He should have never been there in the first place.  It wasn’t her fault, but he blamed her for it, anyway.  Ever since Sam pulled her out of the woods, the wolves had all felt a bit connected to her in some way.  Sam and Jared just chalked it up to being concerned about Bella being mistreated by the leeches, but Paul knew it was something more.  What, though, he couldn’t put his finger on.  It was driving him mad, this draw he felt towards this girl he’d never even met.  One way or another, he would figure it out.


Bella was so angry.  Anger and hurt and so many other emotions she couldn’t even describe welled up inside of her.  How dare he say those awful things to her?  She just couldn’t reconcile the boy she fell in love with telling her that she was a distraction; that she was a simple minded human who would soon forget all about the supernatural world.  The existence of supposedly mythical creatures was not something that one could just turn around and forget about. For some reason, during her internal rant, she was reminded of the tribal legends Jacob once told her.


Paul knew that it was time to return to the res, but he couldn’t bring himself to walk away.  He didn’t have another patrol until tomorrow morning, and it’s not like he would be missed if he didn’t go home.  The only people he was accountable to were his pack, and even they held him at arm’s length.  Paul didn’t blame them, not really.  He knew that his personality was a bit abrasive and they didn’t want to subject their mates to him.  He didn’t really want to be subjected to their mates, either, though.  He wasn’t their biggest fan.


Tossing and turning in her bed, Bella tried her hardest to get back to sleep.  Glancing over at her alarm clock, she noted the time at just past three in the morning.  Groaning, she rubbed her eyes and sat up.  Obviously her attempts at sleep were futile.  She eased herself off of her bed and grabbed her blanket, wrapping it around her shoulders.  Walking quietly to the seat beneath her window, she picked up her copy of Great Expectations and thumbed to her bookmarked page.  Just a few pages in, her eyes were drawn to the woods outside her window.


Tired, but unable to sleep, propped up in the branches of the tree as he was, Paul rested with his eyes closed, listening to the subtle sounds of the forest at night.  The rustling of sheets inside of the house caught his attention and he slowly opened his eyes.  He watched her slender frame move towards the window and gently settle in, legs curled beneath her.  He could tell she was reading, but wasn’t able to make out the title of the book.  A few moments later, he watched as she looked towards where he rested and their eyes met.


Bella couldn’t see much of anything in the inky darkness of the hour, but just after she had glanced towards the trees, she felt a sharp jolt in her chest.  With a quick intake of air, she placed her right hand just above her breasts.  Her heart beat swiftly, and her eyebrows furrowed in confusion.  She could find no reason for this physical reaction, so she shook off the strange occurrence.  Bella’s eyes went back to the words of Charles Dickens for but a moment before being pulled back to the same spot in the trees she had looked before.


Stunned, Paul almost fell out of the tree.  His heart and mind were racing.  He had imprinted on Bella Swan!  On one hand, he was ecstatic, on the other, he wasn’t sure what to feel.  The other imprints were so meek and mild, subservient almost.  Paul had often wondered if they had always been that way, or if that was caused by the imprinting.  If it was, he would do whatever he could to break it, as taking away a woman’s personality was unacceptable in his book.  At least he had figured out the reason he was drawn to Bella.


Without her permission, Bella’s hand reached up and unlatched the window, opening it to the cool, humid night air.  The crisp scent of autumn and wet earth invaded her senses, along with something else that she couldn’t place, yet gave her a sense of contentment.  A small smile graced her face, as she felt she was finally letting go of the hurt and anger Edward had caused by his callous words and abandonment.  She was young, intelligent and pretty.  There was much to look forward to in her life, and she wouldn’t allow a perpetual teenage boy drag her down.


As soon as the window was opened, Paul was treated to an intoxicating aroma.  His eyes rolled back in his head as he deeply inhaled the delectable scent of wild strawberries and warm French vanilla.  He opened his eyes just in time to see a beautiful smile on the face of his imprint.  A smile!  He was thrilled to see the look of utter pleasure on Bella’s face, and could feel himself smiling as well.  Slowly, he eased himself down from the tree and moved gracefully towards the open window, intent on speaking with his girl for the first time.


Bella spotted movement at the tree line, and watched a handsome, half naked man walking towards her house.  She looked him over from head to toe, enjoying the shape of his muscled frame.  She wasn’t sure what this man was doing in her backyard, nor why he was heading straight for her, and yet she could do nothing but stare at him, ensnared as she was by the look in his eyes.  Well, life certainly couldn’t be all bad if this hunk of a man revealed himself to her on a regular basis.  Maybe he could lose the shorts, too.


