After showering and dressing, running back and forth between my place and Jacob’s, we had our duffle bags packed and ready to go for a weekend with his parents. We threw them in the back of his truck, and headed out for a three hour drive to Forks. We pulled off the freeway and took a long and winding road to his house. At last we pulled into a gray gravel driveway, next to small brick red house, with a bank of windows overlooking the front yard and street. There were about six other assorted cars and trucks in and around the driveway, and I could hear the high pitched voices and laughter of children coming from the back yard.
It was just getting to be dusk, so it was clear the shades were up, as the light from inside illuminated the yard. There were lots of people siloetted against the light. I didn’t know they were going to have a party, and I felt a nervous flutter in my stomach. How many people did I have to meet? And is it better to meet a bunch of people at once or just his parents? Was I going to fit in?
No sooner had Jacob put the truck into park and turned off the engine, then I heard the front door open and voices. A somewhat round woman with long hair and a soft smile that reached up to her eyes, and a tall man with a hair tied back into a pony tail, came down the stone walkway that led from the house to the driveway.
“You’re here.” the woman set, as Jacob and I both proceeded to get out of the truck. I walked around the front of the truck, to greet his parents, as his mother released Jacob from a hug and his father gave him a hard hug with pats on the back. Before I could introduce myself, his mother took my hands in hers and said, “Rowan, it’s so nice to meet you.”
Jacob stepped in to introduce us, “Rowan, this is my mother, Marie, and my father, Abraham. Mom, dad, this is Rowan.” Marie released my hands, as his father leaned down to shake mine.
“You can call me Abe,” he said.
“It’s very nice to meet you.” I replied.
Abe and Jacob grabbed the two duffles out of the truck began walking toward the house with them.
“Come on,” said Marie, as she hooked her arm into mine. “Everyone is dying to meet you. They want to know who managed to pull Jacob out of his miserable hermit existence….and dinner’s almost ready.”
I laughed, “I can’t imagine Jacob living like a hermit.”
“Oh honey, you have no idea how much he’s changed since you’ve come into his life.”
I smiled and blushed, remembering how he had blown me off the first few times we met, and wondered what he was like to the rest of the world then. We walked into the house, which was warm from all the bodies and the dishes still cooking in the oven. The house had an open floor plan, so we walked through the living/family room and to the right of the room where the kitchen was. The inside looked larger than the outside. There were people everywhere, of all ages milling about in the large room. I was introduced to Jacob’s two sisters, their husbands and children, three of his grandparents, since his mother’s father was deceased, an uncle and aunt, two cousins and their families, as well as several close friends of the family. Max was there as well, along with his wife and child.
“I knew I would see you again, Rowan.” Max said when he saw me.
I laughed, remembering. “You did!”
Jacob went off to greet his nieces and nephews and give them all rides on his back and rough house a bit with the older ones. Marie led me to through the kitchen, where Jacob’s sister Rachel was pulling rolls out of the oven while his other sister Rebecca was busy stirring a large pot of stew. “Just jump right in help out, Rowan, that’s how things work around here.” Rachel said to me as she handed me the now full basket of rolls to put on the kitchen table, which was set up as a serving station.
Rebecca added, “We’re a little old fashioned here, with the women doing most of the work in the kitchen, but don’t you worry, the men do their fair share of work around here, too.”
Max piped in, “Yeah, we work hard at getting all this food into our stomachs.” His wife, Denise, who was tossing a coleslaw salad together, stopped to swat at him with her serving fork.
Rebecca’s husband, with a bouncing toddler sitting on his shoulders, said, “You better watch yourself Max, these women mean business. No fun for you later, if you piss your wife off now.”
Max laughed, “That means no fun for her either, and I don’t think she’s willing to miss out.”
I blushed at the bawdy humor, and continued to move food from the oven and stove and fridge to the table.
“Soup’s on,” said Marie. Everyone began lining up to serve the kids first, who were sat at several folding tables set up in the family room/ dining room.
“No formal seating here, Rowan, just find a spot to sit. We always have more people than we have space.” Abe said, from right behind me.
I grabbed a bowl, filled it with stew, topped it with a roll, and looked for Jacob. He was leaning against the wall, watching me. I caught his eye, and he smiled and blushed. I blushed right back, wondering if I was fitting in with his family enough and what he thought about that. I sat next to Rachel, and her husband John, who talked to me how I ended up in Tacoma, and where else I had lived. John was a wonderer, too. And had traveled up and down the west coast from Alaska to Mexico right after graduating from high school. He regaled me with stories of all of his manual labor jobs and amazing seafood culinary adventures.
