed." I grinned. "That's a tad dramatic. "I know. not Quil or Mom. Claire. Just one." I blushed. anyway. and just lay on my bed. I flung it on my desk. don't worry."Sure. I'm off. I had the feeling everything was leading up to that day. I could sort of see it as a pivotal moment of my life. from Rachel. No one. and he pulled me into a one-armed hug." I waved him off. I stuck on some music. also. It was a nice present for you. "Will the two of you ever just be quiet?" she sighed." I said." I moaned at him. reluctant to go into the house. Maybe then I would finally be told the truth. I ignored my homework. "Bring a better movie this time. I wouldn't be able to walk. I glared at her for a second. but it got to the point where I couldn't put it off any longer. I waited outside for as long as I could. Like I cared. staring at the ceiling. He grinned evilly at me. I trudged inside. See you tomorrow. "Claire. "I'm sorry.17 - . and ten-year-old Jack was sitting upside down on the armchair. "Jack." "Mom." I mumbled.

and I was sick of being the only one who was oblivious.anything out loud. .18 - . There was something I wasn't being told. but I could feel it.

uncomprehendingly. I daydreamed away the lunch break. I was all prepared to be bored at lunch.Party Time Chapter Three: Party Time School the next day drove me insane. Warren was texting his girlfriend. because talking to me was out of the question. as though I actually viewed it as something worth discussing. Aaron…" I mumbled." I turned to see Aaron had followed me. "I'm good thanks. Party. I sat with Rachel. Aaron butted into Rachel and Zach's conversation. She'd moved away last month. When the bell rang.19 - . He'd cheer me up. sighing. I couldn't wait until it was over. no bother. as always. party. people were irritating. "Hey. subjects were boring. and Aaron. This was a first. I gathered up my stuff. I headed to my next class. Rachel was bragging on and on and on about her new shoes and what she was going to do with her hair. He was constantly absorbed in conversations with her on that phone." . People I was semi-friendly with kept bringing up the subject of the party to me. as per usual. telling myself there were only a few more classes to go and then I could go home. and I put my head on my arms and stared into space. surprised. Did these people not have problems to deal with? Were they so carefree they could discuss a stupid party to the one person who was probably the least enthusiastic about it? Ugh. and their other friend Warren. Teachers were annoying. and he didn't talk much anymore. hey. as usual. I didn't even think he knew my name. And yourself?" "I'm brilliant. And see Quil. party. and didn't bother waiting for Rachel. I stared at him stupidly. "How are you?" he asked. and of course we were joined by Zach. Claire. "Oh.

This was the most exciting thing to happen to me in months. then. like usual." I said. I suppose. I pretended to consider it. I rolled my eyes. very good-looking distraction. And he walked away. Although. His eyes widened a little. I was completely dazed. I didn't see the point in waiting around for him. I thought about him for the rest of the day. It was almost foreign to me. Nah. "Are you going to Zach's party?" I couldn't help it. "Of course I am. I'd almost given up hope on Aaron. My heart was pounding. . I didn't say anything to her. I continued my journey to my next class. like a typical girl. Now that routine was out of the way. But this changed everything." He nodded." I said casually. Obviously not the reaction he was expecting.Right. singing along to Linkin Park. Maybe now he would say whatever was on his mind. I drove home. That wasn't me.20 - . "I might see you there. A very. Isn't everyone? Although Rachel forced me into it. "What if I was there?" he said. I should have been gushing like a normal teenager. when I ran into Rachel. "Do you not think it would be fun?" he asked. I managed to park my car properly. Quil was waiting for me in my driveway. tripping over my own feet a little. and I knew that wasn't right. and then danced out to greet him. "Not particularly. It felt unnatural to be in a good mood. Maybe he could provide a distraction from all the annoying crap in my life. and then dissecting his every sentence with her and searching for the hidden meanings in them. He really was gorgeous when he smiled. so." he said. And I didn't really want to jinx anything. His grin widened. and then grinned at me in a I'll-make-your-bones-melt-type way. finding it really hard to concentrate on what I was saying when he was grinning at me like that. My breath caught. "It might be fun.

"No." "How very noble of you. incredulously." ." "Good." "Great. "If you're happy about this. and I took that as a no. "Is that all?" he said.21 - . Claire. frowning at him." I said." he noted." he said. We walked into the house." he teased. "I'm delighted. grinning at me. ice colouring my tone. I glared at him. then I'm happy. He followed me." I said stiffly. I just want you to be happy. "What's with the Spanish Inquisition?" I demanded. And he says he'll see me at the party. He rolled his eyes at me. "What's got you all happy?" I couldn't resist telling him."Hello!" I trilled at him. "Couldn't you at least pretend you're happy about this?" He pouted." Quil frowned. I'm not jealous. "You're not… jealous. and I bounded into the living room and jumped onto the couch. What the hell was his problem now? "And he's a good guy? He won't play games with you. are you?" I asked. "Hi. "Am I?" I laughed. I stared at him closely. "Good. I'm quite happy with this. "Jeez. "The guy I like started flirting with me today. "It's scaring me. as a matter of fact. what crawled up your ass and died?" I demanded. and screw you over?" Quil asked. You're in a good mood. eyeing me curiously.

but thankfully hadn't said anything about me not going. People were so predictable." Quil said. He stuck it on and we curled up together on the couch to watch it. Looks like we're both happy. I never thought it would happen. and I found myself musing the whole way through it. She was extremely annoyed with me." "I'm glad that you know it's great. the air of excitement was highly contagious. Me being me. I couldn't concentrate on it. I spent the whole day being jittery. . Saturday dawned." We stared at each other. but if he liked me in that way… I didn't know. but I had kind of… wanted Quil to be jealous." "I'm glad that you're glad. "Are we putting a movie on or what?" he asked. due to my rebellious behaviour lately. I was extremely confused. just making sure it looked good and that I shouldn't replace it for something else. and held up a thriller about a stalker."I know it's great. It wasn't just because of the conversation with Aaron. but I actually found myself looking forward to the idiotic party. "Sure does. I tried on the dress I was wearing a couple of times throughout the day. I wasn't sure why. It was the weirdest thing. I had another fight with my mother. that looked promising. and to my annoyance. so I decided not to think about it further. then. she had every right to ground me from this party. and most of the time I didn't even deserve that. In fairness to her. I didn't like him in that way. as the weekend drew nearer." "I'm very glad that you're glad that I'm glad. The corner of his mouth twitched. I'd tried to push her for a later curfew. of course. There wasn't anyone who wasn't talking about it. and then we burst out laughing at the same time. but she was being quite nice about it. And they'd probably all be talking about it again at school on Monday. "Why the hell not?" He laughed.22 - . I was more than content with friendship.

and I just wondered if I would ever find my other half. She found Zach almost immediately. She was beautiful. I could actually see him doing that. Claire. I was dying with jealously. I received a text from Quil as well. I still felt jittery. We pulled up outside Zach's house. more than anything. Rache. Jack popped in to tell me I looked ugly. It was just the same stupid party that I had been dreading ever since Zach came up with the idea. They were so perfect for each other. I'd originally been planning to just drive myself. so I left them to their own devices." Rachel gushed. "The dress is gorgeous.23 - . eyeing other girls' outfits. Rachel squealing with excitement. "Oh. It didn't seem terribly likely. and chatting about who was here with who." What an understatement. and maybe this way I could have a drink without needing to think about the drink-driving laws. "You look stunning. It was ridiculous. He couldn't come with me. and there was just no way I could ever compare to her. Her dress was unbelievable. no I don't. It was brimming with loads of people that I recognised from my year." She was modest as well. She said she was going to pick me up and bring me to the party. because I probably wouldn't have been able to have a decent conversation with Aaron. telling us to have a good time and behave ourselves. so I chased him out again. he said there was something he had to do that he couldn't get out of. I knew that was directed at me. My mother waved us off. be quiet. if he were going. I could never stand being around the two of them when they got all lovey-dovey. I should be cursing him and making up excuses to get out of it. but I would survive." "Thanks. Cool. seriously.I was debating whether to wear high shoes or flat shoes when my mobile phone beeped. I got ready and waited for Rachel to arrive in my room. I kept tapping my foot. Rachel looked like a model. Rachel eventually arrived. That was really annoying. and latched onto him. I was disappointed. what with Quil watching us from a dark corner. advising me to have fun. You look amazing too. It was a text from Rachel. They made me sad. . like each other's other half. I was a little grateful too. Rachel and I had a whispered discussion on the way in. I made a face as I imagined the expressions on both Quil's and Mom's face if they ever found out I was drinking.

I was in half a mind to leave straightaway. surprised. I recognised you straight away. . It didn't seem likely that he was going to leave that to look for me. "CLAIRE!" I jumped. turning to see who had bellowed my name." "Oh right. "No. "Really?" I asked. shut up." I couldn't quite keep the bitter tone out of my voice. he never shuts up about you. anyway. But then… Seth could be lying…? Oh. Sorry.24 - . He was surrounded by a group of his mates. are you?" he slurred. don't be. I was really on the lookout for Aaron. "He never tells me anything." "I'm insulted. "Yeah. "Oh right. "Well. smiling a little at this rather pleasant discovery.I drifted for a while. "Yeah. I was acting all psycho and paranoid. laughing raucously. aren't you?" I turned to see a young looking guy grinning curiously at me. It was Aaron." Seth said. "Hey! He didn't send you to spy on me. also surrounded by beers. Claire. lurching towards me. "You're not dumping me for this toddler. Seth glared at him. "He never mentioned you before. We still talk." I said." I said. I knew Zach when I was younger. his eyes widening. feeling like a tool. "Oh." he shrugged. did he?" Seth grinned at me. Who are you?" I asked. attacking him over nothing. "I'm Seth. racking my brains but unable to recognise him." I said." he laughed. striking up trivial conversations with a few people I knew. you're Claire. And I found him. There was nothing worth being here for." A horrible thought occurred to me. My heart sank. Claire that. "Hey. I felt a heat creep up my neck and warm my face as I blushed. How embarrassing. Claire this. I'm a friend of Quil's.

"Come on. Maybe I should have pulled away. absolutely mortified. I would have loved to hear the things he was saying if he were sober. Because I had liked him. The way Aaron had said it had implied so much… "So… er. "Lovely. God only knew what he made of that statement. Well." I heard him say. He frowned. And I see you. He leaned in to kiss me. He turned his attention back to me. which was incredibly off-putting." I mumbled." I said. Claire. hoping . Claire. so I pulled away first. I made my way back into the main room. I felt even more deflated than before. I kissed him back." he snapped. Maybe I did want this. and staggered off. That was about it. but there no was spark.25 - ." he announced. "Claire. nothing like that. It was… nice. But I can see now. for a long time. I noticed how he lost some of his attraction when his eyes were glazed over like that. Aaron dragged me off into a quiet corner in the hall. It wasn't exactly the way I had imagined our first kiss to be like. no igniting flames of passion. He was the reason I came here after all. "Sure. wasn't he? He kissed me. I couldn't look at Seth." Aaron said sarcastically. I wasn't sure if I really wanted to be here with him when he was completely wasted. maybe not as dramatically spoken."I'm older than you are. I could taste the alcohol. but I didn't even bother trying. then. "See you Seth. talk to you another time. but then it slid off his face. shaking a little. "I think I'm going to be sick. I stared at him. You've been right in front of my face this whole time." I hid my face in my hands as he proceeded to drag me away. and I have been blind. I'd never felt so embarrassed in all my life. I just hoped there hadn't been many people around that I knew to witness it. Claire. I promised you some fun. And you're so pretty…" his words began to slur together. rolling my eyes. It was pleasant. "I have been an idiot. He was stumbling over his own feet slightly. I wished he weren't drunk. I wondered hopelessly if my kissing reduced all guys to nausea." he began dramatically. finding it hard to take him seriously. He grinned at me dazedly for a second.

and wandered off to find him again. I left the house and went outside into the front garden. Vanessa. I couldn't face her. I tried desperately not to cry. He was kissing a girl from my class. really. I tried to tell myself. I found myself hoping he wouldn't try to kiss me again. not Rachel. and I didn't need him. I thought wryly that it probably should be me who was enthusiastic and excited. He wasn't worth the tears. and then I saw it through her eyes. After all. I pulled out my phone and dialled a . He wasn't worth any of it. I thought of Rachel. I wanted someone to comfort me. I wasn't going to find my Mr Forever anytime soon. ignoring the cold grass. Why wouldn't he kiss her instead? I could feel the tears coming. I couldn't face the humiliation of admitting that he had changed his mind. He wasn't in the bathroom or anywhere near it. I didn't feel any better. and she was everything that I wasn't. He was just a drunk idiot who didn't really know what he was doing. "I saw you going off with Aaron somewhere!" I didn't really want to go into it. "What happened?" she asked excitedly. I liked that image. and I really didn't want to break down crying here.26 - . and he wanted someone else. I imagined sitting with him at lunch and him actually talking to me. so why not just go for the Mr For Now? I told Rachel I'd see her later." Rachel squealed and hugged me. I just stared at them both for a minute. She started babbling on and on about what this could mean if we started going out. And he just thought he wanted you. especially if he got sick. She was beautiful. when I bumped into Rachel. but after all that gushing. I sat down. I tried to absorb what I had just seen. all the other girls who liked him too watching us jealously. "We kissed. Why would he do something like that? Was he just using me? Did he even like me at all? But of course he would go for her. or what he really wanted. unable to believe find Seth and apologise for Aaron's rudeness. Without thinking. I imagined walking around school with him hand in hand. and held my face in my hands. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to settle for him. That was it. but I couldn't disappoint such a face. tell me I'd be alright. And then I walked away. And then I spotted him.

number so familiar. I didn't even have to think about the digits.27 - . There was a short pause." . "Claire?" "Quil? Could you pick me up please?" I tried to keep my voice calm. He answered almost straight away. but it broke on the last word. "I'll be right there.

Waiting For Someone Chapter Four: Waiting For Someone I hung up. I remember I always used to run to him when I was small. and give me a plaster. But I was so glad to see him. and dignity. I didn't want to be too emotional in front of him. I started sobbing. "Oh." he said. I clung to him. breathing deeply. "Come on. and a sense of relief now that Quil had . "There you are. He walked closer to the house. the tears ceasing. I did have some pride. Quil didn't question me. I knew he'd see right through any mask I tried to put on. he just wrapped his arms around me and hugged me tightly. when I had fallen and cut my knee. just a numbness. He leapt from his jeep. He was the person who would wipe away my tears. my head resting against his chest. Claire. for which I was grateful. I tried to calm myself down. Relief flooded his face. I couldn't really feel anything. but I didn't want him to be exposed to my raw feelings either. He spotted me. He kept one arm around my waist. I was able to get a hold of myself quickly enough. and it was quite a trivial thing I was upset about. really.28 - . He opened the car door for me and I climbed into the passenger seat. I didn't have to wait long for Quil. I was a little amazed at the realisation of how much I needed him when it felt like I was going to break apart. then. I obediently walked with him. But at the moment I wasn't sure if I was strong enough to keep myself together for long. And I needed him now. his voice quiet. too." He helped me up from the ground. His car screeched to a halt outside the house less than ten minutes later. but I couldn't bring myself to speak. and even though I tried to stop myself. He must have driven like a maniac from wherever he was. the lights from the house illuminating it. both of my arms around his waist. still too upset to push him away. looking around for me frantically. because he must be worried. I felt a little guilty. telling myself that Quil would be here soon. I wanted to call out to him. I just couldn't help it." he said. holding me close to his side. and I could see his worried expression.

sorry. "I'll be here first thing in the morning. anyway. Her tone pulled me from the numbness back into my rebel mode. nothing was too big a deal. I was late collecting her and I took the long way back here. smoking. as he was slightly prone to do. And he was so overprotective of me. Quil cut in before I had a chance to tell her to piss off. I knew I was being terribly overdramatic and I was afraid he was worrying too much. All of it. And just hope that everyone else would forget about it too.29 - . that I was fine. to watch the changing emotions on his face as each part of the story was revealed. Quil brought me up to my room. But I just didn't know what to tell him. We arrived home in record time. "Claire! Where the hell were you? You're half an hour late for your curfew.would you mind if I brought her upstairs?" My mother nodded. I was still holding on to him. and so pathetic. I just wanted to sleep and forget the whole humiliating experience. her anger abated. A natural reaction. I kicked off my shoes and lay down. He always assumed the worst when it came to me. and I was worried sick! Was this another plan to get back at me?" she shrieked. I certainly wasn't going to do that in front of him. It felt like I was six years old again. She stood up when Quil's jeep pulled into the driveway. "It's my fault. It was unnecessary. He was silent. I felt needy and clingy. he was so agitated. My mother was waiting outside. She trusted Quil. And I didn't have anyone else in the world who would willingly take care of me like he would. and I was just acting like a typical girl who felt a little rejected. I ignored her. when I used to moan at Quil to read me a story before he left the house. Or both. but I really needed him right now." he promised in a whisper. I don't know whether that was my fault or whether that was just him. .arrived. and was now concerned for me. As it always was with me. Hannah. Quil had been speeding. She's actually feeling a bit unwell . I didn't have the energy to explain the whole story to him. and I wondered what he was thinking. And I would not get Quil in trouble over my adolescent dramas. He pulled the duvet over me and tucked me in. He pulled back the duvet on my bed and I sat down submissively. vehemently. She only smoked when she was worried or annoyed. sitting on the doorstep. She asked me if I was OK as I walked past her. that he'd probably get angry and might do something he'd regret. not caring about changing into pyjamas. Quil drove me home. I wanted to tell him to calm down and not worry.

I threw a dressing gown over my dress and thundered down the stairs. I probably looked like crap too. I felt a little wary of him. I suppose you can start by saying I told you so. watching the sport channel. I kept waking up for no reason. "Oh. He watched me. "And why would I do that?" Quil asked. I felt like crap. And then I regretted my tone. I squeezed my eyes tightly shut. He just gazed at me. and I could feel. his tone politely curious. "Don't be a drama queen. I'd forget everything for a few hours." I said sarcastically. hoping I would fall asleep quickly. She went to the supermarket with Jack. Quil had numbed my pain and torturous thoughts. not bothering to look in the mirror. and I much I had clung to him. My heart reacted uncertainly. his expression becoming serious. I had slept badly." I nodded. I wished he could stay.30 - . He kissed my cheek." he said. I found Quil relaxing on the couch. The minute I entered the living room though. That was new. I knew he wasn't going to leave without finding out what had happened last night. And I had never considered not telling him. I'm super. and then Quil would be there again when I woke up."And I'll kill whoever hurt you like this. I always told him everything. . I heard him chuckling quietly to himself as he left. Now that I was alone. because he was always genuinely interested. they crept back to haunt me. "Hey. I didn't like how much weakness I had shown in front of him. thanks. and he was probably dying to know at this stage. I hated being so vulnerable in front of him." I said. collapsing on the chair furthest away from him." I found it in me to grin. I could think. I was grateful to him. closing my eyes. I didn't think I had been dreaming anything. I had his full attention. When I woke the next morning. "Your mother let me in. "How are you?" he asked." I said. sighing. for being there when I needed him. and my felt my face becoming warm. And then he did something I was sure he had never done before. so I thought I'd wait until you woke up. "Well. but now that he was gone. anyway.

" "Don't start." I told him firmly. backed down. I didn't really know his friends that well (bar Seth now. I was always felt disconcerted by how well Quil fit in with all of them. "Not five minutes after he kissed me. He looked extremely annoyed now. "Er." I lied for some reason." he said. but ." I sighed. and I broke off. What the hell was that? "Sorry. Like he was supposed to be there. "If that's what you want. I glared at him with my eyebrows raised. and Quil nodded grimly." I avoided his gaze for a while." I warned him. you were so upset last night! I couldn't stand it! I'm not just going to sit back and watch the guy hurt you like that. for I would have saved Quil a lot of hassle. "Asshole?" Quil provided. I'll never speak to you again! Just leave it." I added. He glared at me for a minute. Quil? You better not be planning a kind of mafia expedition to his house to teach him a lesson with all your muscled friends. Quil." And he actually made to get up. and I cringed when I thought of him) but I'd seen Quil out and about with them. "so I got upset over that absolute…" I struggled for the right word. I was worried that he might go ahead and start trouble behind my back anyway. but to my surprise. repeating my own words from last night. And I was a bit tipsy." He waved his hand encouragingly. Too bad I didn't listen to myself. if you start a load of trouble over this. "Maybe not." I said. I felt slightly intimidated by them all. "But I'd feel better." he said." He glared at me fiercely. and settled back in his seat. "He had his tongue stuck down another girl's throat. examining a loose thread on my dressing gown." I raised my voice."Because Aaron was a jerk.31 - . I started my story again. Like I have already." Quil said. "Not five minutes after he kissed me -" Quil made a sudden movement. He probably already guessed as much. growling. "Get over it. "Continue. "Claire. "He's not worth it. "It is. they were all so muscled and gorgeous and confident. "So help me. emphasising the word for some reason. His face remained expressionless. and he paused. "Quil. Suspiciously." I began.

a little ." I said. Quil would watch paint dry and find it fascinatingly good. But after watching five minutes of a girl being chased and half eaten by the zombies that just wouldn't die." Quil said shaking his head. he changed his mind and left the room. "Says the man who's never afraid of scary films. It's too scary. halfway into it. "You guys OK?" she asked. like always. "Why?" I asked. and we both jumped. It was just Mom and Jack back from the supermarket. "I don't like this movie.32 - . Quil also looked cheered by my obvious enthusiasm. get him out of here. "Yeah. that's for sure. Mom just shrugged and left the room. He put it on and I joined him on the couch. He cleared his throat loudly and I looked up at him. throwing me a dirty look. Jack bounded in. He's too young for this movie." I said. surprised. Even Quil started to freak out. so I bought you this. The movie was about zombies. Jack squeezed himself in between me and Quil. Claire?" she asked me." I shrugged." Jack said. "Fine. "I thought you might need cheering up." "Well." He held up another scary film. one I'd been wanting to see for ages but the people in the shop wouldn't let me buy it because I was underage." I laughed. "It keeps giving me heart attacks. I found myself absolutely delighted by this simple gesture. The front door slammed. Mom. anyway." we both chorused. " the same time I felt oddly touched that he thought I would be worth it. the man wasn't prepared for this film. "I'm not afraid of anything. Mom came into the living room." he said. "Ooh. We both grinned at each other for an immeasurable second. with loads of gore and jumpy moments. He put his arm around me. much to my annoyance. "How are you feeling. yay! Put it on.

to my surprise." I commented. Claire!" my mom called." I said to Quil. "Hello?" "Claire? It's Aaron. but I could hear him protesting. watching it get gorier and gorier. We stayed like that until the end of the film. How the hell did he get my number? And what the hell was he thinking. "No." I was about to hang up. no. Not like all the other wannabes. But then I was nervous about what I would say to you when you arrived.pale. The phone started ringing then. which annoyed me." I froze. ringing me? If he didn't want me after all. snuggling up to his side once more. "It's for you!" "Two seconds." Aaron began. she's right here. yeah. I closed the space between us that Jack had created. and we both listened as my mother answered it." "He wouldn't have listened anyway. "Well. . He put his arm around me and tightened it. "Hello? Oh. Whatever. I know that I kissed you…" he trailed off. and I found myself curious as to what he had to say for himself. "I should have been more insistent. rubbing my eyes.33 - . When the credits rolled." I said. in a pleading tone. no. I was looking forward to that party all week because I saw it as my chance to finally get with you. I felt sorry for him. I went out into the hall and accepted the phone from my mother." Quil said. at least it lived up to its name. "Stuff it. could he not just leave me alone and do his own thing? "What the hell do you want?" I snapped. so I started drinking and the night is kind of hazy after that. "Poor kid. "This one was an actual scary movie. I'm ringing to apologise. Quil sighed. the truth is I feel like a complete jerk." "I hope I don't have nightmares. and he nodded. "Look." he said. I'm beyond caring. don't hang up. please! Look. I'm over it.

Please? Please." ." He froze and turned to me." he begged. my interest caught. now that I could see one of the zombies laughing his head off with the cameraman." "I don't know…" I said." "It's alright."And then kissed someone else about ten minutes later. "I must be insane. Quil. too tired to continue being angry with him. and I promise I won't screw it up this time. I walked back into the living room. Sorry. thinking I would probably live to regret this. "Give me another chance." I collapsed onto the couch next to him. Claire?" "Alright. "Look. chewing my lip. where Quil was watching what looked like the extras on the DVD. I'm over it. I'll see you at the beach." he said. Aaron. but fine." I hung up and stared at the phone for a minute or two." I supplied helpfully. don't give yourself a hernia. "Yeah. fake blood all over him. It's not that major.34 - . Around six?" "Great!" "See you then. I wasn't expecting that to happen. "Who was that on the phone?" Quil asked after a while. anyway. check this out. "Just come for a walk with me later." I sighed. The movie didn't seem that scary to me now. after all. Shit. his expression outraged. "He rang you?" "Jeez. Please. they're showing how they made it look like that steel rod went right through that zombie's chest . as I entered. you have my full permission to ignore me forever." "Let me make it up to you. "Hey Claire. If I's amazing! It looks so real. "It's not like we were going out or anything. "Aaron." I sighed. It was all fake.

" "He won't. the rebel side of me provoked. instantly looking as though he regretted saying it. "You're not gay. The nice thing for me to have done would have been to drop the subject. it all makes sense now that I think about it…" I'd finally goaded him into speech. "If you must know." Quil gazed at me a little sadly." "Quil. you don't dictate what I do." "And what did you say?" he asked." I said defiantly. hating myself for being so bitchy and attacking him like that. I don't want you near him. incensed. but didn't answer. "He'll just hurt you again. "I just don't want him to hurt you like that again. He glared at me." He pressed his lips together. anyway?" I demanded. but I watched him carefully anyway. but since when have I ever been nice? I was curious. who all look like bodybuilders… you know. "To go for a walk later with me." he said. "Claire…" he began. "Why are you so interested in my love life all of a sudden? Are you sure you're not jealous. "I don't want you to see him. I'm waiting for someone. is it?" I asked. . He launched into his defence.35 - . I… well. "I won't let him. "I said yeah. rolling his eyes." I said. but unable to stop myself. are you?" I asked. incredulously. "I'd feel like a dope if you are. his eyes almost popping out of his head. because it's not like you've a load of girlfriends lined up."Well." I stared at him. cutting across him. what did he want?" he spluttered. I am not gay. I wasn't sure why I was so suspicious. because you hang out with that huge bunch of guys. Claire. He didn't smile." I said. and spare him the embarrassment. Quil eyed me for a moment. watching him suspiciously. "Are you serious?" I asked him. "No. "What's your big problem.

36 - . was it fair that he was so evasive with me? "And why don't you tell her?" I asked." he said. though. I couldn't help but grin. really?" ." he said. as though he was trying not to reveal too much. "Is she pretty?" I asked. "So what are you going to do about it? Just wait until she becomes psychic?" "Can we have a subject change now." I said. "Because she probably wouldn't believe me." he said carefully. there had been a breakthrough today. no. please?" "No. And then I remembered Seth." I said. I guess. He shifted a little in his chair. this is just getting good. His eyes widened a little. He looked up at me. and performed the puppy dog eyes he knew I couldn't resist. "What's her problem then?" "I don't know where to start. He was all shy about telling me. "Can we please just drop it?" he begged. making a face. I always told him everything. "Oh. To be suited with Quil. "Incredibly so. "Oh. It wasn't a Quil and Claire thing to do. I frowned. Usually the subject was studiously avoided. "And why aren't ye together yet?" "Because she doesn't know." I protested. I wondered why I'd never heard about her before. suspicious of my interested tone. I ran into Seth at the party. "Fine. and it wasn't so bad. she'd have to be."Oh. it was adorable. grinning suddenly. "Fine. I knew why he was hesitant about telling me about her." he grumbled to himself." I said. Our individual love lives weren't things we dissected and discussed. really?" I said. But we will return to this subject. I never asked. I cast my mind around for something else to talk about. "Oh." He groaned. He must really like this girl. smiling a little. Well.

"He also said that eh. "How is that creepy? You're my best friend." he said. Quil. you fool." he grinned. He remained quiet. Now. I have a picture of you and me on the beach taken last year in my house."Yeah. "Yeah. He looked like he was thinking very quickly." ." I mentioned. because I wasn't being told everything. and the too-casual way he had said it. I'll be extremely shocked if you don't have a photo of me somewhere in your room. I felt like an immature five year old stamping her foot and demanding to know why? "Do you talk about me a lot?" I asked him. I was suspicious again." He scoffed. but I didn't press him on it. well. "One way to put it." he muttered under his breath. Which poses the question: are you showing off pictures of me to people?" Quil laughed and messed up my hair. I still heard him. "All the bitchiness and the mood swings… I have to complain to someone about it." My eyes widened in horror. He said he was your friend." I watched Quil's expression. "Relax. and he laughed. "You have a picture of me in your house? That's creepy. surprising me. "And that means…?" I prompted him. "He said he recognised me straight away. I frowned. I was joking." I still felt suspicious of the less than adequate answer. But then he said something which confused me. He must have seen it. you don't shut up about me." I didn't answer because I had the exact same photograph that he had in my desk drawer. smug now that his point was proven. And if you don't. furious with myself for blushing a little.37 - . He sat back on the couch. "You what? You know I don't mean all that stuff. I have never seen that child before in my life. "No. And I was frustrated again. I rolled my eyes. you should. "Forget it." He laughed. and waited for him to explain.

he was always saying stuff like that. "Oh yeah. "Fine. Ever. What movie did you take that from?" I said. Quil.I breathed a sigh of relief. "The story of my life. that's nice of you. But then again. I ran my fingers through my hair. sure. a little stunned by how intensely he had said that. There was a comfortable silence. I'll leave you to it. I'll bring my bodyguard with me. Quil sighed. I rolled my eyes. But speaking as your bodyguard." "Oh." Quil smiled reluctantly. I won't be far away to take a bullet for you. . wondering what the girl Quil liked looked like." he grumbled.38 - . Because that's normal behaviour. "Do you want me to come with you to see that Aaron guy?" he asked suddenly.

so that he kissed my cheek instead. He had once more tried to convince me not to go. But I'd give him the chance he was obviously desperate for. I removed my shoes and socks. Did you think of that all by yourself? . but the rest of the school would be. that's a nice original excuse. It was already awkward.Too Close Thanks so much for the reviews! Lurrve xox . Did he seriously think I was that easy? He pulled away and grinned at me ruefully. I told him I'd be fine. I sighed. I wasn't even sure if I wanted another chance with him. waiting for me in the car park. and saw that Aaron was already there." Oh. I no longer really liked him.) Chapter Five: Too Close I drummed my fingers nervously on the steering wheel as I drove down to the beach. if I hurt you. "Hey Claire. "Just a tad. "I barely remember anything of last night. I'd been having such a laugh with Quil. Claire. That bugged me for some reason. He walked over as I got out of the car. and anyway… it was too late. I thought bitchily.39 - . I fumed. "I really am sorry. and leaned in to kiss me. I turned my head." I sneered. I found myself worrying that Aaron wouldn't be there. and he didn't always have to worry about me so much. I wondered why I didn't listen to Quil. I arrived at the beach." he said. He nodded. He made me cry. Aaron didn't bother. You know. I tried not to think like that. and I almost had to prise myself from the couch to get ready to go out. "Too early for that?" he asked. I didn't honestly want to be here." Aaron must have felt compelled to say. He wasn't worth the tears. If I was completely honest with myself. but still didn't look too happy. maybe it was just because I was so used to Quil doing the same. because he didn't want me hurt again. and was now being stood up. to laugh at me for thinking I maybe still had a chance. and out of habit. We started our walk down to the beach.

. not looking at me. that was just Quil. "Oh. heatedly. Last night was a different story. "Yeah." I said. and how upset I was. I wasn't sure why I had felt a fierce compulsion to defend the Quileute guys. it had definitely been a big deal then. and the way I was crying and clinging on to Quil? I really.40 - ." I said. it had been how I acted when Quil arrived last night." I wasn't lying. I didn't feel so emotionally attached to it. crap. Aaron. "He's like my best friend. attempting nonchalance. He must think I was lying to him now. There was an awkward pause."It's alright." he said. ignoring his protests. and I wouldn't hear a single bad word against Quil. "Don't. I don't think this is working out. "No." he mumbled. "Seth?" I asked him. the guy who picked you up. or putting on a big show to him that I wasn't upset. "Aaron." I advised. maybe it was just because Quil was part of that group." "Quil Ateara?" he asked sceptically. "Whatever you want to believe. a little frustrated that we weren't past this already. Arrogant bastard." I said. I still feel like a jerk about it. "One of the annoying Quileute guys?" I felt a white-hot surge of irritation. really hoped not." I stormed away. now. Damn. confused. Oh. If anything showed him that I had been hurt. anyway?" he asked. "Who was that guy you were with last night. Had he seen me outside. But if he had seen Quil than he must have seen me. well. "Yeah. from anyone. "I'll see you in school tomorrow." I said. "It wasn't really that big a deal." I said. surprised. I glared at him. "They aren't annoying. He's the annoying one." I stiffened.

The house was quiet when I was finally done. I'm only just finishing my homework. Did you have fun with Aaron? Or do you want me to beat him up?" "That won't be necessary. I'm not going near that moron again.I zoomed home." He laughed too. Quil was long gone. I don't have time to waste on assholes. marvelling at the waste of my life it had been." I laughed. "Sorry for ringing so late anyway." I said. I was still in a dark mood when I arrived back. "But don't worry. just thought I'd check you were OK. and then dragged my feet over to my desk. "Cool. not finishing until late. I slaved away at my homework for a few hours. Anyway. "Quil. my dark mood lifting. I stared at the phone in my hand. "Great. I sighed. I didn't wake you. I had been neglecting my homework lately. and the teachers were starting to get on my case. "You're home early. and stormed up to my room.41 - . the screen told me." Quil said. Quil. grumbling about Aaron under my breath. but at least it would get the teachers to quit bugging me all the time. I stretched. "Yeah. not wanting it to wake anyone." "I'm OK." I said. Well. did I?" he asked. I eyed my schoolbag." Mom called to me. at all. I jumped as my mobile started ringing. and I felt a bit mournful of this fact. his tone warm. My mother was watching her soaps. "As if. I pressed Answer eagerly. Quil Ringing." I said. I had nothing to do. well. I had the feeling . frowning slightly. "You know me." "Bye. "Hey." "Oh right. Claire." He paused. I fished it out of my jacket pocket quickly." I hung up. and my brother was in his room doing God knows what. "So. smiling a little. I shall see you tomorrow. I didn't get a chance until now. once again. in a bright tone." I said.

I shrugged. ." I softened. he wasn't that annoying. "What a horrible prick! I'll be damned if I'm speaking to him at lunch.that there was something obvious that I should be seeing. but I was completely blind to it. Having Rachel's support was nice. I feel better now." I said. Jack climbed into the bed and buried himself under the covers. stretched luxuriously. "Ah. I supposed. "I don't know. he was my brother. "Claire? Claire? Claire?" Jack's voice parroted my name. after all. I was prepared for school to be hellish. And when he was asleep. I sighed and told her the whole story. asking if Aaron and I were officially going out now.42 - . a different type of best friend as opposed to Quil. It felt like seconds later when I was being shaken awake. There were zombies in it. I'd think about it in the morning. "Can I sleep in your bed? I had a nightmare. "I've a really bad feeling in my gut. My alarm clock woke us both up in the morning. "Jack! That's absolutely foul!" He just sniggered at me." he said. falling asleep quickly. She surprised me. then. in a way I had grown to be wary of. But right now. my tone murderous." I said." "Well. I stormed out of the room. And Rachel was my best girlfriend. his hands shaking me roughly. growling to myself. elbowing me painfully in the ribs as he did so. I went to bed. but it wasn't so bad. Rachel cornered me as soon as I arrived." Jack grinned evilly. and he was scared. "Go on. glaring at him in disgust. I asked Jack if he was OK." I half smiled." I jumped out of bed. and then farted. and shifted over to make room for him. "Get the day off school. "What is it?" I asked. I winced. I'd probably regret this in the morning. no longer feeling humiliated about it. maybe you should tell mom about it.

And then I was horrified. I fumbled with the house key to open the door. and he ignored me. I wanted to talk to you. "Claire?" asked a familiar voice. rather than get on a plane to see his living. thinking. Dad didn't usually want to waste his time of day on me. "Oh. I wondered if I would ever find out what he was up to. breathing one. extremely surprised. I couldn't help but smile goofily as I thought of him. I did the same. As I climbed out of my car. He was so mysterious all the time about all these important things he was doing." I said. Mom and Jack aren't here. He'd obviously rather stay with his daughter that hadn't even been born yet. I pursed my lips.I saw Aaron at lunch as usual. really. I thought of something else abruptly. He was running late. We're having a girl." To say I was surprised was now an understatement. and rushed in. I hadn't spoken to him in months.43 - . Mom always takes him to football training after school . What the hell was that? I felt seriously worried. grabbing the receiver. Nothing had changed. "Er." "I did." my dad said. I had never once reacted like that before when I thought of him. she's grand. because I didn't want to delve too deeply to find out what it meant. I hoped this wouldn't come back to haunt me. the driveway was empty. I felt a crushing disappointment. hi Dad. The rest of the day was stupid and boring. "Oh. "Oh." I greeted. I couldn't wait to get home. Claire. And when the baby was born… he'd have another little princess to . "Fine. I felt compelled to ask how his pregnant wife was. For the first time. and I wondered if part of the reason was to see Quil. "Hello?" I said breathlessly. I faintly heard the telephone ringing shrilly from inside the house. "How are you?" he asked." I found myself to be highly resentful of his fact. Where was Quil? Almost as if on cue. my mobile beeped with a text from him.I thought you knew that. when I arrived home from school. but he'd be there in five minutes.

" I groaned. I'm sick to death of this whole situation. which I had forgotten to close in my haste to answer the phone. making a face. surprised again. I frowned. I genuinely didn't have a clue what to say to him.spoil attention on. I think everything has gone on for long enough. He was frowning. "What's this big truth you want to tell me?" Out of the corner of my eye. after a short pause. There was another pause." he harrumphed. "Now. "Look." Dad said. who's getting sentimental. I saw Quil freeze. before launching into a speech. yes. "Claire! Are you listening?" Dad snapped. don't get all sentimental on me. I think it's about time you learned the truth. "My dad." I said.44 - ." The truth? "Huh?" "The truth about that boy. "Yeah. "How's that Quil boy?" "He's fine." "What are you on about?" I asked him. And where did that leave me? "You'll be eighteen soon. now. frustrated now. Dad. Quil was leaning in the doorframe of the front door." I said. And then I jumped. What the hell was his problem now? He seemed to hesitate for a second. Dad growled. "Yes." I answered." "Ah. "Who's that?" he mouthed. I looked over at him. His mouth ." "You'll be all grown up.

. and he could always tell what I was feeling." Quil hung up on him. Then he looked up at me. "No. But there's more. Quil was in love with me? Did everyone know about this? "What did he tell you?" Quil asked. My heart started beating rapidly as he stepped forward. I really didn't know what he could see there. Anger. He still looked afraid. Closer than he'd ever been. But it was too late. Claire?" he asked. I still felt a little shell-shocked by what had just happened. He had become an expert on reading my face over the years. Quil had snatched the receiver off me. Closer than friends should be. what the hell do you think you're doing?" he snapped. in answer to something Dad had said. frozen. Which he probably had. I'd already heard. watching the displays of emotions flash across Quil's face. "but do you not think I have more say in this situation than you do?" He was silent as my dad spoke. and held the phone away from his ear slightly. "Are you OK. wondering why I couldn't tell him.opened furiously." he said. He was too close to me.45 - . Fear. "And how is that any of your business?" Quil demanded. I don't want -" Before he could say anything else. "I'm fine. "That boy is in love with you. But I didn't even know what I was feeling now. So how could he know? "Claire?" he asked softly." I said. as though my dad had started shouting down it. but then suddenly his expression was furious again." I lied. and he charged forward. and by the words now permanently etched into my memory. He scrutinised my face for the longest time. not sure at all what I was feeling at that moment. "Ryan. I stood. you can't talk to her! If you want to talk to her so badly. after a pause. Then he grimaced. "That may be so. get your ass on a plane and come over here and see her. and I could see the fear in his eyes. "Nothing really important. and glared angrily at the phone for a second.

"Claire and Quil. And I was afraid now that I knew. My heart thumped painfully in my chest as he stared at me. I listened as I heard him telling my mom what had happened.46 - . But what I was certain of was this: there was some big huge thing concerning me and Quil that my dad knew about. Something had changed between us. or led him on or anything like that. very confusing and unsettling. so selfish . and that Quil obviously knew about. ever. Something to do with Quil being in love with me? I couldn't take that in. "Oh. "He's just being a spastic."What?" I breathed. and after that little moment in the hall. But my brain was too scrambled. "I…" he began. K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" he sang. his lips were only centimetres from mine. and I searched his eyes. It was the last thing I expected to hear. so that I could be prepared. What more could there possibly be? It was all very. Why the hell did nobody shut that thing? I wasn't sure to feel relieved or annoyed that our little moment had been interrupted. "He what? I'll kill him for this! He is so. and my mom knew about. But there's more. up a tree. and more importantly." we both said at the same time. and I was unsure of it. trying to find some hint as to what he was about to say. My head was spinning. looking at Quil rather than at me. I didn't know what I thought. "Nothing. cackling. We both jumped a foot into the air as Jack came bounding through the front door." I added. unable to speak. that I wouldn't be able to look Quil in the face. My mom came in behind him. and my mom's reaction. Quil took a step away from me rapidly. He was too close for coherent thought. I couldn't think straight. I don't think I'd ever given him the wrong impression. There was too much to take in. His face was slowly angling towards mine. very. my bad. but Jack had seen.does he not care about her . His face was only centimetres away. dancing around annoyingly." he said. "What's he going on about?" she asked. like usual. We were friends. or what I felt. and stormed into the living room to get away from them all.

I hadn't the faintest idea what the hell was going to happen next. when we both knew exactly what I was talking about. staring at my knees." he said. there's still hope for me yet. "Yeah. later than I should have. taking a deep breath. "I'm wrecked. But he could be genuinely tired. Quil strolled into the living room and collapsed on the armchair. What do you think she'd say?" I almost burst out laughing. "She'd be surprised. giving out all kinds of rubbish about Dad." he said. his eyes still closed." I said. This was so ridiculous. He closed it again. "Ah. and I just couldn't listen. "Quil? You know that girl you like? The one you're waiting for?" There was a hint of a grin on his face.feelings at all? Does he have no respect for your decisions?" I could hear her hissing at Quil. because none of it made sense. apart from the fact he wasn't looking at me. There was no apparent awkwardness about him. ." I said. and I looked up in time to see a wide grin flash across his face." I watched him. I guess so. than it would have been if he had been watching me. nothing at all that suggested something was out of the ordinary. It made my question a little easier to ask. He didn't answer. "I don't know. I mean?" Quil opened one eye and stared at me for a minute. "Well. What about her?" "Em… what do you think she'd say if she found out? That you liked her. I avoided his gaze." I agreed. "I stayed up after I phoned you. speaking hypothetically. For the first time in my once predictable and easy friendship with Quil. Everything was confusing now.47 - . He shot me a piercing look before closing his eyes. I think. "Yes. Claire. But I don't think she'd view it as a bad thing.

My best friend. I didn't know what to think and I didn't know what to do. not knowing. and the effortless. I was more confused than ever. and I wanted an answer ready for him.48 - . and I was afraid to take another step. . platonic relationship we shared. I had wanted to know the whole truth for so long. But it had been. I didn't want to lead him on. I didn't really want to speak to him either. The arm around me had a whole new meaning. but now that a piece of the jigsaw puzzle had been revealed. Dad was calling the house regularly. The little cryptic remarks that he made about protecting me. Maybe he preferred it this way. He was still my best friend. so I was trying so hard to find the answers I needed. Quil. he would snap and ask to know what I felt. had changed.Going Absolutely Crazy Chapter Six: Going Absolutely Crazy Everything changed. who was so safe and comforting and familiar. But it was different. one day. All my feelings were so muddled and confused. in case I would break it. because then I didn't know what would happen next. but I was coming up blank. who was trying so hard to figure out what she wanted. very quickly. But maybe he didn't want to bring it up in case I rejected him. and thinking about me in an entirely non-platonic way. like my life hadn't been altered by this. He still came around every day with another horror movie. I didn't know how I felt about him now. I was afraid to break it. Because I knew. Mom was stomping around in a terrifying mood. now made more sense. but he was in love with me. I couldn't fully ignore it. all thanks to Dad. I felt like I was walking on thin ice. I acted too. but the little thing he did mention had changed everything. I was confused as to why Quil and I had to act out the charade. But I knew he could see through my mask of calm to the bewildered girl I was inside. but my mom wouldn't let him. when we both knew that things were different now. demanding to speak to me. I wasn't so sure I wanted to hear the rest of it. taking bullets for me. and then he got hurt. all that stuff. Quil stuck to our normal routine like glue. Dad had barely told me anything.

Didn't take her long to pick it up. In moments of madness. She's twenty-six now. and is still living there with her current husband. but when we were you'd swear Mom had won the lottery by the way she carried on about it. and was always surprised to remember. Over the years. "Denise. and then she moved to Australia with some college friends and stayed there. Rachel… they all seemed like such trivial things to me now. considering a split end or a broken fingernail to be a trauma." I acknowledged formally. School. and see Jack. Claire. Denise was leading her own life in Australia. She was eight when we decided to visit Emily in Forks.The whole world felt weird to me. we sometimes spoke on the phone. "You do know that the shit has hit the fan. To say I wasn't close to her was an understatement. I guess it was a mixture of jealously and incredulity. "Hi." . just like Dad. don't you? I'm thousands of miles away but Dad keeps ringing me to complain about your little… situation. I wondered how she had never grown to resent Denise for not bothering to ever come and visit us. She was daddy's little princess for a while. or even cared about the little brother she had never met. Everything got even stranger when my sister rang me. But sometimes. just a little. I barely remember her. I wanted to be just like her. Even speaking to Rachel casually about school stuff was weird. as we both became older. with a strong Australian accent. As sisters. She fitted into a lot of typical high school clichés. and then left with Dad. when speaking to her. and it was like I wasn't really there. I've always hated her for only thinking about herself. She went to high school in New York. I couldn't believe anyone could be as shallow as she was. and she only stayed with us until she was fourteen. who I've never seen a photo of (I like to think she's totally made him up. She didn't let on like she missed me or Mom at all. So imagine my surprise when she phoned the house and asked for me. To me. There was a pause. we never bonded.49 - . It's not like we were invited to the wedding). We were rarely contacted by her. with all her jock boyfriends and the rock band she was a part of. things that I easily forgot. Denise was just another person in my life who couldn't find it in them to be really bothered about me. but she always annoyed me. and I was jealous of how popular she said she was. I thought." she said.

is it? Don't feel obligated towards me. "Yes?" . suffering through it. "Claire. But it's a few years too late with me. with me. but just don't wait around too long." he said." "Claire. with the world. we were curled up together on the couch in our usual way. really. at all." My voice died away as I registered the expression on his face. "Save it for someone who cares. "I'm happy for you. I wasn't sure if I should have done that." I cut across her. because it was different." she began angrily. really. "Parts of it." Denise paused as she registered my sarcasm. "I don't believe a lot of it myself. And Jack. With her. Great. It doesn't suit you. Why on earth would I want your advice on this? It's not like you care." "Claire. I was all too aware of how close my body was to his. and my stomach dropped onto the floor. "Do you want to talk about any of it?" she asked. when Quil suddenly pressed pause. but regardless."You know about it too?" I asked grumpily. his breath blowing gently in my face. in a hushed voice. but I've grown up a lot and I want to get to know my sister. You might still have Jack though. breathing heavily. "Denise. "you haven't bothered to speak to me in years. that they were determined to keep from me at all costs. I was young and stupid. We were in the middle of watching another terrible horror movie. there'll be another person in this family who you pushed away." Denise admitted." Denise said heatedly.50 - . But I was so angry." "Congratulations. or as usual. "Hey!" I protested. too. Another person to add to the list of people who won't tell me this big huge secret of theirs." I scoffed. But it felt different now. "I was watching that! Well. I scowled at the phone. and hung up. My heart began to pound out an irregular rhythm.

I didn't plan it. because that made it a fact. You surprised me. And I know it's something to do with me. His eyes were focussed on me. and all of it. feeling the blush heat my face. Claire." I whispered. "Ever since you were two…" he trailed off. my dad told me that… that…" I couldn't meet his eyes. "I'm thinking… that I don't know. I forced myself to finish the sentence. and I had to catch my breath. I'm just completely surprised. Quil grinned at me suddenly. changing his train of thought. I had no idea.51 - . If it had been any other topic other than me and Quil becoming more than just friends… God just had to pick the one topic he knew would screw with everything. "But I only very recently fell in love with you. And I wanted to give you time to think about it. wanting to know the truth. But I was suddenly afraid of it. But a few months ago you just started becoming your own person. frustrated by the unfinished sentences." he said. And your friendship was like the best thing in the world. and I'm going absolutely crazy. most of it I was entirely unprepared for. I wasn't about to make everything more complicated for you when…" he trailed off again. his voice gentle. and I just don't know what to think anymore. and it was something you didn't expect to hear. I mean. My mind was too clogged with all this information. "I've always cared about you. but I'm completely selfish. and you've always been such a solid part of my life. processing my every reaction. I would have been asking a million questions."I know your dad told you something. You're my best friend. I felt even more shocked. and my breath caught. "Well. I've known you my whole life. a fact I never could have been prepared for. ever since I can remember. "So what happens now?" I asked him. Quil. my mind still spinning from everything he had said. I would wait until later to register it all. "And what do you think about that?" he asked." The words had come out rushed. I swallowed. And believe me. and stepped away from the Claire I've known all my life. He didn't deny it. My eyes were unable to resist meeting his. I need to know what you're thinking. Always. Will you tell me what you're thinking. Claire?" he begged softly. I still couldn't look at him. not prepared for this conversation at all. and I still do. a breathtakingly gorgeous grin. You amazed me. you know? Even when I was little I depended on you. Normally. "That you were in love with me. Had it always been . feeling his eyes on me. Claire. But now I've found out that you've felt an entirely different way about me than I felt about you.

" I nodded. I've waited for so long already." he said. so that we both stopped walking. drawing in a rather uneven breath. but the line would have always been broken. we could easily go back to being friends. I want what you want. and we'd never look at each other in exactly the same way. I should have known better than to go near Embry's collection again. "I don't know about you but I think this movie sucks. I just wanted to make sure you knew that. like everything did now. Do you want to go for a walk?" I nodded. Our friendship meant so much to me." I . But Claire. I want to be in your life whichever way you want me to be there. My mind felt saturated from the intensity of our conversation. Even more. doing whatever he was doing. in the end. We walked slowly along the beach. My head was still spinning. This was more intense a conversation than I ever expected to have in my life. but it was a force of habit.that beautiful? "Well. thinking hard too. I figure the prize will be worth it. but I wasn't sure whether or not I was being unfair to him. I watched the sand below my feet. then that's fine with me. And I'm fine with whatever you decide. being around him when I still didn't know what I wanted. "Claire?" Quil's voice pulled me from my thoughts. and I didn't want to jeopardise it. and maybe the air would clear it. It felt different. If it didn't work out. That was a good idea. Fresh air might blow some of my doubts and worries away. and I mean this now. and I liked the way Quil's hand kept mine so warm. hand in hand. seriously. I rolled my eyes. "Well. I really didn't know if I wanted to wreck our amazing friendship by crossing over that line. I wasn't sure if I wanted to give up a lifetime of friendship for something that could potentially end. It would change things. Quil stared out at the stormy sea in a thoughtful silence. And I still wanted to spend all my time with Quil. I can afford to wait a bit longer. "I know you've a lot to think about. into a relationship. If you don't want more than friendship. He stepped in front of me. and I'm not going to rush you into a decision.52 - . like all my other previous relationships.

He stepped towards me. "A lifetime of friendship. He was much. And then we could become Quil-and-Claire. It took every single ounce of my concentration to focus on the words coming out of his mouth. His eyes were incredibly intense.nodded. and I was finding it very difficult to breathe. and my heart started throwing itself violently against my ribs. But then I noticed his expression. My stomach clenched. smiling gratefully at him. and I thought I was going to collapse. He was only a few feet from me. "You have a lifetime of friendship to consider. It wouldn't be so hard to take a step forward and kiss him. much too close now. . I could tell immediately he had had the exact same idea as me. We just stared at each other for a minute. I didn't know if he was my Mr Forever. I could tell that he tried. and we both forgot how to think. something between us just exploded. versus… a kiss? That should be a fair enough fight. At the moment. If that was what I wanted. and my heart sped up. the unit.53 - . He had the patience of a saint. So I figure…" The way he was looking at me was making my stomach clench and unclench painfully. versus… what? The knowledge that I'd love to offer you something more than that? That's not strong enough to put up a decent fight. And he was too close again. and hungry. you have a choice to make that I can't help you with. Too close for coherent thinking. "Claire. But…" he grinned suddenly. but I wasn't going to stop him. But the moment his lips pressed against mine. pounding fiercely and painfully." He breathed out raggedly. I didn't know whether he was just talking himself into a good enough reason for kissing me. He started leaning his head towards mine. but maybe I could find out? I was still so unsure. He wouldn't push me away. or what. there was no notion in my mind of pushing him away. He tried to kiss me gently.

my protector . grinned suddenly. and found ourselves almost unable to stop what should have been just an innocent kiss? . uncertain. He threw his arm around my shoulders and we continued our walk. I guess. We gazed at each other. That kiss preyed on my mind all that night. My head was drowning in his scent. "It was. breathing heavily. my friend. and if I could have this everyday. one hand leaving my waist to trace my face. He didn't stop.Quil. Sometimes when I thought about it. I had to pull away. and the fact that it was Quil's. He showed no intentions of stopping. and my heart beat out a disjointed rhythm. my skin burning under his fingers." he said. That Was Interesting Sorry this one is so short. it had certainly given me even more to think about." Well. feeling myself flush. I was still trying to absorb the most amazing kiss of my life. he was all I had wanted. Now I was just as confused as ever. Things didn't feel any clearer.and that it was him who was setting my skin on fire. But I thought I hadn't wanted to wreck our friendship? Quil. I was sceptical. though. desperate to catch my breath. that I definitely wasn't expecting that. He opened his eyes slowly. His arms wrapped themselves around my waist and crushed me against his body. I didn't know what he was thinking. It couldn't really have been how I remembered it. my safe harbour. That Was Interesting My hands seized his face. All I knew was. his voice a little hoarse. could it? The connection between us so powerful that we were both overwhelmed by our feelings. "Well.Well. lapsing back into our thoughtful silences. then that was what I wanted… his lips were rough against mine. his breathing as uneven as mine.54 - . him who was provoking all these unfamiliar feelings of lust within me… I wanted more of him. It was so hard to believe that this was Quil I was kissing . Thanks for the unreal reviews! lurrve xxx Chapter Seven: Well." I cleared my throat. I didn't even know what I was thinking. because when he kissed me. hell. "That was interesting. who had been scrutinising me. as he continued to kiss me like I'd never been kissed before.

admiringly. I don't think a part of me wanted to accept that it was Quil who had made me feel like I did. from what I could gather. personally I think it was a ridiculous age to decide on. but I was surprised." He nodded again. "I knew you'd figure out there was something we weren't telling you. Would I have more to gain or to lose if I fell in love with Quil too? It was two weeks until my eighteenth.55 - . Surrounding myself with random people who I honestly didn't care that much about. And a week ago or so. I thought I had forgotten how to respect decisions. and embarrassing. That part of me was the part which was doubting taking our friendship further. . And it always set me off thinking. Rachel was bugging me to have a party to celebrate. "So anyway. smiling a little. when I was told the truth. And so all I had to do was wait. because I knew there was something going on when I was fifteen. I'd decided that I would make up my mind about Quil then. he nodded." he said. I was getting annoyed with it. "the way I see it is. After that kiss. "Well." I continued. But I never forgot that fact. comfortable and at ease. reminded of it at regular intervals.But I knew that the kiss and the feelings involved were every bit as real as I remembered them. I suppose I was acting a little more mature now. then… I'll make my mind up about you. When I told Quil this." He smiled at me. I thought it would be awkward. but that was the last thing I felt like doing. But I respect whatever decision has been made about it. when I have all the facts. I wasn't causing everyone as much grief. and I would do anything for Quil. It was almost like the way it was before I found out that he loved me. I didn't know whether I'd be able to look at Quil the same way. My eighteenth was the deadline for a lot of things. I felt the same way around him like I always did. But it had been Quil's decision. then I would decide whether or not to turn my friendship with Quil into something more. felt like the worst idea in the world. I would have been screaming why I was the last person to know. When I had all the facts.

" "Quil. but being friends. I failed miserably. I knew it was only Quil. You have to go.Burglars With Candlesticks Haha. The truth was. It wasn't helping me make my decision about him. and didn't really have the authority to tell him that he couldn't go because I would miss him too much. I received a text from him. Maybe if we were going out I could have a say. thanks for the reviews. but unfortunately. but I knew I was being selfish. I still didn't want him to go. I didn't really want to explore my feelings too deeply. "Oh?" My heart sank. I have to go. and unfair to him. Enjoy! lurrve xox Chapter Eight: Burglars With Candlesticks "I have to go away for the weekend. I can't get out of it. I don't want to leave you by yourself. I felt like a ghost on Saturday. sighing heavily. I'll be fine." Quil informed me. Before I went to bed. I really didn't want him to go.56 - . but every time I tried to distract myself. and discover what this meant. and I did want to be loved. I was deciding how I felt about him in two weeks. and going is the last thing I feel like doing. Miss you. any tie to him that would affect what he did or didn't do. "Yeah. and even before this we never used to spend so much time together. But I realised that I didn't really have a hold over him. Maybe it was to the knowledge that he loved me that I was addicted to. or was missing something important. . I just wandered around the house. Ever since I found out about Quil being in love with me. it's fine. it's not like I'm going to be completely alone. but it was like he had become an addictive drug. He grinned. and he would be back soon." I teased. but you're not the centre of my universe. it was like I couldn't stay away from him. plagued by the paranoid feeling that I forgot something. I was hooked. I know you'd like to think it. but not now.

and I refused to watch them. turned out to be drop dead boring. I drove home. and have it back in the store before he even discovered. anyway. It was just a movie. I wondered what his big deal with them was. "I might watch a movie first. I decided to drive down to the DVD rental shop and pick up something scary to watch that I hadn't already seen. I felt incredibly paranoid and guilty. It was seriously stupid. and then made up my mind. waiting for her to go up to bed so I could watch the movie. I picked up a new one that looked OK. saying something gooey that I might regret later. half expecting Quil to suddenly pop up from where he was hiding in the backseat and demand to look at the DVDs I had rented. I somehow didn't want her to know about the werewolf theme. I guessed he would go just a little crazy if he found out. It was about werewolves.I hugged the phone for a minute. but I knew Quil would never let me watch it. in case it was leaked to Quil. But it had cheered me up. Jack was annoying me. but I knew I wouldn't watch it without Quil. and I was curious." Mom said eventually. I arrived there." . before coming to my senses and putting it down. I bit my lip." I said. "Are you going soon?" "Yeah. It looked good. I preferred something with a lot of gore and screaming and creepy sets. I was disconcerted to realise I'd seen more than half of the scary movies on display. and headed for the horror section. When I woke up on Sunday. Mom kept bugging me to ring Denise and apologise to her. I didn't feel so ghostlike. I watched it with her. staying well away from the romantic comedy bit. They were just werewolves. I sighed. Sunday. and make an effort. Maybe it could be something to look forward to watching when he got back. where she was watching the evening news. in fairness. I was about to walk away when my eyes spotted another movie I hadn't seen before. and I just wasn't in the mood for any of it. I was going crazy. I picked it up and read the back of it. I hesitated. and I thought it was ridiculous. "I'm going up to bed. resisting the urge to open the message and read it again.57 - . It wasn't a big deal. however. watch it. Mom despaired of me. I arrived home and collapsed on the couch next to my mother in the living room. I hated the sickly happy endings that were always so predictable. I'd rent it out. She loved that whole premise of a couple getting together after a load of comic drama beforehand. Or text him back.

groaning. I was shaking when it finally ended. the absence of Quil extremely noticeable to me. But don't lie in bed all day. And so I did. I lay awake." I told her. Was it a burglar or something? I held my breath. I desired nothing more than to stay in bed. but I got really scared. She left. He knew me too well. and by banning me from watching them he was just being as protective as ever. wondering what the hell had woken me up." "OK. "I'm too tired to go to school." I agreed. Don't stay up too late though. My alarm went off for school. I rolled my eyes at myself. I saw the threatening werewolves from the film every time I closed my eyes. nervously looking over my shoulder in case she suddenly came back in. until I could hear birds singing. "I told you not to stay up late watching that film. I froze. and I switched it off." She left. still feeling severely creeped out. disorientated. Someone was making a banging noise from downstairs. It was bliss."OK. And then I heard it again. Do you mind if I have the day off?" "I suppose not. I curled up on the couch to watch it. I was in the middle of a nice dream when something pulled me out of it. do something constructive too. . I opened my eyes.58 - . the movie frightened me. I'd be comatose in school. I didn't know why it affected me so strongly. and I drifted in and out of sleep for a few hours. I was acting as though I was doing something illegal. unsure of what to do. It was too early for Mom or Jack to be home yet. You've school tomorrow. with absolutely no intention of doing anything else but to lie in bed all day. and I stuck the movie on. I cursed myself for being an idiot. if that was the case. Without Quil to cuddle up to. I couldn't sleep. I wrapped myself up in the duvet." "Yep. I wondered if Quil had somehow known how much they would freak me out. My mom came in before she left to drop Jack to his school. I just didn't sleep very well. and quickly switched everything off and escaped to my bed." "I didn't. watching my room get brighter and brighter. telling me I was running extremely late.

"Claire?" A familiar voice echoed up the stairs, and I breathed out in relief. Quil! I thought joyously. Relief and affection washed over me. "Up here!" I called. I heard him bounding up the stairs and then suddenly he appeared in my doorway. He paused. "What the hell are you still doing in bed?" he asked me, grinning. "I didn't sleep well and was too tired to go to school. Is that a crime now?" "But you're wasting the day!" he protested, and suddenly launched himself onto the bed next to me. My breath caught. There was barely enough room on the small bed for the both of us, and I felt too close too him, and it felt too intimate. But I couldn't bring myself to tell him to go away - it wasn't unpleasant. He lay on his stomach and started playing with my hair. "How did you get in here?" I demanded, needing to distract myself. "Your door was unlocked." I sighed. "My forgetful mother. Tell me, is all the furniture still downstairs?" "I don't really know. I couldn't see through all the burglars trying to ambush me with candlesticks." "And how did you know I wasn't at school, anyway? Are you stalking me now?" "Nope. Although, that's a good idea. Thank you, Claire." I rolled my eyes. "Nah, I drove past your house on the way home, and I noticed your car still in the driveway. I was delighted. I thought I'd have to wait until tonight to see you." I flushed a little. "You shouldn't really just barge in here anyway, unannounced," I said. "Why?" "You know, in case…" I struggled for a good enough reason. "In case I was in the shower or something, and in a state of undress…" My voice died away. He was grinning at me in a suggestive way that made my heart rate increase. "You know, you're only encouraging me to break into the house more often."
- 59 -

I blushed furiously. "Shut up." He laughed, and I hid my flaming face under the covers. I cringed there, where he couldn't see me. How embarrassing. I searched for a topic that I couldn't possibly embarrass myself by discussing. I emerged from the covers when I was sure my face had cooled down. He was still grinning. "How was your trip away?" I asked him. "Fun?" He rolled his eyes, the grin fading a little. "Depends on your definition of fun. If fun means being bored to death, and missing you like crazy, then I suppose it was." A smile slowly spread across my face. "You missed me like crazy?" "Eh, duh," he laughed. "Of course I did." I blushed again and hid back under the covers, ignoring him as he laughed at me. I was furious at myself for blushing twice in front of him. I wondered how he could be so at ease with admitting how he felt about me, while it always left me embarrassed. Some part of me was always yelling to just leave the topic well alone. I guessed I just wasn't ready to talk about it yet. "So, what did you get up to while I was gone?" Quil's voice asked me. "Nothing much," I said, my voice muffled. "Just floated around. And I got us a new movie to watch." "Excellent," he said. "We shall watch it if you get up, lazybones," he said, nudging me playfully. I snuggled deeper into the duvet. "Maybe in an hour or so…" "Claire," he said, disapprovingly. "Quil," I said, using the exact same tone. "I didn't sleep very well last night. Now, if you cared about me at all, you'd let me stay in bed." I heard him sigh. "Fine," he said. "You win. Shall I come back in an hour?" "No!" I very nearly shouted. "Stay." I felt the bed shake with his silent laughter, and I cringed once more. Subtle, Claire, very subtle. You absolute dunce.
- 60 -

Quil was silent and still next to me, as the minutes ticked by. I couldn't sleep with him there. Every part of me was alert, listening to the sound of his breathing. There was just no way I'd be able to sleep, not with him in such close proximity to me. I pulled back the duvet, and he grinned at me. "I knew you weren't asleep." "Whatever," I said, rolling my eyes. "Let's go watch this movie." He left so I could get dressed. I threw on some clothes rapidly and then thundered down the stairs, eager to get back to him. He was already in the living room. The moment I saw his expression, I knew I was in trouble. "What the hell is this?" he demanded, holding up the werewolf movie. Damn! I should have hid it. I cursed myself for not bringing it back to the rental place when I had all day to do it in. It was like I had wanted Quil to find it. "Er… it looked interesting. I read a review for it, and they said it was good," I said, not quite meeting his eyes. I hated the way he was glaring at me. "Why would you go behind my back like that?" he asked. I couldn't stand the disappointment and disapproval in his voice. So I became defensive. "Oh, look Quil, it's not a big deal, OK? It's just a movie. I don't know what your big vendetta against werewolves is about, but don't try controlling what I watch." Quil continued to glare at me, looking as though he was struggling with himself not to blurt something out. I glared back with my eyebrows raised. He took a few deep breaths. "Was the movie good?" he asked, his voice curiously flat. I didn't like it. "It was OK," I shrugged. "I wouldn't watch it again." There was no way I was going to admit how much it frightened me. "Why not?" he demanded. "Because I think maybe you're on the right track. Werewolves aren't really that interesting." His expression changed, and for one insane second I thought I had offended him. But why would that offend him? He hated werewolf movies, after all. But I still hated
- 61 -

his accusatory glare. I wanted everything between us to be alright again. "Quil? You're not terribly mad at me, are you? I'm sorry if I pissed you off." I made an exaggerated sad face. He gazed at me for a second, and then smiled. "It's OK. You have one of those annoying qualities which limits me from being mad at you for too long." "Cool. Another collection to my many talents," I joked. He smiled again, but things still felt strained, and I hated it. I hesitated, and then took a step towards him and wrapped my arms around his waist, hugging him tightly. He seemed taken aback at first, but then his arms snaked around me and crushed me to his chest. I breathed in his scent, contented. I really had missed him when he was gone. "I am sorry," I said again. "How can I stay mad at you when you throw yourself at me like this?" His voice was teasing again. I pulled away, blushing. "I did not throw -" "Joking, Claire, joking. You remember jokes, yes?" "Oh, shut up, you moron, and put the damn movie on." We stayed curled up together on the couch for the whole day. I didn't feel like moving at all, and Quil didn't show any inclination of wanting to move either. We were both content; my head resting against his chest, his arm around my shoulders. When the movie, which wasn't the worst one we've seen, was over, we just watched mindless TV for a few hours, barely noticing it. I didn't know about him, but I was just appreciating every second in which I was near him. I hadn't realised how much I loved being next to him like this until I had a break from it. I had missed this. So I was enjoying being curled up with him on our couch again. Mom came in in the evening, asking could she watch her soaps. "Watch away," I said. So Quil and I sat through all my mother's programmes, Quil laughing at the overdramatic storylines. Then Jack came into the room, demanding attention.
- 62 -

"I have an announcement to make," he said. "Can you not give it to someone who cares?" I asked him innocently. "Claire," my mother admonished. Quil poked me in the ribs. "Well, maybe you should leave the room, Claire, because I'm sure Quil and Mom are very interested in what I have to say," Jack said haughtily. I stuck my tongue out at him, and he made a face at me. "What's your announcement, Jack?" Mom asked, taking her role as the fascinated parent. "Well. My announcement is that I have no announcement. But I do have an excellent impression of Claire." He crossed his eyes, let his tongue loll out of his mouth and started flailing his arms around. Quil burst out laughing. "Jack!" I growled. "Mom!" I complained. "Quil!" I said indignantly. "Sorry," he said, fighting a smile. "But it was funny." I frowned at him, and then turned to Jack. "Can you do an impression of Quil?" I asked him. His expression became vacant as he thought about it. I burst out laughing. "See there, Quil! He just imitated you without even trying." Quil prodded me in the ribs again. "Hey!" I said. He did it again. "Quit it, Quil," I protested, trying to shove his arms away. He evaded my attempts at blocking him, and started tickling me. It turned into a wrestling match on the couch, as he kept relentlessly tickling me and I kept trying to evade him. "Quil, stop!" I laughed breathlessly. "Not until you say you're sorry," he said, grinning. "Sorry, I'm sorry!" I gasped. He stopped tickling me, and messed up my hair, laughing with me. It was then when I noticed Mom and Jack's expressions. Jack looked disgusted, but Mom's was more interesting. She was looking from Quil to me and back again with a small smile on her face, but a peculiar expression; it was as though she was waiting for something.
- 63 -

For what? Us to get together? I was fairly certain that she knew what Dad knew, and the little I knew about it was that Quil loved me. So was she waiting for me to admit I felt the same way, or something? I didn't know. "Well, that was disturbing," Jack said dramatically, and stalked from the room. The three of us laughed at him. I thought about my mother's expression all day. It felt like my life had turned into a story where everyone was waiting for me and Quil to get together, and I was the only one throwing a spanner into the works.

