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WARNING: This is a work of fan fiction. Please read my preface to the novel before reading the first chapter, and give constructive advice and criticism. Above all, enjoy!
1. NEW BEGINNINGS
I sat staring out of the window, listening to some shouty punk band on my iPod, when I felt a bump and realized that we had landed. My mother, who was asleep in the seat next to me, woke with a jolt and stretched her long, thin arms.
"Are we there already?"
"Looks like it."
It had been sunny back in Philly, but here in Port Angeles, in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, it was pouring with rain, despite it being early August. I sighed, and for the millionth time wondered what had made my mother decided to move back to the place where she had grown up: the tiny Indian reservation of La Push, fifteen miles from the nearest town and otherwise known as Dullsville, USA.
I had been going every summer since I was born to visit my grandparents, but since they died when I was ten I hadn't been back. Though beautiful, the reservation was the place I'd ever choose to live. Great for hiking, surfing, whale-watching and so on, but the village has a single shop, a frighteningly small high school where I would stick out like a sore thumb with my pale coloring, and year- round rain. In short, the rez was my own personal hell, to which my mother seemed determined to exile me.
I had never been able to understand Mom. Our personalities are scarily alike, but mentally we're on completely separate wavelengths. And physically... well, we couldn't be more different. Mom is almost stereotypically Native, russet-skinned and raven-haired with almond-shaped brown eyes, a straight nose and razor-sharp cheekbones. And beautiful. At almost forty, men's eyes still follow her wherever she goes, not that she cares of course.
I'm the opposite. As tall as Mom, but whereas she's lithe and slender I'm curvy and a few pounds short of plump. Luckily, I curve in all the right place; Mom's not the only one who gets checked out. My hair is light blond, thick and straight, cut to shoulder length, and my skin is the color of fresh cream, though it tans easily.
Outside, the sky was dark, stormy gray, rain falling so hard that I could barely make out the airport building not thirty feet away. I pulled up the hood of my black jacket and and retrieved my carry-on bag from the overhead locker, then followed a fat, sweaty man wering a Seattle Seahawks sweater down the aisle and into the deluge outside. Once we had recovered our two huge suitcases, Mom and I made our way to the parking lot and peered around anxiously, trying to spot an old friend of hers who was coming to pick us up. Several people were standing around waiting, but Mom seized my arm and dragged me towards an impossibly tall, broad-shouldered boy with cropped black hair and reddish brown skin. He was leaning against a battered Volkswagen, his muscular arms folded, grinning at the pair of us with dazzling white teeth.
"Jacob, honey!" Mom beamed, hugging the huge boy. "I can't believe how big you've got!"
"I guess I just keep growing," he joked. "Great to see you, Hannah."
"You too, sweetie. Now, Jake, this is my daughter Evelyn. Evie, baby, this is Jacob Black, Billy's boy."
"Hi," I said with a small smile. Shyness has never been a personality trait of mine, but I tend to be cautious around people until I get to know them properly.
"Hi. Woah, I haven't seen you for like, six years. You've really changed."
"You too. Nice to see you again, Jacob."
His grin widened and he held out a large hand. As his warm fingers closed around mine, a shock ran through my body and I whipped my hand away as though I had been burned. Astonished, I looked first at my open palm then up at Jacob, who gave a tiny shrug and stuck his own hand into the pocket of his cut-off jeans. Mom was busy searching through her purse for her cell phone and hadn't noticed anything.
"We'd better hit the road before Dad starts to worry," Jacob said. "Who wants to ride shotgun?"
"Evie can, I want to catch up on a little more sleep. Where shall I put the cases?"
"Oh, I'll deal with that."
Jacob picked up our two huge steamer trunks effortlessly and stuck them in the trunk of the old Volkswagen. Mom and I exchanged an awed glance, then got into the car and slammed the doors shut behind us, rain hammering down on the windshield. Jacob slid into the driver's seat and flashed me a brief smile, revved the engine, and reversed out of the parking space.
The drive to the rez took over an hour, the scenery a green blur as the car shot down the highway. The 101 highway wound through the dense, eerily green forests of the Olympic National Park, past Crescent Lake and running along the Sol Duc river. There was lush vegetation everywhere, the roads bordered by soaring firs and vine maples, their trunks obscured by thick emerald green mosses and lichens, the ground carpeted with ferns and wood sorrel. Unfortunately, the pewter-gray skies and heavy rainfall gave the forest a sinister, claustrophobic feel, as though the vivid green woods were going to swallow you up and keep you prisoner in their timeless depths.
