Monday, April 4, 2011

Lessons Learned By: Kat3411

Title: Lessons Learned
Author:  Kat3411
BETA: Devil's Daughter {Ballsy}
RATING: VM 16+ (For some language and sex scenes) Fan Fiction Rating: M
WORD COUNT: 7854 (including summary)

SUMMARY: Leah's run off to Seattle where she works at a Shell gas station/convenience store.She spends a Friday evening at work contemplating some of the things she's learned over the past few months when a surprise visitor teaches her maybe she hasn't learned enough.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Twilight characters involved in this story - they belong solely to Stephanie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended.

Story written from Leah's POV:

"Just gas today?" I asked for at least the hundredth time today.

"Unless you're offering something else, darlin," was the disgusting reply I received from this guy with, maybe three teeth in his head wearing a hat over his mullet that said, "Life is Too Short to Dance with Ugly Women." Ha, ha . . . jerk-off.

Trying my best to hold in the sarcasm, I instead gave him a forced smile and handed him his change with, "Nope, sorry. Have a nice night."

He laughed heartily, showing me he actually had four teeth in his mouth then as he turned to walk back out to his old rusted pick up truck, I gave him a glare and muttered, "Dick."

Angie, my co-worker and friend, let out a laugh from behind me. "Why Leah, how did you know that was his name?"

"Just a lucky guess," I replied as I picked up my 44 oz. cup of Diet Pepsi, stuck the straw in my mouth and thought about how I ended up here in Seattle, working second shift at a Shell station. Man, I was a long way from home.

Growing up on the reservation in La Push, I had only ever been around people that were Quileute like me. But here in Seattle, there were so many different colors of people: red, white, black, yellow . . . it was a freaking rainbow! Gay, straight, yuppies, hicks, hippies, you name it, we had it. Working in this gas station, I saw it all.

I left La Push two months ago to get off of the emotional roller coaster I had been riding for the last year. For the first 19 years, my life was pretty good: loving family, great friends, good grades in school . . . but the last year . . . well, let's just say that I learned a few things that changed me into someone I don't really like.

"Hey girl, are you feeling alright? You look tired tonight," Angie asked as she walked by.

"Yeah, I'm OK. Just thinking too much. I'm finding it's a dangerous past time."

That made Angie smile. "I heard that."

I turned back to the register to help another customer when I noticed a cute young couple walk in. They had to be maybe 16 or 17, and they were holding hands and laughing . . . kind of made me want to gag. After gathering up a couple of bottles of pop and some candy, they stepped up to my register. I added up their items then said, "That's $7.45."

The boy handed me a ten and I gave him his change. "You two have a good night."

I could see the boy smile slyly at his girl as he said, "Oh, we will." Of course she giggled and I had to smile. They were just too cute. As I watched them walk away, it made me think of how Sam and I used to be when we first started dating. We were about the age of that couple, juniors in high school, and so in love. I thought we'd be together forever. And who knows? Maybe we would have if Sam hadn't morphed into a giant wolf, which apparently is a genetic flaw in our tribe due to the proximity of a vampire clan who had lived in Forks for the last hundred years or so. Sam phased, imprinted on my ex-favorite cousin, Emily, which is the pack way of mating for life, and left me in the dust. Sam was my first love, my only love, and in the one second it took me to introduce the two of them, my life was changed forever. That's when I learned that love sucks.

As much as I tried to forget it, the memory of that day still haunted me . . . the day when Sam came to me and shattered my heart into a million jagged pieces:

Mom had just left for work and Seth was still at school when Sam knocked at the door. I opened it and threw myself into his arms to kiss him. His lips were hesitant, not eager as always. I pulled back and noticed his body was still so hot. "Sam, you're so warm. I think you still have a fever." He told me he had been sick lately, and I could tell something was off. I just assumed he was still not feeling well.

"No, I'm alright. Let's sit down."

We sat on the couch and I could tell he was having trouble finding the words he wanted to say as he stared at the floor and picked at his shorts. "Sam, is something wrong? You're kind of freaking me out, here."

He gave me a small smile as he cupped my cheek. "It's just . . . I have something to tell you and I don't . . ." his hand dropped and ran through his hair in frustration. "God, I don't want to do this." He shoved himself off of the couch to stand.

