III
Small Comforts

Jacob Black

As the steady rhythm of her breathing flutters against my chest I can feel the tension inside the tent rise with every word she murmurs and every fraction of an inch that she moves closer to me.

The cold intensity of his glare burns the back of my head; it's like the conversation we've only just finished never happened and we're back to being mortal enemies: werewolf versus vampire. To be honest, I prefer it this way: I hated that everlasting half hour where I had to pretend to respect him in order to get what I wanted out of him, to hear what I needed to hear. The only problem with both of us going back to behaving like we should is Bella's complete and total frustration with us – she can't understand why we refuse to 'just get along'. If only she'd realise how much deeper this goes than just some old treaty and an unfortunate crush. I know that somewhere in her pretty little head she likes to think that if we were all just normal teenagers then Cullen and I would be friends: that we would get along.

But I know better.

Cullen is the type of guy I just can't stand – the kind that everyone loves because he has a pretty face and an even prettier amount of cash in his wallet. The kind that comes off as "perfect" because he's so good at lying through his goddamn perfect teeth that even he believes his own lies; the kind that's always good at everything.

The kind that always gets the girl.

And I'm willing to bet that he feels the same about me. I'm the type of kid that annoys the hell out of someone out of him; the boy-next-door type that will always have some kind of hold on a girl's heart because I was there when he wasn't, and that's a small, strange sort of comfort to me.

But what's an even bigger comfort to me right now isn't anything Cullen feels for me – it's what he feels for Bella. Because right now I'm the one who's got the girl, however temporary it might be. Right now she's only alive because of me and my body heat and wait –

Yep, that's right.
She just whispered "Jacob, my Jacob" in her sleep.

I can sense Cullen's pain; can hear the low cracking as he slowly crushes one of the empty water canteens into metallic dust. I'm fighting the urge to laugh victoriously, like some kind of evil villain in a cartoon, but I'd wake Bella and I don't want to do that. Because right now she's giving me an advantage over her perfect, smooth-talking model of a bloodsucker and I'm enjoying every moment of it.

Thank you, Bella, thank you.