The Mythical Creature's Guide to Manners and Decorum (14/22)


"Sometimes I get the feeling the whole world is against me, but deep down I know that's not true.
Some smaller countries are neutral."
Robert Orben

Chapter Fourteen, Nun

"Well, this is just great. Fantastic even. The two humans that drive me crazy like no other, right here in the leeches' living room. Is this a conspiracy? 'Cause I think it is. A grand conspiracy to drive me crazy. What is it going to take to convince you to that I'm OVER Sam, that the last thing in the world I would do is willingly kiss him – and I include going the Oedipal route and scratching my eyes out on my list of things I'd rather do. So why doesn't anyone seem to the fucking hornet-hell believe me? You know what?" I shouldered my way through the door, pausing only long enough to grab a muffin off the tray Emily nervously held in front of her. "Like, plus five for working up the courage to come to Vampire Villa, minus several mil for the both of you for thinking that that I'm still pining over an idiot who was ass enough to cheat on me with my cousin in my own house, especially when, hello, I've only been," I gestured at my stomach with the muffin, not caring that one, usually, didn't share such details in one's mother, especially in a house full of bat-eared leeches, "going at it like rabbits-"

From upstairs came Alice's voice, 'cause I guess she had nothing better to do than listen in on people, or, maybe, since she couldn't see anything involving werewolves, we struck her as the most interesting soap opera she'd ever witnessed, "Or dogs."

I paused long enough to glare at the ceiling before turning back to Emily, who clearly didn't understand what exactly she'd walked into but was tearing up nonetheless, and Mom, who was playing the part of an angry, somewhat abashed, and looking-her-cool mother to perfection. I've reached a new low if rather than spend time with these two, who used to mean so much to me, I preferred the company of a bastard, a paedophile, my brother, and a handful of half-grown pups to them. Defiantly a new low. I mean, have you ever heard some of their thoughts? I mean, really. They were debating what colour lightsaber they would have if they were jedi. And God help the person who pointed out to them that, like clothes, lightsabers weren't likely to stick with them when phased. Really. The conversations I got involved in.

Le sigh.

I continued, "-or dogs with my husband like," I made to gesture with the muffin again, changed my mind, and bit into it. Blueberry. Yum. Where was I? Oh yes. I sighed out loud this time. "I don't know why I bother with you two. Nice to see you, thanks for the muffin, love you both – blah, blah, blah. Bye."

And I shut the door in Emily's face. Or mine, I guess, since she was inside now and I wasn't.

But of all the things I had to deal with! Vampires with personal boundary issues and idiot ex-boyfriends and...

Beach house. Alcoholic beverages. Sunset. It was worth it all, if it could make that dream come true. I could handle it if it meant that, one day, Jake and I could have our stupid, ridiculous, impossible happy ending like I wanted. And there would be no more vamps bothering us, except for maybe Kate, and even then only in small doses. The world would be perfect then...

God, I missed alcohol at moments like these. Stupid werewolf hormones that suddenly decided to let me get pregnant. I mean, really. I needed to have a word with the mystical forces in charge of these things. Several, actually, and few of them kind.

Still. I couldn't begrudge the mystical forces for letting up on me for once and letting me have the twins after all. So maybe I had no idea how to take care of a baby and had just alienated the only two people who might have any sort of idea (their own fault; shouldn't have been idiots, should they?) what to do with one. Stupid Mom. Stupid Emily. I didn't want to fight them. I just wanted some peace and quiet. I've moved on. Why can't they?

Then again, I'd hardly seen them since September and, back then, I was still rather a broken mess. Not that I'm not a broken mess now, but I'm slightly more put together at this point. Their own damn faults – if either of them had stood up to Mr. High-and-Mighty Sam so that, maybe, I dunno, the two packs could get along and not now be acting like wild dogs with territory problems. But no, it always had to be my fault, didn't it? My fault that I phased, meaning my ex and my ex-favourite-cousin had to put up with me. My fault I'd initially phased in front of Dad, giving him a heart attack (though I did happen to agree with that one – though Seth and I had been arguing at the time, and he'd phased too). My fault that Sam couldn't seem to deal with me hooking up with anyone else, let alone marrying them and finding myself knocked up by them, and had decided that killing and molesting me – thankfully separately – were the best ways to go about it. I could only hope "it," whatever it was, made sense in his own head, mostly 'cause the idea of a crazy person trying to do those things was worse than a sane person trying to. Marginally. Don't ask me why.

Easily a mile into the woods now, I decided that a nearby oak was the perfect place to sit and stew in my anger for a while. Well, that, and I was starting to get a terrible stomach ache. I thought of the muffin I'd taken from Emily. It, obviously, must have been poisoned. Sam's idea of a solution for the two pack problem.

I would just have to think of something devious in return. Maybe Frankenstein and his monsters had something I could use to give them boils or something – no! Fleas! Find some, infect Sam... buy up all the flea dip in the county and hold it hostage... It could work... I think. I'd need Alice's help, and Emmett's, and-

As I was standing to head back to the Cullen's (and sneak in the back way), I felt a gush of water trickle down my legs; I'd had enough What to Expect when you're Expecting books foisted on me to know that water breaking was a sign of labour. That realization, however, was the second thought that came to my mind. The first was the knowledge that Alice would quite possibly kill me if it ruined my clothes. "Shit," I cursed. She may have only been a pixie, but she was a terror when it came to clothes.

