The Mythical Creature's Guide to Modern Warfare (1/26)

The Mythical Creature's Guide to Modern Warfare
Blackwater at Cullen Manor

"Good intentions can bring about as much destruction as an
evil conqueror. Either way, the result is the same."


Zensunni Lament in Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson's Dune: The Machine Crusade


Chapter One, Alfa

"In double boiler," I read out loud with the air of one try to translate Chinese to Greek while the Khans are after me, "over simmering water, melt one-third cup butter, one-half cup semisweet chocolate squares, and one-third cup port. Stir and cool."

Glancing once more at the cookbook – to make sure the recipe hadn't changed after I read it – I turned around and knelt down in front of the cabinet. At least ninety different varieties of pots and pans sat inside, from tiny saucepans to large woks. I could identify those, the fondue pot (and shuddered, wondering if they'd tried eating strawberries in blood fondue), and the griddle. But I'd no idea what in God's name a double boiler was, let alone what it might look like, though I had the vague idea of "fry cooker" in my head as a starting point.

"Jesus-fucking-damn-it!" I spat and slammed the doors shut so hard a crack appeared down the centre of the wood. Such was my emotional turmoil, I felt kinda bad about it, and felt tears prickling behind my eyes like I was a stupid five-year-old girl. Or Edward.

"Something wrong, Fluffy?"

"Ah," I said, looking upwards to see Emmett's lovely face grinning devilishly down at me, "my pulse-challenged friend, do you happen to know what a 'double-boiler' is?" If he didn't, he better get the hell out of here, 'cause I might very well phase from the anger, and I didn't want him stealing my clothes if I did.

His mouth pinched together in thought, then broke again into a smile as he answered, "No. Ask Esme."

"I told her I could do this by myself!" Great. That was distinctly channelling a five-year-old. Must stop, or all is lost.

"She doesn't mind helping, you know. In fact, she'd probably be overjoyed to."

"Don't you have someone else to go bother?"

"No. Rose's out with Nessie and Alice and Jasper are having sex-"

"God!" I screamed, covering my ears with my hands. Too much information! "If I wanted those kind of details I'd've asked, you sheep-bagging snot-licker!"

Petulantly, "But you did ask."

"I asked if you had anyone else to bother – simple yes/no question! It doesn't not require me to know the bodily doings of everyone you could be bothering instead."

"Which is necessary for me to explain how everyone else is busy."

"You are an A-class jerk, just so you know."

"I get that a lot, actually."

I rolled my eyes, imagining that he did, then opened the cabinet again. "Somehow, I'm not surprised... Now, if I were a double boiler, where would I be?"

"Between the single and triple boilers," Emmett saw fit to answer.

Me, I didn't take this well, and grabbed what I thought was a cast iron skillet and began to beat his leg (the only part of him I could reach from the floor) with it. "You. Are. Not. Helping. Now get the fuck out of my kitchen!"


"Don't give me that technically, you overgrown parasite! I'm the only one here that eats at the moment and I'm the one trying to cook. So get the fuck out."

With one last evil smile at me, like he knew something I didn't, and a look at the thoroughly dented pan, he left the kitchen. And then yelled, for all the vampires to hear (as if they hadn't already), "Puppy's on her period."

I hated vampires.

Why, might you ask, was I in Vampire Central Station then? Well, their kitchen was the "it" place for my pack to be during mealtimes, but it was nowhere near dinnertime yet. In fact, the boys weren't even back from school yet – which was, in part, why I was at the Manor. It was kinda dull living a forest with most of your, er, rock-mates gone most the day. But I was alone, again, in the kitchen.

To put it simply, I was trying to bake a cake.

Yes. I, Leah Jacqueline Clearwater, was, with bits of leaf still in my hair and dirt irrevocably embedded into my skin, trying to bake a chocolate strawberry port cake. From scratch. Without Esme's help. Because I was stupid and spent too much time around vampires who'd been alive at the turn of the century, when people did things like this, who had poisoned my mind with girly thinking and coerced me into trying to do something special for my Alpha's eighteenth birthday as my lack of monetary funds makes the usual purchase of such things as birthday gifts difficult. Which was tomorrow. And this idea was better then Alice's suggestion of lingerie, which seriously disturbed me for the moment it took me to realize that said lingerie on me would have been his gift. Any shopping excursion with vampires with entirely too much money and time on their undead hands, however, would have been bound to end badly, otherwise I might have given it at this moment and gone begging to be taken to Victoria's Secret. Well, that and the fact that Emmett had told me-

No, it's too gross to repeat. Creepy vampire love; worse then wrinkly old people love, but only by virtue that they were dead old people. Shudder.

But there was still the main problem: today was 17 November. Tomorrow was 18 November, which, again, happened to be Jake's birthday. And I needed to find a double boiler between now and then. Because I'd been brainwashed and decided it was a good idea to bake a cake and was trying to do it without Esme's help, because she made everything that the pack ate and I wanted to prove to myself that, though I ran around half-naked in the forest and didn't get periods and whatever else, I was still a girl. Obviously, I failed.

