AN: As always, this belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
I wish to thank everyone who had been kind enough to post reviews, and I wish to thank all of you who have offered such kind comments about my writing. To those of you who have requested I now rewrite Eclipse from Edward's point of view – and I was amazed at how many of you have requested this – I thank you for the confidence in me that I could do it but this story has taken over a year and I'm not ready to invest another year in redoing all of Eclipse. There are a few pieces I do wish to tackle and many of them are from Edward's PoV, but there are a few I would like to try from Emmett's as well. In addition, I will begin posting an AU story over Christmas break that I have been working on. So, I don't mean to disappoint anyone, but I have no plans for redoing all of Eclipse from Edward's PoV, but I do thank you for the vote of confidence.
With that said, I hope you enjoy the last chapter of Her Blood Sings.
Chapter 27 – The Fine Print
As Bella leaned around me to stare at Jacob Black, I felt some of the tension drain from her body. When I looked down at her face, I also saw some of her anger dissipate. 'How easily she forgives even him,' I thought with a slight twinge of jealousy. I preferred it when she was angry with him.
"Bella," Jacob nodded his acknowledgement of her, but avoided looking at me.
In little more than a whisper, Bella asked, "Why?" I heard her swallow ever so softly. "How could you do this to me, Jacob?" I could sense her pain and disbelief that he would do anything that would cause harm.
It made me feel better knowing he also caused her pain, but it upset me at the same time. At least he couldn't use that as a reason why he was better for her than I was.
I noticed what had once been a sneer on his lips vanished as he lamely offered, "It's for the best," and he honestly believed that.
In his mind, his actions would cause Charlie to ground Bella and make her stay home, thus severing the contact between her and me. He believed it was better for her not to be near me, and yet he was the one who inflicted this new pain on her. He also believed she was safer around him than around me, but that I found laughable and dangerously unrealistic. I knew I had much more control over my monster than he had over his.
"What is that supposed to mean? Do you want Charlie to strangle me? Or did you want him to have a heart attack, like Harry?" Bella's accusations poured forth without her seeming to pause for breath. "No matter how mad you are at me, how could you do this to him?"
Jacob felt some regret the moment Bella began accusing him. He instantly focused on the fact that he never meant to harm anyone, he only wanted to separate us. He blamed me for the fact that Bella had not come to see him. He had avoided her calls for fear that she would tell him they could no longer see each other. In his mind, it was what he would have done if the roles had been reversed.
When Jacob provided no answers to Bella's question, I supplied the answer for him. "He didn't want to hurt anyone – he just wanted to get you grounded, so that you wouldn't be allowed to spend time with me." I felt Bella had a right to know why he had done this. Maybe I couldn't fault him too much. Had the tables been turned, I might have done something like this, but I hoped I had enough love for Bella that I would have found a way that wouldn't have cut her so deeply.
Jacob glared at me as I spoke; he nonverbally resented that I was speaking for him. He didn't like the fact that I was in his head. He hated the loss of his privacy yet again, and I could tell it wasn't just that I could hear his thoughts; it was the fact that everyone in the pack could also hear his thoughts. He felt as if he had no private life left.
"Aw, Jake!" Bella had totally relinquished her earlier anger. Her voice held more sorrow over what he seemed to be going through. "I'm already grounded. Why do you think I haven't been down to La Push to kick your butt for avoiding my phone calls?"
That was an easy answer; he had been thinking it all along. In his mind, I was the only reason she wouldn't see him; I was the only one keeping her from him, and he based his resentment on that belief. It was very evident in his thoughts.
Jacob's angry glare shifted from me to Bella, but the anger was replaced by confusion. It had never occurred to him that Charlie might have already grounded Bella. Not once had that option entered his mind, so this was an entirely new piece of information for him.
"That's why?" he blurted out, but then regretted saying it. He had no desire to hear her defend me. He instantly decided that even if Charlie had grounded her, it was still my fault; therefore, it was still my fault she had not come to see him.
