Author: Das Mervin
Rating: Hard R for violence, sexual content, thematic elements, language
Word Count: 7,700
Warnings: Rape, violence, abuse.
Inspiration: Chapter 8 “Imprint” in Eclipse.
Summary: “And you would do anything for her, be anything for her… You become whatever she needs you to be, whether that’s a protector, or a lover, or a friend, or a brother.” And Melanie Sampson liked that. She liked that a lot.
Author’s Note: I’ve seen plenty of spitefics about imprinting and all of the logical conclusions those lead to—all of them result in victimized women. But then Gehayi mentioned something in a sporking I beta’d for her, and suddenly I realized the horrible, terrifying potential for…something else. Imprinting works both ways, you see. So…here’s the opposite side of the coin. And heed the warnings, please. I kept things vague, but it’s still very clear what is going on.
Melanie Sampson was a quiet soul.
She’d been passing through Forks looking for work; “drifter” was the most polite way to describe her. She didn’t hold jobs long and was no stranger to squatting in empty houses and sleeping in the beat-up Dodge Charger she cruised around in. Steady jobs were not her forte, despite the occasional effort to hold one. More often than not she was dismissed for showing up late to work or inappropriate behavior or her slovenly appearance.
Embry really didn’t care about any of that. To him, she was the world.
He’d seen her in town, he on his way to a convenience store with Paul and she on her way to a gas station to fill up her gas can because she’d let the tank run dry again. One look at her, and suddenly the rather lank, unwashed black hair became beautiful ebony tresses, her sallow skin turning to delicate ivory, and she blinked up at him from under full lashes, her blue eyes sparkling. To Embry, she was true beauty and perfection. It didn’t matter that he preferred blondes with green eyes before that day, and before he’d really gotten a look at her he’d thought she looked rather skeevy—none of it mattered. Melanie was his imprint, and he loved her.
She’d been wary and cagey when he and Paul had started trying to convince her to come with them so they could talk to her. She’d eventually agreed when they’d told her they’d pay for her gas. She’d driven out with them and they had sat her down and explained the whole situation quite bluntly. She’d blinked rather disbelievingly up at them, so Embry had gladly stripped down and phased right in front of her, determined to prove it—because he could not afford to let her go. She had to understand what had happened. He had to make sure she knew, because he could not live without her.
For one who was not a Quileute, they all later reflected that that was perhaps one of the easiest acceptances of the news that werewolves and vampires were real and one had just magically fallen in love with her that they’d ever seen.
Oh, she’d been shocked, of course, and obviously frightened by the giant wolf that suddenly appeared in front of her. But once it was all over and she’d calmed down, she’d simply nodded and said, “Well. This is different.”
Most of the pack was pretty thrilled. It had been strange to everyone that he was the only one of the older wolves who had yet to find his true mate and now he had—and she was a very rational, reasonable young woman. She was barely twenty-two and though when they’d met her, she had looked shabby, a shower at Emily’s and some TLC later and everyone agreed that she cleaned up very nicely. Not only that, but they had saved her from her drifter life. No more going hungry or living out of her car—she had a home now. She’d serenely agreed to stay at La Push so Embry didn’t need to go anywhere, and she had very promptly moved right in with him in his apartment.
She was very calm about things—she didn’t seem ecstatic or anything about finally having a home, but they knew she was pleased. Embry declared it was just in her nature to roll with things, and there was no one who knew her better than he did—it was impossible for someone to know her better than he did. But really, why should anyone have a problem with Melanie, and not just because she was Embry’s imprint? She didn’t ask too many questions about what they did and she was content to settle down with Embry. They’d asked about her family but she’d just looked away and said she had none—none that mattered, anyway. She’d not been engaged or anything like that, either, so they could avoid any sticky business like what poor Sam and Emily had gone through. Melanie really was Embry’s match—Embry had always been level-headed and calm and sensible, and he got a calm, sensible girl in return.
It was perfect.
Embry was sitting at the kitchen table reading when he felt warm hands skim around his arms to press against his chest, and he smiled when he felt his love lean down and nuzzle him.
“Let’s go hunting,” Melanie murmured against his shoulder.
“Hunting?” Embry repeated, a little confused as he twisted around to face her.
Melanie just nodded. “I want you to hunt. I’ve never seen you as a wolf except once. I want to see what you can truly do. Just a deer, maybe?”
Embry shrugged. “Sure.” He rose, smiling affectionately at her. “You want to ride on my back?”
“That sounds fun,” she said, following him out the door.
They didn’t go far, and Melanie enjoyed the ride. The speed was nice. Embry enjoyed it as well—the feel of her fingers buried deep in his fur as she clung to him, her thighs tight around him, was pleasant. She slipped down when they reached a stand of trees, and she stroked her hand down his side. “Just catch it,” she whispered. “Chase it here, and catch it. I want to watch.”
