Jake and I were so enamoured in our conversation that I didn't realise we had reached the house until he paused on the tree line. Taking his hand and pulling him after me, I marvelled at how natural this felt. His warm hand covering mine, the electricity of even that simple contact stunning in intensity. We'd only met yesterday, but it certainly didn't feel that way. Not with the way that I was telling him secret after secret without even pausing to think; without needing to question him.
I almost wished it wasn't so easy. Almost wished we hadn't got along, because then the thought of leaving him wouldn't leave me feeling an all-consuming sadness of the like that I had never experienced before. It didn't make sense, it didn't seem reasonable, and it definitely wasn't normal to feel so achingly despondent over someone who yesterday had been a stranger.
Then again, if my life was normal, I'd be in my sixties and retired; which I most certainly wasn't.
But even though I knew not to expect normal, even though I should be beyond surprise at this point, this surprised me. How was it possible, how was realistic, that I was so unbelievably and irresistibly drawn to him? The imprint was supposed to connect him to me, not the other way around. Regardless of him being the alpha, what we had was more. More than just an imprint, more than just attraction and chemistry, and more than just clicking like we'd been friends for years. It was everything; everything I'd just listed, and a dozen things I hadn't. It was more in every way possible.
But it was going to have to go from everything to nothing, and soon, if I wanted to come out of this week alive. And it was that thought that haunted me, that thought that hovered in the back of my mind with everything that Jake did. That thought that made me fight a frown, that forced me to repress the sadness it evoked because I was sure that Jake could feel it. But while I managed to stifle the sharp flares, the intense spikes, I could do nothing about the seemingly permanent melancholy and worry that felt as if it was being etched into my very soul.
If not for the gentle squeeze Jake's hand gave mine, I wasn't sure if I would have been able to shake myself out of the gloom that settled over me in the short time it took us the cross the yard, rain still sheeting down around us. We were both dripping with water, a puddle growing fast on the wood of the porch as the droplets cascaded down us. I blinked several times in quick succession both to clear my head and get rid of the drops glued to my eyelashes, reluctantly releasing his hand so that I could wring the water from my hair.
When my eyes fell back on him, it was to find him already watching me, his expression one of curiosity. Indicating with a slight head nod for him to follow me, I made my way to the door, unsurprised to find it unlocked; though I couldn't say the same for Jake, who rose his eyebrows.
'What, no lock?' He asked, and I gave him a small smile.
'There is one, we just don't always use it.' I replied.
'And why not?'
'Don't need to. This is La Push, I doubt someone's going to try and break in.' We both laughed at that, the sound echoing down the hallway as I led the way inside, Jake's warm body close behind me. I was sure that Sera would have heard our arrival, and so it was without surprise that I found her concealing her intrigue as she dug through a cupboard on the edge of the kitchen. By her vaguely irritated frown, whatever object she was searching for seemed to be elusive, though she perked up when she took in my appearance and who I was with. She looked torn between giving me an exasperated or knowing look, settling on the former as she took in just how wet we were.
'Oh my god, you're soaking! You know, I told you this would happen.' She said matter-of-factly, though her air of superiority was somewhat spoiled by the small smile that was playing with her lips.
'I know you did. And I said it didn't matter.' I retorted, and she gave me a dubious look that made me laugh.
'Anyway, forget that for now. Jake, this is my sister Sera. Sera, this is Jake.' I introduced, gesturing between them. Sera gave up on ruffling through the cupboard to give him a greeting smile.
'Nice to meet you.' She said, holding out her hand for Jake to shake, which he did with a smile.
'Likewise.' He replied.
'Now, if you give me a sec, I'm going to go and find some towels.' I input, backing out of the kitchen and heading down the hallway as I heard the soft rumblings of a conversation start up behind me. If I'd wanted to, I could have listened in to what they were saying, but instead I tuned them out, humming softly to myself as I approached the linen cupboard. As I opened the door, my gaze roamed up and down the shelves, searching for the towels that I was sure was in here; only to find my humming stopping abruptly as I caught sight of them on the topmost shelf.
A shelf that was way out of my reach.
'You've got to be kidding me.' I muttered, frowning as I gazed despondently up at the pile. At a height of 5' 5, I wasn't short, but I definitely wasn't tall either. But this shelf was close to seven or eight foot above the ground, and well and truly too far away. How on earth was I supposed to reach that? And how the hell had Sera gotten them up there in the first place?
Sighing softly, I resigned myself to the challenge. Reaching up on my tip toes, my hand was still a good half a foot off the mark; I was going to have to jump for it. Bending my knees, I propelled myself upwards, my hand almost managing to brush the bottom of the shelf. Jumping again, this time I managed to clip the edge of the painted wood; though I was still a fair way off from actually being able to grab the towels. I was preparing for my third leap when an unexpected pair of warm hands found my waist, a familiar deep voice coming from behind me.
'Need help?' Jake asked, not waiting for a reply as he easily lifted me up, my still outreached hand snagging the elusive pile and tugging it downwards. His strong fingers pressing into my skin were terribly distracting, sending soft tingles through me that made my breath hitch slightly as he set me down on my feet. With his body pressed against my back, I was reluctant to break the contact by turning to face him, but the urge to see the smile I was sure he wore drove me to spin.
And sure enough, there it was; his beaming grin seeming even more bright in the semi darkness of the cupboard. The hands that had been on my waist had shifted when I turned, now resting on my elbows as I lifted my head up to meet his gaze. We were still close, very close; if not for the towels I had in my arms between us, we would have been pressed together.
'Here, let me.' Jake said, taking the pile off me and moving it to the side in a movement that, for my distracted mind, was almost too fast follow. But my every nerve became more than aware of his movements as he stepped forward, closing the distance between us as he wrapped the topmost towel around my shoulders.
'Thank you.' I murmured, and I wondered if he heard the breathlessness in my voice as I smiled at him.
'You know, you didn't have to tell me all that stuff about your family before.' He said softly. 'You promised me one secret, not ten, and even then I would have understood if you refused.' His hands were still on my shoulders, his eyes tender as he looked down at me.
'I know I didn't have to. But I wanted to tell you, Jake.' I replied, my voice barely louder than a whisper. In the short time it had taken me to speak, his right hand had trailed across my shoulder to my neck, his warm fingers oh-so-gentle as they brushed over my skin.
'Why?' The same hand was now drifting upwards, his thumb stroking my cheek softly as my eyes, which had until now been locked on his searing gaze, dropped slightly to linger on his lips.
'You know why.' I said quietly, my eyes flying back to his enrapturing brown ones as his left arm hooked around my waist. He pulled me across the small distance that separated us so that I was pressed against him, my hands splayed on his chest. His face was close – so close – to mine; all it would take was the slightest movement.
And then he was ever so softly pressing his lips to mine. Despite the softness, the kiss was searing in its intensity, making me melt against him as my body thrummed with the pleasure. It was better than I could have ever imagined, consuming me and making the rest of the world fade in comparison. For once, I wasn't feeling the familiar pang of sadness at the fact that this couldn't last; I couldn't feel anything except for him. I couldn't think of anything except for him.
And it that moment, I didn't want to.