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The Mythical Creature's Guide to Living in the Modern World (13/23)


"I'm sorry 'bout the attitude I need to give when I'm with you,
but no one else would take this shit from me, and I'm so terrified of no one else but me.
I'm here all the time; I won't go away."

Matchbox Twenty "Long Day"


Chapter Thirteen, Xi

I was frantically trying to tame my hair was we headed to La Push in the Rabbit. I'd flipped down the passenger-side visor and was trying to make sure I didn't look like the cheapest version of a street-walking whore ever to exist.

"I'm trying to drive here," Jake admonished, when I tried attacking his hair after I'd given up on mine.

"And I'm fucking trying to make you look presentable. It's harder then it sounds."

"It's only Billy, Leah."

"And I'm supposed to have been taking care of you guys. And right now it looks like you decided to smoke the soap rather then use it."

He rolled his eyes at me, then turned back to the road. "I think Seth and I are grown enough to try to wash ourselves. Though," he said, turning to look at me again, and shaking his head when he saw I'd gone back to trying to pick the bits of leaf out of my hair, "I'd not be opposed if you wanted to join me..."

Jake had to stop saying things like that. It made it harder for me to try to ignore the heat inside me. "You wanna pull over so I can give you and your hand some 'personal time,' O mighty Alpha?"

"Ah, Lee, I didn't know you wanted to help so bad."

I thought over what I'd said. "Dipshit," I punched him, "you know what I meant!"

"I know what you meant. Freudian slip. I knew you were hot for me."

"Bastard."

"Bitch."

"Ass."

"Whore."

"Idiot."

"Idiot? I'm not the one freaking out about my hair when it's only Billy and Rachel."

"And Paul."

"Yes, but I try to forget him."

"That may be difficult to do; he is doing your sister."

He groaned – and I felt myself grow warmer still as he did - "That was the part I was trying to forget."

"Hard to when you walk in on them-"

"I don't want to talk about this. Can't we talk about something less disgusting? Like sewage systems. Or the colour pink. Or Nazis. Can't we talk about Nazis for a while?"

"I'm only saying that Billy thinks we're dating 'cause Sam can't keep his wide-assed mouth shut, and I don't want to spend all evening listening about how I should be taking better freaking care of you."

"Again, seventeen, not seven."

"It's the TV's fault."

"What?" Jake laughed. It was a sexy laugh. I tried not to think about it. Stupid hormone-induced desires. Must get rid of them. Must-

"The TV's fault," I dead-panned. "It tells me a proper girlfriend is supposed to make sure her boyfriend doesn't look like he's been sleeping in the woods, and I'm doing to damn well do it."

"Because the TV said so?"

I shrugged. We were almost there anyway. "It's turned my mind into tapioca. I must obey."

"Even though we're only pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend?"

"It just means I have to work harder at it." I was a failure at everything else. I'd see to it that I kept our pack fed and in school if it was the last thing I did. Which it might be, because it'd probably be the only thing I ever did with the rest of my life. Besides this whole forget how nice Jake is when we're not insulting each other. God, I hope we got to Billy's soon. I was getting hungry.

"You've got some serious issues, Clearwater."

We were pulling into Billy's driveway now. Thank God. Couldn't stop myself from muttering, "So they tell me," under my breath as I pulled out the tray of cookies Esme had forced upon us so we wouldn't show up empty handed from the back seat. More loudly, "You ready to act like love-drunk idiots and make Billy's day?"

He held out a hand, which I, reluctantly (or so I tell myself) took, "Sure, sure." His hand was larger even then mine, and burning with the werewolf heat, and strong. His fingers lacing into mine was almost more then I could bear, and it was only strict shouting at myself to remember myself that I didn't jump on him then and let him figure out I liked him that way. Because it was just a superficial like that would go nowhere and achieve nothing. I'd be over it in a week or two. I still smiled at him though.

The door opened before we'd gotten to the landing, revealing Billy with a great big – and I mean ginormous – smile on his face. "There's the prodigal son." Then he turned to me and I freaked out a little – because he seemed to be radiating freaking happiness as his grin managed to somehow get bigger. "And my daughter."

And we'd not even gotten through the door yet. I feared what would come when we sat down for dinner.

