Thank you everyone, for reviewing. They mean so much to me. I apologize for this chapter taking so long. But I needed to think this and the next couple chapters through, first. Thank you again. And now on with the story.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight... I cry at night.
"Bells... come on!" Jacob hollered up the stairs. "We're gonna be late!"
"Patience is a virtue!" Bella sang playfully.
She looked at herself in a the mirror, running her hands through her wavy curls in an attempt to get them to obey.
"Werewolves are not known for their patience!" Jacob huffed. "The party starts in twenty minutes..."
"You are just afraid all the food will be gone before we get there!" She called out, chuckling.
"You're damn right." He laughed. "Hungry werewolves do not wait for humans to dress up."
Bella took one more glance in the mirror, hoping that Jacob would like how she looked. She had never really cared that much about her appearance or dressing up. Flannels and jeans were sufficient for her. Comfort. Security. Familiar. But tonight, the weather was a toasty 77 degrees. But tonight, Jacob had asked her to go to a party in La Push. All of the pack was going to be at Billy Black's place for food and whatever shenanigans took place.
She wanted to look good for Jacob, wanted to thank him for yanking her out of depression. Bella wanted him to know that she cared about all the things he did for her, wanted him to know that she noticed him all along. Bella wanted to be noticed for the first time in her life. She hated being invisible. She hated disappearing into the background, fading into the scenery. An object. Jacob had always seen her, liked her, loved her madly. And he had never asked her to change. So with a deep breath, she walked out into the hall and stood at the top of the stairs.
Jacob was just about to yell up to her again when he caught sight of his girlfriend, the girl he thought he would never have or deserve. His mouth became dry, his throat constricted painfully, and his heart tightened in his chest. He was in love with this beautiful, amazing girl.
Bella drifted down the steps, the flowing white fabric of her dress gliding out, airy and untamed around her legs. A sundress. How ironic for the pale Bella. Jacob took in her black, silky hair falling in ringlets down her shoulders and back. Her face, so pale and beautiful, her lips a shy smile. Cheeks a slight shade of pink. His eyes traveled to the thin halter straps of her sundress leading down over the swell of her breasts... the curve of her hip. Down to her bare legs and finally to her feet.
She wore black snow boots. He smiled warmly, he should have known. Biting down the urge to say only "Nice boots," he took one step forward and pulled her into his arms, breathing her in.
"I will never..." He whispered. A pause. "Never, get used to how beautiful you are."
Her heart made a jump inside her chest.
"Every time I see you, I still feel like I've been sucker punched." He said, pulling her closer, his hand splaying out. feeling the exposed soft skin of her back.
"What I'm trying to say Bella... is that you look beautiful." He finished, taking a deep breath.
A tear slid from her eye, she could not help it. It was a reflex. It hurt when he said things like that. It hurt because she found it so easy to believe him. There was no ulterior motive. No harsh insistence that she was pretty. With Jacob, she could not help but feel pretty. Because he wanted her, more than anything else. It was nice to feel wanted. Needed.
"Thank you..." She breathed into his warm chest. His warm, naked chest.
"Jake... there was no need to dress up on my account." She laughed, trying to lighten the mood.
He smirked. "Why on earth should I wear a shirt to my own party?"
"I was definitely NOT complaining." She openly ogled him.
He laughed, hugging her again.
"I feel bad though." He said.
She pulled back abruptly. "Why?" She asked tentatively.
"Because I'm going to have to chain Quil to the fence to keep him away from you." He said, a sober look on his face.
A bubble of laughter erupted from her lips. His face broke out in a grin to match hers.
"Now come on, Bells. Seriously. Before the food is gone and I have to take it out on you." He chuckled, pulling her towards the front door of her house.
"Hey!" She playfully protested. "Some of us can't just wear no shirt and comfy pants and get away with it, you know."
"Of course you can." He retorted. "You don't need a shirt. Hell, you don't need to wear anything."
He opened the front door and ushered Bella to the driver's side of her old truck.
"In fact, Bella." He smiled. "That will be a rule of the house when we get a place together. No clothes of any kind."
Her eyes widened in delighted surprise.
"A place together?" She inquired.
"Of course. Were you going to live with Charlie even after you marry me?" He asked merrily.
"Marry?" She asked playfully. "What makes you think I'll marry you?"
"Oh, come on Bella. It's meant to be."
And Bella was surprised at the lack of panic as they talked of the dreaded 'M' word. She did not feel the need to run for the hills. She felt odd sense of calm. Of rightness. Am I out of my mind? Jacob and marriage? Why am I not freaking out? Feeling rushed?
"Face it, Bella." He smiled. "You're going to marry me."
She relaxed into him, threading her fingers through his, leaning against the truck. Then, a hot liquid sprayed her face.
She blinked. Jacob blinked back.
Then his eyes widened in confusion.
He looked down.
She looked down.
She cried out, reaching for him.
An arrow protruded from his right shoulder. Blood glistened, dripping from the metal arrowhead.
What happened within the span of a few seconds, felt like eternity.
"Bella." Jacob gasped, his eyes looking around wildly. His hands gripped the side of the truck.
"Get in the truck." He grunted, his hand going to his shoulder.
Bella's head jerked from side to side. She spun around, looking in all directions. And she saw a flash of orange in the woods by her house.
"Victoria." She gasped.
Bella felt more scared than she had in her entire life. Jacob. Jacob. Jacob. He's hurt.
His face contorted in pain, he grabbed her arm. "Get... in... the truck." He said, in between labored breaths.
She snapped into awareness. The blood all over her. Jacob's pale face. He was still trying to protect her. Always protecting her, no matter how badly he was hurt.
