Chapter One - Unexpected Guests
What a breathtaking sight!
As I stared out the window, through the beautiful lace curtains which served as my camouflage, I watched as the guests arrived and were starting to take their seats. Carlisle and Esme were mulling around, greeting people and Charlie was sitting on the side talking with Billy.
Of course, Charlie would have told Billy about the wedding, whether of not I wanted him to. It was really nice of him to come -- especially considering what I'd done to Jacob.
It was a glorious day for a wedding. Overcast, of course.
"We don't want anyone sparkling more than you," Edward had joked.
Alice had really outdone herself. Pink, white and red roses were everywhere. At the end of the aisle stood an arch covered with roses. There were white chairs on either side of the aisle with a white carpet running down the middle. I'd never seen the Cullen's house look more beautiful than it did today.
It looked like all of Forks had come to see the wedding. I frowned a little considering this was not the small, intimate, family affair I'd always wanted. What could I do though, I'd given the reins to Alice. The only thing I insisted on was walking down the aisle to Claire de Lune -- our song.
My stomach tightened as I looked again and again for Renee, she hadn't arrived yet. Surely, she wouldn't miss her only daughter's wedding. She must just be running late, I told myself, forcing myself to inhale deeply.
Alice and Rosalie had just left me here alone. They had really enjoyed this wedding thing. I really hated when they would dressed me up and do did my makeup and hair, but today, I didn't mind so much. I had my beautiful dress, a vintage looking gown which was something I loved and knew Edward would too. My hair was done in a very sophisticated up-do with a veil pinned neatly under the curls in the back. There was a row of petite white roses in front of the small tiara sitting on top of my head. I hoped they weren't real diamonds causing it to sparkle this much -- I didn't dare ask.
I saw Charlie get up and knew it was almost time. I had butterflies in my stomach, not because I was nervous though. I was just anxious about being the center of attention. Edward came into view with Emmett and Jasper on either side. All three of them were smiling as they walked toward the arch.
There was a knock at the door. I took a deep breath and smiled. "Come in, Dad." The door opened. "Is it time?" I asked, turning around slowly, "I'm rea-... Oh..."
"Hi, Bells." Jacob whispered. It looked like he'd grown yet again. This white shirt was tight against his chest. It looked like his suit was two sizes too small. He'd cut his hair again. It wasn't as short as his brothers', but still much shorter than it was before.
"Jacob?" I hadn't said his name out loud since the last time I'd seen him three months ago. I was a little surprised at the sadness I heard in my own voice. I was sure he had heard it too. "How are you?"
"Fine" was all he said. But somewhere behind the strong façade, I could tell that fine did not describe him at all. "You look beautiful."
"Thank you." I muttered appreciatively. "It's good to see you. I've missed you a lot."
"I've missed you too, more than I ever thought possible." The anguish on both sides of our exchange was unmistakable.
He took a step inside the room and closed the door, wanting to be alone. I wondered in that moment if Edward or the rest of my new family knew who was standing here in front of me. Strangely, though, it didn't matter to me. All I wanted to do right now was take Jacob in my arms and hug him really tight. I fought that urge with everything I had.
In the end, it didn't matter.
As soon as the door snapped closed, Jacob crossed the room in two large strides and took me in his arms crushing me to his chest.
"Jake...can't...breathe!" It always seemed to amaze me how tight his embraces were. He laughed and released me -- just a little. "Sorry" he said, chuckling awkwardly. "I always get carried away."
I wrapped my arms around his waist and squeezed him back. I found myself lost in a whirlwind of emotions I couldn't explain as his lips met the top of my head. I had almost forgotten what a comfort his warmth was. My head tingled where he had kissed me.
He let go of me and took my hand. We walked over to the couch and sat down. He turned, pulling his leg up under his other knee to face me completely. "Bella, are you happy?"
"Yes," I replied quietly. My answer didn't sound convincing even to me, which bothered me a little.
"Really?" I could tell he'd heard it too.
"Yes," I said again, sounding feeble. He looked into my eyes, wringing his hands. I waited.
He cleared his throat and took a deep breath. "You know, I still love you, right?"
"I know you do. I love you too." I could feel the tears starting to form. No! Don't cry! That won't make this any easier on him. My thoughts shouted just as the first ones spilled over the rim of my eyelid onto my cheek. Oh, no, Alice is gonna kill me when my mascara runs.
Jacob reached up and gently removed the first tears with his finger. "This is not what I was trying to do, Bella. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have come." He started to stand and his fingers released my hand. We were both surprised when I didn't let go.
"Are you happy?" I asked.
"You want honest or what I think you want to hear?" he asked hesitantly.
"Have you ever lied to me before?"
I smiled, "Okay then, the truth." As soon as I'd said the words, I knew I was going to regret it. It had been months since I'd seen Jacob. However, I thought of him every day, every hour, every minute. Even when I was with Edward, I couldn't stop thinking about Jacob. I knew Edward knew. It broke my heart to hurt him. Sometimes he was short with me, angry about something unknown -- unknown to everyone but me. I knew. He was haunted by my memory of Jacob Black.