When dinner was done and everyone was sated…and the youngest children began falling asleep where they sat, everyone pitched in to help clean up. When the kitchen was spotless, except for the dessert pies, which were left on the counter, everyone began gathering around Jacob’s father’s father, Joshua. He sat on a wooden bench, with his wife, Evelyn, beside him. People’s voices dropped and there was an air of respect and reverence, as Joshua was surrounded by family and friends, sitting on the floor, leaning against the walls, reclining on the sofas. Rachel nudged me toward the front, so I could hear Joshua clearly.
“We’re all heard these stories hundreds of times, Rowan. This will be your first time. Joshua is a good storyteller.”
First man descended from wolves. This we know. But the story does not end there. In fact it only begins there. For First man had many offspring and his offspring had many offspring and so on and so on throughout history. His offspring never forgot their heritage, never forgot where they came from, how first man came to be. And this is important.
A great-great grandson of first man, Jebediah, was walking in the woods, hunting deer, when he came upon a creature that looked like a man, but was not a man. This creature was very fast, and very strong. This creature was very pale, paler than any man that he had ever seen. This man was a hunter, but Jebediah did not realize what he was hunting until it was too late. For this creature was a hunter of men. This creature hunted Jebediah. He ripped open Jebediah’s throat and drank most of his blood. He left his body in the forest. But he did not die. He called upon the wolf god to save him. The wolf god explained that if he gave Jebediah part of his spirit, that that piece would forever be there. The wolf spirit would meld with Jebediah’s spirit and become one. This would give him the strength he needed to survive, In fact it would give him the strength, speed, and power needed to crush the creature that attempted to kill him. But it would also pass this on to his offspring and their offspring and so on. And with that power also came a cost. Jebediah and his offspring would forever be the guardians of the people. Never to roam the lands and settle new places, but to stay with the tribe, and stand guard and fight against whatever and whomever attempts to harm the tribe. Jebediah accepted the spirit of the wolf. He used his strength, speed, and power to find and kill the creature who attempted to kill him. But this blood eater was not the only one of its kind.
When Jebediah was an old man, and he had many great grandsons, several of these blood eaters came to hunt the tribes people. Jebediah’s sons and grandsons hunted and killed these blood eaters, but it was not the end of these creatures. It was only the beginning, the beginning of the conflict between the people of the wolf and the blood eaters. Our sons and grandsons and great-grandsons continue to be the guardians of the tribe, continue to protect the people. It is this way.
As Joshua finished telling the story, I sat quietly, not really sure where to look, who to look at. This story had the one I found on the web site as its foundation but it was so much more than that.
Joshua asked his wife to bring him a piece of apple pie, as she got up to get it, everyone else began moving around to get desert as well. Joshua looked at me, and beaconed me over to sit by him, in the seat his wife had just vacated.
“Rowan, you will have to decide if you want to be to a part of this legacy or not. While we do not actually transform into wolves, we are still considered shapeshifters, since we embody the spirit, strength, and skills of the wolf. If you choose to have a life with Jacob, it will be, in Forks, and the surrounding areas, with these people that you have met here tonight. This is Jacob’s family, Jacob’s pack if you will. If you stay, your future children will be part of this legacy as well. While the story is told about sons and grandsons, it affects our daughters as well. They have the same spirit and continue to pass this on to their children. Do you understand this?”
“Yes, I understand. Jacob says that you and your wife still see sparkles sometimes when you look at each other.”
Joshua laughed, “So you’ve seen sparkles, too, huh?”
“So, Jacob must be right. You must be his soul mate.”
“Well, he hasn’t said that yet.”
Joshua smiled, “Guess the cat’s out of the bag now.”
I looked around the room, looking for Jacob, but I didn’t see him.
“He’s not here. He’s out in the woods. ” Joshua said, “He’s giving you time to make a decision. He’ll be back late. You can tell him what you decide in the morning.”
I nodded. And had to ask one question, “So…um….vampires really exist?”
“Yes, Rowan, yes they do.”
The hours stretched by with game playing, more storytelling, of a lighter kind, and lots of laugher. At last people began to gather their things, and their children up and headed out to the cars in the driveway. Soon there were only Marie and Abe’s cars left, as well as Jacob’s truck.
Marie showed me to Rachel and Rebecca’s old room, which currently had a full sized bed in it, along with a dresser and an upholstered chair. My duffel was on the end of the bed. I grabbed my toiletry bag and headed to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. Then I went back to the bedroom and put on my pajamas, and crawled in under the covers. I didn’t really know how I would get to sleep, but the bed was soft and the blankets were warm, and before I knew it, I was out.