Ian remained impatiently at the door, desperate to hear more of what Edward had to say, while Marek and Adriana kept him back in safety from us.
"Bella, Carlisle, Jasper," Edward spoke. "He is what he says he is, but he's not here to harm us. He's here for our help."
Our help? How were we supposed to help the leader of werewolves? Werewolves!
"I don't understand?" Carlisle demanded as he looked at Peter and Marek.
"Ian is our friend, Carlisle," Marek explained without hesitation. "He has suffered two losses recently. One, which Peter believes you can help us with."
"How?" Carlisle raised his shoulders. "What could we possibly have to do with werewolves and their losses, when we have losses of our own?" he tried to understand.
Emmett let go of Jasper now that he was calmer—and in just as much confusion as I was. Edward still held me, but not as tight, just a precaution now. My eyes were still cold, but my mind was trying to catch up to what Edward had heard, previous to Marek opening the door.
"May I please come in?" Ian insisted to Marek and Edward.
"Carlisle." Edward motioned an okay to him that it was all right for Ian to precede. "It's safe."
Carlisle nodded his trust in Edward, then an okay to Marek and a cautious glance at Jasper.
I was still in a state of confusion, but believed Peter and Charlotte would not set us up for anything that was in our worst interest. I wanted to know what his scent was doing back in Forks, and why it was here now. I set my anger aside and let my curiosity of this enormous burly man take over.
I tapped Edward's hands to let him know he could let go of me, that I wasn't going to attack. He looked at me to get a reading of my expression. I was good and he took his arms off of me.
Marek let down his guard then and motioned for Ian to come in. We all took our places sitting again, cautiously watching him as he entered.
He was a giant of a man who stood almost a foot taller than Marek. His large muscles, that pushed tightly to the inside of his jeans, t-shirt and vest, put Emmett to shame. He had short bleach-blonde, spiked hair that stood straight up on his head and very masculine features. His eyes were a dark reddish-brown and his skin was light with pink undertones.
"They don't know about me?" he asked callously to Marek.
I could tell by the look on Ian's face and his stance that he was disappointed by what he'd just experienced. This was definitely a man who didn't like surprises, or to be taken off guard.
And by Marek's maintained composure to Ian's offensive tone, I could tell both men were on equal ground. Neither took charge over the other.
Marek glared harshly at Peter. "They did not know?"
"Uh, no." Peter looked apologetic, concerned by his choice to keep silent. "We had not covered that on our journey. I felt it was best to meet this way. My apologies Ian, I didn't know they were familiar with the scent of your family. I should have—"
"Enough!" Ian said sternly, raising his hand to cut him off. "It's water under the bridge now. They know who I am. It's best we get started." He pulled out the head chair at the table.
My eyes widened at his hastiness. He was definitely a leader in every sense of the word.
I glanced over at Rosalie and Emmet, eyeing them for their opinion of the wolfy mammoth. They both shrugged their shoulders as they sat forward on the edge of their seats, waiting to see where this was going. I peeked at Edward, he would know more than any of us, but he still looked shocked that a werewolf, a real werewolf, was in our presence.
"Fascinating," he said out loud as he wandered through Ian's mind.
I pursed my lips. It wasn't fair he should get to be so far ahead of us. I wished I could block his mind so he would be on the same page with the rest of us. Keeping up with Edward was a daily chore.
And, then I wondered…
My shield could block vampire gifts from getting in, and I could remove it so he could hear me, but…could I block his mind inside itself, keeping everyone out as well? It worked for me. Maybe I could shield in Edward, too?
Everyone else pulled in their seats at the table, ready to proceed, while I decided to occupy myself with Edward. If we were going to hear everything first hand, then so should he.
It was worth a shot.
I placed my hand up to the back of his head, pushing my shield out to him. He looked at me in confusion to what I was doing; he knew there was no need to protect him. I only smiled in return.
My shield encompassed his body completely. But I could tell by his expressions he was still able to read everyone's thoughts, so I reeled it back in. And then I remembered Alice was able to jump through it once, which had me thinking…what if it could pass through vampires, as well?
I focused hard on sending it through Edward's head, hoping to reach to the center of his mind, blocking his gift within itself. Out the side of my eyes, I watched as the thin layer—which was also strong as steel—easily diffused into Edwards head, like the process of osmosis. Amazing. He didn't even seem to feel it, or notice it until…
"Bella!" He pulled away from my hand shocked, and then shrieked at me, "What did you just do?" His eyes were wide in alarm, and I suddenly noticed that all other eyes were on us, too. My shield shot back at me quickly.
