They seek out the rare breed of woman like her
to bask in her light;
they ache for a taste of her shiny surface and
of her heart.
But when they get a glimpse of the ocean she is
they swim away
Because her depth is
to those who only know how to
sunbathe in the
~ Michelle Schaper
Nothing is ever easy, and that especially applies to a non-Quileute shape-shifting werewolf with a vampire for a boyfriend, even though I just want to go to college and get a job.
The council denied my request to leave the reservation. Worse than that, they didn’t have the balls to bring me in and tell me to my face. They told Harry, who told Sue, and they told me together.
What the hell kind of fucked-up game of operator did they think we were playing? Did I terrify them that much that they had to try to contain me, but couldn't confront me? Didn’t they know that all I wanted was to live? Was that really so much to ask?
It didn’t help my mood any that the days were muggy, my clothes sticking to my body and the barometric pressure causing the hair to stand up on my arms. I knew that something important was coming, something significantly stronger than all of us. Jacob completed his phasing a few days ago, and Seth has shown signs of it as well.
Leah called Sue practically howling, pun intended, over the phone about how she was changing. Sue told her she might be shifting, and Leah threw a fit that could have been heard in Canada. She would be home for good from UDub at the end of the week, and we were hosting a graduation party for her. All of the people my age would be at my house, but I insisted no elders other than my parents. I had no desire to be around any of those cowards. I still planned to take Edward up on his offer, as soon as he found the right place. He said there were only a few options, it being such a small town. And I was starting my job one week after the party, permission or no permission.
On the day of the overblown party, I was helping to set up the folding tables and chairs on our lawn. If the storm, or whatever it was, would hold off we would have more room outside than in our house. Seth was helping me with the set-up when the base of my skull started to tingle violently. I saw him in my periphery, shimmering in that space between human and werewolf. Where the features blur, and you can't decide if it's a human or an animal.
Honestly, we’re both.
He’s not experienced enough to control it, so I jumped into action and sprinted to his side. “Seth!”
“Bella, what-what’s happening? I can’t seem to stop it!” he cried.
His voice was laced with fear, and I empathized. “You have to focus. You have to concentrate on your human identity. You love Call of Duty, and Marvel comics over DC. You think Black Widow and Scarlet Witch are badass in particular, because you like strong women. Like Sue, your mother. She’s strong as hell, right Seth?” The entire time I was speaking, he was trembling fiercely. It wasn’t that he couldn't go ahead and phase there, but he needed to learn control, especially around people.
“My favorite flavor is chocolate. I hate tootsie rolls, though, because they’re imposters.” His hands steadied, the blurring lessening. His facial features were becoming sharper.
But I knew what set him off, and I wasn’t sure I could do anything about it without giving myself away. I looked over my shoulder, and though he was a good distance away, I could still see him with my heightened vision. Edward was shadowed by the hemlocks that grow tall and straight beside our house, the density of the forest obscuring him. There must have been an emergency; he’d never risk coming here otherwise.
“Seth, I’m going to run in the house for a second. You’re doing great.”
I took off like a runner from the mark, into the house by one door and out the other, straight in front of Edward one hundred yards from the house.
“Bella!” He said my name like a prayer, but I held my hands up to stop him from touching me.
“What the hell, Edward, Seth almost phased because he sensed you!” I scolded him quietly.
“I know, I apologize. There might be an emergency,” he spoke urgently, his features twisted in worry.
“Might be?” I frowned, the dread churning in my gut.
“My family. They found out I’m looking for a place for the two of us. They do not oppose to you personally, but they cannot condone me being in love with a Quileute. No matter the distinction between you and the tribe members, you are one of them. Carlisle fears I would start a war between the tribe and my family if we move in together.”
“That’s ludicrous! I'm not sticking around here to rot while your family and the tribe elders dictate how we live our lives!” I tried not to shout, forced the shivering to subside. My limbs ached with the need to repress my more primal urges.
