Continued from pg. 262 New Moon

A movement flashed in my peripheral vision – I turned and spotted Billy looking at me through the front window with a confused expression. I waved once and smiled a tight smile, but stayed where I was.

His eyes narrowed; he let the curtain fall across the glass.

I was prepared to stay as long as it took, but I wished I had something to do. I dug up a pen out of the bottom of my backpack, and an old test. I started to doodle on the back of the scrap.

I'd only had time to scrawl one row of diamonds when…

I felt the sensation of someone watching me. I gasped and jumped. It was Jacob. He was staring at me through the window with the strangest expression on his face. It was so intense, he'd never looked at me that way before – no one had ever looked at me that way before. In that one minute, the hole that had been trying so desperately to split me apart closed up tight, and I felt whole for the first time in months. The blush crept up my cheeks, and I nearly stopped breathing. A minute or two went by and he still had that same expression on his face. I rolled the window down.

"Jake? Are you alright" He looked so different, but he was still Jake, my Jake, still sort of beautiful. He'd gotten taller – if that were even possible! – and all of his beautiful hair was gone. It was cropped short like the four other russet-skinned boys who were waiting with baited breath behind him. I made a movement to open my car door when two of the boys surrounded Jacob. It was Embry and Sam Uley.

Sam Uley. What had he done to Jacob! I opened the car door and got out. The three boys towered over me. I looked up at Jacob, searching his face for any clues of brainwashing. If Sam Uley was running some sort of cult, I would make sure Jacob got out. Even If I had to drag him all the way to Forks alone!

"Jake? Are you okay?" I asked again, a hint of hysteria to my voice. "Bella," he breathed. He cupped my face in one of his large hands. His dark-eyes bore into mine, and I found myself lost in them. We stood there staring at one another, neither of us speaking until Embry snickered beside him and broke the spell.

"Man, the boys are so going to tease you for this," he laughed.

"Embry," Sam warned, his voice calm and collected.

Jake reached out and wrapped his arms around me. I buried my face into his chest and for a reason unknown to me, started to cry. Maybe it was the stress of everything that had happened, the pain of missing him, I wasn't sure.

"Shhh, Bells. Everything is going to be okay now."

I pulled back and glared at him, suddenly very angry. "Why haven't you returned my phone calls? I've been worried sick! First your dad says you've got mono and then your phone mysteriously stops working… and now I see you looking healthy and perfectly able to dial a phone! Give me one good reason why I shouldn't smack you right now, Jacob Black."

"You'd probably break your hand if you did," Embry laughed.

A goofy grin spread across his face. "Aw, come on, Bells. Don't be mad. I promise to explain it to you. Right, Sam? I really do feel bad!"

I saw Sam nod slowly.

I put as much anger behind my glare as I could, but it was quickly dissolving. "This had better be good."

He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the house, the others following behind us.

"He's going to make a fool out of himself," I heard Embry tell one of the others.

"Yeah, too bad we don't have a camera," the other boy laughed.

"Dad's going to be so glad to see you!" Jacob said continuing to pull me to the house.

We stopped at the door, and I turned to look at the boys – more like giants – who were about to follow us into the house. Holy Crow, how did these Quileute boys get so big! How were all of them going to fit in that house?

"Hey Dad! Look who's here!" Jacob called, beaming from ear to ear. Billy rolled into the dining room where the five large "boys" and I stood. He looked from Sam to Jacob and back again before finally settling his dark eyes on me with a strange look of recognition on his face. Did I grow two heads while I waited outside or something?

"Hello again, Bella," he said, his voice much more pleasant now than it had been earlier.

"So, you thirsty Bells? I got some soda if you want one." Jacob asked.

"Sure. I can get it, though. I think I remember where you keep them."

"No," he cried. "I'll get it for you. You just stay there and don't move," he tousled my hair before taking the two steps it took him to reach the fridge.

"Man, Emily is going to be so mad she missed this," Embry muttered.

"Do you want some ice? Are you hungry? I could fix you something to eat if you are. Well, the only thing I can cook without burning down the house is cereal, but I could get you a bowl of that, or maybe…" Jacob was babbling nervously. I stared wide-eyed at him, trying to figure out what exactly was going on.

Sam stepped forward and put one hand on his shoulder.

"Calm down, Jacob."

Jacob took a deep breath and walked back over handing me the can of Coke.

"Have a seat," Sam said, pointing at the chair in front of him. Jacob nearly fell over himself to pull it out for me.

I laughed nervously and opened the Coke as I sat in the chair. I took a drink and tried not to think about the fact there were six men staring at me.

"Bella, the reason I haven't been able to be around you for the last few weeks is because I'm a werewolf. Remember those stories I told you back at the beach? They're true. Well, you already knew the one about the Cold Ones was, but the rest of them are true, too. I'm a werewolf."

I spit out the coke I had been drinking and started choking on it. After I'd managed not to choke to death, I looked back at Jacob who was staring at me expectantly with that same goofy grin on his face. "What's the punch-line, Jake?"

No one said anything for several minutes. Jacob just stared at me and the others looked at one another. Embry rolled his eyes and Billy was just shaking his head and laughing.

"You're not serious, are you?" I asked incredulously. Then, I stopped. Everything became crystal clear, like all the puzzle pieces finally came together. The two huge wolves that scared Laurent off. Werewolves. Werewolves were real. And Jacob was one of them. My breaths were coming in short spurts, my entire body felt hot all over. I just sat there and let the news sink in.

"Man, she's going to freak out," the boy next to Embry said.

"Shut up, Jared," Embry said and hit him.

"The girl runs with leeches, but nearly faints when you tell her you're a werewolf," one of the boys laughed. "You sure picked a great person to…"

"Be quiet, Paul." Sam instructed and the boy was quiet at once.