"What do you mean Edward?" I said, eyeing him to hush. My gift was supposed to remain a secret he had said.
He leaned back against the couch apprehensively, glowering at me. So I rested my hand back to his head again and pulled the shield from my mind, so I could speak freely to him without anyone hearing.
Be quiet and listen, Edward. I'm going to block your mind. Please don't be upset.
He looked at me strangely as to why.
You always hear everything before us. For once, I want you to be on the same page, to hear things first hand. I'm able to put my shield inside your mind, blocking it. I'm sorry, but it drives me crazy sometimes to have to keep up with a conversation…and you.
He sat silent for a moment, pursing his lips firmly, then nodded his head in frustration and slightly growled. He knew me too well, and that he couldn't stop it from happening, now that I knew what I could do.
"Nothing, love…" he played off our distraction while giving me another angry look, then focused back on Ian and everyone else who were still staring.
"Is everything alright, Bella?" Jasper asked, picking up on Edward's tension.
"Oh, yes, just fine, Jasper." I smiled to myself, as I touched Edward's head and watched the thin layer sink back into his mind.
This was cool!
Edward hung his head in his hands then, and I knew he'd been blocked. Complete silence would be a first for him in the last ninety years, and he obviously wasn't thrilled with the idea.
"Just fine," I repeated, grinning smugly back to Jasper. And the group began again after our brief interruption.
"Peter," Carlisle caught his attention. "Can you shed some light on why you thought of us after hearing about Ian, we assumed it was vampires that had trouble?"
"Yes they have, Carlisle," Peter spoke up. "Marek and Ian are very close friends. What happens to either family, concerns the other. But it was the assumption I made during Ian's story, a few days ago, that made me think of you and what could be going on. But I wasn't sure until just now, when Edward said you all recognized his scent, that…I just might be right."
Edward eyed me in fury. He had no idea what Peter talking about, and it was bothering him. I could feel him trying to move slyly away from my hand, but, I could throw my shield, so…I was sure if I let go of him…it would stay.
I humored Edward and moved my hand back just a little, allowing him to think he was being sneaky and trying to get away. But the block stayed right where I put it. He sat back harshly against the sofa again and crossed his arms with a large huff.
He knew it was staying, too.
Rosalie punched him in the arm. "Whatever you're doing, knock it off!" she whispered a warning at him. "It's distracting."
I laughed quietly through my nose when she did that. She had no idea what was wrong with him. I'd finally had an advantage over Edward, and he couldn't strong arm me out of it.
He rubbed his arm, not knowing her throw was coming, and then glared at me in irritation. I smiled again and turned back to face Ian and Peter. This should be interesting.
"Okay, so Ian's scent is here, and was back in Forks," Jasper was trying to keep up. "So…there was a werewolf back in Forks…?" he thought out loud, watching his hands moving back and forth, trying to fit the pieces together.
Then it hit him.
"There was a werewolf back in Forks!" He stood up and shouted to us. "Alice! She didn't see it coming. Of course!" He was glad to have a further clue, but then his face turned sour as he sat back down. "But why, Ian?" He frowned with confusion.
"That's what I'm wondering too, Jasper," Ian said, frowning as well as he turned to Marek then Peter. Peter was the one who seemed to hold all the answers right now, but before he could continue, Emmett had a thought.
"Why would a werewolf take Alice…or Charlie?" He looked around at all of us.
But we could only sit silently and wonder with him. What would a werewolf have against us? We were so far away and didn't know of any Siberian werewolves …or Slovakian vampires. What had we done that would bring something like this our way?
Then I remembered Edward said he saw paw prints out in the woods when they retrieved Alice's fabric.
"Edward." I tapped his arm, speaking swiftly and quietly. "Don't forget the paw prints in the woods."
"You saw paw prints in the woods?" Ian perked up when he heard me. Even in human form, like Jacob, his hearing was excellent.
"Uh, no." I reacted quickly and nervously, then pointed to the ones I was about to call out. "Edward, Jasper and Emmett saw them."
"What time was it when you found them?" he spoke inquisitively at Jasper.