To clear up the confusion reflected in Bella's face, I clarified, "He thought I wouldn't let you, not Charlie."
"Stop that," Jacob barked. 'If I want to tell her, I'll do it myself. I don't want any bloodsucker speaking for me.'
His thoughts also sounded like barks, and I thought that very appropriate for a dog. It was too bad I didn't intend to stop. Monitoring his thoughts would forewarn me if he was to change, and I would not allow Bella in harm's way if that was going to occur.
He still resented the invasion, and as he gritted his teeth, he commented, "Bella wasn't exaggerating about your . . . abilities," he hadn't wanted to use that term. He saw it more as an invasion of his privacy, and the fact that I was his natural enemy made it worse for him. Then he realized something else, "So you must already know why I'm here," he stated flatly.
"Yes," my reply was soft.
I had no desire for Bella to learn this piece of information from him or from anyone else because I knew it would upset her, but I also knew I couldn't stop him. There was one thing, however, that I had to admit before he upset Bella even more, "But, before you begin, I need to say something."
Jacob was extremely upset. He was expecting something extremely different from what I was going to say. At the least, he expected to be told never to see Bella again. As I watched his building tension, I wondered how he would react to what I would really say.
Taking a deep breath, I calmly told him, "Thank you." I put my deepest feelings into that comment. Whether he realized it or not, if it had not been for him, Bella would definitely not be standing behind me at that very moment. "I will never be able to tell you how grateful I am. I will owe you for the rest of my . . . existence." It would have been foolish to say life, since in his opinion, I had no life, but what he failed to realized was that Bella was my life know. Without her, there was no life or existence that I would want to continue.
I noticed as I spoke, he went from just barely controlling his anger at what he expected to hear to sheer surprise at what I had actually said. I felt incredibly relieved as I watched his anger completely drain from him because it was what was threatening his loss of control. What also interested me was the fact that he had no idea of why I was thanking him. He had completely failed to realize I would feel grateful and indebted to him for saving Bella.
To help clarify my meaning, I added, "For keeping Bella alive," and the next part I found extremely hard due to my tremendous guilt. "When I . . . didn't."
From just beside me, where Bella was still looking around at Jacob, Bella said, "Edward –,"
I stopped her by holding up my hand while I continued watching Jacob intently.
Jacob's face revealed his comprehension at the same moment his mind registered exactly why I was grateful to him, then his expression become rigid as he said, "I didn't do it for your benefit."
'Be that as it may,' I thought, 'she has still tied herself to me.' To him I replied, "I know. But that doesn't erase the gratitude I feel. I thought you should know. If there's ever anything in my power to do for you . . ."
His thoughts went to the only thing he wanted from me, but I knew leaving Bella again would cause more harm to her than when I left the first time. It was not a concession I could grant him because I refused to cause Bella pain again. Besides, it was not my choice anymore. I noticed his eyebrow rise as he hoped he could simply ask me to leave, but I wouldn't allow him to voice his request with Bella standing by me.
I simply shook my head, as I answered, "That's not in my power."
His growled reply was expected, "Whose, then?"
I would have thought the answer would be obvious even to him. I looked down upon my angel as I replied, "Hers. I'm a quick learner, Jacob Black, and I don't make the same mistake twice. I'm here until she orders me away." I added the last for her benefit as much as for his information.
My eyes were locked on Bella's, and the gaze she gave me sent shivers through my body; not the kind that indicated a coldness but the kind that I had been experiencing lately that excited me in a new way. These shivers were more stimulating and exciting than the electrical charges that had occurred early in our relationship. As Bella continued to gaze lovingly into my eyes, I knew, without her hearing the words that she knew exactly what Jacob had asked of me.
In reply to his unspoken request, Bella answered, "Never," in a soft delicious whisper that told me she would hold on to me for dear life. She had no intention of ever relinquishing her hold on me, and I found myself reveling in the feeling that accompanied the idea of being together with her for all eternity.