She grabbed his arm, tossing it over her shoulder. His blood smeared over her dress, dripping down. She helped him quickly to the passenger side, opening the door, helping him up and in.
He grit his teeth against the pain, blinking furiously. He had to remain conscious. Protect Bella. Make her safe. Stay awake, damn it.
Bella ran to the driver's side, feeling frightened beyond belief. Like when she used to race through the quiet halls of Charlie's home when she was little. Scared of the dark shadows, wondering if there was something in there... waiting to grab her if she didn't run fast enough.
No more flashes of flaming hair. She slammed the car door, started the engine, and got out of the driveway as fast as she could. She pushed down as hard as she could on the gas pedal, cursing her beloved truck for being so slow. Too slow.
Jacob had to lean forward on the dashboard, so he didn't disturb the arrow that had speared him through the shoulder. He kept his eyes on the woods, no sign of Victoria. Fucking leech... shot me with an arrow... AN ARROW.
His eyes drooped, he felt cold. So cold. He turned to look at Bella. She looked so scared. So beautiful... but scared. He felt so terrible. That was his blood all over her clothes, dotting her face. Red looks good against her skin... pretty. Bella... He shook his head in an attempt to clear his irrational thoughts.
"Bella..." His voice was hoarse. "I'm sorry..."
Her eyes met his and she felt so scared.
"Don't be sorry, Jake." Her voice was small. "You're going to be fine. I'm gonna get you to the hospital. And you're going to be fine. Fine." She repeated herself.
"Bella, how are you going to explain an arrow sticking out of me?" He coughed, tasting blood.
"I don't care." She stated. "I just need you better. You're going to be fine." She insisted.
And then he let out a blood curdling scream. Bella jumped in her seat, swerving.
His back arched at an impossible angle, slamming against the seat, the arrow snapping in half.
All the cells in Jacob's body were screaming. He suddenly grew hot, felt sweat springing up all over his skin. He could not help the screams that ripped from his mouth. His body contorted in pain.
"Jake!" Bella screamed. "What's wrong?"
Jacob sobbed uncontrollably, feeling his blood coursing, hot as the sun, through his veins.
"Bella... something..." His body convulsed again, his fist slamming into the dash board, denting the metal. He screamed in pain again and again until the wave passed. "Something is not right." His breath rushed out. "My blood..." He yelled. "Is not right!"
Bella could not breath.
Victoria. Poison. Jacob. Venom?
"Jake." Bella tried to reach him through his haze of pain. "Jacob Black... listen to me. I'm taking you to Billy. I think you've been poisoned."
His eyes were glazed over. His fist clenched, nails biting into the skin of his palm.
Bella felt like she would never reach the La Push reservation. But when she saw the ocean, the somersaults that her stomach was doing lessened a bit. Not much. She kept glancing at the pale, groaning person beside her. Her Jacob. Victoria had poisoned her Jacob.
She felt a surge of hot anger whip through her body. Tears sprang from her eyes. She angrily brushed them away, smearing the blood already on her face. She looked at her hand in surprise, seeing the streaks of her lover's blood. She went to wipe her hand on her dress to find even more blood soaking her dress, all the way through to her skin. She couldn't help but cry. Jacob's blood. Her fist lashed out, hitting the steering wheel. She welcomed the pain.
She felt an indescribable anger. She was fine, unharmed. While Jacob was fighting for his life in the passenger seat.
Then she saw the little red house that belonged to Billy Black. A surge of hope settled into Bella's heart. She drove as fast as she could into the driveway, not caring that she parked diagonally, carelessly.
"I'll be right back..." She looked at Jake. But he was unresponsive, in a fever of pain. "You'll be fine." She felt the tears come again.
She climbed down, out of the truck, not caring that she left the door open. She raced towards the house, just as Quil opened the door, his back to her, laughing at something Embry said.
"Yeah, I know it's Bella. I could hear that truck a mile away." He called, turning.
"Hey, how is my favorite leech-loving human?" He chuckled, finally facing her.
One look at Bella and he could definitely tell how she was feeling. He didn't even have to look at her blood stained white dress. Or her hair sticking up all over the place. All he had to see was her face. Her tear stained, blood streaked face.
Her face, her eyes said everything.
Quil jumped off the porch, yelling to everyone inside the house.
Bella turned, knowing he would follow. And she ran to her truck.
"It's Jake." She couldn't mask the desperation in her voice.
Quil raced to the passenger's side door, wrenching the door off it's rusty hinges.
"Oh no..." He whispered, looking at the pathetic thing that vaguely resembled Jacob.
He picked him up, running up to the house as everyone else came running out.
"Jake's hurt." He yelled, sprinting up the steps. Bella on his heels.
Billy wheeled to the front door, his face turning pale at the bloody heap in Quil's arms.
Billy looked at Bella before roaring. "What happened?!"
"You have to help him." Bella wailed, feeling stupid. "I think he's been poisoned. Victoria. She shot him. Make him better."
She sobbed uncontrollably, and Emily was suddenly at her side. "Make him better!" She cried.
Billy wheeled out of the way for Quil to rush inside the house. He ran to Jacob's room, laying him carefully on the bed.
"Sam. Embry. Come with me." Billy stated. "Emily. Leah. Everyone else... be there for Bella."
He wheeled into Jacob's room, Sam and Embry somehow fitting into Jacob's room after him.
The door shut.
"I will never get used to how beautiful you are."
"Why on earth should I wear a shirt to my own party?"
"Face it, Bella. You're going to marry me."
He smiled. His smile was only for her.
And Bella felt as if she was losing Jacob.
Losing him forever.