Leah Clearwater helps Alice - a Twilight fang-fiction - 3rd place Journey Through Genres
|Leah Clearwater wrinkled her nose at the foul, bleach-like stench of vampires. Sometimes it sucked to have a werewolf's keen sense of smell. Holding her breath, she stepped deeper into the antebellum farmhouse. Even if she couldn’t smell them, she would have known this was the Cullens’ home in New Hampshire from the tastefully arranged antique furniture around the living room. The place reeked of Esme’s maternal touch.
“Hello?” she called out. “Anyone here?”
A woman darted into the room with preternatural speed, startling Leah so much that her heart threatened to escape her ribcage. “Jeez, Alice! Give a girl some warning.”
The svelte vampire giggled.
Leah frowned. “This better be important. I ran all the way from Alaska.”
“That explains the grubby shorts and torn T-shirt.”
“You try carrying your clothes in your mouth for four thousand miles.”
Alice’s expression turned serious. She perched gracefully on the side of the sofa and patted the space beside her. Leah ignored that and opted to sit in the armchair beside the ornate fireplace, as far from Alice’s stench as she could get without leaving the room. Alice pouted, and Leah sighed. Why should she feel guilty about hurting the feelings of a filthy parasite? When did her life get so complicated? Oh, yeah, right. When she decided to abandon her old pack and join Jacob Black’s ragtag rebel army of vampire guard dogs.
“Well?” Leah prompted.
“Would you like some—?”
“Get on with it.” As if Leah would accept food or drink from a vampire. Even Esme’s daintily prepared sandwiches were inedible due to the lingering leach stench.
“Okay. I didn’t say much on the phone because the vision hasn’t solidified.”
“A vision?” Her fingernails dug into the armrests. “Is Nessie in danger?” Although she generally loathed bloodsuckers, she loved her goddaughter, Renesmee. Nessie wasn’t a vampire. Not really.
“I don’t think so…”
“Spit it out,” demanded Leah.
“The future is…confusing. What I see is a newborn—”
Leah jumped to her feet. “A newborn! Here?” A memory flashed through her mind, and she shuddered. Newborns were faster and stronger than mature vampires and notoriously savage. A fight with a newborn vampire almost cost Leah her life. If Jacob hadn't stepped in to help…
Alice raised her hand. “Calm down. Seth is on his way. Jacob is on campus, keeping his eyes on Nessie and Bella. The others are patrolling. Even Sam is on standby in case we need to call in reinforcements.”
Leah’s chest tightened, and she looked away to hide the anguish she knew would be clear in her eyes. Even a decade later, her ex-boyfriend’s betrayal left a bitter taste in her mouth. All men were dogs. In Sam’s case, literally. However, she couldn’t really blame Sam. He’d imprinted on Emily. Even Leah accepted that the mystical soulmate chemistry of imprinting was unstoppable. She wished she could imprint on someone, too. Only then would her torment end.
“What I do see,” continued Alice, “is that this newborn will become intrigued by the mixed scents of werewolves, vampires, and…something different.”
“Yes. That’s why we’re taking precautions.”
“Why stay?” asked Leah. “You could pull Nessie out of college for a month.”
“She has finals soon.”
“Who cares? She can repeat the year. It’s not like she doesn’t have forever to finish her degree.”
Alice frowned. “She’s too much like her grandfather.”
“No, the annoying one.”
Leah smirked. “Since when did Carlisle annoy you?” She always did like him more than the other Cullens.
“Since he got Nessie so excited about studying medicine. She refuses to repeat a year because it would mean a year’s delay before she starts saving lives.”
Yeah, that sounded like Nessie. “So, what’s the plan?”
“Oh, it’s simple,” answered Alice. “You’ll pretend to be interested in applying to Dartmouth. That gives you an excuse to shadow Nessie around campus.”
“Er…I’m not exactly the academic type.”
“Don’t worry. Dartmouth has a strong Native American admissions program. You see reservation kids all the time. You’ll fit in better than me.”
Lean raised an eyebrow.
“You will once I’ve found you more suitable clothes.”
Half an hour later, they stood on the lush green lawn outside a lecture theater. Leah fidgeted with the pleats of her gingham summer dress, unused to anything so…feminine. The doors opened, and students flooded out. Leah perked up, her keen nose and vision both focused on locating her goddaughter. An unfamiliar scent grabbed her attention. A human female, but with a woodsy, outdoors aroma that didn’t belong in this urban space. The scent was so enticing that Leah yearned to follow it to its source.
Something small and soft plowed into her, breaking the spell. A slender girl with curly, bronze hair and chocolate-colored eyes. Leah smiled and pulled Nessie into a warm embrace.
“I’ve missed you!” declared Nessie.
Leah tousled Nessie’s hair. “I’ve missed you too, kiddo.”
Nessie turned to Alice and frowned. “Any developments?”
“Nothing much. I still see a newborn arriving on campus. The strangest thing, though, is I get the impression this newborn is going to hurt someone who’s family…but it’s not one of us.”
Nessie threw up her arms. “Could you be any more confusing?”
Alice’s eyebrows narrowed in concentration. “I think it’s someone who is going to join our family. A girl. But I can’t see how that can be?”
“Could it be werewolf unpredictability clouding your sight?” asked Leah.
“No. She’s definitely going to be one of my best friends. At least, she’ll either be my friend or she’ll die.”
Leah shuddered. “Well, that sucks.”