I don't know how long we would have stood with our gazes locked onto each other as the waves of love passed between us if I hadn't heard Jacob make a gagging noise.
Bella must have heard him as well, for she turned her eyes toward him and asked in a less than pleasing tone, "Was there something else you needed Jake? You wanted me in trouble – mission accomplished. Charlie might just send me to military school."
That thought made me almost chuckle as I tried to envision Bella in a uniform or trying to keep in step with her class as they marched across the quad.
Then my heart swelled as she added, "But that won't keep me away from Edward. There's nothing that can do that. What more do you want?"
'Poor Bella,' I thought, 'she isn't going to welcome his piece of information.'
Jacob looked only at me as he proclaimed, "I just needed to remind your bloodsucking friends of a few key points in the treaty they agreed to. The treaty that is the only thing stopping me from ripping his throat out right this minute."
"We haven't forgotten," I replied.
At the same time, Bella demanded clarification by asking, "What key points?"
He knew we hadn't forgotten, and even though Carlisle had agreed to change Bella, he had been aware of the fact that it would mean we would permanently be leaving the area before we broke the treaty.
Jacob just glared at me as he answered her question and inside he was gloating that he could inform her of the fine printed limitation. "The treaty is quite specific. If any of them bite a human, the truce is over. Bite, not kill," he stressed. Then with a hard cold look, he shifted his gaze to Bella.
It took Bella only a second to absorb his meaning and then she shot back angrily, "That's none of your business."
"The hell it –" His anger choked off any further response.
I watched as that anger nearly overwhelmed him as he realized she was expecting to be changed. He could not understand why she would want to be a cold unfeeling monster like the rest of us. Their legends had painted us as completely inhuman with no human feeling or emotions. They saw us only as cold, dead, killing machines. In his mind, Bella would be just as dead as if she were buried under the ground.
I cautiously watched as his anger sent convulsions through his body. I monitored the ripples running up and down his body; his hands were tightly pressed to his temples as he tried desperately not to allow the change to overtake him. For a young werewolf, I was impressed with how he tried to take control of the change as well as his emotions. I could hear his internal battle as he willed himself to calm down in the face of what he perceived as his devastating loss, but he reminded himself if he didn't stop someone would be hurt, and his worst fear was that Bella might be the one who was severely injured.
An image of a horribly scarred face crossed his mind and he chastised himself that Bella must not end up like that. I instantly saw a vision of another youth – Sam – changing while this girl – Emily – was standing too close, and I watched as claws raked across her lovely smooth skin marring her for life. The names seemed to fall in place as an afterthought as I watched his vision play out. These were the images, I realized, of something that had already happened, and it was used as a reminder to everyone in the pack of what could happen if they were not careful.
I watched Jacob Black even closer and kept Bella nearer to me; I would not allow him to mar Bella in such a manner. I knew he was fighting what his body instinctively wanted to do, but just in case he lost the battle, I would protect Bella from him.
Bella's anxious voice came from beside me as she leaned around me, "Jake? You okay?"
She attempted to approach him, but the minute she started the first step, I halted her halfway through and quickly pulled her back placing her behind me. I would use my body to shield her in case Jacob lost his struggle to maintain control of himself. So she would realize what was happening, I cautioned her, "Careful! He's not under control."
I watched as my words affected him and he was finally able to resume some control of what had been occurring. I was relieved to notice that most of his shaking had ceased, and he rebuked me as he glared menacingly at me, "Ugh. I would never hurt her."
His implication being that I would hurt her because of changing her. How little he understood about me or about the situation between Bella and me. I might consider changing her but not for my pleasure; instead, I would do it because it was what she wanted rather than what I wanted, or at least I kept telling myself I didn't want that for her.
Charlie's voice cut between all of the hostility Jacob and I felt toward each other. "BELLA! YOU GET IN THIS HOUSE THIS INSTANT!" There was no doubt to any of us that Charlie was extremely upset as we all froze in place.