“I agree, and that is what I told them. We had a family meeting, but only my mother and my sister Alice agree with me. I did not mean to come here and start anything; I know I am technically breaking the treaty.” I felt as though I needed to memorize his face, his golden eyes as they gazed into mine. I was terrified he would be pulled away from me when I had just found him.
“Look, I have to get back and pretend we’re one big happy family and celebrate my sister graduating. You have to go before more wolves come over and smell you,” I urged him. “I’ll meet you in the meadow tonight. Can you get away from your family?”
“I will, whatever it takes,” he assured me quickly before kissing my forehead and disappearing into the shadows of the forest.
His promise left me cold as I moved swiftly back to the party setup. What if he couldn't? What if his family tried to stop him from seeing me? What would I do if they forbade it and I ended up stuck here on the res without Edward? I knew it would bring pain that I couldn't endure.
“Hey, Bella, thanks for the help earlier. Are you okay?” Seth asked as I came back out of the house.
“Um, yeah, it’s just that I was feeling shifty myself. I got a drink and calmed down.” My brother seemed to buy my lies, and went back to putting out stacks of disposable plates. I moved robotically to help him, hoping I could distract my brain from repeatedly turning over the conversation with Edward.
People started to arrive not long after. Jared, Paul, Jacob. Seth’s friends Quil and Embry. Harry manned the grill while Sue brought food out from the kitchen. Leah finally arrived home from college, looking a little disheveled. Sam got out of the passenger side of her car, and I suddenly realized why she looked that way. I almost giggled before remembering that Sam was the one keeping me from my happiness.
Someone turned on some music, and the noise drifted out the open windows. We were expecting our cousins from the Makah reservation, Emily and her sister June, and June’s boyfriend Alex, but someone starting passing out food before they arrived.
I sat in a chair near the grill that hissed and spit as my father flipped burgers and idly pushed around hot dogs while he chatted with Quil. I watched the people I’d spent five years with, and resented them because they could be happy here, without feeling the burning need to resist the restraints the elders placed on them. They could and did leave the reservation, with permission, to attend school and meet new people. Or they stayed here, utterly content to marry the same people they’d sat beside in high school. Jared was engaged to Kim from school, Paul was working up the nerve to ask out one of Jacob’s twin sisters. My sister and the tribe leader would be married in the fall.
It was mundane, but they were happy. Why couldn’t I be happy?
The car pulling up stole my attention, and I temporarily stopped worrying about my problems. I liked Emily very much, and it had been awhile since we’d seen each other. I smiled as Alex helped June out of the car and she showed us all her large baby bump. Emily hopped out from the backseat, and I wound my way through the crowd to say hello.
“Bella!” Emily exclaimed warmly. “How is my favorite kwoli?”
I hugged her fiercely, and stepped back to look her over. She was beautiful, there was no doubt about that, with skin the color of a faded penny and raven black hair that reached well past her shoulders.
“I’m good. It’s been too long,” I greeted her. “Obviously, since June wasn’t showing the last time we saw each other.”
“They’re naming the baby Claire,” Emily told me, excitement shining in her espresso eyes. “I'm going to be an aunt soon!”
“That’s wonderful, Emily. Have you-” I was cut off by Sam, who came from seemingly nowhere and pushed me out of the way to stand in front of Emily. “What the fuck, Samuel Uley? So rude!”
He completely ignored me, holding his hand out to my cousin. “I can’t believe I’ve gone so long without seeing your gorgeous face,” he said to her. He reminded me of a puppy with a wagging tail waiting for it's master’s praise.
“Uh, I guess it’s been awhile,” she responded, confusion on her face.
“Sam!” I heard my sister yell as she came over. “I thought you were bringing me a drink.”
Sam ignored Leah, which I found odd. Leah did not waste any time laying into him. I pulled on Emily’s arm, disgusted when Sam watched us leave as Leah continued to berate him.
“What was that about?” Emily wondered out loud as we walked.
“I don’t know, but he’s been acting like a jerk for a long time, as far as I’m concerned.”
“Then you’ll have to tell me about it,” she giggled. I found a pocket of happiness catching up with my family, but Edward and what he’d said stayed at the back of my mind for the rest of the day.