- 64 -

I'll Be Back
Chapter Nine: I'll Be Back As my birthday drew closer, I became more and more anxious. The truth had seemed like such an unattainable and unknown mystery for so long, and now that it was within my grasp, it felt too surreal that I would finally learn it. Quil, I noticed, had taken up fidgeting, something he never used to do before, so I could tell he was apprehensive too. Was the truth really so huge that the usually calm and collected Quil was nervous about telling it? Sometimes I wished that there wasn't something I needed to know. That it was just as simple as my best friend admitting that he loved me, without there being considerably more to the story. Sometimes I wished I could ask Quil to just let me remain oblivious. But I knew I had to know. There was no way I'd be able to live any more of my life than I already had in the dark, haunted by the shadows of the secrets that had been so carefully kept all these years.

"I can't believe you're not having a party," Rachel grumbled. "I don't feel like one," I said, sighing. This was only the fiftieth time she had moaned at me about this. "But it's your eighteenth! Not having a party is almost a crime!" "I'm just not in the mood for partying, OK, Rache?" I snapped. "Well, will you be in the mood for my birthday party?" Rachel snapped back. I suddenly remembered her birthday, a week after mine. Oh, shit. I was such a crappy friend, forgetting all about it. But then again, I supposed, I had had a lot on my mind. "Of course I'll be in the mood for your party, Rache," I said brightly, trying to smoothly cover up the fact that I had forgotten. "I just don't really want to have one, that's all." Rachel still looked grumpy, and then I had an idea. "Why don't we have a joint one?" I suggested, knowing I'd probably regret this later. "We could celebrate both our birthdays."
- 65 -

This plan both cheered Rachel up and overexcited her. I suppressed a groan. I was really going to hate this. But then I realised that Quil would be there, so maybe it wouldn't be too bad. It would be great, in fact. He'd have to come; it was my birthday. He wasn't allowed to blow it off to do something else. "Although, let's throw it on your birthday - I think I'll be busy on mine," I said. Rachel agreed enthusiastically, and started planning feverishly. I half listened to her babbling on about themes and invites. Yeah, I would be busy on my birthday; busy finding out what Quil was so nervous about telling me.

The days seemed to fly past. I wasn't sure whether I was looking forward to finding out, or whether I was dreading it. I think even my mom was nervous. I had noticed her watching me, her expression worried, but whenever I looked up at her she smiled at me and looked away abruptly, She thought I didn't notice the way her face set back into worry again, but I did. Dad had stopped phoning. I guess he realised that I was going to be told anyway in a couple of days, so there was no need for him to spit it out prematurely. I wondered if he'd phone me at all after my birthday. Probably not. He just wanted to call in the first place and remind us that he could stir up some shit if he really felt like it. If I was honest, I really didn't want to speak to him again. He had overcomplicated my life for me for no reason. I was still confused over my feelings for Quil, something that nagged at me constantly. It really frustrated me that the answer wasn't clear enough for me to discern. Surely I would be able to separate affectionate friendship from love? Surely the two were completely different, and I would know which it was that I felt? Then why did my feelings feel all fused together, and I couldn't tell which was which? I was so annoyed at myself for making him wait this long. What happened if he got bored waiting on me, and moved on? And there was me, still undecided. Or worse, what if I decided that I did want him after all, but it was too late? I was a bundle of nerves and apprehension, and I couldn't wait until my birthday was over.

On Friday night, the eve of my birthday, Quil and I were sitting on the couch, trying and failing to watch the Terminator. We were now struggling to find horror movies we hadn't seen, so we had made the reluctant switch to action. I loved watching the action sequences but I missed the creepy music and tense atmosphere. Quil was thinking of ordering the Asian horrors off the internet, because we both
- 66 -

agreed that they were better than the recent Hollywood remakes. The reason we couldn't concentrate on Arnold Schwarzenegger was because we were both painfully aware that the next time we saw each other, it would mean the end of all the secrets. The end of my obliviousness. So we were both fidgeting. Quil was absentmindedly running his fingers though my hair, while I twisted my fingers in my lap. "You're eighteen tomorrow," he said quietly, suddenly. "Yeah," I said, my heart in my throat, too nervous to come up with a sarcastic remark towards his obvious statement. Qui took a deep breath. "I've waited sixteen years for it to be tomorrow," he said eventually. I held my breath, my heart pounding, but he didn't say anything else. "That's a long time," I commented, a little breathlessly. "Yeah," he said. "But maybe it's been worth the wait." He grinned at me, and we stared into each other's eyes for an immeasurable moment. My heart continued to beat erratically. His eyes were tracing every inch of my face. I waited for something to happen. Because something always happened when Quil and I let ourselves get into these situations. When we were too close, and became lost in a moment. His eyes were slowly gaining intensity. I thought he was going to kiss me. And I wanted him to. But I was deciding tomorrow, not now. I shouldn't want to kiss him. Not yet, anyway. Quil, quite abruptly, stood up. "I think I'm going to go," he said. "What? Why?" I demanded. "No particular reason, just the fact that it's late," he said, shuffling towards the door. "Quil," I said, exasperated. "There's going to be nothing but honesty tomorrow. Why not start a little early? Why the hell are you really leaving?" There was a part of me yearning for him not to leave.
- 67 -

He stopped and turned to face me. He stared at me for a minute. "Do you really want to hear the truth?" "Of course I do," I said, now afraid of what he was going to say. "Well." He cleared his throat. "I probably should leave, because for a minute there I very badly wanted to kiss you again, but you're not ready yet." I blushed and looked down, laughing in embarrassment. "Right," I said. Well, maybe that had been a bit obvious. I suddenly felt like a horrible person. Without meaning to, I was leading him on. He loved me, and he wanted me, and I still spent all my time with him, not knowing how I felt. It must be killing him. He didn't know whether to just love me as a friend, or be in love with me. I wasn't making things any easier for him. "What are you thinking?" he asked me softly. I looked up, and he was watching me. "About how hard this must be for you, and how little I'm helping," I answered honestly. His eyes grew sad. "Don't feel like that," he said. "I don't want to be the reason you make the wrong decision, just because I feel what I feel." I took a deep breath. "Tomorrow," I said. "Tomorrow I'll know for sure." Quil nodded and smiled. "Tomorrow," he said. "I'd say neither one of us is ever going to be prepared for it."

- 68 -

Born In A Zoo
Chapter Ten: Born In A Zoo I woke up slowly. The very second I regained consciousness, I knew something was different about today. Facts trickled back to me. Today was my eighteenth birthday. Today, finally, Quil would tell me the truth. I lay in bed for a minute, my stomach clenching into knots. I couldn't stand it. I got out of bed, trying not to think about it. I wasn't sure I even wanted to know the truth anymore. I was afraid of it. I was afraid how much it could change my life. Would everything stay the same, after I learn this big secret, or would its impact have irreversible effects? I dressed automatically, not bothering to make an extra effort to look nice, since it was my birthday after all. I was glad I had decided against a party - I felt extremely anti-social. I wished more than anything to get this day over with, and wake up tomorrow, in the know, but having skipped all the shock and whatever beforehand. I could tell today was going to be emotional. For me, anyway. I thundered down the stairs eventually. I could tell I was going to loath every minute of today - it was just a bad feeling I had. All the 'happy birthdays', and the cards and presents people felt obligated to buy me, the phone calls from people like Dad and Denise because they felt they were obligated to, and the attention. I didn't want any of it. I just wanted it to be like any other day. Mom and Jack were eating breakfast in the kitchen. Mom jumped up the minute she saw me and pulled me into a hug. "Happy birthday," she said. "Thanks," I said, trying not to make a face. "Happy birthday to you…" Jack began to sing. We both ignored him. "How are you feeling?" Mom asked over Jack's terrible singing. "I'm fine," I reassured her. "Just a bit jittery." "You were born in a zoo…"
- 69 -

"Oh, well, that's understandable. I'm sorry that this was kept from you for so long, but Quil didn't want to tell you before you were ready to hear it." "It's OK, I guess. I'm just glad I'm finding out at all." "You look like a monkey…" "Mom, will you tell me something?" I asked her, overcome with a desperate desire for her to answer the question bugging me the most. She nodded. "Is it like, really big news?" Mom grimaced. "I suppose it is, yes." "Aaaand, you smell like one too!" Jack finished. "Thank you for that," I told him sarcastically. "Welcome," he replied, grinning evilly. I rolled my eyes and turned away from him. "Do you want breakfast?" Mom asked. I shook my head. "I don't feel like eating," I said. How was I going to be able to eat with my stomach twisting with anxiety like this? I sat down at the table anyway, nervously drumming my fingers on it. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see her watching me worriedly. I wondered what she was worried about. My reaction? Probably. I really hoped I would be able to keep my emotions under control when I found out whatever it was. I thought I had hidden it extremely well, because no one, not even Quil, had called me on it. Maybe they didn't realise. How angry I was, for being kept in the dark and for not being able to have a say in any decisions. How patronising they were when they told me that I wasn't to find out before now, while they're all sitting comfortably, in the know, while I got steadily more aggravated. Could none of them see how frustrated I was? I thought I was being relatively good about it too. I hadn't exploded into anger, and I had tried to be accepting about this, but the pressure was building, and I was afraid it all might get too much. I was afraid I would push Quil away when I learned the truth. I knew I would probably need him. Because I was starting to depend on him a lot more than I ever did. I wanted to be around him all the time. I always felt so dejected at the end of the day, when he went off home, and I was left alone. But I didn't want to look at my feelings too closely. And I didn't know why. Was I afraid I
- 70 -

might be in love with Quil too? I found myself fantasising what might happen if I was in love with him, and I told him this. What might happen, what might change. There wouldn't be any real major changes to our relationship. He would probably still come over every day to watch a film, we'd probably still curl up together on the couch. The only new things would be the kissing, obviously, and instead of our usual comfortable silences, there would be probable sexual tension fizzling in the air. I blushed a little, and turned my face away from my mom so she couldn't see my expression, and somehow guess what I was thinking. I really shouldn't be thinking about me and Quil as an item at all, especially when I still didn't know everything, or even how I felt. I could have all these fantasies, and just end up disappointed.

I didn't know what time to expect Quil. We never confirmed anything; we both knew he would be here today. It was a given. There was no question of him not turning up. The minutes were dragging past, and I welcomed the minor distractions. Dad called to wish me a happy birthday. Or rather, his wife did, and she told me she was to pass it along; he was at golf with his friends. Of course he was. Because he wouldn't actually ring me up and wish me a happy birthday himself. I wasn't important enough for that. Obviously, I came behind his love for golf. I knew I sounded extremely bitter in my own head, but today was the one day of the whole year, where it was just about me. Me, no one else. And on the one day of the whole year, the only day he had to make an effort, he didn't even bother. I hoped I didn't sound too rude to his wife. Sharon was lovely, and I didn't have anything against her. It wasn't her fault she didn't realise what a dick she married. Denise phoned too, which had to have been a first. I didn't even know she knew when my birthday was; she didn't call last year or the year before. Or the year before that. I struggled to remember when she had even actually called me on my birthday. I didn't want to talk to her, but Mom practically wrestled me onto the phone. "What?" I snapped down it, ignoring my mother's glare. "Hi, Claire," Denise said, her tone annoyingly chirpy. "Happy birthday." "Thanks," I said sarcastically, and handed the phone back to my mom. She
- 71 -

grabbed it off me, scowling and rolling her eyes. "Denise? Yeah. Yeah. Don't worry about it, she'll come around." "Don't be too positive about that," I interrupted, heading back up to my room. "You're going to come visit us? Really?" Mom was delighted. I froze, closing my eyes and praying for strength. That was all I needed. A visit from her. "Tell her not to feel obligated - she really doesn't have to," I called. "Shush, Claire," my mom said, waving me away. I continued my journey up the stairs, rolling my eyes. That was probably Denise's birthday present to me: a nice trip over here to brag about her life, try and win Jack over to her side by bribing him with toy cars and skateboards, and ask me patronising questions about my life, only half listening to the answers. Wonderful. I stayed in my room, only coming out to receive phone calls from Rachel and Emily, my aunt. The rest of the time I lay on my bed, trying to ignore the clenched fist full of nerves and apprehension in my stomach as I waited for Quil to arrive. I wondered idly if he bought me anything for my birthday. Probably not, because he'll be giving me enough; the truth is as good a present as any. But if he did get me something, what would it be? Trying to figure it out kept me from going completely insane, anyway. When the doorbell rang, I didn't move. I'd been hearing the doorbell go off all day, but whenever I ran to get the door, no one was there. Jack was convinced I had imaginary friends. Mom just looked at me strangely every time I asked her if she heard the doorbell. So when I heard it this time, I decided to just ignore it. If it really was Quil this time, I'd know soon enough. I couldn't hear anything from downstairs, so it was probably just my imagination again. I sighed and closed my eyes. I wondered if he was trying to put off arriving here for as long as he possibly could. Was he dreading this? For the thousandth time, I hoped I was going to stay reasonable about this. It must be hard enough already for him, and everyone knew I was extremely capable of complicating situations even more than they already were. "Hi."
- 72 -

even more than ever. He didn't seem particularly eager to jump right into the truth-telling. "Happy birthday. rolling my eyes. "Thank you.73 - . I was afraid of it now. he wouldn't do that. No." "Is that not a bit harsh?" . I was being paranoid. I suddenly remembered why he was here. scrutinising me. anyway. Maybe he wasn't so nervous anymore.My eyes flew open and my heart skipped a beat." he said softly. "Excited the way I'm excited about global warming and homicides." he said. He looked the same as ever. "There's no need to call me Jesus. I'm excited." I informed him. "Jesus Christ!" I exclaimed. which had just returned to its normal rhythm after my shock. "You're only the millionth person to say that to me today. I scrutinised him too. "Yeah. and I wasn't particularly eager about it myself." I said. He grinned. sitting up in fright. 'Quil' is widely accepted. distracting me." "Feels like it. Quil was leaning casually against the doorframe. He wasn't fidgeting or anything like it. I tried to banish my doubts from my mind. Quil would not do that to me. Quil heaved himself off the doorframe and made his way over to the swivel chair in front of my desk. "Not long. began to speed up again. Just because he wasn't nervous anymore didn't mean anything bad. I didn't know how long he had been standing there." I mumbled. apparently. "And are you excited about that?" he asked me. Unless… he had decided not to tell me. He sat down and started spinning himself around on it." "How long have you been here?" I asked him suspiciously." I said sarcastically. and my heart. "Denise is coming over for a visit." "I didn't realise you knew that many people.

I waited. a hint of a grin on his face." he said. What are you thinking?" "I'm thinking about why the hell it's taking you so long to blurt it out. I liked the way things were." "OK. she would have arrived long ago for a visit. Em. I sighed. If I leaned forward too. Things were going to change. I was tense. beginning to feel exceptionally nervous now." "Oh. He just continued to stare at me. Here's the truth." "Fair enough. She doesn't really want to be here. and Quil was just Quil. "I'm just… trying to figure out what you're thinking. I'm having a joint party with Rachel next week and you're going. Well. He leaned forward on the chair. we would be too close again. Quil took a deep breath. before I could stop myself." ."She's just annoying. She's a stuck up bitch. I leaned back a little from where I was sitting on the edge of my bed. A memory. Claire. where I was oblivious. The decision about Quil. but eventually I became uncomfortable." I said. Uh oh. He didn't say anything." I said. Could you not just ask me?" "OK. "Er. was going to become a thing of the past. And I needed to be able to think straight. and not be reminded of the decision I knew I still had to make today. why are you staring at me like that?" I snapped." Quil said. This moment we had here. waiting for him to speak. He blinked. I was going to have a nervous breakdown. "OK. I didn't realise you'd been studying to become a mind reader. If she did. And I didn't think I was ready for it yet. "Good. and watched him as he slowly spun to a stop. and if you're even going to say anything at all. He kept gazing at me. I searched for something to say that would perhaps coax him into speech. But I had to know. Now the truth was going to come out.74 - . We stared at each other. "Quil.

and didn't want me anywhere near him. So I had grown up. including Seth… they were a pack. He felt he wasn't being listened to. He was overprotective. Quil was the reason he left. Sam had gotten offended. with so many questions to ask. He wasn't convinced I would be safe around Quil. He came to all my school plays. and told him that Quil shouldn't be punished for Sam's personal mistakes. but I was unable to summon up the courage to interrupt him to ask them. like I thought. but they accepted it eventually.Everything Chapter Eleven: Everything I was silent as Quil explained everything to me. on the other hand. he lectured me on safety and boys and unsuitable . instead of me or Quil. I just listened. He spoke fluidly and gestured with his hands as he explained the whole story from the beginning.75 - . My parents were shocked at first. but still didn't trust him. My mom trusted her sister. eyeing Emily's scars blatantly. I still didn't completely understand what that meant. He had been talked around. He read me stories before I went to sleep. He brought me to the beach and built sandcastles with me. and she wanted to stay here so I could be near Quil. It was so like him to be concerned over himself. He bought me teddies when I was sick. was convinced Quil was a paedophile. If it was even possible. he had imprinted on me. He didn't explain it brilliantly. I guess my parents needed a reason as to why a sixteen-year-old was so suddenly obsessed with a two-year-old. I had disliked my father even more after hearing that. He had told my parents. No one listened to my dad. and he wasn't going to stay if that was the case. And so was my uncle Sam. So it hadn't been a bear to injure Emily. How was that for irony? When I was two. patrolling. He said she was happy that I would have someone so perfect for me when I was older. with Quil always watching over me. eyeing the way Sam acted around Emily when she said that. because he was wrong. looking out for me. keeping vampires from killing the locals. and that stupid decisions were being made without his opinion being taken into account. Vampires… My life had turned into a horror movie. My dad. He was with them whenever he wasn't with me. and so were all his muscled friends. He was a werewolf. along with Emily and Sam for support.

or she wouldn't be as happy with Sam as she was today. I struggled to absorb everything. so he could be with me? But I couldn't be with him. frustration. and Quil was thirty-two. He'd been my best friend. Whatever I had been expecting the truth to be. his eyes quite desperate. I mean… werewolves. They were soul mates. Did being soul mates justify that? I didn't know. and I had been two… sixteen years later. it would be like what Emily and Sam had. and he was such a quiet person. dread. I was seriously confused. I had no idea what I was going to do next. And then he fell in love with me. So now I had a choice. He was one too. "Claire? Say something. He taught me to drive. vampires…? I was brought up to believe they were fictional. my bodyguard.76 - . How long did it take before she was able to believe him? Was there really no one else but me for Quil? Had he really been waiting all these years for me to grow up. but I couldn't find the appropriate words. And I'd always been a little blown away by the intensity of Emily and Sam's relationship. He could be my Mr Forever. I had no idea what to feel. If I told him I loved him too. He was gazing at me pleadingly. And what did Emily think of this whole imprinting business? She obviously accepted it. fear… love. When Quil was finally finished telling me everything. what to think. I knew that it was my cue to say something. relief. my confidant. But now apparently. he fell silent and watched me. happiness. And Quil could be like that for me." Quil begged eventually. Yet he'd always had an air of authority about him. it . Anger. I wondered how long we'd both been sitting there in complete silence. and rarely left her side. fairytales. all playing off each other. just stories. I just didn't know. "Well. I never would have expected him to have a big secret like this. I felt a million different emotions. the perfect half for the other. on his words alone. shrugging. And my uncle Sam. There was so much he expected me to believe. Why didn't my mother object to that? There was something just morally wrong about a thirty-two-year-old in a relationship with an eighteen-year-old. what do you want me to say?" I asked him. If he was sixteen when he imprinted. not ethically. I had done the maths.clothes. Quil could transform into a giant dog when the feeling took him. I looked up at him. or how to honestly react. if I let him. He handled her as though she was made of glass. hope.

and always been Quil . my voice begging just a little. His skin was a tanned colour. more than anything. and became angry at me when I asked .just another familiar face. His voice was deep and throaty. I was just average and ordinary. But standing next to Quil… what would they think then? That he deserved to be with someone better looking than me? Or was that too shallow a way to think. I was average height.I was just me. or a poster. but I wasn't pretty . I tried to pull myself out of my trance. imprint… "How am I supposed to believe…?" I asked him." Quil said simply. made especially to be with me? Could I ever have seen that coming? "Anything. his eyes reminding me of melting chocolate. He'd always been ridiculously good-looking. He was like a photograph you hung up on the wall. I didn't want to be angry. But I couldn't control what I was feeling anymore. most of it unbelievable and unacceptable. anyway. I really saw him this time as I looked at him.77 - . My brain felt laden with information. He was just so rough. I wasn't ugly. and… sexy. And I wasn't.hadn't been that. almost for the first time. You ignored every single one of my questions. long brown hair. something Rachel never ceased to point out whenever she saw him. "Trust you?" I asked. You've lied to me about this for years. That Quil was a supposedly mythical creature. I desperately hoped I wasn't drooling. and rugged. My mind just wouldn't process certain words… werewolf. other people could judge me if they wanted to. His shirts always strained over his muscles. I didn't bother with my appearance too much. How could I? Everything was so utterly impossible. I desperately wanted to believe him. pale skin. and really looked at him properly. His grin was impish and utterly infectious." he said. feeling the anger building in me. but I just couldn't. rising slowly like a tidal wave. green eyes. but now that I was… he was really. "You've kept this from me my whole life. "You're just going to have to trust me. really gorgeous. average weight. but I wasn't going to care about their opinion. his hair shorn. after a while. He'd always been there. I'd never looked at him that way before. He was too good-looking. I gazed at him. you just stopped seeing it. for anyone? He was still waiting for me to say something.

He was on his feet now too. . screw you!" I snapped at him. This just made me even more annoyed. but his hand caught my arm gently. Why was I trying to push him away? Why was I being so horrible? Why couldn't I just believe him." he said. I made to storm from the room. I slammed the front door. his eyes serious. a fact I hadn't previously registered. It was pouring rain. his voice calm. wrenching my arm out of his grasp. jumping up. my tears mixing in with the rain pelting onto my cheeks. "Claire." I said.too many! Do you not have any idea how frustrating that was? And then you just drop this bombshell on me. He didn't try to stop me this time as I left. I was seriously confounded. And Quil. who didn't react. He knew me better than I knew myself. But I couldn't help it. I knew today was going to be emotional. did something he should not have done when dealing with irrational and angry Claire. He knew me better than anyone. after all. scrutinise me. He just continued to gaze at me. using no words at all. I glared at him for a minute. that I was being stupid. so which is it?" I demanded. I didn't have my car keys either. who should have known so much better. I wanted more than anything to turn around and go back to him. like I so desperately wanted to? "Oh. I felt terribly guilty for calling him a liar . It made me feel weak and vulnerable. especially over something like this. He rolled his eyes at me. and I felt so angry at myself. "Don't touch me. I usually didn't cry. He just basically told me. but I was just having a hard time fully accepting everything. I knew a part of me really believed him. I didn't like to cry.78 - .Quil would never lie to me. "You're either completely psycho or just a liar. so I didn't have a jacket or an umbrella with me. so I just began walking. I started to cry. Maybe he had been expecting my reaction. Somewhere underneath all my confusion and disbelief. and expect me to believe that you're a werewolf? Shouldn't you be in a mental home with everyone else who believes this insanity?" I glared at Quil. I was soaked within minutes.

My jeans and shirt were clinging to me uncomfortably. or whatever the hell you could call this. Maybe they would give me some clarity.How could it all be possible? I kept walking. My clothes were saturated. Talk about coincidence. I found it and jogged down it. wondering what I was going to do. I began to hammer on it. I was going to change. wincing a little at how much my sodden jeans protested against this. That would have been too much to bear. I started to run. I was just stuck in this zone. I ran up the highway. my legs working together with a mind of their own. I was so sick of hurting him. something screamed at me to turn back around and go back home." Emily said. so sick of getting everything wrong. and it opened in a matter of seconds. I almost laughed out loud when I realised.79 - . starting now. My face crumpled again. My only consolation was that my words hadn't hurt him. I gazed into the beautiful and scarred face of my aunt. even though with every step. by leaving. like I knew I would. my mind swirling. But I kept walking forward automatically. I was so sick of my temper ruling my mind. my hair dripping and hanging straggly in my face. slipping a little in the mud. I looked around. I was right next to the highway. now. But maybe I did hurt him. looking me up and down. I froze. about fifteen minutes from Emily and Sam's house. searching for a distinguishing feature that would tell me where I was. "How did I know I was going to get a visit from you today?" . I was so sick of being angry all the time. back to Quil. Maybe they could help me to believe in this whole situation. I felt I had messed absolutely everything up. But maybe they would help me. the entrance to their house. I had tried to push him away. where all I was capable of was walking and regretting. I bounded up to the front door. searching for the dirt road. Once I reached the house. I should have stayed. I was going back. I just kept struggling through the rain. "Oh dear.

I'll find you some dry clothes to wear. I hadn't been to see her in ages. It was huge on me. "Here. Maybe it was silly. "I'll put these in the tumble-dryer. I put the hood up to cover my wet hair. who you could never fail to like. but I felt safe and warm inside the massive jumper. I followed her back into the kitchen. He hadn't made an appearance yet. and I smiled at her gratefully. Claire.get in here. glancing at me uncertainly. and I walked gratefully into the warm house. She was just one of those ultimately cool people. . He was always in the centre of everything. Emily was waiting outside the door. and hugely comforted by it." she said." I went into the bathroom to change. "He's…" Emily hesitated. and a large jumper with a hood which was quite obviously Sam's. "Patrolling?" I offered. Emily led me into the kitchen. put these on." "Thanks. the smell of baking a permanent fragrance in the air. I could have fit another person in there with me.Sex God Chapter Twelve: Sex God "Maybe because you're incredibly psychic?" I suggested. which was unusual for him. I'd always loved spending time at my aunt's house. if I was that way inclined. and seized my wet clothes the second I unlocked the door. Emily. you're absolutely drenched . She smiled." Emily stood back to let me in. I sat down at the table as Emily went off to look for clothes for me. gratefully peeling off my sopping jeans and shirt. She bustled back into the room with clothes tucked under her arm. Emily had given me a pair of black tracksuit pants. "You never know. "So where's Sam today?" I asked her.80 - .

But Emily's scars were reminders of what must have been a very bloody and violent attack. "Basically. I wanted to ask questions. I knew it was all fake. trying to distract both of us. "What's imprinting?" I asked her. "No.81 - . she hadn't been surprised. I thought about her reaction to me when she saw me on her doorstep. I'd been told it had been a bear attack when I plucked up the courage to ask. he did… I just don't understand it really. I took a deep breath. I just knew that something was. I didn't think I'd be able to handle it. And obviously you're here to see if I can help you get over the whole wolf thing?" "Something like that." She lightly traced one of the scars on her hand when she said that. but it was personal for them. and I didn't doubt him after that. I sat opposite her." Emily said. The minute Quil saw you." I said. and I never questioned it. it's kind of like how they find their mates. "I'm not sure. I didn't get disturbed much by gore. "Quil didn't tell you?" Emily asked. you're right. "More or less. you were his whole world. I never failed to experience the horror her scars triggered in me whenever I looked at her properly. And it's been that way . But now that I knew the truth."So I'm guessing Quil told you everything then. surprised. so evidently it was all water under the bridge. "So what's bothering you?" she asked me. and that it was Sam… how did they both get through it? How did she forgive him? How did he forgive himself? They were very much in love now. Being a horror movie fanatic. Had they all been expecting me to run if I didn't like what I was hearing? "Right. But then he proved it to me." I mumbled. "Don't tell me you didn't think Sam had gone a little wrong mentally when he told you that?" "Well. honestly." "Well…" Emily became thoughtful. and I didn't want to pry. how do I believe it all? Werewolves?" I asked her sceptically. I didn't believe him fully for a long time. I didn't know what was bothering me. The idea of gore like that being real… I could barely imagine it. Emily finished fiddling with the tumble-dryer and sat down at the kitchen table. and I shivered. I mean. anyway. I didn't really want to talk about what happened to her.

" she told me. That's all he could do." "But…" I struggled with this new piece of impossible information that I was just supposed to believe. "You've got Quil to . Emily's phone rang. I'll ask her. "Is there anything else you're still unsure of?" Emily asked. "Yes. Emily was gazing at me. "Not that we know a lot about it. "The werewolves don't age. OK. he's probably the same age you are. "But I was only two. anyway. unnecessarily. I wondered if Quil would still be at the house. "Claire. Inside. No way. over thirty now. Who knows? Quil's just been waiting for you. Just do your best." "Yeah. but he's not a thirty year old. "She's on the way.82 - . he could help me to believe… Regret returned." "Find their mates?" I asked. I suppose as long as I had Quil. and I felt shame wash over me as I remembered the stupid stuff I said to him. I know it's a lot to take in." "But it's ridiculous." I nodded. Quil won't be going anywhere for a long time. I didn't bother to ask what the topic of the phone call was. confused." Emily told me. "He's like.ever since." She hung up. Claire. he's been around for that long. frowning slightly. See you soon. It's just weird. I hoped I hadn't worried Mom much. Yeah." she assured me." Emily laughed." I said. "Hello? Oh. hi. Emily stood up and grabbed it off the counter. and you can count on that. she's right here. her scarred hand held over the mouthpiece. I hoped he would. Is that alright?" I nodded. I had discerned enough from Emily's answers. No. Technically. hang on…" I looked up. the last reaction I was expecting. and I jumped. "It's your mother. Yours was an unusual case. "She wants to pick you up. I took a deep breath. I nodded again. Emily sat back down on the table. She's fine. That doesn't happen often. Emily returned to the phone.

"Denise is apparently coming to visit. I wondered if he was angry or upset with me.answer your questions." I rolled my eyes. rolling my eyes again. but I will make an effort. I'm sure they'll die with that secret. that's unfair! There are other feelings involved than just yours." I shrugged. And I'm sorry again. "So we'll have to get prepared for a big family reunion." My mother arrived after ten minutes." I said. for snapping at you." "Which reminds me. She wasn't a massive fan of Denise either. anyway. "I do only think of me and my feelings when it comes to Dad and Denise." I said. smiling. I think I'm OK. and wait in the car. I felt nervous as I waited on Mom to drive us home. "Sorry. "Good." I said. Just for you." "Really?" Emily asked sceptically." "Yeah. it's OK. "Are you alright?" she asked me. and I hoped that I could make it better between us . after all. No doubt Dad will come down as well. abashed. "No problem. it's fine." Emily smiled. I fell silent." "Claire. but since you're here…" "No. I then rolled my eyes. The world doesn't revolve around just you. That was mean. "I'd do anything for my favourite niece. Claire." I changed back into my own clothes once they were dry. Ugh. "For now. shaking my head." she said. "I'm not going to pretend to like them. She came into the house without knocking and glanced over at me worriedly. I really hoped Quil was still at my house." I sighed." Emily's eyes became very kind. I decided to leave her alone with Emily so that they could have a nice private conversation about me." "Seriously. "Fine." Emily snapped. grinning at me. They are your family.83 - . thanking Emily profusely. They love you. Emily sighed. "Don't be too hard on either of them. "Yeah. feeling obligated to." "No.

"That's Quil for you. I know you. I wasn't in the mood for interrogations. I walked over to Quil. Mom tried to question me in the car over how I was feeling.84 - . smiling at me. I mean. anyway?" I flushed a little and looked down. Calling him a liar and a psycho? Oh." Quil said. but I didn't bother. I really didn't want Quil to be mad at me. who looked like a complete sex god standing in the rain. I would have been astounded if you had just accepted it all straight away.somehow. and you'd find it hard to believe me. Mom ran straight into the house to avoid getting too wet. I wasn't going to lose him." I muttered. I climbed out of the car. "Of course not. "Well. I was all wrong for him. as though he forgave me. then?" I asked. grinning at me. I wasn't sure what was going to happen now. I . It took all my self control not to stare at him too much. My nice warm dry clothes were soaked again. Just because he was a werewolf… it still didn't fully register with me. however. I just wanted to get back to Quil and tell him I was sorry for storming out on him. He laughed. "Claire. as though what I had said to him wasn't even worthy of an apology. I kept getting painful flashbacks of the things I had said to him. his clothes completely soaked. but she gave up after a few of my monosyllabic answers. using my arm to try and block my face from the worst of the rain. He watched me. "So… you're not mad at me. Quil was too important to me to lose over something like this." Quil explained. seeking confirmation. God. He shouldn't have imprinted on me. grinning. I didn't dare hope. Did you honestly think I didn't expect your reaction? I knew you'd be angry." I said. "How could I stay mad at you. I stared at him. even though it was utterly pointless. his shirt clinging to his muscles even more than usual. I didn't deserve him at all. and he rolled his eyes. He was waiting outside for me. And I was prepared for that. But just because of this. "What is he doing out in the rain?" Mom fussed exasperatedly. It was awkward.

An idea struck me. and that I was being stupid. rolling his eyes. But it was too late to take it back. and I didn't want to stand there long enough for him to realise what I was thinking. how about no?" he said. "Yeah. It is an extremely valid and important reason not to. Can you even comprehend how I would feel if I let anything happen to you? Do you even grasp how much I care about you?" I didn't answer him. "Prove it. hesitantly. "No. A part of my brain was telling me to shut up. I really didn't deserve him. I was just trying to argue with him. like it had always been there. It was like I wanted to create problems for myself." "Eh. And that was whether I wanted to be with him in a non-platonic way or not. and I looked at him. But then he proved it to me. My breath caught. and I hoped that he wasn't too. He loosened his grip a tiny bit. then?" I asked him. that now that I knew the truth. I don't know why . I was stunned by the intensity of his eyes. and drive Quil to insanity. It reminded me of Emily's words." "Right. It was like . Think of me. assessing him. And then I felt sick. I was still too close. "That's a lame excuse.who knew why I did anything. Was I ever going to find out? He was still watching me. "I see…" I said. I'm just not putting you in danger like that. there was only one more decision to make. I was too close again. I was still stunned. and I didn't doubt him after that. He grabbed me roughly and pulled me towards him. And I could see something in his eyes. that was so familiar.85 - . "So." I ordered him. despite being brought up to think werewolves weren't real. you're really a… a werewolf. Claire." But I didn't really believe what I was saying. but still didn't let me go." I scoffed. I was annoyed to discover I still didn't know. And Quil was angry. but I never really registered it until now. My heart was throwing itself against my ribcage. I wasn't prepared for it. Claire. without evidential proof? Go on." he said brightly. He gazed at me. transform.was aware at that second. if he hadn't done already. "It is not a lame excuse. "Do you want me to believe you or not? Am I really supposed to just accept this as a fact.

couldn't he? "Did you make your decision then?" he asked me teasingly. It was so stupid of me to have waited this long to figure this out. This kiss was just as incredible as our first one. It was just like when Sam looked at Emily. "Eh. And then he kissed me. He pulled away first this time. but even more so. He grinned at me. He was so gorgeous. I loved him too. Because it was suddenly clear to me. . Quil was all I wanted and all I needed. but then he crushed me closer to him. kissing me enthusiastically. it was like our feelings had intensified over time. And he could be mine. He was taken aback for the shortest second. adoration." I said sarcastically. and I thought I was going to collapse. his eyes twinkling. no.fascination. I really don't know what came over me. I wanted to protected by him. and loved by him.86 - . his breathing uneven. He laughed. I didn't want to be without him. a deep throaty sound that made my heart beat painfully fast. I kissed him roughly. Maybe they had.

I was the only person who hadn't seen the very obvious signs that Quil was crazy about me. needless to say. He said he had been expecting me to ignore him for weeks. after a pause. maybe as much as everyone else had. I didn't hesitate in joining him on the couch and snuggling up to his side. But I was hardly complaining. Quil. I was so stupid. His clothes were half dry already. Maybe there was no way to have a platonic relationship with a guy without it becoming romantic at some point. . When I came back downstairs. Quil. when the answer had been very obvious. anyway. Maybe Rachel was right. I was still in a state of shock. and was forced to leave Quil for five minutes so I could change out of my wet clothes. But eventually we decided it wasn't sane to remain in the freezing cold downpour. I wrung my hair out the best that I could. and I wasn't afraid of asking them this time. There was a part of me that had been expecting that too. I couldn't believe it had taken me this long to figure out what I wanted. but I think all along in the back of my head was the idea that we could end up turning into something more. was overjoyed with the outcome of today. Did you have fun at Emily's?" he asked me. to my own pleasant surprise. "So. I don't know how long we stood outside in the rain. I had loads of questions to ask him. Although. he put his arm around me and rested his chin on the top of my head. Quil was in the living room. I mean. She'd been waiting for this. My mom gave us towels when we came in the door. her expression smug as she registered his arm around my waist. kept me warm. roasting hot as usual.Howling At The Moon Chapter Thirteen: Howling At The Moon I managed to enjoy the rest of my birthday. I didn't want to be that angry person anymore. And I didn't want to.87 - . in the end. I didn't feel the cold. He beamed at me when I walked in. but I needed Quil too much to hold a long-lasting grudge against him. our friendship had been amazing. spread out on the couch.

88 - . I still couldn't believe that our relationship didn't have the boundaries it used to have. and I wondered why age had been so important to Quil. I wasn't bound by the usual rules of the pack. "Quil?" I asked hesitantly." "Oh no. and I felt really guilty and stupid for renting out that movie behind his back. I hadn't changed much." I wondered whether or not to be truthful. "But I'm not scared of you. You nearly gave me heart failure when I discovered you'd watched one behind my back. "When I imprinted. It was still an easy and effortless friendship. I was kind of… angry. I could tell you everything. My heart reacted erratically." I admitted. I'm sorry I stormed out. the main reason being…" he sighed before continuing. "How could I ever be scared of you? I watch horror films daily. You're hardly scary. the only new thing being the way my heart reacted whenever he touched or kissed me." I assured him. You're the biggest softie in the whole world."It was OK. "I'm not that bad. a little bit. even your anger . A tantrum a day isn't that bad at all." Quil teased." he said." "You'll be on the receiving end of another tantrum if you don't shut up. "A few reasons. really? I didn't think that at all. And you're just Quil. I didn't want to lie to Quil. or even seventeen. "I would have been able to handle any of your reactions. by the way. his fingers tracing a pattern on my shoulder. in case you thought they were scary. "Why did you decide to wait until now to tell me… everything?" The question had been bugging me." I muttered. He grimaced." "Oh. But I didn't want to tell you any sooner than eighteen." "Scared of you?" I repeated.but just not fear.what a shocker. It takes a lot to scare me. and kissed the top of my head. so it didn't leave another option. Claire was angry . I still felt like the same old Claire." . "Hey!" I protested. I didn't feel much more different than I felt when I was sixteen. Quil laughed. "It did scare me. I turned my face up so I could see his expression. That's why I wouldn't let you watch werewolf movies. "I didn't want you to be scared of me.

Don't. "You're planning something. I'm warning you now. "Not at all. I'd forgotten about the whole world. and caring. I'd forgotten all about him. have you seen my baseball cap anywhere? Mom can't find it." He glared at me. more than I deserved. "Will it change anything if I say that I think you're hardcore?" "Not a thing. But I didn't think it was a bad thing. I rolled my eyes. "What?" I asked him. "Claire. I can be hardcore. Well. "I can be hardcore." He was probably going to jump out from behind a door and scare the life out of me. I'm merely expressing my opinion." he said innocently." I grinned." he whined.89 - ." he said again. and I jumped. He was fun to wind up. I can tell. "I'm not a complete softie." I advised him. And to think I was going to settle for someone like Aaron. warily. just to get me to admit he wasn't a soft touch. I had felt as though I was wrapped in a little bubble with Quil.His eyes widened. I caught a few words like "vampires" and "battle". and I just beamed back at him. Which he was. and started muttering under his breath. I laughed silently at him. . and loyal… frankly. it was burst now. "Nothing. But I sobered up quickly when he suddenly grinned evilly." "Sure you can." he said. He was so sweet. He just winked at me. Quil. Jack suddenly bounded into the room. "Great. still grinning. "Hey!" he complained. "Are you challenging me?" he demanded. "Have you searched in that bomb site you call a bedroom?" I asked him.

and stomped from the room. "She's my friend. Jack pulled a face at both of us. "Forever." Quil managed to say through his laughter." he said. in a high-pitched voice. you're best friends? I see. but I missed. "She?" Quil said interestedly. and burst out laughing." I said. not in the least." he added. "Yeah. right there. So. "And no. "That's true love." Quil and I looked at each other. So? You're best friends with Claire. then?" Quil asked. kicking at him like that. I grinned at Jack.90 - . my heart singing from Quil's words. "No. she's not my girlfriend. "Shut up." "Oh. "Jack!" I scowled and kicked at him. Quil sniggered to himself for a while before he spoke again. "I love how you tried to protect me from your younger brother." . "You two are such freaks."I've looked everywhere. seriously." I added." "Who's Alex?" Quil interrupted." Jack shrugged. grinning. "Don't attack Quil!" "I'll tell Mom on you Claire. I'm touched. and stamped on Quil's foot. Claire. Jack was suddenly furious. Was it really that way for both of us? I never expected to find my Mr Forever at eighteen. I didn't think you cared enough about me to spare me from the evil that is your brother." Jack said. And I wanted to show it to Alex. turning to Quil. you big weirdo. "Me and Alex are friends exactly the same way you and Claire are friends." he said. and the last person I had expected it to be was Quil… but I wasn't complaining. although I doubt he even felt it. Jack. she's not your girlfriend. who was frowning at Quil. True love. if you kick me. after neatly dodging my foot.

that adoration. and just focussed on spending time with Quil. I gave up trying to control my breathing. Denise's supposed visit. "Oh. "I love you too. and exhaled raggedly." Quil said.91 - ." was all I managed to choke out." I said again. you will. I just completely melted. I spent the rest of the day curled up next to Quil on the couch. smiling as Quil told me yet another funny story about them. of course. "I love you. I couldn't believe I had missed it before. "Exactly. I'll always keep you safe. "I know." I said. at the edge of my jaw.everything else." He moved his lips back up to my ear again and whispered in it. He chuckled against my skin. who I really hoped had forgotten all about the incident at the party. who he had mentioned a few times before . my joint party with Rachel . His eyes were sparkling with that fascination. "You know I'm joking. I turned my face towards his. No one will ever be allowed to hurt you…" He pressed his lips against the skin right underneath my ear. There were ten of them. and Seth." he said. all the stupid trivial things in my life. including Quil. barely able to concentrate. I forgot the rest of their names almost as soon as he spoke them. "I'd like to meet them all. and Embry. "Bodyguard. struggling to keep my breathing even. who was like their boss. "But I would do the same for you. He sniggered again. I forgot about everything else. rolling his eyes."Shut up.he was the one with the terrible movie collection." I shivered. His face was centimetres away from mine. and then kissed me. He told me all about the pack. . and pulled me closer to him." I said. starting to blush. They've been dying to meet you for years. meeting his eyes." I said. and Sam. He grinned at me crookedly. so that his lips touched my ear when he spoke.

" he promised. "Cheesy. "Claire. and introduce you to them all then. so we're probably all going to do something for it. "Yes. "Oh dear. grinning. grinning. dragging me with him. so I can bring you." Quil said. He stood up. "Speaking of birthdays. Not that you really need it." I said. "Don't act like you don't like it. then I don't mind how many random people I'm surrounded by." I rolled my eyes." "OK." I said half-heartedly. "Do you really have to go?" "Unfortunately. so it will probably be you and me surrounded by random people. his eyes twinkling. "I'll be here first thing in the morning. though. "Will you?" . It'll be fun." He shrugged. Why? Will you miss me?" he asked. I was reluctant to let him go. you are going to my joint birthday party with Rachel. "Good." Quil told me. "Oh. Quil." I said." he assured me. messing up my hair. It drove them insane. you were all I ever thought about. I'd been informed of the fact they could all hear each other's thoughts. and let you get your beauty sleep. it's Paul's birthday soon. It's very late. And of course. I should go.92 - . as long as it's 'you and me'. "Well." I said. I blushed a little."They have?" I asked uncertainly." The clock on the mantelpiece started chiming. yes?" "I refuse to miss it." "Well. It was midnight. too disappointed to come up with anything sarcastic. Although I don't know half as many people as Rachel knows. and I blushed again. "Shush.

pulling me closer to him. Even if my friends think I've gone completely insane. "I have to leave. "So much for that assumption. pretending to be devastated."Of course I will." he said. "Cool. I trudged up to my bed and wrapped myself up in the duvet. "You will. You're too damn tempting. If I don't leave now. I wasn't sure whether or not it was from the cold. but I was more tired than I thought. you don't do that at all?" I asked him. I yawned." "Oh really?" I said. but I smiled as I faintly heard the cry of a wolf from somewhere in the distance. feeling extremely depressed when the jeep finally disappeared from sight. As much as I'd like to stay here and kiss you all night. I expected to lie awake and think about everything. Good one. interested." he said. and then stuffed his fist in his mouth to keep from waking Jack and my mother.93 - . I have wolf stuff to be doing. I'm sorry. or whether I was awake. The night air blasting in through the open door chilled me. "Howling at the moon. growling as he pulled away for the second time. just for you." he promised." I grinned. "I have to go. I really didn't want him to go. I waved him off. I'm never going to. grinning at me. He pulled away first and easily unlocked my arms from around his neck. It seemed like forever to me. and made his way towards his jeep. sighing a little. today had been eventful. He wrapped his arms around my waist. Well. so I gladly moved closer to Quil. and I shivered. "I'll see you tomorrow." I put my arms around his neck and kissed him. . following him to the front door. I'll listen out for it. I wasn't sure if it was a dream or my imagination. I began to drift." "Tell you what. "Aw." he said. "I'll give the moon a real good long howl." I said. He laughed silently to himself as he opened the front door. "Like what? Howling at the moon?" He burst out laughing." He kissed me briefly. positive I wasn't going to be able to sleep what with all I had learned today to think about.

lurrrrrve xxxxxx :D Chapter Fourteen: Guess What? "Wow. can't wait for that. We'll have to see what happens. and now today I was beaming at everyone for no reason. me nodding along in agreement. Usually I'd be dreading it. It's only occuring to me now how long this might turn out to be. but since Quil was going to be there this time. I should have seen it coming too. . and DANGER. I suppose she was right. I had mixed feelings towards the party. it is. and also wrap up all the little subplots that I have already created. "So is Quil coming to our party. Like. something I so did not expect for this story. "Well. But hopefully you'll like it regardless. I had to explain my sudden goofy grin to her. Thank you! x! I'm over 200 reviews now. I'd probably forget about the people surrounding me and it would be just me and Quil again. only half listening. :) Sorry this chapter isn't very exciting. And of course. every day together.94 - . and ACTION. Yikes. like. But then again. That probably meant a hundred or so. because you spent.Guess What? Woah. I hope everyone doesn't get bored halfway. before getting into it all. "Yeah. I suppose I should have seen it coming." I rolled my eyes. and CLIFFHANGERS. I grinned and shrugged. you know. because I didn't realise I was expecting it until today…" Rachel frowned as she mused over this. Whee hee hee. like a typical girl. I was quite indifferent about it. "Just a small few. Er. then?" Rachel asked. So it's not really that shocking. The reviews were so amazing. You and Quil? I don't believe it. wow. and SUSPENSE. and yet I got such a shock when I found out Quil was in love with me. But I want to develop Claire and Quil's relationship first. have you invited many people?" I asked her. and it's something that (hopefully) you won't expect. Friday at school I had been jumpy and snapped at anyone who spoke to me." Rachel squealed. I hadn't been able to resist telling her all about him. Thanks! :) I have been inspired! I've decided on a plot line with loads of DRAMA.

muscly. however. besides having met Rachel a couple of times. and a grin spread across his face when spotted my car pulling into the drive. I glared at her. loved to share her knowledge of other people's lives." she said. The very second the last bell rang. Really?" I asked. "Yep. so I didn't gossip about them. but time was working against me. "Did I not just spend the whole morning telling you all about Quil?" "Oh. How could I want to be with anyone else? School was hell for the rest of the day." "Shocking. godlike . right. Zach told me. I rolled my eyes again." I snapped. and my . I just couldn't picture Quil . He didn't know anyone from my school at all. frowning at her. don't you think? I didn't think he was her type. I wasn't that into gossip. I was absolutely dying to get home and see Quil. "Did you hear Aaron is going out with Vanessa Ryan?" Rachel asked me.tall.95 - . according to Zach. shouting a goodbye to Rachel over my shoulder." I rolled my eyes. He was waiting in the driveway like usual. Rachel. I was curious to find out what it would be like. Bit of a shocker. They were like two separate areas of my life that hadn't been mixed before. That was the girl he had kissed ten minutes after kissing me at that idiotic party. I concentrated on parking properly. Aaron was grumbling about being completely broke this morning. "As if." I replied darkly. the two of them went on a date on Saturday. misinterpreting my expression. and I was jolted from my thoughts unpleasantly. Sorry. And I was with Quil now. In my mind. Sometimes she could be so dim. trying to keep me away from him for as long as it possibly could. I was so over Aaron. "Do you still have a thing for him?" Rachel asked. and she made him pay for absolutely everything. really. "No. I jumped up and ran to my car.I wondered if he was dreading or looking forward to it. who was ten million times the guy that Aaron was. "Well. shrugging. I just knew that I wouldn't like to hear people gossiping about the midst of all the teenagers I attended school with. I was convinced all the clocks were broken.

"They're for you. no. That was a terrible guess. "Birthday present from me?" he offered. He pulled away after a few minutes. when I still looked ready to protest. He handed them to me. I think I've enough horror movies." "Oh. "Claire!" he said joyously. Claire. "Oh. opening the door for me. Come on." he said. then. messing up my hair.96 - . That was fast. excellent. where he grabbed the DVDs from the passenger seat. seriously. "Hello." Quil took my hand and walked me over to his jeep. Will you just tell me?" "Not until you guess first." I said. they're yours. burying my face in his shoulder and breathing in his scent. for God's sake. "We don't eat them. in a sing-song voice. "Hi." "No. "I'm bad at guessing. "Guess what?" "What?" "No." he scoffed." Quil insisted." He raised his eyebrows at me and grinned. I want to see if they're better than the remakes.heart leapt when he suddenly appeared outside my door." "I told you I'm bad at guessing! I give up. Guess!" I rolled my eyes." "No. though. Thanks." Quil said. it's OK. What is it?" "I got the horror movies off the internet. Quil. I jumped from the car into his arms. "You… ate a vampire last night?" "No. kissing my cheek. you have to guess!" "Ah. . Tell me.

"You don't have to get me presents. desperately trying to prevent myself from getting sick all over Quil. I wondered if he was as aware of me as I was of him. I had had my hand clamped around my mouth for most of the film. "I live for horror films. and laughed. pulling me closer to his side. I didn't know why. I loved how neither of us even thought about it." "Quil. It was our old. They really went all out when it came to the gore. and I mumbled a reply through it. trying to get over my surprise. but I barely saw it. I snuggled up to his side. and I rose and fell gently as he breathed. "Maybe we should stick to the action. He looked at me for the first time. but I think I was just so used to our friendship and the boundaries which we never crossed. "No. I could see why it was remade into a less bloodthirsty version. Quil joining me almost immediately after. familiar routine. cringing into Quil as the screen began to depict this. shutting the door of his jeep." He laughed." he said. Both of his arms wrapped around my stomach and he held me against his chest. It was so effortless. and in a sudden movement. This is too much. "Keep the DVDs. like usual. and things like this always surprised me. "Ugh." We walked into the house and headed straight for the living room. putting his arm around me. I loved Quil." "I want to. I rested my head on his shoulder." I added. I cleaned off any junk on the couch before settling myself on it. The movie was completely disgusting. if you start spoiling me I'm going to start expecting to be spoiled all the time. But maybe I should just look away when people's throats start getting ripped out. I turned my attention back to the film.97 - ." Quil said. I was still so unused to being so intimate with Quil. no. Quil put the movie on." he said. pulled me onto his lap. "I think I'll be able to handle it. removing my hand from my face gingerly. even for me." I said. . I could feel his heart beating. My breath caught. my heart pounding. He put both arms around me. halfway into it.

We stayed like that until the end of the film." Quil decided. but the storyline was alright. "That was my fault.oh. remembering it. that was shockingly crap." I sighed." I rolled my eyes. I should have heard her arrive home." I said. "Well. Well. and his eyes snapped onto me. "Were you asking me something about Denise?" I asked my mother a while later. Sorry. which was extremely distracting. bad or ugly?" He started trailing his lips along my neck. against my skin." I begged. Well. what section will this go under?" Quil murmured in my ear. I mumbled an indiscernible reply as he gently took hold of my chin and began to pull my face towards his. at least. How embarrassing. "Please tell me that wasn't my mother.98 - ." he said. yeah. I closed my eyes. it was a bit vile. That was not good. then. did Denise . "I agree. "Quil. "Oh God. "Sorry. I felt extremely reluctant to move when the credits rolled. that was gruesome." I opened my eyes slowly." "So. God." "So it was bad." I commented. I heard the door close. "Claire. my pulse beginning to race. Quil had his lips pressed together. and was looking over my shoulder. I agree. It had a plot. blushing furiously. Oh. "Good." he said. "Yeah. "Em. closing my eyes again in horror. a suppressed laugh in every syllable. as though he was trying suppress a smile. at least it wasn't as bad as the one about the poltergeist. But then I suddenly forgot about everything as I felt Quil's mouth covering mine. it wasn't good. I was embarrassed at the fact she had walked in on Quil and I in ." I said. "It was ugly. at all. which redeems it." "Oh no.

I'll bet that the two of you will hit it off straight away once she arrives. You used to follow her around when you were little. "That's a surprise. "She's been very busy." I said. distracted from my mortification. "Wonderful. I was just wondering if she had called to confirm what date she's arriving at. The highlight of my year. . I watched her as she chopped vegetables on the kitchen counter. She just wanted to get settled in her life before coming to see us. "Go away. she would have come to visit us already. rolling my intimate position." I said sarcastically. stop being dramatic. "Because if she was really serious about us." I said. "Oh. and Claire?" "What?" I said. I didn't think she was actually serious. after all. yeah." "How much do you want to bet?" I asked. what with setting up her own beauty salon and everything. "In a week or so. I rolled my eyes a few times at my complete annoyance of a sister. but Mom didn't look that put out by it. I only vaguely remembered idolising her when I was younger. I understand.99 - . You're sisters. sticking to the same point I'd been trying to make for ages. acerbically. Well. "Oh. Claire." "Claire." my mother said irritably." "She actually decided on a date to arrive on?" I asked sceptically. "What a excellent thing to look forward to." She brandished the knife she was holding at me." Mom answered. ignoring her last sentence. I couldn't see it being very likely to happen again. for God's sake. "So when is she coming." "Why wouldn't she be serious about coming to visit us?" Mom snapped. "Oh. before you're the reason I take one of my fingers off." "My heart bleeds for her. without turning around. and I made to leave the kitchen. then?" I asked exasperatedly.

I remembered a time Quil and I had gone for a walk at the beach. I knew how I was going to react anyway. she let him away with anything. Jack was barely the length and width of Quil's torso. the little traitor. He could either blank her or be completely indifferent towards her. watching them. "I'm getting beaten up by a ten-year-old here!" I smiled as he very obviously let Jack hold him in a headlock. He was wrestling with Jack. "Claire. She was going to have to do a lot to come even close to impressing me."If I ever get home from work to find you and Quil are getting up to anything other than kissing on that couch." "OK. in a strangled voice. I had no doubt in my mind that Quil was letting him win. So what was going to happen when Denise arrived? Was she going to wreck the easy. so help me there will be trouble like you wouldn't believe. or he could get charmed by her. . I cringed in the hall. Jack had always idolised Quil. to find another way to annoy me." I said. so I wandered back there. laughing. Quil had just sat back and sniggered while my mother gave out to me about it. especially me. I'll ban him from the house. But I really didn't know how he was going to react. like I promised Emily. in my house. And my mom had always adored Quil as well. That was the last thing I needed. imprint or no imprint. "Do you surrender?" Jack demanded. and awkward? Jack didn't know her at all. thinking him the epitome of cool. and left the kitchen as fast as I could. when I saw her. and when we got back to my house we forgot to remove our shoes and ended up trailing sand all over the living room. my mother taking a sudden interest in what Quil and I were getting up to. Not that we were doing anything she wouldn't approve of… but still. It would be like him. Quil was still in the living room.100 - . and go over to the dark side. comfortable atmosphere around here? What if everything became tense. I would make an effort. I leaned against the doorframe of the room. He'd always been so comfortable around my family. would you help me please?" Quil gasped. I cringed again. And we'd all been comfortable around him too. like an obedient puppy. looking all smug and delighted with himself. but I wasn't going to roll over for her.

do me a favour. I'm interested now. yelling something about being the ultimate champion. if you'd like. after basking in the warmth of Quil's arms. "Well." "I suppose you could… after your school tomorrow. And I had no doubt that they'd blurt out something that they weren't supposed to. Don't believe all of what Embry tells you. I found myself curious." . Would you mind being introduced to two of my fellow werewolves?" "I'd very much enjoy that. but now that there were no secrets between us. Ever. "I live with Embry and Paul. smiling angelically at him. "Let me guess… you want to come over and have a good nose around my house?" "I'd love to. Quil stood up." I pursed my lips as I thought about this. Quil rolled his eyes. so I never brought up the subject. grabbed me around the waist and pulled me into a hug." "Well." I said. and they're two of the loudest people ever. "What are you thinking?" "That I've never once been to your house. we can change that."Yes!" Quil said. not before punching me on the arm as he walked past. He grinned. In all the time I've known you. pulling back a little so I could see his expression.101 - . And besides… you never seemed really interested in where I lived. Jack let him go and sauntered out of the room. as a matter of fact. This fact had never bothered me before. Half the stories aren't true." "That's true." "Why is that?" I asked. "You know what I'm thinking?" I said. Although. I'd like to get to know your friends. and you're still so mysterious. You know everything about me.

Then everything would be fine. who would flirt with her boyfriend's mates. So basically. "But don't get on with them too well. Quil drove towards the only shop and pulled into a driveway behind it. I felt a little shy and nervous about meeting his two werewolf roommates. So I was nervous that I was going to say something that would wreck everything before it even got started. as usually I blurted out something unintentionally bitchy. I really hoped he wasn't afraid that I'd insult one of them accidentally. and plus if I said something to turn them all against me. She didn't have to tell me not to flirt with Quil's friends. it was just going to make things awkward for Quil. Quil was tapping one finger on the steering wheel. "You don't want to start flirting with them all. As if. I gazed out of the window. I didn't want to let him down at all. And a conversation I had with Rachel at lunch kept bugging me. and I was annoyed at myself. And I had a knack for making bad impressions. A small rectangle of a . I was being insane. Was he nervous? What the hell did he have to be nervous about? Oh God. It was ridiculous. My feet were itching to start tapping fretfully. giggly type. So it was extremely vital that I did make a good impression on his friends. She told me that she read in a magazine that it was important I got on well with my boyfriend's friends. trying to sit completely still. paying attention as we drove into La Push. because that was unlike me. or have him disappointed in me." Rachel warned. But I guessed that this was kind of a big deal. I wasn't usually bothered by meeting new people. The only solution I could see was to think very carefully about what I was going to say before I said it. It would make him happy. meeting my boyfriend's best friends. I'd already figured that that wouldn't be something I'd particularly want to do. I wasn't the flirty. and that was the last thing I wanted. I was having a mini panic attack because of Rachel over making a good first impression." I'd thrown her a murderous glance. she must have me mistaken for her other friends.102 - . I swear. I wanted to make a good impression.I've Invited Strippers Chapter Fifteen: I've Invited Strippers I sat back more comfortably in my seat in Quil's jeep.

which it probably hadn't. three stacks of DVDs heaped untidily next to the TV. and Quil pulled me to the next room. which I didn't want to look at too closely (three guys sharing it? Ugh). "Where Embry was sleeping." he said. "Fine. The door opened after a few seconds. But he insists on it." Quil called. and the rest are Paul's. "Are the three of you movie fanatics?" I asked. Half of them are mine. because our body heat would kill off most of the harmful bacteria. It's completely ridiculous anyway." he scoffed. all the crap ones are Embry's. and Quil appeared at my side and offered me his hand. not washing your hands… he goes mental about all that stuff. ." Quil muttered. He squeezed my hand and I followed him into the house. smiling. the counters sparkling. It's the tidiest room in the house." he said loudly." he said. gesturing towards the pile of DVDs. "Paul is a kitchen freak. I took it. I jumped out too. I smiled to myself. "Bacteria. making a face. beanbag chairs littered around the couch. Another jeep was parked outside it. I swallowed. the words 'Wash Me' written across the thin layer of dust covering the underside of the car. "Get your ass out here and say hi to Claire. "This is Embry's room. The hall looked like it hadn't been vacuumed in years." a disgruntled voice floated out from within it. He's into sci-fi. He parked the car untidily and climbed out. "The kitchen." I said. "The guided tour!" Quil announced grandly.103 - . and a really muscly guy wearing nothing but baggy denim shorts gawped at us blearily. "Nah. "Are you OK?" he asked. I was surprised. banging on the door again. I greeted my eyes. "The living room. and he banged on the first door. opening the nearest door to a cramped room." Quil muttered to me. It was clean and shiny. Then we proceeded down a second narrow hall. smiling at him." The next room was the bathroom. "Embry is home.

Nice to meet you. which was roasting hot. "Whatever." "Oh yeah? Doing what?" Quil yelled back." he said. I would say not."Hey. "Judging by your look of shock.104 - . "Sorry about him. "I'm Embry. Now that was definitely too bitchy. after a second. grinning at me. Was that too bitchy? Quil laughed. Embry laughed at my expression. "Ouch. "I bet you didn't know he was such a food-safety freak. "Try not to be too loud. Embry shrugged." I said. and I found myself wondering who Leah was. And then I cringed." he said to Quil. Quil shook his head. Quil made a noise of derision. "You need psychological help if you actually consider them to be thrillers." Uh oh." he said. "She should meet Leah. "They'd get along just swimmingly. "I was up all night. and whether or not that was supposed to be an insult." I opened my mouth uncertainly. so I'm going back to bed." Embry said. Can't get enough privacy back at her house. We heard Embry sniggering. "You obviously just don't appreciate the psychological thrillers. which he dodged. Call." I said. and I couldn't help but laugh too. "Well." he called. Quil aimed a kick at him." "Oh. "He's a . grinning back and shaking his hand. clutching at his heart. without thinking." he said. shut it." Embry grinned. He closed his door. I mumbled a reply. still a little embarrassed. Embry stretched. I blushed furiously. eh?" he asked. How come you're both here anyway? It's a first." Quil frowned at him. grinning. I don't mean to be rude but I'm completely wrecked. "I seem to have hit a nerve. It's nice to finally meet you. almost positive that Quil had told me it was Paul who had the obsession with a clean kitchen. Ateara. But then I remembered what Quil had said about not believing all of what Embry would tell me. winking at me." Quil said. grinning." "Same here. Claire." he said. grinning to himself. and extended his hand. "Did Quil show you the pristine kitchen?" he asked. "You're the one who owns all the rubbish scary movies Quil keeps forcing me to watch.

105 - . a little surprised. still laughing to myself. All valid reasons to get rid of him from my house. too. He used to live with Jared. I was learning something new every second. and he ate her out of house and home. nodding his head a little." I said." I said." I said. "My grandfather left it to me when he passed away. I might as well open up a hotel. but he didn't stop to open it. . but there was a certain fondness in the way he said it that suggested he wasn't really bothered at all by Embry. I was a little surprised to know that there was another girl like me who had been imprinted on. he's alright. so you can see him then. besides Emily." he said. and Paul couldn't afford the rent by himself. But." Quil said. "He's obviously out. "I'm sorry. He had never mentioned his grandfather's death to me. Quil rolled his eyes and we continued our journey along the hall. directing it at the closed door. "Because he's lazy. and I wrapped my arms around his waist. rolling his eyes. "Paul only recently moved in here too. "Could you PLEASE have your chat outside someone else's door?" Embry's voice suddenly demanded. the girl he imprinted on. you know…" Quil shrugged." "Why did his mother kick him out?" I asked. "He's a nuisance." "Cool.complete tool. He was old." Quil said loudly. grinning. "It's your house?" I asked. and I haven't been able to get rid of him ever since. One down." Quil said. "That's Paul's room. He was a legend." Quil joked." "Nah. "His mother kicked him out so I kindly offered him a room. but I'd say he'll be back later on. one to go. rapping on the door of the next room. "It's fine. I didn't realise he actually owned it. and messy. but Jared moved in with Kim. Maybe I could try not to insult Paul's taste in movies as well.

"Just because I'm not a slob. pointing to a small picture of the band. and I rolled my eyes. who looked slightly uncomfortable in front of the camera. There was a girl in the pack? I hadn't even thought of that." he said. shut up." Quil said. "What are they?" I asked. who had his arms across the shoulders of two other younger looking guys. looking around the spotless room that was cleaner than my own. opening it. "Emily took that." Quil said." I made a rude hand gesture at him. I had noticed a girl. "This is my room. and Embry. finding Sam. the best alternative rock band in the world. hoping I would get a chance to meet them all. the walls painted white. I noticed three pictures hanging up on the wall. It was furnished simply. near the back of the photograph. and I focussed on the next picture. in my opinion. pouting prettily. "My three biggest passions in life. "Are you sure you're not the kitchen freak?" I asked. "There's no need for that. and he laughed. I examined all the other unfamiliar faces. "Linkin Park. I spotted Quil straight away.106 - . content." he said. wearing his usual cheesy grin. "Oh. who are. Out of the corner of my eye. He led the way into a more spacious room than the rest of the house. well. wrapping his arms around my waist." I said. I stared at her for a second. And then I started. it being my house and all. just behind Seth. I hugged him. who had one eyebrow raised and was flexing his muscles. and Seth. I examined it. which was of a group of guys all either posing or grinning goofily at the camera. "I have the biggest room." he continued. I nodded appreciatively.We'd reached the end of the hall. like you. He grabbed the offending hand and pulled me towards him. "The pack. Quil brought me over to the wall. I wondered if that was Leah. and there was only one door left. his arms still around my waist. gazing at it fondly. . "In no particular order…" he announced dramatically. somewhat smugly." he said." he said. this is unnaturally tidy for a man. "Er." he said.

oh." I said. Just in case. "It is not!" he protested. it was the infamous one of the two of us on the beach last year."And finally. "That one is fine. "Ah. "You." he scoffed. "Quil. I looked like half a robot or something. compared to Quil. Although the purpose of the trip had been to meet Quil's friends. and he told me all the stories of the vampire coven that used to live in Forks." I nodded. "And?" Quil demanded. and the treaty that had been made. at how simply Quil had shown how much he cared about me." "Quil. just talking." Quil said. did you drink all the beer? 'Cos if you did I'm going to snap off your . There aren't any vampires living here. I examined the picture more closely." I finally noticed the last picture. though. Quil and I found ourselves lying side by side on the bed. and fell silent at the sight of me." He laughed. Quil! That's a terrible picture of me!" I groaned. shaking his head. but we do keep our noses out. "At the moment. "Whatever you say. I sat .107 - . "I still have my braces on in it. we don't do a whole lot. giving in. I'd asked to hear about what the pack did. my mind full of the stories Quil had told me and my own mental pictures. but with one of them out and the other asleep. I felt a little overwhelmed for a moment." I decided. his voice dragging me back from the photograph. "I don't need one." he said. sighing." Another half naked guy stormed into the room. We must listen to it. "We're getting you a new photo for your wall. and my eyes widened in horror. my vanity is screaming at me to get you a better picture. who looked the same as ever.

