The Art of Torture
"Could he have destroyed his own happiness any more thoroughly?"
Watching Jacob Black hold my Bella in his arms brought my own words back to mind. If I hadn't done just that -- destroyed my own happiness -- Jacob Black would have been nothing more than a family friend to Bella. Instead, he is my rival, and tonight she is in his arms while I can do nothing but watch. My own inability to help her compared to his triumph at being able to do both something he's been longing to do and something I am incapable of turns every one of his actions, words and thoughts into a weapon against me -- tonight he is the master torturer and I am his victim.
"I'll have you sweating in no time," he says as he walks into the tent. In his mind is the most horrific image... Bella and Jacob naked and writhing and sweating and moving together perfectly... Oh God, Jacob yes... he hears Bella moan in his mind. I know that Jacob wants more than just sex from her, but if she only knew how badly he wants her body and the graphic nature of the images he nurtures, she might be much less willing to let him touch her tonight. Then again, my own thoughts on the nights I hold her in her bed are not exactly saint-like, either.
I cannot believe I have to agree to this. His triumph is painful to me as he slides into the sleeping bag, curls up behind her, and wraps his arms around her. So soft, so sweet... he thinks. Bella begins to protest. Poor Bella. Stuck like Switzerland between two eager lovers both ready to tear each other apart to make her decision easier. Much as I would like to, I won't hurt him. I know that it would hurt her too much. I enjoy a bit of noble self righteousness until I hear him say, "Of course, you'd warm up faster if you took your clothes off." Then the urge to rip him limb from limb returns.
"Your lips are still blue," Jacob comments. "Want me to warm those up for you, too? You only have to ask." More images flash through his mind: Jacob pressing Bella up against a wall as he leans in to suck on her bottom lip, drawing it in to his mouth as his hands slide under the hem of her shirt... Bella responding eagerly and wrapping herself around him... Bella here, in the tent, telling me to leave as she rolls over and begs him to make love to her...
I stifle the urge to laugh when Bella presses her frozen toes against him. It doesn't last long because I realize, once again, that I would love to be the one she is pressing any body part against."That's right, honey, go to sleep," Jacob whispers. I listen, as I do every night, to the sound of her breathing becoming slower, regular and relaxed as she begins to drift. If he weren't here, I could be listening to her life slip away, but the price I have to pay is high. As she settles in to sleep, she shifts and wiggles just a bit before going limp, and I remember the feeling and the smell of her as she lies in my arms each night, while still uncomfortable at hearing the same contentment and pleasure in Jacob's mind. I finally begin to relax and then, as if he were doing it on purpose, I see a series of Jacob's thoughts.
Jacob sliding his fingers along her jaw line as her eyes flutter shut...
Fisting his hands in her hair as she kisses him back with the passion he knew, just knew was there all along...
Standing behind Bella as he slowly unbuttons her wedding dress... watching it fall to the floor... she steps back and takes off her bra, slipping out of her panties... Jacob taking one of her perfect breasts in his mouth... Bella in ecstasy, head thrown back...
Bella in a kitchen, belly swollen with child, turning to him with a face full of love, trust, hope, contentment...
Jacob pressing a kiss onto her graying hair, as she whispers, "happy anniversary, love..."
Enough. Time for a friendly reminder. "...You have no idea how loud your little fantasies are. It's like you're shouting them at me."
"I'll try to keep it down," Jacob whispers sarcastically, and of course, absolutely insincerely.
"You know, she could still change her mind," Jacob taunts me. "Considering all the things I could do with her that you can't. At least, not without killing her, that is."
...the wet slide of her tongue exploring his mouth, the warmth and slickness of her as he presses inside...
"Go to sleep, Jacob," I murmur. "You're starting to get on my nerves."
"She's in love with me, too, you know," Jacob complains. I have nothing to say to that that would not provoke a fight. I am also aware that he may be more correct than he is aware. Jacob sighs. "But she doesn't know it."
As we talked, I realized that although Jacob is still a pup, his feelings for Bella are anything but immature. He truly does love her, and he hates me in equal proportion. He is going to fight hard and fight dirty. But for now, I can afford to be gracious.
"Sleep well, Jacob," I respond. "Enjoy the moment."
It was quiet again, and the tent held still for a few minutes.
Jacob shifts against her slightly to settle in for sleep and in her sleep she returns his movement, responding to the feeling of him against her
Immediately, his body and mind shift into high gear...
...the scent of her hair as he buries his nose in it, the feel of her waist so small in his arms, the curves of her soft body as they press against him, imagining her legs wrapping around him, eager and willing...
"I didn't mean that quite so literally," I groan.
"Sorry," Jacob whispers. "You could leave, you know — give us a little privacy."
"Would you like me to help you sleep, Jacob?" I offer.
"You could try," Jacob said, unconcerned. "It would be interesting to see who walked away, wouldn't it?"
"Don't tempt me too far, wolf. My patience isn't that perfect."
Jacob whispered a laugh. "I'd rather not move just now, if you don't mind."
I begin to hum Bella's lullaby, imagining him not there or myself in his place, like every other night and for eternity to come... anything, even the sound of my own voice is better than the sound and images of Jacob Black's mind at this point...
The sound of Bella and Edward's voices just barely pushes away the haze of sleep, but it's too warm here to let go of the night and she is still so soft and warm in my arms. I can't wake up, not yet. The next minute brings the shock of freezing cold earth against me and instinctively I roll back towards Bella and her warmth. As soon as my body makes contact with hers, I am flying through the air, now fully awake as I crash into the tent pole and all I think is "enemy." This is the mistake I have been waiting for and the welcome sound of our growling as we each choose our position is the only thing I hear as the phasing begins until...