I stood up and touched his back. "Sam, it's OK, you can tell me anything, you know that."

He turned and I could see whatever it was, it was causing him pain. "I know I can. Anything but this."

"Just spit it out, please."

He took a deep breath then he said, "Leah, you remember the other day when I was here and your cousin, Emily, came over?"

"Yeah, you left because you didn't feel well."

He took yet another deep breath. "It wasn't because I felt sick, it was . . ." he stopped and I noticed his lips tense and his teeth grind. Finally he spit out, "I have been seeing her, ever since then. And, I'm in love with her."

"What? You're in love . . . you just met her. How could . . . are you fucking serious?" My heart was suddenly beating out of control, and I felt like I was falling down a dark hole with nothing to grab onto to stop me.

"I know, it sounds crazy, but . . . I wish I could explain . . ." he stammered as his hands reached out grip my upper arms. "Leah, honey, look at me."

My head shook back and forth slowly as I stared at the floor. "Oh my God, you're serious. You are breaking up with me for . . . for my cousin. My FAVORITE cousin, who was like a sister . . . oh my God, oh my God, oh my God . . . " I couldn't stop the floodgates from opening and the tears poured down my face as my whole world crashed around me and I gasped for air.

Sam shook me and said again, "Leah, look at me!"

I finally forced my eyes up to look at his face and I could see this was killing him, but I didn't care. "Leah, I am so, so, sorry. I hate this, really I do. You have no idea . . . baby, I still love you, but . . ."

That's when my hand flew out and slapped him hard across the face. "Don't. Don't you dare stand there and tell me that you still love me because if you did, you wouldn't do this to me. I gave myself to you . . . ALL of me. You are my whole world, Sam. How could you do this to me?"

"Leah, I don't want to, but I can't help it."

"You can't help . . ." I repeated and paused then let loose the anger that was now building up inside, "You son of a bitch! Just go, Sam. Go run off with Emily. I hope you two will be very happy together rotting in hell!"

"Leah, don't . . ." he reached out for me again and I shook him off.

"Just go, Sam. Now . . . JUST GO! GET THE HELL OUT!"

Sam slowly backed away and when he reached the door, he opened it then turned back. "Leah, please know that I loved you and I never wanted to hurt you."

"GET. OUT!" I screamed as I hurled a book at him. He ducked just in time then closed the door behind him as I crumpled to the floor and felt the sobs rack my body.

"Hey, you gonna stand there staring out the window all night or can I get a fucking pack of Camels?" I jerked out of my thoughts and quickly wiped at the tears from my eyes to see one of our regulars, Goldilocks, well at least that's what I called her ‘cause the obvious dye job on her hair was way too gold to be real, standing in front of the counter rudely demanding a pack of smokes.

"Oh, uh, sorry," I said quickly as I turned to pull the pack out of the cigarette rack behind the counter. "Here you go. That's 4.51."

She thrust a five at me and I handed her the change with a "Have a good one."

She gave me a sneer then turned and walked out as daintily as you can on 4-inch heels. "Sweet girl, that Goldilocks."

Angie laughed heartily at that. "Yes, she is. Always has a kind word to say, doesn't she?"

I nodded at Angie with a smile and thought how much I actually enjoyed working with her. She was tall, brown-skinned, her black shiny hair always done in the latest fashion, and she had the most positive attitude of anyone I ever met, which surprised me when I found out how tough she had it growing up. She told me all about her non-existent father, her mother who had to work three jobs to feed her four kids, and an abusive older brother who used her for a punching bag. She left home when she was 18 and never looked back. Now she was 21 and working her way through beauty school, hoping to own a salon someday. I admired her spirit.

I smiled and told her, "Maybe when you get your salon, you can invite her in and figure out what color her hair is supposed to be."

"I would do that, girl, you know I would," Angie answered, again with her infectious laugh then she added, "I had to go to my mama's the other night to fix my little sister Tonya's hair. She got it into her head that she could dye her hair bleach blonde, and oh my Lord, you should have seen her! She's 12, Leah, 12! I thought my mama was going to die of a heart attack. But I fixed her up, good as new, and saved her from a butt-whooping, although, I felt like giving her one myself!"