"It was early evening, just after dusk, maybe a minute or two before sunset," Jasper replied.
"And the paw prints, how big were they?" He stared at Jasper, anxious for more, expecting him to remember so much in his current distress.
"Well…" he recalled, then looked down at Ian's shoes. "I would guess about six inches bigger than the size of your feet, Ian." He raised his eyes to meet the man's gaze.
"The first night of the full moon," Ian whispered to himself.
"Excuse me, but, 'the first night of the full moon'?" Carlisle tightened his eyebrows, appearing confused, and I remembered from school that the moon is only truly full for one night. How many nights did Ian think there where?
"My apologies you do not seem to know, Carlisle." Ian inclined his head. "Werewolves are affected in the waxing and waning stages of a full moon. We begin our change on the first of the three nights. But when the moon is one-hundred percent visible, on the second night…is when we are at our strongest," he explained.
"I see." Carlisle raised his brows and nodded. "Yes, you're correct then. It was the first night."
We watched as Ian processed our information. The scent, the paw prints, the moon.
"Ahren…" he whispered a name, looking down at the table. "In America?" he asked Marek.
And then his face became eager. I figured it was because this Ahren he mentioned was the one who was missing, and we had just offered him some kind of hope that he might still be alive.
"Well, it sounds like a werewolf, Ian, but we can't sure yet if it was Ahren. You all smell alike." Marek patted his hand, making sure he didn't jump to conclusions.
"They also found shredded fabric from Alice, which led us to believe there was a struggle," I added warily. "Then, a little ways up the highway, we found my father's empty vehicle with bloo—" I cupped my hand over my mouth, unable to finish the horrifying memory.
Edward put his arm around me.
"Bella found blood on the inside of her father's car," Edward finished while caressing my arm. "It appeared there was another struggle inside—accompanied by a scent that matches yours."
"Blood?" Ian looked puzzled.
"Human blood," Carlisle informed him. "Bella's father is human."
"Oh…" He sighed. "That couldn't be Ahren then…" Ian trailed off, looking like we'd just pulled any bit of good news out from under him. "He wouldn't hurt a human."
"He wouldn't?" I removed my hand, curious. Weren't werewolves dangerous to humans, if not more dangerous than a vampire?
"No," he replied solemnly. "We are gentle, Bella. Not like the wild ones you've probably heard about that run ramped throughout the world."
"Gentle werewolves?" Esme inquired, not expecting to hear those two words together in a sentence.
Edward didn't seem to be bothered anymore that he was hearing this for the first time, but he kept looking at Peter, and I knew he was dying to be inside his head. But he would have to wait…like the rest of us.
"Yes. We only feed on animals here in the mountains, when the moon is full. We do not harm humans," he declared himself proudly.
"Well, we have that in common." Carlisle smiled. I could tell it made him happy to hear Ian and his pack had a courtesy for human life, as well.
I studied Ian's eyes again, wondering if that's what made them a reddish-brown color? Then I wondered about Marek and Adriana. Theirs were a dark gold. Did they feed upon the animals here, as well? But they had human blood in their icebox…maybe they did both? I would ask Adriana later, if we were alone.
"I'm confused," Rosalie chimed in. "This Ahren we're speaking of…" she said curtly, holding her hands out in front of her, not having a clue who they were talking about.
"Ahren is my son!" Ian interrupted angrily as he stood quickly to her remark, shoving his chair out from behind him.
Her eyes widened as she leaned back at the outburst.
Emmett jumped in front of Rosalie in a crouch, protecting her from the irritation and forcefulness of Ian, barring his teeth, ready for a fight.
Edward grabbed his wrist and motioned for him to sit back down. But Emmett waited, glaring and snarling at Ian.
"Emmett!" Rosalie hollered, slapping him on the right side of his bottom with maintained composure. "Sit back down, it's okay."
Emmett stood up straight, then flung himself back into the big, comfy, corner chair, as a low growl festered in his lungs as a warning.
"I'm sorry, Ian." Rosalie held her hands up. "I didn't mean anything rude, I was only curious about the name."
"Of course, Rosalie," Carlisle said protectively in Ian's direction, eyeing him to keep his cool.
Ian grabbed the chair that flew out a few feet behind him and sat back down, nodding to Rosalie and Carlisle.
She could be terse, but she was my sister. I'd defend her if it came to a fight. We all would.
