Bella's magenta raincoat got caught on stray branches as she struggled to keep up with me. I laughed, playfully jogging a few paces ahead of her. I enjoyed watching her chase me. It was like those ridiculous night classes that Quil's mother used to bring him to; they used to play role reversal, where you stepped into the other person's shoes and looked at life through their perspective. And Bella was certainly in my perspective, even if she did not know it. My life was an endless chase, always staring at the back of her head as she stayed several strides ahead of me.
"Wait up!" I spun around, chuckling as I found her tangled up in a tree. It was our tree, in a way. The first place that I had ever really talked to her. But I tried to block that conversation out. We had been talking about them. The cold ones. The Cullens.
I had received his threats. He had forced Bella to stay away from me ever since he had returned, but my clever Bella had escaped his cold wrath for long enough. She was only half here though. The other half of her was with him. Worst of all, he had left her and he had left me here to piece her back together again. I had, too. When nobody else could. Stitches like that were supposed to last a lifetime, but they had seemed to dissolve the minute he returned. My poor Bella. She had fallen for his tricks again. That was what I loved the most about her, and also the thing that I despised. She trusted much too easily.
"Bella," I muttered, shaking my head as I detangled her sodden mahogany hair from the tree branch. Bella giggled, averting my eyes as I leaned over her.
"I'm sorry!" she laughed, stepping backwards as soon as her hair was untangled. Her clear eyes were wary as I placed both of my hands on either side of her face.
"Don't," she whispered, the smile wiping off of her face as soon as I touched her. Drop your hand, Jacob Black, I hissed internally. It's what she wants. Mustering up all of my will power, I let my hand swing helplessly to my side.
"It's him again, isn't it?" I muttered bitterly, pinching the bridge of my nose as I took a step backwards.
"It's always been him, Jake," she whispered, her voice barely there. I could see it in her eyes; she was trying not to hurt me, yet she needed to make her stance known.
"What about last January, February and March? It wasn't him then." I was hitting below the belt, bringing her back to memories that no decent person should ever have to experience. Remorse filled Bella's eyes, and I instantly regretted it. But I had to make my stance clear.
"It was me then, Bella," I pointed out, my voice trembling. "You know it, and so do I. He wasn't here- he was God knows where. But I was here, Bella. I was always here." Bella shook her head, tears forming in her eyes as she looked away from my intense gaze.
"Stop it, Jake," she gulped. "I shouldn't have come here."
"But you did, Bella," I reminded her. "You always come back."
Bella considered my answer, clearly dumbstruck. If only she could see what I could. If only she could feel what she was doing to me. Then surely she would keep coming back.
But she didn't. She only felt what she was doing to him.
"Jake, you can do so much better than me," Bella sighed, using the self-pity card as a last resort. "There are a million girls out there who would-"
"And him, Bella?" I interrupted, anger brewing inside of me like boiling water. "He can't do better than you?" Bella froze, stung by my retort.
"That's just it, Jake," she replied, her voice trembling. "He can do so much better than me. You both can, yet you insist on fighting over me like two little children. He doesn't want to do better than me. He wants me." Of all the foolish things that she had said tonight, this one stung the deepest. Did she have no conception of how much I wanted her?
"Jesus, Bella," I hissed, leaning in again and placing my hand on the tree. She recoiled slightly, but I did not hesitate. "I want all of you, forever, you and me, everyday. Will you do something for me, please? Just picture your life with me? A life where you grow old and die, but age doesn't even matter because you're simply with me. Jesus, Bella, wouldn't that be enough?" It all came out at once, as if I had lost all of my self-control.
"I'm sorry, Jake," Bella whispered, tears flying down her cheeks. And then she did the worst thing that anybody could ever do to me. She ducked under my arm and hurried down the shoreline. This time, I didn't chase her.
I was growing impatient, but I could wait. I could wait for an eternity.