I laughed with her as she turned back to help the customer that just stepped up to her register. After he left, Angie said to me, "Why don't you take your break now. I think you could use one . . . you look stressed tonight."

"Thanks, I will. Be back in 20." I sighed as I turned from the register and made my way into the back of the station. Angie and I had set up a little place in the storage room for us to take our breaks. We had two lawn chairs set up with a small little table between them, on top of a rug so we could slip our shoes off while we relaxed. There was a lamp and a plant on the table to make it look a little more homey.

I plopped down into one of the lawn chairs and slipped out of my shoes. I closed my eyes for a moment and I guess hearing Angie talk about her family made me think about my family . . . the ones I left behind in La Push. My mom, Sue, was a rock. I wished I could be more like her. She had seen hardship in her life, but she always came through stronger than before. I felt like such a wimp next to her.

And then there was my little brother, Seth, who really wasn't so little anymore. He was 16 now and obsessed with getting his driver's license. It made me smile just to think of unleashing him in a car on the poor citizens of La Push. God help them all! Then the thought came to my mind. I wonder what Dad would think of that.

My dad had passed away unexpectedly a few months ago from a heart attack. One morning, he was eating breakfast with us like any other day, yelling at Seth to take out the garbage, and at me to quit moping and eat, and then he went out hunting with his friends . . . and the next time I saw him was in a hospital, minutes before he died. It was such a shock to all of us, and we had no idea how to handle the situation. But, my mom, the rock, just said, "We'll do what we have to do, and we will be alright. Your dad would expect no less."

The whole reservation turned out for the funeral . . . my dad was a tribal elder and well-liked by everyone. I remember standing there beside my mother and brother, who was like a zombie, shaking everyone's hand as they all told us how sorry they were . . . it was like being stuck in a nightmare and not being able to wake yourself up. Somehow we made it through the day, but that night . . . I remember just laying in my bed wondering why with so many horrible rapists and murderers and pedophiles in this world, my dad was the one that had to die. Yeah, that's when I learned that life sucks.

With a deep sigh, I pushed myself up off of the chair and went to the little fridge we have to take out the pathetic lunch I had packed for myself. I sat back down and pulled out the bologna sandwich then set the apple on the table. As I un-wrapped my sandwich and took a bite, I thought about my mom and brother and how much I really missed them. I thought when I left, I wanted to be out on my own, to make my own decisions, and I did enjoy that to an extent. But, at night, when I was alone, I always thought of them and what they were doing, and I wondered if they missed me, too.

Because, you see, after my break up with Sam, I turned into this raving, bitch of a girl, who loved to bring misery to everyone around her. I guess I figured if I had to feel that way, everyone else should to. Now that my father is gone, I so regret those last few weeks before he died. He tried so hard in his gentle, loving way to get through to me, to make me talk about it instead of holding it all inside to fester into anger. But I refused. One night, I even lost it and told him, ‘to leave me the fuck alone!’ Unfortunately, he gave me what I asked for and he quit trying. And I never got to tell him how much it meant to me that he was the one and only person that actually tried to get me to talk about how I felt instead of just ignoring me. And I refused him. I really loved my dad. I just hope he knew how much.

I did try to keep in touch with my mom by calling her at least once a week. She would report on the happenings around the res and then ask me if I was eating enough, ‘and not just junk food from the gas station . . . don't forget to throw in some vegetables,’ and on and on. I would just smile and answer all her questions then if Seth was home, she would put him on the phone and he would share what gossip he had, then before he could launch into his whining about when I might be coming home, I would usually say I had to go and hang up. I knew the kid meant well, but I just didn't know when or if I would ever go home again. I hadn't decided that yet.

A glance at the clock told me break time was over, so I threw my trash into the can and after using the restroom, made my way back out to the register. Angie met me with a smile then announced she was taking her break. It was the time of night where things usually settled down for awhile, so I assured her I would be fine.

I decided to stock the cigarette rack while I had some down time in between customers. Angie had set a few boxes behind the counter so I opened them and started filling the rack. A smile crossed my face as I looked down to open another box and I saw a huge wolf head looking back up at me. It was the logo for Timber Wolf smokeless tobacco. As I ripped open the box and began filling the rack, memories again flooded my mind.

