Chapter 9: Every Dog Has Its Day
I was running as fast as I could. Everything a blur. All my brain could compute was: Edward is here. Edward is here. And I was going to find him.
The first ray of sunlight was rising over the horizon as I ran breathlessly up the driveway to the Cullen residence, slamming the door to my truck and leaving it behind. My thoughts were consumed, all-encompassed, by the presence of Edward. I could feel him in the air; that familiar heavy pressure in my chest filling me as if the past year hadn't existed.
Except… it had. I mean, despite all of the grief and depression, it had really turned out to be the best year of my life.
Because of… him…
I slowed my run to a walk and inhaled a deep breath, replaying the past year in my head: building motorbikes with Jake, going to the movies with Jake, walking along the beach with Jake, kissing Jake…
"Bella?" A musical sound chimed from up ahead. There was no mistaking that voice.
I opened my eyes. He was standing ten feet in front of me, with his golden eyes, his perfectly-tousled hair, his porcelain skin and brilliant white teeth glimmering as he smiled. He was even more beautiful than I had remembered.
"Edward…" I whispered, knowing full well that he could hear me.
All of a sudden, as if they were detached from my body, my legs started moving, walking, towards him; his scent drawing me in. Then I was running again, into his outstretched arms. I had forgotten how hard he was, his body like a rock against mine as we embraced tightly. I breathed him in, the smell of his skin, his breath as he released his gentle hold around me so that our faces were almost touching.
"Bella," he breathed with a smile, "I've missed you…"
I didn't know what to say. There was too much to say. Everything had suddenly become so much more complicated. Hadn't it?
I gazed into his golden eyes. They were so beautiful they were almost… mesmerizing. My body took over. I felt my eyes closing and my lips moving towards his, slightly-parting. The next thing I knew our mouths had connected and we were kissing. The kiss was familiar, slow and careful, but what was different was the knot I felt in my stomach as my lips moved against his. Something was… off.
As we slowly pulled away from each other, Edward smiled as his eyes locked onto mine.
"Bella," he started as his smile faded, "it is quite apparent that I have a lot of explaining to do. I only hope…beg… that you give me a chance to tell you my version of what happened. I know I don't deserve it, but all I can do is ask…"
I stood in front of him, the most perfect creature in existence, completely stunned. It all felt like a dream; a dream that I had been desperately wishing for for the past year: that Edward would come back. It was as if I were in some sort of trance, an alternate reality, where my body and my mind were two separate entities and the voice that was speaking was not my own.
"Sure, sure," was all I could say.
Edward's grimace crept back into a stunning smile as he carefully grabbed my hand, pulling me gently up towards the house. And so I walked, because it's what he wanted me to do.
I heard a soft chuckle from Edward. "Bella, may I ask what you were doing just now, in the driveway?"
"What do you mean?" I asked, confused.
"I mean, when I found you, you were just sort of standing there in the driveway with your eyes closed… and you were smiling. It was rather curious to me… Won't you tell me what you were thinking?"
I knew exactly what I had been thinking about.
But then, with three words, I broke my own heart.
"It was nothing."
* * *
"Jacob, please understand, I have to see him. I have to go…"
Emptiness. It's funny how so few words can render you numb.
I lay still in Bella's tiny bed, the first few beams of sunlight peeking through the window. It had all been a blur. A dream. A nightmare. Bella's face turning to stone when I told her Edward was back. Her grabbing any form of clothing that was nearest to her and bolting from the room without so much as a look back. Running away. Back to her own fairy-tale prince…
Leah was right, I sighed miserably. It was the lowest moment of my life. And the worst part was, I honestly didn't see it coming. I actually thought that she cared about me more than him…
I felt like crawling into a hole and dying. Anything would be better than this. Better than the feeling of complete abandonment by the one you love more than anything in the world. The one who was too important, too precious to lose to anyone else…
So why are you letting her go? A voice nagged in my head.