I was pretty sure that Jacob was speeding, but kept quiet, as my record wasn't exactly clean. He was friendly and easy to get along with, so I soon felt perfectly at ease as we chatted, sticking to safe subjects like sports, music and movies, his soft, husky voice soothing my raw nerves. Jake told me about life on the rez, the stuff he liked to do with his friends and his high school. Though he looked older, in his early twenties at least, it turned out that he was only seventeen, and would be going into the junior class at the Quileute Tribal School in September. I would be starting out there too as a sophomore, and was utterly dreading it.
We finally reached La Push, the highway taking us along the rocky crescent of First Beach, through the village and down a dirt road edged with trees, interspersed with the odd log cabin, until Jake pulled up in front of a small wooden house at the end of the track.
"Here we are," he said cheerfully, cutting the engine. "Home sweet home."
The little wooden cabin, painted a faded white, looked like a woodcutter's house in a fairytale, nestled between ancient redwoods and Sitka spruces with only a tiny square of back yard. A shallow porch ran along the front of the house, and in the doorway sat a great bear of a man in a wheelchair, who waved to us.
"Is that your dad?" I asked, gazing at my new home with wide eyes.
"Yeah, that's Billy. He's been dying to see you and your mom again, hasn't stopped yabbering about it for months."
"This place is so... small. Does it even have running water?"
Jacob laughed, a deep, throaty chuckle.
"Yep, electricity too. This isn't the Third World, Evie. C'mon, or the old guy's going to die of impatience."
I rolled my eyes and got out of the car, following Jacob up the muddy drive to where Billy Black was waiting.
"Hey, kids!" he greeted us enthusiastically. "You must be Evie, haven't seen you for years! My, you're looking great, a proper young lady now. Heard lots about you from your mom." Billy grinned, offering me an enormous hand.
"Heard lots about you too," I said, smiling warmly as we shook hands. "Nice to see you."
Billy's dark eyes twinkled, buried deep in fold of creased brown skin. His age was difficult to judge, late fifties perhaps, his kind, wise face etched with deep lines and his shoulder-length black hair streaked with gray.
"So where's Hannah, did you leave her at the airport?" he asked Jacob, as Mom's door opened and she swung her legs out of the car.
"Naw, not your Jacob," she called out, straightening up and grinning. "Too much of a gentleman. Billy, great to see you!"
"Well, if it isn't little Hannah Moon!"
Mom dashed up the porch steps and flung her arms around Billy's neck, pulling him into a tight bear hug. Jacob rolled his eyes at me and I giggled.
"How've you been, you old coyote?" she laughed, her brown eyes dancing.
"Good thanks! What about you, you little wildcat?"
"Aw, can't complain. Say, you've got yourself one mighty fine boy there, Billy. The nicest manners."
"Yeah, he's a good kid, though most of the time he acts like he was dragged up by a pack of wolves. Anyway, come see the house! The builders fixed the place up like you wanted and I got Jake and some of his friends to paint it. Jake, show Evie her room, I'll bet she can't wait to see it!"
"This way," Jacob said brightly, leading me into the house.
The front room was bigger than I expected and painted cream with a chocolate brown carpet. Our furniture was stacked in the middle of the room alongside a mountain of packing cases, and the air smelled like fresh paint. Jacob crossed the room and headed for a short hallway opposite, vanishing through a door on the right.
I followed him curiously, and found myself in a small bedroom with a single window overlooking the back yard. The walls were painted peachy pink and the honey-colored floorboards were bare, giving the room a cozy, inviting feel. Most of the space was taken up by the big double bed, which had a beautiful new patchwork quilt on it, made up of triangles of different pink floral materials stitched into a design like a leaping salmon. My vanity was wedged under the window, a shelf had been fixed to the wall above the bed and a big built-in closet stood open near the door. More cardboard boxes cluttered the floor, and I skirted them, going to sit on the bed. Jacob's dark eyes watched me intently as I stroked the unfamiliar quilt, marveling at the time and effort that must have gone into making it.