Almost as if on cue." Quil said easily. "Oh yeah? And how many times did you come in last before you actually came in first?" "For your information I didn't crash once." "Hi. and sighed. "Did someone say my name? Is there some kind of orgy going on in here that I don't know about? What's with the noise? Can't a guy get any sleep around here?" Paul scoffed at him. Paul frowned. Embry staggered into the room. and Quil rolled his eyes.108 - ." Quil sat up and glared at Embry. if you weren't up on the PlayStation all last night you wouldn't be so tired. . "I've heard so much about you." I smiled." Embry said smugly. "Well. with a friendly grin. I only bought the six pack yesterday. when you share a house with Embry?" Paul considered that. "Were you saying something about beer?" he asked. Claire. Paul. How can you even ask me anyway.up." "Are you sure you weren't having a nice dream at this point?" Paul rolled his eyes at me." "Any possibility at all that it could have been you?" "Hardly. "Hey. "This is Claire. and managed to maintain first position for three laps. Did you take any?" "No. Literally. and I laughed. "You sneaky bastard! You better not have been upping your score on the racing game!" "I'm top of the leader board. Someone drank it all." he said. presuming this to be Paul. "Yeah.

" Paul snapped. selfish. Selfish.109 - . I felt a little annoyed at myself. "So. Paul was hovering in the doorway. I watched Quil. torn between his argument that the PlayStation was a waste of time. I felt really comfortable around them. My own attempt at racing had left me embarrassed." he said scornfully. and Embry. and I looked up at him. "And."The PlayStation." Embry said. all these years… it had been all about me. as I very rarely went on anything like the PlayStation. I mean. did that make me? Selfish. Well. "How skilled are you at racing car games?" The evening found me in a beanbag chair. expertly moving the directional buttons. Better late than never. who was effortlessly maintaining his lead in first place. I hoped he knew now. what kind of friend. stretching his arms in the air. He was appraising me. What kind of person. selfish. "Says the guy who stormed out in a huff claiming it was broken when he couldn't get past level one of -" "Oh. conveniently forgetting that they were all capable of turning into giant wolves. I grinned to myself. And I hadn't asked. once again. and between his basic male instinct to watch anything with cars involved. but where he lived? His friends? Those kind of questions he would have been able to answer. that's what. who was struggling to get into second. sitting back in his chair. as he relaxed in his chair. mostly. I'd never shown any interest in Quil's life outside of me. ." Quil announced. how much I cared about him. shut your face. just like how he knew me. cheering on Quil as he raced Embry. I preferred to sit back and watch Quil. This friendship. at least it was different now. I told myself. "Could you pick a more expensive waste of time?" Embry just laughed at him. if I had asked. entertained by them all bantering away playfully. I am the winner. I hoped he could see now that I wanted to know him inside out. I knew I was only going to get an evasive answer every time I asked a question relating to the wolf thing. I found that I was actually having fun. and grinning whenever Embry cursed as he fell into third position again. Embry flung his controller away in frustration. Claire.

and he messed up my hair in a way freakishly similar to the way Quil did it." Embry said. His expression was the epitome of pure innocence and sincerity. and we all turned to look at him. shivering in the cold. "Come back soon. right?" he asked. I was at a complete loss on how to react when I found myself pressed up against Embry's scorching bare skin. "I don't want your mother worrying. "Yeah. "Bye. "See you later. swallowing my protests. Computer-controlled car bastards." he said. grinning to himself." he said." he said." I said. Embry." I followed Quil back out to the jeep." "OK."Fourth place. how is anyone supposed to beat them…?" Quil looked over at me and winked. . "I should probably take you home. "Excellent." he muttered. I grinned." I said. He left the room. Paul rolled his eyes. Claire." "I've invited strippers. "I was second. blushing as he released me. Claire. "You're coming to my birthday. yep. He snorted. "You're part of the pack now!" "Er. I struggled out of the beanbag chair. "You'd better be joking." he said. "Or am I…?" we heard him mutter.110 - . don't worry. Quil was the first to react." I said. who was still in the doorway." he said. "Oh. sure. Claire. Embry jumped up too and suddenly swept me into a hug. I am. I wanted to stay a little longer. I approached Paul.

and I wasn't even going to try and compete with her. "Well. He looked incredibly hot. frowning. grinning. stretching over his muscles as usual. He had seen me on my very bad days. and my good days. wincing a little as he moved. "Come in. "The label is itchy. and I should put some kind of effort in." I shook my head at him. but then I doubted he would even realise it was for him. there was a soft knock on my door. I was proven correct as he stuck his head around the door.Bodyguard Chapter Sixteen: Bodyguard I stood in front of the mirror and scrutinised my outfit. He never paid any attention to my appearance. I was." He walked into the bedroom. . really. and I did a twirl for him. "I haven't worn it since I bought it. There was no one I wanted to impress." I said. and every day in between. I decided to curl my hair. arrived to pick me up." he said." I said. That would be Quil. I laughed. Just as I had finished using the curling tongs that had only been used maybe twice before. He looked me up and down then. like always. sighing. at least we match. "Let me see it. and complementing his tanned skin tone. jumping up and grabbing my wrapped present for Rachel from my desk. I had briefly considered dressing up for Quil. "What's wrong with it?" I asked him. smiling. gesturing at my black top. I supposed it was my birthday celebration after all. I didn't really feel like dressing myself up for the party. "I'm seriously regretting my choice of shirt. "Could you only afford half the top?" he asked.111 - . anyway. His shirt was plain black. however. No doubt Rachel would be dressed up to the nines. so I was just going to wear what I wanted." he announced. so I had just chosen my favourite blue jeans and a backless black top. being a girl and for a change.

112 - ." I said. He wrapped his arms around my waist. "I'd say mostly dance. Quil sniggered to himself as he parked the car." I said. My behaviour had been wonderful lately. "Happy birthday."Shut up. . blushing." Mom called back. Quil put Linkin Park on the minute we got into the car. "You look amazing. grinning." I told her. you two. greeting everyone. be quiet. She wouldn't let me help. either. restraining me from going anywhere." "I wouldn't mind. I'm counting on you to keep her out of trouble!" Quil chuckled and I rolled my eyes." "Thanks. She had such faith in me. anyway. but you do. "God only knows the type of music I'll have to put up with once I get there. who as usual had gone over the top." he said in my ear. and gave her my present. "Oh. I rolled my eyes at Rachel. wearing a stunning lilac dress. pretending to shudder. as I tried to walk past him. "Ah." Quil nodded. Rachel was at the door." Quil said. "Rachel organised everything. Not. "We're going to be late if we don't get a move on. I suddenly found myself hoping the music wasn't going to be too disco-y." We headed downstairs. Just be grateful that I'm not supposed to be wearing it the other way around. "Claire!" she squealed delightedly. I didn't want to help. We arrived at Rachel's house." I mumbled. but she still didn't trust me not to cause trouble. "Quil. who I could hear watching TV in the living room. so it worked out well for both of us." I said. "Bye. "It's fashionable. and hugged me. I called a goodbye to my mother. Then we both entered the party. which had been adorned with what looked like Christmas lights." he teased.

"What do you think of the house?" "It's gorgeous." Quil said. She flushed a little. I looked up at him and he was grinning widely. I tried to hide a smile. God. but with Quil there. "It could be a whole lot worse.113 - . "Yeah. judging by the way she was all flustered now." I grinned at him. "The big bad werewolf is afraid of clowns?" He made a face at me. and forgot about everyone else. "You're silly. She then turned her attention to Quil. They frighten the crap out of me. . He stayed glued to my side for the rest of the evening. our conversations over school and our plans for after graduation just sounded so immature and boring. "Having fun?" she trilled." "Clowns?" I asked him. Quil and I were pointed into Rachel's living room." he grinned." I groaned. which was bigger than mine at home. It was already packed with various people I knew from school. thanks. "Hey. "Have you ever seen a clown? White face." I laughed at him. Rachel bounced over to us. I wondered if she had ever managed to get over that little crush of hers." I told him. Probably not. unnaturally large feet… terrifying. giant nose. A large banner decorated the wall with the words 'Happy Birthday Claire and Rachel' emblazoned on it in glitter. There could be clowns. and she beamed. He sounded ridiculous. "Oh. it's not that bad. He rolled his eyes at me. and then wrapped his arm around my waist. I chatted with a couple of various people. "Ah. It was better when Quil and I wrapped ourselves up in our bubble again."Ooh. "Hi. at one point." she said." she said. Zach attached to her side." I said.

I laughed along with him this time."Yes." We both started sniggering stupidly at this." "Maybe." She raised her eyebrows at me. and I made a face for her benefit. He's that stupid. because he will try to ask me out with you standing right here next to me with your serial killer expression on your face. "And what are you going to do about it? Beat him up?" Quil snorted. "What are you doing?" I breathed." we both chorused. But I've got the girl and he's all by himself. "Vanessa Ryan showed up. Immediately." he said." I sniggered at him. "What's wrong with you now?" I asked him." Quil laughed at me under his breath and started nuzzling my neck. "Showing off. "Great!" She glanced around her.114 - . and then leaned in and whispered in my ear. "What?" "It's Aaron. I was finding it very difficult to inhale." It was my turn to snort. I fumed." I said. Quil stopped nuzzling my neck and looked at me. "Oh yeah. I hissed as I recognised him. Aaron. still chuckling under his breath. his expression twisted with disdain. I honestly didn't think it was all as scandalous as Rachel obviously did. uninvited. He was staring over at me and Quil. and pulled me closer to his side. curious as to what guy was staring at me. "You're ridiculous. "That guy over there is staring at you. I looked over. "I'll throw him through the wall if he tries anything. "What the hell is his problem? Why is he staring at me like that?" . and I heard Quil growl under his breath. Rachel and Zach moved on to chat with someone who had arrived late.

" he said. did Aaron have a death wish? And what was he doing coming over here and annoying me for? "What?" I snapped aggressively." Had his voice always been that irritating? "Right. His chocolate brown eyes had hardened. and to an extent. exasperatedly. The arm around me had tightened. "Jeez. I was a little dazed by how gorgeous he was. "Calm down.115 - . whose expression was set in stone. I studied his expression. He gazed into my eyes for a moment. "Do you want something?" I asked. raising his eyebrows. What the hell? How was that any of his business? What right did he have going around . Claire. and he never forgot anything. "What's wrong with you now?" I demanded. Do you need anything else?" His eyes flickered onto Quil. he probably was." "A bit?" "Sorry." he said. and then exhaled slowly. I hadn't forgotten what he'd said about the Quileute guys. at all. and his jaw was clenched. I didn't have to turn my head to realise who it was. "I thought you said you two were just friends." he said. "Sorry." a voice sneered. and grinned at me. even when he was being an overprotective idiot. "Hey. I nearly exploded. like. that's friendly. "I just thought I'd come over and say hi. I glared at him. Aaron was standing in front of us. but I did anyway. annoyance colouring my tone. I watched his reaction with one eyebrow raised." I said. I wondered if he was still holding a grudge against Aaron for the whole… incident. his voice almost a growl. Claire. "Nothing. He never let anything go. I swear." he said.I noticed then that Quil had stiffened at the sound of Aaron's name. Quil. Quil stiffened again. I really didn't need this. Knowing Quil. "Maybe I overreacted a bit." I said. "Hi." he said again.

Good to know you think so much of yourself. "Are you looking for a fight?" Quil growled threateningly. His eyes flickered to Quil once again." I said. If he was trying to hurt my feelings. "He's not worth it. but I doubted he would get back up again. shocked and angry. "That's really pathetic. What a sad little loser. emphasis on the past tense. I grabbed on his arm. his tone suggesting that he thought the exact opposite. Because that would have sucked. I would not get him into any trouble over me. Why the hell was he doing this? I could hear a growl building deep in Quil's chest. Could he transform here. and then rolled my eyes. Aaron. blocking me from his view. "Because you'll get one. Not that it was any of his business. "You're just a waste of time. or do something he would later regret. "Same here. I would dearly have loved to watch Quil wipe the smug look from his face. as I realised he had finally pushed Quil too far. and then back to me. I gasped a little in pain. really had to. He towered over him. grabbing his arm again. Just leave it. when Quil still remained locked in a glare with Aaron. is all I can say." I said.116 - . now? I brushed the thought and the panic from my mind. who was still continuing to smirk. "We were. "Who better to have a rebound from me then your best friend?" I glared at him. Anger returned as I made a face at Aaron. I think that's cute." I beamed sarcastically at him. He pushed me back roughly. and I couldn't understand why Aaron didn't look the least bit intimidated." I said. But my heart stopped. and started towing me along until we . at all. I'd worry about that when I really." I glanced at Aaron. At least I didn't waste too much of my life on you. he'd have to do so much better than that. "Let's just go." I said in his ear." I said in clipped tones. I wanted to kill him. "Well. don't. I eyed the bands of muscle on Quil's arms." Aaron just smirked at him. "Quil. anyway." Aaron sneered. I didn't know what triggered his transformation into a werewolf. Quil stepped away from me and took a step towards Aaron. He growled angrily and grabbed my hand. not seeming to notice how roughly." he said. "Calm down. but it was forgotten about when Quil advanced on Aaron. I panicked for half a second.questioning me and Quil? Ooh.

it was. too quickly. before I could walk very far. "Don't be mad." I said. "Claire?" he said worriedly. "Nothing. and sighed. Quil. with an attempt at nonchalance. his voice gentler now. His eyes narrowed." "Tough. I struggled free the minute we were outside. Quil rounded on me. but I really don't need a bodyguard. and I stopped struggling. He caught hold of my arm. releasing me immediately." I huffed and rolled my eyes at him. his voice rough and angry.were out of the house. and pulled me closer. My heart was still pounding from fright." he said. I appreciate it." he pleaded. "Yes. firstly. and then tugged on the edge of my top." I said. "I hate fighting with you." I huffed again. I loath the guy for hurting you." "Too late. "May I?" he asked. It felt bruised. He studied me for a moment. "Was that really necessary?" I hissed at him.117 - . "Are you hurt?" he asked. I winced. his eyes on my hand. however. "Not badly. really anxious now. He could walk home. I allowed him to pull me into a hug. But Quil hadn't pushed me that hard. and I gasped as a sudden pain shot through my ribs. He crushed me against his chest. I can take care of myself. . had he? "What's wrong?" he demanded. struggling to get away. "Claire." "Well. "You've got one. the anger abated somewhat. He tightened his hold on me. and then he comes over and insults you! I'm here to protect you from assholes like that. as my fingers gently probed the skin above my stomach." Quil said. the pushy muscly idiot. and away from the few staring eyes which had been waiting for the fight to begin. and made to stalk past him in the direction of the car.

really. it's OK."No. His arms wrapped themselves around me so gently I almost burst into tears. let me see what's wrong with you. I lifted my top to reveal my stomach." I reassured him softly. his expression still pained. "I'm so. But he hadn't pushed me that hard. so sorry. Ever. His expression was breaking my heart. I was fine. I fumed. Quil would never intentionally hurt me physically. half pained. "I hurt you. as though he was trying to work out how I got them. His eyes. It looked way worse than it was." he said. and stared in disbelief at the shadowy bruises that had formed across my abdominal muscles. Quil. "It's OK. "How is it OK?" he asked. I wrapped my arms around his waist.I knew he hadn't meant it. He almost smiled. It was half horrified." I told him vehemently. His pain was like my pain. and then my abs… I stopped.118 - . directed at the bruises. realisation seeming to dawn on him. so I lowered my top. you may not!" I shrieked indignantly at him. "Did I do that?" he asked. He performed the puppy dog eyes that I couldn't resist. were unfocussed. There would be a time and place for Quil to be lifting up my top." "You didn't mean it. It was an accident. I looked up at Quil's expression. and hugged him as tightly as I could without irritating the bruises." he whispered again. Well. "It's OK. and the remorse was plain to hear in his voice. but it certainly wasn't now." he said. his voice low. I didn't want him moping over this for weeks and blaming himself. Embarrassed and furious. It was vital that he understood that. He raised his eyes to mine. "Claire. "I'm so sorry. I began to feel cold. There was probably nothing even to see! He'd better not have some ulterior motive for getting me to lift my top up. but his expression became serious again almost immediately. I didn't want to make him feel bad . I hated the agonised tone . he wasn't going to be getting it any higher than my abs. I shrugged." I whispered back.

"Do not dare beat yourself up about this. I cursed myself for showing him the bruises. I didn't know what else to say to do to convince him I was fine. His expression was still anguished. snapping out of it a little. "I love you too. And it looks much worse than it is." . and he kissed me back." I told him. still ever so gentle. I'm not blaming you. "It was an accident. "I love you." he said forcefully. I pulled away from him slightly and held his face in my hands. I really couldn't stand it. his eyes blazing." I told him fiercely. OK?" I kissed his voice. "More than anything.119 - .

because I could see that he was torturing himself. "You… you're putting yourself on the guilt trip over what happened. It was an accident. "Claire. looking away from the film. but he had it placed in such a way that I could barely feel the pressure of it. I didn't know what else I could do to make him see that was alright. even when he held my hand. I swallowed. You can't levitate your arm in the air with it paining you after a while. his anxious expression returning. It had been his usual expression these past few days. I hesitated.120 - ." I said. He handled me as though I was made of glass. looking increasingly more worried as I hesitated again. like always.Release The Hounds Chapter Seventeen: Release The Hounds Quil's melancholy mood lasted for three days before I snapped. Then he sighed. surprised. he was so gentle and careful with me. Even though I'd begged him not to beat himself up about this. . not sure how to begin. The bruises are gone. he had anyway." he began. It must have been aching him. We were watching a film in my house after school. The bruises had faded quickly. Every minute I was with him felt like torture for me. "No. His arm was around my shoulders. "Quil?" I demanded. His eyes searched mine. Quil. And eventually. his was barely touching my shoulders. His eyes had never fully erased the anguish. watching his eyes continue to search mine. and I can't take it anymore. I couldn't handle it anymore. He was blaming himself. "Yes?" he said." He was silent as my words sunk in. It was too extreme for me. not prepared to hear his defence. I didn't know what to say to him that would make him feel better. but otherwise fine. but I cut across him. sobriety appearing in them. like I knew he would. I'm completely fine. I felt utterly helpless. just leaving my skin a little tender. I missed his smile. You're making yourself miserable over nothing. "What is it?" he asked. You can snap out of it right now.

glaring at him. So please. "I feel bad because you feel bad. and it was hurting me. hoping to God my mother or Jack wouldn't choose that moment to walk in. The colour of the skin . incensed. and I hated it. "But I'm OK. I was feeling his anguish too. "Do you mind if I make sure?" I froze. Anything to snap you out of all this guilt! I get how you must be feeling. because if you ever got hurt…" I struggled. "Cheer up. putting one hand on his face. The bruises are gone. and then pulled up the shirt I was wearing." I said. though." I said. "They've haunted me. He paused. not liking the idea of him being haunted by the stupid bruises at all. Even though I don't think you needed to apologise in the first place. "Quil. "Don't you believe me?" I demanded." "You're not still in any pain?" he asked softly. frustrated with him now. And then I grinned."Claire. Was he serious? He had some cheek. I sighed. His eyes opened slowly. "Are you sure this isn't just another excuse to see what's underneath my top?" I joked. in spite of himself. his eyes agonised. "Yes…" he said." I continued. actually.121 - . "They are?" "Yes. But he was hurting now. "Yes." I said. I couldn't imagine any type of world where my Quil would get hurt. I'm supposed to protect you from getting hurt. He grinned briefly. and I was the one to hurt you. "I do mind. You're forgiven. "The bruises are gone?" I noticed the way his mouth twisted a little at the word 'bruises'. it would be the worst thing ever to happen to me. If you ever got badly hurt. Quil. "But it would make me feel better. But you did get hurt. but I couldn't finish my sentence. How do I get past that?" he asked me. emphasising the word." I studied him for a moment. do you want a slap in the face? Because you'll get one." I begged him. Quil. Those bruises on your skin…" He shook his head a little. "See?" I indicated the place where the bruises had been. His eyes closed at my touch.

but he interrupted before I could say anything. Claire?" he asked me. and I felt warm and safe in his embrace. and they were warm.122 - . and gently began tracing a pattern on my skin with the tips of his fingers. and then spluttered frantically. Claire." he laughed. my voice still unnaturally high. his grin teasing. "Definitely. I cleared my throat. It was embarrassing me. I suddenly realised that I hadn't fixed my shirt yet. resting his cheek on the top of my head. Quil chuckled in my ear. "Joking. "Although it might be due to the fact you keep flashing your flesh at me. and I pulled it down rapidly. . I met Quil's eyes. My heart jumped as Quil raised his hand." I opened my mouth. burning feeling behind them. and we could both see that. My breathing had become too shallow. the sound high pitched. "What would I do without you. "Do you want me to kiss it better?" My heart stopped." He pulled me closer to him." I said." he said. leaving a tingling. and I was relieved to note that his arms weren't unbearably gentle anymore. Quil smiled and leaned closer to speak in my ear. smiling hopefully. "That was a joke. frowning. tugging on it until it hung over my jeans. He ran them lightly over the area where the bruises had been. I laughed nervously. and I couldn't detect any trace of the anguish that had been plaguing him since the party." he murmured. "I knew that.was back to normal. hoping that would make a difference. "Crumble and die?" I suggested. outraged. They tightened around me. "Humph. "Are you cheered up?" I asked him.

I had been so worried about Quil." Quil grinned. I vowed never to put myself in any position like that again." I sighed and heaved myself grudgingly from the couch. Things between Quil and I returned to normal after that. Now that Quil had cheered up. "No chance. I stayed with Quil on the couch for the rest of the day. I was glad."Without a doubt. but I really wasn't in the mood for the blow-by-blow of the party I had missed either. She'd been in a snit because I'd walked out of the party halfway." I said. But it had taught me a lesson. but she shook her head. "Hello. will I?" "Do and die. I rolled my eyes and smiled apologetically at Quil. . and we ended up not talking. because it would inevitably hurt the other. I made a face." she said. without saying goodbye. His pain was my pain.123 - . "No problem. where I would watch him hurting for something that wasn't his fault. that I'd lashed out at her. I was never going to allow either of us to be hurt." she said. my ultimate favourite. or Quil's. "I'll just put my movie on so. I looked up at my mom pleadingly. "Talk to the girl. it was just Quil and I in our bubble again. I wanted to make up with her. I walked around my mother into the hall and grabbed the phone. "Claire. I'd had an argument with her at school. and we had a movie marathon with all our favourite horrors. "I'll be back in a few hours. It had been almost unbearable. as did Jack. so had I. Rache. Rachel is on the phone for you again." I warned him. Once they were gone. I'm not giving her another excuse. interrupting an argument over which movie we were going to watch first. Rachel had been calling all day. Mom popped in and out at varied intervals. He sniggered. sighing. Mom wandered in again at one point. probably to smooth things over. wincing a little at the thought of the impending phone call. Rachel never liked to be on bad terms with anyone. But she had been calling all day. and I kept asking my mom to give her an excuse." I said warily." he agreed. And it would stay that way. his teasing grin eliciting one of my own.

and then picked it up. Rachel was another person I didn't really deserve. it would only frustrate me. I hesitated. and I listened half-heartedly. I managed to get rid of her sooner than I would have thought. I don't want to fight with you. at the end of my story. or something like that…" I snorted. "He never had me. He lost me the minute he decided he liked Vanessa better at Zach's party. He shouldn't be." I said. but proceeded to tell her the story about Aaron. I hadn't wanted to think about it really. I was in no mood to converse with him either. Can we not talk about him anymore?" "OK. I mean." I said."Hi Claire. darkly. The moment I placed the receiver back in the cradle it rang again. Can we please be friends again?" "Sure." I said. Ugh." "Maybe. it strangely felt too personal to share. anyway? Why did you leave early?" I made a face. Dad. "How are things?" he asked chummily. "Yeah. Claire. "Why do you think he was acting like that? Do you reckon he was jealous?" "Hardly." Rachel sighed. like usual. Hi. "So… what happened. I hadn't given much thought to Aaron since the party. he might see it as though he had you first. "No way. I was not in the mood to placate her. I think he had just decided to be an asshole for the night. He's just such a jerk. but she always forgave me for them." a familiar voice crackled down the line. tersely. . and I could tell by her tone she would have loved to discuss it some more.124 - ." Rachel said. Or he could actually be jealous. at all. all too often she had been subjected to my bitchy outbursts in the past. Look. Thankfully. "He has a girlfriend. I left out the whole situation with the bruises though. "Hi." I scoffed. agog. She started telling me a piece of gossip she had overheard. "Hello?" "Oh.

I couldn't process it. and I was glad Quil was the one to tell me he was a werewolf. "He's not a werewolf.surely the fact he could turn into a wolf was slightly more important than the fact that he loved me? Although. But it should be his business. I couldn't think it." he said. resigned." I said. It was . I don't believe him."Great. There were tears of rage in my eyes. Shouldn't you have started off by saying 'that boy is a werewolf'? Isn't that more pressing an issue?" I asked. How could he say something like that? I hung up on him savagely. Trust my dad to try and wreck the best thing ever to happen to me in my life. frowning a little. my mind raging. at the way some things had turned out in my life. startled. can I ask you a question?" I demanded. and when he spoke again. "I see…" "Dad. I hoped he couldn't hear the resentment that was beginning to colour my tone. remembering how he had never bothered to ring me on my birthday." I said. I shied away from the idea that Quil didn't love me. and neither should you! It's some kind of cult or something… I just didn't want you getting sucked into it with some fancy idea that he was in love with you when really. I felt a little sad suddenly. ice locking around my heart. he isn't. "When you decided to take matters into your own hands and start telling me the truth before my birthday. almost as though I felt it wasn't his business. his tone was harsh. I had been thinking about that . He was my dad. "Sure. I then unplugged it so that he couldn't ring back. "He told you everything then?" he asked eventually." I froze." I said. slamming the phone down.125 - . you started off by saying 'that boy is in love with you'. "I don't have any objections. My dad was silent for a moment. I found myself reluctant to discuss this with him. "Yeah. "And what do you think?" he pressed. I was glad I had found out the way I did. suddenly remembering something that had been on my mind for a while now. "So…" I could practically hear him wondering how to bring up the whole Quil thing.

I refused to cry. I couldn't doubt it. and I could tell he didn't just mean my limp. I wouldn't ever be able to trust the idea again. He was lucky he was thousands of miles away. I kicked the wall viciously. the ice around my heart thawing. scrutinising his wide-eyed expression. Quil loved me." I sighed. Release the hounds. I told myself. with the intention of giving me heart failure when I noticed you limping?" "Don't be dramatic. resting my sore foot. Or set Quil on him. I felt myself calming down.126 - . He did love me. "Don't give yourself a hernia. "Did you have a reason or did you just do it on a mere whim." Quil raised an eyebrow. I grinned suddenly. But I knew he'd get the truth out of me. and pressed play using the remote controller. even though that's what I felt like doing. "I put your movie on. "Calm down. I knew that. Quil eyed me for a moment before sitting down again. "What's wrong?" he demanded. "See?" he said. springing to his feet. He knew me too well. Maybe kicking the wall hadn't been such a good idea after all. "Did you hurt yourself?" he demanded. "I was angry. How?" "I kicked the wall." . "I see that. Quil then noticed my limp." I smiled at him. no way. Quil. If I did." I collapsed on the couch. I wanted to punch him. gesturing at the TV. not really wanting to get in any deeper than that. because I love you so much. I wouldn't let my father make me doubt it. I felt so incredibly angry at my father. and taking my hands in his.impossible. I then took a deep breath and limped back into the living room. "I hurt my foot." I said. An image of the pack (even though I hadn't much of a clue what they looked like) chasing my father down the street amused me for a moment." I said. But I wasn't going to cry. Quil beamed at me when I walked in. whether I liked it or not.

It's like he doesn't want me to be happy. and told him what my dad had said. I just snuggled closer to Quil." he said." he shrugged. or whether he just knew." "Don't say that. you know."Why?" I sighed. I didn't want to upset Quil. I sighed. that's fine. "I'm apologising for him. ." I said. if you don't want to tell me. after a pause. He's a useless excuse for a father." he said. his eyes narrowing. even when I swore I wouldn't." Quil chided me gently. and just go home and drive myself crazy thinking about whatever unknown thing that has upset you. either. "Like what?" "Do you really want to know?" "Well." he said. But he did love me. "Why are you sorry?" I demanded. "My dad phoned. And I don't like to see you upset. "I do love you. I wanted to protest more and give out shit about him to Quil. pulling me closer. So I resolved to forget about my Dad's phone call.127 - . I wondered if I had been that transparent. "Don't apologise for him. "Was that your way of demanding to hear what he said?" He smiled too. "I'll understand. And I knew that." I smiled. but I decided not to bother wasting both our time. I was furious with my father for trying to make me doubt it. "I'm sorry he upset you and made you kick the wall. So I remained silent. "I know. when I had finished the story. and I was furious with myself for beginning to doubt it. and he just said some stuff that pissed me off." I scoffed." "I see. feeling the heat that radiated from him sooth all my tense muscles. He sighed too.

you can go. but I couldn't help it. "I won't be there that evening. and I restrained myself from jumping on the spot." I added. "I'm going to a birthday party. "It's my chance to meet them all properly." Mom said. I wouldn't be surprised if she pulled out at the last minute. I knew I was being immature. it's a party for one of the pack!" I protested desperately. And maybe it would show her that I did have a life. I'd be able to escape Denise for most of the night. "Yes. I suddenly remembered that Quil had told me that Paul's birthday party was also next Friday. I'll never forgive you." "Mom. "Think of Quil. I could see she was getting sick of my attitude whenever Denise was mentioned. It would be typical. but I didn't want to push her too far." "You'll be going to no such thing.128 - . Just because Mom could brush the past under the rug didn't mean I could. Yes." Mom said. "It's important to him. "Think of Denise. and she wasn't important enough for me to cancel my plans. with some lame excuse. "Oh really?" I asked sceptically. I waited with my breath held as she made her decision." I wanted to throw in the fact that I was a legal adult and I could do what I wanted." my mother informed me. . I nearly said 'why bother' but I figured that that wouldn't help my case. I still couldn't get my head around the fact that she was actually coming. You haven't seen your sister in years.Feather Duster Chapter Eighteen: Feather Duster "Denise is arriving next Friday. I had a right to resent her. for not bothering to make any effort to visit us until now. rolling her eyes at my tone." she retorted. and I breathed a sigh of relief." My mother loved Quil. Excellent. really. but I couldn't help myself. raising my eyebrows. frowning at me. so maybe that would sway her. Mom deliberated. "Fine." I told Mom promptly. If you don't let me go.

cleaning places that I hadn't previously realised had existed. and time responded by speeding up so I could find out. Emily. and we were only separated by my school and the night. And I liked my routine. "Enough. Denise's arrival. as now I would know too many people: Paul. The moment I came home from school I was forced to help. "Mom. but it wasn't something I felt particularly focussed on. and leave school behind me. I found myself extremely eager to graduate already. The week passed by in a blur of colours and sounds and shapes. I had fallen into a comfortable routine." She left the room. trying to overcome my urge to kick the wall again. her tone final." I complained." I protested. I hated her.129 - . All that was getting me through was the thought of Paul's birthday." Yeah. There was no way I was going through a whole day without Quil. more like… Mom glared at me. It wouldn't be too bad. was going to disrupt my routine. All I had to do was concentrate on not insulting everyone. "Your sister is more important than your boyfriend. she's not going to scour every inch of the house searching for bacteria and dirt. No way. and Quil. I didn't know if I was dreading or anticipating Denise's arrival. Just be with Quil. Ugh. I stood still. I knew. . Embry. I hated Denise. huffing as I tried to clear the spiders out from under the fridge. I couldn't find it in me to be nervous this time. of course. shaking with fury. Friday creeping up on me with alarming speed. "No Quil. "He's not just my boyfriend. which I was really looking forward to. right. The day before she was due to arrive." she snapped. "Mom!" I complained. I'd have to find a way to convince her otherwise. Seth… and Quil. Sam. She might as well have told me I was to be beheaded. I hadn't even started thinking about colleges or anything like that. and no Quil." "What?" I shrieked. I spent whatever time I could with him. my mother went on a cleaning spree. I had no idea what I wanted to do."But the next day you're spending all of it with your sister. Soul mate. dominated mainly by school.

nearly hysterical. saying that out loud. nothing. It's just… you look so manly and sexy with that luminous pink feather duster. "Shut your face or I'll make you." he growled playfully. who was attempting to clear out his cluttered wardrobe full of toy cars and comic books and plastic dinosaurs. "Says the badass werewolf with the pink feather duster. "Yes. and Mom forced a feather duster on him. "You can clear the cobwebs from the ceilings. which she was scrubbing vigorously with a cloth. you're nice and tall. But I was just set off again when Quil stretched his arm and twiddled the feather duster inexpertly along the ceiling." Mom said. I controlled myself.130 - ." Mom said delightedly." I commented. that's all. when I was distracted by the way Quil's shirt rose just the tiniest bit when he stretched." Quil eyed the feather duster in his hands as though he had never seen one before in his life. "Can't you just vacuum it and leave at that?" I demanded. He tickled me with it. Quil. and attempted to get back to cleaning under the fridge. He rounded on me the minute my mother left the kitchen to check on Jack." Quil rolled his eyes at me. I received a dirty look for my innocent suggestion. "Oh. "You're damaging my reputation." I laughed again. for God's sake. I tried to calm myself down by taking a few deep breaths. Although I was cheered up immensely when Quil arrived. toned stomach… and the way the muscles in his arms flexed against his already straining shirt as he moved them… "Claire! Are you doing any work at all?" My mother's voice cracked like a whip in the silent kitchen. giving me a glimpse of his flat. "Hey. before blushing and coughing. "What's so funny?" he demanded. giggling again."I just want the house to look nice. yes. clearly trying not to grin. He scowled in my direction. I jumped horribly in fright." . I exploded into giggles. her voice floating out from inside one of the kitchen cupboards.

There was a fight every week when my annoying mother tried to convince me to clean my room. "And plus. "Do you know what planet she's living on? As if Denise is going to start peering behind the radiators. And if you wouldn't mind Quil. Quil started spreading kisses along my cheek. Quil grinned delightedly. I thought cleaning was a complete waste of time. She's too busy staring at me.131 - . and I giggled. scowling. threw the feather duster over his shoulder and grabbed my hand. or should I . "Wonderful. and I started complaining to Quil in a low voice. He chuckled." I said breathlessly. in an annoying helpful voice." I grumbled under my breath. embarrassed at getting caught. then we're free to do what we want." Quil sniggered again. Mom sighed exasperatedly at both of us." I blushed again. searching for dust! We're not even going to get paid for this slave labour!" "Ah. for a werewolf party? Should I do a Rachel and glam myself up completely. It felt extremely melodramatic and clichéd to say it. "Yeah. Personally. "Of course she isn't. "Sure. well. and towed me into the living room. "I should get you to clean my house more often. Quil and I slaved away for an hour before my mother said we could take a break. but I had absolutely nothing at all to wear. Everything was just going to get dirty again. I just didn't see the point. when you're finished.Quil sniggered. if it keeps her happy…" Quil said mildly." I muttered." Quil grinned. if this is how you're going to react. What would be appropriate. if we get it all done faster." "No problem. my voice dripping with sarcasm. I was busy noticing how your shirt clashes horribly with those pants. He shut the door and pressed me against can go around polishing. and kissed me roughly. I scowled at my wardrobe. Mom stomped out of the kitchen. anyway. My hands locked around his neck. Trust Quil to see the good in everyone and everything. "Well." I said. Claire . you can dust behind all the radiators. my heart beating erratically. and I kissed him back eagerly.

I couldn't see how I was going to get by tomorrow without seeing him. Thankfully. as long as I could see Quil. I didn't know why I felt so nervous and stressed. I was going to do my best to control my temper. My mother still hadn't changed her mind about the 'no Quil' rule tomorrow. I jumped as I heard the front door slam. I turned away from the wardrobe. "Denise is here!" . and that hadn't worked. no matter how much I had begged and pleaded. I felt as though I had been to a million parties lately. I rolled my eyes three times in a row. Denise was here. We'd have to see how that would turn out. and I had never really been much of a party girl. he wasn't annoying me. "It's very cold and wet. and I was holding on to my patience with the tips of my fingers. This was going to be the longest week of my life. I raised my eyebrows as her strong Australian accent came floating up the stairs. and maybe then I could find something suitable to wear. I had even asked Quil to try and persuade her otherwise. maybe it was a mixture of Denise's arrival and the party. I froze.132 - . The perfect outfit wasn't falling out of it into my hands.just wear jeans and a dressy top and leave it at that? I had no idea. And it was stupid to be nervous about either of them. isn't it?" Oh. My stomach was full of butterflies. My mother was being an unnecessary sadist. leaving me at home to mind Jack. God. My mother had gone to the airport to collect Denise. but not to give her reason to think everything was la-de-dah again and that I had conveniently forgotten about her lack of interest in the past. And I wasn't sure why I was stressed. She's barely in the door and already she's complaining about something. I'd wait and see how casually Quil was dressed when he arrived. I sighed loudly. Anything would be worth it. I brushed that thought away. I almost groaned. Here we go. listening hard. I was in half a mind to sneak out and see him anyway. My plan on dealing with Denise was to be as civil as I possibly could. even though the consequences mightn't be worth it. My wardrobe was seriously limited when it came to clothes for party occasions. "Claire! Jack!" I jumped again as Mom's voice shattered the quiet.

or organised my own trip to visit her.133 - .tall. Jack ran past my door."I'm falling over my feet with the excitement. making no effort to move. It was in my nature to be honest. couldn't she say the same thing about me? I didn't like this thought. but I couldn't ignore the truth in it. Now. average weight. not me. Her clothes were bright blue and totally unsuitable for the weather here. impossibly thin. She had changed. or tomorrow. There was a silence downstairs for a moment. It was just more difficult for me to walk down the stairs with a smile on my face than I thought it would be. "Jack. and I frowned as the little traitor started bounding down the stairs.she had looked a lot like me. she looked like a typical blonde Australian beach Barbie." Mom added. I remembered my promise to Emily that I would make an effort with her. "Claire!" Mom snapped up the stairs. Denise. Denise looked up as I descended. I rolled my eyes and grudgingly made my way downstairs. I grinned. average height… ordinary. We were both guilty. all her best features accentuated. It can't have been that hard for her to pick up the phone or come and visit before now. "Do you have a present for me?" Jack asked suddenly. he probably hadn't been paying much attention. "Get down here right now or you will not be seeing Quil tonight." I grumbled. I could have picked up the phone instead and called her. Brunette. this is your older sister. I heard Denise immediately start fussing over him. I remembered her when she was twelve. He was more eager than he should be. Jack had been told about her. where I could hear what was going on downstairs better. I crept over to my door. I could feel my mom's glare through the walls. "Jack!" I heard Mom and Denise chorus warmly. and I sighed. or any day after that!" "I'm not seeing him tomorrow anyway. thirteen . . which was why I came across as bitchy and sarcastic a lot of the time. but quietly. But then again. her eyes scrutinising me the way I was her." I called sarcastically. and I knew I was acting immature. I just didn't want to act. She looked almost… fake. but knowing him. Denise was in the wrong here. but I hadn't bothered.

She smelt like pineapples. and I was instantly cheered up. I was going to have a breakdown tomorrow.Yet. his clothes a little damp from the drizzling rain outside. which wasn't helping. "Well. Out of the corner of my eye I could see my mother practically daring me to be rude. "Is that what you're wearing to the party?" I glanced down too. "I don't mind the rain. I restrained from rolling my eyes with difficulty. There was a pause. I'd only spent less than five minutes with Denise and already I wanted to jump off a cliff. releasing me. stepping around Jack. waving at her almost sarcastically. She better not start laughing at every word that came out of Denise's mouth. Claire. "I'm sorry I never bothered to get in contact for so long." he shrugged. I was surprised. when I finally reached the foot of the stairs. That would be unbearable." "Right. I was all too aware of my mother's eyes on my face. "Hi. . Before I could protest in outrage. who was playing with whatever Denise had given him. I was expecting her to pretend. thankful for a distraction." she told me. forgetting immediately about everyone around me. I suddenly had an unexplainable urge to run back upstairs and change into something more dressy than my jeans and shirt. she had swept me into a hug. they were the clothes I'd thrown on when I got home from school. I patted her back awkwardly. beyond awkward. "I feel so horrible for it. "Have you never heard of an umbrella?" I demanded. and felt a little uncomfortable at her show of affection. I chided myself for thinking insane thoughts. I avoided her gaze." Denise said. or be like her. We all jumped as the doorbell rang. He looked me up and down. "I think I'm drunk from the jetlag!" My mother laughed warmly. "That's Quil.134 - ." she said. with a tinkling laugh." I said." I trilled delightedly. I struggled with myself. "Hey. I didn't want to impress her. Denise." I said. I pulled the door open and he beamed at me. I discovered that I was inept at dealing with Denise's bluntness. Almost.

anyway? "I'm going to get changed. Where was her husband. smiling politely. "Well. so I grabbed a baby blue halter-neck dress that had maybe only been worn once before. rolling his eyes." I said. this is Denise. There was another tinkling laugh from Denise and a chuckle from my mother. who had been watching the exchange with expressions of amusement. suddenly feeling compelled to introduce them. "I'll be two minutes. She could look all she wanted. He didn't pick up on the teasing tone in my voice. I didn't miss the way her eyes slid over all six foot two of him. Quil looked quite dressy. He'd had to listen to me give out about her a lot. I raced to the wardrobe. this is Quil. "Oh. I cleared my throat. I didn't bother with accessories. his torso and arms built mainly of muscle." he grinned at me. "Denise. "Gosh! I remember wondering why you were always hanging around the house. leaning forward to shake Denise's hand. I pushed past Denise and Mom and raced up the stairs. He'd probably remember her from when she was younger too. I wasn't that much of a girlie girl. He grinned at me. "That's right!" Denise exclaimed."Yes. like usual. and with Claire especially! She was like. rather exuberantly. ran a brush through my hair and grabbed a jacket." Quil said." "I'm just kidding." "Hi there. I froze on the landing to listen to whatever they were all talking about. clearly trying to cover up the incredulity in his question." he said loudly. I stood back to let him in. found the matching shoes." "Yep. I threw it on. "Hello." I joked. "Quil. and the forever-straining shirt he wore to emphasise this. suddenly feeling extremely paranoid about leaving Quil down there with the two of them. so I wondered what he thought of her. "I remember you when you were thirteen and used to go around singing Britney Spears at the top of your lungs. and suddenly remembered Denise and Mom." Quil was saying. I began to glare at her. you look amazing." Denise said. you fool. but she was so not allowed to touch him. I'm sure I bought it during the stage where I copied everything Rachel did and wore." I said.135 - . seven!" ." I said to Quil. laughing at him. in a breathy voice which instantly annoyed me.

hi. was dying to get out of the house and away from Denise. "Yes." I accused." I muttered. "I was not. rolling my eyes. "That dress is adorable. the three of them at the foot of the stairs all turned to look at me. He gasped. There was roughly thirty seconds of silence before he spoke. "Yes. indignant. meanwhile. and I blushed again. glancing over at me. sounding completely bewildered. I'm Quil . "Why?" he asked. Hopefully I'll see you again soon?" "No doubt you will." he said. I. eyeing me warily. "Oh. "He practically lives here. I hated being the centre of attention." I said. and annoyed. "Because you were flirting with Denise." I said loudly. I still felt extremely stressed.look at my muscles while I flex them for you . and then proceeded to walk down the stairs noisily. "Shall we go now?" I said to Quil." he exclaimed. frowning. I blushed and avoided their eyes. grinning at her. "Are you mad at me or something?" he asked. It was nice to see you again. I then put on a deep voice and proceeded to do a very bad impression of Quil." I protested.136 - . She kept touching Quil's arm every time she laughed. I climbed into Quil's car and folded my arms. "Yep. "And it was really nice to see you again. I remember you when you were thirteen and started to grow breasts . I concentrated on not tumbling down the stairs.I frowned. It was seriously pissing me off. Aargh. wrapping his arm around my waist and pulling me closer. the door closed. "Thanks. Denise. and everyone laughed. There was a flurry of goodbyes and a 'have fun' before finally." Denise cooed. "OK." Quil said. I managed to get to the bottom without tripping in the heels I never usually wore. To my embarrassment. and started the engine. and started to drag Quil towards the door. we don't want to be late. you know. and finally looked up at Quil. He was smiling at me appreciatively. "I'm ready!" I called." Mom interjected. Quil got in his side.

." he managed to gasp. "Do you believe me?" he asked. Every time it looked like he was calming down." I said grudgingly. where he parked alongside Embry's jeep. "Am I. "You're forgiven now. "I hope you're not feeling jealous or insecure. I wrapped my arms around his neck. "Did I happen to mention how incredible you look?" I blushed and smiled reluctantly. I almost forgot I was about to walk into a party full of werewolves. really Quil continued to laugh under his breath at my moody expression. I jumped out. it will always be you. look at them now. He could barely keep his eyes on the road. "That it will always be you?" "I suppose so. trying to control his laughter. "Claire. she wouldn't stun me the same way you do. annoyed that he wasn't taking me seriously. only a little pacified." he said. I scowled as I remembered Denise's rapt expression when Quil had spoken to her.137 - . He laughed again. it seemed he would just think about the situation again and his laughter would just start all over again." "Humph. Quil? Am I?" I demanded. "You're being ridiculous again. Even if some supermodel sauntered past me. "As if I would.. because then that would be really. they're huge! Oh. I made a noise of disgust every time he did this. I felt my resistance crumbling as his arms wrapped around my waist and started creeping up my back. sending shivers through me. but he grabbed my arm and stopped me. We arrived at Quil's house. annoying Denise." he said warmly. I prepared to stalk past Quil in the direction of the house. "You're… so… silly. he was laughing so hard." I warned him. I barely noticed the other cars in the driveway." I told him. "And I did not flirt with her." He grinned." I said." he said. Stupid. his eyes twinkling. "You better not be insulting my intelligence. I can't wait to see you again!" Quil fell around laughing.

"If you're finished copulating out there. A sudden shout reverberated loudly in the air. would you ever get inside? Everyone is dying to meet Claire!" . and kissed me.138 - . I felt myself melt against him. and we jumped apart in fright." he said."Excellent. I recognised the voice as Embry's.

having fun." I shrugged.Boomerang Chapter Nineteen: Boomerang My skin darkened with embarrassment. "Hi. The light atmosphere was infectious. once again. Quil sighed and took my hand.139 - . Claire. waiting for us. Quil growled under his breath. grinning like a maniac. who looked stunning in a light purple dress. rock music playing softly (if rock music could ever play softly) in the background. So do you!" I smiled at her. and she introduced me then to everyone . Quil squeezed my hand and pulled me into the living room. He grinned at Quil. will ye? You're the last to arrive!" he yelled. Quil pushed him backwards into the house." he said. "How are you?" "Fine. who was frowning at him. "Emily!" I said delightedly. "Hey. towards a small group of people. Embry was hanging out of the front door. thanks. I blushed again." I said. ignoring Embry's protests. and I felt my stress levels go down. and we both wove our way through all the cars parked outside of the house. glaring in Embry's direction. recognising my aunt straightaway. There weren't any gaudy decorations anywhere. She grinned at me and pulled me into a hug when I approached her. Everyone was just hanging out. smiling warily at him. winking at me. I could hear conversations humming in both the living room and the kitchen. Embry leading the way. so it evidently wasn't a big production. Embry was still at the front door. Embry. "How come you're both so late anyway? Did you pull over for five minutes?" he asked. Claire. "Hey! I'm only asking! I'm not judging! Quit pushing me!" I followed behind them." she said." "Aw. "Hey. "You look great. furious with myself for it. "Hurry up.

" Emily said. smiling. and fell into a coma. I eyed Kim. Claire." I said. "OK. Denise. and I couldn't ever imagine us being apart. and that's Jacob. "Anyway. of course. but I really couldn't imagine being with anyone else. there was this woman who was three months pregnant." I smiled at them all as they were pointed out to me." Jacob interrupted. grinning. I'd think about this later. I struggled to pull myself back to earth. "Well. yes. Maybe it was bad luck to expect Quil to be both my husband and father of my baby." Emily said. I was suddenly jolted into my own little world. Jacob and Jared had the same build as all the others. I wished Paul a happy birthday and gave Sam a high-five. "My niece. had a slight swelling around her belly. who. way into the distant future). "My niece. trying not to roll my eyes. She was pregnant. that reminds me of an excellent joke. and Jared. you know Sam and Paul. would my child become a werewolf too? The whole world seemed to shift for me on its axis. I noticed for the first time." Emily scolded him playfully." "Who's Denise?" Jared interrupted. this was way into the future. actually. and Emily paused. extremely good-looking. that we never grew out of.140 - . ignoring his the group. Jacob's hair was longer than everyone else's. She woke up ." Emily answered him. "Oh. "It was joyous. she was three months pregnant. tall. it was almost to his shoulders." Embry rhymed. Would the baby grow up and become a werewolf? If I was to ever have a baby with Quil (way. Jared had his arms wrapped protectively around Kim. and she fell into a coma -" "Hang on. I never would have thought that I would grow up and get married and give birth to a werewolf. either? Well. and not something I should have been worrying about at that moment. Had she ever expected this. and Kim. it was just something we used to do when I was younger. of course. Everyone rolled their eyes at him. muscled. "Have you met Denise?" "Oh. shut up and let me tell the joke. who looked completely content being held by Jared. "So. "She fell into a coma? Just randomly?" "Look.

Sam." Paul commented. "You know. 'Oh no!' the woman thought. "Denephew. "How can you not get it?" he demanded. 'Denise'. And he added that her brother had named them. and they were both fine. I couldn't help but smile. Embry. Why can't a man please a woman in bed?" "Embry…" Jacob said warningly. the nephew .Denise. and everyone waited with expectant grins." Embry retorted." Embry said. Paul's laughter broke off and he stared at Embry incredulously. being around you causes my IQ to drop. and then there was an outbreak of laughter. "I have a much better joke! Why can't a man please a woman in bed?" Sam made an outraged noise in the back of his throat. "That was a crap joke. frowning. and she was relieved. That wasn't bad at all. It's an excellent joke." he sighed.141 - ." "Ah. "I don't get it. seeing you every day causes my eyeballs to puke. Embry!" Embry's expression cleared for a moment. Denephew? Come on. laughing.six months later." he sighed. "Embry. "Hey!" Emily protested. and asked the doctor about the fate of her baby. a boy and a girl." There was a silence while that sank in. And the doctor told her that she had had twins. "You're all so boring. Embry scowled at him. I don't think it's appropriate. "Yeah. shaking his head. though. 'My brother is an idiot!' So she asked the doctor what he had called the girl. I . So then she asked the doctor what he had named the boy. he said. and then he frowned." Emily paused for dramatic effect. Personally. I really don't want to know. "The niece. shaking his head. don't be a party pooper. well.

and headed towards the kitchen." she said coolly. I looked up at him and nodded. I studied the faces briefly. The girl at the table was Leah. and my gaze lingered for a moment on the glamorous. and I tried desperately not to blush. almost adult people of the pack (but that was excluding Embry.142 - ." Quil said. and the small group of people in the kitchen were all still teenagers at heart. I was then introduced to Brady. her legs and arms crossed. "Claire!" My eyes focussed on the guy who had greeted me. I suddenly remembered how rude Aaron had been to him. instead of merging together like I had expected. as I'd already guessed. I had really liked him when I had met him before. which was… oh God. He took my hand and we excused ourselves. delighted. and she made the simple white dress she was . The people in the living room were the mature. I mused. The girl werewolf." Seth asked. "Did you have fun at that party? I didn't see you afterwards. It was hard not to. who I doubt had even heard of the word 'mature'). "Hello. greeting everyone at once. and how much he had embarrassed me. "Not really. ages ago. It seemed like so long ago I had only looked at Quil as a friend. and I got the feeling he was naturally shy. The idea still sounded foreign to me. "Do you want to meet the rest of them?" he asked.really didn't want to know the punch line of his joke. at Zach's party. and she looked me up and down as she was introduced to me. for a second. she was extremely pretty. "Hi. I laughed nervously. in a way I couldn't explain. but it became clear once Quil and I entered the kitchen. What was stuck up her ass? She eyed my dress. He didn't say much. Rachel-esque girl who was sitting at the kitchen table. who I recognised from Quil's photograph. thinking about it now. hoping to God Quil wouldn't start asking questions. It was weird. I immediately felt self-conscious. as to which category Quil would fall into. Quil's mouth was suddenly at my ear. and nothing more than that. the one with the boyish face and spiked hair. and I raised my eyebrows at her lack of friendliness. Seth!" I said. and they all looked up. I wondered why everyone had divided themselves. the memories of crying on Quil's shoulder trickling back to me. even though he probably knew about it anyway." I said. "Hey. grinning at me cheekily.

with his arms wrapped around a small. "Hey." I said. grinning easily. but I didn't. Emily was my aunt. and Lily then shyly offered me hers. at this stage). Collin shook my hand. But then she grinned. A part of me desperately hoped not." There was a strained pause. I wondered if Quil and I had ever looked that sickeningly adorable. I'm Claire. and I understood a little of what he had meant." she commented eventually. I wasn't going to sit back and let her insult my dress just because it was cheap and so-last-year. gazing at her dotingly. with a friendly grin. It was so cute. I could out-bitch anyone. "That shut me up. beautiful teenager with long black hair. "This is Claire. I could practically hear the three guys sighing with relief. Well. but then I decided I didn't like it. "Where were you two?" "Lily left her handbag in the car. I could tell immediately that he had imprinted on her. so I wasn't able to relate to them on a lot of levels. "Ouch. frowning at them both." I said." Brady said. Lily looked about sixteen. I raised my eyebrows even higher. lapping up his attention. I could tell Quil was about to protest against Leah's non-too-subtle put-down. and Leah's eyes widened. and Kim was in her late twenties and pregnant. Was that necessary? I remembered then what Embry had said about the two of us meeting each other. They were probably glad it hadn't turned into a bitch-fight." Collin explained.wearing look a million dollars on her. almost to the point of excessive. A distraction arrived in the shape of another werewolf (I was able to tell. Collin. They both looked up at me and stepped forward. She gazed back at him with the same gooey eyes. . and I was glad that there was a girl like me close enough to my age." she said.143 - . but I cut across him before he could. "Hey. interrupting their staring contest. "Congratulations. Looked like Leah was straight-talking. A little bitchy. anyway!" I returned her grin. "I was going to buy that dress in the sales last year. "I was thinking of buying your dress last week." Quil said loudly. just like me. in other words.

" he began to defend himself. I looked up at Quil. finding it hard to concentrate on what she was saying.I'm going to be an artist!" she announced grandly." "Well. "You read my mind. "Well. "Ooh. I wondered how he did it. and right in between them is a solitary bird…" she trailed off. and I thought the noise sounded're about to graduate. and I couldn't tell if he was playing me or not . and my eyes widened. "Oh." Lily squealed delightedly." Quil complained. rolling his eyes. I was a little taken aback. "Claire. gazing into space. They both started discussing it. and before I could even think about replying." Lily said. wrapped up in their own little bubble." he said dramatically. you're like two years older than me . clapping her hands together. if you really thought about it. as though she had just told him she had discovered a way to bring people back from the dead. I'm so glad there's a girl like me close to my age. who was gazing at her as though she was the most fascinating thing he had ever seen. me too. aren't you?" She waited about a millisecond for my response. I heard Leah cough quietly behind me. what I mean is.144 - . What if I imprint on some old hag or something?" "Embry. "Well.he was very convincing. It reminded me of when someone inhaled helium from a balloon. who looked amused and slightly baffled. "It could represent so much. for God's sake. and he was rubbing his ears subconsciously. "Oh. "I thought of a wonderful idea for a painting! Picture this: two grey clouds." Embry accused him." Collin nodded excitedly. almost touching in a perfect turquoise sky. Her voice was unbelievably squeaky. "You don't take me seriously. gazing over at Collin and Lily."Hi. Embry. she had continued speaking. I know what I'm going to do after school . He turned an agonised expression on me. He shouldn't be going around calling older women hags. "Ooh." I stammered. "you and Emily and Kim and . It was like I could hear nothing but squeaks. "I'm really worried about this imprinting business. babes!" Lily said excitedly to Collin." he said. not this crap again. "I keep having a recurring dream that I'll imprint on an old wrinkly lady with no teeth. Embry suddenly appeared at my shoulder." I chided.

"I don't care if I am. looking totally bored. smiling and shaking my head at some of the things Embry could come out with." He leaned in to whisper in my ear. "Acceptable-looking." I blushed furiously. "Go and annoy someone else. "I have one. Why did everyone insist on embarrassing me? Why? "Would you ever get a life. "Well. his arms tightening around me." "Fine." he muttered." I could hear the individual conversations start up again. I stopped listening to Quil and Embry's . I hugged him back tightly." "Acceptable?" I asked him. Leah was silent. he's not that bad." I said." I told him. "Would the two of you ever just get a room?" Embry said loudly. "You are the most gorgeous thing in my world. glaring at Embry exasperatedly. what I mean is. thanks. beyond embarrassed." I muttered again. shut up or I'll hurt you. and Seth and Brady. wondering whether or not to feel complimented or insulted." Embry said." Quil muttered to me. Embry?" Quil retorted. and stop pestering mine.145 - . "You are much more than acceptable-looking. between Collin and Lily. you're not all hags -" "Embry. He swaggered off and butted into Seth and Brady's conversation. "Ah." I laughed embarrassedly. "You might be more than a bit biased. and spoke so softly no one around us had a chance of hearing." "Then will you live it." Quil said. He chuckled in my ear and wrapped his arms around my waist. "Biased.Lily… you're all acceptable-looking. clearly only pretending to be offended. "He's such a tool. and I peeked over Quil's arm to see she was examining her nails. I buried my head in Quil's shoulder to avoid the looks I could now feel burning into my back.

utterly contented. Soon. sometimes totally blanking them. but he had hated it. sitting beside Quil and Leah. which just set off an over-anxious Jared. sitting in beanbag chairs and sandwiching together on the couch. he had seen my favourite horror movie of all time. You could never get Embry to shut up. the heat radiating off the two of them was sweltering. The evening was so much fun. Kim began fanning herself with her hand. Emily had made a gigantic cake for Paul. I noticed though that she ignored Sam and Emily a lot though. I found that Leah and I got on really well. it was great. But I didn't mind. the two of them were sharing dirty jokes while everyone tried not to listen. I felt myself beginning to burn. they were too wrapped up in themselves. I didn't notice. I was almost melting. or an open window. who kept asking her if she wanted water.146 - . safe. everyone congregated in the living room. I liked Seth a lot. wrapped up in his arms. Eventually. rarely offering any input into the conversations. what with my face pressed up against Quil's chest. which almost sounded rehearsed. and Embry had to settle for the beanbag chair which made a farting sound any time he moved a little. and I realised that there was still so much I didn't know. and I spent a half an hour trying to convince him otherwise. pointing out all the reasons the film was so excellent. or a fan. When they did though. sometimes she would say exactly what I was thinking. warm. Quil kept trying to get a word in edgeways to promote his favourite film. Jacob usually had a really witty one-liner. I chatted with Seth for a while too. he was just an easygoing type of guy. I wanted to stay like that forever. or else Brady would have an extremely intelligent statement. since it was his birthday. I didn't feel it was my place to ask questions. But after a while. I grinned to myself at the idea of them rehearsing their comebacks.traded insults. and very easy to talk to. Everyone bantered away playfully. Collin and Lily didn't say much either. and that maybe I shouldn't. Jacob and Brady were both quiet throughout. which she unveiled halfway through the . and he also became loud. generally. It was too warm in the room. Paul claimed it. I sighed. so he was the life and soul (and voice) of the party. Paul and Embry wrestling over the best armchair. sharing stories for myself and Lily's benefit. Paul had had a few too many beers. I found myself on the couch. since we hadn't heard any of them before.

There was some half-hearted singing. and then everyone dug in. I said goodbye to everyone.evening." His face twisted slightly when I mentioned this." "I know. as though he had just remembered." I called. Jack bounded out from the living room suddenly. Everyone started going home at midnight. and I raised my eyebrows at him." "I'm fine. remembered my mother's insane ban on seeing him tomorrow. "I'm home.147 - . You're my bitch. my stress and anxiety keeping me awake. my eyes wide. "OK. It felt stupid now. really. The cake was massive. "You're such a hound. Come in for a while? Please?" I whined. But it became clearer to me as just Quil alone demolished two slices and half of my one. "I won't see you tomorrow. I didn't have anything that I had to prove to her. to have kept myself awake stressing over Denise." He laughed. feeling sleepy. I rolled my eyes. "I know. chuckling. so she'd see me soon. and Emily hugged me before I left. Then he grinned." he said." I told him. when he looked ready to protest. not wanting him thinking he had to leave right away.Mom's not going to mind. I clung to him when he hugged me. "But don't you think you should get some sleep? You look tired. and I was reluctant to leave. and almost groaned as I heard Mom and Denise's voices floating out from within the living room. No doubt they had stayed up gossiping all evening. There were no strippers. I couldn't see how we would all get through it. I opened the front door with my key. telling me she was going to come down and visit Denise at some point. She wasn't worth any kind of stress. You know I can't resist you. They ignored me. I leaned against Quil's arm on the journey home. I hadn't slept well the night before." I suggested hurriedly. "Why don't you come in for a while . . Quil walked me to the door when we got home. thankfully.

And then it happened faster than I could have believed possible. sticking his tongue out at me. "That was a fast reflex. Obviously not. as it whacked me painfully on the arm. a little breathlessly. "Watch this!" he said. "Cool." I glared at him. and flying boomerangs?" He grinned. He always had a way of making things look like weapons of mass destruction whenever he held them. Claire. who looked amused. "Wow. "Anyway." he said smugly. That was awesome." "How macho of you.148 - . I then rounded on Quil. and raised his hand for a high five.Denise got me a boomerang from Australia. rubbing my arm. "OW!" I protested. "What the hell sort of bodyguard are you?" I demanded playfully. which Quil gave him. "I can't do everything at once. He was beyond annoying sometimes." "Mom said I could stay up late because Denise was here." he informed me." Jack said. eyeing the wooden object in his hands warily. "I know. at the same time." Jack said. Both Jack and I stared at him. "I'm the best bodyguard ever. look ." I scoffed. "Shouldn't you be jumping in front of me to shield me from bullets. grinning evilly. wide eyed. sorry."Shouldn't you be in bed?" I demanded." Using the arms that were . he raised his hand and caught the boomerang. and chucked it at me. "I thought it would stop and come back to me before it hit you. that had been aimed at my head this time. Quil suddenly grabbed me around the waist and spun me quickly." I said. "Oh." I said." Jack said." "And what were you doing that was so important?" "I was looking at that moth on the windowsill. grinning. "It's way past your bedtime.

but I was completely wrecked. and it was stupid because it was something I had already known. But I didn't want him to leave. in fairness. I tried to protest." I replied. We heard an exasperated sigh. Quil announced that he was leaving the minute he caught me yawning. still not able to accept I wouldn't see him tomorrow. Something was dawning on me. I'd probably end up slaughtering my entire family in an act of insanity. for God's sake. "Oh. She rolled her eyes. and his arms tightened around me. My head was spinning a little. at all. Denise was beside her. The fact that Quil wasn't all human. I hugged him tightly on the doorstep." Mom said. "It's twenty-four hours. ignoring Jack's disgusted complaints.still around my waist." he said in my ear. but just hadn't fully registered. watching us interestedly. Although. he pulled me closer and kissed my forehead. There had never been a day when I couldn't see Quil. I really couldn't see myself surviving tomorrow without him." . "Surely you can survive without each other for twenty-four hours!" Quil and I both shot her a resentful look. "I'll see you soon. that didn't sound like such a bad idea. "Not soon enough. ever. and we both turned to see my mother glaring at us with her eyebrows raised.149 - . My mother was such a sadist.

xxx! Denise was only mentioned in passing in the last chapter. Get over yourself. I idly imagined walking off into the sunset with him. Like bonding with my sister. . Thanks for the reviews. believe me. leaving all life's little annoyances behind me. I wished wistfully for a moment that I could somehow get away from them all." "I know what you're doing. Bed was much better. loads. I was staying in it. I mean it. Claire. but I also felt like everyone was working against me these days. "If you don't get out of bed. I felt idiotic because I knew I was acting immature. It made me feel a little better." "Mom. yet I had people commenting on how annoying she was. I continue to be amazed by the niceness of you readers. but I was jolted back to reality when my mother banged loudly on my door. My bed understood me. I thought that was funny. Anyway. I felt as though I was being forced into doing things I really didn't want to do. pummelling the mattress with my fists. slamming my door behind her. Stop being immature.150 - . and left. Do me a favour and go get me a hot chocolate. "I'm sleeping. I fumed for a few minutes. Lurrrrve xxxxx :) Chapter Twenty: Headstrong "Get up. Especially my mother. Heheh. She glared just as fiercely back. You can't avoid Denise forever.Headstrong Oh. I'm too tired to get out of bed." Mom snapped from the doorway for the tenth time. Just runaway with Quil. "Get up!" she commanded. get over yourself. She's your sister. and didn't ask questions. Hope you enjoy the longest chapter yet (I think). You guys make me laugh." I grumbled from within the duvet. there will be serious consequences. Claire. I had absolutely no desire to get up at all and spend the day with no Quil and all Denise. That would be bliss. And don't you dare be smart with me again!" I threw the covers aside viciously so I could glare at her.

"How was your party last night?" she asked me chummily. "Whatever. a long pink skirt and a matching top.I'll fetch it later on. smiling pleasantly at me. I walked into the kitchen. and I nearly walked back out again. It's still in my suitcase. I thought you might like it. I'm sure . "Oh. and my hair. I tried not to roll my eyes." I said. hoping monosyllabic answers would dissuade her from pestering me for more details." she said. jumping out of bed. deciding to rebel against the urge to dress in my nicest clothes in order to impress Denise. collecting the bread along the way. "Fun. "Morning. I eyed her outfit. She took a sip of her coffee delicately." she said. for Christ's sake!" I yelled. beaming. I threw on the baggiest clothes I could find. ." I muttered. Mom was still outside the door when I left the room. "Don't start with me. There was nothing I wanted to prove to her. I threw her a dirty look. baggy clothes. Totally unsuitable for the overcast and blustery day outside. Ugh." I said. "Hi. It was stupid." Denise said. scowling." she announced." she snapped back. and failed. waving my hands exasperatedly. her little finger raised in the air as she did so. It's a dream catcher. I muttered expletives under my breath as I got dressed. with flip-flops. and shuffled over to the toaster. and thundered down the stairs. "What?" I snapped. "I got you a present from Australia. taking in the loose. I didn't care what her impression of me was. craving some toast. cursing everyone and everything. She looked like a flamingo."I'm UP. drinking coffee. Denise was sitting at the table. her eyes raking over me also.151 - . "Oh?" "Yes. She drove me beyond insane sometimes. good. which was probably sticking out in all directions.