"The truth is..." Jacob paused gazing into my eyes. I could tell me he was gauging whether or not to actually tell me the truth. I knew, though, as long as he kept his eyes on mine, it was the truth I would get. "...I'm actually doing..." he dropped his gaze, his voice shaking. I lifted his chin with my finger to bring his eyes back to mine. He knew exactly what I did, he couldn't lie to me while looking in my eyes.
"The truth," I whispered.
"I don't want to hurt you." The agony in his voice told me the truth was going to hurt me too.
"Only lies will hurt me," I lied. "I want the truth, Jacob."
Agony filled his voice. "Okay, Bella. The truth." Anguish filled his eyes followed by glistening tears. Please, don't cry, Jacob. I can't take that! "The truth is Bella, I'm heartbroken. I'm no better than you were when you came to the garage that first time," he started.
Wait. Maybe I don't want to hear this, my mind screamed.
"I'm worthless to the pack. They are so irritated with me that they've asked that I don't phase without warning them first." He chuckled to himself. "It's pathetic, really." I didn't realize I was crying again until his warm hand reached up and again brushed the tears from my cheek.
"I'm sorry, Jake." I murmured. Looking down, I began tracing the lace patterns of my dress with my finger.
I had Edward. I loved Edward. But these last months without my sunshine were more unbearable than I'd ever imagined. I've already made this decision. I'm supposed to get married in 10 minutes. What am I doing? The chatter in my head was deafening. It was Jacob's words the brought me back to reality.
"Bella?" he whispered quietly. I looked up from my lap. "I'm sorry. I didn't want to do this. I do want you to be happy."
"I know," I whispered.
How could I ever be happy when I was stuck with two men who loved me. Two men whom I loved with everything I had. I couldn't be without either of them. I had convinced myself that I was okay with my decision, but my subconscious obviously had been shouting the truth at me during all those months since I'd told him goodbye.
AARGH!!! I need to think! I was screaming at myself. "Jacob, would you mind giving me some time alone please?"
"Sure, sure." I could tell he was a little hurt by my question. "Do you need me to send anyone up?"
"No. If anyone asks, just tell them I need some time to think," I instructed.
"Time to think?" I heard a smile in the question, although his face didn't move..
There was a knock at the door. This time I knew it'd be Charlie. "Come in."
"Hey, Bells! Well, are you rea-..." He stopped dead in his tracks as his eyes found Jacob. He glanced back and forth between the two of us. There was no doubt that Charlie hadn't known he was here. Did anyone else?
"Uh...hi, Jake." As he spoke, the words were directed to Jacob, but his eyes were on me. "What are you doing here?" he asked taken aback, but looking and sounding pleased.
Jacob shrugged, "just coming to wish the bride good luck with everything." Charlie noticed my wet eyes and looked back to Jacob. "I was just leaving," Jacob said, turning to kiss me gently on the cheek. "Let me know if you need anything, okay?"
"Okay. Thanks, Jacob." I was surprised by the feelings that overwhelmed me as I watched him exit the room. The hole in my chest burst open with excruciating force. Charlie shut the door and turned to look at me. A sob escaped my lips. He crossed the room and awkwardly hugged me.
"Shh, it's okay, Bells." NO, it is most certainly not okay, I shouted to myself. This was not something I could explain to my father. I only cried harder. "She's on her way," he whispered, trying to comfort me. However in this moment, my missing mother was the last thing on my mind. I nodded acknowledging that I'd heard what he'd said about Renee and attempted to choke back another sob. "Marriage is a big step," he continued, "everyone gets nervous on their big day. Cold feet are normal."
Is that what you think this is? Cold feet? "I'll be okay, Dad. I just need some time to think about things. Could I get some privacy?" I could tell he was hurt by my response -- probably feeling inadequate as a father or something equally ridiculous.
"Okay, honey. Do you want me to send Edward up?"
"NO!" I practically shouted at him. He looked at me in surprise. "No," I said again gently. " I just need a few minutes to be all by myself. Please wait downstairs, I'll call when I'm ready."
He gave me a questioning glance and turned "okay, you're the bride." He smiled timidly as he started to close the door.
"Will you send Jacob back in? I need to get some clarification on something."
I could tell by the look he gave me that he was utterly confused. "Uh, okay. I'll send him right up." He paused. "Bella, don't hurt him. He's just barely pulling out of his funk."
"I'll try, Dad."
The door started to close and I turned back toward the window. "Oh, and Dad," I looked over my shoulder, "tell Edward I'd like some privacy. He'll know what you mean." Under the arch stood two men who I loved more than anything in this world. I could tell by Edward's stance that he was being cordial but was not thrilled that Jacob was here and had spoken to me. I'm sure Edward knew about it by now.
Charlie came into my view. Edward and Jacob turned to greet him. Jacob nodded and Edward looked up at the window, the pain in his eyes broke my heart. Jacob followed Edward's gaze and looked back at his rival's face. I could see the agony in his eyes too. Edward nodded to Jacob ever so slightly answering a question I was sure Charlie hadn't heard.
Jacob started toward the house and my heart started beating out of my chest. The butterflies in my stomach had multiplied and I felt sick. I sat down wondering what I was going to do now. I waited in silence for what seemed like forever.
A knock, ever so soft, brought me out of my thoughts.
"Come in, Jacob."