He felt Bella was intentionally staying away because of the motorcycle. He also fumed as he thought Bella would risk her life riding that death trap after all his warnings.
Breaking the silence that had blanketed us, Bella mournfully uttered, "Crap."
The hatred for me slowly faded from Jacob's face as he offered, "I am sorry about that. I had to do what I could . . . I had to try . . ."
It was too bad that he hadn't taken her phone call; if he had, he would have discovered that she was forbidden by Charlie to leave the house and not by me. The question was, if she hadn't been grounded, would I have allowed her to see Jacob. From his near miss with changing, I'm not sure he was in enough control that I would trust him around her without some protection along for her safety; and the only person who I would trust with her safety was I.
There was a tremor in Bella's voice as she replied, "Thanks," but I don't think she meant it sincerely.
I knew I had to get Bella back to the house as quickly as possible, but there was still a pressing piece of business that I had to complete. "Just one more thing," I informed Bella before I turned back to Jacob. "We've found no trace of Victoria on our side of the line – have you?" I would not forget that she was still a major threat to Bella, and I doubted she would give up on her attempt to extract her revenge on Bella.
Without answer, I knew the pack had not seen her since we had returned, but he still said, "The last time was while Bella was . . . away. We let her think she was slipping through – we were tightening the circle, getting ready to ambush her –"
I felt Bella stiffen behind me; I knew this caused her a deep fear. I had seen it in her face before. I wanted to reassure Bella that she had nothing to fear because I would be there for her, but I also knew Bella would still be afraid, if not for her safety then for the safety of others who might get between her and her stalker.
Jacob continued as if nothing had occurred, "But then she took off like a bat out of hell. Near as we can tell, she caught your little female's scent and bailed. She hasn't come near our lands since."
I knew we would see her again and I owed it to Bella to keep her safe and protected, so I said, "When she comes back, she's not your problem anymore. We'll –"
He was not pleased with my comment. He and the pack would not relinquish their right to hunt her so he interrupted me, "She killed on our turf, she's ours." The determination and hatred were easily distinguishable in his tone.
"No –" Bella protested loudly but was cut short by Charlie's irate warning.
"BELLA! I SEE HIS CAR AND I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE! IF YOU AREN'T INSIDE THIS HOUSE IN ONE MINUTE . . . !" Charlie did not need to finish his threat; from the look on Bella's face, it was enough to know he meant every word he had said.
His thoughts were also threatening, and I knew her grounding would be tightened as far as Charlie felt he could safely push it. He had no desire to push her out of the house, but he also feared for her safety. It was hard for him to stop the visual images of motorcycle accident victims that he had seen in the past, and the worst part of those visions was that the victims face would always change into Bella's face. With those visualizations, I could understand his anger and sympathize with his hatred of the vehicle brazenly parked in his driveway.
It was also those visions that caused his anger to escalate as the minutes slipped by and she did not appear, so I encouraged her, "Let's go."
She hesitated and looked back at Jacob.
So low she might not have totally heard him, he whispered, "Sorry. Bye, Bells."
In an anxious tone, she said, "You promised. Still friends, right?"
Jacob shook his head and I could feel Bella tense up as he replied, "You know how hard I've tried to keep that promise, but . . . I can't see how to keep trying. Not now . . ." he nonverbally completed the thought with 'that you want to be just like them.'
He was trying to keep all emotion from his face, but I watched as it faltered, and he desperately wished she would change her mind and choose him instead of me. Finally, he mouthed the words, "Miss you," as he reached out to her with one of his silent pleas, 'Leave him. Come away with me.'
I didn't need to hear Bella's thoughts to know she was in pain. He was her friend and he was asking for something she was not ready to give up. She had already told me she couldn't survive without me, but I wondered if part of her needed him as well. I honestly didn't want her to feel that way about him; thinking she might feel that way caused my newest emotion, jealousy, to flare up and wish Jacob would just leave and accept the fact that Bella had chosen me, and yet another part of me wanted her to choose what was really best for her.