"Oh my God . . . I'm a . . . dog!" I had just morphed into a giant wolf for the first time and I was terrified. It was just two days after my dad's funeral, and I was having a hard time containing my rage at how my life was turning out. First I lose Sam, then my dad . . . and I was feeling sick, running a high fever. I was pissed at the whole fucking world. Next thing I know, my body turns into this huge, furry wolf!

Mom must have witnessed it from the kitchen window, as I had gone outside to get some fresh air, and she came running out of the house assuring me I would be fine. I could hear myself screaming at her inside my head, "I'm a fucking dog! Can you not see I just turned into an animal!" but all that came out of my mouth was whining and barking.

Just then, I heard inside my head, "Oh my God, Leah? Is that you?"

"Sam?" I turned all around, trying to find him, but he was nowhere around.

"Yes, Leah, I can hear your thoughts. I'm a wolf, too. I'll be there soon. Please just stay there and try to stay calm."

"What the fuck? You can hear my thoughts?" This is a nightmare, I thought. I just need to wake up. My heart was racing and from some reason, I felt like running . . . but I finally settled on pacing the yard while staring at my mother and wondering why she wasn't freaking out right now. I could see pieces of my clothes laying all over the yard where they obviously ripped away when I exploded into this hairy body. Why isn't this upsetting her?

"Because she knows about us. She took your dad's place as an elder, remember? She knows about our pack."

"Our pack? There are more?"

"Yes. There are five of us: Jared, Paul, Embry, Jacob and me, I'm the Alpha, the leader. Jared is with me . . . we are about 2 minutes away."

Finally, I heard them and I turned to see two huge wolves, one black and one brown, stalk slowly into my back yard. The black one was bigger and it approached me, while the other one stayed back. "Leah, it's OK. It's me, Sam. I'm here to help."

Sam, of all people. The one person that had hurt me more than anyone ever had, is here to help me. I had spent the last couple of months doing everything I could to get him out of my mind, and now, here he is, in my head, reading each and every thought I have. That's when I learned being a Quileute sucks.

Two days later, my brother, Seth, morphed at 15. Apparently he was the youngest they had had so far, and I was the only female . . . ever. Great! Even as a wolf I'm a freak.

Sam stayed with me that first night and explained everything then tried to get me to phase back. It took several hours until I was calm enough, but finally, after Jared left and Mom went back into the house, I lay down on the ground and calmed my mind and body and it just happened. I looked up to see Sam looking down at me as a wolf, then suddenly, I watched in amazement as he once again became a man. A very naked man. That's when I realized that I was naked, too.

He kneeled down and gave me a small smile. "Sorry, Leah. Just a hazard of the job. See this leather band around my ankle? I keep my shorts tied to my leg, so when I phase back, I have something to put on." I nodded, but noticed that he didn't move to take those short from his leg and slip them on. Instead he reached out and brushed my hair from my eyes. "And you should probably cut your hair. It's easier with the phasing in and out."

I nodded, but said nothing. "Get some rest. I'll be back to help in the morning."

"NO!" I shouted. "Not you. Anyone but you."

I could see the pain in his eyes at my rejection. Good. I was still hurting too much to be around him. He nodded then said, "OK. I'll send Paul or Jared." And with that he left. Paul came by the next morning and worked with me for the next few days until I could be left on my own. Paul . . .

I was brought back to the present by an older man in a nice business suit asking for directions on how to get back to I5. I smiled and pulled out a map, drawing out which streets to take then handed it to him. "Thanks, young lady. I appreciate your help."

"No problem," I smiled. First nice guy I had talked to all day.

Angie came back from her break and we chatted for awhile. A few customers came and went, and soon it would be time for the shift changeover. This station was open 24/7 and I was off at eleven. Then I would go home, to my very small, but affordable apartment, flop into bed and try hard to get rid of all of these memories that seemed to be haunting me tonight.