As soon as Paul had made it close enough to Bella to be heard, he told her that he had something he needed to show her.  She looked a bit confused, but smiled and nodded her head in acceptance.  He never broke eye contact with her as he stripped out of his shorts, and enjoyed the look of lust in her eyes.  He couldn’t help the cocky smirk that spread across his face any more than he could help the twitch his dick gave.  He wouldn’t apologize for it, but he had hoped he had better control of his body.


Bella had never seen a nude man in person, though she couldn’t think of a better male specimen to see for the first time.  She had no idea why he felt the need to give her a show, but she certainly wouldn’t complain.  The view was much too nice.  The confusion and lust caused by this man’s impromptu strip show chased the lingering bits of nasty emotions she had felt away.  She was now singularly focused on whatever this man had to show her because if it was anything like she was seeing now, she had no reason to complain.


Paul pulled his attention from the brunette beauty staring at him and focused his attention inward, calling forth the wolf.  He felt the beginnings of the shift, and took one last glance at Bella through his human eyes watching her own widen in shock.  Landing on his front paws, he stretched and then sat back on his haunches.  Paul was trying his best to tune out the panicked voice of Jared in his mind, but quickly gave up and sent him a quick replay of his imprinting on the girl who was staring at him, mouth agape and eyes unblinking.


Bella couldn’t believe what she was seeing.  So, the tribal legends that Jacob had told her were true!  She had known that at least the vampire bit was true, but watching this man turn into a horse sized wolf right before her was mind blowing.  She finally got her body back under control, and snapped her mouth shut, blinking rapidly.  She backed away from the window slowly until she heard a pitiful whine.  Quickly returning to the casement, she held up a single finger in a ‘just a moment’ gesture and turned around, collecting herself and hurried down the stairs.


Paul cocked his head to the side and listened to her footsteps, wondering what she was doing.  Hearing a door sliding open, he stood and shuffled in place.  He watched Bella as she quickly made her way around to the side of the house, stumbling in the dark, and walked right up to him showing no fear.  This pleased him greatly, especially as it had rendered Jared completely mute.  Emily and Kim were extremely uncomfortable around the boys in their wolf forms, so seeing Bella accept him in this body was quite satisfying.  Paul nudged her gently with his head.


Bella couldn’t help but to reach out and scratch behind the behemoth’s ears, causing him to make a grumbling sort of noise.  She couldn’t help but giggle and wonder if he’d start kicking with his back leg soon.  She sighed and pushed on him, telling him that she thought it was time he turned back into a man and explained things.  The large wolf chuffed and took a few steps back.  Bella watched in fascination as the wolf seemingly melted away into the strapping, bronzed body of the, so far, nameless man.  She took another opportunity to check him out.


Paul chuckled as he grabbed his shorts and slid them on, resulting in a pout forming on Bella’s face.  He introduced himself and divulged the legends of the cold ones and the protectors to her, but was shocked when she let him know that she had heard them before.  He laughed as she blushed, regaling him with her amateur attempt at flirting and coercing the information she had wanted out of the naïve Jacob.  Paul was elated to see that his imprint, while a bit shy, was not the meek thing that his pack mates’ imprints were.  She was wonderful.


For her part, Bella was completely captivated by Paul.  Not only was he fun to look at, but he was fun to talk to.  Charming and intelligent, but with a quick wit and biting humor, she enjoyed conversing with him quite a bit.  Finally she asked him why he felt the need to reveal himself to her.  He seemed to tense up a bit, but after a deep breath he explained imprinting and how it applied to them.  She was taken aback at first, and maybe a little hesitant due to her recent epic failure in the world of dating.


Paul can practically see what is going through her head and rushes to reassure her that he wasn’t trying to push her into anything.  All he wanted from Bella was a chance for them to really get to know one another.  Later on they could decide, together, where they wanted their relationship to go.  He had high hopes she would agree to that, and was slightly reassured by her answering smile.  A bright grin broke out on his face as she told him she couldn’t wait to get to know him more, and he grabbed her in a bear hug.


The embrace that Paul had given her had probably been the best one Bella had ever had.  She had never felt so safe or cared for as she had in those few moments.  She knew then that the relationship between them would likely progress swiftly.  Surprisingly, that thought didn’t make her feel uncomfortable.  She was rather looking forward to it.  Paul was different, she could tell.  He seemed self-assured and assertive; knowing what he wants and going after it.  She smirked.  He also didn’t seem to have any reservations about being nude, so maybe he’d teach her about carnal pleasure.


