Jake was everywhere.
I'd been jerked from my nightmarish memory with a huff, to discover with surprise that I was on the ground. And while I'd been blinking with shock, I'd had barely a second to glimpse the wall of trees around me before he was there. Jake. His wolf towering over me, blocking out everything except his wonderfully coloured russet fur. And it probably should have been intimidating, because he was huge, dwarfing me in comparison, but instead it was comforting. Jake himself was comforting, but this position – him over him me, hiding me – was even better.
It was safe. Safe and warm and soft, because he was brushing against me now, his nose and jaw grazing against mine as he sniffed me, making a happy sound as he did so. I couldn't help but smile at the action; the touch and affection was a welcome contrast to the horrifying scene that had been playing out in my mind, so much so that it didn't take long for the memory to slip from my mind.
But unfortunately, it wasn't the only thing to disappear.
Because after one last snuffle in my ear, Jake was suddenly gone.
I sat up in a rush with a sad and surprised gasp, my eyes finding him almost at the tree line. Even as I watched, he was still backing away; and before I could open my mouth to ask what he was doing, he was turning and slipping into the bushes.
And the moment he did, I felt suddenly and immeasurably sad. Which was stupid, so stupid, because I could feel him just 30 metres away; it barely even counted as him being gone. But regardless, I couldn't help but feel as if I'd lost part of him. Part of him, part of me; it had been just seconds, but already I needed him back here.
I needed him.
I shouldn't, not this badly, but I did. After this morning, after today, with everything that was happening or going to happen; it was too much. I needed something, at least, to help keep me together, and that was Jake. I didn't know when it had become him; when I'd started needing him just to stay in control. Perhaps it had always been him.
All I knew as I sat there was how lost I felt without him.
And like clockwork, it was in exactly that moment that Jake reappeared from the trees. He was human now, which must have been the reason he left in the first place; a thought that should have occurred to me, but his sudden departure had left me far to lost to think properly. He was back now though; back and walking towards me, wearing only jeans and leaving plenty of his wonderfully tanned skin for me to see. I could see his muscles moving as he stepped, his gorgeous chest and arms mesmerizing; but it was his face that I focused on.
Because his expression said that he felt just as lost as I did.
In less than a second I was scrambling to my feet and heading towards him. The vertigo from before returned almost instantly, but it was bearable; and worth it. Worth it, because after just three short steps, Jake was back. He was pulling me close, his strong arms tightening around me as my own arms slipped around his waist. His chin easily rested on the top of my head as I leant into his chest, the immediate warmth making me hum softly as I basked in his embrace.
Hugging Jake was so good. So good that for a while, we both just stood there, soaking each other in. I could feel him breathing, his chest moving ever so slightly as he did, and without meaning to, I found my own breaths synchronising with his; until I spoke quietly, breaking the pattern.
'I can't remember the last time we did this.' I murmured against him with a sigh. 'The last two days have been…' I trailed off, struggling to find the right word.
'Hard.' Jake supplied with a rumble, and I felt his grip on me tighten. I hummed in agreement. I'd spent way too much time unconscious. And the times I had been awake; well, I hadn't been in control at all. I'd been so upset; and if not upset, so dazed I didn't know what was going around me. Now though; now, I was finally better.
'It feels like forever since I've been awake and normal.' I said quietly, and he made a noise in affirmation.
'It's been too long.' He agreed. 'But thankfully, you're better now.' He continued, and I could hear the relief in his voice. But then he suddenly stiffened, and I tilted my head upwards to see him looking down at me with worry.
'You are better, aren't you? Before you were–' I cut him off with a finger over his mouth.
'I'm fine. I don't think I could walk very far, or stand up for too long, but otherwise, I'm perfectly alright.' Jake didn't look very reassured. 'And before you force me to the ground, I'm not about to collapse while you're holding me, so relax.' He grinned then.
'You knew what I was thinking.' He said with amusement, and I smiled. But then I was suddenly yelping, because I'd been unexpectedly jerked and pulled to the ground, and before I even had time to process that I was falling I was landing on top of Jake with a gasp. Still reeling with surprise, I realised I'd ended up sitting on him, straddling his lap as he sat facing me, his face just inches from mine. Yet even though we'd been just as close moments before when he'd embraced me, this was so much more.
The intensity left me breathless, his gaze fierce as he stared at me. His hands had moved to my waist, my own braced on his shoulders and chest; his beautifully muscled, golden skinned chest, so stunning that for a moment I couldn't take my eyes of it. But I was looking at him again now; his gorgeous brown eyes freezing me in position. I was hyperaware of him beneath me; his hard body, his skin was burning hot.
