Story Title: Breathe Again by ysar
Chapter: 17. Mischief
Genre: Twilight – Romance / Hurt/Comfort
Warnings: Strong Language, Violence,
Status: Work In Progress
Summary: “If Alice hadn’t seen Bella cliff-dive, what would have happened? Would Bella have given in to her feelings for Jacob? Was she even capable of moving on? Victoria’s hunting, Edward’s coming back—and that’s just the beginning!”
Embry’s gaze wandered over the very curious and now larger group of students who were making no effort not to stare. It wasn’t every day that a giant muscle-bound boy riding motorcycle showed up at Forks High School. Not surprisingly, he looked like he was loving the attention. As soon as his eyes met mine, he grinned broadly and started toward me. I snuck a quick glance around to see if anyone else had noticed. Of course, they all had.
Jessica and Lauren wore their usual glares. Mike looked shocked and a little scared as his eyes darted from the approaching Quileute boy to me. Eric looked absolutely fascinated, and Katie appeared to be trying to hide herself behind him, but she was noticeably peeking over his shoulder.
“So this is where you go to school…” Embry said, stopping in front of me and casually taking in the scenery.
“Um…yeah,” I said. What was he doing here?
He stepped right up to our table and leaned against the end, arms folded, ankles crossed, as comfortably as if he belonged there.
“Ah…Embry? What are you doing here?” I finally asked.
“You’re welcome to join us,” Jessica gushed, giving him her biggest smile.
He glanced in her general direction then slid into the empty seat next to me. “Are you coming to the rez after school?” he asked.
“N-no. I have to work.” This was just weird. Why was Embry at my school? Why wasn’t he at the Tribal School? Why did he even care what I did after school? And what was he doing with Jacob’s bike?
“When do you get off?” he asked, as if a conversation about my afternoon plans was the most normal thing in the world.
“Nine. Why?” I had to ask.
“We need some camping stuff,” he said.
“For what?” Werewolves didn’t go camping—that I knew of.
“You don’t think we just sleep on the ground like animals, do you?”
“Well, no,” I said. Actually, I’d kind of assumed they did.
“So we can come by around eight thirty or so?”
“Me and Jake. And maybe Paul. And Leah.”
Was it my imagination, or did he look at Lauren when he mentioned Jacob? Before I could ask if he was going to rattle off the names of the entire tribe, we were interrupted.
“Who’s your friend, Bella?” asked Mike. He had stepped up behind me and placed his hands on my shoulders like he owned me. I tried to shrug him off, but he wouldn’t budge. I opened my mouth to rebuke him, but hesitated when I saw the mischievous glint in Embry’s eye as he studied Mike.
“I’m Embry,” he said. “You must be Newton.”
“Mike,” he replied, stepping closer to me and extending a hand over my shoulder to Embry.
I watched as Mike’s pale hand was engulfed in the strong grip of the much larger, much more muscular one. Embry maintained a deceptively innocent expression, but I could see the muscles in his hand and forearm flex, and the tightened grip of Mike’s remaining hand on my shoulder, coupled with his audible gasp told me he got the message. As soon as Embry released his hand, Mike’s grip on me relaxed. I took advantage of the moment, slipping my shoulder away from him. Unfortunately, it was just in time for Embry to sling his heavy arm around me.
I tried shrugging his arm off, too, but he just tightened his hold, pulling me closer to him. What the hell is he doing? If anyone knew about Jacob and me, it was Embry. So why did I feel like he was staking a claim?
He grinned at me and turned his attention to the rest of the table, stopping to focus on Jessica. “I don’t believe we’ve met,” he said, sounding every bit like one of those cocky, smooth-talking jerks in a movie.
“I’m Jessica,” she giggled, falling for it.
Lauren looked like she was ready to spit fire. Not being one to be ignored, she flipped her hair, looked down her nose at Jessica, and turned to give Embry what I guess was supposed to be a flirtatious look. “And I’m Lauren,” she said, extending her hand out to him.
If he kisses her hand, I’m going to vomit. Fortunately, he didn’t, but he did hold on to her hand just a little too long, long enough for Jessica’s stupid grin to fade a little as she looked back and forth between them. God, he’s laying it on thick. He finally released her hand and turned back to Jessica, who started batting her eyelashes so furiously she looked like she might be having a seizure.
“We should all do something sometime,” he said, before turning to me. “Bells, you don’t mind if they join us sometime, do you? I could bring a couple of the guys along.”
Now it was my turn to spit fire. Why was he making it look like he and I were together? And where did he get off calling me ‘Bells?’
“Embry, I don’t—” I started, but before I could get another word out, he was leaning in way too close, and in my panic, my voice failed me. If he hadn’t had an arm around me, I would have fallen backward off the seat in my effort to get away from him. He only looked amused and kissed me on the forehead then turned and winked at Jessica.
Great. Not only did they all think I was dating Embry, but he looked like a low-life cheater. In a flash, he was walking away.