As I wiped down the counter around the fountain soda machine, Paul came back to my mind. After becoming one of them, in no time at all I realized that he was the pack jerk for being such a hot head and shooting off his mouth most of the time and I became the pack bitch . . . we were quite a pair. We actually enjoyed driving the rest of the pack crazy with our crude language and shitty attitudes. But, when we were alone . . . well, that was a different story.

We had become friends of sorts . . . Paul could make me laugh when on one else could. And he was surprisingly a good listener. And I found out later, a really good kisser. Yes, we had gone there . . . we had sex. And it was very, very good. It was inevitable really . . . Paul was a sexual guy, and I was a lonely girl. I wanted so badly to push Sam from my mind for good and I thought I could just have sex with Paul and not feel anything, and for a while, it worked. But then, stupidly I started to have feelings for him, and I couldn't do that, not again. So, I left. Just packed up and left. No explanation, not even a note to him. That’s when I leaned that having sex just for fun sucks.

I missed Paul, I really did. And not just for the sex, which sometimes kept me up at night, just aching for him, but I missed his ‘no bullshit’ insight, and his corny jokes and sarcastic comments that always made me laugh. Oh hell, I just missed him . . . all of him.

I finished cleaning up and glanced at the clock. Ten minutes then I was gone until Monday. I actually had the whole weekend off, which was a first in the whole month and a half I had been working here. Just as I got behind the counter again, Angie informed me that she was going back to change the Mt. Dew in the fountain machine as a customer had just complained that it was out. She walked away and before I could turn back to face the counter, I heard a man's voice say, "Excuse me, can I have change for a dollar?"

I rolled my eyes and wondered why men could never seem to carry enough change in their pockets then I turned and was completely shocked to see Paul standing there, holding out a dollar. He added with a shit-eating grin, "The condom machine in the bathroom only takes quarters."

"Oh my God . . . what, why are you . . . " I stammered as my heart pounded in my chest. Finally I got control enough to spit out, "You came all the way to Seattle to buy condoms?"

His hearty laugh rang out through the store as he shook his head. "Oh man, Leah, I have missed you so much. No, I didn't come all the way here to buy condoms. I came to find you and talk some sense into you."

"Well, then you've wasted a trip," I huffed as I rearranged things on the counter trying to make it look like I was extremely busy at 10:55 at night with no customers anywhere to be found.

"Leah, please, just take some time to talk to me. That's all I ask." I made the mistake of looking up at him and seeing just how much he cared about me in his eyes. I learned early on that if you wanted to know exactly what Paul was feeling, you just had to look into his eyes. As hard as he tried to hide it, his eyes always gave him away.

"Fine," I sighed, "But not out here. Come with me," I nodded to the right where he could come around the counter and follow me into the back. We ran into Angie who was just coming out.

"Honey, who is this tall drink of gorgeous water?" she asked with a grin.

I had to smile at that. Angie was always on the lookout for Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome to come in and sweep her off her feet. And Paul was, well, he was really hot, especially now dressed in the black v-neck t-shirt and jeans that hugged his body just right. "This is Paul, you know, from back home? Paul, this is my friend, Angie."

"Hi Angie, nice to meet you," Paul swaggered, holding his hand out.

Angie threw me a wink as she took Paul's hand. "Mmm, hmmm, nice to meet you, sugar."

"I need to talk to Paul. Is it alright if I take a few minutes?"

"You take all the time you want, baby girl," she returned with a smile then she turned and made her way to the register.

I rolled my eyes, grabbed Paul's arm and pulled him back to our break area where I turned to face him. "Alright, you have 2 minutes. Talk."

"Are you fucking serious here? I came all this way and you're only giving me two minutes?"

"Better start talking! You're down to a minute fifty."

"Damn you, woman," he huffed. "Maybe instead of talking, I should use the time to do this."
And with that, he hauled me to his chest and crushed his lips onto mine. My mind was taken by surprise, but my body automatically reacted and kissed him back. I loved the way his lips moved with mine . . . not too hard, and not too wet, just the right amount of tongue to make me want so much more.

Before I knew it, his hands slid down my body over my ass as he pressed himself into me . . . his subtle way to let me know just how much he had missed me. I finally woke myself up to protest when his hand slid over my crotch and begin to rub lightly back and forth. I shoved him with all the strength I could muster and said roughly, "Stop it, Paul."