152 - . and her choices. I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if I just…tolerated her. If this was what today was going to be like. then I was hurling myself under the nearest bus. Just an immediate reaction. It wasn't easy." . I was just thinking. I wondered if she had done it on purpose. "Oh. Or whether she had been so caught up in living her life that she never slowed down for one second to think about the family she had left behind. so maybe I managed it. I wasn't particularly impressed by her. What was I doing analysing her for? I honestly didn't care about trying to make sense of the intricate workings of my sister's mind. working extremely hard to keep my tone and expression free of sarcasm. and the like. It annoyed me. and I tried not to feel irritated. or Jack. "I remembered how you used to force him to play dolls with you when you were younger. grabbed my toast and proceeded to butter it noisily. "So. I began counting the tiles on the floor. I remembered how she'd been all touchy-giggly-flirty with him last night. I never could have stayed away from my mom. and I refused to feel awkward. But what could we talk about? Realistically. but I hadn't the energy. Denise just left with Dad. you and Quil. The toast popped. Denise started fiddling with the bangles on her wrist. because every time I tried to join in. too. were we really a part of one another's lives? Was it too late to salvage any kind of sisterly bond that we could have had? She was too different from me. if she was one of those people who just preferred to operate alone. They may both be complete pains in the ass sometimes. what about us?" I said. She had made her decisions. but they were still my family. it was like Quil didn't even notice me there at all. She didn't appear offended though." I said. How long had it taken her to act on her own initiative and come visit us? Too long. my voice a little sharp. half smiling back at her. "Yeah. The man never got bored of you. I shook my head at myself. I turned away from her. I could practically hear Denise casting her mind around for something to say. She was plastic. and ended up alienating herself from him. I was so jealous." she said. I had wanted to tell her I couldn't be bought. huh?" I stiffened. There was silence. and we both jumped. I was… just me. Trying to push her as far away as I could was just too hard. and I scowled at my toast. but I found I didn't want to hurt her feelings. by rejecting her gifts."Thanks. her voice still annoyingly chirpy.

I reckoned I had done enough this morning. and it was hard. I very badly wanted to ask her if she had proof that he was real. but any progress was good progress. It wasn't where I left it." I said. her eyes lighting up. I know I haven't done enough to make you even like me. I thought to myself. Sometimes being so stubborn was an inconvenience.I frowned. trying to smooth things over with my sister. There was another long pause. I raced up the stairs and into my room. I doubted his very existence. then I was just going to send him one little text. I had always managed to convince myself that it was too late. looking a little disappointed.all he knows of you all are the stories I tell him!" If you even talk about us at all. and proceeded to tear my room apart. because I still wasn't going to see him. He wanted to come though . "Sorry. "Well. She smiled hesitantly at me." I said. We still had the rest of the week. but I had no time for guilt trips or anything. I was going to try and be good today. looking for it. I crammed the last piece of toast into my mouth." Denise nodded. It was liked trying to force the sky to be a different colour. The urge to get to my phone was almost overwhelming. "Where's the hubby?" "Oh.153 - . And she was telling me this because…? To make me feel guilty or something. He's very busy. I was so not convinced that Ned was a real person. you mean Ned?" she asked brightly. She sounded so sincere. and I hadn't managed to insult her." I mumbled. He couldn't make it over here . I frowned. If he hadn't. . without thinking. "He's back in Melbourne.he's got a very demanding job. I felt out of my depth. It couldn't be going against Mom's insane rule. I tried to smile back. before Denise spoke again. that I immediately felt like a total bitch. "Claire. "Just going to my room. We'd spoken. at the very least. I turned around to look her in the eye. A text would be OK. trying to change my own mind. right? I was dying to get to my mobile. I still didn't really want to be around her. casting my mind around for a topic of conversation." she said. because Quil and I had unintentionally alienated her too? "Fascinating. But it was like it had vanished entirely. but I am trying here. but that would just cause offence. I wanted to see if Quil had texted me at all. "So…" I said.

" I fumed. "You psychotic cow! Give me back my phone!" "Don't speak to me like that!" "I'll speak to you how I want! Give me my phone." "Mom."Mom." "You'll get it back later. which you stole.154 - . And then I rolled my eyes. I seriously had to get out of here. and I'm being mistreated. fuming and daydreaming for about three hours. Don't push me. and turned it up loud. Away from her. totally negating the point of no Quil today. I'd visit them all the time. She could ban me from Quil for a whole week. hoping all the guitars and screaming would annoy her. this is unfair. and trying to control my relationship with Quil. I wasn't having you ringing him every five minutes." I fell silent at her threat reluctantly. wanting to escape my family. I've done nothing to deserve this shit. replaying 'One Step Closer' over and over again. No one is that insane. Was there even a point to today? Was there a point to Quil staying away? It's not like I would have ignored Denise all day. "I confiscated it. have you seen my phone?" I yelled in desperation. You'll regret it. sprawled out on my bed. I didn't want my mother in my ear anymore. I stayed in my room. I slammed the door of my room and stuck Linkin Park on. watch your language. if she really wanted to. But it wasn't like it would be forever. "Well. I did not want to be controlled. "I confiscated it. "Yeah." "Claire. What was I . It matched my mood. then where is it?" I demanded exasperatedly. still seething. I just wanted my own space. I wondered if I was more like Denise than I thought. controlling what I did." "You what?" I was sure I misheard her." she called back.

I screwed up my eyes. She scowled at me. she was annoying. before wrenching myself off the bed and stomping downstairs to find Denise. "Mom. if Quil was here or I was allowed to text him. Claire. "Maybe it's about time you got a job. She was in the living room. Everything you say to me/ takes me one step closer to the edge/ and I'm about to break/ I need a little room to breathe/ 'cos I'm one step closer to the edge/ and I'm about to BREAK! When the song ended for the third time. for Christ's sake." "Oh. thankfully. and hovered in the door until I turned down the music. "No." she hissed. watching a horror movie. I will kill you. for weekends and after school." I rolled my eyes. "Is Denise going with you?" I asked dully. do not leave me alone with her. I turned Linkin Park up again. "I'm bringing Jack shopping for new clothes. and then left. It's like talking to a brick wall. if I get home and you're still in here and Denise tells me you didn't bother coming out.doing now? And if I was honest. "And where are my new clothes?" Mom rolled her eyes. ." I suddenly realised what she was up to. Mom barged in. you know. especially not at the moment! It's so stupid that you won't even attempt to get to know her. Now.155 - . jingling her car keys in her hand. It has absolutely nothing intelligent to say. God. Then you can buy your own stuff. You're not exactly Einstein yourself. I rolled my eyes again. I'd have to be independent at some point." she said. My ears were ringing. but I knew that was true. I probably wouldn't have paid much to attention to her then either. You're too wrapped up in yourself. cursing my mother with everything curse word I knew. marvelling at how well the song was relating to me. I finally switched it off. and not be living off me your whole life.

but settled myself down on the couch to watch it with her. She smiled in what I assumed she thought was a sympathetic way. But I did make some form of an effort. and I almost felt myself warming up to her.156 - . Denise winced. I hid a grin behind my hand." I said. I sighed again. but Denise looked over at me. because I was losing any chance for us to ever be like other sisters. "I've been wanting to see it for ages. I missed the warm and comforting arm around me. quietly I thought. Wait until she saw the girl who lost both her eyes later on in the film." I was beyond surprised."I hope you don't mind. not particularly wanting to admit the missing him part. and Jack insisted on showing off his new Nike runners and Spiderman pyjamas for ages. It was kind of sad. in a way. unmoving." I tried not to roll my eyes at the gossiping going on behind my back. I mused over all her possible hidden agendas for a while. I turned my attention back to the film. but decided not to call her on them. I stayed downstairs on the couch. We just didn't click. "You like scary films?" "They're my guilty pleasure." she said. and I missed him. or something? Anyone who knew me knew I was a sucker for a horror film. "Yeah. Mom didn't bother me further. A thought occurred to me. just like I was. The rest of the day was much of the same. Mom returned home later. She obviously wasn't used to gore. just in time to see someone get decapitated. I kept zoning in and out of the . She was trying. and also found herself completely at sea. Denise and I hadn't really that much in common. and I was grateful." And… ice cold again. "But I really adore chick flicks. The absence of Quil was glaringly noticeable." she said. "Do you miss Quil? Mom said you two never went a day without watching a horror film together. We were opposites. I could tell she was making an effort. I sighed. More than what could be said for me. we do. Denise embarrassed herself by confusing Spiderman with Batman. and was then forced to listen to an outraged Jack going on and on about how different they were. too. Did she only put this movie on in some blind attempt to connect with me. Mom could have told her that. looking up as she heard me come in.

She gazed at me exasperatedly. and ended up rolling off the bed onto the floor. and took my phone out of her pocket and placed it on my bedside table. I continued to cry. Mom decided to bustle into the room at that moment.157 - . "I honestly don't know. and I could hear the smile in his voice. "Hello. Ugh." I said. He can come over for half an hour. I lay on my bed. I finally escaped to my room and breathed a sigh of relief.conversations around me. "Why are you crying?" she asked. "Hello. then. and whatever she had been about to say died on the way to her mouth. trying to control myself. There was a thumping noise. as usual. but she had already seen. hating myself for crying. I hurriedly wiped my face. I hated crying. ." I said. Maybe I was just missing Quil. speaking when I was spoken to. undeterred. It had been a very long day. She probably thought I was just being dramatic over nothing. it got late enough that I could say I was tired. but it was no use." "Really?" I said. shaking her head. staring at the ceiling. I lunged for the bedside table too quickly. sitting up. you. Finally. and for no particular reason at all. I hated feeling vulnerable. smiling hopefully. I didn't really know why I was crying. laughing and sobbing at the same time." he said. scrambling back up from the floor and grabbing the phone. Mom rolled her eyes. Quil answered extremely quickly. but gave up as more continued to slide down my cheeks. "Ouch. I could feel the beginnings of a headache. just burst into tears. Call Quil. putting her hands on her hips. Why the hell was I such a baby? To my horror. since there wasn't anything that I was upset about. I brushed them away furiously. "Yes. grinning as my mother left the room grumbling something about melodramatic teenagers. I knew I sounded demented. I dialled the too-familiar number. I didn't really know what was wrong with me. I wiped my eyes using my sleeve. you." Mom sighed. "Fine." a high-pitched voice repeated in the background.

I smiled as I listened to the sounds of a struggle and Embry's protests. Claire?" Denise's voice asked. preferring not to look like laundry basket for my boyfriend. Now I was going to have to put up with patronising knowing glances from Denise whenever Quil wasn't around and I . I just have to beat up Embry first. I also changed my clothes. My mom said you can come around for half an hour. "Yeah. the hair was plastered to my head. "Sorry. I don't have to worry about her going out and getting drunk and impregnated by boys with piercings in unsuitable places. rolling my eyes. I I didn't like that she told Denise I was crying though. I didn't like anyone knowing I was crying." Quil said to me. "I said he could come over for half an hour. Tragic. "So get over here now. She was up there in her room crying." I said. and hung up. "They don't even realise how perfectly they work together. he takes care of her. which I had neglected today. I could hear Mom and Denise chatting in the living room.158 - ." "Cool. well I didn't. worried because I had been upset." I told him excitedly. "I thought you went to bed. or there will be pain. I leaned against the wall in the hall. really. away from the phone. and she always turns to him when she's upset. "I'm on the way."Get out of my room. drifting out from within the living room." I grinned." So you should. for keeping them apart today. "He's been following me around all day. He's a real good guy. and finally a door slamming. Embry. The last thing I needed was Quil quizzing me. did I?" I snapped. how much time they spend together. Any patience I had had with her was now gone. annoying me. He doesn't take any notice of her moods. It's a wonder they aren't sick of each other yet! I feel guilty now though." Quil snapped. and the other side stood up in peaks and horns. grinning. and their voices ceased for a moment when they heard me. you know. I then thundered down the stairs. On one side. and heard my mother start talking about Quil and I in a low voice." "Great!" he said. I also sorted out my hair. How are you?" "I'm fine. I couldn't really ask for anyone better than him for her. I suppose she didn't. It's unbelievable. I thought resentfully. I ran to my mirror and did my best to erase any trace of tears.

and I shut the door behind us. I turned to throw her the dirtiest look I could muster. We walked into the house. I suppose it was ridiculous that I couldn't even go a day without him. I stared at him for a minute." he said in my ear." he replied. and flung my arms around him." my mother greeted him.we'll go to my room. a grin identical to his spreading across my face. "So?" She sighed." I said. Quil. and then ran at him. Claire. "I missed you. "Hi." she said. Quil . He looked gorgeous in that blue shirt. sighing again. and then launched myself at the door. I froze for a moment." Quil unlocked my arms gently from around his neck. Too much. refusing to let him go even just a tiny bit. His arms wrapped around me and crushed me against him. "Keep your door open. listening intently for the first sign of Quil's jeep. I felt so much better now. I could hear Quil sniggering to himself under his breath. " bitchy. Mom just shot me a warning look before buggering off . and I waited for her to object. I fidgeted in the hall. I was not giving permission for more touchy-giggly-flirty. "Claire. and draped one arm across my shoulder. and wrenched it open.159 - . and grinned widely at me. without turning into an emotional disaster. trying to block out the conversation they were now having about Ned the Imaginary Husband (I knew Denise would manage to get the conversation around to herself eventually). giving out to me. "Come on. her favourite pastime. I nearly collapsed when I heard an engine outside. "Get in the house. or something like it." "I missed you. and he stopped when it opened. both of you. Quil was about a foot away from the door. I could feel my mother's eyes on my back. "Hi." I said. grinning. I had no intention of going into the living room with her in there. but I really did love him. why is the door open? You're letting in moths!" My mother was in the doorway. pushing him in the direction of the stairs.

grinning.160 - . rolling my eyes." I mumbled. and then I remembered I couldn't. and then he left." he said. ready to drive to yours to see you." I complained. a few of his fingers tracing a pattern on my back. still chuckling to himself. He chuckled. I wrapped my arms around his waist and hugged him. "Boring." he promised. before I could ask. Embry was mocking me the whole day over it. I wished I could move in with him." "So was mine." he said. "Fine. I was just basking in the warmth of his arms." he said." "My evil mother plotting against us. He kissed me. a longing for something I wasn't sure was possible. "How was your day?" he asked me. I wanted to strangle my mother when she softly called up the stairs that our half an hour was up. We didn't say much after that. "No." I said. I was overcome by a crazy desire." I said. resting his cheek on the top of my head. I kept picking up my car keys and going out to the car. long enough to get my pulse racing and my breathing uneven. As I watched him leave. He just held me. "If it keeps her happy. be nice. "Ah. . I was about to shut the door when Quil caught hold of it and forced it back open. his eyes twinkling. His arms crushed me against his chest again. when he let me go. "Do you have a pistol I could shoot her with?" I muttered to Quil. "I was stuck at home with the Plastic Spastic. "I'll be back tomorrow. We entered my room.back into the living room. "And frustrating.

Maybe it was too soon. We'd only been going out officially a few weeks. It's not going to happen. I didn't want to think of his reaction too much. I had been tossing and turning for hours. I cannot thank you guys enough for the reviews . and I brushed the thought away. I bet he had absolutely no notions of me moving in or anything similar. My mother would throw a fit. I grabbed my pillow and shoved it over my head. Because it wasn't like Quil was a stranger.161 - . who inspired me for this chapter. And Quil would probably freak if I mentioned the idea. And anyway. watching scary movies whenever we . I couldn't see how I could move in with Quil. I imagined living in Quil's house. but maybe it was too soon for a big relationship step. I considered it briefly. I hope you enjoy it! As always. Thanks so much! I wanna shout out to kosocielo. Just stop. Claire. it wasn't a great idea. who never fails to make me laugh (hahahaha).you're all so freaking AWEsome. if I ever said it to him. No. When I finished this chapter it was hellishly long. so it wouldn't be like I'd be moving in with a complete stranger. My mom liked and trusted him. I'm dying to hear your thoughts! lurrrrve xoxoxox 8) Chapter Twenty-One: Swivel Chair It had just been an random thought. Frustrated with myself. no doubt. So all in all. My mom would definitely think it was. because he practically lived here anyway as it was. I couldn't sleep. I knew him my whole life. I'd probably take him completely by surprise. and he'd choke with the shock. Stop thinking about it. Moving in with him wouldn't feel like a big deal. What if he didn't mind. I had no idea how partial he would be to the idea. which is why the ending is a little abrupt. and had been thinking about it himself…? I began to feel a little excited. though.Swivel Chair Heyyy! Omg. We all knew Quil wouldn't let anything bad happen to me. so I cut it in half. and Pendragon2. I mean. unable to get away from my daydreams. but I was sure it would be negative. And it came creeping right back.

But why couldn't I stop obsessing about it? I sat at my desk and held my face in my hands. But my body refused to co-operate with me. shivering a little. because there would be plenty of time in the future for stuff like that. it told me.162 - . and I tried to pull my head off the desk. That's Quil. I idly cursed myself for obsessing over things in the middle of the night. with a thrill of pleasure.wanted. I hadn't slept very well. I climbed out of bed at six in the morning. I was annoyed with myself. They mainly all consisted of me living in Quil's house. Aargh. I looked around for a distraction. no mother or brother of mine bugging us. I remembered. It seemed my mother wasn't going to force any more quality time with Denise on me. reluctant to open. I heard the doorbell ring. I'd been neglecting it again. I wanted to forget all about the stupid idea that was driving me crazy. so I could greet him. My brain was instantly awake. I still felt sleepy. get up. I heard footsteps on the stairs. and remained slumped on the desk. Surely I could wait a few years. I'd never get any privacy with Embry around. And I couldn't stop. . falling in and out of dreams that filled me with an irrational hopeless longing. visiting the pack whenever we wanted. And surely they had to get their own places at one point in their lives. at least. he would have to kick Embry and Paul out first. I always got extremely cranky when I hadn't had enough sleep. Homework. Maybe solving a complicated maths sum would take my mind off things. my eyes closed. This was so ridiculous. get up! My eyelids ignored it. I was thinking about this too much. no strings. where it rested oh-so-comfortably on my arms. Why was I making such a big deal out of this? I was being dramatic again. sick of staring at the ceiling as the room gradually brightened around me. the shrill sound fighting its way through my unconsciousness. that I could spend the whole day with him. It didn't have to be now. Get up. Of course.

He better not be staring at me. I could still sense him in the room. My eyes were glued shut. stupid.163 - . I sat up slowly. I frowned again. "I shouldn't be distracting you from your homework. but you're going to extremes now. "What in the name of arse are you doing?" he asked. only making him even more gorgeous than usual. I was about to force my eyes open. and see where he was. which didn't help my poor heart either. much to my annoyance. I frowned a little."Honey. banging the door open. still unable to open my eyes." . his lips rough and eager against mine." he said. his eyes warm. Claire. He grinned at me. not even his breathing. a smile reluctantly spreading across my face also. He burst out laughing." he sighed." I jumped a little with the fright. now using my hand to indicate that he should go away and return when I was more conscious. chortling. He still sounded amused. "I was asleep anyway." I mumbled." I said. I pulled him closer to me. his face too close to mine. Stupid. like a weirdo. tickling my ear and sending a shiver down my spine." he said. I realised after a second. "I know homework is boring. He was practically bent double. the result of sleeping maybe three or four hours. I didn't answer him. wondering if he had actually left. But then he pulled away. and he began to straighten up. "It's time to wake up. "Sleeping. and give out to him if he was staring at me. that had to be some sort of sign. and I felt myself becoming more alert. but he didn't seem to mind. He ignored it. I slung my arm around his neck and stopped him before he could get very far. "You know I don't really care." Quil joked. and I couldn't hear Quil at all. though. Oh. right? I lifted my palm and waved it feebly in the direction of his voice. But I hadn't heard him. I'm home. stupid. and my heart stuttered. "Claire. he leaned forward to kiss me. when he suddenly breathed in my ear. and my eyes snapped open. There was a silence. and his voice sounded much closer to me. of course. His fingers ran through my hair. since I was sitting down on my swivel chair. and still grinning. He was leaning down.

while I doodled on the edge of my page. if it was something he wasn't ready for? I vowed there and then that I wouldn't mention it. even though I couldn't fully comprehend what was so fascinating. I was obsessing again. "But let me guess . and he'd stare at me all bug-eyed. "And full of energy. hint. before straightening up." He looked torn between grinning and rolling his eyes. I told myself sternly. but an adult? But was this even the right way to do that? Would this put pressure on Quil. I eyed the maths I had started earlier. . My brain.164 - . I could feel Quil's eyes on the side of my face. but not just because I decided last night it would be a miraculous solution to my problems. and then threw himself on my bed. Claire. I rolled my eyes. HINT. I couldn't concentrate on that now. And maybe I shouldn't move out just because I was annoyed with my mother. like reading. I really had to find some way to forget about this. I frowned as I realised I had written and solved the same sum twice. Have you ever considered the idea of me moving in with you? HINT. Do you reckon Paul and Embry have any plans of getting places of their own? Hint. He gave me a very chaste kiss. I could be doing the simplest thing.He chuckled. I wish I could live somewhere else. I had gotten used to him staring at me in complete fascination. I got teased. Hint. was now formulating all the different ways I could propose the subject of me moving in. You are not asking him anything to do with that. Shut up. Because that's what I was trying to do. I snickered. I'm so sick of living here. He was doing that annoying gawp-at-your-imprint-while-she-pretends-it's-not-creepy thing. right? Escape? Get away from my family? Force my mother to see that I'm not a baby anymore. I'd wait until he asked're wide awake now?" I grinned cheekily. because anytime I stared at him for too long. He didn't seem to be able to help himself. I thought it was a little creepy. HINT. In an attempt to distract myself from his once again straining-over-his-large-and-incredibly-sexy-muscles shirt. and then I'd say yes. and annoying. How did I ever expect to be treated like an adult when I acted so goddamn immature and dramatic all of the time? There was a comfortable silence. even though I hadn't told it to. He decided to roll his eyes. sprawling himself out. I wouldn't mind being distracted again. someday. It was the right way. Maybe it would happen.

"Are you sure you're OK?" he asked. that's all. "Are you OK?" Quil asked suddenly." "I'm fine. I didn't want him to go at all. for lying awake and obsessing. trying not to frown." "Will you stay for a little while?" I asked. I leaned into him.I turned my attention back to my doodle. I really. "Yes. putting his scorching arm around my shoulders. I'd seen him for a tiny amount of time yesterday. I took a step towards him. trying to shake off the dizziness." I said. I closed my eyes. I realised I was after doodling a house. I didn't want to discuss it with him." "Why?" I shrugged. and also at extracting the truth from me. I cursed myself again. resting my head against his chest. And I think I'm just over-tired." I said. but I had the feeling I wouldn't be able to stay awake for very long. and let you get some sleep. "Claire!" he exclaimed. and now I was wasting the time I had with him now barely conscious. swivelling to face him. I half smiled at him. "I stood up too fast. really hoped he would just leave this alone. No particular reason. I remembered suddenly that Quil was an expert at reading my face. and I had missed him so much. I hoped I wouldn't pass out. surprised." I said. still sounding anxious. an irresistible invitation. then maybe I should go. Quil considered me for a moment. so relax. not liking the idea of him leaving just yet. indeed. "Are you alright?" "I'm fine. and to my annoyance. I couldn't sleep last night." I said. "You look kind of edgy. and heaved myself out of the chair. not now that I had decided it wasn't the best idea. worriedly." "Well. I sat on the edge of my bed. "I'm just tired. In a second. "No particular reason. "I'm just sleepy." My head felt extremely heavy.165 - . and Quil sat next to me. I rolled my eyes and scribbled it out. and so did my eyelids. . and then held out his arms. and the whole room tilted. Quil was on his feet and holding me steady.

It was just a matter of when. But what if the thought had never occurred to him? What if I had waited and waited. I couldn't think of a single thing to say to her. trying to control me. Shit. Surely it wouldn't have been so bad. anyway. and I felt as though I could fall asleep right there in Quil's arms." he said. but nothing happened? I didn't know. I tensed. The fact that I had stiffened wasn't going to escape Quil's notice either. "Is she giving you a hard time?" he asked. I cursed myself viciously. Suddenly afraid. He didn't say anything for a long time. Then my mother will quit harassing me. "It wasn't anything too major." I said. though. to wait a few years for him to come up with the idea himself? Why did I always have to push for things to happen? Even when I had decided to let the idea go. I opened my eyes and raised them to meet Quil's. and I bit my lip. kissing the top of my head." "It'll get better. "OK. All I knew was that I was a complete and utter ass. I ducked my head before he could see my blush." I said. I wish I could live somewhere else. crap. But he was going to know now that something was up. Oh. He was going to realise how needy I was. He'd figure it out. "Yeah. and I murmured a sound of assent. how did everything go with Denise yesterday?" he asked. He rested his cheek on the top of my head. his own eyes narrowed. Shit. I hadn't meant to say that at all. I might have been able to brush it off as nothing. but I was afraid of what it might be. before I could stop myself. I'm so sick of her at the moment. shit and shit! I couldn't stand the silence. and run away screaming. There was another comfortable silence. "And she'll be gone in a week. He was staring at me suspiciously. shit. I wanted more than anything to look up and see the expression on his face. He suddenly froze too. "So."Of course." he comforted. I still found a way around it. shit. He was like a hot water bottle." I added. Why couldn't I have kept . if I had just kept my head. He wasn't stupid.166 - . before I could think about it.

I sat on the edge of the bed. I was lost in a string of what ifs… I wondered if Quil saw how difficult my relationships with my dad and Denise were. "I. I knew it would change things. just remembered that I have to do something." he said. still in New York. but I couldn't ignore the truth in it. Quil didn't even want to be around me. He didn't come back. But the thought that maybe I could have had a family who were still together made me a little sad. and it was what I wanted. And then he left. and headed towards the door. I cursed myself for being so transparent. I listened as he walked down the stairs. my heart twisting mouth shut? I knew this wasn't a good idea! I knew he'd react negatively! Why was I so stupid? "And you want to move in with me?" he asked finally. I wanted to cry. I watched him go. afraid to deny it. Sure. Quil was my life. I didn't know how my life would have been like without him. I didn't blame him. There was another long silence. screwing my eyes up tight." I protested. Quil didn't question me further. . He didn't look at me.167 - . My head was suddenly so heavy I couldn't hold it up anymore. refusing to let a single tear escape." Quil said. I was afraid to confirm it. my parents still together. He had to be with me. and I thought I was going to go crazy. He wouldn't be in my life at all if he had imprinted on someone else. I cursed myself for letting that slip when I swore I wasn't going to mention it. He couldn't love me as much as I loved him. and I screwed my eyes shut even tighter. I hadn't even thought about it before now. "I'll see you later. but he knew me too well. a mix of hurt and confusion clogging up my throat. Claire. I didn't answer him. The thought made my blood run cold. and if he blamed himself for it. "Quil. and maybe I even would have been extremely close to Denise. frozen. he was so freaked. uh. He must have guessed that I had obsessing over this idea since it had occurred to me. but he didn't come back. I was his imprint. but he didn't have a choice in the matter. I couldn't imagine my life without Quil. I waited and waited and waited. And it did. I'd have probably ended up with some asshole like Aaron. his tone void of expression. I crawled underneath my duvet and buried myself in it. standing up suddenly. I didn't think he would actually go. and closed the front door behind him. I didn't like the indifference.

at the thought of me living in the same house as him. She smiled. and it was just Denise. I would give up the perfect family for Quil. My door opened.And then I was suddenly fierce. he would probably still be here. I lay in bed. and Quil left really quickly earlier. If he had. "Are you OK?" she asked. I'd give up anything for Quil." She nodded. All I wanted to do was be with him all the time. I fell into unconsciousness not long after that. I didn't think he had come back. and smiled again." I said. though. "You haven't come out of your room all day. "He'll come back. and the thought of it becoming full time filled him with dread? I buried my face in my pillow. "I think I freaked him out. but I was too miserable to even care. "Do you need anything?" she asked. appreciating her effort. her expression a little anxious. staring dully at the ceiling. and left me alone. Did you two have a fight?" The bitchy part of me wanted to tell her not to be so hungry for gossip. and my heart jumped into my throat. but didn't pry. I didn't want to think anymore. when his duty was done? Was I nothing but an inescapable chore to him. And he walked away from me. But he couldn't feel the same way." she said. and when I awoke. I couldn't even summon up the energy to feel anything negative towards her. Did he sigh with relief at the end of every day. It hurt too much. He can never stay away from you for long. I sighed again. She wasn't so bad . Maybe I had been too hard on her. waiting for me to wake up. I had slept for the whole day. Quil? I looked over automatically to see who it was." I said honestly. Thanks. I blinked. and the light flickered on. sighing loudly." I flashed an attempt at a smile in her direction. "No. "Oh. flicking off the light as she left. it was dark again. to my surprise. I loved him so much.168 - . He's like a boomerang. "I'd rather just wallow in my own shit. unmoving. miserably repeating Quil's departure and his indifferent voice over and over in my mind.

ignoring her when she was actually ready to say sorry. his beautiful face the picture of remorse. and I didn't hear him leave. wondering whether he was just a dream. it was morning. I seethed. I fumed. and I was swamped with anger instead. he thought he could get away with hurting me. and rolled over again. that wasn't cool -" "Save it for someone who gives a rat's ass." I snapped at him." I interrupted. I don't feel like listening to assholes today." he said. I rolled over in the bed so that I was facing the opposite wall. I buried my head in my pillow again. I had held all her mistakes against her. I heard him sigh. and jumped. making a big deal out of everything." he said. How dare he waltz back in here after leaving me upset and miserable for a whole day. "I'm sorry I stormed out. Claire. and rolled over again. . facing away from him. "Aren't you going to hear me out? I have reasons as to why I acted like such a tool. "Sorry. and then grinned sheepishly. I was surprised I had managed to sleep for so long. Quil was sitting on my swivel chair. He gazed back at me for a moment. Relief flooded me. I opened my eyes. Maybe it was just me. "Claire. "Claire. He never took me seriously when I was mad at him. sounding contrite. so desperate to be with him all the time. I gazed at Quil. The relief vanished. "Well. He made a noise in the back of his throat. which only made me angrier. "Hey. There was a silence. Why would he want me? I was so needy.sometimes. I wasn't surprised he hadn't come back." he said again. watching me. but I ignored it. I complicated things. Well. as usual. I glared at him. not today. He came back. He walked around my bed until he was in my line of sight." I said. that almost sounded like he was suppressing laughter. Light was streaming in through my window. until I was ready to forgive them. I drove Quil away. when I realised he was really there.169 - . hoping I'd fall asleep again soon. you can just walk right back out of the door. Just because he was gorgeous and sweet and I was irrevocably in love with him." He walked around the bed again so he could see my face. and just grin at me? The rational part of me was trying to explain that I had been technically asleep for most of the day.

before rolling over once more. He growled. and so I'm going to have to make you. He could do it again. straddled me." I hissed. sitting on the legs that were trying to kick at him. "I warned you." He came into my line of sight again. Claire. louder this time. I squealed in outrage as Quil. "You won't listen to me. That would have wiped the smug look right off his face.170 - . "I'm still here because we need to talk about what happened. I could feel myself softening." Tsk. "I don't want to look at you." he said. Oh. Because that's like another big relationship step. let alone hear your annoying voice. He growled again. and his expression was the epitome of repentance. He gazed at me. But I still felt rejected and hurt. I tried to smack at his face.He huffed and strode around the bed for the third time. It had been so easy for him to walk away from me when he didn't like what he was hearing. You're not getting rid of me so easily. as warm hands suddenly grabbed my arm and flipped me onto my back. but he just grabbed hold of my hands and held them down by my sides. Off. "No. I will climb in that bed with you. what I wouldn't have given for eyes that could shoot laser beams. Hopefully the thought of ever sharing a bed with me will encourage you to this time leave the COUNTRY-" The last word came out in a shriek. Me. "Get. xxx :) . I eyed him frostily. "Why are you still here?" I demanded. so why don't you piss off?" He stomped around the bed again. who was suddenly under the covers. He smirked as I struggled futilely. incensed. Looks like Quil has some explainin' to do. I rolled over." I snorted. one almost as big as moving in together. "So help me. Claire. exasperated now. "Sure you will." he said.

I'm not moving until you listen to me. Sooner or later my mother is going to walk in to see how I am. :D Heheheheheheheheheheheheheh. Right. "Love me. looking at the ceiling over his shoulder. But ye love me really. As I write this. which you won't even listen to.D Enjoy! lurrrrve xxxxxxxxxx :) Chapter Twenty-Two: List Of Crimes I struggled again. that's why." I scowled." I said. He rolled his eyes. like the dog you are. actually. you're all so amazing.List Of Crimes Woah. I'm sure you'll be absolutely delighted to see your boyfriend's genitals chopped off. I couldn't look at ." He frowned. I wasn't going anywhere. I can't say that enough either. . And I do love you. even though I knew there was no point. then. And you're only here because you have to be!" I snapped. "You can't. "I have reasons. and then she'll see you restraining me." I growled. Love me enough to bugger off and ignore me for a whole day. not with a pushy. I shall put my balls at risk. How could I leave it THERE? Because I'm evil. But because I love you so much. Looks like the Queen of Cliffhangers struck again. with a smirk of my own. you'll be have excuses. and I'll scream rape. Not until you listen. Why do you think I'm here?" "You don't have reasons .171 - . Neutered. I can sit here all day. and before you know it." I scoffed." "Ha. idiot werewolf sitting on top of me. It's crazy. I am two reviews away from 400. He smirked again at my pathetic efforts to free my hands. "Well. you complete moron. "No. I can't thank you guys enough for the support. "Let go of me.

"You should know what I mean." "Claire. I closed my eyes. still refusing to look at him. and was now frantically searching for a way to make me feel better. I could feel the strength of my anger with him fading. You don't have a choice but to love me. amidst the frustration and the love that I didn't deserve. just to infuriate him further." His tone of voice shocked me." he ordered. examining his face frantically. eventually. now trying to stick his head in my line of sight so that I'd meet his eyes. but I swear to God. He always saw through me. then I guess you are as stupid as you look. "Well. To my horror. "Tell me what you meant by that?" he asked quietly. I worked so hard to keep the hurt from my voice. My eyes flew open.172 - . I closed . He sounded so desperate." "No." he said. He hadn't seen me cry in about ten years. "I have no limbs left to force your eyes open. I finally met his gaze. "But I don't. He growled quietly." "Look at me. We gazed at each other for an immeasurable moment. Look at me. but I knew it was pointless. I couldn't even wipe them away. right? You don't have a choice but to be here. Because I just wanted him to love me the same way I did. "I'm only here because I have to be?" "I'm your imprint. and old habits… "And what the hell do you mean by that?" he demanded. frustrated. Because I loved him. And he probably also could hear the truth and logic in my words. I will find a way. I felt my eyes fill up with tears. and I could feel the vibrations. I didn't particularly want to discuss everything I'd been thinking about since he left. I hated the way I always felt compelled to tell him the truth. and I could see his desperation. he would see through me. I didn't know what he could say.him. But I always told him everything." I said. my voice breaking without my permission. You probably wouldn't be in my life at all if you had imprinted on someone else!" I said. Quil's face was frozen with shock. Because I didn't want to be mad at him. reading each other's faces. getting weaker by the second. look at me. so upset.

and released my hands. He did the same with my other hand." he said softly. He grinned at my scowl. and quit trying to make yourself miserable." He grinned. the relieved kind of laughter. I felt close to tears again. I believed him. If anything freaked out a guy more than the word 'commitment'. filling my entire chest.173 - . and then he laughs at me when I'm obviously upset. ignoring me. Then his lips crushed mine. What a prick! I struggled again to free my hands. A person only gets one other half. "Oh. Let me make you happy. yeah?" I said loudly. I could have travelled the whole world and never once found another imprint. My heart had swollen at his words. and he laughs at it? What was with him why was he being such a bastard? First. hating the traitorous tears. raising his voice too. He was laughing at me? I lay my heart out in front of him. you are a complete and utter asshole. and gently slid them up the bed until they were over my head. I really loved him. "I would never have imprinted on someone else. But he was laughing. and I felt the anger fading away once more. I don't know why you keep doubting that. It's always you. I managed to free my right hand before he could react. interlocking his fingers with mine. taking advantage of his lapse in concentration. I didn't miss the way this brought our faces closer. I think you're under a misapprehension. So will you stop being such a drama queen. He smiled at me. "Claire. I glared at him. "Well. but before I could hit him with it. Claire." he said. hating the fact that he'd seen them." he said. "Thinking about it. He wiped away the tears with his thumbs. and I don't care -" "Claire. my anger returning with renewed force. The sound of his laughter sounded almost foreign to my ears. rough and . are you?" I smirked. I love you with my whole heart. but stopped just before he kissed me. intertwining our fingers. Always. he had captured it again. I returned his smile. and I opened my eyes again. so he could hold either side of my face. He lowered his face slowly to mine. And he loved me. hating myself for being such a baby. sure I was imagining eyes. his eyes intense. If I had never have met you. and you're officially dumped. "You're not going to hit me. it was tears. you are a complete and utter imbecile. I couldn't breathe. I knew that. he runs away and stays away for an entire day.

I kissed him back." I said. "I wouldn't be so cocky if I were you. I didn't expect you to want us to move so fast. pulling him closer to me. "Ahem. that's all. I would be toast.burning. Jesus Christ. clearing his throat loudly.174 - ." "Excuse me?" he said. Never pegged you for a cliché. every last trace of it. as we were both under the covers. Quil. "I am not a typicalman. His eyes were warm and intense and ardent. It felt very intimate. and I needed time to think about it. his hands gripping my face tightly. He pulled away much sooner than I would have liked. my own hands seizing his shoulders. all my hurt and resentment and anger." To my disappointment. you just took me by surprise. I just needed -" "Time and space. I rolled my eyes." "Fine. Quil. "I wouldn't move in with you now even if you were the last person on earth. I hadn't forgotten. I did not freakout. and if my mother decided to walk in. Quil took my hand and held it tightly in both of his. but I decided I didn't care." "Translation: you're a typical man and you freaked out because anytime a girl says anything even remotely related to the word 'commitment'. "So what were you saying about dumping me?" he asked. just completely melted away. Everything." . He lay down on his stomach next to me. He took up the majority of the space. that's what happens. Is that so awful?" His eyes softened. throwing my arm over my face. "But anyway. I wasn't asking for a marriage and a baby and a white picket fence. just like mine. smirking. he swung his right leg over me to join his left. and my heart stalled. yeah. offended. and I had to snuggle up to him so I wouldn't fall out of the bed. I just want to be with you. Then he seemed to remember he was still on top of me." "Are you going to listen?" "Duh. whatever. his breathing uneven. You still haven't explained why you fled the scene yesterday. and propped himself up on his elbows. it doesn't matter now. Basically.

burying his head in them. because another thought had occurred to me. That was a low blow. I still had my arm over my face. If it was my mom… there would be serious. though…" I shuddered. I wouldn't ask the question. closing the door again behind her. "Eh. Only one thing ever fell onto my lap. I was torn. sounding both amused and affronted. and that was Quil. Quil and I froze simultaneously. If it was Jack… he'd run and tell Mom. All clothes still on. I'd love to jump off a cliff right now. he would tell me. and I just didn't want to hear his confirmation. Things that I wanted never came to me easily. serious trouble. But in my heart. "Oh. I had to fight for them every single time. who was cringing with his eyes closed. but another part of me still didn't want to know. despite what I said. How could you?" I knew he was teasing me now. right? Aargh. I tried to imagine what it would look like to an outsider. "I don't want to know." he said. "What's wrong with you? It wasn't that embarrassing. If it was Denise… I wasn't sure. Claire. Who was the drama queen now? . and I was too terrified to move. more than anything. Quil. There was a heavy silence.175 - . I remained silent. serious trouble. "I'd rather move in with my dad. in the bed with me. desperately wanted to ask the question. but I wasn't going to push for it. He had said he needed time to think about it. He didn't answer. so I couldn't see who it was. She sounded slightly baffled. If he wanted me to know. and left the room quickly." "Oh. A distraction arose in the form of my door flying open. so there would still be serious. confused."What?" he said. and folded his arms. his voice muffled. I fought back a smile at the false note of distress in his voice. I didn't use the comeback that had just sprung to mind." Denise. I hadn't anticipated he would want it as much as me. Could you imagine if that was Mom. I peeked at Quil. why?" I asked. I still wanted to move in with him. Nothing major. right? So what conclusion had he come to? I badly.

There was something devilishly sexy about Quil saying that in his deep and husky voice. Claire. It cracked me up. "She walked in and saw you." he said. He rolled his eyes and waited for me to control myself. Say it again. "What?" he said sulkily." "Say what again?" "Say 'shit' again. Oh. "You know something?" I asked. hell." "Shit?" He now sounded worried for my sanity. You never curse. raising traumatised eyes to mine. God only knows what she thought I was doing.176 - ." He buried his head in his arms again. anyway. I stuffed my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. "Why?" "Well. you know… yesterday. I was sure you'd be . apparently asleep. rolling his eyes again. "I'm surprised at you. "It's not funny. but his expression didn't do me any favours. with some weird fetish shit. He raised his eyebrows at me. "Are you going to force me to say the F-word now or something?" I laughed at him. when I had calmed somewhat. She must think I'm a complete weirdo. He raised his eyes to mine so he could glare at me this time." "No. when I said I needed to think. it isn't."Claire. It's hilarious. He smiled reluctantly. I tried to fight back the laughs. but my body shook with it." Quil said. his tone more serious now. and me lying in the bed beside you. "I have never once heard you say the word 'shit' before now. I grinned." "Your point being?" "It's funny. she thought you were asleep." he protested." "You're right.

It was more than I had ever dared to hope for. and it was probably the best deal I was going to get." I nodded." I didn't say anything. "I'm not saying no… but I'm not saying yes. Because I have thought about it. Can you ever forgive . you know. and grinned.177 - . clearly trying not to laugh." he interrupted. working hard to keep my expression neutral. I just looked at him. and then we would talk about it. "You still haven't apologised for your crimes. either." "What crimes?" he scoffed. I had just imagined something worse than what you said -" "Fourthly. "I'm not… greatly opposed to the idea. I guessed that was OK. you sat on me and you're not exactly light-" "I didn't hear you complaining much -" "Thirdly. I think we should discuss it again maybe after you graduate. I glared. "Do you want a list? First. you laughed at me when I started crying -" "I wasn't laughing at you. I'm sorry. you -" "Claire. watching my face carefully." he said. you ran away and left me wallowing in misery for a whole day -" "But I explained -" "Secondly. you called me an imbecile and a moron -" "Well." I said. "I apologise. smiling. So I'd stop obsessing about it. my face darkening. and just wait until after graduation. "Right then. "Am I back in your good books?" "I haven't decided yet. you called me an asshole…" "And fifthly.dying to know what I thought in relation to us living in the same house." he said.

" "It won't be. I hoped so. and looked up and smiled when I left my room. I still didn't know what I wanted to do. Maybe the idea would stick in his head like it had in mine. hopefully I'd be living in the same house as Quil. Or I'll drag you out myself. did he have to be so gorgeous? "Excellent." Like I was ever going to be able to stay mad at him." . I didn't have any special talents. He was waiting outside my door for me. "I do not know. You know what I think we should do?" "What?" "I think we should watch a horror movie. "Now." "Do I have to? I'm really quite comfortable…" "Get up. I really think it's time you got out of bed. He slung his arm around my shoulder and I beamed up at" I smiled too. Why." "We haven't watched one of those in a while. Graduation was only two months away now. I promise you. it really has. I had no idea what I could see myself doing this time next year. Miss Young." He left the room so I could get dressed. and he'd want me to move in with him." "It's been too long. I couldn't sing or draw or act or anything. What would you like to do?" "Hmm." He gave me a kiss. "So. and I found myself thinking about what was going to happen when I left school. oh why.178 - . "Fine." I rolled my eyes." "That sounds like fun. "I suppose so. what kind of job I wanted to get. What are we doing today?" I asked. Although. and I had a very short attention span.

"Oh." He sniggered but headed obediently into the empty living room to hunt out the movie. instantly wary." Quil rolled his eyes." "Really. Chad Michael Murray? Sure." she said." he protested. I tried not to get distracted by them too much. "How can you even lust after Chad Michael Ugly when you have me as your boyfriend?" he scoffed. eating a salad and tapping her foot to the radio." "So do you think we should take over the living room?" "I really think we should. Claire. as I strolled down the hall.179 - . I rooted out the microwaveable popcorn and stuck it into the microwave."I think I have withdrawal symptoms. feeling too loved up and cheerful to even think about being nasty and difficult with her." "Sure." I said pleasantly. Denise was in the kitchen. "The recent version?" "Hmm. I shook my head. "Hi. Don't dare tell me that you're not riveted to the screen when Paris Hilton starts running around in her lingerie. grinning widely. you big sap. I almost burst out laughing when I . even though my puny strength wasn't enough to make him go places. But what shall we watch?" We both thought about it as we walked down the stairs. I'll get popcorn. smiling. and rolled my own eyes at his lack of modesty. "Go and put the movie on. it's been that long. "House of Wax?" Quil suggested." "My eyes glaze over. "Why would I stare at Paris Hilton when I could stare at you?" I blushed and shoved at him. "Hey. please." "Great. honest. and made a big show of flexing his impressive muscles.

Claire. Number one. I was awake. I grinned and bounded into living room." he laughed. it's OK. "Oh. OK. There was only about ten minutes left in the movie when my mother came storming into the living room." she said. It would be unkind if I didn't straighten it all out. and on a whim." I said." "Where's Jack?" "He ran off to Alex's house holding a basketball. I'd really appreciate it if you didn't mention it to Mom. "this is going to sound really strange but -" "Denise. "Heaven forbid." I said. I lowered my voice." I rolled my eyes. I suppose. Number two. The microwave beeped. "Where's Mom?" "She's taking a bath. God. Listen. "What did you think he was doing?" I asked curiously." Denise began. I know I'm not the easiest person to get along with. we weren't doing anything. trying not to laugh. "You're keen. retrieving it. just talking.remembered Quil's embarrassment. her face like thunder. informing me that the popcorn was ready." She smiled. My heart skipped a beat. frowning." I said. thinking maybe Denise had accidentally let slip that she had found Quil and I lying . and shoved a handful of popcorn into his mouth. her expression clearing. "Watching you sleep. Quil had already settled himself into the couch. And number three." "Oh. I jumped onto his lap." "Right." she said. you're not so bad. She blushed. but unkind. "Ah. "And thanks for being nice to me yesterday. "Thanks Denise. "Shut up. She'll probably go crazy over nothing. Did we just have a sisterly bonding moment?" She laughed her tinkling laugh.180 - . Hilarious.

. the news was definitely not bed together. or something along those lines. Then I thought she might throw a fit at the fact I was sitting on Quil's lap. and I panicked for a second. her voice dripping with heavy sarcasm. and scowled in my direction." she said. Judging by the look on her face. But she barely registered Quil. "I have wonderful news.181 - .

so I could work some fab ideas that a few of you had into the story. I felt as though someone had swept the rug out from under my feet. knowing him. All he had done lately was try and hurt me. giving us 'notice'. you're only encouraging my cliffhangers at this stage.182 - . really?" Denise said. try and put a dampener on everything that made me happy. No doubt he'd kick up a fuss about Quil.Naughty Quil Either you're all mainly psychic or I'm just predictable. Chapter Twenty-Three: Naughty Quil "Your father is coming for a visit. her face brightening. quickly . "That's great.." Mom repeated. "And how long is he staying for?" "He didn't say. "What?" I shrieked. throwing her eyes to heaven. and I'm more inclined to go with the latter. "Oh. I have twisted some events even further. This was not going to be fun. and controlled her expression. or he would have just arrived on the doorstep tomorrow totally unannounced. entering the living room. but to annoy you.. . Bow to your queen. "What the hell for? When did you find this out?" "Well. My heart sank. and enjoy this chapter. He sent it a week ago. Does he have any idea how to use a phone? We're lucky I checked my mail today." Mom ranted. lurrrrve xxxxx :) By the by. Too long. her mouth twisting. I went on the internet to check my email like five minutes ago and there was a nice long one from him going on about coming down here for a visit. and then one look at mine. Me thinks you're going to likey what will happen. I wasn't prepared at all for dealing with my father. "Your father is coming for a visit. But for now. Most of you guessed my next twisty twist." She took one look at Mom's face. aghast." Mom said." "What's going on?" Denise asked. Quil's eyes narrowed. Moohawhaw. "Tomorrow?" I said. THANK YOU for the amazing reviews.

"I haven't seen that bastard since I divorced him and I was quite looking forward to living the rest of my life without ever looking at him again. to offer his opinion over the whole Quil-telling-me-the-truth thing. I think it was his way of buying me off. in fact. I mean. but I was a hundred percent certain it was something to do with Quil. So I spent a week in New York with him. and I had half expected him to be here for my eighteenth birthday. when Jack and I had flown over to see him. Though of . too. by spending as little time as I could with him. But he hadn't bothered. he's got another thing coming. "He is. We barely spoke.looking down at the ground. "Yeah. Quil's arms tightened around me. and I had reacted to that. My mother laughed without humour. and when we did it was just stilted conversations. The last time I saw him was last summer. acerbically." Mom said. my ass. who had great relationships with my dad. I still haven't forgotten what he said to Emily. his eyes scrutinising my face. I had been forced by my mother." She headed to the phone in the hall with sudden determination. this is great. The highlight of the week was going shopping with his credit card. my mind reeling." I said.183 - . If he thinks he'd just going to waltz in here and play happy families. but I was still annoyed by her enthusiasm." "He's not staying here. Dad hadn't done anything to Denise to make her resent him like I did. and I had learned not to have expectations when it came to him. and left the room. even though I knew it was a stupid question. is he?" I asked. it was like he didn't see me. It hadn't really been the most enjoyable holiday of my life. I still couldn't believe my dad was coming. When my dad looked at me. I'm going to ring her now. My mother still had issues with him. "Right. and I suddenly remembered he was there. He had spoiled Jack consistently the whole time we were there. "Are you alright?" he asked. He can bloody well pay for a hotel. pursing her lips. Denise rocked on her heels for a moment. "I'm fine. who said that maybe I should make a small effort with him at the very least. too." she said. he hadn't bothered to visit in years. A part of me was jealous of both Denise and Jack. I didn't know what his big problem with me was.

ever." . he and Jack got on so well it was almost surreal." "Claire. half-heartedly watching the end of the movie. I grinned. I refused to go each time. his eyes twinkling. "I just mean can you cut down on the dramatics?" "I'll see what I can do. Mom. "Don't worry about it. "It mightn't be as bad as you think. I grimaced. Quil surprised me by smiling." I said icily. in an obvious attempt to cheer me up. "How can I not? This is going to be an unmitigated disaster from start to finish. Will you promise me something?" "It depends on what it is. offended. Claire." "Will you think before you say something?" "Quil!" I protested. And no one could stop me seeing you. Denise and Jack all in the same room at the same time." I said. preferring to stay home with Mom. and watch the Christmas horror movies with Quil. It worked. no.184 - ." I sighed. "My poor." he teased. running my palm along his lightly shaved head." he said. and go to Christmas parties with Rachel. Quil. so don't worry about it. but I can practically see you becoming terribly overdramatic about this. We were quiet for a while. He'll probably call you names and try and stop me from seeing you and stuff.course." I cooed at him. He grinned at my tone. Dad. "Well. abused boyfriend. I'm not psychic. "He can't call me anything worse than the names you call me." Quil said immediately. I glared at him. I doubted his hostile feelings towards Quil had changed much in the past couple of weeks. I contemplated the idea of me. Dad hadn't even tried to change my mind. I'm not looking forward to it at all. making a face. He laughed and pulled me closer. I shuddered. "You didn't promise. jolting me out of my thoughts. "Really?" Quil asked sceptically. Jack spent every Christmas with him. "Whatever.

A first for me was when I walked into school on Tuesday. but I was sure it wasn't pleasant. Abused again. "Who's being dramatic now?" "I wonder where I get that from. and my mother hadn't the heart to wake me up and send me to school late. though. There were still grudges being held against him for it. I didn't complain. "Shut your face. as I spent the day worrying. He chuckled at my expression. rolling my eyes. I wasn't completely sure what Dad had said to Emily." I said. My patience was stretched to the limit. my dad decides to visit. and now everything had changed again. Both Jack and Denise were trying not to look too excited about Dad's arrival. I could foresee plenty of arguments this week. and wasted no time in quizzing me on it. whatever. It was typical of my dad. eh?" I spent the rest of the day plagued by trepidation. and the next thing I know. so I had gotten an unexpected day off. and I didn't know if I was going to be able to deal with it all.185 - . "Great. We're in for a quiet week." "Poor Quil." he pressed. performing the annoying puppy dog eyes. and didn't want to go home. worrying. to a degree." I laughed. It was mainly my mother's fault. "But… why?" she asked. and everything in my life looked like it was settling down into something comfortable. I had slept through my alarm the previous day. I can't have been great company for him. so. almost uninterrupted day with Quil. and reminded themselves of all the reasons why they both hate him. Rachel picked up on my edgy mood. whose mood only worsened after speaking to Emily. Her eyes widened when she heard my dad was coming to visit. I didn't blame her."Promise me. In fact. "Fine. he hadn't been back to Forks since . of course. worrying. I promise. The two of them were bitching about him on the phone for hours. I finally gotten over the whole Denise thing. of course. looking confused. Claire. It wasn't like my dad made an effort to travel over here a lot." he teased. apparently. It just meant I got to spend an extra.

I mean. "Anyway." I shrugged. so it's going better than I thought it would. and kind of distant with me." With every word she became more and more upset. having absolutely no desire to continue talking about my dad. "He probably felt obliged to. "Not much." Rachel nodded. because Denise made the effort. there was no way I could allow them to split up. I realised I hadn't spoken to her properly in ages. I thought guiltily. I immediately felt ten times guiltier.he left. Once I sorted out the disaster zone my family life had become." she said. "Rachel." I said in what I hoped was I soothing tone. We're not at each other's throats. making a big effort to sound nonchalant. "Zach is crazy about you.186 - . an entity. How is that going. "Rache? What's wrong?" She looked up at me with big round eyes." Rachel said. We were in class. "What's happening with you?" "Oh. I really should make more of an effort with her. after all." I said hastily. I hoped everything would work out between them. he isn't in school today and I texted him asking where he was and he never texted back. you see. "Oh. enough about me." I restrained myself from rolling my eyes with difficulty. Zach and Rachel were like another version of me and Quil. "Zach is being weird with me. by the way?" "Denise? Fine. It was probably one of his many agendas. Maybe I should organise some girl time or something. He' s never like this." She appeared mollified. waiting for the teacher to arrive. I don't know what I'm supposed to have done. flicking her long hair over her shoulder. I doubt it's anything to worry about. Rachel . This was my cue to pry. "What do you mean?" "He's just not been around that much. I felt even worse. suddenly dejected. I would lose any faith I still had in relationships. I was supposed to be her best friend.

resting her chin on her hand on the desk." I frowned. The tension hung like a cloud over the whole house. I pulled him into a hug the first opportunity I got. "I won't be quite so mellow if your father speaks out of line like he did the last time." he murmured in my ear. holding my head in my hands." He growled quietly and I pulled back to look at him questioningly." "No. that was the edited version. "What if Dad starts a load of crap. so she could just be blowing things out of proportion. I doubt it's going to be that bad. "Jeez. "What did happen last time? I thought you told me." He smiled at me. needing reassurance. I wasn't going to meddle." I mumbled. and I was waiting for the explosion.187 - . He just said some things he shouldn't have said. "Hmm. and it was building and building. Claire. Everything will be fine." I groaned." she said. Remember when I told you about your dad… er. "It's going to be worse. over everyone's heads. I had enough to deal with.was terrible for jumping to conclusions. you won't. "No." I laughed. "Says quite possibly the most mellow person I know. her eyes wide. but I keep thinking I'm missing something. they'll come from me." Rachel said. I wondered if I should maybe talk to Zach… nah. If there are going to be any dramatics." Quil was waiting in the driveway for me when I got home. They'd work it out between them." . and everyone starts fighting? I'm going to snap. "Can I ring you when I get home if he texts me?" "Home. "You're not missing anything." "You don't know that." I argued. reacting badly when we told him about the imprinting thing? Well. "Relax. "Take a few deep breaths.

ignoring his wide infectious grin. And then told . but maybe he had a reason for being evasive. rather than sooner. suspiciously. And you can't talk. it seemed. and grinned devilishly at me. Nobody had liked Jeremy. I'd find out later. "Why did you ask her out. This was before you. She had the nicest set of -" He broke off abruptly. "Teeth. the injustice of that event irking me again. "I once asked out Todd Jackson's girlfriend. After all. change the subject. and play along with him. It was quite funny. I bet you haven't done anything naughty in your life." he teased." I raised my eyebrows. "Bad boy?" I scoffed. what with his acne and massive glasses. He had laughed at me. don't look at me like that. and he'd been going out with his girlfriend for a few years." "And who the hell is Todd Jackson? And… what?" "Todd was this guy in school." he said. "Oh." "Not true!" he protested loudly. It would damage your innocent mind and ears. "Oh. come on. You asked out that loser Jeremy Whatshisface when you were thirteen. really. She was hot." I said sarcastically. "We vowed we wouldn't speak of that again!" I hissed at him."Like what?" I asked slowly. I decided to let it go. "Right." he finished. too. yeah. He was trying to distract me. again?" "I was just experimenting. I rolled my eyes. because I'm an absolute saint. "Really?" I said coolly." He started laughing at the memory. "I can't tell you.188 - . "You're too holy to be with a bad boy like me. seeming to suddenly realise there were no other guys around him. pretending to be rueful. I wanted to press him for further information. and I asked her out to see how much trouble it would cause. and I took pity on him and asked him to come with me to some stupid disco that was on in the school at the weekend. He cleared his throat. and that his girlfriend was glaring at him with her eyebrows raised and her hands on her hips. he always did what was best for me.

she was rolling her eyes. and tried to storm past him into the house." "Shut up." he pleaded." I muttered. "I had hoped I'd never have to look at that feather duster again." I snapped viciously." he said again. I'll bring it up again and laugh harder." I said again. "You said you weren't going to bring it up again. Do you have any idea how humiliated I felt?" "I'm sorry." I snickered and grabbed his hand. now making an effort to sound remorseful. Quil. holding his sides. no. "Come along. "Will you two stop messing around out there and get in here and help me clean!" my mother barked suddenly from somewhere inside the house. She was sitting.189 - . Feather dusting time. Maybe in another five years. ignoring his sniggers. "I know we did. "OK. He snared me around the waist. she was standing. I'll be quiet now. Claire. but I was now regretting it. and we both jumped. And I was just trying to be nice to him. but he wouldn't let me go. "Oh. she was pacing. and he started kissing his way up my neck. she was tapping her foot. but…" he was gasping with laughter. I relented." his voice still rich with humour. "But hey ." Quil said. God.everyone in my class that I was desperate. she was giving . she's cleaning again. "Shut up. It had taken years to get over that. I tried to struggle away from his arm. I had told Quil of my humiliation. I shivered. "I'm sorry. "I can still never fathom… what possessed you… to ask…him…" he trailed off into laughter again. she was sighing. He promised he would never bring this up again.I managed to go five years without ever bringing it up. his tone fearful. pulling him into the house." My mother couldn't sit still. I'm sorry. Quil. "Oh. bad boy.

I was dizzy watching her. Never mind the fact that I had gone against his wishes. painting her nails. Quil on one side. and he couldn't wait to see everyone." she admonished sharply. I didn't want either of them provoked by the other. to my surprise. and Mom was insane. bugger!" Jack exclaimed loudly. I wondered what kind of category I fit into. He's part of the family. I had dithered earlier on whether or not to force Quil to go home. whether Ryan the Retard likes it or not. But I went along with it. frantically pushing buttons on the Nintendo. and my mom agreed with him. Mom jumped out of her tense glaring match with the window. which wasn't what I wanted to do. I couldn't concentrate on the bright colours and small noises squeaking out of it to notice what kind of game he was playing. She wasn't in the most pleasant of moods. letting her know that he had arrived safely ("Humph.out to me for fidgeting. But I was sure Mom was only letting Quil stay to spite Dad.190 - . We almost looked like a normal family. let him stay. I was sitting on the couch. The teenage drama queen? Something like that. and chosen to be with Quil rather than stay away from him. Claire. so that my dad wouldn't have an excuse the minute he walked through the door to start yelling. . My dad had called my mom when he landed in the airport. I knew it was stupid. I was sure he was dying to give me a big hug and a kiss. I was sceptical. Denise was in the armchair. and Jack was the devil reincarnated. for crying out loud. "Oh. and Jack was on his Nintendo. All we needed now was my psychotic father to join the party. "Jack. seemingly oblivious to the tense atmosphere. But Quil insisted that he was staying. don't curse like that." she had said) and that he'd be at the house in half an hour. Quil was watching my face as though it was a compulsive television programme. waiting for her ex-husband to arrive." And you wonder where I get my childishness from. it's rude. I just wanted to… OK. Jack on the other. but I kind of wanted to… protect Quil from some of the things my father said. Forget that Denise was an Australian Barbie. "No. and settled down on the couch with Quil to wait. and we could almost pass for a normal family. and Quil was a freaking werewolf. Jack just shrugged.

the one my dad used to call me. I struggled with myself." I heard my mother hiss. "Don't you dare give her any shit. Once my dad got going. which brought back a deluge of memories. The taxi. But I was almost immediately distracted when my mother froze. glaring in her direction. and I still loved him. but I didn't meet his gaze. Had I missed him? I wasn't sure. no doubt. I stood up. "Where's my Claire-bear?" I jumped at the sudden use of my very old nickname. and he smiled at me. glancing over briefly. and few more grey hairs adding to his muddy brown locks.191 - . Mom close behind her. Well. I could distinctly make out my dad's gruff tones. I looked up at him. I smiled back and leaned my head on his shoulder. How did I ever get lucky enough to deserve a guy like him? Denise started blowing on her nails. My mom snapped the door shut sharply behind them all. sighing. except for a few more lines on his face. He smiled . Denise's tinkling laugh. and we all heard the sound of an engine pull up outside. I wasn't going to jump up like an eager little daughter to see him. and I found myself irrationally annoyed by that. and launched himself out of the seat towards the front door. he was still my dad. his eyes locking onto mine immediately. Screw that. Denise left the room also. I listened hard to the scene at the door. surrounded by his two favourite children."Claire." It didn't ease the tension in any way. the exact same shade as mine. There were the sounds of Jack's delighted roar as my dad probably swung him through the air upside down. I lowered my fingers from my mouth. "Dad!" Jack yelled. I wondered if he thought I was being immature by refusing to join the welcoming committee. Quil caught hold of my fingers and intertwined them with his. He walked through the doorframe. folding her arms along the way. a rather clipped greeting from my mother. Quil had also started using it until I begged him to stop. he didn't listen to anyone. Quil's fingers tightened around mine. He hadn't changed a bit. Quil imitating me. I scowled in his general direction. "She's in there. I could feel Quil's eyes religiously watching my face. stop biting your nails!" she snapped at me. Despite all the hurt and resentment he'd caused. when I heard him walk through the front door.

when something I hadn't expected happened. looking me up and down. I noticed the way he hadn't even acknowledged Quil's presence. He had just totally blanked him. My dad held out his arms. I wanted to say something derisive. you've gotten so much taller.192 - . like how if he had bothered to visit more often he mightn't even notice a growth spurt. I was about to. and I did the same.hesitantly at me. "Good God. whether accidentally or on purpose. "Don't I get a hug?" ." he said.

Whee hee hee. to not cause a scene. I'm wonderful. No. Haha. It's my last year. Sorry about the wait . But the rational part of me just wanted this all to end with as little damage as possible. It should be enough to keep you going until the next one. hello. Thanks also for the chocolate chip cookies. but there you go. before I go: thank you millions for the gorgeous reviews. So I have no idea when I'll be able to update next. bugger. But GET EXCITED . congrats on being the only one to voice it! A cookie for you!). Zach is not a werewolf (I thought about it actually. I think that's all my annoucements. and I am not a happy bunny.I had no chance to triple check like I normally would. Oh. don't I?). and will be introduced next chapter." and move along. The rebel part of me wanted to scream at him. bugger. bugger.193 - . my pretties. I struggled with myself. since I was nice enough to end it on the least cliffhangerish sentence possible. I'm going to say sorry now if you spot a typo . At all. Bugger. tell him that I couldn't hug him because he didn't deserve my affections. this is the Longest Chapter Ever. and I know the word "bugger" is not that American. and the quickest and easiest way to do this would be do act like nothing's wrong. since I've figured that if I actually want to pass everything I might want to study and do my homework properly. Too complicated. anyway (I do waffle on. walk away from him.Loitering Well. you're all so amazingly amazing. But Ish-Cat. It's not my greatest. and a list of increasingly more melodramatic stunts.and it also means my poor laptop might find itself neglected. So. and all I had to do was take one step forward and hug him. And I want to hear no complaining. He had his arms held out to me. Just shake your head and say "Silly Lea. but decided it would just be too much. :D Enjoy! Lurrrrve! xxxxxx :D Chapter Twenty-Four: Loitering I stared at my dad uncertainly for a moment. laugh at him derisively. Heheheheheh. Oh.I am back to school now. So. Ugh. but I like it. or create a . which means EXAMS aargh .my fave story twist is coming up soon.

He smelt of tobacco and spearmint and the aftershave that he always wore." he said. and any present Jack received from him was always a good one. Even Quil. and I rested my head on his shoulder. I hesitated. but I repressed it. There was no apparent awkwardness about him. Quil's disappointment. They must have expected the refusal and the ranting and the dramatics. The immature rebel side of me wanted to do all this. "Hey. just for the hell of it. Everyone was waiting with bated breath for my reaction. I hated that everyone seemed to expect me to start the fights. Shout and scream and act irrationally. and the heat of my mother's betrayed glare. all the time. I remembered how he used to read me funny stories out of the newspapers when I was little. and I avoided them all. I wanted to laugh at my dad for thinking there was even a chance I could forgive and forget. Cause a fuss. He had expected me to hug him like everything in the past hadn't mattered. My dad always spoiled him almost to the point of excess. For once. turning around to Jack. I could feel Quil's eyes boring into my back. overwhelmed. My dad grinned at me and messed up my hair. no surprise that I had hugged him. I didn't want to be the one to start the screaming. the gloating on my mother's face. and more. It had been my favourite part of Sundays. Because they expected me to do what I always did. old forgotten memories returning to me. She was a firm believer in giving . But what would it achieve? A couple of seconds of satisfaction? Was it worth it? I didn't want to see the sting on my dad's face as he was rejected dramatically by me. I took a step forward and hugged him.fuss. and I would always curl up on his lap to hear them. the eye-rolling of my siblings and the 'here we go again'.194 - . My head spun. Huh. I felt another surge of resentment. I pulled away. Maybe I was maturing. "guess what I got for ya?" There was a slight eruption from Jack. His arms wrapped tentatively around me. as overexcitement completely consumed him. My mother made disapproving clucking noises as my dad unveiled the expensive goodies. Jacky Boy. and worst of all.