“Eight thirty, Bells!” he called back over his shoulder.
I was afraid to even look around our little lunch group, but did anyway. I instantly regretted it. Mike looked like someone had punched him in the stomach. Lauren and Jessica were wearing malicious smiles. Angela looked shocked and a bit disappointed, and Ben just looked completely lost. Eric and Katie were looking on with curious eyes, and even Tyler had walked up to take in the show, standing back with his arms crossed as if he was an angry parent waiting for me to explain myself. I felt just like I was about to be put on trial.
“Who was that?”
“Is he your boyfriend?”
“He knows Jake!”
“How old is he?”
“Do you think he likes me?”
I didn’t even know where to begin, and I was too deep in my own confusion to even think about answering their questions. My boyfriend’s best friend had just showed up at my school, flirted with me and my friends, kissed me, and then left me to deal with the fallout.
“I have to go,” I mumbled. I grabbed up my books, leaving my half-eaten lunch behind, and walked away.
I fought with my nerves as I changed into my swimsuit. Jessica was right. The school really had selected the least flattering suits they could find. To pile on the injury, they’d even offered us bright white swim caps. And now I was going to drown, my final moments spent dressed in bright orange spandex.
“This isn’t so bad,” Lauren was saying.
The girl she was talking to—Ashley, I think—groaned and pulled at her suit. “At least I have a tan,” she said. “This color looks horrid on everyone else. They’re all just so pale.”
Oh, goody. Lauren had been cloned.
“And flat,” said Lauren, darting an arrogant look my way. “At least I fill out my suit.”
They walked out of the locker room, still laughing to themselves. I followed behind, keeping my arms crossed over my embarrassingly small chest, and prepared myself for a slow, chlorine-scented death.
I managed to survive P.E., but only because Mike had taken pity on me and pulled me out of the water just as my lungs were starting to collapse. He mercifully lied to our instructor, insisting that I’d already done the required number of laps, and if he hadn’t creeped me out so much, I probably would have hugged him. As it was, I gave him a grateful smile and hurried into the locker room to change.
I spent the rest of my classes wishing my hair would hurry up and dry and dreading having to go into work.
“So did you have a nice spring break?” Mrs. Newton asked me.
“Yeah, it was okay,” I said. Then, realizing what she really meant, I added, “Having the whole week off was great. I really appreciate it.”
Her smile brightened, and she leaned over the counter a little to whisper, “Mike said you two saw a movie together.”
Crap. How many fake boyfriends was I going to have? “Oh, yes, we did. It’s really nice having a good friend like him,” I said. “No pressure to date or anything.”
Her smile faded a little at that, but I hadn’t left any room for argument, and she went back to counting inventory.
It was a pretty slow night, and normally I’d have been happy with that. But tonight it just meant the seconds were ticking by in tortuous slow motion. I’d tried calling Jake before clocking in, but Billy said he was sleeping, and even though I’d asked Billy to have him call me, I hadn’t heard from him yet. I knew he’d be here to meet me at closing, even earlier if he came in with Embry, but I really wanted a chance to talk to him first—without any other pack members around.
Embry’s visit had really disturbed me. On the one hand, I liked him. He was a nice guy, and he was a good friend to Jacob. I knew how upset Jake had been when he thought he’d lost him to Sam’s ‘cult,’ and I didn’t want to mess up their renewed friendship. But his kissing me, even if it was just on the forehead, in front of my school friends and when Jake wasn’t around was not cool. I half-hoped Jacob would laugh it off and tell me it was no big deal, mainly because I really didn’t want it to be a big deal. But the other half of me hoped he’d do something to get Embry to back off, even if it meant he had to be possessive. As much as it had bothered me that Edward had been a little too protective and controlling, I had to admit to myself that it would have been nice right about now.
“This stereo sucks!”
I opened my eyes to almost total darkness, blaring music, and Leah. Short of a fire alarm, I couldn’t imagine anything worse.
“Still sleeping,” I grumbled, pulling the pillow over my head. I was supposed to patrol again tonight, and if I didn’t at least get a good nap in, I could kiss that high school diploma goodbye. Besides, I’d been dreaming of Bella again. Leave it to Leah to get in the way of my happiness, even in a dream.
“Don’t care,” she replied, turning the music up even louder.
I let out a growl and lunged off the bed, grabbing the stereo and yanking the cord out of the wall. There. Problem solved. I lay back down and closed my eyes.
“Oh, come on, Jake. You can’t expect me to just sit here while you snore,” Leah complained.
“Please shut up,” I said.
“Not until you get up.”
“Then go home.”
“Sam’s there,” she sighed.
“What? Why?” I asked, more than a little surprised. I sat up and looked at her. Her expression told me she wasn’t kidding. But Sam had avoided Leah like the plague ever since he broke her heart. And when he couldn’t avoid her, when we were phased, she tortured him with her thoughts. Why on earth would he be at her house?
