I flinched. Jacob's mind was flinging pictures at me, some I'd much rather not see. It was all too painful.
"Yeah, you're right.I know that's right. But sometimes..." Jacob broke off mid sentence.
"Sometimes it's an intriguing idea."
Jacob had to press his face into the sleeping bag, to keep his laughter from waking Bella. "Exactly." He agreed.
"What is it like? Losing her?" Wretchedly painful, and unbearable. "When you thought that you'd lost her forever? How do you ... cope?"
"That's very difficult for me to talk about."
I wished that Jacob would let it pass, but he silently waited. I answered eventually.
"There were two different times that I thought that." My words were coming out slower than usual, I didn't intend that of course. "The first time, when I thought I could leave her ... that was almost bearable. Because I thought she would forget me and it would be like I hadn't touched her life. For over six months I was able to stay away, to keep my promise that I wouldn't interferer again. It was getting close -" I wasn't going to mention how close. "I was fighting but I knew I wasn't going to win; I would of come back ... just to check on her. That's what I would have told myself, anyways. And if I'd found her reasonable happy . . . I like to think that I could have gone away again.
"But she wasn't happy. And I would of stayed. That's how she convinced me to stay with her tomorrow, of course. You were wondering about that before, what could possibly motivate me . . . what she was feeling so needlessly guilty about. She reminded me of what it did to her when I left- what it still does to her when I leave. She feels horrible about bringing that up, but she's right. I'll never be able to make up for that, but I'll never stop trying anyway." Not if I live for a year, a century or forever. Whatever one comes first.
Jacob took time into thinking this through. And of course, thinking of other questions to ask me. I wondered how long this was going to last - our little truce.
"And the other time - when you thought she was dead?"
Well, dog, you very well know I had to ask the Volturi to die, just to end my misery. It was all to painful to think of life without Bella - even if I had left her. When Rosalie told me she was . . . dead, I more or less died right then and there. I was already in enough pain as it was - due to the fact, that I kept reminding myself of that promise. The pain increased more than before. It was unimaginable, unbearable. I had to die. There were no other options.
But that didn't seem accurate enough. It didn't fill up all that I was going through that day, when I thought Bella was dead. There weren't enough words in the world to sum up how I was feeling that day.
I answered another question. One that Jacob had been thinking of before. "Yes. It will probably feel like that to you, won't it? The way you perceive us, you might not be able to see her as Bella anymore. But that's who she'll be." Just a little more durable.
"That's not what I asked."
I answered quickly. "I can't tell you how I felt. Those aren't words."
"But you left because you didn't want to make her a bloodsucker. You want her to be human."
Yes. Making Bella one of... me.. would be the most selfish act imaginable. Bella was capable of so much more than that. She deserved better. And how could I even stand the chance of giving up her soul? Both Carlisle and Bella believe that our kind have souls, but how can I be sure? Giving up, is like committing the worst amount of crime possible. I told Bella this already, of course. And now that one little compromise... is giving me what I wanted.
"Jacob, from the second I realized that I loved her, I knew there were only for possibilities." Only two options seemed possible, at one time, but as I stood in Bella's bedroom that one night a year and a half ago, 2 more options fell into place. "The first alternative, the best on for Bella, would be if she didn't feel as strongly for me - if she got over me and moved on. I would accept that, thought it would never change the way I felt. You think of me as a . . . living stone - hard and cold. That's true. We are set the way we are, and it is very rare for us to experience a real change. When it happens, as when Bella entered my life, is it a permanent change. There's no going back. . .
"The second alternative, the one I'd originally chosen, was to stay with her throughout her human life. It wasn't a good option for her, to waste her life with someone who couldn't be human with her, but it the alternative I could most easily face. Knowing all along that, when she died, I would find a way to die, too. Sixty years, seventy years - it would seem like a very, very, short time to me . . . But then it proved much too dangerous for her to live in such close proximity with my world. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did, Or hung over us . .. waiting to go wrong. I was terrified that I wouldn't get those sixty years if I stayed near her while she was human.
"So I chose option three. Which turned out to be the worst mistake in my very long life, as you know. I chose to take myself out of her world, hoping to force her into the first alternative. It didn't work, and it very nearly killed us both.
"What do I have left but the forth option? It's what she wants - at least, she thinks she does. I've been trying to delay her, to give her time to find a reason to change her mind but she's very stubborn. You know that I'll be lucky to stretch this out a few more months. She has a horror of getting older, and her birthday is in September . . . "
"I like option one." The dog muttered.
I didn't feel like answering. Of course he would like option one. It didn't involve Bella changing in any way. But even I knew Bella enough to know that she wouldn't choose that option... but if there were any way that she could... what would I do?
"You know exactly how much I hate to accept this but I can see that you do love her .. . in your way. I can't argue with that anymore.
"Given that, I don't think you should give up on the first alternative, not yet. I think there's a very good chance that she would be okay. After time. You know, if she hadn't jumped off a cliff in March . . . and if you'd waited another six months to check on her . . . Well, you might have found her reasonably happy. I had a game plan." One that involved me and Bella, on the beach, holding hands and me confronting her. . . . . . . . leaning in . . . . . . . making her forget everything . . . .
I tried to block out most of his little "game plan" as he called it. I couldn't stand thinking of that, right now with him in such close proximity to Bella.