"I apologize for my outburst, miss, that wasn't very gentle of me now, was it?" His voice turned soft.
She waved her hand at him to show a gesture of 'no big deal'.
"Alright, alright, let's get back to why we're all here," Adriana spoke, breaking things up. She didn't speak much, but her voice was so lovely and sweet when she did. It reminded me of Esme, and my mother. So comforting.
"Edward," I whispered to get him to look at me. "The scent was out at Charlie's house that one night, too, remember?"
He nodded his head in recollection.
"I can't figure out why it would be in three different places…then swim back here?" I whispered again.
"Ian," Edward spoke up after my question. "Are you all avid swimmers?"
"I guess we could be." He shrugged. "We walk or run pretty much everywhere we go, though." He eyed us curiously. "Why?"
"Your scent," Edward mentioned, "it took off into the ocean from our home and was gone, disappearing into the water."
"Into the ocean you say?" He was extremely surprised by that bit of information.
"That's why we're here," Carlisle told him. "The scent left Forks, and then we got Peter's call about seven hours later. We hoped it had returned to its home so we could track it again. And here you are, carrying the same one."
We were all going through a wide range of emotions as we shared bits of information we were sure of, with none of it making much sense.
Then we sat in silence again, everyone processing what they'd heard, searching for a next question to ask.
Edward was getting antsy. He could only process his own thoughts; not ten at a time. And I wondered if I should remove my shield for him.
But I didn't.
Then Jasper had a question. "Ian, you say there are wild werewolves all over the world. And you say you are gentle werewolves here in these mountains, right?"
"Yes," Ian answered sharply, wondering what Jasper was getting at.
"Well, how many are there of you? I mean, is it possible there is another kind of werewolf out there besides yours and the wild ones that would also carry the same scent?"
Ian, Marek, Adriana, Peter and Charlotte all smiled to each other, they obviously knew the answer to his inquiry. "No, Jasper," Ian replied. "We are the only 'two' of our kind. But that was an excellent question, one we would guess ourselves, if we didn't already know the answer."
"How can you be so sure?"
Then Peter spoke up. "Ian. Maybe you should start at the 'beginning' for them, like you did for Charlotte and me?"
"I think that's a sensible idea," Marek said in agreement. "Do you all mind?"
We shook our heads no, and I put my hand on Edward's knee as we got ourselves comfy to hear Ian's tale. Peter had emphasized the word 'beginning', so I assumed we were in for a long story. We were going to be hearing about 'real' werewolf history and I was eagerly ready. As long as it take too much time… We still had family out there somewhere.
Edward shot an eyebrow up at me and pointed to his head. He wanted to know if I would remove the block I had on him. But if we were going to be listening to Ian, he would be right with us. So I shook my head 'no' with an sweet smile.
He pursed his lips again and let out a heavy sigh, sitting roughly against the back of the couch, pouting.
I didn't want him to be upset during this, so I leaned myself back gently into his side, and moved my hand softly up and down his leg.
His arm, which he had propped on the top of the couch, didn't move near me. Edward was being stubborn.
When I realized my gentle caresses weren't working to ease him; I decided to turn more into him, resting my head on his shoulder and half my chest on his. Then I casually wrapped my arms around his waist and let out a sweet, sighing breath in his direction.
Edward rebelliously placed his head back, staring up at the ceiling, trying hard to avoid my charming gesture. So, I thought I'd try again.
But better this time.
I raised my hand slowly and grazed my fingertips along the bottom of his jaw and down his neck. I then traced along his exposed collar bone and followed the path of buttons down the front of his shirt till I hit the top of his jeans. Lifting his shirt just enough, I snuck one finger under, running it back and forth inside the denim…waiting for a reaction.
His breathing spiked a little, before he let out a surrendered moan and wrapped his arms tightly around me. He lifted his head, against what seemed liked his better judgment, and kissed the top of my hair. I held his waist affectionately again and snuggled into his side and smiled.
Apparently, I'd been forgiven.
Rosalie looked at me with warning and slightly balled up a fist for me to see. She'd seen me tracing Edward, and she'd punch me, too, if I did it again. Then she reached over and grabbed Emmett's hand as he leaned in towards her. I saw her take one more glance at us out the side of her eyes.
I didn't move.
"Alright…" Ian declared, receiving our complete attention, "let me start from the beginning."