The great wolf beside her nodded once before loping off. She stood still beside the tree he’d left her, gazing passively out in the woods, and it wasn’t long before sudden movement to the right drew her attention.
It was a doe, running towards her at a panicked pace, trying to dart and weave, but the blur bobbing about it kept it running in nearly a straight line. She watched as the animal got close to her before the blur whizzed forward and slammed into the deer, sending it crashing to the ground twenty feet away from her.
Unblinkingly, she picked her way over to the two, Embry looking up at her with his tongue lolling out as he panted happily, the deer struggling and jerking underneath his massive paws. She stared down at the panting animal, its eyes crazed, its muscles twitching and shuddering. Unable to help herself, she reached down and stroked a finger along its coarse fur.
“Here,” she said, pressing her finger at the base of its neck. Embry looked up at her, managing confusion on his features. She looked back, her gaze focused. “Bite here.”
The confusion deepened, and Melanie straightened. “Kill it, Embry. That’s what I want.”
Embry hesitated only a moment more before his claws flexed against the struggling doe, and he lunged forward and bit down right where she told him to, his teeth sinking into the flesh, blood splashing up across his muzzle, the doe making little frightened noises the entire time.
“Let go!” Melanie commanded.
Embry did, and she pushed at him, pushing him off of the flopping, bleeding deer. She stared down at the animal, watching the little pulsing spurts, the blood soaking its fur, its legs already starting to stop thrashing and just slow to twitches.
She tilted her head, but did not take her focus from the animal. “Shh,” she whispered. “Not now.”
Embry was silent, and only when the animal finally stopped moving did she look up at him. She took in the sight, the deer blood smeared on his chin and neck and the back of his hand from where he’d wiped it away from his mouth. “What?” she asked, watching the droplet he missed shiver and tremble on his chin.
“I…didn’t think that was something you’d really want to see, is all,” Embry said, sounding unsure of himself.
Melanie smiled. “You don’t need to worry about me, Embry,” she said gently. “I can handle things. Do you eat the things you kill?”
Embry shuffled a little. “Well…sometimes. I mean, we don’t have to—”
“But you can,” Melanie interrupted.
“Please eat. For me.”
Embry blinked a little, and Melanie simply blinked back. “I like watching you be a wolf,” she said.
He didn’t understand it, but he didn’t question it—Melanie wanted it, and all he wanted was for her to be happy. So he turned, sitting down for his solitary meal, worrying that the wet sound and crunching bones would upset her, but she never looked unsettled. She merely smiled, sliding up beside him and leaning against his massive bulk, stroking up and down his fur as he ate.
“You’re so wonderful,” she murmured, and Embry’s heart soared.
The night was quiet—far too quiet. It made Embry unhappy. He glanced furtively next to him, picking at the sheets, and hating the way Melanie just stared listlessly at the ceiling. He felt helpless.
“Melanie, I—I want you to be happy. I just…I can tell you really aren’t into it when we make love,” he mumbled. “Do you…just not want to?”
“I want it,” Melanie replied, blinking slowly and steadily up at the cracks above her. “But no. It is not everything I want it to be.”
“Then what can I do?” Embry asked immediately, rolling over and gripping her shoulders, turning her to face him. “Anything—I want you to be happy, Melanie. Please tell me what’s missing—I—you’re my imprint. I don’t think you understand just how much it…it hurts me when you’re not as happy as you should be.”
Melanie’s gaze was focused yet unfocused, as it always was. “Let’s sleep. Don’t worry. Maybe we just need to try something different next time.”
“We could do it now,” Embry suggested eagerly. “I mean, it wouldn’t—”
“No.” Melanie’s voice had a little more force than usual. “No more tonight. We are going to sleep because that’s what I want.”
Embry sighed and nodded. “You’re right—we should sleep.” He yawned, but clasped her hand earnestly. “Really, Melanie—anything. I just want you to be happy.”
Her eyes glinted in the moonlight. “I know. And I will be.”
And she smiled, and Embry could do nothing but smile back.
It happened after a hunt.
It was already becoming a regular date for them—Melanie loved watching him lope through the woods and bring down animals. And truth be told, he was beginning to enjoy it as well—it made her happy, so it made him happy. That evening, he’d brought down an elk, listening to her excited encouragements the whole time. He loved going hunting with Melanie in tow for so many reasons—he got to be close to her, for one, and for another, she so rarely became excited about anything. To see her truly passionate about something—and knowing that he was the one giving her that passion—was all he could ever ask for in life.
