The questions were stupid, because I knew the answer: I'd been lying to myself.
And then, quite distinctly, I felt the splintering along the fissure line in my heart as the smaller part wrenched itself away from the whole.
That was when something changed. I felt the muscles in Jacob's arms clench. The heat radiating from his body became stronger, if that was possible, and there was an urgency to his kiss that wasn't there before, as if he knew that he was losing me for good in that moment. He was desperately trying to hold on. That was when my brain reconnected with my body for enough time for me to realize three things all at once. One - his heart was breaking at the exact moment that mine was, because, like me, he knew in his mind that I had already made my decision to stay with Edward, even if I did love him, too. His pain was my pain, but I had never considered that my pain was his pain also. It would be that way forever. Two - somehow, after everything that had happened, he still had hope, and somehow, so did I. His hope became my hope, and my hope was changed. Could it be that way, forever? And three - I had already chosen him on the second realization. I chose Jacob. I chose a beating heart at the same time that I chose to keep mine beating. I chose the air and the sun, rather than the drug for the dream. I made the natural selection. His love was my love, mine his.
He loosened his grip on me and slowed himself. I panicked. What if he changed his mind? After everything I put him through? I would deserve it. I had caused him so much pain. The mess I had created was entirely my fault. And - no, I wouldn't even let myself think the name. Not now, when I was standing here, kissing Jacob. My mind would surely go into overload and cause me to lose my consciousness if I thought about that name right now.
I was distracted from all thought once again as I felt Jacob's lips crush into mine so hard it bruised them. He cupped his hand behind my head, holding me to him as his breathing became faster and uneven. He knew. He knew that I chose him, and he was responding in a way that I never would have expected from him. He was crying. I could tell, because the tremors going through his body were not like the ones that happened when he changed to his wolf form. These were accompanied by the salt taste on his lips from the moisture that ran from his closed eyelids. I threw all reserve out the window. What difference did it make now? I moved one hand from his tangly hair to his cheek where my thumb involuntarily brushed a tear from his face. I noticed I was crying, too, because he was doing the same thing for me. My pain, his pain.
Suddenly, he released my lips, with a loud smacking sound and a gasp as his eyes opened widely. "Oh!", he exclaimed, breathing heavily and staring at the air between us with a look in his moist eyes that told me he had just had an epiphany. As he accepted whatever it was he had just realized, his eyes came back to mine, and froze there for several long moments. There was something new there. My doubts flew out the window as I was overcome with a sense of sureity. Somehow, I knew that this was going to work. Me and Jake. He would protect me from anything that would harm me, at all costs. Even if I didn't want him to. I knew in that instant that he would die for me. That he would do anything for me. That I would be his reason for living and breathing and getting up everyday. That he would follow me to the ends of the earth. How did I know?
"Bella," he whispered fiercely as his intense eyes smoldered mine, "I, I just-" He stopped himself, as if he thought better of what he was going to say. There was still shock and surprise on his face. But he composed himself.
"What, Jake? What is it?" I asked him, worried as I was suspicious.
He smiled. "I just realized how much you love me, Bells", he said before he pulled me back to him and kissed me again, softly this time, though he lifted me off the ground. I kissed him back, holding him the way he had held me. He pulled away all too soon.
"It's time", he said, nuzzling my hair, holding tight to me as he said it. "I'll come ba-"
But he was cut short by the sound of an ear splitting, high pitched snarl that emitted from the trees to my left. It was further away than it sounded, because I could see nothing, but Jacob's nostrils instantly flared and I was behind him in an instant, his arms behind himself guarding me on both sides. And then Edward was there, oh that name, like a ghost standing with his back to Jacob, facing the woods where the noise had come from, and my terror was washed away with the guilt and sorrow I felt. I was sure he had already read Jacob's mind, and I felt a tension in the air that had nothing to do with the danger approaching us. I felt another presence behind me, and I knew that it was Seth in his wolf form, eager to fight. My terror returned.