"It's the two-piece aluminium number behind the stock pot," came a voice – Esme's – from the door. She was probably concerned about the state of her kitchen after all the screaming that had taken place.

And that helped me how, exactly? "Which one's the stock pot?"

"The big one."

"I see," pulling it out with a crash of metal-on-metal and opening it. "And what do I do with it?"

"You put water in the bottom and your ingredients in the top half."

"This may be a stupid question: but don't you boil things in water?"

"You're cooking with the steam."

"I am?" I looked back at the cookbook. I was sure I would have noticed if it said I had to bake a cake using steam power. It didn't look like it was from the 19th century... It was at this point Mama Vamp took the double-boiler thing from my hands. I was allowed to beat the eggs yokes in sugar.

Which is what I was doing when the boys piled in the kitchen, looking for me. Or, at least, Jake and Seth and Quil were. Embry was probably out running already. Or he'd gotten stuck in the car door. Whatever. I could only mother these boys so much before it was obvious they needed professional help.

"Oh my God. The world's ending," Jake said, seeing me stirring the egg-sugar mixture, and putting his hand over his heart, as if he was having a heart attack.

"Not funny, jerkwad," I spat back. Dad had died of heart problems. I was just a little sensitive on the matter. A little fucking sympathy would be nice from my own Alpha/boyfriend.

Coming over and kissing me on the cheek, he brushed my insult right off, like only Jake could do. I loved him 'cause he knew when not to take my anger seriously and when to argue right back at me. I don't want to say he's perfect – alright, yes I do, but I'm sure I'm biased. "Sure, sure. What ya making?"

Seth, who'd already taken over string the double-boiler thing from Esme, who in turn was now raiding the pantry, looked at the recipe. "Great! Cake! Leah, hand me the bowl please," anything to get out of this kitchen and anywhere where I wasn't required to cook. Or brainwashed into cooking, "and start on the egg whites-"

"Oooh, bad idea man," Quil said, ducking. Which was a good idea, 'cause this was just ridiculous. All this hard work, looking for pots and dealing with vampires and, God, was that tears? Again? I'm getting sick and tired of this hyper-emotional thing I've been doing for the last couple of days, and for that reason more then anything else I flung the fucking bowl at him a moment later. He caught it, of course, but all the egg yolks spilled down his shirt, which was a nice alternative to physical pain.

"Fine. Make your own fucking cake. See if I care," and with that I stormed out of the Cullens' and onto the porch. God damn it all. Emmett was right – three words I never thought to think together at any one time – I was hormonal. I couldn't even make a stupid cake without flipping out. Yesterday I'd flipped out one of the sleeping bags 'cause I couldn't get it to roll up properly. Like nearly phased and tore it to fuzzy little pieces flipped out. And I'm sure Major Pain and Fat Head have another bet going on about whether or not I actually finish the cake or not, which just makes everything worse. I'll... I'll force them to eat something. That'll show them. Okay, probably not, but it'd make me feel a whole lot better right now.

There was a creak on the wood as Jake joined me – I knew it was him, even though I couldn't smell him with the wind this way or sense him at all, because he was the only one who would have dared approach me when I was angry. Or freaking out. "I hate PMS," I said, leaning with my elbows on the railing. Surprise, it was raining again in Forks. Somebody call the papers.

"Is that what this is?" he asked, standing behind me and wrapping his arms around my waist. He was warm and piney and perfect and I'd almost gotten over my fear that he'd imprint on the first bimbo he came across when I wasn't around. Almost. He was still seventeen freaking years old, almost eighteen, and I wanted to spend the rest of my supernatural life with him, because he made me feel the most alive I've ever been. Even if his dad is a complete nutcase about wanting grandchildren, seeming to forget the tiny little problem of me being an irate menopausal werewolf. "'Cause, if this is what you're like on your period, we're going to have to put Seth on ADHD meds, else you might kill him."

I rolled my eyes even though he couldn't see it. "He's been around sixteen years; I've not killed him yet. But I don't mean that. I mean Post Moon Syndrome."

My body vibrated with his as he laughed into my neck, kissing me slowly beneath my ear. "I think you've just spent too much time around the Cullens and the pack."

That too, but, "No more then you have," I moaned softly, leaning my head back against his shoulder.

"We, at least, get to go to school. But you've been stuck here since we made the deal with Sam."

"It'll pass," I said distractedly. Jake, me, rock, now – those were, honestly, the only four words I was thinking with any clarity. So what if it was frightfully boring, my life? I had Jake weekday afternoons and all-day on weekends. That counted for something. Even if I ended up playing mother hen to my brother and his annoying friends too.

"I think you need a vacation."

"Need money for a vacation, Jake. I just need to stop listening to Sleepless Beauty when she suggests that I, oh, knit. Or cook. Or make macaroni art with Nessie."

"I-" he began, his lips brushing against my neck with every word. But he never did continue, for a scream rent the air from inside the house, and we rushed back inside to see what was the matter.

We, along with the rest of the pack and the Cullens, found Alice standing at the top of the stairs a moment later, screaming like a banshee at a God-damn decibel contest.

"Well," I said brightly, "this can't be good."

Chapter Two.