I answered hopelessly, I'm not letting her go… it's her choice. I can't force her to love me…
You idiot… you know that she loves you. And you know that he's not good for her. Now, all you can do is help her realize it…
My eyes snapped open. It was my only chance. My only hope—that Bella would somehow realize the truth. That she belonged with me, not him.
I sat up in bed, ripped off the covers and ran downstairs, grabbing my scattered clothes and throwing them on as I went. I slammed the front door behind me and was only slightly disheartened when I noticed Bella's truck missing from the driveway. I knew it had to be parked at the Cullens'. And I knew there was only one other way for me to get there.
* * *
"Won't you come inside, Bella?" Edward asked in his sugary soothing tone.
I stared up at the front door to the Cullen residence with trepidation. Suddenly, it didn't seem like I belonged here anymore. What once had been my second home was now strangely foreign to me.
"Um, Edward," I said timidly, "if you don't mind I'd prefer if we stayed out here and talked. If that's okay…"
Edward smiled his usual smile and then motioned for me to sit down on the front steps. He soon followed.
"So," he sighed deeply, "I would like to explain myself, with your permission of course… Why I left…"
I simply nodded. There were no words.
He sighed again, obviously pained in his thoughts. And then he began.
"Bella, the reason I left was because I loved you so much. Too much. And I was so deathly afraid of hurting you, of losing control with you, that I thought removing myself from your life would be the best way to keep you safe. To keep you alive." He softly sighed and furrowed his eyebrows. "I didn't realize how much of a mistake I had made until I was already so far gone…"
The concept sounded absurd to me. He left because he loved me too much?! I didn't believe it. I wanted to scream at him, to cause him pain just as he had me all those months ago.
Edward, sensing my miscomprehension, reiterated, "I only did it to protect you. Not because I didn't love you anymore… I was afraid."
I didn't understand his excuses. Who the hell does that? Leaves the person they love in order to protect them? And just because they were afraid?
And then the answer to those questions hit me like a bolt of lightning: I do.
I leave the person that I love most out of fear. That night when Jacob and I kissed, I ran away from him, recklessly into the forest, because I was afraid. Afraid of loving someone new. Afraid of losing my best friend. Afraid of feeling again…
All of a sudden I felt an icy cold finger under my chin, lifting my head up so my eyes met his. Edward's eyes were like liquid topaz, drawing me in; so beautiful that I couldn't look away.
He was dazzling me.
Well, maybe I do understand why he left…
And then he chimed in his musical voice, "Bella, you still love me, don't you?"
I felt devoid of oxygen. Like when you hold your breath for too long and your brain gets foggy. He was like a hypnotist.
…I remembered feeling much lighter with…
And then a familiar voice,
I broke my transfixed gaze from Edward's golden eyes and snapped my head in the direction of the driveway.
He was standing twenty feet away with his fists clenched at his sides. A comforting and familiar warmth spread through my chest when I saw him; when Edward removed his hand from my skin. I wanted to smile, but I was so afraid that my personal sun had had enough of my betrayal. I didn't think I could bear it if he didn't smile back…
Suddenly, Edward was on his feet and facing Jacob head-on. Within a matter of seconds, the tension in the air had escalated to an insurmountable level.
"Jacob Black," Edward murmured through clenched teeth. "Might I ask why you are standing in my driveway?"
I waited with baited breath. And then he spoke.
"You know why I'm here. To settle this once and for all. You see, Edward, I love Bella more than anything else in the world and I'm not going to sit around while you trick her into forgiving you; while you draw her in with your stupid mind games. She deserves better—better that somebody who throws her love away. Better than you."
As Jacob said those words, the look on Edward's face was murderous. I sat frozen on the steps, immobilized by fear.
"I don't want to fight you, Jacob," Edward growled, "but if killing you is what you think proves to Bella who cares more for her, then I'd be happy to oblige."
My heart was beating out of my chest. I wasn't going to lose him… not now. Fighting the numb feeling in my legs, I leapt to my feet and started to walk towards the radiating warmth, but stopped short as I passed the cold one… my feet seemingly frozen to the ground. Up until this moment, I had never fully realized the strange and powerful effect Edward had on me. He was a vampire, and hence skilful at … controlling humans.