"I thought you were in a gang… or a cult or something, but you're just a werewolf? Is that all?" I said finally. "No cult or anything? Sam isn't brainwashing you?"

The room practically shook with their laughter.

"No cult," Sam verified. "Although, I'm touched you think I have that sort of control over the boys."

"Yeah, you're touched alright," Jared quipped.

"Okay; let's give Jacob and Bella some privacy. Emily said she would make those fudge cookies tonight."

"Yes!" They said in unison and walked out the door.

"Jacob," Sam said with an air of finality.

Jacob closed his eyes and looked incredibly serious for a second. "I can handle it," he told him.

"So, you're a werewolf," I said when we were alone.

"Yeah. Hey, can you hang out for a while, or do you have to leave? I've really missed you."

"I can stay for a while. As long as I am home in time to cook dinner for Charlie." I said, my lips curling into a smile with no provocation. A real smile.

"Cool, let's go to the beach," he said. My heart beat frantically when Jacob's warm hand grabbed mine and led me outside.

"You turn into an actual wolf?" I asked again, just to make sure I understood.

"Freaky, huh?"

"Sort of," I admitted. "Can I see?"

He seemed excited by the question. "Serious? You want to see? You aren't scared?"

I laughed. "Terrified, but I still want to see."

"Cool," he grinned and half-walked, half-dragged me to the edge of the woods.

"Now?" I squeaked. "I thought you needed a full moon!"

"Ha! I wish. No full moon or silver for that matter. Hollywood really screwed that up. Are you sure you want to see this?" he asked again.

I nodded. "Yes."

He turned to me, his face suddenly serious.

"Before I show you this, Bella, I want you to know I would never do anything to hurt you. I don't want you to be afraid," he was staring at me with that same intensity from before. It made my knees shaky and my stomach quiver.

"I'm not afraid of you," I said and it was true. I wasn't.

"Stay here, and don't move," he said before disappearing into the trees in front of them.

A minute later, a reddish-brown wolf appeared. Jacob. I looked at him wide-eyed and I remembered that I'd seen him before; it was the same wolf from the meadow, but surely Laurent had killed them. Right? I realized I was moving towards him unconsciously – drawn to him like the planets are drawn to the sun, but hadn't I always called him my personal sun? He was huge – certainly bigger than I remembered, but I wasn't afraid of him at all.

"Jake?" I asked, but I knew it was him. If I was being honest with myself, I'd known in the meadow. It was his eyes, his beautiful eyes. They were the same. I reached my hand out to touch him. He seemed to know exactly what I wanted and brought his head down to meet my hand. I ran my fingers through his fur; it was so soft. The noise he made when I touched him caused my entire body to shiver. He went into the woods and a minute later, he came back out, pulling his t-shirt over his muscled chest.

"You're not afraid?" he asked.

"Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf?" I whispered.

He grinned. "Let's go to the beach now." He grabbed my hand. His skin burned against my too-cold hand.

"Man, Jake, you're hot!"

"Hot, huh? Thought you said before I was just sort of beautiful. Guess I was due for an upgrade."

I groaned and swatted at him with my free hand. "That's not what I meant. I mean, you're burning up."

He shrugged, pulling me to the beach. "It's a wolf thing."

We sat on the log under our tree – the same log we sat on during our trip to First Beach, the log where Jake told me the legends that made me realize what Edward really was.

"Why didn't you tell me before?" I asked him suddenly.

"Well, two reasons, really. For one, no one who doesn't have to know is supposed to know. I wanted to tell you, Bella, I really did. Keeping it from you has been the hardest part, but I just couldn't tell you. As much as I wanted to, it wasn't just my secret to tell. I'm sure you understand all about secrets," he said with a sneer.

"Yeah, I do," I said in a small voice.

His face softened, and he held my small hand between his two large ones. "Sorry, I shouldn't have mentioned that."

I just nodded and changed the subject. "That doesn't explain why you didn't call or come by. I understand you had to keep your secret, really, I do, but I thought you were tired of me… that you didn't want to be my friend anymore… that you'd…" I trailed off; the unspoken words "left like he did" were caught in my throat.

He crushed me to his chest, his warm arms engulfing me. We sat there like that for a few minutes. It was different from previous hugs, but I couldn't put my finger on why. Maybe it was just that I'd missed him so much, or maybe I was just beginning to notice how right it felt to be in his arms. The boundaries tended to get blurred with Jake, but this felt so right. With his hands pressed against the small of my back, his head resting on my shoulder, it felt right, and that scared me – more than the fact that he was a werewolf.

"What's the second reason?" I asked when I pulled away.

"It could be dangerous for you to be near me. I told you we don't need a full moon to change, and that's true, but we don't always change because we want to. If I ever lost my temper when you were near me…" he stopped, a pained expression settling on his face.

"What would happen?"

He sighed, brushing a strand of hair out of my face. "If I lost my temper, I could transform, and if you were near me, I could hurt you."

I scoffed. "You wouldn't hurt me," I said, but I was trying to convince myself more than him.

"I wouldn't want to, but it could happen," he frowned.

It made no sense that I should feel relieved after hearing Jacob's secret, but I did. We sat there without speaking, my mind wandering over everything he'd told me. He was right, I did understand about having to keep someone's secrets. What had changed though? He said he couldn't tell me before, so why could he tell me now?

"What changed?"

"Huh?" he asked, obviously confused.

"You said only those who needed to know were allowed to know. That's why you couldn't tell me. So, what changed? How come you were able to tell me now? What's different?" I asked, looking at our entwined hands.

He took a deep breath and started to speak. "There's another legend…"