"I still own half this house." ." "Something you won't let me bloody forget. I eyed the two black suitcases on the ground. "Denise. "Well. a few feet from the ever-staring Quil. Denise nodded and pulled open the front door. I was saved from my dithering. and met my eyes. or could I just escape somewhere. That's your problem. I studied Quil for a moment. "What?" Mom snapped dangerously. and not for no reason at all. My dad was more into bribes. Jack. I stood awkwardly with my arms folded in the centre of the room.195 - . anyway? Denise. He smiled encouragingly at me. me close behind her. and 'catch up' with him later? I wasn't feeling particularly enthusiastic towards being around him at the present time. and I wondered what I should do. Quil approached me and pulled me into a one-armed hug. Claire ." I rolled my eyes at Denise and jerked my head towards the door. "You're not staying here.presents when they were deserved. And how long did he exactly plan on staying. He had already brought two inside the house. and I felt a little better. as he effortlessly skated underneath Quil's arm in the space between him and me. gliding around us in a circle with surprising skill. He was worse than a girl." Dad's eyes narrowed." Quil said. "Can you do any tricks. "I was quite the Bart Simpson when I was your age. where else am I supposed to go?" "I don't care. "But now I'd probably break the skateboard.will you get my other bags out of the driveway?" Dad asked. Quil?" he inquired. He closed the door behind my two warring parents. with his usual lack of modesty. Jack caused a momentary distraction by putting his brand new skateboard on the ground and hopping onto it. he didn't look that put out by the lack of greeting from my father." My dad puffed. They could sort that out between themselves. It wasn't until we were outside that I realised both Quil and Jack had followed us. Thankfully. Was I obligated to hang out here. Quil and I loitered in the driveway.

while Quil burst out laughing. surely. when an exasperated Quil clicked his fingers in front of my face. I didn't want him here." "Jack!" I said disapprovingly. But what I do know is that it's all muscle. Quil. I didn't really want him here. to think he could walk straight back into the house like he owned the place (figuratively speaking) and expect the whole family to bow on their hands and knees. I couldn't waste my time fretting over my stupid dad and this ridiculous situation. which meant one of them had caved. "I'm not sure. Jack. I was tense. The muffled shouting from the house seemed to have ceased. Next thing Quil would be teaching Jack how to throw a decent punch. "Because I break scales when I stand on them. gazing up with the usual reverence at his idol. Jack made a face at the thought of vegetable-eating. or something along those lines. I rolled my eyes at both of them. I tried to pull myself out of my troubling thoughts. I unfocussed. I was still waiting for the explosion. "Earth to Claire. right?" I interjected." Quil laughed. grinning up at him. I didn't like the way he had put me on edge. He made me feel nervous and agitated. being the usual bad influence on him that he was." he informed him. he would have to go to a hotel. dangling off his arm. Maybe if I ignored it all and put a mask on. Denise had the only spare room. I mean. Ground control to Claire."Yeah. you weigh about twenty stone or so. I couldn't believe my dad's gall. and then proceeded to use Quil as a climbing frame." he said." Denise annoyed me by giggling. The way he had completely blanked Quil made me uneasy. "All you have to do. Quil sighed at me. and my stomach was a churning ball of apprehension. I was not sharing with Jack or vice versa so he could have one of our rooms. "I've been trying to ask you something for the past five minutes. baby. still waiting for that one little trigger that would set him off. and cater to him. sticking his tongue out at me. is eat your vegetables. and it was all Dad's fault. Jack hopped off the skateboard and picked it up off the ground." . "Then I can beat up nerds. "I'm going to be all strong like you when I'm older. Claire! Am I talking to myself?" "What?" I said. it would all go away.196 - .

And my mother couldn't exactly force me to stay behind and 'make an effort' like she'd done with Denise. Denise. and Denise obediently went off to grab one of the suitcases. I wouldn't have to stand him for long. chewing on my lip. help me with his bags. my eyes unfocussed again. I looked up at Quil expectantly for his question. Christ. but we were all distracted as my mother opened the front door and glared at no one in particular. because she resented my father too. I watched them. I could spend the day at Quil's if it got too much for me. "Quil." she ordered grumpily. aware of Denise's eyes on my face also and not particular warm to the idea of spilling my guts at that moment. Now. that's just going past dramatic -" "Oh. and if I had been in a better mood. Uh oh."Oh.197 - . sorry. then?" I paused. Quil opened his mouth. pulling myself together. I probably would have found it hilarious. his arms folded over the top of Quil's head. no doubt to question me further. I'm trying to tell you -" "Don't say stuff like that. He was staying here? He was staying here. He was staring down at me interestedly. looking up again to find him already gazing at me. "Look." I said. When you come over tomorrow and you find me having committed suicide in the bathroom because of that -" "CLAIRE!" Quil exploded. "Are you OK?" Quil asked. shut up. Not good. because he now sounded upset. "Ryan has decided he's sleeping on the couch tonight. at least. his brow furrowing as he scrutinised my face. and realised that Jack was sitting on his shoulders. I shrugged." I said. He was frowning at me. breathing a little more heavily than normal. I wasn't serious -" "Then why did you say it. I could escape my house for a few hours. Maybe I shouldn't joke . An idea sprang to mind. his eyes blazing. and until he checks himself into a bloody hotel. for God's sake. his head resting on them. "I have an idea. I just had to make sure Quil was OK with it. Quil. I had an escape route.

staying away from my dad as long as I possibly could sounded like a good idea to me. "I want to show Dad my Nintendo game anyway." he ordered. willingly taking yourself to somewhere I won't be with you… well. "What's wrong with you? Why are you overreacting?" "I'm not overreacting. it just kind of sucks to think about. Touchy Quil. I shouldn't joke about being dead full stop. I rolled my eyes at him. He was glaring at me accusingly. melting chocolate. it was just me and Quil in the driveway. "Well. which was the biggest overreaction I'd ever seen to anything. his eyes never leaving mine the whole time. I opened my mouth to ask him if he was alright. and I almost felt guilty.198 - . you know. but I digress. Quil continued to glare at me without speaking. raising my own eyebrows at my annoying brother. watching and listening with raised eyebrows. gesturing for him to go on. Quil. but it wasn't cold enough to make me inclined to go inside. He was trying not to show the obvious distress that this would cause him." he said. and a light breeze whipped my hair off my shoulders.why the hell are you looking at me like that?" I demanded. Well. trying to be offhand and failing hugely. The sky above us was grey. it's just…" he trailed off. I bit my lip. when I suddenly remembered Jack was still on his head. "Lemme down." Quil lifted Jack off his shoulders and placed him carefully on the ground. But I could tell. Once Jack had run off. He met my eyes.about things like me being dead around him. "What the hell . it's just…?" I prompted. I closed my mouth again. "Well. and he glared at me again. And anyway. gazing into space suddenly. I was now frustrated with him. But I hadn't really done anything that offensive. his eyes still burning. "It's just that the idea of you willingly killing yourself. I wanted to kiss the face off him for being so bloody cute when he was . who then rolled his eyes." he said in an indignant high-pitched voice. until I felt provoked into talking first.

unable to help myself. No. blinding. and I felt even guiltier. "I'm sorry. "Are you making fun of me?" I demanded. He didn't squish me to him this time." I repeated." "Actually. and I wanted to take away any doubts that he had now. "I won't ever say things like that. of course. I just did." I muttered. "You did not just insult my intelligence. and he chuckled. I'll put your intelligence to the test then. Didn't take him long to snap out of his mood. but instead started stroking my hair. "Fine. He was silent and still for half a second. I stiffened. shining. A bright." he said. You're not that intelligent.upset." . because you couldn't possibly come up with them when you're awake." "OK. He still looked a little sad. No matter how difficult my life got for me. no matter how sick and tired I was of everything in it. I let him hug me like that until the need to breathe again became absolutely too urgent for me to ignore any longer.199 - . I would never take myself away from him. never again." I said. and I pulled away gently. "You have to come up with your teasing comments somewhere. Huh. smiling now. "I'm sorry. anyway. with the right pitch and everything. "What letter comes before K? Quick!" "H." Quil sniggered." "Oh. Bloody Quil. wrapping my arms around his waist and hugging him. J. I hugged him again. Ah. "I wouldn't dream of it." I scoffed. now sounding amused. shall I?" I felt the smile slide rapidly off my face. before wrapping his huge arms around me and pulling me into a rib-crushing hug. I didn't want to be anywhere that he wasn't. "Well. Quil would be my light at the end of the tunnel. sorry. He kissed my forehead. imitating my voice almost perfectly. dazzling ray of light. I'm sure you would. running his fingers through it. so long as it's never again. jeez." he said.

I was an average student. He was quiet for a second." I defended myself. "I don't see why not. And it wasn't. If my dad bugs me." "Shut up. Claire. I never claimed to be academically brilliant. me thinks. I would rather take all Embry's inappropriate jokes than deal with my dad." "Uh-huh. amused. Fifty-three. I was rusty at my times tables and it wasn't like I studied the alphabet on a regular basis. and I scowled into his shoulder. "You say that now…" . but he answered quickly enough. But just so you know. and he couldn't see my blush. and his reaction to this. Whatever you want. Fifty-four!" He sniggered into my hair. cursing my idiocy. What's three sixes?" he challenged. "I got confused. "How about nine sixes?" "Fifty-two." I wished I could see his face." Quil sniggered again. "Eighteen. can I hang out at your house? I just don't want to be stuck in that house twenty-four-seven with him there. anyway. then. really. I did my homework." "This should be interesting. sometimes with time and effort put into it. I had an idea that I want to discuss with you. sometimes rushed five minutes before the start of class. "Well done. "Anyway. "OK. I wasn't stupid. and I sighed. so maybe he didn't think it a big deal.200 - . most of the time I just couldn't be bothered with school. Mr Smart-Hole." "Ah."H?" he snickered." I answered promptly." Quil snorted. that's fine. almost sarcastically. Claire." he said. you'd have to put up with Embry and Paul instead. What kind of spastic mixed up the alphabet? I was glad my head was buried in his shoulder. and I was happy with that. "You need to pay more attention in school.

everything hadn't been too bad. offering me a reassuring smile. Jesus Christ Almighty. Mom said to tell you that Emily and Sam are coming over later. grimacing at my horror-struck expression." So far. and that you are not getting out of it at all. Oh. He and Sam were locked in what looked like a serious conversation. and Quil looked anxious. My dad ignored Emily and Sam as completely as he ignored Quil. but I didn't think she would be the first person I would turn to. A bloody family reunion. It made me nervous. "OK. smiling back. and I was waiting for the moment that they would unintentionally do something to set him off. She looked a little embarrassed for interrupting. I had never felt I couldn't tell Quil anything. the television filling the silences. another emotion adding to the overload of feelings. They had had to know how awkward things would be. . Tense. Claire. "Thanks. And then the fighting would begin." I said. Dinner had been mainly quiet. God."Claire. that's it. It was my worst nightmare come true. no. not when I had Quil." she said." Emily said. At least dinner was over. I began worrying too. and she's cooking a chicken for dinner. stilted and awkward. Dad was currently chatting to Denise. "I'm always here if you need to vent." I pulled away from Quil to see Denise hanging out of the front door. and God knows he had put up with more than enough of my moaning when I was annoyed with people and situations. "Yeah?" "Er. how are you holding up?" Emily asked in a low voice. Oh.201 - . I loved her for always watching out for me. barely able to eat. Why Emily and Sam had accepted Mom's invitation tonight was beyond me. I had been on edge the whole evening. and we were all in the living room. avoiding eye contact with anyone else. Er. I looked over automatically at him. Waiting for the explosion. "So. I was immediately distracted by his expression.

I don't want him back down here. "Yeah. pointing at my dad. I shook my head. It looked like I was going to be the one to get everything started. You don't have to tell me." she whispered furiously. Emily called Sam over. "Jack is trying to sleep. I approached the two of them hesitantly. Claire. "Ah. and then realised my dad was glaring at both of us. confused. wrapping an arm around my waist and kissing my forehead. as though we were nothing more than trash." He was about to say more. but before I could. I couldn't concentrate. "Do you have a problem?" I demanded. rearranging his expression so absolutely I was almost unsure I had even seen the worry there." he said. I opened my mouth to apologise for interrupting them." "No. I reacted to his expression. when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye and looked across the room. My mother walked in at that moment and hissed at me. I followed his gaze. and even looked surprised at my question.202 - . and then it was just me and Quil. don't be stupid.I'm being nosy. Nothing much ever fazed that guy. who turned his enraged expression on my mom. All I could think about now was what had gotten Quil so worried. It had to be important. The way he was staring at us. like usual. "Is everything OK?" I asked. . noticing the tense atmosphere and expressions. "What's going on?" she added. Quil spotted me and grinned. "Ask him. "It's just that… the conversation you were having with Sam looked a little intense. never mind . but then I realised I sounded like an awful nosy girlfriend." I said. "Don't think you can't ask me questions when you're concerned about anything. unless it was something to do with me.and another worry to add to the long list in my mind. whatever it was. fury etched onto every line of his face. Denise came over to us and asked Emily her opinion on something or other. provoked me. using an insolent tone." I said. I began to wonder if I had imagined it." Quil said.

" he retorted. here we go." she told him. including . As he glared back. who frowned. "But you know I think it's a load of bull. and I could see the effort he was making to keep quiet. with mysister encouraging it?" Dad merely glared at her. Well. Why had he always felt he had to fight against it? He was gaining nothing. for the millionth time. "You're a stupid ass-wipe. now eyeing the arm still around my waist. reminding me of my promise. like I so badly wanted to." Mom think Quil is trying to lead our daughter into a cult. almost casually." he snapped. He turned on me. I wondered why he had never just accepted this for what it was." I hissed angrily." he hissed. sick of my dad always doubting everything. I was so sick and tired of this. he pointed very blatantly at Emily. calming me a little. rolling her eyes. I was sick of them talking about me and Quil like we weren't there. "About them what?" "They're obviously more than just friends. I'd deal with this rationally.203 - . I fumed. "How can you be safe around a pack of monsters?" he snarled. as rationally as Claire could. There was a moments silence before everyone in the room kicked off. I didn't want to know him as a result of his prejudices." "Oh."Did you know about the two of them?" he snapped in a outraged whisper. "You are really are as thick as two short planks. To my disbelief. "Let's hear Ryan's Rant. gesturing in my and Quil's direction. What the hell did you expect? They're made for each other. Mom looked from him to us and back again. Quil's arm tightened on my waist. and losing everything. My mom stared incredulously at him. glowering at my dad. Let me guess . "At least I don't want Claire to get herself hurt. I wouldn't be dramatic and fly into a rage. Were you even listening when they explained it?" "Yes. "Quil would never hurt me. sick of him trying to make Quil and I look like something twisted and wrong. Sam tensing beside her. of course I was.

"I have to get out of here. let alone accept that that was what it was going to take to make my father happy. muttering curse words under my breath. "Don't use me as a way to get your point across. . But if I had spent one more second in that room with all of them I might have gone completely insane. "You have no idea what you're talking about." I heard my mother hiss childishly. I hated him. The sun had set hours ago." Emily. "Now look what you did. I slammed the front door behind me. and I'll say it again. I rolled my eyes." Mom said. the same damn fight for something that wasn't going to happen. I couldn't handle this anymore.204 - . my eyes struggling to adjust to the lack of light. My mom just uttered expletives at him. Ryan. "Dad. trying to walk off the chill. I thought I might have broken my promise to Quil. looking as though she was about to explode. if you talked a blind bit of sense maybe we would try. looking scarier than I'd ever seen him. "I can see that once again I'm not being listened to. shivering at the blast of freezing "Well. "I've told you once. Typical. My dad didn't want me to be with Quil. I didn't really have a plan on where to go. I couldn't handle the same damn struggle. Do not blame Quil for my mistakes. I pushed my legs forward furiously." he said. I pulled away from Quil's arm and stormed from the silent room before any of them could stop me. that's not fair!" Denise. but I just started heading up the street anyway." My dad's eyes narrowed as we all ganged up on him. Sam growled. I couldn't even comprehend the thought. "That was out of line. I hated my dad. Storming out of the house was a little dramatic." I said suddenly." I snapped. They all watched me go. and the night was dark and cold." Quil.

and question my safety. but I could tell he was smiling. He wrapped his scorching arms around me. Of course it was. Then cut up his remains and feed them to hungry dogs. or anything. the cool air felt quite pleasant. "Jesus. and I could only see his outline. are you insane?" he demanded. "You can't go wandering around the streets alone at night . and I realised then how cold I was. "Claire. I hated this. I heard him racing up the dark and silent street after me. "Where are you going?" he asked. squinting. their feeble light struggling to make its way through the drifting clouds. or clarity. Why did my dad force Quil to question his relationship with me? Quil was forced to see my dad's point of view." "Claire. "Not being dramatic. huh?" I sighed and tilted my head back. He held me for a while. Then drown the ashes. once he caught up to me. "I don't know. holding me tighter to him. Nothing. I lowered my head again. remember what we said about the dramatics?" "I'm not being dramatic. I was just Claire. I fell into him." He sounded agitated. and I didn't bother to slow down for him. and I hated it. In fact. staring up at the sky.anything could happen to you. so that I was looking directly up into the cloudy night sky. knowing it wouldn't make a difference." I said."Claire! Claire!" It was Quil. Then burn all the bones. "Anywhere. and soon enough the cold ceased to bother me. No higher power was going to sort my life out for me. I stood like that. I'm going to shoot him." I could barely make out Quil's face in the dark. It was still ridiculously dark. It was just the sky. . But if I spend one more second with that man. trying to make out where Quil was. Away from them. but I knew it wasn't with me.205 - . I could see a few stars. wanting him to hug me and tell me everything would sort itself out in the end. Claire. waiting for a moment of epiphany. you're freezing." he said. Why couldn't everything just be simple? Why did I have to struggle to have the things I loved approved of? Quil grabbed my arm and stopped my power walking.

" "Oh." I suggested half-heartedly." I received a scorching hug from Sam too." I groaned." she said. He slung one arm around my shoulders and pulled me along back the way we had come." Quil was silent for a moment. before he could quiz me." . "Just driven demented. subdued. he hadn't meant it. I hadn't realised how far I had managed to walk before Quil had caught up to me. "I'm sorry. "Are you sure?" he worried." I said. and I waited for him to speak. "I'm just glad you're alright. I'm fine.206 - . Emily and Sam were waiting outside for us to return. Relief washed over Emily's face when she saw me. "I suppose I'll have to. "I could stay a bit longer if you want. "And I'm sorry for what he said. that was appealing to me more every second. "I have nowhere else to go. and I apologised to him as well."Do you want to go back?" Quil asked me." I did want. it seemed. it's OK. I shrugged. He didn't. shaking her head dismissively. because I was almost sure that he hadn't bothered. Then he turned to me. We reached the lights of my porch after fifteen minutes. I thought it was ridiculous that I should have to apologise on behalf of my dad and his comments. And if he had apologised. and I felt guilty for running off and concerning her. But I also wanted to bury my head under my duvet and forget about everything. and he smiled. "Maybe you should head off too. I followed. I have to call my other boyfriend and tell him everything that happened. "Are you trying to get rid of me?" he demanded playfully. They headed towards their car and Quil and I waved them off." I said to her. "Yes." "Oh. his expression anxious. I broke away from Quil to return her hug properly. I smiled reluctantly. and I was surprised.

and stormed up the stairs." I snapped. He would never hurt me.207 - . Downstairs was quiet. "Claire?" "Screw you. . so maybe everyone had gone to bed. promising he'd see me first thing in the morning. I tiptoed past the living room. I watched him drive off. and he blew me a kiss as he reversed out of the drive." I said. I walked in the front door. braced as if for battle. I was lucky. He hugged me and kissed my cheek."Could you also tell him from me that a good ass-kicking is on the horizon?" "No problem. I didn't care what my father said. hoping my dad was conked out on the couch. but my heart jumped in fright as his voice suddenly pierced the silence. having him.

I'll treat you to another chapter tomorrow. Well. hmm. disorientated. maybe if I get enough...Crucial Ooh. I closed the door of my room as I left lot make me smile until it hurts.. hmm. So.. What was with everyone today . I took a few deep breaths.. Enjoy this chapter . two.. I sat up quickly. girl! Oh. quite grumpily. Mom was in Jack's was like they were purposely carrying out all the trivial little things that they knew would annoy me. She could complain all she wanted. Heheheheheh. if I'm perfectly honest. Denise was hogging the bathroom.. AMELIA BEDELIA (I really hope I spelled that right) . or maybe I'll drag it out for a few days. Talk cha soon. trying to shake the irrational terror off.. blinking rapidly.. It was just a stupid dream. that I was not in a . guess what? I actually managed to find a couple of free hours yesterday. it all depends on how many reviews I get. that was just glorious. maybe I'll update with the second one tomorrow. I had been dreaming about being chased down my street. so I grumpily decided to just use the downstairs one.. but I couldn't tell who was chasing me. I noted. chickies. My heart continued to pound like it had in my dream. how any of the teachers expected me to still do homework with a life like mine was beyond inspired me! Thank you..I think I had too much fun writing it. giving out because he apparently lost one of his books. dragging my schoolbag along the ground by the strap. Lurrrrve! xxxxx :D Chapter Twenty-Five: Crucial I woke with a jerk. Yes.208 - . and as a result I had had no time to write about Robert Frost. a paper that was only half finished. and thanks for all the freakin' fab reviews from everyone . I had been so afraid. It wasn't like it meant anything. I thundered down the stairs. I'd just have to tell my teacher that my idiot father had arrived and decided to complicate my life for me. I got dressed for school. I growled as I realised that Dad was in the downstairs bathroom. sighing as I remembered I had a paper due in today. hoisting my bag onto my shoulder as I went. and I wrote two chapters of this story... so terrified that whoever it was would catch me..

I could leave. like I normally would. so simple and obvious I was almost embarrassed. and it wasn't really necessary to stay in the kitchen to eat it.209 - . sighing loudly. She'd just have to get over it." . everyone already knows you don't want me to be happy. And then the answer came to me. I wandered into the kitchen. and not having to deal with irritable teachers.good mood. It was enough to annoy me. I chewed thoughtfully. The idea of ditching school. "Morning. I pushed myself away from the counter I was leaning on. wondering if I could somehow get Rachel to cover for me. I didn't really feel like going to school today but Mom would murder me if I ditched." he said hesitantly. started appealing to me more and more with every passing second. and even though I could get Denise to cover for me. rolling my eyes. tapping my foot impatiently. I stuck some bread in the toaster and waited. because Denise and Dad would be there. changing his mind. starting sentences. I was almost finished my toast. I'd go to Quil's. I ignored him. You see… I've been… I think…" He was trailing off. I cut him off before he could actually say anything coherent. I didn't know if she would . it was Dad I was hoping to avoid today. I realised I actually had no idea what he did when I was at school. My outlook brightened considerably when I realised she would only murder me if she found out. "Why did you feel you had to say those things?" I spat. "What?" "Look… I know… Right. He glanced at me warily and cleared his throat. and was about to walk out of the door. It was enough to make me snap. My toast popped and I smothered it with marmalade. avoiding my eyes." he grunted. and she'd also been hoping to discuss her little Zach dilemma with me today. but I didn't turn around. But where would I go? I couldn't wait for Mom to go to work and then sneak back home. I vaguely hoped he wouldn't be doing any… wolfy things. I was jolted unpleasantly out of my musings when Dad entered the kitchen.she was going to be grumpy too since she'd have no one to sit with in Biology. when he stopped me. "To Emily? To Mom? Was it really necessary to bring up all your old opinions again? I mean. "Claire. I stopped.

who's only going to use it against them? Do you not think that they have had to come to terms with that accident. trying to stare him down." I finished my speech.raining on everyone's parade all the time. I almost knocked Denise and Mom over in the hall. and then blowing up all the floats." I fumed. breathing heavily. and Quil would never be around me if he thought he would be likely to hurt me. Maybe the message had finally gotten through to him. but he cut across me. flouncing past them too before either had a chance to comment. who had been eavesdropping. "There is no one in the whole world who makes me happier.210 - . Because he is human. not a monster. He still can't forgive himself. The last thing he needs is you in his face. and Sam almost made himself sick with guilt. He actually looked a little guilty. or find something else to use against Quil. then he didn't want me to be happy or safe at all. Sam taught Quil better than that. I didn't miss the implication there. That was the truth he had been fighting against.and safe. because you can't." Let him find whatever argument he could in that."That's not fair!" he said. and I took great satisfaction in that. when he loves Emily so much? Do you seriously believe that when she got hurt. change the record. I guess then everything is alright. Dad. She said Emily took months to recover. and I whirled around. Think of someone other than yourself for a change. I had to get out of this house. Claire . "Well. but if he didn't want me to be with Quil. I opened my mouth to contradict him. they both just said 'Oops' and moved on? Mom told me. and he could claim he wanted me to be happy and safe all he liked. I ignored them both. every time he looks into Emily's face? Do you honestly think he has forgiven himself for hurting her. His eyes were glinting with anger. I didn't want to give him a chance to come up with a new argument." I said. so I stormed from the kitchen before he had a chance to even think about his reply. "I want you to be happy. Dad struggled to find his next words." I sneered. "But look at Emily -" "Oh. claiming that Quil is likely to make the same mistake. every single day of their lives? Do you not think that Sam is constantly reminded of what happened. glaring at Dad. "Do you honestly think Emily and Sam need to be reminded of what happened by someone like you. and who keeps me as safe as Quil. I didn't care. . So don't you dare think you can waltz in here and point fingers. I wasn't fair? How dare he? He wasn't being fair .

and decided to knock. GET THE DOOR. when the yelling started.211 - . because he had been strolling in to my house unconcernedly since I was two years old. There was a few minutes of nothing. I chewed my lip. WILL YOU?" Quil's voice had joined in with the racket now. I fidgeted as I waited for the door to open. GET THE GODDAMN DOOR NOW OR I'LL RIP YOUR HEAD OFF!" "YOU GET IT! I'M ON MY LAST LAP HERE. I hadn't had a chance to text him or anything to say I was coming. debating whether or not to knock first or just walk right in. "EMBRY. PAUL. I danced on the spot outside the front door. WILL YOU?" "WHY DON'T YOU GET IT. I still had my schoolbag on my back. I jumped into my car and drove directly to Quil's house.I slammed the front door behind me and marched furiously towards my car. I hoped Quil wouldn't mind me showing up unannounced. The three jeeps were parked neatly outside the house when I pulled up. and I wondered confusedly if there was actually anyone home. and I threw it in the backseat. I swallowed nervously. . YOU LAZY ASS?" "YOU'RE NEARER TO IT! AND I'M EATING!" "YOU'RE ALWAYS EATING! YOU SHOULD STILL BE ABLE TO GET UP AND ANSWER THE DOOR!" "EMBRY. I still had no intention of going to school today. one being whether or not I was allowed to walk into his house whenever I felt like it. There were still some unclear and questionable boundaries between us which confused me. My smile grew wider at the performance. It was a little ridiculous. fuming silently the whole way. AND IT'S CRUCIAL THAT I DON'T BREAK CONCENTRATION!" "IT'S CRUCIAL THAT YOU GET THE DOOR BEFORE WHOEVER IT IS LEAVES!" "IT'S CRUCIAL THAT YOU SHUT UP AND GO GET THE DOOR YOURSELF!" "IT'S CRUCIAL FOR YOU TO KNOW HOW MUCH OF AN ASSHOLE YOU ARE -" "SHUT UP.

YOU'RE HURTING MY EARS!" Embry roared. I hope you don't mind. Quil wrenched the door open and registered me. FOR GOD'S SAKE! I'LL GET THE GODDAMN DOOR!" Quil yelled. he was grinning at me. Good Jesus Christ and Joseph.212 - . and I blushed furiously." I said. but if you tell her I'm bringing you down with me. "Why would I mind? I'm usually bored out of my head when you're at school. all of his torso glistening with drops of water. It was obvious that he had been showering… ung. My eyes were tracing the symmetrical bumps that made up his six pack. and I grinned as I heard him stomping in my direction. "Like the view?" he asked. And he called me dramatic." He rolled his eyes. QUIL. before I could stop myself." he said. I ignored his question. "That is what I have to put up with on a daily basis." He snorted. The man was only wearing a towel around his waist. I forced my eyes to look up into his face. I hoped there wasn't always a performance of this magnitude whenever someone knocked at their door. I stifled a giggle. "Embry is in the living room and Paul is in the kitchen. "and I didn't feel like going to school today. but stood back to let me in the house. Although. you really shouldn't be ditching…" he trailed off. "Does your mother know you're here?" "No. "Whoa. "OH. "I gathered." He smirked. his mature and responsible side waking up. "IS ANYBODY GETTING THE DOOR?" Paul shouted."STOP YELLING. But . He eyed me disapprovingly. his expression changing from irritation to surprise. deciding to launch straight into why I was here before I could get embarrassed again. "My dad pissed me off. His muscular pecs were right at my eye level. when I realised I was staring." I said.

a different atmosphere. Claire. "Ditching?" he asked conversationally. sighing. before watching his muscular back disappear around the corner of the hall." I said. I stuck my head into the living room. I noticed suddenly how all my tension and angst had faded away." . collapsing in a nearby bean bag chair." Embry said. And surely it was rude to ask a guest to get you stuff? Oh." Embry said promptly. It's nice to be nice. away from my dad. still not taking his eyes off the TV screen." he sniggered. "How ya doing?" "Fine. "Hey." Embry said." "Shut up." "I don't feel like it. "Yep. I can't have you staring at me bug-eyed all day. "Claire." "Well." "Do I look like a slave?" I demanded incredulously." "So? I never went to bed. "So do your slavery duties and go get me a beer. "It's like nine in the morning. whatever. one of them can entertain you for a minute. some of my earlier irritation returning. flashing me a quick grin before turning back to his race on the PlayStation.213 - ." "I'll shut up if you get my beer." I said." "You should. It was all still there." "Get your own beer. of course. I raised my eyebrows at him. but I was able to ignore it almost completely. off you go and get me a beer. I flushed and rolled my eyes. in the back of my mind. "Yep. now that I was in a different house.anyway. I have to throw some clothes on. Go get me one anyway. I don't feel like getting you one.

you're not. wearing a pair of baggy jeans and a shirt that wasn't buttoned the whole way up. And I couldn't help staring. and intervene in some way before I ended up embarrassed. but then Quil caught my mouth with his. "That's disgusting. "Hey! HEY! Keep out of that fridge and away from my beer!" Paul's voice demanded loudly. I really don't feel like seeing it in reverse. "No. grinning at me. "Are you annoying my girlfriend. It was like he was doing it on purpose.214 - . "I'm eating here." Quil frowned. "Bastard Ferrari…" I wasn't paying attention. I was earlier." "You're mean. no more of that. I was instantly wary. "Hey. . wrapping his arms around my waist. And then I didn't feel like protesting. and then grinned suddenly. Quil entered the room then. I knew that grin." "Well. He was too gorgeous. It usually signalled when I was about to become teased mercilessly. You're not eating anything at all. sometimes. and then cursed as his car was suddenly overtaken. I leaned into him and he kissed my cheek. grumbling to himself. wickedly. I kissed him back. so when Quil lifted me up suddenly I nearly shrieked out loud. Completely distracted. watching us out of the corner of his eye. just so he could embarrass me when I stared. Embry sighed loudly. "OH. for the love of Christ!" Embry exclaimed. now. my arms reaching to wrap around his neck. And I was embarrassed." Quil continued to frown at him."I'm not getting you a beer! Deal with it. and seated me on his lap." Embry grinned. I really need a bloody beer now!" I pulled away from Quil in time to see Embry storming from the room." "You're annoying." Embry complained. Before I could say anything to protest Quil had collapsed on the bean bag chair himself. I was about to say something. Quil laughed under his breath. like I knew I would be. Embry?" he demanded.

"Strategy. sorry. bursting into the room a second later with a can of beer in his hand. Neither of us felt any inclination to move. I was more than happy to sit with him. I could tell I was bad at the PlayStation. Whatever. there's none there! So I buy more."Sharing is caring. Buy." Embry scowled at him. "Race?" he inquired of Quil. You have never beaten me. because Embry had managed to beat me before. it's entertaining at first. Stop drinking mine!" "Oh. because you can't turn corners without losing speed." Quil snorted. it ceases to be funny. and you are not. on the bean bag chair with Quil. I told him all about the argument I'd had with my dad earlier. but after a few years of listening to that. And if he wasn't good. and I completely zoned everything else out. because I'm coming back in." he said." Embry sniggered at Paul's growl. I giggled too. "You know I'll kick your ass. Paul. And you keep crashing the car into the barriers at the side of the roads.215 - . more or less. and then when I go and look for some. Your. and you drink all of that too! So here's the solution. Paul. "Yeah. but I was already shaking my head. "You're all so boring and queer. talking. then I was worse. Fine. and he had seemed impressed by my impromptu speech." "Not today. did you say something? I was just stopping to enjoy this tasty alcoholic beverage. I have a strategy. Beer. "I hope you two are finished sucking the face off one another. He sighed loudly. I am a champion. raising his eyebrows hopefully. like an idiot. Face it. ." I giggled at his martyred expression as he settled himself back into his seat and picked up the controller again. He looked hopefully at me. But I would love for you to repeat whatever the hell you just said. Embry. and Quil rolled his eyes." "You're not sharing! What you're doing is drinking it all. The rest of the day was spent." Embry called. Own.

"Couldn't he have just come with you?" Paul widened his eyes at him. sounding impressed. "Nothing. Quil was really proud of me? I hadn't realised I'd wanted him to tell me that until he did. really didn't want to go back there. He had left earlier. I hadn't really planned it to all come out like that. widening his eyes." "But Claire's here.216 - . Straightaway. grinning at my blush. I really. "Yeah. Quil looked up. . apparently to patrol. "What?" "Sam wants to talk to you. "What?" I demanded." Quil was staring at me like I was Jesus. and now I'm looking at you and you're being really amazing about everything. Quil studied my reaction to his suggestion thoughtfully. I figured it was a touchy enough subject as it was. beginning to feel really insulted now." he said. "It's just that… I'm proud of you. and I had the feeling I was missing something." I said half-heartedly. his forehead creasing. Quil. "Shut up. I actually do think about things. You're so awesome. mildly insulted." "Oh. You never stop surprising me. his expression serious. "Do you want me to drop you home? I could drop off your car when I get back?" My own eyes widened as I thought of going back home. but he was really annoying me and I just wanted him to stop using Emily as an excuse not to be around you. Quil sighed. Claire." Embry muttered from his corner. "I'm not one-dimensional. "Quil!" Paul burst into the room suddenly. and dropped his eyes to gaze into mine. Quil ignored him."You really said all that?" he asked." Quil said." I said. the frown on his forehead becoming more pronounced. picturing my dad and the way I had left things this morning. My insides were glowing. pass the sick bucket. I expected tantrums and hair-pulling.

trying not to sound too pleading. I wondered if he could hear how fast my heart was beating." My heart stuttered. Was that a yes? .Should I ask him? What was the worst that could happen? He'd say no? I could handle that. shrugging.217 - . "Can't I just stay here tonight?" I asked him hesitantly." I added. and seemed to struggle for an answer. I'll sleep on the couch. Quil paused. "I'll just sleep on the couch. as though it was no big deal whether or not I stayed here. Quil's ambivalence vanished suddenly. "You will not. and he snorted. He looked conflicted. You can have my bed.

" Paul said." he said. Embry. And I mean it. bringing me along with him." he said. I wasn't about to be awkward. cutting me off. Quil hauled himself to his feet. can you keep Claire out of trouble?" Quil asked him. Can you keep out of trouble and encourage Claire to do the same?" . "I'll be back in an hour or so. When did that ever happen? "Right. I'd survive. Let him fume." I gazed exasperatedly at Quil. and take the couch himself. smiling sweetly at Quil." Quil said. it's not a big deal -" I began to say. "I don't mind having the couch. I'm glad you liked it! I hope this one makes you laugh. who ignored him. I doubted my mother was going to kick up too much of a fuss. "No. I briefly thought about practical things. I thought savagely. and kissed my're all seriously funny." Embry interjected. If you don't.I'm Jus' Tipsy Aw. Quil. but it would definitely piss my dad off .218 - . like the fact I had no pyjamas or clean clothes or my toothbrush or anything. "Call your mother and let her know.good. all business. There was no point in arguing." I gave in. He smiled. like. you drive yourself straight home. because that sounded like just the type of thing that he would do. now worrying that I was putting him out. "Claire. He'd sleep on thorns just as long as I was comfortable. He'll just lift you into it when you fall asleep. you're still going to wake up in it tomorrow. and if she has a problem with it. "Let me rephrase that. Claire. "Fine. "Just take the bed. I shrugged. adamant now. and I looked up at him. too. Quil was actually letting me stay at his house. "Text me if your mom says it's OK. but then I decided I didn't care." he said sternly. Thanks for the reviews . lurrrve xxxx :D Chapter Twenty-Six: I'm Jus' Tipsy "You can share with me if you want. but then frowned.

I then dug my phone out of my pocket. and then I'll be home afterwards." I said." I interrupted. "Jack. when I found out I nearly -" "Mom. as cheerfully as I could. I rang my house phone number. What did he think I was going to get up to while he was gone . . not taking his eyes off the screen. but I wasn't listening. and I winced. "Rachel phoned. trouble…" he sang. "That thing with Dad this morning really upset me." I said. I went to Quil's." I ordered. Claire. "What am I . why the hell weren't you in school? So help me. "Claire. but I would get to them later.twelve?" I demanded of Quil. and then left with Paul." he said.he'll be sleeping on the couch. "Hi. "See you later. She had to let me stay. "Well. trouble. I scowled after him. She remained in a huffy silence as she considered it." I said quickly. You're in trouble. and I didn't want to leave here." Embry said. Mom." he continued. before she could get started. sitting back down in the roasting hot imprint Quil had made in the bean bag chair. I'd swear he did that on purpose. I didn't want to face Dad. and I just didn't feel like going to school. "MOM!" he screamed right into the mouthpiece. "Claire?" my mother's voice snapped down the line. I crossed my fingers. in an almost patronising voice. put Mom on the phone." she said finally. and I breathed a sigh of relief. full out pleading now. there were a few messages. glaring. and I'm a little better now. so I'll drive to school from his in the morning. of course. I supposed that's alright. And er. sitting on a bubble. "Hello?" Jack squawked. Damn! I should have gotten to Rachel earlier.219 - . "You're in trouble. I was really in the shit now.draw all over the walls with crayons? Play with matches? He grinned at my tone and kissed my forehead again. from Rachel and Mom. hearing my mother make an outraged sound on the other end of the phone. he said that I could stay over here tonight ."Whatever. Claire. I flinched at her barely contained fury. "I have my car. wanting to know why you weren't in school today.

Claire ." I rolled my eyes. I was doesn't paint a good impression of you." Embry said suddenly. "He's refusing to check into a hotel. Don't sneak behind my back. I didn't think I had imagined the worry on Quil's face yesterday. something that I wasn't being told. go get me a beer. letting him know my mother had said it was OK that I stayed over. deciding it best not to interrupt her rant if I wanted to remain on her good side. Your father is still going to be here when you eventually get home ." I couldn't help but smile. I wasn't sure if I wanted to know. Quil would tell me." she added. I sent a text to Quil. relieved. And now he was off discussing something with Sam. "Right. You're the worst slave ever. Oh . "Yeah.220 - . Claire. Well. Wouldn't he? "Claire. I guess I'll see you tomorrow. I rolled my eyes." She hung up the phone. I lowered the phone from my ear and shook my head. but I took comfort in the fact that if it was something really important. cutting into my thoughts."But you can't run away from your problems. Embry? If you want something done." I listened to her complaints about him like a good daughter." she said.unfortunately. "You that old saying. "Yes. leaving me speechless with my mouth hanging open. "Oh. so now I'm stuck with him. under her not ever ditch school and leave me to find out from your friends again." I said." He laughed. with reasons. "I would have given you the day off if you'd asked." she warned. Mom?" "Don't you dare come home pregnant. It was a while before I recovered." . "You're so unhelpful. you might as well do it yourself? I think you should practice that. Something was going on. and then I started waiting for him to get back. "Right. She ran out of steam eventually. and Claire?" she added. "Make me.

Embry downed the . I was surprised he could move at all." I said. Anything could happen." he said. in a grave tone. conspiracy style. I hadn't intended on drinking it all. I liked Embry." Embry hiccupped." He staggered to his feet and stretched." Embry said sarcastically. He messed up my hair as he walked out the door. and burst into more giggles. Jeez. "I'm just tipsy. Embry sniggered and leaned towards me. "Quil is going to be mad at you. man.He snorted. struggling to catch my breath. I saw his name in second place." Embry groaned. It was Embry's fault. or the two that followed. And I wasn't. but I doubted he really knew what he was laughing at. looking around the room. I didn't know myself. I fixed my hair. but it had somehow happened. for encouraging me. I really need a drink now. "Does that explain the body lotion in your bathroom. "Oh. the absolute pansy. trying to focus on his face. "Right. "I still don't have enough races won to beat Quil. "He likes his skin soft and shiny. but I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to live through an hour or so with him. Well. I was for some reason delighted to recognise some of the names on the leader board. and he just grinned devilishly." "S'not my fault. When Embry had come back into the room. "That's Paul's." I found this absolutely hilarious. then?" I wondered aloud. such as Seth and Jacob. wondering why everyone felt the need to mess up it up all the time. he'd been sitting in the same position all day in front of the PlayStation. "Embry. I sighed. "And I'm really a transvestite. "that you can't hold your drink. and leaned forward as the leader board flashed up on screen after the race. tenth or something. not really." I fell around laughing. You were supposed to be making sure I didn't get into trouble. humming the theme tune of the racing game. I wondered if there was anything he actually did." I protested loudly." I giggled. he had brought a beer for me with him.221 - ." "I'm not drunk. Embry joined in. right after Quil. I missed Quil already. I had eyed him incredulously. even though it wasn't really that funny. Paul's name was way down on the list.

" Embry said." "I am not." Embry snickered. sniggering suddenly. "Who has the biggest?" I asked. My sides were aching now. . I'd never look at them the same again. "Wouldn't it melt?" I couldn't breathe I was laughing so hard. "Why can't a man please a woman in bed?" "Why?" I asked. "Hey. "I try not to look but the images are burnt into my memory. agog. before I could stop myself. grimacing. Next to me. and I laughed harder. no." I said. I don't want to know. "Do you want to know who has the smallest willy in the pack?" he asked. in between snorts. without hesitation. "D'ya remember at Paul's birthday party you told a joke but Sam didn't let you tell the punch line?" "Yes!" Embry exclaimed indignantly. remembering something suddenly. "I do. "OK." I demanded. either. excited.222 - . "Who?" I said." I said." I scoffed." I snorted with laughter at the sudden disturbing image in my head. "And you'd end up with no willy at all." I laughed." he protested. "Wait. Embry grinned in anticipation. I'd lost count of how many he had had today." he said enthusiastically. but then his eyes lit up suddenly. giggling already. "You're just saying that. "Sure. Embry. shuddering. Embry shook his head. "It doesn't make sense. gasping for air. "I wanna hear it now.end of his beer. and struggled to sit up straighter on the bean bag chair. and he turned to me. half hanging off his own bean bag chair." I giggled. "That's disgusting. "Because he doesn't have a willy made of chocolate that ejaculates money." Embry said.

"Come on." I added. "Stop treating me like I draw on the walls with matches. whose eyelids were beginning to droop. cutting him off." I said again. Embry jumped and opened his eyes. Paul was behind him. "You're tryna embarrass me."Sure. who was already half asleep." I repeated. He eyed him warily. The. his eyes wide and staring at me. as though Quil's glare had physically burned him. feeling dizzy.223 - . "I have NOT. I love him whatever. but it won't work. letting her drink? She's still underage." "I'm not a baby. He grinned wickedly at me. shaking with silent laughter. "What the hell were you thinking. I slung my arms around his neck and held on tightly. Bedtime. you need to sleep this off. I burst into giggles at Quil's expression. Embry." "What. "Embry!" I squealed. and glared down at Embry. "I'm not a baby. and I smacked him in the head. waggling his eyebrows at me. . snickering." "But I bet you'd love him even more if he -" "Shut up." I said loudly. Quil looked at me disapprovingly. too. confused. "You'll be delighted to hear that Quil is well endowed. Quilly." he hissed at Embry. Hell?" We both span around and spotted Quil in the doorway. struggling to force my feet to move." I said." He frowned. "Claire's been talking all day about your willy. "Shut up! I don't want to hear that! I don't care if Quil's willy is big or not." I said. as Quil approached me and lifted me onto my feet. "Embry!" Quil exploded suddenly." I told him. "Whoa. and Embry joined in." he sniggered." he snickered. "This conversation is rude and disgusting and inappropriate and I refuse to talk any further about Quil's willy. as the room swayed around me. I turned back to him and he was eyeing the empty beer cans. glaring at him.

" I warned him. He chuckled in spite of himself." I slurred. Paul was grumbling to himself in the kitchen. and proceeded to drag me out of the room and down the hall towards his bedroom." he said. "I'm not!" I said loudly. "What the hell am I going to do with you. "What. amused now. examining the damage we'd done to his supply of beer." he chortled. already feeling incredibly sleepy. "I don't know how… why… yer jus' so sexy all the time." he said. grinning up at him. "I think you should burn all yer shirts. "I'll keep that in mind. "You're not to take advantage of me. gazing up into his face." "Did she now?" Quil asked. trust me. he was snoring. He kicked the door of his bedroom open and switched on the light." he mumbled. which infuriated me. still supporting me." he muttered. "And walk 'round topless forever." I said.224 - . "Mom said I'm not to come home pregnant. "Good. He dragged me over to the bed and I collapsed on it." I continued. He tugged the duvet out from under me and proceeded to tuck me in. and he leaned down over me. Claire?" he asked. kicking off my shoes. "You know wha' I don't get?" I asked. "Christ. He burst out laughing. looking and sounding peeved. Claire?" he said. stumbling over my words. In the next second. . "God's sake. "I know you're not a baby." I giggled. his eyelids dropping again. He glanced down at me and shook his head." I hiccupped. still laughing."S'not my fault. I mumbled something almost inaudible about not being a baby. Quil kicked him in the leg. but he didn't even move. "You don't want me to answer that question. grinning. talking to me as though I was a child.

" "Night. too tired to say anything. It took him a good ten minutes before he was calm enough to speak again. "Ah."I know." he chuckled. He laughed again. more to himself than to me." he said. I'm not supposed to take advantage of you. laughing. "Night. Claire. feeling incredibly sleepy again." I said loudly. Although. I heard Quil move away from . remember?" "Huh." He kissed me then. That'll be fun. "Mm. in between sniggers." he said. Quil chuckled again. I wouldn't be able to do this. I ignored his booming laughs. now. leaning over to push my hair off my face." I complained. my scrambled brain recalling me saying that. I wrapped my arms around his neck and attempted to pull him onto the bed. then. "Yes?" "Do you have a big willy?" I asked." he said.225 - . "Well. Claire." I mumbled. my poor little drunk girlfriend. the words coming out like mush." "Sure. "Jus' tipsy. isn't it?" he said. "I'll let you sleep it off. "OK. you disgusting dog. burying my face in the pillow. walking around the bed so he could see my face. you taste like you were just licking your ass. "Quil?" I sighed." he said. rolling over so I didn't have to look at him. I was insulted. He was grinning widely. but he pulled away." I snapped." he said. "Well. "Just tipsy." I said. that's for me to know and you to find out." I agreed with him. "I'm not looking forward to your hangover in the morning. My eyes closed as he stroked my cheek. and I felt the sleepiness fading away. "You taste like beer. "I'm trying to sleep here. and licked his lips. I'll talk to you in the morning." "I'm not drunk. It smelt like Quil. "If you were a baby. He made a face.

Claire. bitter taste in my mouth. Ugh." I croaked. "Don't you fall back asleep. Claire. Oh God. There was a nasty. I ignored him. and he laughed. amazed by how anyone could be so bloody annoying. I wondered if I'd be able to get away with ditching again. I was never going to get away from any teasing today. and opened them slowly. I could only vaguely remember last night. basically. I had to slam them shut again. "Hi. and my stomach felt uneasy. "Who's that?" I asked. An immense feeling of dread washed over me. Claire." he said amusedly. and I made a face. relaxing as Quil made no effort to force me to get up. Claire. and my hopes sank. "Guess. when I realised that Quil was probably going to remind me. "How are you feeling?" "I'm fine. and I really felt like falling back asleep. Beer. and I could still hear him laughing as I drifted into unconsciousness. I cleared my throat and hesitantly opened my eyes. Claire. Maybe he'd let me skip school again after all. There was a silence. A dull throbbing in my head woke me up the next morning. Had I done anything? Had I said anything? I couldn't remember. Oh. I began to drift. I groaned at his expression and covered my face with my hands. I rolled over onto my stomach and buried my head in the pillow. He sounded like he was already in his teasing-Claire-mercilessly mode. Smart. I suddenly remembered that I had to go to school today." came Quil's voice. Claire? Claire! Claire. "Claire. Claire. Claire -" "WHAT. I struggled to remember why I felt so crappy… oh yeah. Claire. I felt like crap." he said suddenly. Quil was lying on his stomach on top of the covers beside me. I stretched.226 - . . Beer. smirking. which sounded incredibly amused. Embry. my head throbbing. and I almost groaned. Claire. blinded by the early morning sunshine. but I doubted it. and he laughed again. Quil?" I exploded. I waited for my eyes to and turn off the light. and my arm hit off something extremely hot. I panicked for a second. my voice very hoarse. really smart. God. Claire. Claire.

and I could hear the smug smile in his voice. Your mom let me in. "Nope." I snorted into the pillow." "No…" I whined." he said. either." "Claire. Number four. "Right. and he sniggered under his breath. "Claire?" "What?" . Your mother will castrate me with her bare hands if she finds out I let you ditch again. "Claire?" he said again. I thought I was a little hungover. She lectured me first though. God. Number three." "No need to panic. for the first time in my life. shoes. I sighed loudly into the pillow. Clothes. I didn't have any clean clothes or anything. infuriating me further. are you getting up?" Quil demanded. "What?" I said icily. "Come on. I was marginally impressed with him for being oh-so-practical. I didn't want to go to school. I packed it. shampoo… you name it. She was just making sure I was still being the respectful and wonderful boyfriend that I am. I'm such a wonderful boyfriend. "You have to go to school today." Quil said. God only knew what Mom had lectured him on. I really didn't want to find out. "No. curious. You can shower here before going to school. once he'd calmed down. Number five… "I went to your house before I came back here last night. get up." he added." I said weakly. I was still very tired. "Now. Number one. "I got you a bag of your stuff. Number two. He sighed." "Oh. Claire. interrupting my thoughts. a list of protests forming in my head. "Did you see Dad when you were there?" I mumbled." he said disapprovingly. I cringed into the pillow." Quil said."Nothing.227 - . I was probably going to be embarrassed enough for one day.

I lifted my head. and snapped me out of it. cocking his head to the side. of which the muscles were bulging. suspiciously. you know. He was still lying on his stomach. I would probably still be reminded of last night in about forty years. "Can I ask you something?" Quil asked. ignoring the room as it swirled around me. too innocently. "You're hysterical when you're drunk. I sat up. laughing. "It's not like I'm protesting or anything. and struggled out of the covers. ever going to let this go. Ever again. unsuccessfully. as the better part of last night came catapulting back to me. He was telling the truth. "That's the best part. attempting to peek as discreetly as I could." Quil continued. He sounded like he was choking. I heard you."Would it speed up the getting-out-of-bed process if I was to mention that I am not wearing a shirt today?" A jumble of colourful. so you can mortify me the next day?" I snorted. "Don't give me that. I was never getting drunk ever again." I said abruptly. willing myself not to blush. you know that?" he said." he said. trying to disguise his laughs by coughing. couldn't care less. winking devilishly at me. I was done with being humiliated. "Yes…" I said slowly. "Why were you and Embry talking about my… willy?" he asked. When you're legal. "I'm going for a shower. as I . if you don't mind. The width of his arm was probably the width of the two of mine put together.228 - ." Quil protested. I blushed furiously." I said." he corrected himself. grinning. I refused to look at him. especially not in front of Quil. blurred memories came rushing back to me. "I should let you get drunk more often. trying to meet my eyes. "Oh. thankful he couldn't see me. I hadn't realised I had gone into a trance until Quil sniggered. I glared at him. He was never. Unable to help myself though. his eyes shining with humour. that is. "I don't know what you're talking about. I blushed scarlet. I however. propped up on his arms. what.

"I'm going as fast as I can." Embry mused. or the dull ache in my head. or whatever.229 - . I rolled my eyes and banged on the door again." Embry's voice whined from the other side of the door. She doesn't really need it though ." "I see. "Not compared to my friend.picked up a rucksack that I recognised as mine up off the floor and stomped out of the room. I glanced over at him. I heard him snicker. you're so vain…" Embry sang. distracted. "You can't look that frightening in the morning without it. before I could reply to Quil. I don't see the point in makeup. I had to get away from Quil before I kneed him. will I then?" I snapped nastily. "I was just wondering if it was the first time… you had ever discussed… it with anyone…" He could now hardly walk. "I doubt I take as long as you in a bathroom. . He was not improving my mood. Rachel. but to my chagrin there was already someone in there. Do you really need it all?" I rolled my eyes again." I said." "I see you're paying attention. "I hardly wear any makeup. watching me amusedly. with your cleanser and toner and moisturiser and eyeliner and foundation and mascara and shit. "Oh. "You know. Next thing he'd be asking why girls bothered to wear high heels. who wears a truckload of makeup everyday. I ignored him and tried to open the door to the bathroom.she's stunning anyway. "Hurry up!" I yelled." Quil said quietly. I'd have to keep Rachel away from Embry at all costs. Good God. You've got to go through your whole beauty routine. his arms folded. he was leaning against the wall." I told him. "She has a boyfriend. so I'll be standing out here all day." I said loudly. "Would you happen to have this Rachel's number handy?" Embry asked. banging on the door. he was laughing so hard. "You don't need it either. "You're so vain… I bet you think this song is about you." Embry said suddenly. breaking off from his singing.

annoyed now. "Out." Embry grumbled. and he left the bathroom swiftly." Embry protested. I rolled my eyes and switched on the shower. this is the last time we're ever letting a girl stay over. I looked like I hadn't slept in a year. "Quil. disconcerted. "Yeah." he grumbled. "Oh." he grumbled. raising his eyebrows. Embry looked more hungover than I felt. I could still hear the three guys yammering away outside. "You haven't even seen her!" I exclaimed. beyond demented. "What the hell is going on?" Quil and I turned to see Paul's head stuck out his door." I said. actually. "I'm not in the line. "Take it back to when I said you can't look at all frightening in the morning…" he sniggered. I have. and yawned. I huffed and pushed my way in. My hair was all over the place. I slammed the door behind him and locked it. his hair tousled and his eyes sleepy. He eyed both of us in the hall. and I saw her in his head. "Speak for yourself. but he took one look at me and burst out laughing." Paul said. so I could kind of see where Embry was coming from. "Embry." I barked. get out of the bathroom!" I exploded. All the good ones are taken. and my eyes were sunken into my head."Damn. "Embry!" I screeched. "Is there a queue for the bathroom?" he wondered aloud. In my peripheral vision I could see Quil eyeing my face carefully for a moment. He was still taking his sweet time getting out of the bathroom. "Fine." Quil said." he said. I glared at him so viciously his eyes widened. "Quil has met her before. There was a silence. and the throb in my .230 - . quickly examining my face in the mirror while I waited for it to heat up. The door unlocked and began to open tantalisingly slowly. fine.

head got louder. praying that it would fade away soon. Had Quil been rooting through my underwear drawer? . I opened the rucksack and began pulling out the clothes that Quil had packed for me. as I pulled out one of my bras. as well as shampoo and conditioner and shower gel. I shook my head. and the matching panties. I massaged my temple. My eyes widened. Then I paused. and my favourite shirt as my outfit for the day.231 - . wondering how in the name of God he knew these things. To distract myself. I couldn't believe it when I realised that he had picked out my favourite worn old ripped jeans. I stared at them for a minute. He really had packed everything. and then my face burst into flames.

He didn't just reach in with his eyes closed and pick up the first things that came to his hands. and the dull aching in my head became a whole lot worse as I dried and dressed. Aargh. The really bad thing about it was that they were matching. Hahaha.. Every time I think of Claire and her Dad..A Little Bit DRAMATIC OMG.) Chapter Twenty-Seven: A Little Bit DRAMATIC Quil knew he was in trouble the minute he saw my expression. deciding what set he was going to pick out. Quil would just love that. Then I decided I really didn't want to think about that after all. Now. Pretend I hadn't figured it out? Act as though it was no big deal? Pretend to be ignorant? Oh. Wow. Every once in a while I get a review that makes my mouth fall open.hearing that I've made you laugh makes me laugh too. no. Hahaha. . I could still hear the three guys chatting away outside the bathroom door. I had spent the whole shower half-fuming and half-dying of shame and embarrassment. and I want to thank Elm for hers. I hear this song. Thanks for the fantastical reviews .232 - . And we're all laughing.. Yet I somehow found the time to go to a party last night. such as Quil looking in the drawer. Lurrrve xoxoxox :D Ooh. here's another hellishly long chapter for you. He rooted through everything to find the matching pairs. That would be him getting away with rooting . And even though I really didn't want to. wondering what I was going to do. too. no. School is taking over my life. and actually touching the undergarments as he picked them up… no. I had to wonder why he had chosen the set he had chosen.. Matching. imagining all types of horrific images. almost forgot! The soundtrack to this chapter was the song 'For A Pessimist I'm Pretty Optimistic' by Paramore. And it's good. I cringed every four seconds. Hmm. Oh no. aargh. Black and red lace.the support for this story is unreal. Thanks so much. yet again .

There was a short pause. and then he would probably think he had permission to look inside that drawer whenever the urge overtook him." I glared at him.through my lingerie. "Quil…" I growled. did I? It was an invasion of privacy. There was a moment of ringing silence. one from Paul's room and one from the living room. I knew he was still going to be listening though. Quil froze. I just want to say that I didn't mean it. banging the door open. no freaking way. almost too angry and embarrassed to speak. and I could see him racking his brains. and swiftly escaped to his room. "I. "Claire. and shuffled down the hall towards the living room. have to do… something.233 - . but he was not getting access to my underwear. My underwear drawer was probably in the first direction he headed to when he realised "What is it?" he asked. but I couldn't find it in me to care." Paul said hastily. I had been embarrassed so much already today. I turned the glare on him though. "Did I forget socks?" "PANTIES!" I screeched. eh. shape or form. Well. widening his eyes." Quil said warily. I didn't go around looking in drawers for his boxers. however. wondering what he had done now. Embry. before two sets of sniggers erupted. whatever it was that I did. . until I decided that he could. in any way. shooting regretful little glances back at Quil and I. and he changed his mind. finally pushed over the edge.sure . for God's sake. I mutely raised the rucksack that was held in my hand and shook it at him. I'm going to miss it. eyeing it. "before the tantrum starts. which infuriated me further. He may be my boyfriend. scrutinising me with narrowed eyes. Didn't mean it . It couldn't get any worse." he muttered. No doubt he didn't feel like being anywhere near the line of fire. So I stormed out of the bathroom. "What?" he said. His eyes widened. crossed his arms and grinned. excitement radiating off him. and fixing Quil with a you-are-about-to-be-castrated glare. that I might as well have stripped off and started dancing. I could see he was trying not to look too amused. when I still hadn't exploded. still too furious and mortified to say anything. "Oh.

"How… could… you…?" he trailed off. for heaven's sake. rolling his eyes at the dramatics that I just couldn't help. I wasn't being pervy about it.234 - . too mortified to do anything else. I continued to glare at Quil." Quil snorted. "You forgot her panties. "But I packed them…" Quil said. He started laughing at my expression. ducking under his arm." . looking as though he was trying not to burst out laughing himself. That was the last thing I needed. Claire. "Oh. "Oh. snorting at the thought." Embry muttered. barely able to come up with full sentences. I started to head back towards his room. Quil?" Embry called. so don't get your panties in a twist. "Sure he wasn't. I heard Paul join in. facing Quil again. "That's the POINT!" I said loudly. "Er. or whatever. He eyed me with half a smirk on his face. well…" "YOU… my… I don't look for your BOXERS! INVASION of my privacy… you… looking… seeing…" I spluttered. before sighing. I bristled."so get over it. but then I realised that there was actually nothing in there that I needed and my schoolbag was in the car. Quil frowned in his general direction and tried to wrap his arms around me." I said. "I wasn't having you going around commando all day" . staring to space. "WHAT were you doing in my DRAWER?" Quil scratched his head nervously. Why are you making a fuss? It's not like I was examining all your delicates. but I dodged him. so I twirled halfway down the hall. Claire." Embry called. loud enough for the whole house to hear. "I'm going to be late for school. finally catching on.I made a strangled noise in the back of my throat . him reliving the memory. "You look like I've just told you I used to be a woman." he said."What?" he gasped. in between snickers." "Yeah. before lapsing back into sniggers. frowning. barely coherent due to his raucous guffaws. Claire.

now." "Of course. in my opinion." Quil snapped. Embry. grinning at me over Quil's shoulder. Lemme tell you a story about Quil…" Quil stiffened." I snapped. . "We've all been drunk. grinning devilishly." "None of it was my fault!" Embry interjected. "Do you want me to be late?" "I want you to relax and calm down. he took photographs of every single thing we had in the fridge and hung them all up in the living room. you've just told me that you had a good nose around in my underwear drawer. "Once. Oh.235 - ." he said cheerfully. his expression freezing on his face. no need to be hostile. "I found him fast asleep in the driveway holding a digital camera and a cabbage. grinning widely at my scowl." he said. anyway. "Hey." he said. Claire. who was acting way too defensive. He appeared in the hall suddenly. turned his head to glare at Embry. trying to get past him. so he's convinced I tried to set him up." Embry said. "That was you. "If you used to be a woman. Lover Boy here was so drunk. and you know it. will you let me by!" I exploded. "Shut up." "That never happened. but he kept blocking me." I snapped." Embry said. I didn't quite know what to think when I went in there to play the PlayStation that morning. I'm not hungover or critically embarrassed or anything at all like that!" "It's your own fault you're hungover. for Jesus' sake. I'm calm!" I said shrilly. Embry. What I can't handle is the fact you know exactly what colour underwear I have on today. Quil. But you and I know the truth. tapping the side of his nose and winking." "Oh. shaking his head wistfully at Quil. and leaned against the wall. "No. releasing a little of my embarrassed fury on him. I'd be able to handle that. That's the last time I'm leaving you alone with Embry. when he blocked my way for the fifth time. and we've all done embarrassing things. "he doesn't remember any of it. "I feel wonderful."Actually.

236 - . hindering my regular breathing. He caught up to me and pouted. He chuckled against my skin. brushing up and down my neck before stopping just below my ear. "I'm sorry you're embarrassed." I said. "I don't wear boxers. and I was trying not to breathe too loudly. My heart was pounding." I shivered and exhaled raggedly. as he strolled back into his house. cutting him off. And not wearing a shirt. "You weren't going to say goodbye?" he asked. I managed to get as far as my car when he dashed out of the front door after me. I couldn't resist him at all. Embry?" he threatened. He grinned at me." he growled in my ear. His lips began a trail over my cheek. I'm sorry you feel awkward. Who cares? I don't." Embry said abruptly. I watched him. in a very sexy. My arms automatically reached up to wrap around his neck. "For future reference. anyway. I made a half-assed attempt at struggling away from him. He was too close. "Goodbye. jutting out his lower lip. . and you can't hold grudges against Quil when he's standing too close. still unable to look him fully in the eye. deciding to forgive and forget all about it. Oh. "Because I could tell stories."Do you want me to share some stories about you. dazed. I'm sorry I didn't ask permission first before going through your… things. but I couldn't be really bothered. He grabbed me around the waist and spun me around to face him before I could climb into my car. and came flying out of his room to glare ferociously at Embry. so he probably now knows what bra size I am. gazing deep into my eyes. "WAS NOT!" Paul exploded. before pulling back and winking at me. "OK. so I took this as my cue to sneak past him. My eyes flew open when he caught my earlobe between his teeth and pulled. I'm sorry. Quil was distracted. and bent down to kiss me. One being the time you wet yourself while dancing to Ashley Tisdale -" "That was Paul. husky voice." Quil said." I said.

And her jumping to conclusions. and the thought of grumpy homework-deprived teachers made it throb even more painfully. "Oh. "Nah. "I called the house when you didn't reply to my texts…" "Yeah. but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was. I suddenly realised how that must have sounded to her. her shoulders slumping. contrite. "I assumed you were sick or something…" She was doing that annoying subtle thing where she prompted me to tell her what I had been doing. In an effort to distract her. "Oh." Rachel observed. She gaped at me. "You look like hell. I felt as though there was something really important I had forgotten to do. She actually looked disappointed." Rachel said.whistling. "Jesus. half fell into the seat. I think I was being dramatic. I was unsurprised when her eyes lit up. and nearly took the rear off Embry's jeep as I reversed out of the drive. as I took my usual seat next to her in the first class of the day. because I had been kind of ." she said. He said he felt really bad though. I just didn't feel like school. her eyes wide. half-agog. My headache hadn't gotten any better." I muttered under my breath." Rachel gasped so loudly half the class turned around to stare at her. too. As a result. we didn't. half-shocked. "No." I said firmly." "Oh. and get the hell of this topic. And the night. and seeing things that weren't there. like they always did whenever someone mentioned her beloved boyfriend. There was something else wrong with me. I was fairly irritable. but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. sorry. "You didn't!" she hissed. frowning at her expression.237 - . he's fine. I asked about Zach. She nearly had a shit-fit." I said sarcastically. So I spent the day at Quil's. "Thanks so much. We're fine. I stumbled to my car. and you got me in trouble with my mother. "Where the hell were you yesterday?" she asked curiously.

As I walked up the stairs. but I didn't want to go crazy either.we'll go out. I wasn't sure if I wanted to know. trying to figure it out. I will be at your house to pick you up as soon as I possibly can . I really wanted to just drive straight to Quil's. hoping that maybe no one would realise I was home for a couple of hours. thinking about my own beloved boyfriend at the same time. and that's where I wanted to be. My heart sank. and fun. listening to the unnerving silence. and help the time pass more quickly. and she would treat me to a half-hour long synopsis on what they had been getting up to recently. looking forward to him wrapping his huge scorching arms around me. and making me feel better. I felt even more anxious about the reason for all this 'wolf stuff'. I was struck my how quiet my house was. I checked my phone. Rachel was chatty and gossipy. like I expected. Eventually. Quil's jeep wasn't in the driveway. I used that time to daydream. I muddled my way through school. I grabbed my schoolbag and rucksack out of the car and reluctantly entered my house. and started chewing my lip. I headed straight up to my room to dump my stuff. there was a message from him. I drove there as slowly as I could. I'll make it up to you. so he took me out to the cutest restaurant…" And she was off. But I had to face reality at some point. Sorry. the banging in my head a constant soundtrack. but I have to do wolf stuff. no stupid unresolved family issues.238 - . I half-listened to her story. and I'd be able to get some peace.stressing over why he was being so distant. I had been looking forward to seeing him again all day. not particularly eager to see that house and everyone in it again. . I threw my bags on the ground and walked back down the stairs. the final bell rang. I couldn't keep running forever. once I'd reached the bottom step. Claire. Love you x I sighed. I had realised how much I loved it there. because everything was still going to be there when I turned around. There was no tension. and when she was in that mood all I had to do was ask after someone she knew. and I was able to go home. The atmosphere was lighter. Unnaturally quiet. and sure enough. "Hello?" I called. do something fun. no awkwardness.

not when he purposely went out of his way to piss me off. Homework? As if. but I ignored him. I had a mad urge to run back out the front door. "Er. He looked up when I marched into the living room. he could shove it where the sun didn't shine. too.maybe the whole secretive Quil thing was making me paranoid. I could be mature. I hated how he always felt obligated to. I was stuck at home with my Dad." I said cautiously. I just hadn't asked. Horror movie? Hmm… but Dad was in the living room. Quil was busy. but at the moment I had enough stress on my mind. But I could handle this.239 - . I stuck my head into the living room. "Oh. I didn't particularly want to spend a whole lot of time with him. sometime. sounding as though he didn't really care. Mom and Denise and Jack couldn't even provide sufficient distractions. I had expected him to ignore me. and how I could always tell when he felt like that. But I did take comfort in the fact that he wasn't lying to me. I jumped when my dad spoke. Maybe I would ask. father and daughter time. This was my house too. or trying to cover whatever it was up. not looking up. I had no one. I wandered into the kitchen. and I almost sighed in relief." I said. so he hadn't told me. I hated watching films without Quil. trying to think of something that would occupy me for a few hours until Quil arrived. Why was he being so freakishly calm? I had expected a tantrum the minute I walked through the door. Dad was sitting on the couch. This was his attempt at conversation. I crouched down by the vast DVD collection Quil and I had built up over the years. Rachel was with Zach. If he didn't like it." I said. "Did you have a good time last night?" he asked hesitantly. I paced in the kitchen." he grunted. "Where is everyone?" "Shopping. I don't know why the quiet had freaked me out . wondering which one to treat myself to. And then I was annoyed. I was going to watch a movie. but watching one with him wasn't really an option. restless." My dad's gruff voice floated out from the living room. eyeing him warily. Then it occurred to me. I didn't need to add to it until it was necessary. Did he even know I had been at Quil's? Would Mom have told him? . "Hi. reading a newspaper."In here. yeah.

but bearable. and tried to tower over me unsuccessfully." he said. So. not fine. I wasn't about to justify myself to him. actually. . Let him think the worst of me. I wanted to hurt him like he had hurt me. "I was at Quil's. once before. Maybe Mom had decided to avoid the drama by not mentioning it to him. "And I thought much more of you. watching his reaction warily. Claire." He exhaled loudly. and why should I have to hide what made me happy from him? Maybe I couldn't live without drama. his voice shaking with fury. but he had broken all my faith in him. I really did. Or maybe I just wanted my dad to wake up and realise that my life was with Quil now. "I'm your father. isn't it?" "Don't be smart with me." I repeated. "You staying the night at his? I thought much more of you. I could lie. never being a proper father. "I've done my best. for never being there for me. "What?" he said dangerously. and answered my question."Whose place did you stay at?" he asked." I laughed blackly. and then everything would be… well. and there was nothing he could do about it. But why should I lie to keep him happy? Staying at Quil's last night had made me happy. I didn't feel threatened by him one bit. He was furious. "I wouldn't have known at all if it weren't for your name on my birth cert. Claire. I decided to take the dramatic option. He got to his feet." he snapped. I could avoid the drama too. and say it was Rachel. and I straightened up so I could face him and look him in the eye. typically. "And is this a regular thing?" he said. frowning. My dad would nod and approve. Dad.240 - . I could see him stiffen. "I was at Quil's. like I knew he would be." "Hah. he wasn't that much taller than me." I glared at him. half-interested. I had wanted to count on him. Out of the corner of my eyes. Maybe I wanted to get back at him." I replied. as he so obviously wanted to. Funny how things change. and I snapped.