I stepped back to try and catch my breath as he grinned at me. "What? I can see that you missed me just as much as I missed you."

"Please tell me you did not come here just to have sex with me in the back of a gas station."

"Well, I hadn't planned on it, but that does sound hot," he leaned into kiss me again and I again shoved him away.

"Damnit, Paul, knock it off! I work here, you know, and I'd kind of like to keep this job." I took a few steps back and turned away from him. "If that's all you're here for, you might as well go."

"Leah, that's not why I'm here and I think you know that." I felt his hand on my shoulder as he nudged me to turn back to him. "I want to talk, really. When do you get off work?"

I rolled my eyes and sighed at him. He wouldn't give up until I talked to him, I knew he wouldn't. "I'm off in two minutes."

His smile was like an arrow right into my heart. "OK then, I'll wait out front for you." He smugly turned on his heel and walked back out into the store. I found myself actually admiring his ass as he walked away from me.

Great! What have I gotten myself into now? I thought to myself as I walked to the register.

Angie greeted me with, "Why don't you go ahead and go. I'll clock out for you." I glared at Angie, as she knew all about Paul and why I left. I had pretty much spilled my guts to her the first night we went out after work. "Go on, honey. Believe me, if a fine man like that came in here looking for me, I'd be gone already."

"Fine," I knew her well enough to know she wouldn't take no for an answer. "I'll go get my purse." I ducked into the back to grab my things then walked out front to stand beside Paul. "Alright, let's go."

Angie waved and sent us off with a "Bye, now!"

I grabbed Paul's arm and proceeded to drag him out of the store. "How did you get here?" I knew he didn't own a car. At least he didn't when I left La Push.

"You know that I've been saving up money from my lawn business to buy a car. Well, I finally bought one - that cute little rust bucket over there. Jake helped me get her running and she actually made it all the way here." I looked over to see a rusty, light blue Ford Escort, from 1980 something sitting under the big street light. "She doesn't look like much, but she runs good."

"She? Why must all guys insist on calling their cars 'she?' It's rather degrading," I told him in disgust as we walked towards the car.

"Because, like women, we enjoy making them purr."

"Oh my God, Paul," I muttered as he laughed.

"Come on, Leah. Get in and show me where you live." He opened the car door for me, so I slid in and waited for him to get behind the wheel. When he started the engine, I gave him quick directions on how to get to my apartment. "So, how do you get to work?"

"I take the bus."

"Oh. I don't think I've ever ridden on a bus. But then, I've never been to Seattle before today either."

"How did you find me?" My mom and Seth were the only ones that knew where I was, and I had no idea they knew which gas station I worked at.

"Uh, I don't think that's important right now. The main thing is, after stopping at seven Shell stations, I finally found the right one."

I smiled and shook my head at his grin. Paul was tenacious . . . he never gave up on a challenge. I guess that's why he was here . . . I was known to be something of a challenge. "Seth. He never could keep a secret."

Paul smiled at that. "He made me promise not to tell you. The kid misses you, Leah."

"I know. I hate to admit it, but I actually miss him, too."

He pulled up in front of the building that I pointed out and then gave me a strange look. "You live in a laundromat?"

"No, you dork. I live up there," I pointed, "above the laundromat."

"Oh, yeah," he said as he climbed out of the car. I opened the door to the stairway that led upstairs then pulled out my keys to unlock the three locks on my door. "Tough neighborhood?" Paul asked as he noticed all the locks.

"A girl can never be too careful." I finally opened the door and flipped on the light as I walked inside. It was very small, just two rooms really, but it was clean and all I really needed. I set my purse and keys down on the counter of the small kitchenette, which was really just a two burner stove, small refrigerator and one basin sink with a couple of cabinets and then stepped into the living area. "I don't have much food to offer you. I think I have some leftover pizza."

"I'm fine. I just ate an hour or so ago," Paul said as he looked around. My living area slash bedroom was one chair, a small end table, a pull-out couch that I slept on, and a dresser that held a small TV, all provided by the landlord. I was lucky to find a furnished apartment that I could afford, seeing as I had no furniture of my own.

