July 3, 2013
So this is what Leah felt like when Sam first went missing, I think to myself. The thought makes me feel even worse after talking to her at the store. I haven’t seen or talked to Sam since that day in the forest. I feel so bad for the things that I said to him. Jared, Paul and now Embry all say they haven’t seen him. He hasn’t been home, and he hasn’t called.
The doorbell rings and I turn off the TV, since nothing good was on anyways, and open the door. Jared stands there with Paul beside him. I invite them in and offer them cookies, which they each take several of. I’ve learned to always make extra of everything, doubling or tripling the recipe since I know none of it will ever go to waste.
“Have you guys heard anything?” I ask when they are seated at the table munching down cookies.
“What?” I ask excitedly. I miss Sam so much.
“He’s back. He’s . . . ,” Jared says.
“Having a hard time, ” Paul finishes, and Jared nods again
“He wanted us to be here when he came over—just in case.”
I sigh but my heartbeat quickens. “When is he coming?”
“He should be here anytime, ” Paul answers.
As if summoned by their words, the doorbells rings. I go to answer it and am quickly flanked by Jared and Paul. Jared takes the lead and opens the door. Sam stands there, looking handsome as ever, cleanly shaven.
“Sam,” I say and dive into his arms. Paul and Jared hesitate beside us, not knowing whether to intervene. Sam hesitates too, to wrap his arms around me but he does.
“I missed you so much, ” I tell him, and he lets go.
I take a step back to see him better. Paul and Jared hover nervously and Sam nods. His hand reaches toward me and stops. He drops it and then lifts it again, closer to my face this time.
“It’s okay, ” I say taking his other hand.
“I don’t . . . I don’t even know how to begin to tell you how sorry I am, Emily. If you never want to see me again, I understand. You should just tell me right now to . . . go jump off a cliff or take a bullet or something. I don’t know if I can live with this”—his hand grazes my scar—”knowing I hurt you —so your wish is my command. I wouldn’t ever do those things unless you told me to. I wouldn’t leave you . . . if not, ” Sam whispers, looking down and stuffing his hands into his pockets.
I shake my head and look away so he won’t see the tears filling my eyes when he looks up. I wipe them away.
“Stop. No. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I did. I didn’t mean it at all. You’re not like him—you’re so much better than that, Sam. I just feel so bad for Leah. I do want to see you. I’m just afraid you won’t want to see me . . . like this. And if you ever did, any of those things you just mentioned, I-I would have to, too. And then Leah probably would and then we’d raise the suicide rate in La Push by like, a ton, ” I finish off my words, laughing through my tears. Sam smiles.
His sad smile nearly breaks my heart, so I kiss him, wrapping my arms around him once more. I’d all but forgotten Jared and Paul were even there and they hover once more but back away when Sam pulls me even closer. We end our kiss and I rest my head against his chest with my eyes closed, both of us relaxed.
“I’m so sorry—” Sam begins again and I interrupt him.
“Stop. Are you hungry?”
“Starving, ” he answers and I take his hand, leading him inside.
He sits at the table while I heat up leftovers for all three of the men. While the food is heating, I grab plates and set the table.
“Gosh, I missed you, ” Sam says as I serve his food.
I laugh, “I’m sure. You don’t know how lonely it gets. Especially while I’m not working.”
Sam looks up, “Not working?”
“They gave me some time off. I go back after Christmas break, ” I explain while dishing food for the others. I’ve already eaten, so I sit in the empty chair at Sam’s side, pulling it closer to him.
He nods, “That makes sense. And that gives us like an extra week together right?”
Paul and Jared groan in unison and I giggle.
“It was bad enough when you were gone, ” Paul says. “Even with Embry’s help.”
“How is Embry? ” Sam asks them.
“Ehh, he’s okay. He’s got a lot of questions, that’s for sure, ” Jared says and Paul nods in agreement.
“Serves you guys right then, ” Sam retorts. “You two asked more questions than a classroom of four-year-olds. Is he running now?”
“Yeah, ” Paul says. “I’m supposed to go trade with him soon. You want me to send him in?”
Sam nods, “Yes, please.” He turns to me, “We can go out tomorrow if you want, Emi. I gotta take care of this tonight.”
“I understand,” I tell him. “I’m just glad that you’re finally back.”
I lean my head against his shoulder and he wraps his arm around me, the other guys making faces and pretending to gag. Paul leaves and a few minutes later, Embry comes in. He stands in the doorway awkwardly, not yet feeling welcome at my house like the rest of the pack does.
“Come on in,” I tell him. “Foods on the counter, plates in the cupboard. Help yourself.”
Embry nods and goes to the counter. Jared gets up and helps himself to seconds after Embry has his food, then they return to the table.
“Emily makes lots of food, ” Jared says to Embry. “And we eat it for her.”
I smile, “Isn’t that right? I guess that’s what comes from being the one and only imprint.” I lean over and kiss Sam’s cheek.
Embry nods but stays silent. Sam’s eyes are on him and I, too can tell Embry has a question.
“So, uh, ” Embry begins. “How does the whole imprinting thing work? I don’t really get it. I mean, You and Leah—”
Sam’s body tenses next to mine and I assume he wasn’t expecting this question.
“We don’t really know how or why it happens, just that it does. I think, ” Sam clears his throat. “That, uh, you imprint on the person that…How do I put this? That you, have the best chance of reproducing with. So that…the tribe will always have protection for our enemies when it’s needed.”
My cheeks grow warm and I know they must be bright pink. I look to Sam to see that his are too and then look away. Being the only imprint doesn’t really allow anyone to make many theories about imprinting.
“That makes sense I guess, ” Embry says. “So, like, how do you know?”
“You just do. The first time you see her, everything changes and she’s the only thing that matters anymore. You would do anything for her, ” Sam stops to kiss my cheek and I smile.
“Anything else?” Sam asks.
“Nah, I’ll let you know if I think-a somethin’.”
Embry continues to eat and Jared stands up to get more. Later we move into the living room and Jared leaves to relieve Paul. Sam answers more questions of Embry’s throughout the evening while I snuggle into his side, happy and content now that he is back.