The three of them walked across the grass toward Nessie’s next class. Enough clouds dotted the sky to prevent Alice from going all sparkly, and a gentle breeze tugged at Leah’s dress. She glanced around and took in the fancy, red-brick buildings with sandstone columns. This place was a far cry from the community college she’d attended. A familiar but faint werewolf scent drew her attention, and she waved at Jacob and Bella before they disappeared into a white building. Naturally, Jacob and Nessie's mom would stay close until the danger passed.
Just then, the breeze shifted, and a bleach stench burned her nostrils. Alice was downwind, and there was something different about this smell. It wasn’t the scent of any vampire she knew.
Leah exchanged a look with Alice. “Are there any other…friendly vampires here?”
Alice shook her head.
Alice gripped Leah's arm. “Don’t do anything rash. Newborns are unpredictable. We should go in strength to investigate.”
“And miss this opportunity?”
“I can’t endanger Nessie.”
Leah blinked. “Of course not! You two continue to class. I’ll follow my nose.”
“You should wait,” said Alice.
“You ain’t the boss of me.”
Alice pulled out her cellphone, probably to call Jacob. Leah escaped her grip and sprinted across the lawn in the direction of the stranger’s scent. She kept to human…well, almost human speed so as not to draw attention. She knew Alice and Nessie wouldn’t follow because Alice wouldn’t allow Nessie closer to danger.
The scent grew stronger as she neared one of the buildings, a squat structure with tiny windows. She tracked the stranger around to a side door almost hidden by the shrubbery. The overgrown plants and lack of any path implied this entrance was rarely used. As she grew near, Leah noted cracks in the wood around the lock. The door had been forced open. Cautiously, she entered and found herself in a dark corridor. The bleach stench was stronger here. Her quarry was close. She listened for movement. The deathly silence told her no humans were around.
A man stepped into view. No, not a man. His eyes matched the color of his red beard, and she could smell what he was.
He grinned. “So, werewolves are real.”
Giving up on stealth, she straightened. “What makes you say that?”
“You smell like a wet dog. Same as that guy who hangs around with the brunette immortal and the girl who smells different. None of you are human, and I think werewolf’s as good a guess as anything else.”
“I’d say you were smart, but you’re clearly not. Nobody smart would hang around with two werewolves on campus.”
“I never claimed to be smart. But if a wolf appeared in public, it would draw lots of unwanted attention.” He smirked. “You can't fight me in that weak human form.”
She snorted. “Who’s going to see a wolf inside here?”
He bolted away. Leah followed. She considered phasing but held back. There was a fire door at the opposite end of the corridor. He flew into the bar, and the double doors opened to reveal a crowd of students. By the time she reached the doors, the newborn had disappeared into the throng.
She threaded through the people, keeping her eyes open and following his stench. He wouldn’t get far. The scent led her into another college building, this one better lit but still empty. Wait. Not completely empty. One human heartbeat thumped upstairs. She mustn’t phase unless she had no other choice.
She followed the scent to the staircase and up to the second floor. There she was momentarily distracted by a familiar smell. That appealing woodsy aroma she’d encountered earlier. The bleach trail merged with the woodsy scent but failed to completely mask it. Leah picked up her pace. A human was in danger, and the Quileute wolves were protectors of humanity.
Turning the corner, she spied the newborn darting through a door. Someone screamed. Leah phased into her wolf form, fragments of gingham flying through the air like confetti. She sprinted over on all fours and barreled into the room. It was a restroom. Mirrors lined one wall, each of them reflecting images of the vampire standing beside the toilet stalls. She detected no blood, and a human heart still beat inside one of the stalls, although faster than was healthy. Thank the Great Spirit she arrived before it was too late.
The newborn snarled and kicked out at her. She dodged to the side. A second foot headed her way, but this time she caught it in her jaws. He screamed and pounded her head with his fist. White light bloomed in her vision, and her jaw loosened. He recovered his foot and circled her torso with both arms. Leah wriggled to get loose, but his grip was too strong. She was stupid to have cornered this newborn on her own. Why hadn’t she learned her lesson from last time? Unless backup arrived, he would crush her torso, and she would die. Worse, so would the innocent hidden in a stall.
A thud from that stall distracted the vampire. The smell of blood entered the air. Not strong. Just a scratch. Possibly the human fainted and fell. Overcome by his primal instincts, the newborn released Leah and jumped for the stall.
Recovering immediately, Leah leaped on his back, gripping his neck with her teeth. One quick yank, and his head detached from his torso. She couldn’t believe it. By simple luck, she’d survived the day and saved a human life.
Leah phased back to human form. She was naked, and there was a decapitated corpse on the floor, but she had other priorities. She tapped on the stall. “Hello? Are you all right in there?”
The stall door cracked open. Clearly, the human had regained consciousness. A girl’s face appeared in the gap. Leah gaped at exquisite sapphire eyes and a freckled face that contrasted strongly with her own dark looks.
Leah dropped to her knees. Thoughts she’d never entertained ran through her mind. She saw herself skipping through a forest hand-in-hand with this blonde-haired girl. Leah had seen similar visions occur through Jacob’s and Sam’s eyes via their pack telepathy when they imprinted on their soulmates. The silken threads of Leah's destiny snapped and were replaced by steel cables as she imprinted on the beautiful stranger. Finally, she had found her soulmate.
WORD COUNT: 2000
Plugged in "For Authors Newsletter (July 1, 2020)"