It started with that one night Paul could not control his curiosity.  It had been two weeks since that first night and things were progressing rather nicely, Bella thought.  They had talked about everything, from their lives before the supernatural had invaded to how Bella had gotten tangled up with the Cullens and how Paul had dealt with phasing for the first time. Although Paul was brash and unapologetic, Bella appreciated these things about him.  He was real and honest.  Rough around the edges, maybe, but he was true to who he was, and she loved it.  She loved him.


Paul was enjoying learning so much about his imprint.  She was caring and loyal, but she wasn’t one to be pushed around. Paul liked that a lot.  He respected that about her.  It was honestly a bit confusing to him how she had bent to the demands of the leeches, but maybe that had to do with their creepy vamp pheromones, or whatever the hell it was that made normal humans think they were so enthralling.  He had kept his cool when she told him about her experience with the tracker, but it wasn’t without effort.  He was falling hard.


Bella sat on her front porch, waiting for Paul to show up.  She was a bit surprised that he hadn’t beat her here, as he typically did on days his patrol schedule didn’t interfere.  Leaning back to rest on her elbows, she enjoyed the mild weather while wondering what was keeping him.  Did they find something while patrolling their land, or were Sam and Jared giving him a hard time about their relationship again?  She did her best not to worry over her imprint, but she wasn’t able to shake the concern completely.  She sighed, and resigned herself to waiting.


Running as a man wasn’t Paul’s preferred method of getting to his imprint’s house, but he didn’t feel like dealing with his pack mates at the moment.  Although they were supportive, somewhat, Sam and Jared had both expressed concerns about how Paul was dealing with the situation.  He didn’t understand why.  He and Bella were both happy and taking things at the pace they both felt most comfortable.  He wouldn’t be pressured into toeing the line, nor would he allow Bella to be.  Paul was sure Bella’s personality had something to do with their discontent.  She wasn’t like the others.


She wasn’t sure how long she’d been waiting, but as soon as she heard the crunch of leaves coming from the side of the house she was up on her feet.  Paul had just rounded the house when Bella launched herself into his arms, and pressing her body tightly against his.  She loved the strength and warmth he possessed.  Bella nuzzled her face into Paul’s neck and took deep, greedy breaths of his scent and could feel him doing the same, with his nose pressed into her hair.  She pulled back and tilted her head upwards, locking eyes with him.


Paul loved Bella’s scent.  It was, at once, soothing and arousing.  Feeling his length harden in his shorts, he quietly grunted and looked down into her eyes.  She felt it, too, he knew she did.  The spike in her scent told him so, as well as the increased heat between her legs.  There was little else he wanted, at that moment, than to rip her clothes from her body and bury himself in her sweet heat, but they weren’t ready for that just yet.  He leaned in closer and pressed his lips to hers, enjoying their sweet taste and texture.


Bella moaned into the kiss.  Paul’s tongue beckoned her lips to part, and she didn’t hesitate to open herself to him.  This wasn’t the first kiss they had shared, but it seemed more urgent this time than it had in the past.  As much as she was enjoying it, she had a nagging feeling that Paul was distraught about something, and she wanted to get that taken care of and out of the way.  After the issue was settled, maybe they could take this upstairs into her bedroom.  She was hoping to be less dressed and horizontal with him shortly.


Paul groaned in disappointment when Bella broke the kiss, but rested his forehead against hers and took in another breath of her scent.  He slid her down his body to set her on her feet, causing both of them to moan.  Paul took her hand as she stepped away from him and couldn’t help smiling at her.  He took in her flushed cheeks and darkened eyes and was amazed by her beauty.  Her dark hair and eyes set against her alabaster skin was striking, especially in the sunlight.  He couldn’t help but to pull her in for one more kiss.


Bella sighed and stepped back, gently tugging on Paul’s hand.  She led him up the porch steps and into the living room of her home.  Bella dropped his hand and slid off her light sweatshirt, revealing the thinning, cotton band shirt she’d worn underneath.  She heard Paul’s breath catch in his throat and quickly remembered she hadn’t bothered with a bra this morning.  Bella blushed lightly, but was flattered that the hint of her nipples through the material of her shirt aroused him.  Smiling, she tilted her head towards the couch and prepared herself to hear what was bothering him.


Paul knew he needed to explain why he was late getting here and what was eating at him, but that glimpse of her tight little nipples was enough to get both the wolf and the man riled up and ready for action.  He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before settling onto the couch close to his imprint, but not touching her.  As much as he wanted her on his lap, he wouldn’t be able to have any sort of coherent conversation with her that closely, right now.  He took a moment to organize his thoughts before speaking.


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