They’d gotten back late; eating most of the elk had taken quite a while, and he’d had to sit and relax for a moment when she’d finally stopped insisting he eat more. But they’d run back and arrived at their home around ten, and he’d seen the jittery excitement was still upon her and when she’d knotted her fingers in his hair and kissed him, her body pressing up against his immediately, he’d been overjoyed—she’d never been this way, so perhaps they’d found the key to a happy life in the bedroom.
He’d gladly fallen back on the bed, watching as she crawled up his form, sitting astride him, her knees twitching against his waist. He adored the feel of her fingers scraping against his chest, her breath shivery and her form trembling. He’d reached for her in return, to pull her to him and hold her, but she’d shoved his hands away with one of her own, groping behind her.
Embry’s breath had caught when he’d seen the massive hunting knife in her hand.
“Melanie? What are—” His words had vanished when the cool metal pushed against the hot skin of his chest. She’d simply pressed it flat against him, leaning down to breathe against his mouth.
“I want it.” The knife flipped, the razor’s edge resting on his flesh. “Make me happy, Embry. This would make me…” He shuddered as her tongue slipped out and lightly dragged across his lower lip. “…so happy.”
He’d met her eyes, and she did want it, and he knew it. “I’ll heal,” he whispered. “Do it.”
He’d hissed, his teeth clenching together, his hands knotting into fists; it was shallow, but she’d drawn it slowly, all the way from his clavicle to his ribs, just a thin, red line welling up with blood. She’d watched the progress, and then her eyes had widened and her lips curved upward when the mark slowly knitted back together and healed before her very eyes.
When he’d looked back up again, he’d seen her, so transported, felt the way her hips rocked restlessly against his own…
“Again.” Their eyes locked. “Again,” Embry repeated.
Her grin was infectious and he returned it even as the blade bit deeper, making him moan in pain, but his pain didn’t matter.
Again and again she’d cut him, sometimes drawing the knife’s edge along him so slowly she could watch his flesh seal up behind it. When she’d stepped away long enough to strip them both out of the rest of their clothes and settled back down on top of him, sighing in rapture when he sank deep inside of her, he’d seen what he’d wanted to see—ecstasy.
She’d ridden him hard, thrusting herself against him with everything she had, swiping the knife across him in random criss-crossing patterns as she smeared the blood across him, and when he came, he’d screamed because the white-hot pleasure was mixed with the agony of the knife digging deep into his stomach, burying itself there, and she’d cried out, arching her back, twisting.
When the knife had slipped free, he had healed, of course. She left no marks. The only traces of what had happened were the sticky, drying trails of blood staining both them and the sheets.
It had hurt—so much. But to see her so happy—truly happy…
That was what he wanted. He wanted Melanie to be happy. And finally, she was.
His fingers had curled around hers, the one still clutching the handle of her knife. “I love you,” he murmured.
And Melanie had smiled.
It was hard to miss how boisterous Embry was at the bonfire. Considering he’d been a little downcast at the last two, doting upon Melanie as she’d just spent most of the evening lighting thin sticks on fire and watching them burn down almost to her fingers, this was a definitely turnaround. Once the groups had split up, the women going to one side and the men to the other, Sam was the one who decided to ask about it.
“You’re cheerful,” he commented.
Embry nodded, munching on his fourth hotdog. “Why wouldn’t I be?” he asked.
“What’s got you in such a good mood?” Paul asked, settling down next to him with another Coke.
Embry grinned. “What else?” He pointed across the fire at Melanie, her imaging shivering in the heat given off by the bonfire, as she listened to whatever story Emily was telling. “She is, of course.”
“Well, I think what Sam meant was that…you didn’t seem all that happy last time we spoke,” Paul clarified for him.
Embry shrugged. “Melanie and I were still figuring things out. But we’ve got it all worked out now.”
“That’s good,” Jared said, nodding. “You talked to her about, you know, long-term plans or anything?”
“Eh, she’s happy the way things are now, just us living together,” Embry replied.
“Have you started keeping yourself human yet?” Sam asked.
Embry shook his head. “Nope.”
“Really?” Paul looked surprised. “Why? She’s human—”
“She told me she doesn’t want me to,” Embry interrupted, and then he smiled a little. “I guess the new werewolf smell hasn’t worn off yet or something.” He tipped back his drink. “I’m not gonna stop until she says she wants me to, is all. What she wants is what matters.”
The others nodded. “True—you keep her happy, Embry,” Sam said.
Embry gave a lopsided smile. “That’s an order you’ll never have to give me.”
Across the way, Emily waited until the laughter caused by the latest tale of her daughter’s two-year-old hijinks faded before turning her attentions to the quietest member of their little group.
“You know, we’ve been remiss,” she declared, setting her plate down in the sand. “How long have you been here, Melanie?”