"God, Dad," Jake said, forcing past his father and collapsing on the couch. This had the effect, as he'd not let go of my hand yet (and not vice versa), of pulling me into the room as well. And seating me close enough to Jake that I got another good whiff of that pine scent I really need to stop thinking about. He put an arm around me, causal-like, and I let myself imagine for a minute that it wasn't all for Billy's benefit. That Jake might like me back. That this didn't all have to end in tragedy.

But it was my life, so of course it had to end badly. Because there was no way that anyone would ever like me that way, not with me the bitter old crone I'd become. And what I felt anyway was purely a physical reaction to the close presence of a nice-looking, very masculine boy and my own whacked-up hormones. He was my Alpha. It could never work.

Unless...

No, not thinking. Not at all.

"So, Dad, what was with the summons? Miss me that much?"

"Is is such a crime for a guy to want to meet his son's girlfriend?"

I resisted rolling my eyes. "You've known me my whole life, Mr. Black."

"Yes, still..." His stupid smile didn't fade. I could only guess the cable had gone out and he'd missed out on his soaps this week, because he'd certainly not acted this way when he'd found out about Rachel and Paul. Probably because Paul was a jackass with the mental acuity of a rubber duck. I guess that made me less then a bitch then Paul in Billy's eyes. So, go me. I must be doing something right. "Tell an old man how you two got together?"

Was he serious? I looked at Jake, who seemed to have predicted this response from his father, because he merely pressed me closer against his (quite nice) side and said, "We were patrolling together and she just jumped me. Things kinda went from there."

I just jumped him, did I? Make me out to be a slut in front of your father why don't you? I'll show you jumping – and my left hook. Just wait 'til we get back to my rock...

Then it got worse. Billy asked, "Are you two being careful?" Seriously. He asked that. If Jake replied, "There are condom wrappers littering the Cullen land," I was going to rip him a new one. No matter how much I enjoy looking at how he is now.

I really must stop thinking like this. Jake is a boy. And a friend. And my Alpha. That's it. This is just hormones. I should just get a vibrator and all this will be over and done with in a week.

Before Jake had anything to do then give a shocked nod (I guess he'd not expected this from his father either), Billy interrupted. "Well, you've gotta stop."

Jake just blinked. I managed an, "Excuse me?"

"Being responsible. You've got to stop it – don't look at me like that, I'm an old man. I want grand-kids while I'm still young enough to enjoy them."

Jake was sputtering now.

I decided to have some fun. "It's hard to raise a kid on two werewolves' salaries. It doesn't exactly pay much."

Waving it off, "I've a pension," as if that would fix everything. It might at least be able to get us an apartment. I'd do Jake if it meant that I'd a better place then my rock to sleep- mustn't think that way. Think of evil things: vegetables, Sam, vampires, Sam, being a menopausal werewolf, Sam, imprinting, mind-readers-

"Well, we'll try then," I smiled sweetly at him. "But I make no guarantees."

Jake seemed to force his brain into working mode then, 'cause he looked at me rather then his dad when he said, "I'm sure you've a dusty egg lingering up there somewhere." He even patted my shoulder knee with his free hand.

"You're such a sweetheart," I said dryly. "So, where's Paul and Rach?" Already off making the first set of grandchildren for Billy? God, I hope not. I'm already scared for life from their earlier display.

"More importantly, what's for dinner?"

"They're out picking it up now."

For some reason, this set off alarms in my head. It wasn't like adults not to have the food ready. They're usually ultra-prepared for everything. And Paul not being here was somewhat worrisome. Rachel, I'd know idea where she was, but Paul could be anywhere.

I shifted a little, to get a better look at Jake, and found him looking at me too. Something's not right here, his dark, ridiculously brown eyes seemed to say to me, even as mine looked right back and said, He wouldn't just invite us over to annoy us, would he?

We seemed to process our mutual messages at the same time: It's a distraction. They were going after the Cullens. And Seth was all alone there, without either of us to watch out for him.

Without so much as a word to Billy or each other, we both leapt from the couch and ran out to the Rabbit. If any of Sam's pack so much as touched Seth, there would be hell to pay.

Chapter Fourteen.