"Maybe it would have worked. It was a well thought out plan." With very vivid mental pictures, might I add.
"Yeah." He sighed. "But . . . give me a year bl- Edward. I really think I could make her happy. She's stubborn, no one knows that better than I do, but she's capable of healing. She would have healed before. And she could be human, with Charlie and Renee and she could grow up, and have kids and . . . be Bella."
"You love her enough that you see the advantages of that plan. She thinks your very unselfish . . . are you really? Can you consider that I might be better for her than you are?"
"I have considered it," I answered. "In some ways, you would be better suited for her than any other human. Bella takes some looking after, and you're strong enough that you could protect her from herself, and that already, and I'll owe you for that for as long as I live - forever - whichever comes first . . .
"I even asked Alice if she could see that - see if Bella would be better off with you. She couldn't of course." Because of that strange defense they had. Maybe it was because they're future was already made out for them. "She can't see you, and then Bella's sure of her course, for now.
"But I'm not stupid enough to make the same mistake I made before, Jacob. I won't try to force her into that first option again. As long as she wants me, I'm here."
"And if she were to decide that she wanted me?" He challenged. "Okay, it's a long shot, I'll give you that."
And in a way, Bella already made her choice. She agreed to marry me. Still, she could change her mind- but it was a very very very long shot. "I would let her go."
Would I let her go? I couldn't tell. Was I strong enough to leave her again, if that was what she wanted?
"Just like that?"
"In the sense, that I'd never show her how hard it was for me, yes. But I would keep watch. You see, Jacob, you might leave her someday. Like Sam and Emily, you wouldn't have a choice. I would always be waiting in the wings, hoping for that to happen."
"Well, you've been much more honest than I had any right to expect. .. Edward. Thanks for letting me in your head."
"As I said, I'm feeling oddly grateful for your presence in her life tonight. It was the least I could do . . . You know, Jacob, if it weren't for the fact that we're natural enemies, and that you're also trying to steal away the reason for my existence, I might actually like you." It was probably a moot point, though. We'd never stop being enemies, at least.
"Maybe . . . if you weren't a disgusting vampire who was planning to suck the life out of the girl I love . . . well no, not even then."
I chuckled. I was glad of his efforts, at least.
I remembered that night, when Bella was muttering something about the 3rd wife in her sleep... She seemed so.. disinclined to tell me about it when I asked her. Maybe the dog would be able to tell me, that story. After all, he was at the bonfire with her. . .
"Can I ask you something?"
"Why would you have to ask?"
"I can only hear if you think of it. It's just a story that Bella seemed reluctant to tell me about the other day. Something about a third wife . . .?"
"What about it?" Jacob was now thinking of the story.
It seemed as if I were there, listening to the story as Billy and the other elders told it..
"The Quileute's have been a small people from the beginning ... "
I listened in, pondering the story, in stony silence.
When he finished, I could help but see why Bella would relate to the third wife. "Of course," I seethed. "Of course! I rather wish your elders had kept that story to themselves, Jacob."
"You don't like the leeches being painted as the bad guys? You know they are. Then and now."
"I really couldn't care less about that part. Can't you guess which character Bella would identify with?"
It took him a moment. "Oh. Ugh. The third wife. Okay, I see your point."
"She wants to be there in the clearing. To do what little she can, as she puts it." I sighed. "That was the secondary reason for me staying with her tomorrow. She's quite inventive when she wants something."
For example, when she was in Phoenix, with Alice and Jasper, her deviously planning to escape them, in an airport bathroom. It was well thought out, of course. Even Alice didn't see that part coming.
And there was also the compromise, we made earlier. I couldn't help but think of that. She had given me what I wanted in return for. .. But I couldn't think of that. I wouldn't. Not until, I had too. For her to ask that of me... it took me awhile to get it at first what she wanted. . .
"You know, your military brother gave her the idea just as much as the story did." I bet he would actually want her there. He wouldn't as much care if she died..
"Neither side meant any harm." I said lowly, peacemaking.
"And when does this little truce end?" He asked. "First light? Or do we wait until after the fight?"
"First light." We whispered in harmony. Even I couldn't last until after the fight. Once dawn broke, and the storm stopped there would be no more reason for the truce.
"Sleep well, Jacob." I murmured. "Enjoy the moment."
Jacob seemed to take that a little bit too far.. His thoughts went out of control.. and I didn't think I could stand it much longer.
"I didn't mean that quite so literally." I groaned.
"Sorry. You could leave, you know- give us a little privacy." I'd really LOVE to see your reaction then..!
"Would you like me to help you sleep, Jacob?" I offered.
"You could try." He said. "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." I didn't want to mention, how unperfect my patience was at the moment.
"I'd rather not move just now, if you don't mind." He laughed, quietly.
I started humming Bella's lullaby to myself, louder than usual. I was trying to drown Jacob's thoughts... smother them was the more correct term.
I remembered when I wrote this lullaby, how strong Esme's joy was, when she saw me composing again.
And despite all that has happened, I still have that bottle cap in my bedroom. Next to my CD cases, to be exact.
I continued in my humming, my eyes watching Bella sleep, as I finally relaxed my position, and waited for the morning to break.
Oh, and this is copyright of Stephenie Meyer. I do not own any of the characters in this book, or the dialogue used. For reference, see chapter 22 in Eclipse- Fire and Ice.
Thanks for taking the time to read!!