Melanie’s eyes flicked to the side as she considered the question. “Maybe two months,” she answered.
“And yet we barely know you!” Emily continued. “We hardly talked to you at the last two bonfires and you so rarely go out—now I feel terrible. I’m sorry we’ve neglected you so.”
Melanie just smiled. “It’s no trouble. I’m not a social butterfly. And something of an outsider to boot.”
“That’s silly,” Kim scoffed. “It doesn’t matter that you weren’t a member of the tribe or something—you’re Embry’s imprint.”
“That’s right,” Emily said firmly. “Now tell us about yourself.”
Melanie just stared into the fire. “There’s nothing about myself to tell,” she shrugged. “Left home when I was seventeen. Been on the road ever since.”
“Why did you leave home?” Rachel asked curiously.
“Because I wanted to,” Melanie answered. “My mother and I didn’t get along because I dropped out of high school.”
“You dropped out? Why?” Rachel asked in surprise.
“School just…I just never could bring myself to care much about any of it,” Melanie replied. “Never got along with my classmates, never got along with my teachers…” She trailed off, but then brightened a little. “But it’s really all for the best, don’t you think? If I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be here.”
She looked across the fire at Embry, just in time for him to look back, and all of the girls saw that familiar connection, the one that almost all of them shared with their own imprints. “I wouldn’t have found the one who truly understands me,” she said quietly.
“Imprinting really is amazing, isn’t it?” Emily reached over and patted Melanie’s arm. “It’s just serendipity. So many men refuse to change their slovenly ways or shape up and be real men when they get together with a woman, but not the ones who imprint.”
Melanie’s smile remained the same. “He is what I want,” she agreed softly.
“I know,” Kim nodded emphatically. “They just…are. They are what you want and need, no matter what it is!”
Melanie traced random patterns in the sand with a stick. “Yes. It’s amazing.”
She tossed the twig into the fire and watched it burn.
Embry would have been content to remain in the routine for the remainder of his very long life.
What they did together didn’t happen every day. There were some days where she preferred simply being alone; that hurt him, but he did it anyway. He let her shut herself up in her room and do whatever it was she was doing. Sometimes it was reading; other times it was the strange, abstract charcoal drawings she was fond of making. They made no sense and had no real form, but to him they were beautiful and perfect because she made them.
But there were some days when the look would be there and suddenly the knife would be out and he’d cry out because she’d slashed a line across his back. They were never random and he knew it. If they were not done while they were in bed together, he’d simply made her angry. He was out once with his friends and came home after dark—too late for a hunt that she could watch. She’d flatly asked where he had been, and then the knife had gone in up to the hilt in his thigh.
But she never sliced into him for the same thing twice, because if what he’d done had made her unhappy, he simply wasn’t going to do it anymore. That was just how love worked for them. He wanted her to be happy, and if that was her way of telling him he made her unhappy, he would take it. He refused to be anything except the exact thing she wanted him to be. She was his life, and he loved her more than anything in the world.
However, the routine eventually faltered. He noticed it quickly—she wanted to be alone more often. She didn’t tell him to go to his knees and take off his clothes as much. She was distant and listless again. Something was wrong, and he didn’t know what to do.
“You’re not happy, Melanie,” Embry said dejectedly. “I can tell—what’s wrong? Is it something I’m doing?”
She pushed the little glass of bourbon around on the table, smearing the wet ring of condensate. “Yeah. It is,” she said, then raised the glass to her lips. “You heal, Embry.”
He blinked. “What?”
“You really don’t get it?” she sneered. “You have that magic werewolf healing. I like—I like it to mean something, but it doesn’t. You’re just good as new every single time. It doesn’t last, so it just doesn’t mean anything.”
“I’m sorry, but I—I can’t help that,” Embry said imploringly. “I could always stop phasing and I’d eventually—”
“I don’t want you to be human. That ruins more than it fixes,” Melanie interrupted flatly. She huffed irritably, pouring herself another shot of alcohol. “I’m bored, Embry. It’s all the same these days.”
“We can try something different,” he suggested hopefully.
Her eyes glittered spitefully. “Like what? You never have ideas.” She swallowed the bourbon. “It’s always on me to think up how to fix things, because you’re useless.”
Embry stared miserably at the tabletop. “I’m sorry,” he mumbled.
She rose abruptly, and he watched her as she strode by, glaring down at him. “I don’t want you to be sorry. I want change!” And he saw it coming, saw the black blade whirling, and though he could’ve easily dodged it he didn’t because she didn’t want him to and so wailed when his cheek was sliced wide open.
She sat there, watching, and laughed humorlessly when it began to heal, just like every other injury always did. “See?” She strode over to the sink and ripped off a paper towel to clean her knife. “I try to communicate and you don’t get the message because the message doesn’t stick.”