Seeing me pause, as if bolted to the earth, sent Jake into a furious tirade.
"You obviously don't know Bella very well, you stupid leech," he spat. "Killing each other won't prove shit. The only fucking reason I want to rip you to shreds right now is for all of the pain and suffering you've put this girl through with your stupid bullshit. You don't love her, you love the idea of her. You love her blood. It sings to you. 'La Tue Cantante' … isn't that what you call it?"
Edward's lips pressed into a hard line. He had never looked more like he was made of stone.
Jake continued, sensing Edward's anger,
"Yeah, she told me all about how her blood drives you insane with thirst. You call that love? I call that obsession."
Stalemate. The two were equally seething with rage as they stared each other down. When he finally spoke, Edward's voice was steady but his eyes were black with fury.
"Jacob, I love Bella more than you'll ever understand. Now, I advise that you transform now so that we may end this pitiful feud. Vampire versus werewolf…"
Without hesitation, and sensing my escalating fear, Jacob marched up towards Edward and grabbed me by the arm, pulling me behind him so I was sheltered. Jacob stared into Edward's black eyes with a glare equally as murderous.
"If you think I'm going to transform into a werewolf and fight you with Bella so close by, then I don't think you consider her safety to be very important. And I know Bella, stubborn as she is, won't want to go off anywhere while we do this, so…" Jake sighed painfully, "I'll fight you as human if that's what it takes to protect her."
I gasped, my heart stopping. "Jake, no…"
A hauntingly high-pitched laugh escaped from Edward's lips. It sent shivers down my spine.
"Ha! It's a wonder such a smart girl like Bella could possibly be friends with somebody so utterly foolish," he cackled.
Jake paused and then a triumphant smirk slowly crept across his face. He taunted Edward, pushing him to the brink.
"…You think we're friends?"
"Jake, don't-" I pleaded. But he continued in a deliberately drawn-out voice,
"You actually think that Bella and I are just friends?"
I sensed that Edward had reached the limit of his restraint and was about to erupt with fury. The terrifying image that had too often haunted my nightmares—a vampire losing control—was much more horrific in the flesh.
"No!" Edward hissed and the blood in my veins stopped pumping. He was indescribably angry, and it was the most heart-stopping, hideous moment I have ever experienced.
He continued, fuming, "I know what's been going on between the two of you. I saw you last night through the window, ravaging her like she was some common, worthless animal! You insufferable half-breed, how DARE you treat her that way?!"
I had never heard Edward lash out like this before. It was sickening to my weak stomach. Jacob, on the other hand, seemed to feed off of Edward's rage as he edged him on:
"That was making love you filthy bloodsucker, ever heard of it? Although the positions have probably changed a bit since the middle ages…"
In a movement so fast it was undetectable to the eye, Edward's unbreakable hand was on Jacob's throat, choking the life out of him.
I had to do something. Something desperate. Something that would be believable enough to save the love of my life from eminent death.
It would be my most Oscar-worthy performance ever.
I stepped out from behind Jacob.
"Edward," I said calmly, knowing he would hear me, and listen, amidst the chaos.
Edward reluctantly released his grip, allowing Jacob to wrench himself away and catch his breath. He decided to stay at what he thought was a safe distance from Edward, with both watchful eyes on me at all times. But, I knew that when comparing vampire versus human speed, there was no such thing as a safe distance.
I continued on with my ruse, trying to calm Edward to the point where I might be able to reason with him, and in the meantime, breaking my best friend's heart. And my own.
"Edward, listen," I sighed, "I have to tell you the truth… and I just hope that you can forgive me for what I'm about to say. I confess…I did lose my virginity to Jake, two nights ago, and then we had sex again last night. But that was it. We only did it twice. And it didn't mean anything. It was just sex."
"Bella…" Jake protested quietly, defeated.