I slid the red vest off that I had to wear for work and flung it over the back of the chair. "Um, through there is the bathroom, so you know."

Paul nodded and sat down on the couch. "So, where do you sleep?"

"You're sitting on it."

"Oh, pull-out couch. I get it. It's not bad, Leah."

"It's what I can afford," I sighed as I sunk down onto the chair, avoiding sitting with him on the couch at all costs. "Now, what are you doing here? I'm not going to just jump in your car and go home with you, you know."

"No? Well then, why don't you start by telling me why you left in the first place? No phone call, no note, you just left. And now you don't return any of my calls. What the fuck, Leah? I thought we were friends. Good friends."

I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I really did not want to do this. My eyes opened as I replied smartly, "Maybe it's because I didn't want to have this conversation with you. Did you ever think of that?"

"Damnit, Leah! You can be like that with everyone else, but not me. I know you . . . better than you think. You felt something for me that scared the shit out of you so you ran."

"Well, if you know that, then why are you here trying to get me to tell you?"

"Maybe I want to hear it from you. Maybe I want to know what it is you felt that scared you so much."

I pushed myself off the chair and walked to the window to stare out at the lights of my little neighborhood, the big buildings of downtown in the distance. I didn't want to tell him before I left and I certainly didn't want to tell him now. I was not going to fall in love again, especially with another member of the wolf pack that could imprint and dump my ass. I couldn't do it again. I wasn't strong enough.

Paul stepped up behind me and I could feel his hot breath on the back of my neck, as I always wore my hair in a pony tail for work. "Leah, baby," he said softly, "Talk to me. Please." His hands found my hips and I felt myself melting. Be strong, Leah. Be strong.

I quickly stepped out of his grasp to say, "Stop it, Paul. I made my decision to walk away and you are just going to have to live with it. Please just go home and leave me alone."

I could see the anger creep into his eyes as they narrowed. "What is it with you? Why are you so damn stubborn about admitting that you have feelings for me? Is it because you think I don't feel the same way?"

I shook my head. "Don't. Don't say it, Paul. It won't make a difference. We were friends and we had sex, end of story. I came here to be on my own, to make my own decisions, that's all. Don't make this into something it's not," I insisted. I hoped he would buy it, but I knew he wouldn't.

"Bullshit! You forget how well I know you." He stepped closer as he said, "I know you better than anyone, Leah. I know you're scared of falling in love again because of Sam. I get that. I never wanted to fall in love either, if you remember. I told you that when we had sex that first time . . . that it was just for laughs." He looked into my eyes as he gently took my face into his hands. "But you got to me, baby, in a way that no one has before. And when you left, it ripped me apart. I tried to stay away from you, for me, and for you, but . . . I can't do it anymore."

And with that, his lips captured mine in a slow, lingering kiss, and his strong arms came around me to press me close to his body, and for a moment I gave in and let myself feel swept away.

But my pride poked at me to protect myself, and I fought back. I shoved him away and shouted, "Don't, Paul! I told you I don't want this! I don't want you!"

"The hell you don't! I could feel it at the gas station and again just now when I kissed you, Leah. Why can't you admit it, at least to yourself?"

I turned away from him to try and get control of my emotions. I was quickly losing this battle not only with Paul, but with myself, and I didn't know what to do about it. What happened if I gave in right now, let myself fall in love with him, and then two weeks from now, or two years from now, he imprints on someone? I can't do it . . . I won't do it!

"God, Paul, don't you fucking get it? What if you imprint? I can't stand the thought of it!"

"What if you imprint?" he shot back. "I'm taking a chance here, too, but I think it's worth the risk."

I snorted, "You know I'm not going to imprint. If I could have little wolf puppies, Sam never would have imprinted on Emily. I'm a freak of nature she-wolf, Paul, who is broken. You don't want that."

"Damnit, you are driving me so fucking crazy!" he cried as he dug his hands into his hair and pulled. His hands dropped as he sighed, "Leah, you don't know that for sure. And besides, I don't care about kids. All I care about is you."

I whipped around to throw at him, "I won't do it, Paul. No matter how I feel about you, I won't go back to La Push and become that wimpy little girl again who needs a man to make her feel like she's somebody."