Embry waited until his cheek was whole again before speaking. “I will fix this, Melanie. I swear—I’ll find a way. I just…I hate it when you’re unhappy.”
She didn’t say anything, just tucked the clean knife back in the sheath she kept down the back of her jeans at all times before folding her arms tightly across her chest.
“Really, Melanie. I don’t—I don’t want you to be bored and unhappy. Just tell me what you want and I’ll do it,” he said, staying seated.
Her gaze was cold. “Maybe I’ll think about it,” she replied. “But I think best while I’m alone.” And she left him at the table, going back to the bedroom and shutting the door, leaving Embry by himself.
He squeezed his eyes shut, scrubbing a hand across his face; he truly was the worst imprinted wolf in existence, because he just could not be what Melanie needed.
Sighing, he got up to go sleep on the couch once more.
Evening was falling. Embry let out a whine, aggravated with himself that he couldn’t satisfy poor Melanie tonight. They’d been hunting for a full hour, but every single time he’d brought down something, she’d just looked off and he’d desolately let it run away into the woods.
He’d tried everything—deer, elk, rabbits, a squirrel—he’d even turned into a human to ask if she wanted him to bring her a mountain lion. But she’d said she’d seen it all and wasn’t interested in it. So they had hunted, looking for something to satisfy her, and he could sense her growing impatience and anger and all he could do was think of what a miserable excuse for a boyfriend he was the whole time.
She wasn’t even riding on him this time. She was simply walking beside him, her expression blank and bored, and he easily kept up with her, his giant paws making no sound against the leaves and twigs while she crunched along the path they were taking. He wished he could phase back and try to talk to her, but he knew she didn’t want that, so he stayed a wolf, his tail swishing a little as he walked.
Their walk was directionless; he wasn’t sure where they were going, but the growing darkness worried him. He didn’t like her being out late like this. He was good protection against anything, yes, but she still couldn’t see as well. He wanted to go back home—but she didn’t, so he didn’t insist.
He knew about the camper well before she did, of course. She didn’t have his hearing and vision. But he knew when she finally realized he was there all the same. He saw her chin lift and her eyes narrow as she peered through the trees, spotting the man setting up his tent for the night. She halted her progress, ducking unnecessarily behind a tree; he didn’t hear them.
Embry watched the way Melanie stared out at him, barely even blinking, her fingers flexing a little against the bark of her tree. He didn’t understand it—what was she thinking?
“Is he alone?” she suddenly whispered. Embry cocked his head questioningly. She huffed impatiently. “Is there anyone else you can hear or smell or whatever it is you do? Is he alone?”
Embry sniffed the air hard, his ears twitching a little as he listened—really listened. He nodded—if he was with anyone, they were a good distance away.
Her eyes seemed to light up and she stared back at the camper. “I want it…”
Embry whined a little more, questioning again. She didn’t look at him. “I want him, Embry,” she murmured, her voice low. “Him. No deer. No elk. Him.” Her eyes met his, and they burned. “Catch him.”
For a single moment, all Embry could do was stare. No—no! He couldn’t—she was asking that?! This was—this was wrong, this was—this went against everything he and his pack were supposed to do, they protected people, and he knew what she was asking, she didn’t just mean catch—
“It’s what I want. I want it, Embry.” Her fingers knotted in the fur on his cheek. “You do as I say. You do this—for me.”
And he saw the bright intensity, the shivering desire—the liveliness he’d been missing for so long, the happiness and excitement that he thought he’d lost, and realized yes, this—he could finally make her happy.
Melanie could be happy again.
The camper had screamed when the wolf had leapt out from the trees, and Embry had felt a little sick when the hot, human blood had welled up in his mouth when his teeth sank deep into the man’s shoulder, but he could hear Melanie calling to him, crying out, demanding he bring him back, bring the camper to her, because she wanted to see, and he’d felt the man’s bones crunching and grinding underneath his jaws and he’d wailed in agony, and when Melanie finally ran up beside them both Embry saw the knife was out and her eyes were alight and in seconds it was over.
Embry couldn’t help but phase back, feeling hot blood still dripping down his chin and throat and in his mouth—human blood. The camper was dead—Melanie had slit his throat.
He didn’t know what to do. He’d just…he hadn’t killed a man. Melanie had done it. But he’d helped. He’d known what she wanted when she told him to catch the camper and he’d done it. Murdered him. Killed him. He was becoming all too aware of the taste of blood in his mouth and was beginning to feel horribly sick again. He couldn’t look at the camper anymore, so he turned, shaking—
He saw Melanie’s face. Her eyes were locked on the camper, his cooling corpse still bleeding out. Her fingers were tight around the handle of her hunting knife, the blade still red.