You're a pathetic excuse for a father. "You keep twisting things. "You can't love me. Dad?" He glared at me. tears in my eyes. "You're eighteen. his eyes unseeing. either." I snapped." I spat. looking as though I had slapped him. and never ventured much further from school-weather-Jack topics of discussion. After he'd left. he came back to earth. and that's supposed to be you doing your best. But how can you be happy with him? He's not even supposed to be real! How can you believe he is what he says he is? How can you believe a single word that comes out of his mouth?" "Because I love him. The only way he would hear my point of view now was when I yelled at him. trying to hide how much his words had stung. But just as I began to hope. and I tried desperately not to cry with frustration. It's nothing more than a dangerous infatuation. and was still being. Dad! I have to scream and yell to get your attention. because this is the only way you'll listen to me!" We were both silent then. . only bothering to stick your oar in when you thought you were needed. his phone calls were rare and obligated. Claire. "How dare you speak to me like th -" I was so furious and upset. afraid of this whole Quil thing! Is it really so terrible to have someone love me." "Well. regardless of the shape of form? Does it really hurt you to see me happy with someone like him? Who cares if he isn't the fantasy guy you had in mind for me! He's my fantasy. clearly you have no idea what love is. patronising me.241 - ." he said. Anytime I had tried to talk to him when I was younger. my words showing him how irrational and prejudiced he had been. and he was wrong. and the fury was back. I was right."Your best?" I shrieked. But it's not like you care. is it? You pushed me away. and say these things to me at the same time. he had never given me his full attention. I hoped I was getting through to him. Claire. "This is the only way you'll hear me. I want nothing more than for you to be happy. You try and keep me from the one and only thing that truly puts a smile on my face. "You have no idea what love is." He shook with fury. and I cut across him. "If that was your best. I'd hate to see your worst! You have avoided me for years.

"I think you should move to New York with me. And it hurt. He didn't give a shit about me. and walked straight out of the front door. watching the stormy waves crash against the rocks at the base of the cliffs." "Oh." I spat. I could cry without witnesses. for which I was grateful. and take away the one person in my life who I can't imagine living without?" "Don't be so dramatic. but I meant it." he said." I stormed up to my room and packed a bag of clothes. I felt a sudden pang of regret . Today was Friday. "I think a break from here would give you perspective. He didn't listen to me. but I couldn't just turn up on the doorstep and expect him to take . I was not going to let myself listen to his old and tired arguments over and over again." he said.242 - . It was cold. "Until Wednesday. Claire. "I won't be. "No freaking way! I'd rather rip my arms off. He didn't care what I thought. I had been terribly dramatic in leaving. you mean make me see Quil from your point of view? Do you plan to try and brainwash me. and not have to feel ashamed for my tears." His eyes flashed angrily. I wasn't going to stay in that house with him. He didn't make any effort to stop me as I jumped in my car and drove away. or how I felt. as long as you're here. his mouth twisting with distaste at my words. I had broken my promise to Quil. "What?" I screeched. I ended up at the beach. I thought about where I would go. The beach was deserted. I didn't know what I was going to do now. at any rate. I vowed that I would talk to her before she left. Why didn't he believe I loved Quil with everything I had? Why was he convinced it wasn't real? Why couldn't he just let it all go. but I wasn't concerned. sitting on the sand cross-legged with no shoes on. and he looked surprised at the sudden change of topic. and with a shock I realised that Denise was leaving tomorrow. Quil's? I badly wanted to. when I finally decided to stand up. "Well.I hadn't really made any progress with her at all." he said finally. let me be happy? "How long are you staying here?" I demanded.

and my mouth fell open. "you should have gotten a part on Baywatch. anyway. Of course. I have been running for five hours straight all over the damn place. He wasn't going to succeed.243 - . and my heart reacted to the familiar voice. though. I didn't want to go back to reality." "Well." I said. out of breath. put the masks back on." Whatever he had been about to say died on the way to his mouth. Of course it was. "Claire. Your mom called me. Quil was running down the beach towards me. Great. ever." I said." he gasped. I wasn't going near my dad again. talk to my in. I simply didn't want to. and it registered with me how insanely hot he looked. Sam and Emily's? I liked that thought better. I watched agape as he caught up to me in a matter of seconds. and he chose to stare at me exasperatedly and amusedly instead. looking for you. staying over the one night was fine. He collapsed on the sand next to me. and I knew that he probably wouldn't care. listen to the seagulls. I just wanted to sit here until I was absolutely forced to move. you found me. Emily would insist I stayed with them. still without a shirt. he . It was Quil. His eyes were focussed on my face. but moving in temporarily until Wednesday…? I was going to give the guy a break. Not now. I wanted to think some more. "You know. I wasn't even surprised. deciding to drive down to their house. I wanted to listen to the ocean. and said you ran off. but not so long ago he had freaked out over the possibility of us living together. and I didn't move. Sure. The grey sky gradually darkened. The truth? Knowing him. Maybe Rachel? I would feel horrible guilty for putting her out the whole time. and I've been searching bloody everywhere since. anyway. Then he was back to Serious Quil. his beautifully sculpted chest heaving. He was here to convince me to go back home. Soon. I knew that he would. "Claire. And the shirtless sex god was running towards me. I looked across the beach. I made up my mind. He wasn't ready for something like that. I wondered what he had told my mother. in a complete trance. tearing my eyes away from him to look out onto the waves. "Claire!" I jumped at the sudden shout. It was almost like I had been waiting for him to arrive.

" he told me. in a peculiar tone. "Your mom said you ran away. and it's not safe…" he trailed off. Claire. I wasn't that hard to find. protecting me from the worst of the cold. anyway. I was thinking of just going to Sam and Emily's until Dad leaves. He wrapped both of his arms around me. almost like he was agreeing to something. not really. I wanted to ask what he meant. Quil squeezed my hand gently. and used it to pull me over to him. "I don't know what I was doing. I rested my head on his warm. "Quil. and eventually reached out and took my hand. brutal wind. "Really?" I asked. bare shoulder. I would never leave you. after a long silence. "OK. He paused. "Did Dad tell her that?" "He said that you packed a bag and walked out. "It's OK. when I heard. if you had really thought about it. frowning. I just don't want to go back to that house. almost as though he was afraid of the question. in a very quiet voice. "Are you alright?" he asked quietly. feeling my face thaw the longer I sat like that. but I had a feeling it was something to do with the wolf stuff. I must have worried him." I rolled my eyes. I was worried sick. but I knew he heard me. I stayed quiet. I didn't elaborate. "Thank God." I said.244 - . He was silent for a moment.had probably twisted everything to make it look like all my fault. listening to the stress in his voice. "Yeah." I said honestly." I added. and I felt bad. eyeing me." Quil said. I nearly had an aneurysm. I had no idea where you had gone. this would have been the first place you would have looked for me. . of the answer." he said." He continued to watch me. "Were you running away?" he asked. "No. I wasn't running away. hugging me tighter." he said. "I'm sorry. in a small voice. and then took a deep breath.

"What's OK?" "You can move in with me until your dad leaves. confused." he repeated."What?" I asked." .245 - . "OK.

THE REVIEWS . And he was giving me what he thought I wanted. too? "Claire. because she's so freaking amazing and she's the one who got me on fanfiction and we should all bow down to her and honour her and without her I wouldn't be writing this author's note right now." "Oh.oh ma gawd. but Quil…" "Don't oh but Quil wouldn't believe the amount of things that get in the way of my free time. but Quil…" I chewed my lip." Quil said firmly. You're all invited to my birthday party. And jacij1988. so he knew me too well. I wanna thank Elm for another amazing review (and it is SO necessary to mention ya . MIMZIE. for her list.246 - . "Well… I just don't want to be any kind of an inconvenience for you.) And Skipper713 (I shall try and get more Jacob in for ya. Quil goes commando. what I did want. but was it really what he wanted? Was I an obligation to him. He was offering what I wanted more than anything. . LOVE! I'll see you in school (lol) . not sure how to phrase the question.Rules Hi! So sorry about the wait .D Chapter Twenty-Eight: Rules "Oh. Driven demented.) And of course. OK.) LURRRVE FOR EVERYONE! xxxx :D Enjoy the chapter! P. But was it what he wanted? I wasn't convinced. I know you'd prefer to stay at mine more than anyone else's. amazing! You lot are constantly putting a smile on my face." . So you're staying at mine. haha (you've now got me saying 'happy happy joy joy' all the time. FYI.S. He looked away from the stormy waves to meet my eyes. don't keep making me cry!). "Quil…" I began.

I didn't feel the cold anymore. and hear your voice. Everything was going to be OK. but what do you want." I agreed. Quil immediately bundled me up in his arms again. I grabbed it and he pulled me to my feet. "I do want you. Quil?" He scrutinised me for a moment before answering." He released me reluctantly and stood up. before remembering he had said he had been running around looking for me. It didn't seem like he wanted to move anywhere anytime soon. And I knew that. him carrying my shoes. and I was more than happy to sit with him. and what I want. because Quil was going to make sure of it.247 - ." "I am. I dug in my jeans for my car keys. after watching the sun set behind the ocean. I want you to stay with me. "OK. simply because it was me. handing me back my shoes. An alternate universe did not exist for me. who actually wanted me around. Claire." "But is this what you want? You're always thinking about what I need. then I get what I want. and we walked slowly back towards the car park. before it gets too late. then." My shoulders felt a little lighter. smiling up at him. and held out his hand. and turned his face back towards the waves. unburdened." I believed him. "Do you want me to drive?" Quil asked. I seriously could not imagine my life without Quil at that moment. and know that you're in the safest place that you can possibly be in. because then I can be with you all the time. "We should go. If you're sure. resting his cheek on the top of my head. At least there was someone who didn't feel obligated to me. and that's what I want. I shook my ."You're never an inconvenience. "OK. and see you. or the bite in the wind. I shivered at the sudden blast of cold on my skin. Eventually. If you come to stay with me at my house. Quil sighed. Claire. I looked around for his car. He grinned crookedly back.

and sighed. "Fine. Claire. at how he just instinctively knew. He caught them deftly before they hit the ground. his eyes glued to the oven door and the food inside it. Like how I couldn't go back to that house in my current headspace. "You look exhausted. I couldn't argue with him when he said things like that. "But you're my baby. opening the door of the driver's seat.248 - . and I wrapped my hand around his." I said. I hoped she wouldn't be too upset with me. I breathed in the heavenly smell. Well. I pulled out my phone. shoving my feet into them. all smug now that he had gotten his way." Why did it feel like that was all I was saying to him lately? "I know you're not a baby. I rolled my eyes at him. "Are you sure?" he pressed. his tone patient. I'd get back to her later. He reached his hand over to me." I stopped in the act of getting into the car.head. "Stop mollycoddling me. . I guess I needed to explain things to her. I marvelled. I'm not a baby. With my other hand. "I'm so hungry I could eat a horse. intertwining our fingers." "I'm fine. keys already in the ignition. I felt guilty for snapping at him. The journey to Quil's house was short. and my head felt extremely heavy the whole way there. Quil grinned at me." I said." Quil said. once again. "You don't have to drive if you don't want to -" "Quil!" I snapped. I hadn't even realised I was exhausted until Quil had mentioned it to me. and threw the car keys into the air. I wandered into the kitchen and found Embry and Paul sitting on two chairs in front of the oven. and wondered why the two guys were sitting in front of the oven as though it was a television. discovering about a million messages from my mother. even before I did." Paul was saying. watching a lasagne dish. stowing it away in his room. I just want to take care of you. ready to go. I walked around the car to the passenger seat and climbed in. Quil found my hastily packed bag and brought it into the house.

managing to get a word in edgeways." "You infinity." "I could eat a whale. I'm so hungry." Embry announced in a competitive tone. why?" They both shrugged. I actually could eat an elephant. I'm wetting myself.249 - . I'm so hungry I could eat a giraffe. "Er. I'm shaking." "Retard. to the . not looking up from their staring match with the oven. slightly confused." I said. So therefore I'm hungrier. guys."Well." "I'm frightened. Claire. Ha." they both said at the same time. "Hey. "Did Claire tell you she's staying here for a couple of days?" he said." they said simultaneously." "Shut up. Then we'd all get peace." "You shut up." "You." "Hey." "You. I frowned and nodded." "Asshole. Quil came into the room and draped an arm across my shoulders. "What are you doing?" "Watching the lasagne cook." "You infinity and beyond. So stick that in your juice box and suck it." "I could eat you. his eyes also engrossed in the lasagne dish. "Well.

"Horror film?" he suggested to me. over Embry's loud protesting that he was half of half a second away from eating the lasagne raw. "Why the hell are you watching the oven again?" Quil asked. "I heard that. and I didn't want to do that because I wanted to stay on good terms with at least one person in the family. "Really?" they both said." Quil said. "Good. I chewed my nail nervously as I waited for someone to pick up the phone." he said." "Yep." Embry said. Quil rolled his eyes as they started competing again.staying well away from all of Embry's. If she said no and demanded I go back home. "Claire?" . They were too engrossed in watching the lasagne. in an exasperated way." "Well. "You need to take a hint and get some better scary movies. anyway. hoping Dad wouldn't be the one to answer. "I'm three seconds away from reaching in and eating it raw." "Cool. and that I was an adult and I didn't have to listen to her." he added in a low tone. hoping my mom would be OK with letting me stay with Quil for a few days. which I suddenly found extremely funny." Embry said." Paul said superiorly. "I'm starving." I said. which led me to think this wasn't the first time he had seen the two of them plonked in front of the oven watching something cook. I would be back after Dad left. and understand.250 - . I'm two seconds away. not even bothering to turn around and look at either of us. "We might as well make the most of the PlayStation actually being off. and wandered down to Quil's room to call my mother. in surprised and interested tones. "I'll root out all our best films ." I slipped out of the room quietly. I would have to tell her that she couldn't make me. before Paul could answer. So I hoped she would just accept my decision. "I think I'd better call my mom first though.unclothed backs of Embry and Paul." "Never. grinning.

"I'm not coming home until he leaves.251 - . even for you. She rarely smoked. "Are you OK?" she asked. Mom. He's not my father. you bloody well should have. She didn't sound angry or upset with me. I'll come home when he leaves." "What?" Mom snapped. "And anyway. Dad will just hang out at the house all day anyway. He's just a bastard who doesn't care about me. Claire… this is your home." "Yes. but thinks he can order me around." she pleaded. "Mom." She sighed. ever again. I was the one who always stressed her out. When are you coming home?" I hesitated. Mom. she sounded like she understood." I placated." "Sorry. she was smoking. That's too dramatic. her tone dangerous. "Hi. like she was ." I said. "Thank Jesus. Claire. Seriously. and I've been going out of my mind -" "Sorry." Mom was quiet for a moment. I should have called you back. cutting across her before she could make me feel even guiltier." I said. thinking. even though I knew she couldn't see me. suddenly extremely weary. where on earth have you been? I've been calling your phone all day to no answer. after a pause.She must have been waiting for me to call. I just don't want to be anywhere near him. "But. "Fine. "I'm not. you can't do that to Jack. Claire. now upset. and whenever she did it was usually my fault. and you packed a bag and walked out. shrugging. But I swear." I said. You can't expect me to put up with the shit he dishes out. and I felt a little hopeful at her tone. I can't stay in that house with that man. "Your father said there was a disagreement. force him into a hotel or something. Come home. I'll get rid of him." "Are you staying at Quil's?" she asked. "I was just down at the beach all day. and you know it. and then I heard her inhale sharply. not his.

" I said." Mom said. "Right. she's leaving at about three.isn't Denise leaving tomorrow?" I said quickly. He looked up when I walked . I headed straight into the living room." "Will you tell her I'll be down to see her before she goes?" I would find a way to avoid my dad. relieved. then. and then he would be gone. awkward conversations." I rolled my eyes." I hung up the phone. "Right." "I will. hoping she wouldn't try and force me to go to Emily's or Rachel's instead. and things could return to the way they used to be. every couple of months. and all my mother was worried about was whether or not I was planning to have sex in a bed with my boyfriend. "Yes. At least I wouldn't be forced to see or talk to my dad for a few days." "Bye. Will you call me tomorrow?" "Oh. won't you? Act your age. "Right.252 - . Fine. and sounded quite pleased about that. Behave yourself." "Bye. Claire. wait ." I muttered sulkily." I said. then. feeling much better than I did five minutes ago. stilted. or causing trouble for all of those boys. where Quil was kneeling on the floor sorting DVDs into piles and cursing under his breath." "Thanks. "OK. "I'll see you tomorrow. I don't want you ditching school. Just you make sure he stays sleeping on that couch. "He will. A phone call. deciding it wasn't worth the drama." I reassured her. Neither of us saying what we really wanted to say. back to New York. "I'll tell her. Her youngest daughter had temporarily run away from home. sick of being treated like I was eleven and temperamental. Bless her.resigned to my decision. "Yeah. I wanted to say goodbye to my older sister.

rules. "Oh." "Cool. "Do you happen to know where the hell my copy of the Exorcist went?" I smiled. and clapped his hands together. "Rules!" he announced. "Rule number two: do your homework. right." I said. "Everything's fine. damn." . yawning.253 - . He ignored me. "Which leaves us with only one problem to solve. watching me. his grin widening." he mused. "Yes. "I think it's at my house. Quil." Quil grinned." he said. in an enthusiastic voice. He stood up suddenly." "I was joking." I muttered." Quil said. "Rule number one: no beer for Claire. You can forget about that idea completely." "You are not. "I'm going to stay up until dawn drinking beer. "You can't stay without there being a couple of rules." "Oh. I collapsed on the couch." I frowned." "Ha ha. I rolled my eyes. "You can go to bed if you're tired. feigning devastation." he said. to maintain the order around here. "Rules?" I asked sceptically." I said sleepily. I'm not having you lazing around while you're here. waiting." he said. "So?" he asked. "Nope. dangling my feet over the armrest and stretching out." he said. "Mom doesn't mind. rolling his eyes.

or saying any disgustingly gooey stuff in front of me. Plain and simple. "separate sleeping arrangements." Quil began. or have already eaten. "It won't make much of a difference. "no one except me is allowed to use my shampoo. And will you please all wash your bloody hands before handling food?" "Yes." Embry said." I said. Claire ." Quil continued." Embry butted in." he told me sternly. Embry snorted." I said exasperatedly. "Clean that bloody kitchen after you when you're finished using it." He gazed at me with narrowed eyes until I nodded. I laughed. a plate of lasagne balanced precariously in one of his hands. It was the same with my hairbrush . "Rule number seven. even though they hadn't said anything. or fondling. sighing. "No kissing.I just didn't like other people using my stuff." He used his hand to point from him to me and back again." All three of them raised their eyebrows." Embry and Paul glanced at each other and shrugged. Especially when I am eating. "Rule number five. "Shut up." Paul announced. . rolling his eyes and bowing to Paul." Quil grinned again and waggled his eyebrows at me.Embry. I always killed my mother for doing it. "Rule number four. The guys wouldn't understand. "Rule number three. I just hated when other people used my shampoo. "I have a thing about my shampoo… just don't use it. bursting into the room with a large plate of lasagne. I wasn't crazy. Paul stuck his middle finger up at him and sat down on the couch next to me. And not just you. pushing Embry out of the way of the door. "No exceptions."I don't even do my homework at home. "I wonder how long that will last. Quil gazed at me.254 - . I had my own bottle in the shower and I was the only one allowed to use it. I rolled my eyes again. ignoring them all." "Rule number six. amused. oh Domestic Goddess." I said loudly. I am sick to death of you leaving crumbs littered across the counters.

Quil. I could barely open my eyes the next morning. "There's still some lasagne left.Paul would have just continued to eat it all if I hadn't pulled him away." I said. collapsing into a bean bag chair with his half eaten plate." He sighed. Are you hungry?" "Starving."OK." I was about to say something mean. "Gah!" I exclaimed." I whined. For one wild second. He jumped too. And then it all made sense. and I yawned. Today had really been stressful and emotional. "Ugh. sprang straight back up again. I thought back to last night. I was delighted by the outcome. My eyes focussed on a sudden movement in my peripheral vision." Embry said. "Fine. It was basically the four of us sprawled out in front of the TV watching horror movies and eating lasagne. It had been fun. "Sorry. I forced my eyes open. blinking slowly. only just realising how ravenous I was.255 - . grinning. who had just seated himself on the edge of the bed. like a good little boyfriend. Bloody Quil was standing in the doorway. Quil. interrupting. clutching at my heart. I felt horrible. and I was glad it was nearly over. I really shouldn't have sat on a freezing beach for hours. but was interrupted by a sneeze. I couldn't breathe through it. I think I've caught a cold. "You're lucky . Although." he said." Paul scowled at the back of his head. watching me. . "You're such a freak sometimes!" I told him. What kind of weirdo stood in the doorway watching their girlfriend sleep? Only Quil. and I could remember all of it. I thought I had somehow managed to get drunk again." I said. There was something wrong with my nose. Quil headed off to get me food. "If you give me any more I'm just going to forget them all. Staying at Quil's house? Getting to avoid my dad until he disappeared back to where he came from? It didn't get much better than this. "I can't help myself. I had managed to forget all about my father and all the shit that went with it. but smiled at me. I've heard enough rules now.

" "My heart is still bleeding. ever. And the time I had at Quil's house was limited. Well. "Is there any chance you'll be getting out of bed any time soon?" "Not a hope in hell. and I had wanted to spend as much of it as I could with Quil. I'm just joking. grinning like an idiot." I huffed. I sneezed again." Quil said. my heart practically failing. "No. "My heart bleeds for you. and I wiped my watering eyes. which probably meant I'd be well enough for school on Monday. my nose was blocked… ugh. I sighed. I was about to protest to him doing things like that without warning. grinning at me.256 - . Today and quite possibly tomorrow was just going to be accompanied by sneezes and coughs now." He grinned at my heavy sarcasm. . I glared at him. that was just typical. rubbing my eyes. There was a moment of silence. "You said you wanted to see Denise again before she left. my head hurt." he reminded me. gasping. you know." He sniggered. My chest hurt. "Are you trying to be annoying?" I demanded. but my squealing had just triggered a coughing fit. my heart sinking as I realised I'd have to get up and go out. his eyes wide." "But. go away."Really?" he said. "Huh." Quil joked. "Quil!" I squealed. Do you need a tissue?" "Oh. I don't actually catch colds. It just comes naturally." I said. and groaned. "My poor baby. instead of having to endure it. I had already decided to just sleep the cold off. "Nope. my throat hurt. throwing the duvet over my head. "You're going to get my bed all germy. Wonderful. Colds made me irritable." I said. Quil waited until I had stopped coughing. Why did I have to be sick? And it was a Saturday too. and then Quil was suddenly under the covers. I hated being sick.

and I sighed. I was fed up of holding her past mistakes against her. She finally decided to mature and make proper contact after all these years. . "Gahhh…" I groaned. So I would say goodbye to her. closing my eyes." I said. I could let go. I felt like absolute shit. a part of me was going to miss her." "Whatever. and I'll bring you the medicine when Embry gets back with it. and then I'd make the effort to stay in touch after that. I really did not want to get up. "Embry. like I knew he would. but I knew I'd never forgive myself if I let Denise go without saying a proper goodbye. She was another part of my dysfunctional family. oh master of the universe." "Is she?" he asked." Embry bowed to him. and we both jumped. glaring at him. "Breach of rule five! You're not supposed to be in the same bed!" he yelled. and she was my sister." He headed out of the door. Despite my hard-done-by feelings towards her at the beginning. and I could do that too. Pulling back the covers. ultimately. I could get over the past. rolling his eyes. so go away. run into the shop and get Claire some medicine for a cold. "Claire is sick. I threw on the first clothes that came to my hands. I heard him leave the room. "Yes. clutching at my aching. his hands on his hips. pressured head. amused as usual by my moods. He ignored me. "I'm not an invalid. looking quite delighted about it. and Quil eyed me anxiously. "Yeah." I muttered. "It's just a cold. "Shut up. grinning at us triumphantly. "Hey!" Quil said suddenly. I sniffed and sat on the edge of the bed. his eyes lighting up."BREACH!" Embry roared suddenly. "Will you be able to get up?" he asked. Get dressed." I snapped. which he handed to me. "Fine.257 - . and walked in with a dark blue mug. making a face at the combination of a sore throat and blocked nose. Quil. Embry. we spotted him in the doorway." Quil snapped. not overly-bothered by what I looked like." He grinned at my tone. Quil knocked on the door.

It tasted disgusting. "this should clear up your symptoms. actually. Time to say goodbye to Denise. but made an effort to drink as much as I could. "Ugh. OK." "Lemon shit. then. I handed the mug back to him when I genuinely couldn't take anymore of it. "Just try and drink it. "What the hell is this?" "It's a vitamin drink. It had helped. .258 - ." "Well. warm lemon." He rolled his eyes." "Thanks." he said. can it?" I took another sip and screwed my face up at the taste. "The box said it would cure your cold. and took a sip. starting to grin at the murderous way I was glaring into the mug. under Quil's watchful gaze. It can't make you feel any worse. I felt more alert." Quil said. a little. I almost gagged. did the box mention it tastes like shit?" "Lemon." I said." I said. "Wanna bet on that?" I muttered under my breath."Here.

Lurrrrrrve xoxox :D Chapter Twenty-Nine: All Embry Quil drove me to my house. and carer. I like. But first. Every review is appreciated. I hope you get better soon. irritated still by the fact my toothpaste had not managed to wash away the taste of lemon. I have to mention jacij1988 poor dotes.All Embry Heya! How is everyone? To all the people who are as sick as Claire . I'll try and make it soon. "It's just a cold.. "I will be your chauffeur. Thanks for all your complaining LOL.259 - .. I hope you enjoy it! I dunno when I'm gonna be able to update next things are crazy." I grumbled. LOL. It's foul.. I prayed that my dad would stay well away from me. I am seriously humbled.. Coz she's GRRREAT. the freaking reviews are freaking amazing. refusing point blank to let me drive. but you're going to take it easy today. but kinda necessary at the same time. Word of advice: Don't drink lemon flavoured medicine.. LOL. I put my two major ideas on my profile. throwing me a lopsided grin. If anyone is remotely interested in what I plan on doing after Tattoo. a lot." Quil said. I just wanted to say goodbye to Denise. Bleaurgh. Tell me: are you ready for the aforementioned DRAMA and ACTION and SUSPENSE etc etc? Coz we're getting closer to it all. "I know." I suggested a place he could bring his tissues to.. and he sniggered. In case you're curious. I won't have time to start them though until Tattoo is over. My stomach twisted into knots when I arrived at my house. Preferably in some sort of warm.. Thanks so much. comfortable bed. too. Speaking of Tattoo being over. I didn't even want to look at him. I love lists. it's not over yet. I wanna thank the people who PM me to tell me how much they love it. .. and then I wanted to fall asleep somewhere. don't panic. Well. and tissue-bringer. But nearly. This chapter is kind of a filler. Loads. love ye all.

I was about to knock on the door. and I had the shivers. I can't imagine what I would have done if I hadn't been able to say goodbye ." she said with relief. shit. I walked straight into the house without knocking.oh. "Thank God. He was roasting. "My flight times changed.Quil wrapped one of his large arms around my waist as we walked towards the front door. This would always be my home. struggling with a suitcase I had only just noticed on the ground. compared to the Barbie doll who had arrived a week ago. confused. I'd just feel totally lost. Jack! DENISE. And what if I came back here. and I'm leaving in like twenty . For one insane second. and I winced. That surprised me. Otherwise. where's my football? I can't find it!" "MOM! MY RED TOP!" "It's probably in the driveway.I guess it just didn't feel like home anymore. I seriously hated being sick. adding to the general noise and confusion. had for the moment disappeared. Was it unwise to feel so at home at Quil's? I would just be leaving in a couple of days anyway. where did I put my sunglasses?" "What?" I said. and I couldn't let myself forget that. that was stupid. routine. the dark cloud that my dad had brought with him. with Quil. and I leaned my head on his chest. the tense atmosphere.260 - . I was welcome in both of them. They were familiar sounds. "Claire. Why was she rushing around like blue-arsed fly? "Oh. I just had another home. It hurt my throat though. here with my mom and with Jack. and she looked didn't look like my sister at all. only to feel like a guest? No. unsurprised by the yelling and the usual sounds of commotion within the house. Her face was flushed. CHECK THE DRYER!" "HELLO!" I bellowed. her hair was messy. I don't know why . Denise came zooming out of the kitchen. "MOM! Have you seen my RED TOP?" "WHAT?" "Mom. right!" she said breathlessly. a glittery red top in her hands. as usual. her makeup was minimal.

the realisation that Denise was actually leaving. not really caring about the answer." I nodded. was all throwing me a little off balance. Too much of the past. yelling for Mom on the way. She just wanted me home. "Shut up. along with the confusing feelings I had had about my home when I arrived. My mom thundered down the stairs. but I was annoyed.minutes . It's just a cold.261 - . . sweeping her hair off her face. I could tell she was searching for the tiniest excuse she could use in her argument that I come home. Everything felt a little surreal. I am capable of feeding myself. "Where's Dad?" I asked. and felt a hell of a lot of tension leak from my body. She hugged me. "I'm not a freaking child. which I had tried to ignore. "He did the one decent thing he's ever done in his life. I just needed some space. "You're as white as a sheet. and I just wanted a break from the place that seemed to welcome it back. I felt out of place. but there wasn't really anything she could say.oh Jesus. I looked up at Quil. no doubt. I doubted he was trying not to get in my way." she said. It seemed he didn't want to be around me either. who raised his eyebrows at me. with an accusatory tone. and how pointless it would be to try and talk me into coming home early of my own free will." I said. Mom snorted. She knew better than anyone how safe I was with Quil. It wasn't like I was never coming back. So he wouldn't be bothering me. He decided to go for a walk. where she could keep an eye on me. rolling his eyes. I had no energy left to fight the same battles over and over again." he snapped back. "Have you been feeding her?" she snapped at Quil. distracted. and I knew she was only looking out for me. taking in my pallor with a frown. to distract her. on top of my horrendous cold." My mother sniffed disapprovingly. He didn't want to get in your way. sufficiently distracted. but pulled away and began scrutinising my face. calling the location of Denise's passport over her shoulder. No one ever won. I don't think I have my passport!" She legged it up the stairs. "Of course I have. Good. had come creeping back in the past few weeks. he was probably just as sick of fighting with me as I was of fighting with him.

262 - . "I wish she'd stay a bit longer. Oh . I think I have everything. despite my throat killing me. OK. thanks. of course I do . and small blue bead rested in the middle. I could collapse in a bed and sleep it all off later. Your dream catcher." she said. then?" I asked. you know…" Mom bit her lip. and the feathers helped filter the good dreams through to you. If I hadn't have acted so immature to her when she first arrived. and I glanced up at her. Mom fussed over me for a few minutes. I wondered briefly how he felt about Denise leaving. "I just wish you two had had more time to sort your differences out. and her face fell. Jack bounced down the stairs and ran out into the driveway. Denise returned downstairs five minutes later. I couldn't change the fact she was leaving today. and I took it from her. I knew the theory of dream catchers. Beautiful blue feathers hung delicately from silken threads." I said." She held out the bright blue object in her hands. but I decided I had enough on my mind without trying to delve into the mind of my ten-year-old brother. relieved. "I meant to give it to you earlier. smiling. I told her I was fine. You were supposed to hang it directly above your pillow. probably looking for his football. just send it to me… but I think I have everything important. and at least I wanted it to be on good terms."So Denise is really going. "It's gorgeous. "Right. tugging another suitcase along with her. "If I forgot anything. But whatever. I realised suddenly Denise was waiting for a reaction.Claire. Your bad dreams were locked inside the bead. and it would keep the bad dreams away." I felt guilty. we might have actually found some way to get along. examining it curiously. but I forgot…" . I just wanted to tell my sister that I forgave her and that I loved her and that I wanted her to get home safe. asking did I want any water or did I need an aspirin or did I want to sit down. despite feeling a little light-headed. "Oh.but she has to get back to her husband and her job. Gold threads twisted together to form a circular web framed by the wood. right now. attached to the wooden body of the dream catcher. That was what counted." she said breathlessly.

oh God. clearly trying not to roll his eyes.we'll talk on the phone every single week from now on. She couldn't appear to decide whether or not to grab her luggage or hug everyone first. "Make sure you do. both of them tearing up. oblivious. panicking." I said. gazing at me all watery-eyed. Dad . I could do that. trying to survive without oxygen for a few minutes. I wanted to roll my eyes too." she beamed. and I patted her back. "Come on. "What?" She pulled back to look at me questioningly." "Oh. "Oh. more gently this time." I said." Denise said.263 - . Denise hugged Mom." I said. "I promise . Claire!" she wailed. and threw her arms around my neck. "Oh God." she said. "OK. a flurry of goodbyes. "Next time you visit. "I said bring Ned the next time you visit. "Have a safe journey. She finally let me go. She hugged me again. smiling." I hung around awkwardly until Denise finally turned her attentions towards me. and she smiled."Thanks. easily lifted the two huge suitcases and carried them out of the door. I have to go. Denise. and Quil. and I couldn't help smiling back. "Sure." I agreed. I love it. I repressed a flash of annoyance when Denise hugged Quil a bit too eagerly. Mom began pushing us out the front door. "I'm so sorry. Every week?" she asked. "I'll ring you when I get home. practically strangling me." Denise said. "THERE'S A TAXI OUTSIDE!" Jack yelled suddenly. flustered. for everything. I hugged her back the best I could. taken aback. you wouldn't want to miss your flight." Mom sniffled. I will. more hugs. We won't lose touch that way." The next five minutes passed in a hazy blur. make sure you bring Ned the Imaginary Husband. Denise jumped and waved her hands around.

My dad was still hovering in the driveway. "That would be a serious breach of rule five. and he hugged Denise too." I said. finding himself highly amusing. I was on the point of collapse.264 - . Then she got in the taxi. Do you want to try some more of that vitamin stuff when we get home." I said. shut up. It didn't take him long. I ignored him. too. I didn't particularly want to hang around the house after she'd left. feeling better about my older sister than I had done in years. playing football with Jack against the wall of the house. I slammed the door shut and ignored my watching father completely. harbouring no desire to stay and chat. he swung himself into the jeep a couple of seconds later. "No. I held my head in my hands. so when Quil started to insist I go home and rest. and I glared at him murderously. but my mom was upset and I didn't like leaving her. I watched her go. I power-walked straight over to the car and jumped in. a wave of nausea attacking me. I hated that.arrived back from his walk. "Are you OK?" Quil asked anxiously. Oh God. "Ugh. However." I groaned. He continued to snigger under his breath. the stupid way he always managed to affect me. and we all waved her off. in no mood for his stupid jokes. interrupting my thoughts. waiting for Quil to hurry up and get his ass into the car. He threw me an indifferent look as I headed towards Quil's car. "Do you feel any better at all?" Quil asked. "Take me to bed. while I studiously ignored him. I wished I could feel as indifferent towards him as he obviously did towards me. would it not?" "Oh. and I felt the tension fade from my body the further I got away from my dad." "I see." He sniggered. and I couldn't stop sneezing. He started the engine and drove me away from that house. Please don't let me get sick everywhere. "No. I didn't protest even a little bit. and .

I can walk." "Well. would I?" "Touché. and I'm just taking care of you. pretending to be distraught. "Oh. and just take it easy?" "No. I feel very abused." I protested. "OK." I scoffed. I don't know why you're treating me like I have leprosy. I'm also here to listen to all your complaining. I'll be just like Dr Phil. So your diagnosis is faulty. very annoying. Before I could even move. I wouldn't feel the need to call you annoying. and the car slowed suddenly. "And you call me melodramatic?" "Yes." "Yeah." Quil said. Quil was out of the car. "You're very negative today." he said. as usual.265 - . smiling. and we were back at Quil's." He laughed. "For God's sake. only much better looking. and he was carrying me into the house with one arm. "I'm having such problems with my boyfriend.see if that helps?" "No." . Dr Quil. and I have reason to believe you are abusing your poor handsome boyfriend. aren't you?" "No. grinning widely. I finally looked up. as is my duty. is that you are being very melodramatic. my door was open. He's so egotistical." "I'm not." He chuckled. not to mention very." "Alright. You can call me Dr Quil. You're my patient for the day. my diagnosis. a little unnerved by the speed. You're always calling me names. if you weren't so annoying. "My legs are fine ." "Abusing. before stopping altogether." "Well. from where I'm standing." I whined. Do you just want to go to bed? Or I could make you a bed on the couch so you can watch movies and TV all day.

"Here's a diagnosis for you." "I have a voice and I'm not afraid to use it. it is. "My diagnosis is not faulty.Quil sniggered. Claire is sick." "Shut up. I felt I had to interrupt the conversation the two of you were having . I wanted to protest and say that I'd really rather go to bed and sleep off the cold… but then I changed my mind." "Is that your professional diagnosis?" "Yep. and he brought me into the living room and collapsed on the couch. "Go and annoy Paul." Embry said loudly. and that I'm just going to have to watch my back whenever you two are in the same room together. "Isn't he already married?" "How would I know? I'm clearly not an obsessed fan girl like the interest of all our safety. then?" Quil teased. My diagnosis is that you have an unhealthy obsession with Dr Phil. I was getting seriously worried." I rolled my eyes." "We know." "Well. grinning. ." I sneezed. "You're both freaks. Mr Wonderful. We were in the house now. you know. I'd hate to think what you both talk about when you're completely alone. Dr Phil is cool." Quil said." "Yeah." "Do you ever get sick of interrupting other people's conversations?" I asked him grumpily. strolling into the living room. I think I'm going to stick with listening to the professionals. Besides. why don't you marry him. Embry. and the last thing she needs is you hanging around making your opinions heard. settling me on his lap. "Never.266 - .

" I replied. "You can't go to bed now. "You did not just ask her that. "Go take your polluted mind elsewhere." Quil soothed. Embry looked entertained. but I was satisfied to see that Quil looked a little ashamed. I am eighteen. frowning at him.267 - . I am an adult." "Shut up. will you both shut up?" I snapped. "Do you want to go to bed now?" "Quil!" Embry squealed indignantly. Embry. glaring at both of them." I ranted. you really do…" I heard Quil mutter from behind us. and rounded on both Embry and Quil." "So?" "So. I am capable of feeding myself and looking after myself and all that shit. Claire." Embry said. Why does everyone insist on treating me like I'm two?" I said furiously. "You're both so annoying." Quil said again. I'll be up all night? I'm not a freaking baby. you'll be up all night. and I need my beauty sleep." "Oh. "This is the worst of it ." I will probably be much better in the morning. Good. not me. "Listen to me." "But it's only lunchtime. grinning." "Yeah." he said. who had been following me down the hall. "Watch me. In front of me. "Ugh. Just because you're both thirty-ish and heading for a mid-life crisis does not mean you can try and order me around and baby me. The two of you need to grow up. stepping around Embry. making a face. ignoring his smirk. I was his freaking ."Bless you." I struggled to my feet and stormed from the room. "What the hell do you mean. "I am so freaking sick of this cold. tired and sick and irritated.

Huffing. "I suppose." I groaned into the pillow. as I know I do sometimes. which also annoyed me. I buried my face in the pillow. ever. if I was treated like an adult. I was so not getting back out of this bed." I didn't bother looking up at him. Do you get where I'm coming from. " "Just get lost.girlfriend." Quil said softly. "You seriously don't know how patronising and cheesy you sound right now." "Sorry. and I turned my head to see Quil pushing Embry away. whispering furiously at him.268 - . kicking off my shoes. I'm sick of being talked down to all the time. There was sounds of a scuffle behind me. . "I'm sorry if I treat you like a child too much. I'm just getting used to the fact you're all grown up. Quil. I sank into the extremely comfortable bed. and rolled onto my back so I could see his face. Maybe I wouldn't act immature. which smelt like Quil. get down off your high horse. I wheeled back around and continued my journey up the hall. "I don't mean to. you know?" "OK. "Thank you." I sniffed." "Thank Jesus for that…" I rolled my eyes and entered Quil's room. I strained to hear what they were saying. and not my little Claire-bear anymore. will you?" "Fine. " ." I grumbled. I can tell when I'm not wanted. sighing with contentment. "But you'll just have to deal with it. not his freaking two-year-old freaking niece.doesn't need you . though?" I felt him sit on the edge of the bed. He looked mildly amused." "Oh.

imagining all the wonderful ways I could murder Quil when he got home. left me alone with Embry to take care of me. but he had never blown off one of our after-school-movie-marathons to go see Sam. and all the ones he would like to buy. politely confused. "Do what?" he asked. Embry would not go away. He told me stories about Quil. and Quil. telling me about all the PlayStation games he had ever bought. after apologising profusely. He sat on the edge of the bed. you've got another thing coming. I lay under the covers. or anyone else for that matter." I scowled at him. dying with my cold. entertaining me with stories and DVDs and sneaking me chocolate ." "That's because it's incredibly funny. We had been friends for years. And if you think I'm going to tiptoe around you just because you're in one of your moods. and he grinned. But I was also worried. he stayed with me almost the entire time. usually. He would not shut up. Never before had Quil left to see Sam so frequently. I'd be tiptoeing forever. I spent most of the rest of the day in Quil's bed. which were all entirely implausible. I vividly remembered the time I was sick with chicken pox when I was nine. He talked about the Pussycat Dolls. Meanwhile. and why. my face hidden by the blankets."Why do you do that?" I demanded. He had never blown off any time he could have spent with me. "Act all entertained whenever I'm in a bad mood. telling me in detail which one was his favourite. which wasn't as nearly as much fun as it sounded.269 - . Quil and Paul suddenly found it incredibly urgent to go out and see Sam. You laugh at me when I get mad at you.

"Claire? Claire. and the more I thought about it. but I was afraid that if I asked him. The Quil I had known all my life didn't leave me when I was sick. I could still hear him." I snapped. I rolled my eyes and tried to block out his voice. So whatever was going on was serious enough that he had no choice but to. He had said he would treat me like an adult now. it would just stress me out or frighten me or cause some reaction that would make Quil regret telling me. "No. stuffing my fingers in my ears." "Oh. As I was saying… anyway.270 - . So whatever this wolf stuff was. Quil was so overprotective of me. cutting into my thoughts." "Eh. not knowing. Embry. for when I moaned that my mother wouldn't give me any. a pig is a pig and a boar is a boar' and then she got annoyed and called me stupid and then I told her that it didn't matter and that she looked like some type of farm animal anyway…" I groaned. It was killing me. I was convinced it had something to do with me. you've pointed that out to me several times already. I just didn't know if I'd be able to handle it. and so there must be something that could hurt me in some way. please go away? When Quil said look after me he didn't mean sit on the edge of the bed and bug me to death. I'm just going to have to start my whole story from the beginning now. he would tell me straight out. "And then she grounded me for a week. it was serious. and he was just doing what he could to prevent it. I called you a boar' and she said that a boar was a pig and then I said 'no. It sounded like something that Quil would do." "Yes. I just didn't want to think about what it was." Dammit." "No. "Well. so I knew that if I asked him straight out. are you listening?" Embry demanded. irritation surging within me again. and go away. I still didn't want to ask him. I . she said to me 'did you just call me a pig?' and I said 'no. the more it made sense. then take the hint.

"OK. and maybe it was stupid… maybe it was just because I was sick and felt vulnerable. "Embry?" I asked. I still couldn't stop sneezing. Claire?" "Go away. "Yeah. his tone a bit grave and un-Embry-like. and I wished I had asked the question to his face. "So anyway. interrupting a spiel on a dream he had had last night and what he thought it meant. I think my dream either means I'm not making good choices in my life at the moment. He knew how to make me feel better. Nothing. I still felt like crap. I'm not allowed to tell you what. He had basically just confirmed what I already knew. to gauge his reaction. And I wanted Quil." I said quietly.hadn't managed to sleep at all yet. there is something. but can you tell me… is there something serious going on right now?" Embry was silent for a while. I couldn't stand not knowing anymore. or else every girl I know is secretly a man. though. are you. You're not a man. I checked my phone for the millionth time. And I was going to have to talk to Quil about it. So when he came home.271 - . my throat still hurt and I could still taste lemon in my mouth." he said eventually. I was going to ask him to tell me what was going on." . what with All Embry All The Time All Day. There was something. I fidgeted under the blankets. I just felt awful. or maybe it was a mixture of the two… but I just missed him like hell. "What?" "Is there something going on… with the pack? Something important? Something dangerous? I don't want to know what it is. You'll have to ask Quil. and I wanted him with me. or maybe it was because I knew there was something that was quite possibly dangerous going on and I just wanted him to be safe.

and that I wouldn't have to listen to Embry for much longer. enjoy this chapter .272 - .you guys rock. I had fallen into a stupor. yet he was still going. Quil frowned at him. shirtless. I breathed a sigh of relief that he was OK. sitting up so quickly the whole room swirled around me." I mouthed at Quil. Quil was finally back. I was managing to ignore him to a degree. hee hee hee. gorgeous.. staring listlessly at the duvet covering my face. Anyway. He stood in the doorway. "Hello. haha) so I changed them all . "Have you been bugging her?" he demanded. Lurrrve xox :) I was quite surprised at the amount of people who would quite like a breach of rule five.they're just totally random now. go me.and I'm looking forward to reading your reviews. I had decided three hours ago that I had had enough of Embry to last me a lifetime. my computer has decided to go spastic on me . grinning.god knows when I'm going to be able to update again. how was your day?" Embry replied in a girly voice. . I'm home. and that he was home safe. Thanks for the fabulicious reviews . . jerking my head in Embry's direction. Sha la la la. Well. Enjoy the chapter.. I got bored with the chapter names (I'm running out of good adjectives." I wrenched the covers off my face. "Save me. "… I was convinced he was wearing mascara… No one believed me when I said there was something living in my room. darling. but every now and then a random sentence would catch my attention.Serious Breaching Phew. but it was a freaking bat… Never had so much fun with a whoopee cushion in all my life…" "Honey.) Chapter Thirty: Serious Breaching Quil didn't arrive back until late. telling me pointless facts and stories. I managed to get this chapter done in a few hours.

"I love you too. "He wouldn't go away when I asked him to. and then he was gone. and that was what mattered. "How are you feeling?" he asked." Embry said. "See you in the morning. "I'm going to bed . "Better. I still had to ask him what was going on. and remind him that I . losers. I wanted to object. and I never liked admitting to Quil how much I needed him. I scowled back at him. and the atmosphere between us was so peaceful and relaxed. I'd feel like an idiot." I said at the same time. "I'm sorry I had to leave. "Good." I made a face. and I hated feeling weak. who aimed a punch at his head. "And I'm sorry about Embry."No. The absence of Embry's voice was like heaven. Embry dodged it. making an exaggerated apologetic face. and I just didn't want anything to change. I decided." he said. in a more serious tone." "Yeah.I'm wrecked from all that talking." Quil replied." His words reminded me. and he leaned down to kiss me." he said. I could put off knowing what that something was until tomorrow. It could wait until morning. not adding the words 'because you're back'. grinning and winking at me." I snapped. "It's OK. He was back now." I said." "For God's sake. "Sorry. snickering. sinking back into the covers. "Whatever." he said. He walked over to my side and pressed a blazing hand to my forehead. I smiled. and he looked so tired." I complained." Quil muttered. But I was looking up at him. standing up and stretching. Embry. piss off please. "Piss off. "Yes. It made me feel weak. rubbing my ears." I told Quil. "Oh. I love you." He stepped around Quil.273 - ." I told him. glaring at Embry's head." Embry said indignantly. "I swear I can still hear his voice. finally gone.

because he was being incredibly sweet. "Don't be so freaking ridiculous. "See how cute we are. barely able to think. I rolled my eyes at him. My eyes opened." he whispered against my lips. We both winced as his back cricked loudly." he said. I know.was still sick and virus-infected. "Why don't I sleep on the couch tonight." he said. "I'd rather have a nightmare. making sure I had tissues near me. and straightened up. "Ouch. He kissed my forehead once he was completely happy that his role of fussy carer was completed." he said indignantly. It's past your bedtime. He started fussing over me." "I'll dream about you if you dream about me. tucking me in." "Do I have to keep reminding you. and he was still there. "Dream about me." I offered. grinning. It didn't seem to be a big issue to him anyway." He kissed my lips one last time. nuzzling my nose." he said. He kissed me gently. "You should sleep. It's not exactly comfortable. finishing each other's sentences…" I laughed. my eyes closing as he began to spread kisses along my cheek.274 - . and you can have your bed. "Sure you would. and rest your back?" I suggested. and he pulled away. centimetres away. before pulling away completely." I felt bad. I tried not to roll my eyes at him. and my heart started hammering against my ribs. "that I am not a -" "Baby. "It's late. pushing my hair off my face. but then again I really didn't want to." I breathed. in between kisses. "That's that blasted couch. as though I had just announced the world was triangular instead of round. "I always do. stretching gingerly. Yeah. and ." I teased.

for God's sake!" I exclaimed. "It doesn't matter. tell me what you were going to say before I go insane. I had well and truly chickened out. frowning with confusion. seriously." I said. Tell me. blushing furiously at the same time. I threw the covers over my head. "Claire. exaggerating the noise." I sighed loudly again. I couldn't take it any longer. I could practically feel his glare through the duvet. What did I have to lose? "You could . his eyebrows raised." I complained. I waited for a reaction. Go ahead. Quil.uhhm…" I trailed off. Eventually. trying to cover up my embarrassment. I sighed loudly." "It's nothing. "Nothing." I said exasperatedly. Quil. trying to ignore him." I snapped." "No. "I'm going to stand right here glaring at you until you tell me what you were going to say. so my chicken side wasn't given a chance to shut me up. "Claire. "Nothing. and peeked over the covers to see his expression. I was just going to ask if you wanted to share with me. He was just looking at me. what did you say?" he persisted. Doesn't matter." "You're making a big deal out of nothing. Go to hell while you're .275 - ." I huffed as he folded his arms and glowered at me expectantly. "I'm not going to jump your bones! Fine. I was now a little irritated." "No. But dare I ask him? I deliberated. Let it go. At least he couldn't see me. with this look on his face." he said. "Well.then I was struck by an interesting idea. chickening out at the last second. Break your back. an impossible feat. wishing he would let it go. "It wouldn't be such a big deal if you would just tell me. "Oh. "What?" he asked. but he was silent for ages.

He could go off on a nice trip to hell." I said again. He pulled me closer to him. "What?" "I figured that if I'm going to hell. disorientated. I might as well enjoy the journey. I closed my eyes again. flicking off the it. Quil laughed to himself. Maybe I was really. vaguely irritated. He was like a hot radiator." I could hear the smile in Quil's voice. "Goodnight. my inner chicken chanting 'I told you so' at me. I wasn't expecting anything to. Bloody dirty-minded idiot. I stared into space. it wasn't like anything had to happen." I hid under the duvet again. I lay still. I'd been half expecting him to climb into the bed. and I could hear the chainsaw-like snoring coming from the various rooms in the house. I heard him sigh. I mean. "Whoa. I woke with a jerk. waiting to drift back off… My heart jumped violently when two huge muscled arms suddenly wrapped themselves around my waist and pulled me along the bed. thinking maybe it had been the snoring that had woken me up." I said. and I found myself pressed up against his bare chest. and left the room." "Down boy?" Quil asked incredulously. I blinked a few times. waiting for sleep to claim me. snuggling closer to the warmth his body emanated. still struggling to wake up. Quil would rather sleep on an uncomfortable couch than sleep within inches of me. and kissed the top of . He sounded close." I said." he said. "What do you take me for .some kind of dog?" He sounded amused. I shoved my feet under one of his legs and sighed contentedly as they began to heat up deliciously. "Down. "Whoa. wondering what the hell had woken me. he was in the bloody bed next to me. my eyes flying open.276 - . really repulsive. I scowled into the darkness. My heart stopped. Well. So what was his problem? Maybe I was repulsive. Claire. I sighed too. "Shush. The room was still dark. boy.

my head. absolutely sweltering. I wondered idly why he wasn't topless all the time. I twisted carefully so that I could look up at his face. and I was fascinated. I pressed my cheek against his chest. I had never actually seen him asleep before. I had never seen Embry with a shirt on. He looked so peaceful and much younger than usual when he slept. Maybe I could find a way to accidentally-on-purpose set his wardrobe on fire. "Night. drinking him in. topless werewolf. Or maybe he didn't want to draw attention to himself. And then the teasing began. It was rare when I got an opportunity to cuddle with this gorgeous.277 - . Claire. Maybe Quil was conservative or something. all walked around topless. I felt the drowsiness returning. and then the teasing began. . I never really had a good opportunity to study him. burning arms that were still wrapped around my waist. My eyes traced every aspect of his features. I'd probably burst into flames any second now. ever. but I didn't want to move away from him even a little bit. He was still sleeping." I said. but I didn't care. and almost immediately felt myself drifting off in Quil's arms. Oh right. my hair damp and disgusting. Or maybe he was just stupid. My pyjamas were stuck to me. I mean. and I had never felt safer or more content. This was all I wanted. and I closed my eyes. I was seriously melting. The majority of the pack that I had seen. That was another possibility. bar Leah of course. He looked so cute. "Night." he muttered sleepily. Happily. I decided to stare at his bare chest instead. I couldn't help but stare whenever he decided to go shirtless. because even though I hated to admit it. The substantial and incredibly scorching arms around me tightened. He frowned a little in his sleep. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. until I sleepily registered the huge. he always called me on it if I stared at him too long. I woke up the next morning.

"Claire." "Your maturity is just dazzling me this morning. His lips had barely moved. and your giant fat head. Claire. and you'll be dazzled even further when you suddenly receive a thump in the head. and I rested my cheek against his muscly chest. He frowned again and his arms tightened around me suddenly. You're free to look as much as you want . that's all. "You're so grumpy in the mornings. but then that would probably wake him up. "You started it." I jumped. embarrassed. He pulled me closer to him. That wasn't just creeps me out." . I was rolling my eyes already. and I hadn't been prepared for his deep voice shattering the silence." I snorted." He chucked against my hair. It's a wonder you can walk through doors. my heart recovering from my surprise. He would say I was trying to molest him in his sleep or something. I always got caught." I said. It really just gives a boost to your already over-inflated ego. "Sorry." "I was fine until you started speaking. but his mouth pulled up at the corners." "Ouch. though.278 - . I still wasn't moving. When the hell did he wake up? "What?" I said. "Will you please stop watching me sleep?" He didn't open his eyes. "No need to apologise." He sniggered. and the teasing would be unbearable. "I wouldn't feel it. I had a mad urge to run my hand along it." I could still hear the humour in his tone. I could stare at him all day.My eyes examined his torso of nothing but pure muscle. My eyes then returned to his face. "Sure it does. so I refrained. and I was reminded of how uncomfortably warm I was." "Yeah.

and I was practically melting. no! Don't be stupid." I paused for a moment."And we're back to discussing your aforementioned fat head. He sniggered again. "You always have a comeback. struggling to think of a comeback. I'm just roasting." "The very same one that you can't stop staring at. You're hot." "Are you always this annoying in the mornings?" I demanded." I said. Like your fat head. don't you?" ." He chuckled. I was shocked for a moment. "Ah." he said." I rolled my eyes. "Shut up." "I dare you. I have very thick skin.279 - . I didn't mean it. "I know. I think you just like talking about me. Claire. the heat he was giving off was intense. that's all. eventually. "Never." "Don't think I won't. "Oh. before realising he must have thought I was moving away from him because I had felt insulted." "I could hear the double meaning." He made a sound of amusement in the back of his throat. "Make me. rolling my eyes. How come the conversation keeps coming around to your egotistical fat head?" "Beats me. you absolute moron." "And I think you just like talking about yourself. I struggled to pull away from him." "The one that wasn't actually there. You bring out the best in me. his tone remorseful. Is that why you can't stop staring at me?" "I didn't mean it that way.

He simply winked at me. "It's OK. ." I glared murderously at him. which were warm and adoring. and then started laughing. grinning. and I met his eyes for the first time. shut up!" He sniggered. "Sure. I really do. "Thank you. He pulled me towards him again. and I was torn between irritation and amusement. Your face is ridiculously funny too. I'm gifted. feeling incredibly lucky all of a sudden." Quil paused for a moment. outraged."I try. now! Who has a fat head now." "It wasn't!" "Sure." "It wasn't." "Now. that's what I said." he said." He snorted. I sighed loudly. "Modest is hottest. What the hell had I ever done for anyone to look at me like that? He kissed me. you know. hmm?" "You?" "No. Quil!" "Sure. I smiled back in response. You." "Oh." "Yeah. Claire.280 - . "You're so ridiculously funny. "Yet you were staring at it with your mouth open while I was sleeping." I snapped. You're allowed to look at the hotness that is me. melting me thoroughly." "My mouth was not open!" I protested.

" "Yeah. for God's sake. No need to get violent. mouthing wordlessly. very bad one. let me tell you. and I took this as a cue to leave. rolling his eyes. "Either tell us what you're barging in for or get the hell out. Embry rounded on me. but I was worried. "I'm going to go for a shower. Embry. "You two don't waste time. and Embry strolled in. his eyes widening. "BREACH. All I wanted to do was get back in the bed and hug him and never let go of him… but I got up and grabbed my bag and headed for a shower. We waited. Claire. He jabbed his index finger at us. I just got news from Sam. "And you. blushing. who was also heading towards Quil's room. Embry. frowning at him. He stopped. if you don't close that mouth of yours.281 - . I was hot and sweaty." Quil tensed beside me. really bad feeling. Embry. alright. "BREACH!" he yelled eventually. Jeez. Maybe I should have . and as much as I didn't want to. mortifying me.The door flew open suddenly. All hot and sweaty. raising his eyebrows sceptically. BREACH. I suddenly got a really. and he let me go. Claire?" he asked loudly." "Shut up. I'll give you that. I passed Paul on the way. What kind of an example are you setting to Claire? A very. and he smiled at me." I said." Embry put his hands on his hips and shook his head at both of us. BREACH! There is serious breaching going on and I will not tolerate it under my roof!" "Your roof?" Quil demanded. but it wasn't because of what I definitely knew he was thinking about. His arm loosened. I'm going to rip off your jaw and shove it up your -" "Alright. "Embry." I added. I smiled back the best I could. leading Quil astray." Quil said. shut up. I pulled myself out of Quil's embrace. registering Quil in the bed with his arms around me. "You made the rules. Quil. and now you're breaking them." "Shut up. He used to be so sensible. I hid under the covers.

asked Quil what was going on earlier, so it wouldn't be freaking me out like this now. Or you know, maybe there wasn't even anything to freak out about. Maybe they were just discussing classified wolf stuff, or whatever. Stuff I didn't need to know about. I decided to push it out of my mind. I'd ask when I really felt I needed to. I wasn't procrastinating. I was just trying not to drive myself crazy. I was distracted when I noticed my bottle of shampoo. It had been full the last time I checked, and now it was half empty. I fumed. "BREACH!" I yelled. "Who the HELL has been using my SHAMPOO? You all don't even have hair!" There was a guilty silence, and then Embry piped up. "Yeah, we don't have hair. On our heads." I froze, listening to the explosion of sniggering.

Quil was standing outside the door when I got out of the shower. He smiled at me and pulled me in for a kiss. "Didn't want to leave without saying goodbye," he said, when he eventually pulled away. "Whoa," I said, my eyes widening. He was leaving? "Where are you going?" "I'm so sorry, Claire, I don't want to go at all - I'll be back really, really soon, OK?" "But… where are you going?" I asked, my heart speeding up. I didn't want him to go anywhere. "I just have to do something, it's nothing you need to worry about -" "Cut the evasive shit with me, Quil. You can't just walk out and not tell me where you're going and what you're doing -" My temper flared up when he started to walk away from me, towards the front door.
- 282 -

"I'm sorry, Claire, but I don't have time -" "Well, make some time, because I am not going to sit here waiting for you to come back, not having any idea as to where the hell you are. Do you want me to go crazy?" Quil paused, and sighed. He turned to face me, and I glared at him. "Fine," he said, a hint of impatience in his voice, and it annoyed me. How dare he treat me like I didn't deserve to know? I wanted to know. I needed to know, now. "We've picked up a vampire scent," Quil said bluntly, his eyes searching mine as he spoke. I tried not to betray an emotional reaction, because somehow, I already knew this. I knew there was a reason for the wolf stuff. But I just didn't want to accept it until I heard it out loud, I guess. "It's been stalking the woods for the past week. It's not posing any immediate threat, but we're trying to keep an eye on it. Every time we try and track it, it evades us. It's like it's circling around us, and it knows how to keep us from catching it. We need to hunt it down before it can hurt anybody, and we need the whole pack, because it's the only way we can corner it. But I refuse," he said, his tone and eyes suddenly fierce, "to leave you alone, even at your own house. Paul has agreed to stay behind to keep an eye on you, and he'll keep you safe. But promise me, Claire, that you'll keep yourself safe too?" he demanded, almost pleaded, gazing into my eyes. "Yes," I said, dazed, my mind scrambled from trying to process everything. He continued to gaze at me for a few seconds, and I stared back, suddenly afraid for him. I couldn't lose him. What the hell would I do if I lost him? "Be careful," I whispered, fear gripping my heart and squeezing it tight. Quil lowered his face until he was directly in my eye line. "Nothing is going to happen," he said ferociously. "I'll be fine. And absolutely nothing is going to happen to you. I won't let anything happen to you, Claire," he promised, and I nodded, because I couldn't not believe him, when he was so adamant and fierce about it. He kissed me, crushing my lips to his for the shortest moment. Too short. He pulled away, and said "soon" in my ear, and then I watched him leave with Embry, the two of them running straight past their cars and disappearing into the woods
- 283 -

lining the road. I continued to watch the place in which he had vanished, wringing my hands, trying not to think too much, trying not to dwell on thoughts that would never hold any kind of reality, like the thought of him getting hurt. No. I couldn't let myself see that as even a possibility. I couldn't. I would go crazy. He had to be OK. He would. He'd come back, and he'd be fine. He said he would. I turned my head away from the trees eventually, and suddenly spotted Paul leaning against the doorway of the kitchen, his arms folded. He was watching me. "What?" I snapped, nerves and fear making me irritable. I immediately regretted being sharp with him, but I was too antsy to care. "Nothing," he said, unfazed by my tone. Maybe they were all just used to my moods now. I ran my fingers through my hair and took a deep breath, trying to calm the riot inside of my head.

- 284 -

Mr Disinfectant
Yowza. Sorry for takin' aaages to update... I'm so bold. This chapter was quite hard to write, but I'm happy enough with it now. I'll try not to take so long in future, promise ;) The reviews were so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so so unbelievable, thank you so so so so so so so so much! You guys make my whole freakin' day. I'm lovin' all the long ones too. Seriously, dudettes, you're too cool. RIGHT, ANYWAY. SIT BACK, RELAX, AND ENJOY A HEAVENLY SLICE OF PAUL. TALK CHA NEXT TIME! LURRRRVE X X X

Chapter Thirty-One: Mr Disinfectant When you're gone, the pieces of my heart are missing you... -Avril Lavigne Now that he was gone, I was cold. Freezing. It felt like all the heat had gone from the house, gone with Quil. I longed for his arms around me, keeping me safe and warm like they always did. I started to shake with the cold, wrapping my arms around myself, pointlessly. I really wished he would come back. Suddenly, there was a blanket around my shoulders. "Here," Paul said, sounding a little awkward. "You, er, look cold. Quil will kill me when he comes back if it looks like I've been neglecting you." I rolled my eyes. I was once again treated like I was incapable of doing anything, incapable of getting my own blanket. But I couldn't find it in me to be truly annoyed, to truly care. I didn't care if Quil had told Paul to follow me around and cater to my every need, which he probably did. At that precise moment, still standing in the hall where Quil had left me, I felt
- 285 -

completely incapable of doing anything. Because the reason for doing it all had walked out the door. I hadn't a clue what I was doing anymore. I felt completely lost without him. But maybe it was ridiculous… I mean, I'd been without him before. He wasn't with me twenty-four-seven. I had survived hours, sometimes days, without seeing him. So why did I feel so empty this time? Because it was different. Quil was gone, and I didn't know for sure that he was safe. I had never questioned his safety before, whenever he was apart from me - the Quil in my head was strong and protective and fierce and didn't need his own protection. But… a vampire…? I didn't like it. I did not like it at all, and I wanted him home. I hadn't a clue what to do with myself, except worry, and regret, and shake. "Are you OK, Claire?" Paul asked, anxiously. "Yeah," I lied, too drained and too cold to come up with a bitingly sarcastic remark, like I normally would have done. Did I look like I was OK? The love of my life had just gone out to hunt a vampire, and I was afraid. I looked up at Paul, who was concerned and awkward and sceptical, and I sighed. "Can I have a hug?" I asked him, before I could stop myself. He was startled. "Eh, sure…?" We inelegantly bumbled our way into a hug, and the scorching arms around me didn't feel right, didn't feel as they should. They just reminded me of what wasn't there. Quil, and his big bear hugs that made me feel incredibly safe and warm and happy, and had the ability to melt every bone in my body. But Paul's hug was just enough. It thawed me, a little. I felt comforted. At least he was here, in control, to keep me from going crazy. For once, I did not give a shit if I was going to be treated like a child for the rest of the day. I just wanted to be told everything was going to be OK. And then I wanted Quil to come home.
- 286 -

"He'll be fine, you know," Paul said, almost as if he read my mind. "We've done stuff like this before, and we aren't worried. So you shouldn't be worried either. I know it looks serious, but we're just taking precautions. Nothing is going to happen," he said, and I wanted to believe him, because that's what Quil said too. Nothing was going to happen. But how could they be so sure? Maybe I was worrying over nothing. But better to be safe than sorry. I wouldn't like to be oblivious when there was genuinely something worth worrying about. Quil was worth worrying about. Oh, God, I really wanted him to come back. Paul patted my back and pulled away, clearing his throat. "Well," he said, scrutinising me. "I'm going to cook something. Do you want anything to eat?" I shrugged, honestly not knowing if I was hungry or not. I followed him into the kitchen anyway, not wanting to be on my own with my thoughts. I leaned against the counter, placing my elbows on it and holding my head in my hands. Paul poked around in the fridge, and I could hear the rustling of packaging and I closed my eyes, trying not to feel annoyed. I just wanted to do something; I felt restless, being here doing nothing when Quil was out there possibly risking his life. Shut up, Claire! I screamed at myself. I couldn't let myself get carried away. He wasn't James Bond, who only narrowly managed to get out of scrapes. Quil was more like Scooby Doo, I tried to tell myself - he was never really in any real danger in the first place. Wow, I really had lost it. I just compared Quil to Scooby Doo. Although, it amused me to think of Embry as Scrappy. I sneezed suddenly. I was surprised to remember that I still had a cold… it seemed
- 287 -

like ages ago now that I had been suffering from it. It didn't bother me any more, now that my head was occupied with something far more pressing. "Sweet Jesus!" Paul exclaimed, and I jumped. He rushed over to the counter, holding a cloth and a bottle of disinfectant. I moved swiftly out of the way before I could get trampled, and he squirted the nozzle, attacking the counter with the cloth. "Sorry," I huffed, mildly insulted. "It's not like I could help it or anything," I said, sarcasm colouring my tone. "You could try," he muttered indignantly, wiping the counter vigorously. "You could try to get a life," I snapped, irritated. Paul threw me a glare. "Well, sorry," he said, mimicking my tone, "for not wanting to eat in a germ infected kitchen." "Sorry for infecting your kitchen, then, Mr Disinfectant." "You're forgiven," he said stroppily. "Thank God," I said, throwing my arms up in the air. "The guilt would have just killed me." We glared at each other for a moment. He started laughing first, and then I joined in. How freaking ridiculous. "I'm sorry," he laughed. "Me too," I grinned, shaking my head. Paul finished wiping down the counter and flung the cloth into the sink. He returned to whatever he was cooking, and I watched, slightly alarmed by the way he obsessively cleaned up after himself when he was finished with something. I swear he used up almost half of that bottle of disinfectant. "Paul?" I asked, struck by a sudden thought. "What's Quil's favourite food?" I didn't know. How could I not know? Paul didn't hesitate. "He would sell everyone he knows, including you, probably, for a plate of southern fried chicken."
- 288 -

His expression changed back to serious. my head spinning." he said sarcastically. so much I still didn't know about him? That scared me. but unable to help it. miffed. I had never been a very successful cook.289 - . There was something about that I found amusing." "No." "How do you know? Who died and made you God?" I snapped. my eyes welling up of their own accord. "Oh God. I was shaking again. "Don't stress yourself out.I began to grin. I'm useless. "Chocolate. But I was also irritated. and it now felt like I was being patronised when told everything was going to be fine. there's no need to freak out. and there was still so much I hadn't asked him." I snapped. I struggled with myself to keep it together. He was eyeing me fearfully. not wanting to showcase how worried I was. "Really. because that's my favourite movie." he fretted. and I filed away the fact of information. fidgeting with his hands. Claire. I'm not going to cry. "You're not going to cry." He continued to eye me nervously." It was Paul's turn to snort. then? Ice-cream? A chick flick? A fluffy pink pillow? Help me out here." Paul said. so maybe I could use it when I eventually figured out how to work cookers without burning the house down. I just wanted Quil back with me. Everything is going to be fine. How come I never knew something like this before? What else was there that I didn't know. and I panicked. distracting me. and you've been watching Legally Blonde far too many times. It would only be fine when I had Quil in my arms again. "Yes. . are you? I can't handle crying chicks. rolling my eyes. cold again despite the blanket still draped around my shoulders. something so trivial that I didn't even realise that I didn't know it? What if he never came back. "Yeah. and I glared back at him. But I knew I was falling apart. Claire. I snorted. "Do you need another hug?" he asked nervously." I said. "No.