"Where's this from?" I asked, admiring the different shades of pink.
"It's a welcoming present from Sue Clearwater, she made it herself."
"Clearwater. Harry Clearwater's widow, lives down near the beach with her kids, Seth and Leah. Well, Leah's moved to San Francisco so they're helping her get settled down there at the moment, but they'll be back by the end of the summer."
The names were vaguely familiar from my holidays spent at La Push, but I couldn't place them.
"Harry Clearwater died?" I frowned, struggling to match a face to the name.
"Yeah, just over a year ago of a heart attack." Jake leaned against the doorframe and folded his arms.
"I remember, Mom flew over for the funeral. How old are his kids?"
"Leah's twenty and Seth turned sixteen in May. He'll be in your class next semester."
I perked up a little, relieved that I'd know at least one person in my new class.
"So, how d'you like the room?" Jacob asked anxiously.
"It's really nice, I love the colors. And I'll have to thank Sue for the quilt, it's a work of art."
"She makes them to sell at the gift shop down by the beach, with eagles and wolves and stuff. The tourists love them. And my friend Embry is responsible for the paint, he had some left over from doing his mom's room. My other friend Quil was worried you might not be a pink kind of girl. Pink's cool, right?"
"Pink's great. Do Quil and Embry live on the rez?" Jake had mentioned them earlier in the car, something about dirt biking with Embry.
"Yeah, I think you probably already met them when you were a kid. Quil's actually my cousin, and both of them are like brothers to me." Jacob smiled, and I felt I was missing some in-joke.
"So what do you rez boys do for kicks around here? It seems pretty boring."
"You'd be surprised, there's more going on in La Push than you think."
"Yeah, right. I've been coming here every year since I was like, one, and it just gets more depressing every time. I can't wait to get out off here."
"Where will you go?"
"I want to major in English, then go to law school."
Jacob raised his eyebrows. "Law school? You want to be a lawyer?"
"No, I want to go to law school to become a hairdresser." I rolled my eyes.
"Okay, dumb question. Wow, that's really cool." He came over and sat down beside me on the bed, making my heart race. "Listen, it's none of my business, but you really didn't want to move here, did you?"
I was silent for a moment, lightly tracing the stitching on the quilt with my fingertip.
"No, that's not quite true. Shockingly, I don't actually mind this place too much. And there was no way I could stay in Philly after – well, after everything. But a reservation? Mom fits in here, but I sure as hell don't. And I've never felt remotely Native... I'm worried that I'll be rejected." I pulled a face. "I sound pathetic."
"No, you sound like a perfectly normal person. Look, don't stress out. You're pretty, you're smart, you're confident, everyone's going to love you. Even if you look like a paleface."
"Even if I look like a paleface." I smiled. "So are you guys staying for dinner?"
"Are you kidding?" Jacob grinned. "Dad would stay for breakfast and lunch tomorrow too if he could. So what d'you want to do?"
I gave the boxes a rueful look. "Maybe I ought to start unpacking."
"Naw, you'll have plenty of time for that! Let's go for a walk, you've been on an aeroplane all day. We can go down to First Beach, the rain's let up."
"Okay, I'll just go tell Mom."
We found the adults in the kitchen, gossiping over a pot of fresh coffee. The tiny, square room was painted cream with warm, honey-toned cupboards, giving it a homey feel.
"Wow, Mom, you managed to find the coffee maker in all those boxes?" I grinned, leading against a counter.
"It was in the box marked 'coffee maker', silly."
"You sure look like your mom, Evie," Billy said, and I glanced round at him in surprise. Most people say that I'm like my dad, which drives me crazy.
"You know you're the first person to ever say that?" Mom laughed. "You need to get your sight checked, old man!"
"Now don't be giving me any of that cheek! Jake, Hannah's invited us to stay for dinner."
"Really?" Jacob said innocently, shooting me a sly glance. I bit my lip, struggling to keep a straight face. "Well, isn't that nice! Lucky you brought that fried fish over, huh?"
Billy elbowed his son in the ribs and Jake punched him lightly on the shoulder.
"Why don't you start unpacking your stuff, Evie?" Mom suggested. She had caught Jake's glance and seemed thrilled that the two of us were getting along so well. "Jacob could keep you company. I've got to get the dinner things out and heat the fish up, so we'll be eating in at least half an hour."