And that had to be a contraction. "Dog-headed, pig-rutting, rat-chasing, fork-tongued son of a bitch's shit!" I decided I really didn't like this labour thing at all. Worst part of the whole pregnancy thing, I could tell already. This coming from me, who had to spend hours at a time phased 'cause the twins thought it'd be fun to play pups in Mommy's tummy. Just think about it.

Oh, no, think about this: I could go back to the manor, put up with Kate, Mom, Emily, and every other annoying person there... or I could go to The Rock and languish there on my own, without benefit of fun, numbing meds.

There was no decision, really. I did not want to hear about Maria Antonia Josepha Johanna von Habsburg-Lothringen's complications during the (very public) delivery of her daughter, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte (again, even though the Denalis had been in, well, Denali for almost a century at the time. I can only assume that Kate had gone to Paris "to take in the fashions" or some other nonsense and decided to pop by the palace in the way only former vampire courtiers could); or how Mom had been in labour for twelve hours with me, required two epidurals, and had been holding onto Dad's hand for so long that, when you let go at one point, he slipped and banged his head on the corner of the hospital bed, giving him a concussion; or anything from Emily about how she was "so happy" for me and would love to be a part of my children's life, preferably by being their godmother or, at the very least, a favoured aunt and, as much as I was willing to forgive my cousin a lot if it meant I got to spend some time around a non-magical person, today's events had decidedly made me rethink exactly how much I was willing to forgive. So, groaning and spitting curses under my breath, I made my way to the Rock.

My curses had gotten to strings of seven phrases and more by the time I made it there. "Jake!" I shouted as soon as my husband came into view. "I am fucking going to kill you for doing this to me, you son of a toothpaste-sniffing, pot-smoking, detergent-drinking, NASCAR-driving, demented leprechaun and a half-a-bottle of moonshine."

They boys had been lounging under the lean-to the leeches had built for us. Jake stood up at hearing my voice, and Seth scrambled to his feet, ready to keep me from doing anything I would later regret. Killing Jake would put a crimp in my plans for a happily-ever-after, I admit...

Jake did not seem to understand the immediate danger his life was in and, sussing what ailed me, broke into the biggest, goofiest smile I'd ever seen. "Leah! You okay? The babies coming? Why did you come here, you shoulda-"

I glared at him. This, naturally, didn't phase him, and I decided I needed to work on glaring if he was becoming immune to it. Curses! Never mind, I was in too much pain right now to berate him properly. So I settled for, "Death. You. Soon."

"You know you love me."

I glared at him again and, with relief, collapsed under the lean-to. "Die."

He rolled his eyes and turned to the others. "Go get Carlisle."

I told him to go to hell instead. "No leech is coming anywhere near- Hey! Seth! Come back here! You too, Colin, Brady. No one is-"

Seth, not pausing as he turned around, "Be back soon," cheerfully called before running to catch up with the new additions to our pack.

"I am not," I said, still glaring at Jake, who seemed in a bit of a happy daze, snapping out of it only when I started tugging off my ruined dress, "on of Dracula's science experiments," and, with that, phased.

I must say though, comparatively, contractions hurt a lot less as a wolf than a human. I'm told it's because recent evolution has favoured walking upright and large brain masses in people and the birth-giving parts haven't caught up yet, but whatever. Sure, it was messy, and God was it weird to want to lick the twins clean, even if they came out little furballs themselves, but I decided that it was by far a better experience than I'd seen in movies, or in Jake's memory's of Ness's birth. No one died or was concussed or anything.

As soon as the babies were born, Jasper, who was being informed by Kate, who came to the lean-to dispute my best attempts with her phone on speaker back to the rest the leeches, handed Seth, Alice, and Benjamin manilla envelopes coming out to $2884.30 each.

Coming in at three pounds, two ounces with a stock of grey fur was my daughter. She looked the picture of a wolf pup, which was to say the lupine version of a bouncing baby. The names I'd originally picked out per my agreement with Jake – Helene and Susannah – faded from mind as soon as I saw the crescent-shaped spot of white fur framing her left eye. Diane, I mumbled across the connection to Jake, who'd phased to be with me. We have a daughter, Jake.

He phased out long enough to tell Seth, Kate, and Carlisle. One down, one to go.

"One down," said Kate into her phone, not knowing Jake was telepathically sharing the same sentiment with me. "A girl," (she paused here to let the excitement of the undead on the other end of the line calm down enough for her next words to be heard; she absent-mindedly patted Jake's head during her wait), "Diane Arcadia."

Thirty-seven minutes later and three ounces heavier, with a tawny-and-grey pattern to his fur, came my son and, with him, my great relief. I was awake just long enough to hear him pronounced Daniel Mateau and placed to feed beside his sister.

Diane and Daniel... I thought I heard Jake beam as he curled up beside me, and I wondered just what we were getting ourselves into.

Chapter Fifteen