“Mom invited them over for dinner,” she said quietly. “Says we’re family…spouting some shit about forgiveness.”
“Oh…” What was I supposed to say to that? “Do you think you can? Forgive him…someday?”
It’s not like Sam had meant to imprint on Emily. It just happened, and he had no choice. Emily didn’t have much of a choice, either, from what I could gather. Apparently, it was just about impossible to resist a werewolf once he imprinted on you. It’s not like he put her under a spell or anything, but everything about him became everything she wanted. How was she supposed to walk away from that? I wondered if Leah would eventually imprint on someone. Could a girl even do that, or was that just a guy thing? Part of me hoped she could, just so she’d get over Sam and move on. And part of me hoped she couldn’t because…well, I wouldn’t wish her on anyone.
She glared at me for several seconds, and then her expression slipped into something that could only be described as intense sadness. “I forgave him a long time ago. It wasn’t his fault, right?” She looked at me like she needed confirmation, so I nodded. “Besides,” she said with a wry smile, “I can’t be the bitch forever, can I?”
“Oh, I have the feeling you could if you really wanted to,” I laughed, ducking just in time to avoid the speaker she threw at my head.
When we stepped into the living room, Quil and Embry were sitting on the sofa watching TV. Quil eyes went from me to Leah, and then back to me, a look of utter confusion on his face. Leah must have caught it, too, and true to form, she didn’t hold back.
“Really, Quil? You think I’d go for a wolf? Quit being a dumbass and tell me why we’re all here,” she demanded.
I had to admit I was wondering the same thing. It wasn’t unusual for both of them to come by, but it was always to hang out in the garage, not watch TV while I napped. And Leah had let on that we were supposed to be doing something.
“To help Jake, of course!” Quil said a little too happily.
I groaned. Not this again. “I told you I don’t need your help.”
“Okay, if that’s what you want,” Embry replied, nonchalantly shrugging. “Come on, Quil.”
I eyed him skeptically. He was giving up way too easily, and Embry never gave up. He was definitely up to something.
They both stood and walked toward the door as if they were leaving. Quil looked back over his shoulder, a mischievous glint in his eye, practically mocking me. Then Embry stopped and said, “Oh, and tell Bella I’m sorry about kissing her.”
I was instantly in front of him, blocking the doorway, every muscle in me tensed and twitching. “What?” I snarled.
“It was nothing, really,” he said with a smirk.
“You kissed her?” My whole body was shaking now, and Quil was trying to step in between us, but I was stronger. I shoved him back. I could hear Leah laughing behind him.
“Yeah. I went to see her at school and—”
Dad’s bedroom door opened, but I didn’t look up. After a moment, I heard it quietly shut again. Either he knew I could handle this, or he knew I couldn’t, and he didn’t want to get involved.
“Calm down, man. It’s not like that,” Embry laughed. “I just went to check out that Lauren girl—she’s awful, by the way—and I might have gotten a little carried away.”
“Carried away? YOU KISSED HER!” My entire body was shaking, and for once, I didn’t give a damn about what Sam would do to me if I hurt someone. Imprinted or not, you didn’t get in the way of another pack member’s relationship.
“Just on her forehead,” he said, still laughing. “I couldn’t help it. Really, man, he was asking for it.”
“He who?” I asked. I was still furious, but I was starting to get myself under a little bit of control.
“That Newton kid,” he replied. “You have to do something about him.”
“You kissed her.” I sounded like a broken record, but I was having trouble focusing on anything else.
“C’mon, man, you know I would never make a move on Bella, right?”
“Yeah,” I said, still angry, and not sounding the least bit convinced. I did know that, but it didn’t make everything okay.
“If it makes you feel any better, she looked totally freaked out.”
“Why would that make me feel better? You upset her!” It actually did, a little. It’s not like I thought Embry would seriously hit on Bella, and I certainly didn’t think she’d be okay with it. The confirmation was nice, but it still irked me that he’d upset her. That defeated the whole purpose of just leaving things alone.
“Besides, she’s not my type anyway. You’re the only one here who likes ‘em little and pale.”
I tried not to smile when he said that, but I think he could tell I wasn’t leaning so much toward killing him anymore. Bella was definitely on the small side…and the pale side. We probably looked a little strange together. I was nearly a foot taller than her—probably a foot wider, too—and she had the whitest skin I’d ever seen…on a human.
I glanced over at Leah, who was impatiently pacing back and forth. Leah was tall and dark and strong, and I’d seen other girls on the rez watching her enviously. She could have been beautiful if she ever stopped looking homicidal. But she didn’t do a thing for me. Yeah, I definitely preferred little and pale.
“We need to borrow your car,” Quil said suddenly.
“What for?” I asked.
“Just trust us,” Embry said.
“Trust you? After you kissed my girlfriend?”
“C’mon, man. It was like kissing my mom, okay?”
“Whatever,” I said, not sure if he meant that to appease me or insult me. Since I didn’t want to phase in the house, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. And the keys to my car.