Calm down. My insides continued to twist uneasily. Almost immediately. and try to believe that everything will be fine. don't stress. I was immature. shaking back. Because everything that I had. to the point of insanity. I couldn't hold onto. "Just trying to help. almost to the point of pain. I didn't take being told what to do too well. Don't be a baby. The simplicity and the warmth and the affection in this gesture just set me off. two enormous arms appeared in my peripheral vision and wrapped around me." Great. I was childish. I was going to cry.290 - . now I felt like a bitch. something I could handle." I mumbled. even though she was annoying and insane. I was a baby. He'll tell Quil. or to push them away. angrily. I should have told Quil not to leave. I took them for granted. his scorching chest pressing into my numb. Don't cry in front of Paul. Oh shit. and that I never wanted to be on bad terms with him. But like usual. especially my family. Not even Quil. I should have told my mom that I loved her more often. . He didn't say anything. trying to control myself. I picked on their every little fault and used them as reasons to fight with them. who'll just be all concerned and amused and annoying. But no. and I brushed it away hurriedly. I should have told Denise to stay a while longer. It all slipped through my fingers. I didn't deserve Paul being so nice to me. I always searched for reasons to take offence with them. I turned away from Paul and faced the opposite wall. "Sorry. and I never let go of the grudge. and I clutched for it when it was too late. staring at the floor. I didn't appreciate the people in my life. and I went into a trance.Paul shrugged. even though he was mean and irritating and constantly reeked of cheese strings. I should have told Jack just once that he was the best little brother in the world. Claire. wishing the churning in my stomach would cease to something bearable. Paul pulled me closer to him and rested his chin on my shoulder. A single tear rolled down my cheek. I could feel it. I felt like I didn't even deserve anything or anyone at that moment. I should have told my dad that I loved him despite his opinions.

because some people didn't have anyone at all. I was sick of being a drama queen. that I was going to be mature. "I'm having an epiphany here." I said. I didn't want to be this Claire anymore. unsure . I just wished I had realised all this before Denise went home. I wanted to. "I'm sorry. sick of being angry and irrational.291 - . I was going to appreciate everyone in my life. I wanted to hold on to them. He probably thought I was completely deranged. and before I let Quil leave without a proper fight for him to stay. something that I couldn't quite put my finger on." I said. despite their flaws. shushing him. When Quil came home. Paul sighed quietly. because I loved him more than I could stand. and then I would try. I told myself. I shouldn't have let him go.I would forgive and forget. and I didn't care what they had done recently to offend me . Something was off.I would not repeat my mistakes. the one who was never grateful for who or what she had. because I had never done anything to deserve him in the first place. Jack." was all he said. when he was saying goodbye. Dad. over what he was or wasn't doing. cutting into my thoughts. and I was desperate and frantic for Quil to return. I didn't deserve him. I just didn't know how. this black cloud over my head would go away. And I wasn't about to take that for granted . I didn't have to agree with him to make amends. that this was not going to be simple and easy as waiting for him to come home. Because I loved them all. and his breath blew against my cheek. but I never changed. but somehow. I was going to make things right with my dad before he went home. So I was going to change. until they were gone. he had been made for me. sick of saying I was sick of it all… and I never changed. That was all I could do . I said it.I wasn't about to change for the better overnight. I knew. "The last thing you want to be doing is comforting an emotional and highly theatrical teenager when you could be fighting vampires. Denise… and Quil. Mom. I should have held on to Quil.I didn't take a breath for a minute to realise that I had uniquely amazing people in my life. "Are you OK?" Paul asked quietly. and it was killing me right now to worry over him. sick of fighting with every member of my family. But I was going to try. and that I was lucky to have them." I said. It was the least I could do. "Huh.

starting to grin. "I've only seen it once. "It's OK. "You're my friend." I said." he said. and that's what I'm doing." "I thought you couldn't handle crying chicks." he scoffed.292 - . I wasn't crying anymore. The squeaking and the snivelling freak me out." "And why the hell did he do that?" I asked. I'm pretty loyal to my friends." We were both silent for a moment." "You have absolutely no idea. But you're not so bad. and I suddenly remembered his . And I like you too. "Thanks Paul. "Don't be a spastic. usually. and tightened his arms before letting me go. still feeling ridiculously sensitive. "That sounds more like torture to me. He wanted me to look after you. I was still a little too upset to feel embarrassed. cheered." I said. so I don't really care about the emotions and the theatrics. Something about Reese Witherspoon in a bikini…" "Embry's such a perve. "I don't to if I was joking or serious." I sniffed. I giggled. He smiled back and winked. and that's because Embry made me watch it. grinning. and I realised that I felt better." Paul said. "Shut up. "I can't. Quil's my friend. How about a horror movie?" He scrunched his face up as he considered it. Even though I can fly off the handle at times." "You really have been watching Legally Blonde more than you should. My mind has been permanently damaged by that total douche bag. I turned to face him and smiled weakly. "Would something girly cheer you up? Do you want to paint my nails?" he offered. I wiped my face free of any tears.

I couldn't smell anything. so lost. so empty. heading for the living room. waiting for Paul. I could hear him slamming and clinking around in the kitchen. and how I always had. "I'm in a Resident Evil mood. when . OK. I'd like Paul as a friend. and I wouldn't pretend I could. He'd been gone for less than an hour. the one that says you don't know what you have until it's gone. because now I felt more comfortable with him. when I wanted anything. I really wanted him to come back. and I wished that I didn't feel so worried. I put myself on automatic pilot. I had seen a different side to Paul. He said he would be home soon. I did. I didn't even realise before now how much I needed him. I didn't. I glanced at the clock. how much I depended on him. He would be home. When he eventually came home. "Yeah. I realised how much I needed Quil. working the DVD player. and now that I was so unsure of the immediate future." I nodded and left the room.preference for sci-fi. that felt relevant for me. That stupid saying. couldn't. and already I was in pieces. and I doubted I would even be able to taste anything. I'll finish making food and I'll be there in a minute. He said everything was going to be fine." he said eventually. I didn't know how much longer I'd have to wait until he came home. finding the DVD. I knew I would probably feel completely ridiculous for feeling this way now. and maybe now we could become better friends than we were. He was the first person I went to when I was little. blindly watching the ads before the play menu. I just couldn't stand the waiting. I missed him so much. and I would breathe easily then. I perched on the edge of the couch. But this felt OK now. I couldn't breathe easy now. because before now he probably wouldn't have been a person I would have turned to when I was upset.293 - . function without Quil. I couldn't even breathe properly without Quil. I believed what he said. I felt like I had shut down. the controller clutched in my hands. Now that he was gone. and I wondered what he was even cooking. Everything felt weird. and it felt surreal. but I didn't care. how much I loved him.

My sight returned with sharp clarity. Quil. and ever since I had fallen in love with him. I stayed in this fuzzy state of nothing. but I couldn't hear any of what he was saying. we were never complete. slamming into me full force. registering Paul's frozen expression. but I couldn't see it. I accepted it without noticing the contents. surrounded by noise and distractions. I stared at the TV screen. but it was so loud to me that I could almost feel it inside the room. He started talking. the cry of a wolf. because we were only a half of ourselves. I ate the food. And then we heard it. because he was the only one who was absolutely right for me. trying to listen. Don't let it be Quil. he made me feel better when I was upset. He made me laugh. Because I didn't work. but it was like I was underwater. Something was wrong. smiling unfocusedly at him.294 - . it was like I could hear nothing else. I just nodded my head when there was a break in sentences. and no one else worked. and without the other. he had the ability to make me melt into goo in his arms… We didn't work without the other. Everything was muffled. It was like I wasn't there. nothing else worked. never fully functional. drowning in nothing. but I couldn't taste it. and I couldn't hear that either. "Earth calling Claire. and all sound and feeling came rushing back to me. because he completed me. It was the sound of a howl. because I didn't work on my own. Paul pressed play on the DVD. . It sounded far away. I turned to Quil for everything. he calmed me down when I was angry.I was upset. Now that I could hear again. but I couldn't reach them. and I wanted him back here with me." I looked up and Paul was holding out a bowl to me. Quil was my other half. It broke through my haze.

"I don't know. and I stared at him. "Paul?" I asked fearfully. or thinking. fighting hard to keep my voice even. you're not stopping me-" "Yes I am. I was going to bring him back. "Oh. but he caught me by the arm. "Negative. I'm going to find him. 'cos you're being crazy-" . I was going to find him. and he was frustrated. Let me go. "Sorry.Please. all my senses hyperaware. Paul. his expression changing so rapidly I kept losing track of the emotions he was displaying.295 - . I copied him. I didn't mean-" "Let me go. I watched him as he froze. my whole body shaking. my anxiety reaching epic proportions. I couldn't tell how bad it was. I didn't know what he was feeling. and even then he still looked like he was staring into space. you can't just-" "Can and will. His eyes focussed on me slowly. "I don't know. listening hard. Claire. "I think it was Quil. I marched towards the door. rising slowly out of the chair. but decided to finish his sentence." Paul snapped." My breath caught. shit…" Paul said." His eyes widened. And I think…" he hesitated. You're not going anywhere. But it didn't sound good. determined. we don't know what the story is. "And what… does that…mean?" I just about managed to say. Paul shook his head. Screw this. wide eyed. "What was that?" I asked.

I could tell he was dying to go himself. Don't leave this house even for a second. "I can't leave you alone. I promised Quil-" "What if Quil is hurt?" I yelled into his face. and I felt a rush of relief. I didn't miss the way his expression set back into anxiety as he walked around me. breathing heavily. "Will you be OK here?" Paul asked me quietly. trying to break his hold with whatever I could think of. to make sure everything was alright." He glared at me. too. and we both gave each other a small smile. I just had to convince him I would be fine. and if he isn't he's got the rest of the pack to look after him. then." "I promised him I would keep me safe." I demanded. I would take all the pain in the world. Paul let go of my hands." I growled. wheeling me to face him. this is me scared out of my mind and I'm not sitting here wondering what the hell-" "No. We glared at each other." He frowned. his burning hands shaking my own. I didn't care what happened to me. Paul-" "STOP!" he yelled.296 - . . "You go."No. I promised Quil I'd keep you safe. both shaking from worry and fear and stress and agitation. this is not crazy. "You go and bring him back. to help in whatever way he could. now struggling to hold on to me. "I won't be more than ten minutes. I ignored him. He grabbed both my hands and pinned them down to my sides. or I go. just so Quil wouldn't have to ever be hurt. I doubt he's in any danger-" "Paul. "Yes!" I said vehemently." I said. "Either you go. If you won't let me. anyway. Claire-" "Yes. But he was too strong. "I don't care what happens to me! Just go and see if he's OK!" "I'm sure he's fine.

I stood.297 - . . listening to him leaving.exiting the room. It was only when I heard the front door slam that I realised I didn't want to be left alone. frozen.

. no one to tell me everything was going to be alright. (gaah) Chapter Thirty-Two: Wolves Paul POV The minute I transformed. so dense and loud it was frightening me.. moohawhaw. .S.298 - . But I guess I'm gonna find out (gah). shit. Oh. and immediately everything that had just happened flooded my mind. A million thoughts were clamouring around in my head. Right. It was behind me. No! Quil was so loud in my head in his horror. they're so amazing! Well. because the danger wasn't out there.. because now I had no distraction. so. It was in the place I had just left. I'm really nervous about this chapter. Because it wasn't the pack she was targeting.Wolves Heya. coz everything kicks off in it and gah gah gah gah gah gah I'm just so worried no one will like it gaaah. It was Claire.. Next chapter is already written so update shall be soon. OMG thanks so much for the reviews. The entire pack was moving in my direction. Yep. I knew immediately I shouldn't have left the house. and I wished I hadn't made Paul leave. REMINDER: I started writing this BEFORE Breaking Dawn. Claire POV The silence pressed against my eardrums. Enjoy the twists and turns. no company... OK. me so evil. Lurrrrve xoxox (gaah) P. It was too quiet. So I already had this plot ready before it came out and I just decided to continue with it.

This is bad. listening to the silence. that she was something to be afraid of. so I closed my eyes and I just imagined.299 - . ignoring Paul's grumbling. I just sat there. I imagined Paul arriving soon after him. You really knew things were bad when you were suddenly wishing Embry was here. My heart jumped violently as I turned my head and registered a tall. She was smiling at me. I thought I was hallucinating. I opened my eyes. saying that there was no howl at all. and every part of me ached for Quil to come back. this… a hell of a lot worse. to daydream. I imagined Embry arriving then. and I'd tell him thanks for being nice to me and say sorry for snapping at him. beautiful woman standing in the doorway. Without warning. I didn't know what to do with myself. the anticipation. that I was hearing things. A sudden. It made the reality. and save me before I drove myself insane. also. this is . and immediately getting a beer out of the fridge. shaking. telling me this was real. It was too hard for me. I could sense someone watching me. the stress. I ached. But something in the back of my brain was nagging me. pulling the blanket around myself again. and proceeding to turn the PlayStation on. challenging you to a race or demanding you get him a beer. And he'd say that was fine and then he'd go and make us some food. and that there was actually no vampire after all and there would never be another reason for him to leave me. Maybe I was really driven insane by my own fear.I sat down gingerly on the couch. I hated it so much. He'd sit in a bean bag chair and shout his orders for the rest of the evening. he would hug me and kiss me and never let me go for the rest of the day. the fear… I hated it. I imagined Quil walking through the front door. After saying all this. I froze. hating the reality but disliking my daydreams. I couldn't stand the waiting. intense chill swept down my spine. something in the atmosphere changed.

Finally." My brain was muddled. So let's go. now fighting for an even tone of voice. with no idea what to do and no idea where Quil was. There was a short pause. we can do this either the easy way. my voice shaking. or the very." I said." Quil was on his way? "I'm not going anywhere. I can already hear them on their way. "That's why I'm here. "How do you know my name?" I asked. I had only been gone for five minutes. this is bad.bad. but we were still too late. Paul POV We ran as fast as we could. It would be unwise to dwell here for very long. she spoke. like I wasn't easily intimidated. Claire. hurry up… "What do you want?" I asked. I didn't confirm it. That's what the dogs call you. I assume it is your name?" she asked. Quil. more bravely than I felt. . "Claire. and shook. I didn't understand. "I think you can help me with that. "We should go. and advanced on me. was like a siren in my head. "I've been watching the house all morning. that seemed to drag on for hours. I wanted to look strong. Even though I had never felt so frightened in all my life. I just sat there. her smile widening. but it was still five minutes too long. Please. raising one perfect eyebrow and smiling mockingly at me." she said dangerously.300 - . very hard way." she said.

confusing us with her scent and misleading us. And I told him I would. so extreme I thought I might rip my guts out. There was a trail. upon reading this. The note. She had run around in circles. all around the front of the house. I really did. She had been taken. I suggest you give me what I want. And that's when I made the stupidest mistake of my life. and it was my fault. She wasn't there. putting us on high alert. listened for any sign of life inside the house. just so I wouldn't have to feel them twisting like this. I had seen it. She was just toying with us. Vampire stench hung in the air. He told me not to leave her alone. Handwritten in an elegant script. He was stuck in a state of terror so intense I couldn't even grasp it. by going to see what was wrong. to make sure nothing happened to her. I tried to ignore him. They all listened for Claire. but he was all I could hear. the very thing that had been in every wolf's head. He'd asked me to take care of her. She had hung around the forest for the past few days. But all I could pay attention to was Quil. had panicked completely. Whoever the leech was. Sam was trying to get all our attention. Her scent had led them right to it. Quil. I could barely comprehend all the things he was going through. and I tried to listen. and now she was kidnapped. And I had let him down.The pack arrived at the empty house seconds after me. to block him from my head. He heard me. His mind was in a complete state. or how he felt. This was all my fault. she had planned this well. This was all my fault. . and that was the howl Claire and I had heard. was a message. The moment I had transformed. but there was none. If you want to keep Claire as unharmed as she was when you left her. and leaving her alone and unprotected. a trail I knew we had to follow to find them both. in order to work out a quick strategy.301 - . tacked to a tree. Guilt consumed me.

My eyes locked onto a chocolate brown wolf.He agreed. I didn't know very much about them. anger blazing in his chocolate brown eyes. sent violent shivers down my spine. ranging in colours. I stared into the trees. But I knew now. was telling me that they wouldn't hurt me. An inclination to see Quil in his wolf form had never occurred to me before." she said suddenly. and if I had felt scared earlier on. buried somewhere in the mess that my mind was. A brittle wind blew through the trees. but amidst the fear and anxiety. began to appear. even worse than before. I stayed as still as I could and kept my mouth shut. and he lunged for my throat. I had preferred not to ask Quil when I had the chance. A vivid. goose bumps littered every inch of my skin. This felt like a dream. A snarl ripped out of his chest and he rounded on me. gazing into the trees. and I was terrified. I had known he was a werewolf. It started towards me. it was nothing compared to how I was feeling now. and I shook. . and I glanced up at her in time to see her grin evilly. realising I was about to see the wolves for the first time. but I never really pictured him as one. More wolves. A rational part of my brain. combined with my terror. larger than my wildest imaginings. I knew she was a vampire. but I still found myself scared by them. My teeth chattered. they're coming. The woman stood next to me. Claire POV The ground was hard and cold underneath my knees. who was pushing its way through the line formed by the wolves. My heart beat faster as a gigantic black wolf emerged from the trees. and she was dangerous. opposite me and the vampire. surreal nightmare. waiting. bigger than a horse.302 - . I had no idea what was going to happen next. because she had torn a tree into pieces and warned me she could do exactly the same to me if I didn't cooperate. because most of them were my friends. The cold. I was curious. and they were all so large. so fierce and freezing I almost couldn't stand it. "Ah. just like a nightmare. I couldn't find any sense of reality. She was terrifying. It was huge.

my entire body trembling. and quite frankly. Desperately. who was standing in the centre of the pack. Quil had told me before how they communicated. rather than cooperate." She bared her teeth at Quil. I didn't want them to think I was petrified. almost as bad as I was. "What I want is very simple. Who was Laurent? Someone in the pack had killed him? Did that mean they knew who this vampire was then? I didn't know. I shook my head at him. I didn't care what happened to me. for hers. There was no reaction from the pack.303 - . and I brushed it away hurriedly. And he was shaking. you can have Claire back completely unharmed. who had paused. And I knew it was Quil. my eyes wide and terrified. I'll just kill her faster than you can blink. my breathing laboured. and I wished I could know what they were thinking. He stared at me. I gazed back at him. "One more step and the consequences will be severe. all of them still and fierce-looking. even though I was. and began to back away slowly until he was beside the black wolf. I wanted them to think I was strong. "Stop!" the vampire commanded. I didn't care." I watched as the chocolate brown wolf's legs gave way. I just didn't want Quil to be hurt. I knew it was him. I was almost positive it was Sam. they could hear each other's thoughts. and that would hurt him. "If I get it. its eyes locked onto mine. He hadn't taken his eyes off me. She would hurt me if he came any closer. I just wanted her to let me go." the vampire said eventually. as the vampire studied them all with narrowed eyes. He shook.ignoring the warning growls of some of the wolves behind him. and I wanted Quil. There was a short silence. pointing at me. . If you decide to work against me. and he collapsed on the ground. I wanted Quil to think I was strong. almost as violently as I was.I want his life. what they were planning. as discreetly as I could. Whichever one of you did it ." the vampire said. "What I want is to kill the wolf responsible for killing my Laurent. A single tear rolled down my cheek. all except for Quil. The wolves waited. especially not Quil. His fur was the exact same colour as his eyes. I didn't want to cry in front of all the wolves.

He was staring at me. Because Quil had picked himself up off the ground. Quil jerked his enormous head in the direction of the wolves behind him. I walked as fast as I could away from her. I shrieked and stumbled backwards."Let the wolf responsible step forward. "No!" I gasped. And stepped forward. and a growl rumbled deep in his chest. I panicked suddenly. What was he doing? Was he going to let himself be killed? My eyes welled up. I was a few feet away from the grey one standing at the edge of the pack. I was getting the hell away from her. even though it made me almost physically sick to do so. My breath caught.304 - . My heart stopped. I stared at her in confusion." the vampire added. I didn't want one of them to sacrifice themselves for me." I had lost the feeling in my legs. Even though I wanted to protest. before I change my mind. but I stopped when I reached the chocolate brown wolf. she had just given up her only protection against them. But hell. Claire. frightened by its size. I didn't want any of the wolves to step forward. "Go. I walked away from him. The vampire broke through my horrified trance. so I stumbled a little when I stood. I was suddenly so afraid of being the reason one of them was going to die. smiling. and I wanted to strangle her. He wanted me safely out of the way. Not him." she said. in the direction of the wolves. It caught the back of my hoodie with its teeth and swung me onto his back. And I always did what he wanted me to do. I certainly wasn't going to point that out to her. and then I'll let Claire go. and I . when a large russet one suddenly ran at me. Did she realise at all that she was outnumbered? By letting me go. "Excellent. He couldn't do this. his eyes way too intelligent for a wolf's.

305 - . NEXT CHAPTER. my eyes squeezed shut. Well. afraid that if I loosened my grip a tiny bit. Yes. My legs were still regaining circulation. I opened my eyes.instinctively clutched onto its fur so I wouldn't fall. (gaaah) . Yes. it stopped running. but we were running too fast. I held on for dear life. but I was too drained. The wolf began to run. Claire's with Jacob now. I buried my face in my hands and burst into tears. and I felt a little sick from the jolting movements the wolf made when it ran. I leaned my back against it. and I tried to look back for a last look at Quil. Phew. and we were in another clearing. The wolf lay down so that I could climb off its back. I would fly off. So ALL QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED COURTESY OF JACOB. After what seemed like ages. that was Irina. I slid down the tree until I was a crumpled heap on the floor at the base of it. trying to will the dizziness away. so I ended up stumbling into a tree.

"Claire. She doesn't have a chance. There was a weird noise. it's OK. even though I wanted to. . but I didn't even bother looking up to see what it was. every second that passed hurt. and I was still shaking. I didn't know if Quil was going to be OK. but personally I think this is my favourite chapter. I realised. . I wanted to believe him. Good for him. "Claire. So Jacob must have been the russet wolf. it was hard to contain it again. That's like killing off Edward Cullen. I jumped. I wanted it all to go away. and it hurt. I hated crying. You just don't do it. too. Thank you trillions for the reviews .306 - . and I just wanted it all to stop. I know you're probably all anxious to read on so I won't waffle on. Claire. I sensed him sitting down next to me and he placed a burning hand on my shoulder. a second later.Pieces Wooaaah.the support for this story could not be more awesome. It blows me away every single chapter. and that I had nothing to worry about.) lurrrve xoxox Chapter Thirty-Three: Pieces Once the dam burst. Quil was feeling particularly murderous when we left so I doubt she's going to be alive for very long. I couldn't stop crying. but I couldn't help it now. So I really hope you like it. No one's going to get hurt. I wanted to feel nothing. Thank you! I am insulted that some of you would even think that I would kill off Quil. I had always hated crying." It was Jacob's voice. except her. Insulted. if that helps you. I didn't bother acknowledging him. because I desperately needed Quil.. I didn't know what was happening now.. LOL. at the sudden deep voice. and my sobs began to die down. I was still terrified. and Quil will be here in no time. The wolfy temperature felt hotter than usual. everything is seriously going to be fine. because my skin was the coldest it had ever been in its life." he said in a soothing tone. One vampire alone is no match for the whole pack. I wanted Quil. I wanted to believe that Quil would be alright.

only to give a choked squeal and slap my hands over my eyes again. "But at least I can't see anything. Jacob wouldn't sound that confident if he believed his friend was in danger. I wiped my face free of tears and lowered my hands. sounding amused." I said. and he joined in." We both laughed together for a moment. gasping a little." he said. What the hell was he doing? "OK. I hope I'm not offending you. "Have you gone into shock or something?" Jacob asked." I lowered my hands cautiously." "Yeah." he sniggered. before lapsing into thoughtful silences.307 - . I giggled hysterically into my hands until my stomach hurt. Jacob had ripped a small bush out of the ground and arranged it in his lap." I was shocked and silent for a moment. you can look. not sure that I wanted to. "I feel ridiculous. but you can look anyway. "You look ridiculous." "Jacob. and it was a while before I could control myself. I know. Sorry. hang on…" There was a ripping noise and the earth below me shuddered a little."Really?" I asked. I've no clothes with me." I snorted. "Are you decent yet?" "Not at all. before dissolving into laughter. You're naked. "OK." Jacob said earnestly. "Jacob. "Really." "Sorry. "Probably. I couldn't stop. . I started laughing loudly again. And I believed him. in an embarrassingly hopeful and whiny voice. That's not funny.

sure.Now that I was reassured. "I don't know. "Oh. and I wanted. I was still worried. If I had lost Quil back there. "What. hang on a minute. There's really nothing scarier than the possibility of losing someone you love with all your heart. I no longer felt as afraid. with me. There had been so many times I had been afraid for him. I missed him so much. He frowned a little. I was as frustrated as hell. Because he was my life. "Why isn't he back yet?" I asked Jacob quietly. needed him. I was seriously lost. and I would not feel better at all until I had Quil in my arms. looking up into his handsome face. I didn't understand any of this. after about fifteen maddening minutes. I'll just listen…" Jacob sat up a little straighter." His eyes unfocussed. Quil is not happy. "Apparently… no. I would have curled up and died myself immediately after.308 - . I would never be able to return to a life without him. "There's two other vampires. "What?" "Sam is letting them leave. no. but I waited as patiently as I could. and I never wanted a repeat experience. They're trying to talk Sam out of hurting the psycho vamp…" "What?" I couldn't believe it. and I remained silent. but the fear had faded. Hell?" "What? What is it? Is it Quil?" I demanded frantically. "No. than the wolves must have really good hearing. The. and I was grateful. letting him concentrate. at all… he's really not in a good mood right now…" "Jacob!" I exploded. his eyebrows raising in disbelief. I'll listen. closing his eyes as he listened. it's…" he trailed off. Jacob frowned again suddenly. "Confused dot com!" . It had been hours since I'd seen him last. I could safely say I had never been so terrified in my whole life. If he was able to hear them all the way back in the clearing we were in. still staring ahead of him. snap!" Jacob exclaimed. dying to know what was going on.

always got a little depressed and crazy around the anniversary of his death. Sparky. back up a minute there. with only Sam and Paul and Jared and Embry and myself. very. very long story that I won't bore you with. He wasn't going to turn to one of us and say oh you. They said they had no animosity against us werewolves and that they could guarantee nothing like this . We were more worried for you than any of us. "Well. Sam decided to hear them out." I said slowly. we had that totally under control. but they had no idea that she would go this far. aka Psycho Vampire. apparently it's the anniversary of poor ole Laurent's death. sorry!" he said. They were just about to attack her when I changed back. The leeches said that Irina." "But what if he had gotten killed?" I said. before launching into an explanation enthusiastically. so I did. He gave himself up." "Claire. so we really pissed her off when we killed him. and Jacob stopped talking. but basically Laurent was killed years and years ago when I had only just joined the pack.309 - . and transformed back. "Are you telling me that Quil wasn't even in the pack when Laurent was killed? Are you telling me that he stepped forward anyway. It was really small back then. "You're not going to have a tantrum."Oh. And apparently. Quil asked me to get you out of there once she let you go. it's a very. starting to get upset again. step forward there and get yourself killed just so I can get my imprint back. Jacob. and it seems the Weird Sisters arrived before they had a chance to cause any damage…" "What happened?" "Well. Quil did what any one of us would have done. Psycho was all shacked up with him." I said. for you. and the psycho vamp hasn't been-" "Whoa. gesturing with my hands. "What would he have done to me then?" "Claire. even though he didn't do anything? What was he thinking?" I fumed. Well. and-" "Hang on. are you?" "Shut up. they managed to delay the attack enough to get themselves heard. "Who's Laurent?" "Oh. Our only concern was getting you as far away from her as possible.

I didn't blame Paul." Jacob sighed. "Most likely." "Quil?" I asked." "Humph." he added. They're still arguing right now. and I waited. The wolves gazed at each other for a moment. but then again they were all I could hear… it was tough. skidding to a stop.310 - . "'Cos Paul left you alone. Quil is out for blood. Claire." "Why?" I gasped. and then nothing. He's furious with Paul too . but Quil doesn't trust it. Really tough. I tried to block him out of my head. "Cover your eyes. He wants Irina to pay for kidnapping you and he's furious that Sam has decided to let it all go. my heart leaping. I bet anything. I couldn't believe Quil tried to hurt him. Sam has their word they will not come back to Forks. except for his shaggy fur blowing in the wind. and I hurriedly slapped my hands over my face again. for any of this. and I once again . He was still. He stared into the trees. "Nope. because I couldn't bear to hear his thoughts. his head snapping towards the trees to the left of me. He said that this was no time for fighting with each other when they had to find you. "Oh!" Jacob said. Paul didn't even fight back.would ever happen again. "Well." I said. "He's really not OK. I jumped at the sight of the huge russet wolf standing in front of me. talking. and Sam had to intervene. anyway. There was an odd tearing noise. "He went through the worst kind of hell when he realised you were in danger. "Someone is running like a bat out of hell in this direction. my thoughts full of the shaking. and Quil kind of came to his senses and rocketed off after you…" I was shocked. is he?" I said sadly. my yearning to see Quil now stronger than ever.he nearly took the head off him. chocolate brown wolf." Jacob shook his head. and not kill Irina the Loon. the enormous chocolate brown wolf burst through the trees." Jacob said. Quil flew at him when we found the house empty. Suddenly. and since nobody got hurt they'd appreciate it if we could just forget the whole thing. fiddling with the bush. so after a few minutes I decided to peek.

and turned suddenly. I was so blinded by their intensity. I looked into the giant wolf's eyes. I was alone for roughly three seconds. holding me as tightly as he could without breaking me. I knew my strength would be no match for his. I loved him too much.wished that I could hear what they were saying. I registered all this in a fraction of a second. I still hadn't stopped crying. Quil trotted over to me. wearing a pair of black trousers. brokenly. now. I couldn't let him go. strong limbs that were wrapped tightly around me. I was in his arms. and that he still loved me. I smiled at him. I had almost lost the one thing in my life that I loved with all my heart. His cheeks were wet. probably returning to the pack. I knew he was coming back. He whined. After what seemed like hours and hours. He was crying.311 - . I almost couldn't meet them. Jacob turned around to face me too. and then Quil strode back into view. I couldn't take it anymore. and he touched his wet nose off my cheek. I sobbed into his shoulder. He buried his face in my shoulder. I shook. but I started to shake. because before I had time to see the expression on his face. because I couldn't stay strong anymore. I forced myself to look through my blurred vision. because I needed to see his face. trying to calm my rapidly beating heart with the knowledge that after this. but I held on until my arms ached with the effort. muscled. and all I wanted to do was hold him and feel the heat that emanated from his skin and know that he was OK and still mine. Everything had changed. I don't know how long we stayed like that. crushed against him by the large. his chest bare. and I had thought I was going to lose him for the most horrifying moment. human. His hands were shaking. he pulled away so he could see my face. and his eyes were blazing. And then I was crying too. and all I could see was Quil gazing back at me. and the hot tears continued to leak from my eyes. using all my strength to just… keep him there. he was never going to leave me alone for as long as he could help it. . effortlessly breaking the hold I had around his neck. I had almost lost Quil. "Claire. and he bounded away." he said. The one thing in my life that I genuinely couldn't imagine living without. disappearing into a clump of trees. After a few seconds.

" I whispered. "It's OK. I wanted the Quil in front of me to fade away and never come back. because I couldn't stand it. "Me too. Maybe ten times worse than I was." he argued. I had never seen Quil so completely broken like this. But… I nearly…" He could barely speak. "It has never been further from OK. "I said… I wouldn't let anything happen to you." he repeated. I said I wouldn't let… anything hurt you. I wanted him to be OK and to not be scared.312 - . the violent way he had been shaking… his tears… He had to have been terrified. I wrapped my arms around his neck and hugged him again. He had always been so calm and collected and in control. Maybe more than I'd ever know. I didn't know how to save him… from whatever hell he had fallen in to. I wanted my Quil. Claire. either. his voice rough and hoarse. hanging his head. it's not. I felt safe and secure in his embrace. Quil. and you're safe now. "I was so… scared. "me too. Maybe just the fact he could hold me like this would be enough. so I just hoped it had helped him a little. and not be upset. I could have lost you… I was so scared…" I could feel his hands shaking again." I tried to soothe. and his chest was heaving. Believe me. There was another endless moment. My skin heated up to the point of burning. but he just hugged me tighter. desperate. and it scared me. "I promised…" he said. warmer." I didn't know how well my soothing tone was working. ever wanted to let him go. I didn't know what else to do. nothing made me feel more protected. where we just stayed like that. I couldn't stand not knowing exactly what to do or say to help him.But I couldn't look away. felt as they should. Vivid pictures were flashing in my mind… the wolf collapsing on the ground. shaking his head. and we still have each other. I revelled in every second spent wrapped up in his arms. but I couldn't care . our arms around each other. I had to make it better. and he squeezed his eyes shut. It's OK. My lips were trembling. The arms around me felt right. because nothing compared to it. and best of all. "No. I no longer felt cold. but now he was in pieces. happier. I never. my eyes welling up with a ferocity and preparing to overflow. his eyes ablaze with fury and agony. so it is OK. But I'm safe now. I wanted to piece him back together.

I told him not to. "That's his. Sherlock. He shouldn't've left you at all. As usual. The relief I was feeling was so immense and powerful. only to kiss up my neck. because I wouldn't be able to stand it if he wasn't sure of how much I loved him." I said. "I'm sorry. stress… it had all faded into the back of my mind. "Are you alright?" he asked me quietly." he sighed. "I'm sorry for the freak out. All my anxiety. I decided on the spot to always mention how much he meant to me. mesmerising me." he said. "That's not your fault. After an eternity. "Yeah. and the corners of his mouth twitched. it isn't his fault at all-" I started to say. and they were still blazing. "Don't blame Paul. Quil pulled away slightly. closing his eyes." he said vehemently. his eyes searching mine." I said. "You have no idea how relieved I feel right now. fear. "I am now. I told him to take care of you. it is. I was just so glad he was alright and everything was OK and that we were together and I wasn't without him anymore. but Quil cut me off. Claire." he said softly. and he didn't listen…" he was growing angrier with every word. and he smiled a little. worry. because Quil had taken it all away. but I didn't because it was the truth. "You really scared me there.less." "No shit." I replied." I disagreed. I think I do. and you really frightened the shit out of me too. "I'm sorry that I scared you. "No. "Good. "Yes. a minute ago… I just…" he sighed.313 - . our noses touching." he said quietly. I almost felt dizzy." I said. he did what he wanted to do and he didn't give a shit about . His beautiful chocolate brown eyes were mere centimetres from mine. and I thought I would feel stupid for saying it. "It's just been a really bad day. "I'm sorry too. I felt better. I shouldn't've convinced Paul to leave me alone-" His eyes flew open and he raised his head. He rested his forehead against mine. Quil.

"I was going crazy back at your house. "This isn't your fault. "No. there was no reason for him to leave you alone-" "Quil. throwing his arms up in the air. and then I thought she was going to kill you…" I could barely speak I was sobbing so much. "All I know is that you both promised me that you would be kept safe and you both failed and you so nearly got hurt and I so nearly went insane with fear-" "How do you think I felt?" I interrupted. and I was crying again. "How was I supposed to know that?" "I don't know!" Quil yelled back. anger burning in his eyes. crying all over the place. I'm sorry. "There wasn't anything wrong with me . angry tears in my eyes. it's not his fault-" "Yes. it is!" he exclaimed. frustrated. I'm sorry. "How could you do that to me. no idea if you were OK or not. "I'm sorry.314 - . and I didn't know what was going to happen to me. blame me!" "Fine!" Quil shouted. and then we heard the howl and Paul left and I was so frightened. "I was the one who made him go! Don't blame him." he chanted. he saw how upset I was and was just going to make sure you were OK-" "I was absolutely fine. This . "So… I would really… love to see…your… point of view… Quil… but I can't… get my head… that far up… my ass…" He gave a choked kind of chuckle. clearly-" "That's not true at all. and the accusation in his eyes both hurt and enraged me. "I just wanted to know you were alright.I was fine!" he said loudly. just as angrily. and then she came along and just grabbed me.I'm sorry for caring!" I I didn't even know if he understood all that. I'm sorry. it isn't!" I said. Quil . frustrated. stop blaming him. "I didn't know that!" I yelled. before grabbing me and hugging me tightly again. Claire? Have you no respect for your safety? Did you have any idea what it did to me to discover that that leech had taken you?" he demanded angrily.

is my fault." "No, it isn't," I protested, burying my head in his shoulder, willing myself to stop crying. "Yes, it is." "Isn't." "Is." "Isn't." "Is." "Isn't." "Is." "Stop being stupid. It's no one's fault." "Just mine." "Quil!" I pulled away and gazed at him, exasperated. "Don't you dare start blaming yourself for this. I mean it. Don't." He opened his mouth to say something, but I cut across him. "Don't." "OK," he said, holding up his hands in surrender. He gazed at me for a moment before he spoke again. "But can you forgive me?" "Forgive you for what?" "For putting you through this. I mean, I didn't think I'd be putting you in any sort of danger just for being a werewolf, and of all the imprints she could have chosen she just chose you - but I am glad, of course, that it wasn't any of the others, but - it was you, and you mean more to me than I could ever describe, ever explain, ever demonstrate, and I can't believe that you had to go through all that just because I am what I am-"
- 315 -

"Quil," I said, interrupting him again. "I forgive you, if that's what you want to hear. But you should know, that I don't blame you for any of this." "You should," he muttered, sombrely. "No," I disagreed. He gazed at me for another long moment, his eyes blazing again. "I love you," he said fiercely. "And I will never let you get hurt again. By anyone, or anything. Ever." "I love you too," I said, and he seized my face, crushing his lips onto mine. I could taste the salt of both our tears.

- 316 -

Hugs and Kisses
Wow... thank you for all your amazing reviews. You're all so honest and wonderful and lovely. 800 reviews - eeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiii! NEVER EXPECTED THAT! I GOT NINE REVIEWS FOR THE FIRST CHAPTER AND I WAS DELIGHTED! Thank you, seriously! x x x Do you want the good news or the bad news? Bad news: Chapter 35 will be the last chapter. Then we have the epilogue, chapter 36. And then we are finished. I never want to end :( Good news: the epilogue is in QUIL'S point of view. Excitin' or wha? Well, I think it is... heehee. Enjoy this very long chapter. Have fun with the cliffhanger, ahahaha... I give you one guess... ;)

Chapter Thirty-Four: Hugs and Kisses When night began to fall, Quil decided it was high time to get out of the blasted forest. He carried me, bridal style, even though I had tried to insist on walking, but he was having none of it. I was exhausted anyway, and being in Quil's arms was too good of an offer to pass up. As we got nearer to Quil's house, I started to think. I remembered everything I had realised while I was waiting, about appreciating my family, and I knew I had to go home. I had only left to spite my father, and in order to avoid him, and that wasn't who I wanted to be anymore. I wanted to make things up with my dad, and I knew my mother wanted me home anyway, and it was what I had to do. I didn't want to leave Quil, at all. It hurt me to even think of being apart from him after today. But he would understand that I needed to do this right. I needed to find reality again. "Quil?" I asked, hesitant now, nervous of his reaction. "Yes?" "I think… that I should go home. It's nothing to do with you," I hastened to add, watching his jaw tense, "it's just that I really think… I should."
- 317 -

"OK," he said, but I saw how his face had fallen just a little bit. "I'm sorry," I said, feeling terrible. "Don't be ridiculous, Claire. I want you to get on with your parents. I'm just incredibly selfish enough to want you to stay with me, instead." "I want to stay with you," I said softly, touching his cheek. "But there are people I care about too much to ever lose, I've realised, and I want them to know that. I don't want to fight with everyone I care about, and I have to make it right before it's too late." Quil nodded, and I knew he understood. His eyes were dark and brooding, and I wondered what he was thinking about. He had been in a very serious mood since we left the forest, and I wished I could get him to talk to me, to tell me what was bothering him. But I was almost afraid to ask, and he didn't seem keen to divulge what was on his mind. Quil's house came into view, and there were no lights on inside. It looked odd. Judging by the frown on Quil's face, he thought it was odd too. My breathing picked up and I was suddenly afraid; could this be a trap? Were we about to get ambushed? "Relax, Claire," Quil said, "I can hear the PlayStation." I took a deep breath and tried to control my imagination. He set me down gently on the ground outside the front door and I kissed him before we went inside, just wanting to remind him that I loved him. He responded with a lot more fierceness and passion than usual, so I was dizzy when I eventually forced myself to pull away. I then, in an uncharacteristic display of clumsiness, tripped over the front step into the house, which made him chuckle. The sound of engines revving and Embry's exclamations floated out from the living room, which was pitch dark, the only light coming from the TV. I could just about make out Embry sprawled across a bean bag chair, enthusiastically hitting the buttons on the controller, and Paul collapsed in an armchair, surrounded by empty beer cans, his controller held loosely in his hand. "Hi," I said, the subdued atmosphere hitting me hard. Quil flicked on the light, and both guys squinted as their eyes adjusted. "Hey, Claire!" Embry said, sitting up and saluting me. "You almost had me shitting
- 318 -

myself - I hope you're happy." I rolled my eyes and smiled, knowing that was probably going to be the best I was ever going to get out of Embry. I was touched he had been scared for me. He was a good friend, despite the annoyingness and the inappropriateness. I eyed Paul worriedly. He was staring at the TV screen desolately, not seeming to care that his car wasn't moving. I wondered how long he had been drinking for. I turned around to glare at Quil, who was a silent statue behind me, his arms folded. He raised his eyebrows at me, and I mouthed the word 'Paul' at him. He just shrugged. "Oh, for the love of Christ," I exclaimed, and stormed purposefully into the living room. I was not having any of this crap going on. Embry protested as I stood in front of the TV screen, blocking both his and Paul's view of it. I held out my hand to Paul, and he looked up at me reluctantly, his eyes a little unfocussed. "Stand up," I told him, and he rolled his eyes. "I don't wanta." "Stand up," I said, firmly. Grumbling, Paul eventually staggered to his feet. He swayed a little, glaring at me, and I took a deep breath and hugged him. He was frozen for a minute, apparently confused. "Thank you," I said simply, knowing that he would understand what I was thanking him for. I owed him my sanity, and I just hoped he knew how much I appreciated it. I just hoped he knew that I didn't blame him. At my words, he wrapped his arms around me and hugged me back. After a few minutes, Embry sighed. "Either give me some of that, Claire, or get out of the way of the telly," he said. I pulled away from Paul, rolling my eyes, and grabbed his arm, attempting to pull him over to Quil. He didn't really want to move, but he stumbled after me nonetheless. Quil was staring at me moodily. "The two of you kiss and make up, right now," I demanded. "I ain't kissin' a dude!" Paul slurred indignantly, while Embry sniggered. "I didn't mean literally," I said, annoyed. I was surrounded by idiots. "What I mean
- 319 -

is, the two of you are not fighting. End of story. Nothing is anyone's fault. I am fine. So…" I put my hands on my hips and glared at both of them. There was a stony silence, and Paul swayed where he stood. "It is my fault," he said, the words coming out like mush. "I wasn't supposed ta leave you alone, and I did… you never would've gotten hurt if I hadn't left…" "That's not true," Quil interrupted flatly, cutting across me and what I was about to say. "She was going to kidnap Claire anyway. You just made it easier for her, that's all." "So you see?" Paul said to me, gesturing at Quil. "I might as well have wrapped you up in a pink bow and handed you to her. I should've had my head ripped off…" "No," I said, shaking my head. "No, this is so stupid. I for one am not playing the blame game, because it's all over now, and I couldn't be more fine. So I suggest the two of you get over it. I don't want you fighting over me, over this." There was another silence, and I sighed with relief when Quil held out his hand for Paul to shake. He wanted to make the peace, and I was so relieved that he wasn't going to hold a grudge against Paul for this. Paul, however, ignored his hand, and pulled Quil into a one-armed hug, stumbling a bit. Quil was clearly trying not to grin, which made me laugh. "Everyone is getting hugged except me… I'm just the loner in the corner nobody wants to hug…" Embry grumbled sadly to himself. "Aw, I'll hug ya, Embers," Paul said, releasing a grateful looking Quil and staggering in Embry's direction. "Get away from me." "You know you want it." "Not from you, thanks." "Fine, whatever, you missed your chance," Paul said, and collapsed face down on the couch. He didn't move again. "When did he start drinking?" Quil asked Embry, over the snoring that had just begun.
- 320 -

"As soon as we got home," Embry shrugged. "He had a big massive red scar from your fight earlier going across his neck" -Embry drew a line across his own neck with his index finger- "and it looked nasty. It's gone now, though," he said, throwing a glance over his shoulder at his drunk and sleeping friend. "He's been sitting in that armchair drowning his sorrows, until you guys came back." I looked up at Quil, who was eyeing Paul guiltily. I deduced he must regret trying to hurt him; Quil never set out to hurt anybody. I realised something. I remembered mine and Rachel's birthday party, when Quil had gotten so close to beating up Aaron, just because he had said a couple of things to insult me. Quil never came close to getting violent, unless it was something to do with me. I didn't like being the reason Quil got angry enough to lash out. I hated that he'd hurt Paul, and I had been so afraid he was going to badly hurt Aaron at the time. My solution was simple enough; make sure nothing like that would ever happen again. I wouldn't let it get that far, ever again. I was going to attempt to give Quil an easy life. "C'mon, Claire," he said, taking my hand and pulling me out of the living room. "Let's get your bags." "Oh, am I leaving now?" I said, crushed. I had hoped that maybe I'd be allowed to stay the night, and go home in the morning. Looked like Quil had other ideas, and I couldn't hide my disappointment. "Yeah, I think it's best if you do," he said, squeezing my hand. "If you stay tonight, I'm just going to think of some excuse to get you to stay tomorrow, and then the next day, and I'll end up never letting you go home." My heart fluttered. "Claire's going home?" Embry asked in a high pitched voice, launching himself out of the living room and into the hall. I nodded, and heard Quil sigh quietly. "Aww, whyyy?" Embry moaned. "Don't go, Claire, who else am I going to make fun of?" I snorted. "I'm sure you'll find some poor unsuspecting victim."
- 321 -

fine. I'm sure. Quil took it from me and easily pushed past Embry. Embry.322 - . putting on a sad face. "OK. Claire?" I raised an eyebrow at him. looking around for Quil. I tried to follow him. He brightened straightaway. Claire." "Great. You don't have to go home. you . beyond demented. "Embry coerced me into visiting him tomorrow. I sighed and walked over to him." he pleaded. "Aha. I'll get a freaking baseball bat and sit on the front step to make sure no one comes in and attacks you. I'll see you tomorrow. heading out to put it in the car." "Bye. Can you help a brother out." "-because you won't be here and I'll just be dying of boredom all day. "This is so not cool. without a clue as to where my keys were. Shaking my head. I'll be bored shitless here without you. I went back outside into the cold. "Claire. I am officially pissed off. OK?" I snapped. Claire!" And off he went to play the PlayStation again. Who did he think he was? Will Smith? "You'll survive." Quil pointed and laughed at me. "Oh. If you're scared of sleeping in the house. Embry! You're such a child! I'll visit you tomorrow. "I won't. 'cos Paul will be all hungover and slouchy in the morning and will bite my head off if I even look at him. He was throwing my bag into the backseat of my car. for heaven's sake. "Anything he says to you tomorrow.Embry kept up a relentless string of complaints as Quil led me into his bedroom and helped me pack my bag. and Quil will be all moody and slouchy and cantankerous-" "Shut up." I said. wonderful." My bag found itself packed in a very short space of time. but Embry blocked me. which was still sitting in front of the house." I said. I'll hold you to that.

Not together. but it was a comfortable silence. and I never found myself particularly affected by it. until I wasn't sure of anything. and my parents would probably be getting ready for bed now. I was lost in his kiss. but I knew my strength would be no match for his if he decided to regain reason again. dangling them in front of me. pulling him closer to me. I didn't care what I had to do tomorrow. But I knew one of us would come to our senses." "Shut up. wondering what I was going to say to my mother. I was going to let him. I reached out to take them and he snatched them back. causing every thought to fly out of my head. My hands seized his face. I could never assemble a coherent thought when he was kissing me. and break us apart. yes?" "I have them. yet it never failed to melt me into a flushed. and they burned. Jack would already be in bed. There was only one light on in the house when Quil pulled the car into the driveway. If he wanted to drive me home." Quil said. lost in his scent. "Not a chance. because that's what always happened. as long as he was with me. His kiss was so familiar." I rolled my eyes but didn't protest. once. all I could think of. gasping mess of something that used to resemble Claire. melting me until I wasn't sure who I was anymore. I had seen it coming. his lips were rough against mine. I didn't think it would be me.323 - . instead of being difficult. wanting to keep him there. The last thing I wanted was them back together again. but I told myself that I would not leave his side all day tomorrow. I'm driving. Get in the car. petty reasons to argue with one another. wondering. wondering… when Quil leaned across the seat and kissed me. and neither did he.brought on yourself. I wished I wasn't leaving him so soon. My fingers tugged on the ends of his hair. and the sound of my heart in my ears. I didn't want to pull away. and I wanted to stay lost forever. hopefully. and I realised how late it was. His hands were in my hair. his scent was all around me. but ever since I could remember they always found small. wondering. . Maybe they had been happy. somehow. all I registered. You do know I have no idea where my car keys are. beating so fast I was surprised it didn't break down. I didn't have anything to say. The drive home was silent. I was wondering if he was going to run home. The divorce had been nobody's surprise. were his burning lips moving with mine.

I leaned back. "Claire? What in the name of God's green earth are you doing out there?" I laughed nervously. afraid he would pull away and say I was going too far. nothing." I hissed at him. and my mother poked her head out the front door. weren't you?" I said. I loved to stare at his bare chest. My hands started to slide down his chest. He was climbing gracefully out of the car. Quil was just messing around. My mother was probably going to come rushing out of the house to investigate and see me sitting in Quil's lap and she'd just know we were making out and aargh… I fumbled with the handle on the car door. I couldn't think. and so quickly I wasn't sure how it happened. still laughing. I felt his hands wrap around my waist tightly. his muscles tensing in response. extricating myself from Quil's arms and legs. trying to exit the car without falling out of it. Quil was laughing breathlessly. My mind was in a complete whirlwind. that made my heart beat painfully fast. And I was beginning to feel very. somehow burning me and making me shiver at the same time.My heart stuttered and jumped when he suddenly deepened the kiss. and I was quickly losing all sense of myself. turning to glare at him. completely discombobulated. My mind was clouded. embarrassed at the situation. I had to pull away before I combusted. I could barely breathe. . It didn't seem like he wanted to pull away either. utterly useless. low in his throat. and I let them. His chest was solid under my fingers. But he surprised me again. I was sitting on his lap. The shrill sound blasted through the quiet of the night around us. down my sides. breathing heavily.324 - . I half fell out of the car just as the porch light came on. My palms were slick with perspiration. I thought my heart was going to explode… I had to pull away. My hands left his hair and clutched onto his shoulders. "Get the hell out of my car. setting my skin on fire. very hot. and we both jumped as I accidentally pressed against the car horn on the steering wheel. He made a growling noise. I almost fainted. more fervent against mine. His hands left my hair and ran over my shoulders. His lips were rougher. trying to use them as a means to pull myself even closer to him. but touching it was oh so much better… I was hesitant though. surprising me. and his hands ran up my spine and back down again. and his scorching temperature didn't help matters. "Shit!" I panicked. slightly afraid of his reaction. "Oh.

did she somehow know? Oh. and that she was just wondering why I was suddenly here late at night in the front garden. I hurriedly retrieved my bag from the backseat and approached the front door. because you're my family and even though Dad is a prejudiced asshole doesn't mean I still don't love him. still laughing. Oh Jesus." he called to my mother. I looked around the dark and familiar hall. My mother was eyeing me suspiciously from the doorway." My mother was staring at me with her mouth open. and I took a deep breath." I complained. and winked devilishly at me. They were all packed and rearranged neatly. my heart doing a funny little jump.325 - . "I've been immature. Oh God. I flushed. And I'm coming home. coming back home to a place so normal. "Mom. "Claire?" I jumped. his hands in his pockets. because I can't keep running to live with Quil every time I get into an argument at home. sorry 'bout the noise. wishing he could stay. Because I wanted to say it right. ." I said. trying to think of what I was going to say. weak with relief. Without another word. too quickly. I watched him go wistfully. how embarrassing. and she stood back to let me in to the house. it's cold."Yeah. so familiar. Hannah. My mom looked tired and puzzled. and was horrified to notice condensation on the windows. Quil waved to my mom and started walking up the driveway. "Then why are you here?" Mom looked confused. when everything had been so crazy and unfamiliar and frightening mere hours ago. still looking at me as though I had three heads and a beard. Then I noticed all my Dad's many suitcases on the floor by the stairs. realising she probably hadn't a clue about the making out in the front seat of my car. It was surreal. missing him already. and quit running away from my problems. "Oh!" I said. I blushed furiously. I glanced quickly towards the car. which looked exactly the same as it had been when I left it. like a baby. I don't want to stay away from all of you. "What?" "What's going on?" "Nothing. So I'm going to be an adult.

and I strolled in purposefully. assuming he was just upping and leaving for no reason other than to annoy me. It was typical Dad. as though she expected a tantrum. cutting across whatever she was about to say. but there was no one home. "Yes." I said." Mom said. her eyes narrowing suspiciously. and my mind was blank. sitting up. I wanted to tell him I loved him and I didn't want to keep fighting with him. Something came up…" "Yeah. "I tried ringing Quil's house to tell you after he booked the ticket. somehow. I had jumped to conclusions. It was hard. so probably. anyway. To me. He was sprawled comfortably across the couch. surprised. Claire. Mom bustled in. "I heard you're leaving in the morning. in a tone that suggested I explain where I was and what I was doing. honey. I deliberately ignored it. and he nodded. watching some war documentary or something as equally boring. "Is he awake now?" I asked. "Hi Dad." Mom replied." There was a short.326 - . "The TV is on. I heard. My dad's gruff voice invited me in. I already knew the answer. . As if. surprise colouring his tone also. Huh. "Something came up with Sharon and the baby…" She shrugged. He looked up."What are they?" I asked my mother. I immediately felt bad. I twirled around and knocked on the door of the living room. nosing probably. "He's leaving first thing in the morning." I said. "Was he even going to say goodbye to me?" I asked her quietly. awkward silence. I wanted to tell him I could forgive him for some of the things he had said." she said. I wanted there not to be any awkwardness between us ever again… but I didn't know what to say. "Hi." he said.

I jumped into bed. I smiled at him and he winked at me. frowning. really. School was going to be even more surreal than being at home was." I said. but ah well. I never actually hit anybody. My room was dark and cold. "Call me when you get home and let me know everything's OK. sniffing his shirt. shivering. it smelt just like him. wrapping myself up in the duvet. I loved it. so it would have to be now. and I raised my eyebrows at her. and now all of a sudden I was hugging him. I gave him a hug. you know that. My mom was frowning at me. doesn't it. it was huge on me. and I unpacked my bag quickly. falling to my knees. . smirking at her suspicious expression when I pulled away. hoping that I wouldn't have nightmares. Dad. but I didn't care. "Love you. I gave her a hug too. I found an unfamiliar item. "Ugh. yes?" Oh God. Ryan?" "Oh. shut up. compared to everything that had gone on today. I held it up to my face. I fell asleep quickly. I wondered briefly how that wound up in my bag. OK. and I knew why he was confused. "She spends a weekend with him and now she's hugging everyone instead of hitting them. smiling back. I decided to confuse him even more. My mother was exaggerating to prove her point. I been so cold with him. and I had to roll the sleeves up a million times to find my hands. She just shrugged. Goes to show. I smiled when I recognised it. wrinkling my nose in disgust. pretending to myself it was Quil's arms around me. I pulled it out and held it up." he said. I glanced at my dad and realised I mightn't be up early enough in the morning to say goodbye to him. At the bottom of the bag." I murmured. and I grinned. He hugged me back tentatively."Claire. sounding startled.327 - . Inhaling his scent from his shirt. and I actually groaned out loud at the thought of it. I decided on the spot that it would now be my new pyjamas." my dad grumbled. it was one of Quil's shirts. it's very late and you have school in the morning. I headed upstairs. But in fairness. school. and I pulled away. That was good enough for me." "I will. dragging my bag with me. I threw it on. "Do you see how good Quil is for her?" I heard Mom hiss at Dad superiorly. I had forgotten about it entirely. comforted. but I didn't mind. I felt incredibly stupid.

328 - . and told me there was someone in the room. smothering my scream. . searching for the source of the disturbance. My heart jumped wildly as a hand clamped over my mouth. My senses burst into life suddenly. A sudden noise jolted me awake.I don't think I slept for long. and I tried to see through the darkness.

. WHICH SUCKS. OMFG. HOLY SWEET DIVINE JESUS. Quil let go of my mouth and I heard him fumbling for the lamp switch. well. THANK YOU. Unreal .. to all those who complained about the cliffhanger last chapter. so the reviews. that's how long it was. He snorted. and then I realised how long it was. So. For one terrifying second.. then you're . Really really really long. and a dizzying relief washed over me. And by the by. and I had my mouth hangin' open as I read it. "What are you doing here?" I whispered. if anyone wants to get Claire.329 - ... "Well. AARGH. AND I CAN'T WAIT TO HEAR FROM THE AWESOMENESS THAT IS YOU LOT AGAIN! LURRVE X X X Chapter Thirty-Five: South Dakota "Shush. I really love Paramore's 'Decode'.South Dakota YES." A gloriously familiar voice broke the silence. A LOT. You only have one more cliffie to suffer through. BUT IRELAND DOES NOT GET THE MOVIE FOR ANOTHER FEW WEEKS. and can't stop listening to it. She really gets Claire. it's only me. to you I say HA HA HA.. my heart still pounding painfully.) In random news. sitting up. and I mean really get her as a character. I REALLY HOPE YOU LIKE IT. INCLUDING THE EPILOGUE. then go and read Elm's review for the last chapter. Ok. yeah. YOU ALL ROCK MY SOCKS OFF. if you think I'm leaving you alone after today. TO LOOK FORWARD TO! Boo-yah. So I split it in two. I sat down and wrote the last chapter. IS ALL I CAN SAY. I promise! ENJOY THE CHAPTER. Remember when I said that there was only going to be one more chapter and then the epilogue. I UPDATED! And I have joyous news. SO THAT MEANS WE HAVE TWO MORE CHAPTERS. and then they're done. I thought it was Irina back to get me again.

I was outside the window. I shielded my eyes from the sudden exposure.clinically insane. Quil. his eyes sparkling with humour. that is." I began. a grin beginning to spread across his face. how I hated being teased. He didn't need to glue himself to me twenty-four-seven to protect me from all harm. fiddling with one of the rolled up sleeves. Sort of like a guard dog. I was still touched. "I'd much rather be here. Glue himself to me twenty-four-seven. He took hold of my chin and forced me to look at him. unable to believe I had gotten caught wearing his shirt. acting the bodyguard. looking at me thoughtfully. He chuckled to himself. It would only be Quil to sit outside my window in the cold.330 - . "No." I lied." He rolled his eyes. Even though I would really like him to. "And excuse me for wanting to protect you." he protested." I added. it is. but then I got lonely…" The room flooded with light. his eyebrows raising. and I was temporarily blinded. What are you doing wearing my shirt?" he teased. "What were you doing outside my window?" I demanded in a whisper. He was smirking in a way that made me want to crawl into a hole and die. "I remember buying that one. He tugged on the collar." "Quil. I always got caught. grinning widely now. That's just going overboard. throwing the covers over our heads. Quil pulled me towards him. even if there isn't any need for it." I said self-consciously. grinning at my blush. and pulled the covers back so he could get in the bed. sitting on the bed." "There's no need for that. Even though I thought it was ridiculous. . "I was guarding you. despite the fact I was so glad he was here and I didn't want him to leave. grinning. "I liked it. "Yes. "You can go home if you want to. I was too embarrassed to look at him. blushing." he said." he said. "It looks better on you than it ever did on me. "You're such a stalker. "Is that my shirt?" he interrupted. about to remind him of the time he accidentally bruised me and spent the days after that treating me like a piece of fragile glass." I said exasperatedly. Oh. squinting up at him.

with his usual lack of modesty. but he cut across me. "Shut up now. "No. and kissed my cheek. ducking my head. The last thing I needed was my mother waking up and storming in wondering what all the racket was about. Quil kissed my forehead and reached one arm out of the covers to turn out the light." I said. I felt his lips brushing along my cheek again. I'm not that bad. Embry looks at his reflection in spoons. sounding completely content with himself. not even bothering to challenge him on that. My irritation with him faded quite rapidly as he kissed me."Shut up. rolling my eyes." he chuckled. in a throaty voice. He wrapped both arms around me and laughed into my hair. all you have to do is ask. melting me into a puddle of mush. You so know it's true. I fell asleep snuggled up to his chest. "Shut up." he said. with or without a shirt. gentle and soft. "I'm too sexy for my shirt. I opened my mouth." he sang quietly in my ear. annoyed. "You know what else is true?" I said. trying to quiet the noise. his arms around me." I laughed. too sexy for my shirt. He laughed with me." I burst out laughing. "Why doesn't that surprise me?" "Because he's the kind of guy you could use as a blueprint to build an idiot. outraged. the heat and the immense security I felt when he was there zapping me of my energy. really. "It looks sexy on you. I was almost asleep when Quil spoke suddenly." he protested. brushing his lips along my jaw line. My eyes took a while to adjust to the darkness.331 - . It shocks the life out of me that you don't go chasing around after reflective surfaces. "You're the cockiest guy in the universe." "Yeah. you know. Sleep. and he chuckled to himself. searching until they found mine. "I don't know why you're laughing." I sniggered into my hand. Quil put his arm back around me and cuddled me to his chest. I thought he was as sexy as hell. My eyelids drooped. so sexy it hurts. Claire." he announced. his heartbeat thudding in my ." I exhaled loudly. anyway. I think I'm sexier without a shirt. "Next time you want to smuggle one of my shirts out of my house.

My nightmare woke me up. Quil disappearing in front of my eyes. and I couldn't hide anything from him. His hand traced my face gently. I could feel his breath on my neck. "Yes. "What are you sorry for?" "I'm just… sorry. but the room was so dark and my eyes kept imagining things. smiling vampires. and I couldn't get the image of Quil fading away to nothing out of my head. "I'm OK. and it made me shiver. trying to pull myself back into reality. Irina advancing on me." I answered. and he sighed heavily." I whispered. . I wanted to tell him I was alright and to go back to sleep. "I'm sorry. His arms wrapped around me immediately and pulled me tightly against him. shaking. even though he couldn't see. just fading away until he wasn't there anymore… I jerked awake.332 - ." I rolled my eyes. and brushed away the tears. "Claire?" I had woken up Quil. tickling it. where everything was OK and nothing from my dream could hurt me now. sobbing. My dream had been so vivid. but this was Quil I was talking to. I thought we were over all this seriously annoying this is all my fault crap." I hissed." he whispered. It had been a confusing blur of colours and sounds and menacing eyes staring at me from the shadows… hostile wolves. trying to pull myself together. "Was it a nightmare?" he breathed in my ear. "You know what I smell? Bullshit. It's my fault you're having nightmares.ear. things that frightened me and freaked me out. I wiped at my eyes with shaking hands.

" "It's not if you're having nightmares. like he usually did when I was annoyed at him. "Are you still afraid?" "A little bit. I didn't answer. It was easier to say it like this. though. Everything's OK now." "Yeah but." I admitted. "Is there something I can do to distract you? Cheer you up?" he asked. "Sorry." he said again. Will you please chill out? You're driving me crazy.He chuckled. "What about a story?" . and I felt his forehead press against mine." I told him. Becoming nothing but an empty space." He fell silent." he whispered. "That's stupid. I was still haunted by the image of him just… vanishing. That just bugged me even more. I still felt too alert. "I think so. and his arms tightened around me. so maybe I had calmed down. "Sorry. He kissed my forehead. My heart had stopped pounding. and the thought of it made my blood run cold." I replied. "Just forget about it all." "One. "I was just lying awake thinking about it all. if you have another one tomorrow night then-" "I won't. "Are you OK?" he asked.333 - . than it probably would have been to his face. and my eyes wouldn't stay closed. and thinking about what I should have done instead of what I did…" Typical Quil. I had one nightmare. and I had stopped shaking and crying.

