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When the wolves reached Jacob, he was waiting for them in a thicket that had the faintest traces of old vampire scent overlaid by a fresher one—Edward’s. Paul couldn’t believe it. The Cullen had been through there since he’d come back. He also couldn’t believe the strength of the rage that flooded through him when he realized the long-haired vamp in the clearing in front of them was tacking back and forth across the ground like a blood hound on a search.
The vampire halted in the center of the meadow, propped his hands on his hips, and turned slowly in place, inhaling deeply. “Old scent, but Edward Cullen and his little pet.”
If they’d not had supernatural hearing, they wouldn’t have caught the leech’s murmur. Paul knew he had been talking about Bella and growled threateningly.
The strange vampire’s head snapped up and around and they saw the deep red of his eyes.
Human drinker. Sam’s voice whispered in their minds.
Jacob snorted. He’s been across our lines.
The vampire gaped at them. “I don’t believe it.”
Paul shot across the field as if he’d been fired from a cannon. Before the intruder had taken two steps, Paul’s sharp teeth closed around his neck. He didn’t have to worry about the cold one getting his hands on him—his wolf brothers each had a limb in their jaws. It was hardly a challenge.
They ripped and crunched and tore and soon had the creature in pieces. Jacob phased and produced a lighter and a box of matches. When the tiny flame of the match came in contact with the spilled venom, the yellow, orange, and purple flames rapidly engulfed the broken and shattered pieces of vampire and remnants of clothing.
They stayed only long enough to make sure the flames didn’t spread and there was nothing but powdery grey ash left behind in the circular meadow.
The wolves were celebrating the death and destruction of the red-eyed, dread-locked vampire they had brought down as they gamboled, frolicked, and nipped at each other like puppies on their way back to Sam’s house. When they reached the yard, Quil and Embry broke off from the group to head for the beach to find their shorts and haul back what they could.
Paul couldn’t wait any longer to get back to Bella. He phased and burst through the front door, ignoring his shorts that had been draped over a rocking chair on the front porch. He strode into the house looking for her. The imprints weren’t in the front living room, so he turned to the kitchen, and there they were, staring at him, slack-jawed and wide eyed.
The first one to break from her astonishment was Bella. She jumped up from her chair. “You’re naked again. Why are you always breaking into houses naked?”
In the next instant, she was in Paul’s arms and his mouth covered hers in another blazing kiss. With a mind of their own, her arms went around his shoulders, her fingers were in his hair, and she opened her lips to receive his insistent tongue.
She didn’t know what was going on, but she didn’t care. She hadn’t felt so good in months, and she hadn’t ever felt so wanted. Paul’s body was hard, yet it seemed to mold to hers. Her own soft, malleable form had always conformed to Edward’s cold, rock-like one, and she couldn’t for the life of her remember why she had thought that was the best thing in the world. She had been so wrong. Paul’s scorching heat radiated to her very center and seemed to urge her even closer to him.
Paul was so relieved to see her again, he didn’t care that he was still naked when he grabbed his beautiful imprint and crushed her to his chest, his hands sliding down over her shoulders and back to make sure she was safe and whole.
When Paul’s hands had worked their way down over her ass, and Bella moaned, Sam, very obnoxiously, cleared his throat to get their attention.
“Paul, maybe you should put your pants on? You’re embarrassing the ladies … and the rest of us.” Sam held the shorts, and Bella’s feather, out toward him. “Then maybe escort Bella home?”
Reluctantly breaking the sweetest kiss he’d ever had, Paul gazed into Bella’s slowing opening eyes and returned the soft smile that appeared. “I guess I should take you home,” he whispered.
“Okay,” Bella answered in a haze of confusion and desire.
“Let go so I can put my pants on.”
“Okay.” Bella smiled up at him and slowly pulled her hands from his silky hair, letting her fingers trail down the sides of his face. She couldn’t take her eyes off him.
He took hold of her hands and kissed her fingers. “We’ll go in a minute.”
“Okay,” she said sighing. Right at that moment, she thought she’d go anywhere with him.
Oblivious to everyone around them, and without taking his eyes from Bella’s, Paul put on his shorts and zipped them up. “Ready to go? I’ll drive.”
She only nodded as he lifted her into his arms, her eyes never leaving his.
“Here’s your feather,” he murmured as Sam yanked the door open for them.
“Thank you, Paul,” she whispered.
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