Embry could not figure her expression out. She didn’t look sick—but she didn’t look exultant or pleased, either. He didn’t quite know how to describe it. He listened to her quick pants, not knowing what to do or say.
She was the one to break the silence. “I’ve never killed a man before,” she said softly. She finally turned to him. “Animals…it feels different than this.”
Embry swallowed, which was a mistake—because the blood was still there. “Melanie, this—”
“I killed a man,” she said, turning back to the corpse. “I killed him.” She twisted her wrist, glancing down at the knife for a moment. “Embry, we killed him.”
And then the look was back—the one he’d missed. The one he’d seen when she’d first told him to bring the camper down. That tiny smile that lit up her face like the sun.
Embry had found what she wanted. He’d found what she was missing.
He could finally be the man she wanted him to be.
The second time it was two hikers. It wasn’t nearly as impulsive; he just knew Melanie was hoping for someone. Maybe they were a married couple—Embry didn’t know, and didn’t really care.
Melanie had told him to kill the man quick, so he had. The woman had screamed and started to run, but Melanie had told Embry to catch her. That had been easy, and he’d dragged her back. He’d thought perhaps she wanted to make sure they were equal—he killed the man, so she'd kill the woman. But she’d merely pressed a hand to the woman’s mouth, the knife point under her chin, and had told her to be quiet.
With one paw on the woman’s legs, Embry watched as Melanie had touched the woman’s brown hair, stroking it. Then she’d looked up at Embry and told him that she liked this one.
They’d taken them both somewhere private; they couldn’t just leave the man’s body in the woods, after all. Once they had found an abandoned lumber mill, Embry had phased back into a human to properly hold the woman down and Melanie had drawn her knife and then it was all blood and screams.
When it was over, they’d taken the bodies and dumped them as they did before, doing their best to scatter them—in pieces, in water and under rocks, up and down the coast. Embry had returned to the shore after swimming out a good distance and sinking the last piece, and Melanie’s serenity had spurred him forward to sweep her up in his arms and kiss her hard. She’d kissed back, whispering that she wanted to go home, and when she’d all but torn her shirt off when they’d stumbled through the door, Embry had finally known—this is what it’s like to imprint. This is true unity. This is true happiness.
The pack had been worried. They weren’t stupid— the few times they had seen him, they’d known that Embry was miserable. They’d not understood it—Melanie and Embry were an imprinted pair, and yet they had both been so obviously unhappy…
The other imprints—the women—had talked about it amongst themselves. Maybe it had just gone wrong. Maybe Melanie was the problem. Maybe Embry was trying to fight it. But that was all impossible—it was an imprint. That couldn’t happen. They were supposed to be designed for each other, and even if they weren’t, that was how the imprint was supposed to work—if Embry wasn’t entirely perfect for her, he would make himself that way. He loved her that much, because they were simply meant to be together.
The men who had imprinted tried talking to Embry, but he’d been silent on the subject. He’d simply said he was trying to make her happy and that they were still trying to figure things out. They’d asked if she was having second thoughts, like Emily had once had—they didn’t want either of them to get hurt if that was the case. But Embry had said no and had gone back home, asking them not to press any further on the issue. They’d not liked how he refused to leave the house for days at a time, but they all knew that ordering him out of it and away from Melanie would hurt him more than help him. So they left them alone.
When they finally saw the two of them together at the dinner party held at Sam and Emily’s new house—happy, smiling, holding hands, holding each other—they knew things had been worked out. It didn’t matter that Embry and Melanie didn’t really participate in the festivities or talk to anyone; they all knew that when you found your true love, the world just fell away.
Sam, Paul, and Jared all tensed when they saw Embry finally come running out of the woods. He trotted right up next to them, his expression grim.
“The good news is I don’t smell any vamp stink around,” Embry said without preamble. “So we don’t need to call Leah out of retirement or make Seth and Jacob come all the way out here. The bad news is I smelled trace amounts of blood—I think this is an animal attack.”
Sam sighed. “Dammit. Could you tell what it was?” he asked.
“No—way too much has traveled the area since then,” Embry replied.
“Well, at least it’s not a vampire,” Paul offered.
“Yeah, at least there is that,” Sam agreed. “But still…”
“Pretty sure it’ll keep people out of the woods,” Jared interjected. “People usually do avoid the woods for weeks or even months after repeated animal attacks. Maybe the animal will be shot or move on before we have another one.”
“We can only hope,” Embry nodded. He shifted his weight. “All right if I head back home now?”
Sam nodded. “Tell Melanie hi.”
“Will do,” he said before wheeling around and racing across the beach.
“God, I love you, Melanie.”
“I know. But…Embry, we can’t do this the usual way.”