Though that heat was nothing compared to how searing his lips were when they found my own.
It was like he was breathing his heat into me, because every part of me felt like it was on fire. Molten fire, because I could feel myself melting against him from the wonderful overload of sensations that were thrumming through my body. There was one thing that stood out though; him. His hand in my hair and pulling me into him, as he kissed me harder and deeper, his mouth not leaving mine even as I gasped from how good he felt. His lips were alternating between strong and soft, strong and soft, in a heavenly mix that filled me with pleasure.
Pleasure that lingered, even when we broke apart, my lips tingling and heart thrumming as I smiled softly. Jake was smiling too, his hand lingering on my neck as he spoke quietly.
'I'm really glad you're better again.' He murmured. I smiled wider; I was glad to be better too, and Jake's happiness made it that much sweeter; especially if he was going to kiss me like that every time.
'Did I surprise you too much?' He asked, his eyes were glimmering with happiness. He didn't seem very worried about my answer; his tone was more amused than uncertain.
I shook my head. 'It was a nice surprise.' I replied, and he grinned wider.
'Good.' He said. He paused for a moment, before speaking again. 'Even though you were right, I still feel better with you on the ground.' I laughed quietly at that.
'You know I wouldn't have fallen.' I said.
'I know. I wouldn't have let you.' I hummed my agreement. He tilted his head to the side slightly, giving me a curious look.
'You trust me.' It wasn't quite a question, and he seemed pleased to say it. I nodded, smiling again, and he smiled back.
'I've always trusted you.' I said softly, and now he was the one chuckling.
'I don't think that's true. If I remember correctly, you tried to run away from me when we first met.' I thought it over with a smile.
'Okay then. I suppose that for the first 10 seconds, I kind of thought that you were going to kill me.' Jake frowned at that, and made an unhappy sound. 'But after that, I trusted you.' He grinned again then.
'After I imprinted on you.' He seemed happy to say the words.
'After you imprinted on me.' I confirmed, also smiling. I was still smiling when Jake's lips pressed against mine, softly and sweetly kissing me as I made a contented hum. It was a short kiss, and so much calmer and slower than before, yet still just as good. Even when we separated Jake was still close, his nose burying into the top of my hair as he smelled me.
'You smell nice.' He breathed in a contented sigh. It drew my attention to his smell; a wonderful mix of forest and wolf and something that was just him. 'You taste nice too.' He added, and his words made me laugh softly.
'Is that the wolf talking?' I asked, and he shrugged.
'Maybe. The wolf and I are pretty blended, so it's probably more the imprint.' He smiled then. 'Or maybe it's just you.' I smiled back at him.
'I think it's both.' I said speculatively, and Jake pulled back to give me a questioning look. 'The imprint doesn't make a connection out of nothing, Jake; that would be stupid. And weird. It more enhances. Without it, we still would have liked each other; it just would have been… less.' He thought that over for a few moments.
'I suppose that makes sense. But I don't think I would have wanted to not imprint.' He said, and I couldn't help but feel a little relieved; I liked the imprint, and it was good to know he did too. But his next sentence quickly dimmed my happiness.
'Though the imprint isn't too happy with me right now.' He said glumly. For a moment, all I could do was stare at him in confusion.
'Sorry?' I eventually managed to ask.
'It's worried about you. And the last two days have really set it on edge. Especially after this morning, because it didn't want me to leave, but I did anyway.' He sounded particularly miserable in the last part of his sentence.
'Now, all it wants to do is lock you away somewhere and watch you 24/7.' He finished softly, and I wondered if he knew that his hands on my waist were tightening their grip. My guess was no; he seemed preoccupied, consumed by his thoughts.
Perhaps he was thinking about what he'd just told me; locking me away somewhere and not letting me out of his sight. It sounded kind of nice, to be honest; I would get to spend more time with him. Time that I not just wanted, but needed; I needed him to stay with me. With death hovering over me in a rapidly descending and overwhelming cloud, I needed him badly; to distract me, to keep me together, to be close, and to just be him.
And it was need that drove me to lean into him more, my head pressing into the crook of his neck and shoulder as I replied.
'You know, that doesn't sound too bad.' I murmured. 'I like having you around.' I felt a mixture of doubt and pleasure though the imprint in reaction to my words.
'I like having you around too. But do you really want me to lock you up somewhere?'
'Maybe not; staying here sounds like a better idea.'