I freaking loved that guy. "I'm not seven anymore. and he said something." "And don't you know it." I amended. I groaned internally at the thought of having to get up in a few hours for school. The room spun. disorientated.I almost laughed. "Will I sing to you?" "Oh. I snuggled up to his side. Quil. I won't show off my enchanting singing voice to someone who won't appreciate it. and I broke down into silent laughter. "MOM! MOM!" I jerked awake. please. and I smiled reluctantly. His arms tightened around me again. and sat up quickly. "Quil. "I won't. "No. and he was laughing silently with me." He fell into a huffy silence.334 - . Or sing. but I was too tired to ask him to repeat it. feeling sleepy again. He just knew exactly what to say. ." He was quiet for a moment. Head rush." I mumbled. and it was making me smile too. "I am the best. in this instance. looking around for the reason for all the noise." he huffed. I blinked. indignant and insulted." I sighed. but I could hear the smile in his voice. "I'm too sexy for my shirt-" he began." "Fine." he said. Before I knew it." I said. "You can sing if you really want to. in my best can-I-have-something voice. I felt Quil's lips brush against my forehead again. that guy was too good at cheering me up and making me laugh. "It would cheer me up immensely if you were to sing to me. I had fallen back asleep. Don't inflict that on me. or do. and I winced. Hot damn. "See?" he said smugly.

and just fell backwards. winked at me. shooting daggers at Jack with my eyes. and I winced once more. It was obvious she had just woken up also. practically giving me heart failure." I said. apparently confused. and looked down at the bed next to me. "What's this. outraged. wide eyed. her hair was all over the place and she was stomping around. as we heard my mother slam the door of her room. pointing his finger at my little brother threateningly. swiftly pulling it open. I stared at the window. WILL YOU? QUIL IS IN CLAIRE'S BED!" I jumped at his words. she glared at me expectantly. "I'll get you later for this. Quil's eyes were opening. trying to figure out what he was doing. Like me. stating the obvious. and I quickly lay back down. "MOM!" he screamed again. A loud bang woke the two of us up properly. He turned to look at Jack before he climbed out of it. Suspicious of me as ever. Mom rounded on Jack.335 - . she checked under the bed and behind the door and even inside the wardrobe. Quil's eyes widened and he rolled out of the bed and strode towards the window. who was standing in the doorway with an evil grin on his face. Still. which was never a good sign." he said. trying to remind myself that he was a werewolf and that that wouldn't have hurt him. When it became apparent that there was no sign of Quil. looking around wildly. "He's not here. then? You can't just burst into Claire's room in the mornings and try and get her into trouble-" "I WASN'T!" Jack protested loudly. My mother rushed into my room. she wasn't a morning person. QUICK!" I focussed suddenly on Jack. I gazed at him blearily. We both watched Quil climb gracefully onto the window ledge. The thundering footsteps on the landing broke me out of my trance. "COME HERE."MOM! COME HERE. I could see from the teasing glint in his eyes that he was only kidding. and I put on my best innocent expression. it wasn't easy watching my boyfriend willingly fling himself out of a window. and he was frowning. werewolf or not. bloodcurdlingly. He closed the window behind him. but all the blood drained from Jack's face. "HE JUMPED OUT OF THE-" .

and there is no possible way of the two of you even holding one another's hands . and stormed out. frowning at the visible collar. unfortunately.I don't care! While you are living in my house. Mine?" "Who's shirt is that. nervously." She exhaled loudly. waggling her index finger at me. "I am not running a sleepover club here." I agreed pleasantly. "Yeah. there will be serious trouble." Mom warned." she emphasised. and stomped out of my room too. "I see." Jack added. relieved that I seemed to be getting away with this. Just you remember: no sleepovers for Quil. "Good. "I mean it. I don't care if you're both wearing metal suits of armour and each surrounded by force fields. and I'm telling you now. already planning to buy a lock for the door so that Jack couldn't barge in the next time.336 - . there will be beheadings. slowly and dangerously. glaring. "OK. which . I knew I had to get up for school soon. grumbling under her breath. That man has his own bed to sleep in. "Nothing."That tone doesn't work with me. Claire?" Mom asked again." I said. her rant finished. outraged that I hadn't gotten into more trouble. mister. "Well. "Quil's. obviously not nothing. if I ever catch him in your bed. I'm going back to bed for five minutes." I snickered into my pillow. Is that clear?" she demanded. I don't care if it is innocent. if I find any evidence that Jack is telling the truth. and Quil is forbidden from sleeping over here. but I was content to just lie there. but she heard me. I buried my head in the pillow. and her eyes narrowed. "Claire. And what the heck are you wearing?" she demanded." I mumbled quietly. breathing in the scent of Quil." I said. but-" "Who's shirt is that?" "Er. "Crystal. Claire. you're living by my rules. closing my eyes. I was going to kill the little twerp later. Ever.

I blindly reached my hand out for it. Quil stood on the doorstep. Exactly four seconds later. closing the front door behind him. determined to beat him. probably to hide or something. like the earth.lingered still on his shirt and now in the bed." I laughed. He started it. on the duvet. "I'm not terrorising him." I admonished Quil playfully. "GAAAAH!" Jack yelled and bolted down the hall into the kitchen. I tried and failed to catch up with him. He looked remarkably alright for someone who had just jumped out of a window." "And I was sleeping. Cackling. My phone buzzed. I loved his scent. as he strolled unconcernedly into the house. and put the phone back on the bedside table. One new message from Quil. I knew I'd break both my legs if I ever jumped out . Jack wrenched the door open. He and Quil just stared at each other for a moment. Cursing under my breath. and Jack froze. I rolled out of bed and ran towards my door. I texted back. on the sheet. wondering if he was still outside my window. Pretty much. getting there first. and finished my descent down the stairs." "He's ten. my foot dangling in the air above the bottom step. he smelt like the forest. Quil made a sudden movement.337 - . I brought it closer to my face and opened one eye. "Stop terrorising my little brother. the doorbell rang. on the pillow. He was smiling down at me. I was on the top stair when he pushed past me. grinning. "I'LL GET IT!" Jack and I yelled at the same time. signalling a text. Is it safe? I smirked. fumbling until I felt the cool object underneath my fingers. like pinecones and grass. while I waited. I laughed as he tore past me. or maybe loitering around outside my house instead. and I scrutinised him for a minute. he thundered down the stairs ahead of me.

I blushed and looked down. "And what's that supposed to mean?" I frowned. and then I couldn't help adding." he laughed. Why do you ask?" "No reason. "What-?" I started to say. "Of course I jumped off it." "OK. leaning into him. I hated when he teased me.338 - . "Well. There was a pause. thank you?" "No. . I don't know how I knew it." he said. but I just did. and he laughed. let's just say that I have a lot of reasons to be in a good mood. grinning and shaking his head." I noted. nodding my head. "Did you jump off the windowsill?" I was unable to help asking. I shimmied down the drainpipe. "You're in a really annoying good mood this morning. too. still laughing at me." he teased." I said. remember?" "How could I forget…?" I mumbled. "You really look adorable in my shirt. Maybe I was stupid for thinking there would be. "Claire. My entire face turned bright scarlet. anyway. "No. I pulled away to stare up at him." he snorted. thank you. "No. but he interrupted me. There wasn't a mark on him. And quite possibly my night. Werewolf. the dreams I shall have…" he gazed into space. "Nothing at all. "We heal really fast. "Did you hurt yourself?" He grinned. curious. for whatever reason. He was up to something. Oh. it would take more than falling a couple of feet to bruise my tender skin. You've made my day." I shrugged. and he just smirked at me. in a secretive tone. suddenly remembering I was still wearing it.of that window. "Er." he said. and he wrapped his arm around my waist.

" she said grumpily. and he kissed me. I dunno. raising my eyebrows. and wandered into the kitchen after my mother while I climbed the stairs. She just threw him a glare and shuffled into the kitchen." he said. "What did I do?" Quil whispered to me. and pulled me over to him. "Hello." "You're hurting my feelings. "Hello. Once in my room. "What's going on?" I asked. After brushing my hair and throwing on some mascara and shoes. pulling away only when I heard footsteps on the stairs. I thundered back downstairs and into the kitchen."Shut. Quil." I muttered. I better get ready for school or I'll be late. but ah well. "Oh. I smiled reluctantly.339 - ." I added. raising his eyebrows at her retreating back. I'm merely expressing how cute I think you look in my shirt and you're calling me an idiot. I changed into my usual uniform of jeans and a vintage t-shirt and opened my schoolbag for the first time all weekend. I'm feeling very hurt right now…" he said. It was my mother. The teachers couldn't possibly have expected me to have my homework done if they knew what kind of weekend I have had. Quil and Mom were laughing at something. . as usual. burning and scorching and melting. "Do you want me to kiss it better?" I asked. Claire. She'll be fine once she has coffee. through gritted teeth. making a sad face." he grinned. I eyed them suspiciously. "OK. Up. I wrapped my arms around his neck. wearing a purple dressing gown and a scowl." "Whatever for?" "So that you'll stop being an idiot. extricating myself from his arms. frowning and rolling her eyes at our embrace. "I think that's the best suggestion I have ever heard in my life. "I'm going to get dressed." Quil beamed at her. There was a load of homework that I didn't do. I shrugged.

"Nothing at all. The whole way to school.340 - . He pulled into my usual parking space in the school car park. only heightening my suspicions." they said at the same time. look. I checked my reflection in the side mirror five times. jealous gazes. Quil wrapped his arms around my waist and hugged me. but kept his arms around my waist. and I couldn't help but feel smug as I spied all the bitches in my year and all girls alike staring wide eyed at my gorgeous. Aaron whirled around and stormed off in a huff. topless boyfriend climbing out of my car. just making sure there was nothing on my face. suspicious again. I had no idea what it was yet but I vowed I would find out. "That made my whole day so far. He seemed reluctant to leave my side for very long. and I certainly didn't want a repeat experience."Nothing. And I really just couldn't help smirking at all the furtive. grinning. ignoring my many protests. too innocently. Quil insisted on driving me to school in my car. there's Aaron staring at us. It didn't frighten me so much. I narrowed my eyes at Quil. "So far?" I inquired. Quil and I broke down in sniggers. Quil was no doubt a different story." Quil laughed. pulled away. "Oh." I exclaimed. noticing the jerk-off loitering around by his car. we both beamed and waved at him. it scared the total crap out of me and it really made me appreciate everyone and everything a lot more. I really just couldn't help it. and at the same time. and I wondered how badly he had been affected by yesterday. I mean. "Are you planning something?" . glaring at in our direction. Quil turned his head to look. I rolled my eyes and proceeded to choke down some toast. who just winked at me. He was up to something. but when I was back home and surrounded by familiarity and my usual routines. scowling. There were still loads of people congregated around their cars and chatting in groups. I jumped out of the car and slung my schoolbag onto my shoulder. before demanding what was so amusing. it all just seemed like a bad dream. he kept sneaking glances at me and grinning for totally no reason. Quil. oblivious. I did notice him acting weird." he said.

Great. . "Quil. I must be really sleep deprived." "Why won't you tell me?" "Why won't I tell you about what?" I made a face at him. I know. so. He was gazing at me. I suddenly realised how I missed listening to the two of them. I had to remind myself that I was still surrounded by people. your boyfriend is absolutely gorgeous. With a little stab of loss." I said. Zach's sister. He waved at me. "See you." I said. "You shouldn't have asked. He was going to be strutting around for the rest of the day.341 - . and I looked over my shoulder to see if he had heard." he said." I replied. staring at him over my shoulder. Claire. which was probably nothing but listening to Embry and Paul arguing. I noticed people starting to head into the school." Rachel said excitedly. and he let me go reluctantly. and he leaned in to kiss me goodbye. that is going to annoy me for the entire day." Jenna told me dreamily.He just winked at me. smirking like the big. Quil realised this too. grinning at her flushed expression and at the mildly insulted way Zach was eyeing her." "Yeah. and then heaved himself away from the car and swaggered off to do whatever he did when I was in school. egotistical moron that he was. Yeah. and he sniggered. "I'll see you later. "Yeah. "Hey. and I realised I should probably get to class. gorgeous. smug again. grinning. he had heard. "Claire. leaning against the bonnet of my car with his hands in his pockets. I had barely taken five steps away from him when I was suddenly accosted by Rachel and Zach and Jenna. and headed towards the school building. I noticed. stupid. his ego the size of South Dakota. so I pulled away first. "Quil isn't wearing a shirt." I whined.

"Er. and I went to stay at Quil's for the weekend.342 - . eager to see Quil. . looking back over the past two eventful days in my mind. Zach was his usual quiet self and Aaron ignored me for the day. until I spotted a topless guy loitering by my car. when we took our seats in class. but the closer I got to him. I was a little confused for a moment. "So. Maybe everything that had happened yesterday had affected me. I listened while she chatted about her weekend. I had been such an immature cow back then. I had missed him a lot in school. "Staying at Quil's for the weekend. making "ooh" and "aw" noises when appropriate. Rachel was gossipy. He wasn't waiting by my car. well… I had a fight with my dad." "God. for no particular reason.I chatted with Rachel on the way to class. Or rather. I was so glad when the final bell rang. "Er…" I said. There had been a few points in school where I just ached to see him." I shrugged. the more I realised that it wasn't the topless guy who I was aching for. A werewolf declaring his love for you really changes things. That's it." Rachel said. and rushed out to my car. how was your weekend?" she asked. I breathed a sigh of relief and approached him. which consisted of a concert and a trip to the cinema to see a really crap film. like I thought he would be. It was someone else. huh? That must've been fun. How long ago was it that I was moaning about Rachel having a better life than mine? How long ago was it that I was wishing that my life was better than it had been? God. "Oh. I couldn't believe I had ever seen anything in that loser. I could hardly tell her all that. School was school. raising her eyebrows. I listened like a good friend." "Fun. more than usual. really. which I thought was quite funny this time. Teachers rolled their eyes at my excuses. Totally. I laughed wryly. as usual. and eh… I got home last night and made up with my dad. I was such a bullshitter. I've got such a boring life compared to yours." Rachel complained.

but he didn't look the same. sad eyes. apparently looking for me. I ran up to him.343 - . my eyes wide and terrified. Please don't let him be hurt. no nothing. It was Embry. "Embry? What is it? Where's Quil? What's wrong?" I demanded frantically. no swagger. and his eyes locked onto mine. His eyes were desperate and upset. He looked distressed." he sighed. Something was wrong.He turned his head." . "Claire. "Something really awful has happened. and took a deep breath. Embry gazed at me with big. Why was he here? Where was Quil? Had something happened to him? Had Irina come back for him? Was he hurt? Oh my God. I grabbed Embry's arms. There was no cheeky grin. and I panicked.

I thought it was something serious. This is getting so ridiculous. The PlayStation won't work." I rolled my eyes.) Well. Doves and a Mexican Band "What?" I asked fearfully. I don't need you as a substitute bodyguard. I couldn't believe some of them. Quil sent me. but meh. I admit that cliffie was very mean and I am nasty person. What a big. "The PlayStation is broken. I feel quite sad. jutting out his lower lip. "It's the worst thing ever. :( Despite being cut in half.344 - . Doves and a Mexican Band Teeheeheeheeheeheeheeheehee. Embry. I released his arms and glared at him murderously. stupid idiot. my heart pounding. what are you doing here?" I demanded." he said. "I don't know what to do with myself now!" I scowled at him and folded my arms. much love xoxox Chapter Thirty-Six: Flowers. a lump in my throat threatening to choke me. attracting stares from a lot of the students trying to escape school around us. Thanks so much for the reviews." he boomed. "am here to drive you home.Flowers." "It is serious!" he said indignantly." .more notes at the end. OK. here's Claire's last chapter. Hope you enjoy it . "Well." "What?" I repeated. "I am capable of driving myself home. "Where's Quil?" "I. but you know you loved it. deep down . "For God's sake. Embry sighed heavily. for heaven's sake. it's still ridiculously long.

" I repeated sceptically. At least for now. That was the last thing I expected to hear. settling himself into the driver seat. "Nah. offended. I'm sure there's a perfectly logical explanation as to why Quil would go to a jewellery store…" ." I didn't quite know what to say. "At… the jewellery store. "If anyone drove him nuts. either. Quil really was taking yesterday very seriously. ominous feeling that I didn't want to know. "Yeah. grinning." Embry said. matter-of-factly. raising my eyebrows." I sniffed. throwing the car into reverse and almost running over Vanessa Ryan." I scoffed. I huffed and glared at him. I wouldn't have been surprised to learn if he had had a werewolf staked outside the school all day. Some flowery perfume or some shit. I wished there was something I could do to make him feel better about leaving me alone. joy. for the third time. then it's you."Quil seems to think you do. Embry glanced over at my stunned expression. "Where is Quil?" I asked impatiently. "At the jewellery store." "And your point is?" "Just sayin'. I mean it smells like girl. I wasn't even that surprised. I think your boyfriend's gone nuts!" he said triumphantly. but I couldn't think of anything." Embry replied. you drove him nuts." he announced. "That's what he told me. He grinned. "It's smelly." Embry shrugged. I'd have to put up with Embry giving me a lift home.345 - ." he shrugged again. "This car smells." "Shut up. and opened the passenger door of my car for me. I was a little worried about him. "I didn't notice any smell until you got into the car. Oh. What the hell was Quil doing at a jewellery store? I had a sudden. that's what I looked like when he said it to me. but climbed into the car. it looked like he didn't want me to be left alone for too long. "Really?" "Yep. and I couldn't imagine what he could be doing that would cause him to send Embry to pick me up instead of doing it himself." I rolled my eyes at his randomness. "See Claire.

" I breathed a sigh of relief. nerves bubbling in my stomach. and then slapping them quickly back onto the steering wheel. No way. no conviction in my voice." I said. I didn't want to believe that Quil wanted to propose to me. whatever. But I can see by your . I mean. dear." I tried to say confidently. "What else do you know?" I demanded frantically." Embry cackled. I only grew up with the guy. I opened and closed my mouth wordlessly. I was so not ready to get married. It was only a theory.346 - . "Nothing. my heart stuttering." Embry patronised." I muttered. if that helps you. "You heard him thinking of proposing to me?" "No. "I think he's gone to get you an engagement ring. Not yet. after all." Oh. It's too early to get married."D'ya wanna hear my theory?" he asked excitedly. "I doubt he's going to… to… propose. You do want to hear my theory." "Ah. "OK. "Not really." "Fine." I sighed. "I'm sure you're right. "I swear. Because you know him better than I do." he said. rapping his fingers on the steering wheel. and share his head and have access to every single one of his thoughts. go on. "But I did hear him thinking of going to the jewellery store with a wad of cash. God. I'm only eighteen. "That's crazy. "Why else would he go to a jewellery store? To buy a watch?" "Maybe. raising his hands in surrender. shaking his head. and my head snapped up to look at him. sure. I'm sure there's another explanation. What would I know?" I stared at him. It's really good. "I don't think so." Embry said slyly.

I was suddenly so afraid that Quil would be in my driveway with loads of flowers and half a dozen doves and one of those Mexican bands that had moustaches and wore sombreros. Quil probably didn't even go to the jewellery store. I was quiet as Embry drove to my house. . I would throw a fit.face that you think I'm right. I knew eventually that I would marry Quil. if he asked. ignoring his random statements and stories. I was just going to ignore this and hope there was a different explanation. "I told ya it was a good theory." he said in my ear. Embry." "You so totally do. by way of greeting. like he always used to do. Otherwise. This was just Embry being stupid." he said smugly." "Shut up. waiting for me to come home from school. I'd just have to tell him no. "I missed you today. then. Embry arrived at my house and pulled into the driveway. I bet this was Embry winding me up. I mean. playing banjos and guitars. I just wasn't ready." I snorted. because I never wanted to be with anyone else. the fiancé to be…" "Shut up. wrapping me up in his arms straight away. for God's sake.347 - . Embry. I would only believe Embry's dumbass theory if Quil got down on one knee in front of me. "Ooh. but I didn't want to get married now. never mind them. somebody is being awfully touchy…" I grit my teeth and aimed to ignore him." I snapped. "I so totally do not think you're right. Oh. My parents would throw a fit. because I did want to marry him. Just… shut up. "There he is. I wasn't prepared to be proposed to. He had made me paranoid. He wasn't going to ask." I snapped again. Quil smiled at me when I climbed out of the car and approached me. and I was relieved to see Quil leaning against his jeep. Claire.

dressed in army pants. "I don't believe we've met . Embry grinned. and he ran straight into the house. before I suffocate myself.348 - . anyway." she called. She was quite pretty for a ten year old. to Embry's left nipple." she eventually said. Can I drive your jeep home." he said huffily. Jack was in hyper mode. I have to get the PlayStation fixed anyway. with a baseball cap on her head. Alex right behind him. She parked the car and Jack and Alex jumped out of the backseat. She was so embarrassing sometimes." Quil sighed. who caught them deftly. clichéd happy ending someday. That was probably it. and see her as a girl. to think that my brother might get a nice. but stopped dead when she spotted Embry. One day she'd start wearing skirts."So did I." "Well. I turned my face to the side in time to see Embry roll his eyes. "Hi. Master of the Universe?" "Try not to crash it. Company. I doubted they'd stay just friends as teenagers. "Fine. "Now. "I picked Claire up. and pulled back so I could kiss him. as he usually was when he had friends around. I was centimetres away when Embry cleared his throat loudly." I said. It was kind of nice. wondering what was so fascinating. I glanced over at him too. you know. hollering about something. "AHEM. I really hoped he would. blaring the new Britney song. My mother suddenly arrived home. grinning. He was grinning bemusedly at her. "Hello. tightening his arms around me. standing right here. and started to say something else. digging his keys out of his pocket and throwing them at Embry. seemingly mesmerised. be a little grateful. putting his hands on his hips. go away then. She flushed a little and looked him up and down. is there anything else you want me to do?" "Go away?" Quil suggested. But I'll try to try." he said. I smiled a little. and then Jack would suddenly wake up and look past the whole best friends thing. "I can't promise I'll try. wearing his usual cut-off jeans and no shirt. your Highness. quoting Bart Simpson." Quil smirked. My mother got out of the car and greeted Quil and I.

trying to muffle the noise. now that the PlayStation is broken." she said. "What was that about? Why'd he mix up your surname?" I laughed nervously. waving." "Embry. casting my mind around for something else to tell him. throwing me a glare." he announced." He winked and sniggered at my death stare. "Just what every boyfriend wants to hear.349 - . "I was just teasing. and jumped into the car." she added.before. in case he just winked and said "you caught me" and the Mexican band came running out anyway. I'm Hannah. and her eyes snapped upwards onto his. "See you later. I'm off to get the PlayStation fixed. I forced myself to recover quickly. and swaggered off towards Quil's jeep. "I'm just thinking about… Embry." "No. Or in case he really had bought a watch at the jewellery store and I ended up looking like an idiot desperate to get married. Embry had his chest puffed out and a smirk on his face. scrutinising my expression. Claire. Miss Young. Claire. I mean. I mean…" I said hastily. Miss Ateara . Although. and buried my face in Quil's chest. Quilly. and then Quil eyed me suspiciously. "Er… like. "My face is up here. "Right. that's all I was thinking…" Quil smiled at me.oops." He grinned suddenly. which I so wasn't. I couldn't stop laughing though. "Er…" I said. Farewell. why you would bother . "Shut up. Gah. by the way. was he? "What are you thinking?" he asked me. still bright red. Claire's mother. and I looked up in time to see my mother stumble into the house." Mom blushed furiously. There was no way I was going to tell him of my suspicions. realising that we were all alone and all he would have to do would be to click his fingers and have a Mexican band appear from around the side of the house. We waved him off. he's going to be bugging everyone a lot more. "Well. for no apparent reason at all. He wasn't really going to ask me to marry him." he introduced himself. I was nervous again. "I have absolutely no idea. cursing my idiocy." Quil frowned. now trying to think of something else.

WILL YOU?" I blushed. all I'm worried about is. I knew he loved me and he knew I loved him and we had each other and that's all that was important. We didn't need rings or a marriage certificate to prove any of that. Claire. rolling my eyes at Quil. I was definitely lost for words as he softly brushed his lips against mine. THEY AREN'T BLIND. "Tough. "She gives out to me. embarrassed." I admitted. "CLAIRE!" My mother's sudden shout reverberated throughout the driveway. "I have a surprise. STOP MAKING OUT IN THE DRIVEWAY. looking around wildly for the Mexican band. He laughed again. trying to tell myself that it didn't matter if he proposed or not. "But in fairness.350 - . Have one guess." I muttered. "Must be. YOU KNOW. feeling like a complete ass. but not to you." He placed another very short kiss on my lips and pulled away before my mother could start shouting again. who grinned. his scorching arms enveloping me tightly and crushing me against him.thinking too much about Embry is beyond me. "Shut up now. grinning." . that if it's true what she says about the neighbours not being blind. I kissed him back eagerly." I said breathlessly. grinning. does she think the neighbours can't hear her yelling?" He chuckled and leaned forward to whisper in my ear. humour rich in his voice. and we jumped apart. "I don't want to guess." he said. "Guess what?" "What?" I said. "WE HAVE NEIGHBOURS. you have to guess. "… and then seeing me climb through your bedroom window…" he added. leaning closer to me." "I wasn't…" I tried to protest feebly." he protested. "They must be traumatised. "Well." he said. dragging his lips along my jaw line. "No. imagine what they must have thought when they witnessed you and I in the car last night…" I shivered as I felt his lips touch my ear.

I was actually a little excited. Sitting here in my living room." he announced. "I got us another horror movie. "What the hell is your problem?" I demanded. and what was so amusing about it." he sniggered. I started formulating theories of my own. . I just loved this. what are we standing out here for?" I said. wondering what the hell he could be up to. "Well. I decided to just ignore him. The twentieth time I caught him grinning at me. and there was nothing else I felt like doing. watching a horror movie with Quil… this was what mattered to me the most. and Quil joined me a second later and put his arm around me. though. But it didn't last. but I just ended up driving myself crazy. I didn't want to guess at this in case I was totally wrong." I said. and fell so easily back into our old routine of movie watching. I cleared the couch of Jack's plastic army men before settling myself on it. I snuggled up to his side and sighed contentedly. The movie was awesome. All this grinning was beginning to creep me out." I said." I waited. "OK. and I was dying to know what he was planning. but I was constantly distracted by Quil acting weird again. I hadn't seen a good horror film in what felt like forever. I decided enough was enough. and I could forget about all the other shit. I had wanted to see that movie for ages. refusing to even think of Embry's one. finally pushed over the edge. Yesterday seemed like a lifetime ago.351 - . It wasn't going to bother me right now. now." Quil grinned. "Yes way. forgetting all about the Mexican band for a while. and was rapidly entering my personal top ten. smiling at the DVD cover in front of my face. he put the DVD on. and hoped that eventually he would come out with it. We went into the house. "No way. and just ended up totally mortified. We always had this. "OK. and I nearly collapsed with relief. "I'll tell you."Quil…" I begged. 'cos you're really bad at guessing anyway. The Mexican band could be inside the house. grinning back at him. and tugged on his hand. that's it. trying not to fidget. and grinning at me for no reason whatsoever. right from the start.

me in a . no. "What?" I said slowly. But since you already know I'm up to something and that you won't rest until you find out what it is. I also had fun imagining your reaction too. he got down on one knee. He smiled at me for a moment. I wasn't sure I actually wanted to hear what he was going to say.what the hell are you doing?" I exploded." "You thought incredibly wrong. I've been trying to pluck up my courage to ask you this all day. and I warily accepted it. "You've been grinning at me like a freak all day. and stood up suddenly.352 - . He offered me his hand. But then again. right there! Out with it. Ask me what? Ask me what? I was suddenly extremely sure I didn't want to hear what he was about to ask me. "Aha! You see? That's an evil grin. suspiciously." "Leering. There's nothing up with me. and wait for the exact right moment. "Well. To my absolute horror. half dying with nerves. I was afraid of running into a Mexican band trying to burst their way into the door… He grinned once again at my apprehensive expression. vivid vision exploded in my mind. What's up with you?" "I have not been grinning like a freak. rolling his eyes. panicking completely. As if I wouldn't notice you leering at me all day. A sudden. He pulled me to my feet." My heart was pounding and my breathing was steadily getting shallower. trying to dispel the urge to run out of it."What?" he asked. I waited impatiently for him to explain himself." "Then how come I don't believe you for a second? You're plotting something. still grinning. I was so not prepared for this. Now that I had confronted him. "And there I thought I was being subtle. What are you planning?" Quil sighed. "Oh. Quil . and I pointed triumphantly at his face." he scoffed. shaking his head. which might explain all the grinning. I didn't buy it. I may as well just ask you now. his face the picture of innocence. My eyes darted to the door." He grinned again at my words. Oh God.

and I realised that all I want more than anything in the world is to be with you. "Claire. doves flying. I think I know everything about you. and then burst out laughing. but then you speak and I'm totally blown away. Will you do me an enormous honour…" I stared at him in shock. "Quil. H. Christ.353 - . I mean. "What?" he chortled. I just stared at him through my fingers. I never know whether I'm going to get the bitchy Claire or the bitingly sarcastic Claire or the incredibly funny and witty Claire. I think that's what I love most about you. and Embry walking around shirtless with said cake all around his mouth… Jesus. what the hell was he doing? Where were the doves and the flowers and the Mexican band? Why was he holding out a little velvet box to me…? Quil was just grinning even wider at my horror-struck expression.gigantic white dress with a veil and Quil in a black suit with a red rose on the lapel. "You never cease to surprise me. and not miss a second of everything you . Claire. there's no Mexican band!" I very nearly shouted. and I can't freaking wait to find out. Rachel in a bubblegum pink bridesmaid dress and my mother in a horrible frilly yellow creation. And then he opened his mouth to speak. the chocolate brown eyes melting and burning and intense and beautiful." he said loudly. a MEXICAN BAND. no. If this wasn't a mental breakdown. no. every single day. And I have been thinking. still laughing. and I totally lost my head. distraught. He looked into my eyes for a second. dramatically. limousines with tin cans trailing off the back bumpers. then I didn't know what it was… Quil shook his head. a carriage with horses like something out of Cinderella. "I want to be with you all the time. a huge white and pink cake with a large chunk missing from it. and I think I can predict your reactions and what will come out of your mouth next. no. no. flowers everywhere. my hands flying up to my face. He stared at me like I was insane. no. I think I know you. No. every moment. no… Oh my God.

That's all I want. more than anything I've ever wanted. and I really want. I thought about it. unable to think of anything else to say. So I must have misheard. It clicked in my head. He was so gorgeous. I blamed Embry." he chuckled. Come on. I still love you. I'm sorry if I've totally freaked you out. and a giddy happiness. He wasn't proposing to me. But it is your choice. He must have thought I had gone mental. If I didn't love him so much. and I hadn't been prepared for a speech like that. I stared at it. "What?" I asked eventually. For the rest of my life. He put the fear of God and Mexican bands into me. what I thought wouldn't happen for at least a few years. yet I hadn't heard him say them. I'll throw out Embry and Paul. and everything you say. and it'll be just you and me. I couldn't believe it. now hysterics. "Move in with me. at some point. are you moving in with me or not?" I just gazed at him. my thoughts blurred and my vision obscured with tears. "but all I want is to keep you safe and to see you every day and if you move in with me. And even though you just wrecked what I have been practising all day in my mind. I would have killed him. for crying out loud. .354 - . which contained a shiny silver key. No doubt he got down on one knee because he thought my reaction would be funny. Forever. Maybe I should have prepared myself for something. that he hadn't asked me to marry him. Claire. then I get all that and so much more. My brain wouldn't work. that I burst into hysterical laughter. He laughed. Maybe then I wouldn't have screeched my head off like an idiot. which is what I'm giving you. "I know you heard me. First screaming about Mexican bands. He was asking me to move in with him." I continued to stare at him." Quil repeated. "What?" I said again. my heart threatening to burst out of my chest. I was suddenly so overwhelmed with both relief. for you to move in with me. his eyes quietly hopeful. So. And I could live with him. either. The words 'will you marry me' were still resounding around in my head. It was what I had been wanting for ages. He opened the velvet box. my hands still clutching my face. Things weren't making much sense to me right now.

" he complained. and handed me the little box that I had temporarily forgotten about. "No. but you were totally just about to have a heart attack. and we both laughed. trying to think straight. He grinned at me again. and I know that. "Would that really be such a bad thing?" Quil grinned. Quil crushed me against his chest and almost lifted me off the floor. "You'd better not be laughing at me. "When can I move in?" "Whenever you like. allowing that." I said." I gave out. "But…" "Claire." He lifted his head to look into my eyes." I giggled.355 - . I will marry you. still laughing. you big doofus. I just thought it would be funny to get down on one knee." he continued. It's too early for getting married. excitement building in the pit of my stomach. because then that way we can't possibly get it wrong. because I'm being extremely serious. "I'm going to take this step by step. "We'll get married one day. and I squealed when we both fell back onto the couch. with the key inside. don't you worry about that." he said." I nodded. nuzzling my neck. and I rolled my eyes." . "Of course I'll move in with you. "This is yours. "and do it right. "I thought you were going to ask me to marry you. "Claire. nothing but drama will work. He was being all intense. shrugging and laughing. he just totally stunned me. shaking my head in relief.Quil half frowned at me and staggered to his feet. and even though I loved it when he got like that. when it comes to you." I shrugged." he said. totally dazed. and it was hilarious. I wrapped my arms around him. "Did you have to be so dramatic about asking me to move in with you?" I demanded when I calmed down. unable to stop beaming at him. for both of us. I stared at it.

but she said she saw it coming and supposed she wasn't surprised. waving my hand dismissively. Trust my mother to have a one track mind. and she grumbled for a while." he smirked. "Nah. "Depending on what it is. He rolled his eyes." I said. and she said it's OK as long as we don't make her a grandparent before we're married. surely. You're starting to think like him. "I asked her this morning. I laughed embarrassedly. "You're not hanging out with Embry anymore. sitting up eagerly. I fixed it. sniggering." "But won't you miss all that guy stuff? Like being able to talk about cars and beer and penises and girls and… whatever else guys talk about. to be honest. and he grinned again. Claire." Quil finished my sentence for me. I had a sudden mad urge to run upstairs and pack my stuff. She'd never allow this. my heart sinking. "What was the Mexican band thing about?" Oh God. not sure that I liked the grin he was wearing. then. his eyes sparkling. imitating my dismissive hand wave. It really could happen. They can go and find someone else to annoy constantly. waiting for you to grow up. Quil stared at me incredulously." I rolled my eyes. I was actually going to move in with Quil. But now." I said. not for another few years. I gazed at him.356 - ." Quil said. He'd laugh at me and tease me and embarrass me forever if I told . trying not to laugh. "Where are Embry and Paul going to live?" I wondered aloud. smiling up at my beautiful roommate-to-be. "Says it's OK. I had more than my fair share of it."But my mother…" It occurred to me. So this was really going to happen. "Will you please explain something to me?" Quil asked. and he messed up my hair. I'd really like to talk about celebrities and makeup and breasts and boys… and whatever else girls talk about. I won't miss the guy stuff too much. Permanently. sighing loudly. "I don't give a toss. no.

I resumed watching the movie. "Claire. then. "Embry said you went to the jewellery store with a wad of cash and then he said you were going to propose to me. I couldn't wait to move in with Quil. "Alright." I blurted hurriedly. and I don't know…" I trailed off. deciding to just blurt it all out. We could have this. "What did Embry do?" Quil sighed. OK. I really didn't want to be humiliated. Sharon went into labour this morning and Ryan got back in time to see her have a baby girl. and I eyed her curiously. "Oh my God." I said." He put his arm around me and crushed me against his chest." Quil sniggered. his body temperature heating my skin up deliciously. End of story. but I knew Quil was going to drag the truth out of me somehow. and I smiled to myself. "Getting the key cut… why?" "Because Embry-" I stopped myself. "Of all the ridiculous-" "Look. exasperated. trying to distract him. just shut up. "You're stupid. He looked surprised at my question. "You listened to Embry. "I am not stupid. Quil gazed at me. all the time." I protested hotly.357 - ." I snapped." Quil grinned." . "Only if you can explain what you were doing at a jewellery store today. What more could a girl want? My mother came into the room suddenly. a peculiar expression on her face. That makes you stupid. OK. "I just got off the phone with your dad." she said. "You didn't propose and everything is great and Embry is going to die later. And so much more." he said affectionately. and I freaked out slightly and all I could see in my mind's eye were flowers and doves and a Mexican band.him. bright red.

She wasn't used to it at all. or any ill feelings. Paul and Jacob exploded into my living room. Both Quil and I jumped when my mother suddenly exclaimed loudly. I just thought you'd like to know. And shirtless. hasn't she? Well." Mom added.358 - . he was just showing off. and she suddenly stuck her head around the living room door. yes. I had a little sister. "Are you serious?" Mom nodded. "Yes. shirtless. my thoughts still full of my new little sister. I don't blame her. Well. Your dad said he'd ring again later to talk to you. and Mom hurried to answer it. ignoring Embry when he held out his arms. Quil and I exchanged a glance. "What are you all doing here? I think you overheated my mother. "Nice to see you again! We're looking for Claire and Quil?" "Oh. and Embry struck a pose. at all. They all sniggered. sure. "That's so cool." . I was surprised to realise that I felt no resentment." "Yeah." The doorbell rang suddenly. jumping up and giving both Paul and Jacob hugs. in here. "Door. grinning. thanks Mom. smirking. "Sweet Jesus!" "Hi. muscled. remembering her flushed expression." I said. if he'd want to share my name with his new daughter's." was all she managed to say. her cheeks flushed pink. and left rapidly. "Claudia Claire?" I gasped incredulously. I was beyond surprised. they were all ridiculously good looking. I was incredibly touched. "Hey!" I said. I wondered idly who it could be." I added. "She seems to have taken a shine to me. Quil gave them high fives in greeting. My poor mom. Hannah!" boomed a very familiar voice. "They've named her Claudia Claire Smyth." I said." I heard my mom stutter. Embry. staring into space. When God made me. and how my dad must have forgiven me somewhat for being with Quil."Oh my God.

sitting down on the ground in front of us. "I just want you both to know that I am sorry about what happened and -" "Dude." Paul smiled at him.Quil. and Embry sat down quickly in the armchair. Embry was affronted.359 - . his eyes lighting up. Well. "But then I thought to myself… maybe it's time for something new." Paul piped up. Embry!" I hissed. "Speaking of nakedness. "So because I had nothing better to do. ." I scowled at him. when God made you three." He clapped his hands together excitedly.." He looked over at me and smiled evilly. "I just decided to tag along because I felt left out. putting his arm back around me." I blushed and hid my face in my hands. Someone's bed wasn't slept in. Embry?" he asked." Quil cut him off. "Huh. "And plus I wanted to remind Claire of what I look like with clothes on. and I raised my eyebrows sceptically. I decided to come back here and hang with you guys. and collapsed onto the couch next to me. "I just wanted to apologise for my drunkenness yesterday. Quil kicked him in the stomach in a very well placed kick. and sat back down on the couch next to Quil. while the guys laughed. "Forget about it. So I'm going to buy an Xbox 360." he said. I fixed it for the second time. jabbing a finger at the other guys. "he must have been drunk and stoned. having heart failure at the thought of my mother overhearing from the next room and getting the wrong idea. "I'm not even going to bother to correct that sentence. and he messed up my hair. Paul and Jacob all snorted at the same time. And then these freeloaders followed me. "someone didn't come home last night. "He was probably suffering from menstrual cramps when he made Claire. raising his eyebrows." "Shut up. I grinned at him. rolling his eyes. folding my arms. rolling my eyes. grinning. jerking his thumb at the other two guys. and I noticed for the first time how exhausted he looked.." he added." Embry said. "I was." Embry boomed." Jacob said. "I thought you were getting the PlayStation fixed. it's fine." Quil said.

where the guy you thought was good actually turned out to be the psycho. I've seen this. and I had decided that it was going to be as soon as Embry and Paul moved out. and I put my head on Quil's shoulder. I wasn't frustrated all the time by the things I wanted but couldn't have. I couldn't wait to move in with Quil. cutting into my thoughts. I worked really hard on that. shit. picking up the DVD case off the floor and examining it." :D I really hope you liked it. and my eyes flickered to the screen. but all I knew was that as long as I was with Quil." he wheezed. "Rewind."OK. There had been a lot of drama. Quil. eventually. "That hurt. "Oh. and things would work themselves out. but I knew I wouldn't change a single thing." he added. I believed I had grown as a person." Embry said suddenly." Quil sniggered. "Off you go now and get me a beer. no matter what. He spun around to face the TV and leaned against my legs. rewind!" "What film are ye watching?" Jacob enquired.360 - . Everything was alright with my family. I had a super amazing boyfriend. I was excited about the future. we missed the end of that. I had begun to build bridges with my dad and my sister." I complained. I didn't want absolutely anything else. "Ah. it's cool. and I liked who I was right now. Hopefully you . My mind started to wander during the extremely clichéd ending. I couldn't wait to see where we would go from there. totally content and comfortable with the people I had around me. watching everything whirring backwards as Quil rewound it with the remote. and both Paul and Jacob gave him a high five. I had everything I wanted. Everything was OK. We all fell quiet to watch the end of the movie. I wasn't angry all the time. noticing the movie credits on the screen. I had amazing friends. "Claire. I laughed to myself. And I was going to live with him. I even had a new little sister. and maybe it was me who had caused most of it. the future was going to rock.

.) Righty. So what is everyone up to. I wonder? PLEASE REVIEW. Thank you to everyone who reviewed. I can't. it's set after Claire is already moved in. but hold on to yer hats.361 - . Thank you for reading. I wonder what Quil thinks about all this? And just to tease you.. There's too many people that I would like to thank individually.thought it was the right ending. but then I'll just mention ya in the epilogue . it ain't over yet. you seriously made it worth it. I REALLY WANT TO HEAR FROM EVERYONE! THANK YOU! lurrrve x x x . Obviously if it's anon. so I'm just going to reply to every review I get for this chapter.

That one word meant everything to me. Plus I'm lazy. :D. Was she OK? Was she in a good mood? Or was she grumpy and bitchy? What was she doing? Was she talking to anyone? What was she talking about? What was she thinking about? Did she think about me? What would she say if I called her? Did she want me to call her? . ahem: it was my birthday. Anyway. LOVE YE XXX Epilogue: Mr Forever Quil's POV Claire. but for now. Viva la Quil. And because I love them. I have excuses. She was everything. I couldn't breathe without her. Pick your favourite. I'm 18 now.Epilogue: Mr Forever I SINCERLY APOLOGISE FOR THE WAIT. ENJOY! I'll ramble on more at the end. I went away. It was everything. I drove myself crazy thinking about her. It summed up the whole meaning of my existence. Just 'cause they loved it so much. Every moment I was apart from her. (11th Dec. so here it is! The epilogue.362 - . Yay!) then it was Xmas. READ ON! HOPE YOU LOIKE IT! X This story is dedicated to EIMEAR and JEN. I couldn't live without her.

I loved her with every inch of my heart. I loved the way she wrinkled her nose and frowned when she was confused. I loved that irritated face she made when someone messed up her hair. I loved the sound of her laugh. Sometimes I said it too many times when I was talking to her. I loved that blush that tinged her cheeks when she was embarrassed. My head always turned when I heard her name. I loved it when the light caught her hair just the right way. on the radio… even though it wasn't my Claire. I loved that dazed look on her face when she stared at my bare chest. I loved her smile. on the TV. my fur. I even loved her name. I loved that face she made when she was annoyed at me. and it almost turned the exact colour of my eyes. and it still wouldn't be enough to list all the things I loved about Claire. I loved the feeling of her lips against mine. existence. I loved how fast her heart began to beat when I stood too close to her. I could have all the time in the world. soul. . the way her eyes narrowed and she looked like she would love nothing more than to choke me with her two hands. I loved the sulky tone of her voice when she didn't get her way. I loved how it sounded when I said it out loud. Crazy about her. and the evil glint in her eyes when she called me names. moving with mine. I loved the way she rolled her eyes when I said something that she thought was stupid or ridiculous.363 - . my head still turned. and I loved the way her anger visibly faded when I smiled at her. My heart still jumped. the taste of her lip balm.You see? Crazy. more than was necessary.

I had decided. I would do it. Because she was mine. and all I wanted to do was be with her and kiss her and share private jokes with her and hold her hand. But then her father screwed up all my careful planning. I just hated knowing that she was with other guys. kissing other guys. At least Ryan hadn't told her that I was a wolf. I would stand in its way. to wait until she was eighteen to find everything out. And I was prepared to do it. sharing private jokes with other guys. when she was two years old. Not that jerk-off Aaron's. For my Claire. No one else's. and we were meant to be. I couldn't bear to imagine her anger. if I had arrived at the house too late to stop the phone call. I shuddered to imagine how Claire would have reacted. I was going to break it to her gently. He had even agreed with me that eighteen was a suitable age to tell her. It was an adult age. just so she could keep her place in it. every single one of them. and they didn't treat her the way she was supposed to be treated. the whole story. If there was something that would hurt her. because she was too young to have me. I would do it for her. or any of the complete morons she had ever gone out with. They weren't good enough for her. holding hands with other guys. Wait until she was ready to find out everything. her fear. For my girl. and they never lasted long anyway. and it was her. But I had to wait. I would have travelled thousands of miles just to break his neck for him. Because it was me. I had hated them all. It had been months ago now. Mine. and she'd be mature enough to handle it all. or worse.I would do absolutely anything for that girl. If I had to give up my own life so that she would live. That was what scared me the most. I had had my speech planned out in my head for . If there was something she was too afraid to do. I was prepared to leave the earth. But I let her know how much I disapproved of them. I had to let her have boyfriends when she was younger. and it was us. with a passion. piece by piece. I would die for that girl.364 - . That she'd be frightened of me. but I still couldn't believe Ryan had almost told her everything against my wishes.

The look in her eyes as I snatched the phone away from her almost stopped my heart. it wasn't to make things easier for me. disbelief in her eyes. just to see her. I lay awake at night with my hands over my face. There was no reaction. Just surprise. yet again. She'd be then forced to decide on a path that she wasn't completely sure of. Things that were meant to be always worked themselves out in the end. she was finally mine. Telling her everything was tougher than I thought it was going to be. She had needed to be completely sure. I thought she was going to need a lot more convincing when she did eventually return. anger. it wasn't to ease my conscience in any way . and I didn't know what I could do to convince her. because let's face it. I knew I couldn't rush her into any decisions. because that would be the worst thing that I could possibly do. mine to keep. and that fool nearly wrecked everything for me. but clearly. I had always prided myself on being patient. and mistakes were made. and every thought flew out of my head and I realised. it wasn't perfect. I loved her. But it didn't stop me from going crazy. because she was being difficult and awkward and bossy. no. and give her that time and space. but Claire and I made it through. or easy. She stared at me. But I was desperate for her to decide. But she had surprised me. She knew I was in love with her. and it killed me that she had to think about it. And she did.sixteen years. Of course. I let her go. confusion. I did everything for Claire. and it could end up backfiring on both of us. So I gave her time. because my mind was blank. And I wanted to do it right. I wished on a regular basis that she would just suddenly proclaim her love for me. Elation was too weak a word to describe how I felt at that second. mine to love unconditionally without any reason. and I hoped. too. I had been the epitome of patience for almost sixteen years. I thought he understood that. that after all that time. But I knew she'd come back. but then she just kissed me. but every second tortured me. and I knew she knew that. I never let her go again. She looked so unsure. . and I waited for her to jump up and run out of the door. She hadn't expected it. and that she was sick of was for Claire.365 - . mine to have. telling myself it wouldn't be a good idea to climb through her window. that maybe she had fallen in love with me. so she just needed time to think about it all.

" "It obviously was. I find them quite funny. Nothing else would be worth it without her. I realised that she was way more important to me than anything. because I think I would remember opening it. because it wasn't me. Why is the window open?" "Because you opened it. and I didn't care what the other guys made of that." "Shut up. I wasn't going to make the same mistakes again. if we're getting technical. then let me just say that technically you're wrong and I'm right. and I don't. "Quil.366 - ." "Technically you're an asshole.Ever since the day I had almost lost her. because technically why the hell would I bother opening the window. They're especially hilarious during Claire's… er… "time of the month". now. Without her. so technically that means you opened it. Or how I use up all her shampoo. and somehow it's always my fault. So it has been six months. Technically. and I bet you remember opening the window now and everything and just won't admit it. I would always choose her. but she still surprises me every day. and if that's the case then Claire and I are as healthy as freaking horses. You've frozen the entire house. and that she came before my responsibilities to the pack. when she freaks out over the TV being turned up too loud or my snoring or how I never put the toilet seat down. For example." "Technically you hate admitting you're wrong." "Yeah you did. and I want to offer my congratulations. nothing else mattered to me anymore. because if I wanted air I'd go outside. she's barely left my sight. They're mainly ridiculous arguments. I've heard that's healthy for a couple. and it nearly resulted in consequences I don't even want to think were possibilities. Our arguments are always stupid. I've been living with her for six months. and I thought I would know all her routines by now. Well." "I did not open it." . I had chosen them over her once before. We argue every day too." "Ooh-er. But you know.

Just shut up. Paul came over too. You started it. and I had suffered through those scrambled eggs Embry decided to make one day when we were fourteen. I was naïve to think that Embry would ever just go away. But I didn't really . Quil!" "Fine. Just the two of us. just shut up. which Embry usually ended up drinking. My house had become party freaking central. Claire and Leah were always yapping away to each other about girl stuff. then. All I wanted to do was be with Claire. No one opened the window. But I certainly didn't really expect the rest of them.I won't take half the blame!" "Oh. and I really liked what I had imagined. It wasn't too terrible. you opened the goddamn window. spending time alone. with a six pack of beer. You opened the window . came over every day. just so you know. And plus. I had envisioned the two of us living together. but the constant company did annoy me sometimes. which was handy."Why should I?" "Because you're annoying me." "Technically-" "Shut up!" And I just laughed and shut the stupid window and hugged her until she wasn't cold anymore. able to forget about the world and other people and just be with each other. and he usually loitered around the house making jokes. who was now sharing a house with Paul and Jacob. Jacob also joined us. and Seth was usually a laugh to have around too. Then there was Seth and Leah. who liked to "pop in" every now and then." "Stop trying to compromise. since I detested that kitchen and Claire was the worst cook I had ever encountered in my entire life. Six months ago. no one could make southern fried chicken like Paul. so technically you started it." "Well. He usually cooked the food.367 - . Gag. Embry. just to wind up Claire and drive me completely mental. since he and Claire had really seemed to hit it off.

" I snickered. and my hand reached over to hers. her hair all over the place. There was a silence. her eyes open and sleepy. It was sort of great. "Quil? Are you awake?" Her voice pulled me out of my thoughts. I had been awake for ages." she grumbled. I got to see Claire. and some of the insults she could come out with were pure gold. smiling at her. Claire had made friends with them all. "I can't help it." "What about your reflection? God knows you stare at that enough as it is. A blush began to rise in her cheeks as I continued to gaze at her without speaking. and I had gotten lost somewhere in my thoughts while I waited for her to awaken." she said. When I woke up in the mornings. and it was awesome.complain much. "You weren't snoring like a bloody chainsaw." she sighed. because I got to be with her anyway. I could stare at her all day and not get bored. because she was there when I opened my eyes.368 - . "Ever so pleasant in the mornings. I didn't have to wake up and hear Embry's voice and travel all the way to her house." . and I loved how witty she was. She was lying on her side. that's me. and intertwined our fingers. "Yeah." she agreed. and I opened my eyes. facing me. shut up. "Exceptionally. Everyone got along. rolling her eyes. ducking her head and breaking my gaze. "I knew it." I said hoarsely. "Oh. because Claire had been kept quite separate from the pack until recently. "Stop staring at me. Then usually my best friends would come around. but I couldn't bear to wake her up." "Talented. as usual. as usual. There's nothing else that I would rather stare at." I chuckled." I said. in which we just gazed at each other. "We're only awake two minutes and already you've annoyed me. and now the two most important things in my life were existing together.

That would get her back for calling me an egomaniac." I grinned. trying and failing to resist me. You'd burn water. Mature." I said exasperatedly. "Sure he does. "Kim told me he cooks her like a three course meal every day. and rolled out of the warm bed to face the blasted kitchen." "You're just jealous.369 - ." I growled.I grinned. sticking my tongue out at her." I said sarcastically. "Quil. "Fine. "Can't we just wait until Paul gets here?" "No. She mumbled something which sounded a lot like "egomaniac". and I laughed." she huffed. "I can't help that. for example." I reminded her." I snorted again." I said. "And what other boyfriends would they be?" "Jared. Aw. "Cereal it is. and she just melted in my arms. and she knew it. She made a face. "Why can't you be like other boyfriends. Ha. "Don't tell me what to do. "It's your turn to make breakfast. I couldn't stand it when she pleaded with me. "Woman make food for hungry man. "Don't call me names. I know. . snaking my arm around her and dragging her closer to me. crap. I loved that. "Yummy." I joked. don't make me…" she whinged. in a caveman voice. "No. either." It was the only thing I could master without setting something on fire. when we eventually pulled away. I kissed her." she whined." Claire scoffed." she said. I could see her trying not to laugh. as though it was very obvious. who cook fry ups and the like for their girlfriends?" I snorted." "Whatever. Marco Pierre White.

" Claire said. and I grinned and winked at her. and rolled her eyes. During the week." . She changed her mind everyday. and I knew she'd probably surprise me. She wanted to earn her own money. but she insisted. really good looking. curling one leg up underneath her and dangling the other." she said." she said. and I found myself wondering how long we could have alone before one of the freaking guys decided to join us. I sat opposite her." she grumbled. duh voice. I left the bedroom and walked down the hall. She was affronted.370 - . I grinned at her. We remained in a comfortable silence. as usual. Even when you're old and wrinkly. I didn't look half as good in that shirt. in a well. and I couldn't keep up with her. pushing a glass of juice in her direction and pouring water out of the tap for myself. I knew eventually that she would make up her mind as to what she wanted to do. This was just a typical Saturday morning for us. though not by much. and have her own independence. She had no idea how good she looked in my shirt. I told her she didn't have to. I served breakfast. "Exactly. disapprovingly. "You'll have it for life . Claire had graduated from school. it will always be there. rolling her eyes. complete with bowl and spoon and milk. and I knew I was really." "Just like you. and my head snapped up to look at her. I suppose." She was stuck for a comeback. "Why?" I demanded again. "Why?" I demanded. "Because I want one. just to be annoying. and she was now working in the shop behind my house. I was almost jealous." "Neither did I. I'm thinking of getting a tattoo. She sat down on the chair. "I never claimed to be a culinary genius. and something to do until she decided whether or not she wanted to go to will be just like a horrible. stretching my arms and letting my fingers trail along the ceiling. things were different. and I grinned widely. ugly stain that you won't be able to get rid of. She emerged from the bedroom a few minutes later."Humph. dressed in a pair of jeans and one of my shirts. And so will I. "You know. she said. She surprised me every goddamn day.

rolling my eyes. snickering and laughing. and she smiled reluctantly. Water sprayed everywhere. "What?" I gasped." she giggled." I told her." "Well. Maybe something like a rose or a butterfly…" ." she said. There was no point in arguing with her when she had her mind made up. "You're freaking ridiculous. wiping water off my chin. I haven't decided yet. I think. and shrugged. Maybe I could successfully talk her out of it when someone showed her a needle. She snorted at me. Not really. and I started choking. that's what I say." I laughed. "I still want a tattoo. "Are you going to get my name?" I asked slyly. "I don't know what I'm going to get." I said indignantly. "Oh. I recovered quickly." she snorted. grinning. I rolled my eyes again at her. what are you going to get?" I asked. "I wouldn't mind that. "I'm going to get a penis tattooed across my forehead. resigned.371 - ." she announced. "Sure." she said sarcastically. giving her an exaggerated wink.Claire made a face at the thought of getting old and wrinkly. What a boost for your ego that would be. sarcastic again. I'm going to get the word 'Quil' tattooed across every surface of my entire body. yes. I grinned at her again. and then an idea occurred to me." I teased. I hadn't. You only live once. "I'm sure you wouldn't. I took a gulp of water. shocked. "I'd be like a big 'Quil' beacon. "What does that make you?" "I didn't believe you. "And you believed me.

"Hello? Oh. "No. Mr Know All.372 - . then. still laughing. Mom. Yeah. "What was that about?" I asked. I watched her facial expressions. Claire got up and picked it up off of the counter." Claire was saying. still looking vaguely incredulous. usually at completely erratic times." she announced. waving my hand. I really hadn't a clue what was happening." she said." I rolled my eyes. "What would you get if you were getting a tattoo?" "That's easy. "Your name." I shrugged. affronted again." She rolled her eyes. that's boring. and I knew I would easily be able to hear what her mother was telling her on the end of the line. nothing. . The rest of the phone conversation wasn't that helpful. "Denise is pregnant. I didn't. No. She paused. and we just dissolved into laughter. Her mother had taken to ringing the house everyday. I did try to give her whatever privacy I could. playing with her spoon. "Everyone has stuff like roses and butterflies." "OK. "Good luck with that. The phone started ringing. and I raised my eyebrows when she finally got off the phone." I cut her off. Good luck with your penis." There was a moment of silence. I'd get Embry's name. but I didn't listen out for it. fine. and she made a face at me. I frowned. "You're not serious?" Claire gasped incredulously." "Thank you. We really were ridiculous sometimes. and tried to discern for myself what was going on. suddenly. "Really?" "No. hey." She smiled."Oh." "Thanks. fine.

"I'm too young to be an aunt. "Or it could be the immaculate conception." "What is it with you and the need for proof?" "I don't know." I assured her. no. and kissed the top of her head. but there you go. I have yet to see proof." she replied." I pointed out. somewhere between a laugh and a snort. "God." I grinned." I stood up and wrapped my arms around her. and she joined in reluctantly. and she stiffened at my tone of voice. "I'm just not convinced. resting her head on my shoulder. "You're going to be an aunt. Jack is too young to be an uncle." I told her. surely." "So. "Yeah. "Why?" I asked slyly. and her eyes widened. like."Wow. still chuckling. exhaling loudly." I started laughing. "Is it just me or is everyone popping out babies?" Claire added. "Yeah." "Poor Ned if he exists." she said." "Ever?" I asked." she giggled. Ever. "No babies. "Two words. "Poor Ned." she said. Claire snorted. "You're totally ridiculous.373 - . "It's just you. who knows. really. She didn't want kids? But… I'd been . Artificial insemination. Quil. I guess this means that Ned the Imaginary Husband mightn't be so imaginary after all. pulling back to stare at her. I guess." She shrugged." "Well. "Are you liking the idea of popping out some babies?" She made a choking sound." I said. throwing her arms in the air.

and quite funny. "I… forget it-" she began. and she shivered. Her arms wound around my neck and she pressed herself closer to me. I didn't want to freak her out. "And anyway. she more or less attacked me. She was the only one who could make me stumble over my own feet. . My hands crept up her back and tangled in the ends of her hair. I held back a laugh when she used all her strength to push me backwards. I smiled against her mouth. not ever. simply because I had been thinking about this for a lot longer than she had. Every time I stood too close to her. and I stumbled over my own feet and fell back against the counter. Yet whenever I kissed her. Even when we were sitting together on the couch." she retracted. I had a fair idea of what she was trying to tell me. she was always fidgety. find out." I asked. eyeing the expression on my face.picturing her as the mother of my kids for a while now… "Well. Stupid Quil. but I kissed her. Ever since she'd moved in. er. she got all jumpy and made some excuse to move away from me. and hugged her again. watching a horror film. I'd noticed things. her face was bright red. "Just not now. "just because we're not going to have kids right now doesn't mean that… eh… we can't. eh.374 - . and then everything flew out of my head. She was eighteen. a slightly hesitant tone to her voice. which made me curious. a grin spreading across my face. at the little things I did that affected her." I said." she said. and she looked like she wanted to dart immediately from the room. which was ridiculous. It was like I made her nervous. try…" "Are you trying to tell me something. I can't stand the idea of kids now. before her hands gripped my shoulders and she kissed me back. and shut her up. She was frozen for a half a second. and seemed hyperaware of me. I could hardly expect her to be thinking of having kids now. er. what it's like to. "OK. but that doesn't mean things won't change…" I was reassured somewhat. I pulled away once again to look at her.

and Claire exhaled loudly. and bounded from the room. "What?" I snapped." he answered. "Ooh. sunbathing by stereos. "WHERE ARE YE?" "In here!" I called.375 - . it was the hottest day of the year by far. Claire moved away from me a little. Embry strolled into the room."BITCHES!" I pulled away. we're all going to the beach. "I'll get my bikini. but I put my arm around her waist to stop her from going very far. Embry?" Claire sighed. "HELLO!" he boomed. "You guys. It's as hot as Megan Fox out there. It was like the entire population was at La Push First Beach. OTHERWISE!" The sun beat down on us. a bit too aggressively. groaning in exasperation. too. anyway. playing volleyball. A moment later. for Forks. grinning. "Come on. I was going to kill Embry. So let's go!" he said enthusiastically. unable to keep the annoyance from my voice. I was sprawled out ." "The beach?" she asked. but it hadn't really felt like it until now. I smiled at Claire. what's with you?" Embry said." Her bikini? "DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY SUNSCREEN? I'LL FRY LIKE A TOMATO. "Sure. "Did I interrupt something? Sorry…" "What do you want. putting his hands on his hips and raising his eyebrows. It was the middle of the summer." she shrugged. who was flushed and dazed and murderous. "Beach?" I inquired. "Yep. paddling and splashing each other in the sea. I looked down at Claire.

I did nothing wrong. and my eyes flew open. "Can't believe you let Embry use up all the sunscreen… if my skin starts peeling off tomorrow I'm coming after him." Embry retorted. running his fingers through his soaking wet hair and shaking his head again. laying back down on her towel." I sniggered. this was all rather amusing to me. spitfire. closing my eyes. you probably stole some yourself. He and Paul and Jacob had been having a water fight in the sea . believe me. and I was trying not to make it obvious that I was checking her out." she huffed.much to the delight of some girls sitting around watching. well. enjoying the pleasant warmth. and she had stripped down to a bikini top and the sand next to Claire. "Yes. I was suddenly sprayed with what felt like half the ocean." "OK. "Embry. Of course. Ug. what the-" "My bad!" he said loudly. Claire shrieked." I said lazily. brushing the flecks of water off her skin. grinning. "Cool your head. "Embry." She glared at me over the top of her sunglasses." I laughed. I swear to God…" "Take it up with Embry. something will be bothering you. if I find out you've been using my sunscreen. "It's just water. She was something else. I rolled my eyes as I was consequently sprayed with more water." Claire grumbled a load of profanities under her breath. "I didn't let him do anything . The heat was making her irritable. "Knowing you. How come you don't have a giant mole for a head yet?" "The sun doesn't bother me that much. "Yeah. listening to Claire and her you want a dent in your face?" Claire yelled. and I was her favourite person to torment with complaints. which made me grin. She wasn't used to hot weather. I swear . .376 - . Consider yourself threatened. "Was that your way of threatening me?" I asked.

Jacob sat down next to Claire.377 - . and lay back down. and Embry sat up eagerly." Claire sat up and glared at him in outrage. Gah." Embry said. That made me grin. it was very cool. grinning and waggling my eyebrows at her. Paul and Jacob were running out of the sea. She was trying to torment me. I'd never seen her in one before. holding up his hands in surrender. or I'll send you there myself. but the only female I ever cared about attention from was Claire. for God's sake!" "Sorry. and we all laughed as Paul began running in exaggerated slow motion. Paul and Jacob greeted us as they approached." "I have an expression for you. . water cascading off of them. love. the girls watching practically falling over themselves in excitement." she stated. Paul! Do your David Hasselhoff impression!" Even Claire sat up to watch. "It's just an expression. "Go to hell. She just glared murderously at us. I had to admit. by wearing that blasted bikini top. there was never usually any cause for bikinis in Forks. We were used to female attention." "I don't that's an expression. "It's roasting today. "I am not in the mood. wearing only soaking wet cut-offs." "She's been threatening everyone today. and she sighed as she found herself sprayed with drops of water again."Phew!" Embry exclaimed. I'm sweating like a paedophile in a crèche. "Hey. throwing himself down in the sand next to me. Until today. folding her arms across her chest. "Embry! That is the nastiest thing I have ever heard in my life! Don't say shit like that. grinning and winking." Claire sniffed." Embry patronised." I interjected. It made my day to catch her staring bug-eyed at me whenever I took my shirt off. "That sounded to me like a threat. I sat up and looked out at the waves. Ung. I had to look away.

"I'm moving out. shaking his head. grinning at her. "Oh. brushing her hair off her shoulders." "All I seem to remember is you spending the whole night talking about willies. smiling at her. The day passed in pretty much the same way. and Claire continued to blush as Embry launched into an exaggerated version of the story. Claire?" he commented. "You know. I started laughing."Hot today. "You're getting a penis tattoo on your forehead?" Embry half-shouted. "Shut up. They never bothered me. glaring at him through her fingers. I was right to worry about what you two talk about when you're alone. Claire hid her face in her hands. The five of us just enjoyed the heat. . and I just rolled my eyes. Jacob raised his eyebrows at me amusedly. "Shut your face." Claire snapped. and reliving memories.378 - . "Remember the time Claire got drunk…" Embry boomed at one point." Claire said. talking about weekend plans and the people we knew. you utter asshole. so is that why you want a penis tattoo on your forehead?" I asked innocently. I always thought they were quite funny. "I did not. glaring at me. "You think?" she said moodily. huh. grinning hugely. "You're getting a penis tattoo?" Jacob asked." Embry sniggered." Embry said. It was a rare occasion when they ever bothered anybody." We all laughed. "You're getting a tattoo?" Paul asked. All heads turned to stare at her interestingly. We were used to Claire and her sarcasm and her moods by now.

building sandcastles and exploring the caves. I was going to propose here. I looked over at my beautiful girl. I could not wait to see her face. too. either. and as years went on. See how amazing I am? I have it all thought out. because she was on good terms with her sister and father and his family now. thinking of what could happen in the future. It was perfect. Her twenty-first was going to be unforgettable. We spent most of our time here when she was little. keeping her happy. every second of it. mostly. Until then. Hot damn.379 - . . because any time after that would just be stupid. I was just planning on living. I did have my proposal already planned out. But I wouldn't be without him. and I was dedicated to keeping her safe. Yes. even Embry. And a Mariachi band.I was quiet. I was one lucky guy. I planned on proposing on her twenty-first birthday. I'd make sure of that. And I'd ask her family. to no doubt wreck the moment. really good looking. keeping her all to myself. And as for the marriage and kids… that could all come later. I was amazing like that. and she smiled at me. lucky guy. And I was going to have everyone she knew there. One really. And there would be flowers and doves. Claire was my entire life. on the beach. I planned on spending it with Claire. this was our favourite haunt for walking and just hanging out together. and it would be a way of bringing everyone together.

I just love Emmett to pieces. Well.. So that should be fun. Too right. of course it was no book. I mean. I've already started writing it. but did anyone really expect that? I was afraid they were gonna make a balls of Twilight. I saw the film. finally. thank you for the THOUSAND REVIEWS. So I brainstormed. off you go and write me a big long review.. consider yourself thanked now! They were seriously amazing and funny and random and I'm a little sad that I won't hear from a lot of you again . I was bugged by various people to write a sequel.same everyone. Totally. Rob Pattinson is hot.. Maybe I'm biased. same Quil and Claire and Paul and Jacob . But Emmett. I'm so buying that movie when it comes out on DVD. made that film for me. EMBRY STYLE. Then it hit me. You know you want to. He's just scrumptious. thank you so much for reading my story.. LOTS OF LOVE! x x x Lea :D x x x . which I so did not expect to do as well as it has. It'll just be Embry's imprinting story. THAT WAS UNREAL! To all my fabulous reviewers. Oh. A SPIN OFF. it rocked. but for what it was.. Ug. or Kellan. well. anyway. It'll be the same Embry from this. Thank you again for reading the randomness that comes out of my head. if you didn't find yourself thanked. Nothing seemed to work. I loved it.. so that's all. each and every one of you has made it so worth it. and I decided not to force out a story.380 - . He's just my type. Now. actually.but just be happy in the knowledge that I think you all rock.. I hope I'll hear from most of you again when I eventually get it posted! OK.XD First off: THANK YOU SO FREAKING MUCH FOR THE REVIEWS! I tried to thank everyone. SEQUEL NEWS! Right. Get ready for.. HOLY HELL.