Oh God. Bella. Standing between us, arms wide, her eyes full of fear and panic and resolution not to move... her touch is the only thing at this point that could calm me down. I focus on that touch and stop the change. Even so, I desperately wish she was not here so I could tear him limb from limb and keep him away from her and out of my mind forever. Bastard. I fake indifference and try to go back to sleep.
"Didn't you have a nice night, then?" I taunt, making sure to sound smug and confident. To remind him which one of us had a great night and which one of us lost.
"It wasn't the worst night of my life."
"Did it make the top ten?" I crow.
Ah, it was worth it all just to hear that.
"But," continued Edward arrogantly, "if I had been able to take your place last night, it would not have made the top ten of the best nights of my life. Dream about that."
Even without being able to read minds, I know exactly what he wants me to think about and suddenly I can see him doing everything I want to do with her, and for eternity...
Bella looks at him with adoration as she walks down the aisle for their wedding... Edward being careful and deliberate as he traces the blue veins standing out under her skin...
Enough. I have to get out of here. Now. I can't even look Bella in the eye as I leave.
Damn. Why does my hearing have to be so good? Right now I would love to have my old, ordinary inability to hear detailed conversations from so far away. Dr. Jekyll? Her top ten best nights... Smug bastard. How long will he draw this out before he lists his best one? Why am I listening to this? "...that would be two nights ago, when you finally agreed to marry me... A hundred years from now, when you've gained enough perspective to really appreciate the answer..." he continues.
No. More. I cannot handle this! She can't choose this life... this death. Not him, please I howl And then he is there in front of me and all I can think is how I want to destroy him, to destroy every bit of happiness in his miserable, unnatural life. I have to make her realize, to make her see that she does want me.
I don't know how to do this any way other than the dirty way. She'll forgive me for it, eventually. Edward's noble sacrifice act always seems to work, and I gladly borrow it. "There's a pretty serious fight brewing down there. I don't think it will be that difficult to take myself out of the picture."
"Oh, no, Jake! No, no no no," she gasps. "No, Jake, no. Please, no." She looks like she is about to pass out, but I can't stop now.
"What's the difference, Bella? This will only make it more convenient for everyone. You won't even have to move."
"No!" she yells. "No, Jacob! I won't let you!"
"How will you stop me?" I push.
"Jacob, I'm begging you. Stay with me." She pleads, she begs, she makes promises, but she has not yet said what I need her to say. Why is this so hard for her?
"I love you, Bella," I mutter.
"I love you, Jacob," she responds, automatically.
It is not enough. "I know that better than you do." So I turn to walk away.
"Anything," she calls. "Anything you want, Jacob. Just don't do this!"
She tries to keep me there and I resist and it strikes me that this is like a dance or a chess game. With each thing I say I push her closer and closer to where she needs to be, to what she needs to know about herself but can't allow herself to admit.
"Will you kiss me, Jacob?"
It took her so long to get there, but I'm still afraid she doesn't know what she's asking me to do. "You're bluffing."
"Kiss me, Jacob. Kiss me, and then come back."
That is all I need and she is in my arms, my lips burning against hers. She stands stiff and unyeilding beneath me, cheating me and herself. Still thinking of him, no doubt. She has to understand. So I wrap her arms around me, and pull her against me and try, desperately to make her feel it. Because I know she will, I know she does and once she feels it, we'll be free.
"You can do better than this, Bella," I whisper. "You're overthinking it." Of course, at the same time, I am thinking more quickly than I ever have. What do I have that he doesn't? What can I do that he can't. Damned vampire and his damn... teeth... He can't use his teeth, so I graze her ear and she shivers in pleasure.
"That's right," I wheedle. "For once, just let yourself feel what you feel." She starts to shake her head, but I can't allow that. I slide my hand into her hair to stop her from shaking me away. I wish I didn't have to keep doing this, but I have to push again. "Are you sure you want me to come back? Or did you really want me to die?"
She gasps in shock at my words and grabs my hair and I am undone. She has finally realized it and I could cry with joy. There is one more pause, one more bit of resistance and then she is kissing me back in a way that puts my pitiful fantasies to shame. Bella's real passion makes my imagined Bella seem indifferent. I knew it. I knew she loved me and suddenly the future is bright and shining with promise in front of my eyes and I will never let her go. But then the taste and the feel of her kiss changes and becomes desperation. That can't be right, I think and suddenly I know before she does. She is not only mine. Part of her is, but not enough of her. She may love me, but she is still going to choose him.
I pull away to look deeply into her eyes. There is still hope. There must be. There is always the chance, however small, that she will choose me. I will stake everything on that. "That should have been our first kiss. Better late than never." I kiss her again and pull her to me so I don't see the tears she needs to hide from me. The tears I can't let myself see. Not yet.
I leave to get ready for the fight and prepare the image in my mind that I want him to see as he passes me: the moment she threw herself into the kiss. The taste of her, the feel of her, the slide of her tongue against my teeth and my teeth on her lips... all the things he can't have. One last chance to drive him nuts. I won't pass it up. I wonder what she will say to him.
"I don't care that it's cold here. I don't care that I stink like a dog right now. Make me forget how awful I am. Make me forget him. Make me forget my own name. Fight back!"