Across the expanse that separated them, I saw Bella reach out a hand toward him as she choked out, "Me, too."
I felt Bella take a step toward him, but I still feared her getting too near. He was still tense and emotional and only just had control of his changing. Instinctively, I pulled Bella toward me but I realized I was not just trying to protect her; no, I actually did not want her going to him. I wanted her to stay with me; it was almost as if she took this particular step she wouldn't come back to me and I wasn't ready to deal with that intense anguish again. Maybe her feelings toward Jacob Black were the reason why she turned me down when I asked her to marry me. Maybe she had deeper feelings for him than she had admitted to me; that thought only caused my jealousy to flare more and suddenly I didn't want him anywhere near her. I didn't want to lose her. I pulled her closer and not just because I could sense his rising tension that was pulling on his restraint to hold in his beast but because I was unwilling to relinquish my hold on her.
Bella looked up to me and proclaimed with the confidence she felt, "It's okay."
Jacob was taunting, 'She wants me not you.' Then more to himself than to me, 'Besides, she's better off with me than a monster like him.'
The problem was I didn't agree with what I felt was her false confidence, and after hearing his thoughts, I didn't agree with him either. At least my monster was completely under control; I could not say the same for his. "No, it's not," I told her.
There were so many emotions battling within me, but the one that was winning out was to keep her as near to me as possible because if I let her go, I might not get her back. I also didn't feel he had complete control of his particular monster.
"Let her go," Jacob growled, he was beginning to lose his control again – I could feel it rolling off him. "She wants to!" To make matters worse, he took two strides toward us covering more ground than was comfortable with Bella between us.
Once again, instinct caused me to push her behind me for safety reasons. I watched as Jacob's control grew more tentative. He might want to attack me, but I would not have Bella standing between us when he did. I doubted that he realized how dangerous he could be for her. It was almost as if he didn't care about her safety, and I resented his lack of concern.
Bella instantly replied, "No! Edward –!" as I moved her to safety.
Immediately after that Charlie yelled, "ISABELLA SWAN!" Charlie's patience had just run out. His next move was coming out to find us and drag Bella back into the house.
"Come on! Charlie's mad!" I heard the panic in her voice, but my guess was that she was more afraid of what Jacob and I would do rather than what Charlie would do. "Hurry," she encouraged as she tugged on me so I would move.
She was right, we did need to return to the house as quickly as possible, but I didn't trust the wolf enough to turn my back on him. I could sense his change drawing nearer and the last target I wanted to offer was either of our backs. I slowly backed away with Bella and just as we neared the edge of the woods, I watched as the pain of change overtook Jacob's face. I knew he would not be able to repress the change this time. Even he was aware of that fact. I was able to bring us to a point where the trees obscured his change from Bella, but I could tell she was suffering because of the pain she had seen on his face.
Because she cared so much for others, I knew Bella had to be feeling his pain, and if it had been in my power to ease her suffering I would have, but I knew there was nothing I could say at that moment to stop her feelings of empathy for his agony. To make matters worse, as we exited the woods, Bella caught sight of Charlie's face. He was so immersed in rage that his face had actually turned purple from the blood rushing to the surface of his skin.
This was only going to make matters worse for Bella after what just happened with Jacob, so I hugged her close but gently and reassured her, "I'm here."
I felt and heard Bella draw a deep breath, but I kept my arms wrapped around her trying to provide her with all the support I could. Then I felt Bella stand taller and pulled her shoulders back before she stepped forward to face Charlie's wrath.
It was no wonder I loved her so much. She was a bundle of contradictions, strengths and weaknesses, and had the most loving heart of anyone I had ever encountered before. She had definitely captured my heart and I would never be able to take it back even if I wanted to; it was now hers for all eternity.