“Why not? It’s worked so far—”
“No! You listen to me, goddammit. Your pack noticed the disappearances. It was on the news, and you said the pack actually send you out looking for whoever did it. It doesn’t matter that we’re being more careful and spreading it out. There are more wolves, even if they aren’t here—they could come down for a visit. Someone might find a piece. I know what I want.”
“Get rid of the body, Embry.”
“Like we used to. Remember?”
“What—oh, Melanie, you can’t be—”
“Phase, Embry. I want you to—I like watching you be a wolf. Now be one—you caught your prey, and what does a wolf do when it catches its prey? It’s too perfect—no one will ever find her. Now do it. For me.”
Nobody thought much of Embry and Melanie deciding to move. They didn’t think much of the disappearances in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver and Olympia, either—all brunettes, ranging from eighteen to twenty-five. Crime was always higher in big cities, after all.
“She’s pretty, Embry.”
“She is—not as pretty as you, though.”
“Mmm…I like it when they have long hair. Tell me your name.”
“C-Cindy—oh God, why are you—please, just let me go—”
“Don’t be cliché; you know that’s not happening. Get on your stomach. Do it.”
“What are you up to, Melanie?”
“Something new. I’ll hold her head. You fuck her.”
“Fuck her, Embry. I want to watch you fuck her. Do it hard. Make her scream. Break her. It’s what I want, Embry. It would make me happy.”
“Please don’t please please please—”
Embry’s mother was the only one truly concerned that he’d stopped calling home. The others reassured her that it was just a honeymoon period—they had never really gotten one, after all. And because it was an imprint? Well, that honeymoon period might last a while—they didn’t love normally.
They didn’t even know about the disappearances taking place all across the nation—as far east as Kansas by now. The police simply couldn’t understand why they never found any bodies.
“You want me to fuck this one too?”
“Mmm…lemme feel. Oh yeah—that’s tight. She’ll bleed. But I want her to really bleed. Come here. You think you could do it as a wolf?”
“Would it make you happy?”
“Then I will. Mmm—I love you, Melanie.”
“I love you, Embry. Now let’s have fun with the bitch.”
Jacob really didn’t phase too much, despite making sure he was keeping it up so he could stay immortal for Ness. Really, he only phased to hunt with Ness and her family these days. As for the others, Seth had stopped a couple years back when he’d found his girlfriend, and Leah—well, she was a strange case. She called herself retired, but still did the occasional phase. He didn’t think he’d ever understand her, but frankly, that didn’t much matter.
Sighing, he looked over at his sleeping wife’s form in bed beside him. Ness always slept solidly through the night and here he was wide awake. Stretching, he slowly slipped out of bed. A run sounded good—a real run.
He left his shorts on the floor and crept outside, standing on the balcony and breathing in the scent of the cool air; New York really was a nice place to live. Then he gripped the balcony rail and launched himself off of it, phasing as he did and was soaring through the air towards the ground—
And he was not alone. Someone else was with him. His mind was mind gleeful and laughing, his mouth full of sweet, delicious, bloody meat, his gullet already half-full as bones crunched in his jaws, Melanie, all for Melanie, they were so close now, and this one had been so nice, she’d screamed, she’d really screamed, and he’d had humped her, fucked her deep, and all the time Melanie had spread out before him, her fingers dipping between her thighs in front of him, and she still was, watching him eat her as they always did, and her words were sweet encouragements—
They kept Embry and Melanie’s return to La Push very quiet—nobody needed to know that they were back because that might get people asking why they were back. They held the meeting at night, Embry with his arm protectively around Melanie, who was simply staring into the fire with empty eyes.
Leah and Seth were the only ones of the main ten who weren’t present. Nobody had called them; they’d all decided it was best that they not know about this.
They all stared at the two, nobody having any idea how to begin—this had never happened before.
Jacob had already laid out what had been happening—the murders, the torture, the rapes, the eating—all of it. He’d forced Embry to phase and had looked through the memories, seen what they done—and how many there were. The number was…staggering.
“Embry,” Jacob finally said, standing up. “You—do you even realize what you’ve been doing?”
He looked up at him, his jaw set. “Yes.”
“But you don’t care?” Jared demanded. “You—you killed all those girls!”
“Yeah. I did. What else was I supposed to do?” Embry spat back. “Melanie was miserable, you all saw it.”
“But—but killing people?!” Paul managed incredulously.