"Naw, Jake and I are going to walk down to First Beach."
"Oh, that's a great idea! Just be careful on the road, some of those tourists drive like freaking maniacs."
"Mo-om." I rolled my eyes. "I avoided getting run over in Philly for sixteen years, I'm sure I'll manage just fine here. We'd better bring the cases in first, anyway."
"Already done," Billy announced, as Jacob dumped the two massive trunks on the living room floor. "Have a nice time, kids."
"Thanks, Billy!" I called over my shoulder, following Jake out the front door.
We strolled down the dirt road towards the beach, walking at a leisurely pace. The grass at the side of the road was muddy and squelched under my high-tops, droplets of water falling from the overhanging branches. I was unsure of what to say, as we'd used up most of small talk.
"Do you want to meet some people?" Jacob asked suddenly.
"Um, sure. Like, your friends? Now?"
"Not now, but yeah, Quil and Embry would love to meet you. Especially Embry."
"Oh, he has a thing for blondes. So are you up for it?"
"Cool, I'll invite them round when you come for dinner Saturday."
"We're coming for dinner?" I asked, grinning. We'd reached the end of the lane and turned onto the highway, a mud-splattered Chevy pickup roaring past and splashing my jeans with water.
"Yep, we're doing a barbecue, Charlie Swan is coming over from Forks and Rachel will be there with her boyfriend Paul."
"Well just bring on the spicy ribs and horny friends!" I giggled, and Jacob spluttered with laughter. "Hang on, Rachel's your sister, right? Man, I haven't seen her for ages! Wasn't she studying at Washington State?"
"Yeah, she graduated last year and now she's working for a real estate agency in Forks. We managed to persuade her to stay at home by turning the loft into a room for her."
"That's good. And Charlie Swan's what, a friend of your dad's?"
"Yeah, they've been friends since they were kids. He's Chief of Police in Forks."
"Your dad's smart, getting in with the cops. I knew a few of the traffic cops back in Philly, they were real nice, let me off a few speeding charges."
"Speeding? You? No way, you look like such a good girl!" We were right by the store now, and I could see the beach in the distance. It was almost deserted, the bad weather forcing the surburnt tourists to stick to their cabins and RVs, only a few determined people in bikini bottoms and raincoats sitting on the sand.
"I am a good girl, just one who likes driving fast."
"What d'you drive?" Jacob asked curiously, and I recognized the slightly manic gleam in his eyes that the boys at my old high school got when talking about cars.
"Oh, nothing special. Just a '74 Ford Gran Torino," I said breezily, feigning nonchalance. Jacob stopped dead.
"You're BSing me."
"No, it's true. It was my sixteenth birthday present from my parents, I've had it like, two months."
"Aw man, sweet! Where is it, is it here?" He looked around wildly, as though the car was going to pop out of nowhere.
"Naw, it's being dropped off Saturday morning. Hey, I can drive it over to your place for the barbecue."
"Awesome! I have to tell Quil, he's going to freak."
Jacob grilled me with questions about my car all the way across the dirt lot, through the tangled hedge of weeds and onto the beach. Using what little knowledge of cars I possessed, I did my best to answer, and Jake seemed satisfied by my replies.
First Beach was stunning, a timeless, untouched stretch of rocky shoreline that was as perfect as if it were trapped in a snow globe. The turbulent, iron-gray waters of the Pacific lapped at the pebble-strewn beach, fringed with a band of pale sand beyond which was an expanse of smooth stones in varying shades that I always mistook for gray at the first glance. Countless skeletal driftwood logs, ripped up by their roots in the violent storms that plagued La Push, lay solitary or in piles along the high tide line, stripped and bleached bone white like the ghostly reminders of some terrible massacre. Sea stacks with jagged cliffs jutted out of the crashing waves, topped with sinister black firs and giving the landscape an air of foreboding. The foaming ocean was turned almost black beneath the dense, swirling gray clouds, a chilling wind whipping my hair back as I gazed at the beautiful yet threatening coast, a pair of eagles wheeling in the sky and a seal bobbing in the water just off James Island. The smell of brine and seaweed stung my nostrils, and the wind bit at my nose and ears.
Jacob and I picked up the pace, walking briskly along the narrow strip of sand with our heads down and our hands shoved deep in the pockets of our jeans.