His eyes softened as he stepped over to rest his hands on my upper arms. "Leah, I don't want that wimpy little girl. I want the strong, beautiful woman that I know . . . the one who laughs at my stupid jokes, and listens to me whine about how unfair life can be. The Leah I know is smart and funny and sexy and caring and one hell of a good kisser. I miss that Leah, and that's who I've come to here to see."

We stood there staring at one another until finally I broke the silence with, "Paul, I want to, I do, but. . . I'm scared."

His arms came round me and I rested my cheek on his chest as he admitted softly, "Me too, baby. I'm scared shitless! You know that I've been around, and I have never felt like this about any other girl I've ever known. You got under my skin and no matter what I do, I can't shake you. I need you just to breathe, Leah. You're killing me here."

I stepped back enough to look into his eyes. I knew they wouldn't lie to me. I could see in those big, dark pools, love and desire . . . more than I ever saw in Sam's eyes. A huge lump grew in my throat as I felt myself falling into them . . . Paul's thumb brushing my tears away as he took my face into his hands. "Leah?" he whispered, and I knew then the answer I would give to the unspoken question he was asking.

But I couldn't speak, so I just nodded. He smiled softly then kissed me. My arms slid up to fasten around his neck as his hands slid down my body to rest on my hips.

Paul moved us slowly toward the couch and we sunk down onto it together. We spent time just kissing until finally Paul nudged me away and pulled at the hem of my shirt. I smiled and let him pull it over my head, and then I did the same for him. Just like all of the others in the wolf pack, Paul was so muscular and toned. I ran my hands appreciatively over his chest and shoulders as he worked on the hooks of my bra. When he had it unhooked, he slid the straps down my arms and I pulled it away and let it land on the floor on top of our shirts.

Paul's smile as he ran his palms over the tips of my breasts had me melting into a pool of arousal. I pulled his head to me and kissed him as he pushed gently on my shoulders to lie back on the couch. He left a trail of hot wet kisses down my neck, over my collarbone, and then down to take a nipple into his mouth and I moaned in delight. Paul always was good at knowing just exactly what turned me on.

I reached for the snap on his jeans and slowly edged the zipper down over his erection. He hissed as I ran my hand over him and he stopped to say, "Leah, be careful. It's been a long time, and I'm not sure how long I can hold out."

I smiled lazily and grabbed him. "It's been a long time for me, too. I'm kind of in a hurry, here."

With that, he grinned and stood up to take off his jeans and boxers to stand before me in all his glorious beauty. I quickly unzipped my jeans and he grabbed the bottom of the legs to whip them off of me and throw them onto the growing pile of clothes on the floor. I reached for my underwear, but Paul said, "Oh no, let me." He leaned forward to bite the top of my panties and pull them down with his teeth as I laughed softly.

Once they were off, Paul propped himself over me and kissed me again. Before long, I was writhing under him, so wet for him I thought I would die. Then I said, "Um, Paul? I just realized that I never gave you change for your dollar."

"What?" he growled into my ear.

"Condoms, Paul? Do you have any?"

"Fuck, yeah. Hold on." His hand shot out to grab his jeans and whip one out of his pocket. He had it on in no time and was back in position, his lips devouring mine.

Finally he pressed himself against my opening and whispered into my ear, "I have missed you so much. I love you, Leah," and then I felt him slip inside me, filling me up and I heard myself finally admit, "I love you, too."

I hung on for dear life, digging my nails into his shoulder, as we moved together, both of us working hard to find that release. Paul kissed me and wound his hands into my hair that was now loose from it's pony tail and tugged as he drove into me over and over until . . . I felt my orgasm rock my body as Paul cried out, "Oh, Leah!"

We lay there panting, our hearts thudding against one another, staring into each other's eyes. I knew at that moment that I would fight for this man come hell or high water. No one would ever take him from me. I could see the same in his. That's when I learned that maybe, just maybe, love and life and being a Quileute or having sex for fun really didn't suck. That maybe, I had more to learn from this life, but not here in Seattle. A smile spread over my face as I said to Paul, "I think I'm ready to go home."

"Damn right, you are. But how about we spend the weekend here?" he asked with a grin.

"Mmm, great idea!"

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