“It’s who she is!” Embry shouted. “We don’t ask the stupid vamps to change their nature—we don’t make them stop drinking blood altogether! We didn’t even ask the ones that came down to defend Renesmee to not kill people! I don’t see you asking Ness to stop drinking the human blood Carlisle steals from the blood banks, Jake! It’s their nature—so why should I ask her to change?! She just—she’s just like that! She can’t help it!” He held her tighter. “It’s the only way she’s happy…I couldn’t…those first couple of months where she was so miserable, guys—you weren’t there. You didn’t see it. I’m her imprint—I saw it and I felt it, the deep unhappiness she felt—and now she is happy—”
“Embry, she’s—she’s killing people! You’re killing people! And—God, you aren’t just killing them—” Quil was stuttering, but Embry just glared at him.
“So what?” he shot back. “You gonna turn us over to the police? Yeah, having me arrested is gonna be great. And if you just send her off to jail, I’ll break her out. If Jacob orders me not to, it’ll pretty much kill me, so you all may as well just kill us both right here. Go on—do it. Kill us for being in love.”
There was silence for a moment. Jacob was the one to once again break it. “We…need to talk this over for a bit,” he sighed. “Embry, you go with Melanie—go to—I don’t know, just go where you can’t hear. And don’t run,” he ordered.
Embry flinched a little, but then he took Melanie’s hand and led her away and into the woods.
“They don’t understand,” she whispered as they walked.
“No,” Embry whispered back. “They don’t. But know…that—know this, Melanie, that I will always love you no matter what they decide.”
Melanie didn’t answer.
Embry was first happy with the verdict—but when he saw Melanie wasn’t, he wasn’t anymore.
“Melanie, it’s okay,” he tried.
“No. It’s not,” she murmured. “We—we got caught, Embry. And it’s all gonna end. They’re going to kill us—order us apart.”
“No, that’s not true,” he said, grasping her hands. “You heard them—they aren’t—they didn’t ask you to stop. They just…told us to try and stop doing it to innocent people. That’s not so hard, right? Criminals don’t matter much.”
“You don’t get it, do you?” she hissed. “You really don’t see it?”
“Melanie, I know you don’t want to, but sometimes—”
“You listen to me, Embry,” she growled. “This is all a set-up.”
Embry blinked. “What do you mean?”
“You saw them all—they’re all human now. They can’t phase right now. You can—they’re scared of you ‘cause you’re stronger than them and could easily kill them as they are. That’s the only reason they didn’t kill us both,” Melanie ground out.
“Melanie, Jacob’s my Alpha—he could’ve easily just ordered me to stay still while everyone else—”
“Does the order trump my order?” Melanie interrupted.
Embry cut his eyes away. “I…actually don’t know.”
“See?” Melanie said. “They know something you don’t about how the orders work with imprints. He’s just waiting, Embry—he’s calling the other one down.”
“Leah?” Embry asked incredulously.
“Yeah, her,” Melanie said. “And he’s probably getting the others to start phasing again, too. So he has numbers. So he can overpower you. So he can kill us. So he can kill me. Embry, they want to stop us—I don’t want to die, Embry, I don’t want them to hurt me—”
Embry swept her up into his arms, holding her tightly, fierce hatred bubbling up in his chest. “They won’t—no way I’d let them.” He pulled away, holding her at arm’s length. “We’ll run—tonight. We’ll get out of here and away from these people. We can go to another country—”
“No, no, no. That—they could still find us and hunt us. Do you really want to live like that, Embry? On the run? Because I don’t,” Melanie said.
“Well…I guess I don’t, either. But what can we do?”
Melanie’s eyes were unblinking. “You know what we can do—what we have to do.”
For a moment, they just stared—and then he knew.
“Melanie—I’m—I’m not sure if—”
“Don’t you say you aren’t sure,” she snarled. “You want them to kill me? Because they will. Unless we kill them first. All of them. While they’re still human.”
“But what about Jacob?” Embry asked. “He’s my Alpha. He can easily tell me to stand down.”
“Sneak up on him. Get in the first blow. He has to sleep eventually,” Melanie said. “Just watch until you know he’s asleep and tear him to shreds.”
Embry bit his lip. “And the others?”
“We can do it together—it will be quicker that way,” Melanie said. “You can take care of the pack members and I can do the rest.”
“Wait—you mean the wives and children too?” Embry asked, incredulous.
Melanie nodded fiercely. “Of course—you said they have a chance of phasing, too. All it would take is a vampire to show up in the area. Do you really want to risk it, Embry?”
He shook his head. “No—not if it means you might be in danger.”
Melanie’s fingers knotted in his hair. “I want to make sure we’re clear, Embry. You know this is the only way, right? You know we have to do it. I don’t want it to stop—so this is the only way. You with me?”
He nodded, staring deep into her eyes. He knew as well as she did—it was the only thing that could be done. And he would do it.
Because he loved her. And he would do anything for her—be anything for her. He was whatever she needed him to be, whether that was a protector, or a lover, or a friend, or a brother.
Or a killer.