Disbelief rang from the four of us after Jake had finished filling us all in on Sam’s pack’s latest scandal. We all stared at him, stunned by what we had just seen in his mind. Jake was grim and clearly unhappy. Naturally, I was the first to break the steady silence.
You have got to be kidding me, I snorted, digging my paws into the ground, ready to go.
That’s pretty unexpected, commented Seth.
Who cares? Let’s go, I said vaulting myself into a run.
Seth was right though- it was definitely unexpected. The fact that those wolves were able to run off right under Sam’s nose was enough of a shock. Well not exactly under his nose, they sort of argued from a distance while they were running away and broke off... anyway it was a shock and I’m talking a brilliant one. Better yet was the expression on Sam’s face when he realised that three members of his pack had made off with a bunch of future ones. Jake felt slightly guilty about revealing that to us but he was hardly gossip queen material. We would’ve found out anyway. I still can’t help but smirk at how the mighty Alpha’s number dropped in the blink of an eye. It would’ve increased if only those little werewolves to be hadn’t decided to play runaways.
Leah, quit it, Jake said dismissively.
Dude, give me a break or I’ll do a runner too.
I’d like to see you try.
Oh I’m perfectly capable. Don’t tempt me.
I tried focusing on getting where Sam’s pack and his ‘guests’ were. Dirt flew behind me as I pushed myself forward and dodged the trunks of the trees. My mind kept wandering to the images we’d seen in Jake’s head. Another new pack stood in front of Sam, and every single one of them should have been members of his. He’d been pretty clear about how he felt about the situation, I could tell that for sure. I mean he was angry when they left, but now they’re back he’s prepared for a fight.
I thought he was mad when you three left but damn, said Quil in agreement.
He was gutted when we left, Embry added. But he was a bit peeved about it too.
Oh please, I’ll bet he was positively livid inside. The pack probably had to nanny him all night until his ego recovered, I barked.
Leah, be nice, Jake warned.
He can’t hear me. You be the nice one and don’t think of it.
Their scent grew stronger and I kicked into gear, shooting forward in front of Jake. He sped up so we were neck and neck. The thudding of our paws hitting the ground thundered through the forest. I pushed myself to go up a notch and edged further than Jake.
I’m only humouring you because I can’t bear to think about what’s waiting for us, he muttered.
Then I’ll enjoy this moment of rare fun while it lasts, I replied sarcastically.
As soon as we reached them Jake regretted racing against me and taking so little time. I guess you could say if I could’ve arrived there faster I would have. We heard Sam’s booming voice echo through Jacob’s mind. We didn’t need to hear it to know he was fuming- he was snarling like crazy at the wolves standing before him. He was out of control mad.
Your one to talk about being out of control, muttered Seth.
I ignored him and listened to Sam through Jacob. This crazy means of communication was all I had and I was not going to miss this.
I don’t even give a crap about why you’re back, all I care about is that you’re outnumbered and nobody here knows you well enough to care, Sam was spitting.
Sam I’m not going to let you lose your head. They’re not here to fight and you’re not going to fight them, Jake told him firmly.
If they think they can just show up here and be welcomed back with open arms-
We weren’t looking for any open arms. I have my pack and you both have yours, their Alpha said.
What do you want, a pat on the back? Well done, congrats. Now you and your new pack can move along. Go home.
Sam this is their home. This is where they’re from, Jake interjected.
They don’t belong here anymore. They lost the right to call this place home when they abandoned their brothers, their pack.
And you’re not going to give them the chance to earn back that right, are you?
There’s no reason why I should. Being homeless won’t kill them. You escaped unscathed.
It took everything I had to not think about how bitter his voice sounded. It didn’t help this complicated way of conversing with other packs when someone was too open about what they thought. Still there was no ignoring the hurt behind all of the other emotions. To Sam, the pack was family. Sam felt betrayed.
Homelessness wouldn’t be a problem but it’s not just us. There’s never anywhere suitable for her. We’d been thinking about coming back for a while, and obviously our plans became definite when Amber turned up. She can’t run with the wolves forever, and Kyle wants a more stable situation for her.
I tried desperately to block out their words and to create a barrier against their minds, to stop myself from sharing their images. I tried hard to pretend as though I wasn’t tensed, waiting for the blow. I felt my brother itching to say something to me but, wisely, he chose to stay mute. There was a gnawing feeling inside of me that would not leave. I suddenly felt as though air was the enemy and refused to breathe it in.
She’s Kyle’s Imprint.
That changes things, Jake said softly, looking to Sam.
Tell me what I already know, hesighed.
It’s hard to admit exactly how much that hurt me. Imprint changes everything. It changes feelings of anger and betrayal into sudden understanding and sympathy. It changes years of something so amazing, into nothing but an unwanted memory. It dismisses things that should matter as insignificant wastes of time and space. Rules don’t apply and feelings are ignored. Everything is forgotten simply because you look at her, and then she’s all you can look at. You don’t see anything else.
And you’re completely untouchable because as long as she’s there you’re complete. Losing her is the only thing that could touch you and it would destroy you. Anything else is barely a scratch in comparison. But no one would ever dream of killing the object of an imprint. It’s impossible. It would be unforgivable and did I mention it would be suicide? People who imprint don’t pay for anything, no matter how guilty they are. They are completely untouchable.
So what do I do with my anger and my hurt? What about how betrayed I feel? Sam has lost family; people he cared about ran away and left him. I’ve lost so much more.
Where is she? Jake asked abruptly, deliberately ignoring what was going on in my head which shielded my thoughts from them all, unless they were paying attention. He’s a much better Alpha than Sam.
Kyle and Ryan stayed with her. They’re not that far from here. Do you need them?
I don’t think so. This has been enough excitement for one night- I’m beat. And to think I promised Nessie there wasn’t enough trouble to keep me out here until morning...
Does she have somewhere to stay until tomorrow? Sam asked, turning to the Alpha.
She’s fine. We’re set for tomorrow as well. If you’ll let us to come back we already know where she’ll be staying. We’re completely prepared and all we need is an answer-
Of course you can come back. You at least deserve a chance, but that’s all I can give.
Thank you. Amber thanks you too.
I think you left out a part, Jake nudged.
I don’t know why she’s apologising, so let’s just say I edited out what you didn’t need to hear.
Yeah but trust me, it’s annoying, so let her know that she’s welcome, and she has absolutely nothing to apologise for. We’re doing this because we want to.
Speak for yourself. I haven’t imprinted.
I know that- we all do. And we’re all grateful.
All I wanted to do was amuse myself with someone’s anger and misery, but something had to get in the way- specific someone’s and a specific something. Can’t a girl enjoy anyone’s pain anymore? When did that become impossible? The answer stared back at me through several unwelcome minds.
Imprint changes everything. I guess I’ll never change. I’m the same old Leah.