"Akalat," I murmured under my breath, my eyes fixed on James Island.
"What?" Jacob frowned, the wind making it almost impossible to hear.
"Akalat!" I shouted. "I just remembered that it's the Quileute name for James Island!"
"Oh, yeah! Sorry for dragging you out here, I didn't realize the wind was so strong!"
"I didn't realize the wind was so strong!" Jake bellowed and I laughed.
We stopped halfway down the beach and turned around, immediately able to hear better with our backs to the wind. Unfortunately, the situation with my hair worsened, forcing me to put up the hood of my jacket to try and keep the flailing blond locks under control.
"This wind is so annoying!" I complained.
"Welcome to La Push, baby," Jacob grinned.
When we got back to the house, I lurched through the door and rushed into my bedroom, diving for the vanity.
"Oh. My. God."
My hair was knotted and tangled like seaweed, and I rooted around in a packing case with 'hair stuff' written on in metallic blue eyeliner until I found my brush and comb.
"What are you doing?" Jacob followed me into my room with an amused expression.
"Sorting out my hair. Can you be a sweetie and pass me a scrunchie?"
Smirking, he dipped his hand into the open box and fished out a red velvet scrunchie.
"This one okay?"
"Yeah, that's great." I winced, dragging the bristles through the knots, then took the scrunchie from Jacob and pulled my hair into a ponytail.
"Can you function again now that you've done your hair?" he snickered, and I scowled at him.
"Yes, thank you," I said primly, sticking my nose in the air. He laughed and held the door open with a mock bow.
"Madam, after you."
I stalked past and headed for the kitchen, where the table was set and Mom and Billy were talking about local car dealerships as she tipped a load of fried fish out of a frying pan and into a large dish.
"There you are! Did you have a nice walk?" Mom demanded the moment I was in the room.
"Yeah, the beach is really pretty."
"Evie got her hair messed up though," Jacob said, grinning hugely, and Billy laughed. I poked my tongue out the enormous boy, who made the kitchen seem like a child's play house, then opened the fridge and grabbed a carton of orange juice and a couple of cans of soda. As Mom began serving up the fish and Jake and I sat down at the table, my stomach growled; I hadn't noticed how hungry I was. The moment she placed a big plate of fish in front of me I tucked in, shoveling the food down ravenously.
"Evie, wait until the others are served!" Mom scolded, hitting the back of my hand with a wooden spoon.
"Mo-om!" I moaned, my mouth full. "I'm hungry!"
"Wait, or no dessert for you! Honestly, you'd have though you hadn't eaten in days the way you're putting that fish away!"
Billy and Jacob chuckled, and Mom served them before sitting down with her own plate of food.
"You can start now," she informed me, and I grabbed my fork and picked up where I'd left off.
The fried fish was great and the conversation around the table light and friendly, mainly centering around the rez high school and Mom's new job at the county hospital. Mom is actually Dr. Hannah Moon, Ph.D., with a medical degree from Penn University.
"Y'know, you were lucky to get that job," Billy said, waving his fork at Mom. "Dr. Gerandy passing was totally unexpected. No heart problems, kept himself in good shape, never smoked or drank, then one morning gets out of bed and drops dead. Stroke, apparently. Shame, he was a nice guy."
"It's awful, stepping into a dead man's shoes," Mom sighed. "At my old job I was replacing a woman I knew from Penn, Dr. Martha Stokes. She's been on holiday to Africa and caught malaria, just wasted away, poor thing."
"Jeez, Mom, I'm trying to eat! Can we lighten things up a little?" I groaned.
"Sorry, honey. So, you'll be starting at your new school in September! Jake, sweetie, tell me all about the place, I want to know everything about it."
Jacob launched into a detailed description of the school, teachers and students, then I cleared away the dishes and Mom served up the ice cream that Billy had brought for dessert. At the end of the meal, Billy raised his glass of orange juice in a toast.
"Hannah, Evie, I want to welcome you to La Push and I hope that you'll be very happy here. So here's to new beginnings."
"To new beginnings," we chorused solemnly, raising our glasses and clinking them together.
That was chapter 1 of my sequel to the Twilight Saga, chapter 2 will be coming shortly. Please read the preface as well, leave comments, and enjoy!