"Jake," I continued, looking at the ground and desperately trying to hold back tears. "It's true. I told you from the beginning not to read into all of the stuff we did, that it meant more for you than it did for me…"
Edward's eyes were still black as coal, but I could feel him calming slightly. Jacob, on the other hand, was fighting for me... one last time.
"No… no, Bella…" he said firmly, adamantly, although I could see the devastation in his eyes. "You… and I… we belong together. We're right. And you know it! Y-you're my best friend!"
"Let her finish explaining," Edward uttered, a hint of reason in his voice, but still a threat.
I couldn't look at Jacob any longer, it was too heart-wrenching. But I knew I had to continue on with my act. I could bear him hating me, if it meant that his life would be spared from being ripped to pieces by the world's most dangerous predator.
"Edward… you have to understand," I continued sadly. "Jake's been there for me every single day of this entire year. I almost feel like I owed it to him. And I'm so sorry that I didn't wait for you to be my first, but I just needed his help to relieve some of the tension, okay?"
Jacob was infuriated. "Bella, you have got to be kidding me. Is that all I am to you?! A shoulder to cry on and a good fuck?!!"
Even in my performance, hearing Jacob's devastation caused my true feelings to emerge for a split-second, and I accidentally cried out, "No, Jake! Of course not!!"
I gasped as Edward's body twitched slightly, reacting to my cry for Jacob. He was still dangerous. And I was so close to bringing him back to sanity, and protecting Jake, that I immediately suppressed my feelings. Painstakingly, I locked my eyes onto Jacob's one more time, willing him to see my deception; to recognize my desperate attempt.
But he was too bludgeoned, too bruised, to see my truth… even though he had known it all along.
"Bella," he uttered, "you can't just stand there and tell me that this past year didn't mean anything to you. That all those days you asked me to be with you meant nothing. That when we made love it didn't mean something. I love you, Bella. And I know you love me too. Why can't you fucking understand that?"
He turned and stormed off into the dark forest. Maybe forever…
And I stood there. Shattered.
Applause. Bow. Curtain.
* * *
I felt nothing. Even the wind rippling through my fur, a sensation that I loved, was unfeeling. I couldn't hear the thud of my paws against the earth. All the trees were greyish blurs.
I didn't know where I was running to, but I eventually ended up at my house. Wolf instincts I guess.
I transformed back to my human-self in the backyard and then marched into the house. It would be a quick visit. To say goodbye.
I saw my Dad seated at the kitchen table, reading his paper. He looked up when he saw me come in, relief washing over his face.
"Jacob…" he sighed, "where the hell have you been? I've been worrying about you and Bella all night…"
"Dad—" I interrupted him urgently. "I have to go."
It destroyed me to say it, to tell my father that this might be the last time I see him…
He stared at me in silence for a few moments, sensing both my turmoil and my numbness. Let me go in peace, Dad. I can't stay.
He never blinked once,
"Okay, son. I love you."
I marched over to him and gave him the biggest hug of my life. I wished I could feel it…
Then, without looking back, I stormed out of the kitchen and towards the back door, passing by Leah, who had stayed overnight with Rachel. Unbeknownst to me, she had witnessed the exchange between me and my Dad.
"Bye Jacob Black," she called quietly after me; understanding.
And then I was bounding through the forest. Once again, an unfeeling wolf, leaving my humanity behind.
* * *
What felt like hours later, I was running, again. But this time it was down the driveway, away from the Cullen house. I hopped into my truck and revved the engine. Doing a quick U-turn, I slammed down on the gas pedal and drove out of Forks. I was headed for La Push.
As I drove I replayed the lengthy conversation I had with Edward. After Jacob ran off, it was easy to bring Edward back down to an approachable level. Once his eyes turned to that liquid honey colour once again, I started into my gentle explanation about my feelings for Jacob. I told him that I loved Jake, more than anything. And although Edward's heart was broken, he loved me enough to want me to be happy, even if it was with someone else. It was the real Edward; the Edward that I had once cared about. That I still loved, but not the same way that I loved Jacob. There was no comparison anymore, a realization that had dawned on me just yesterday, after we had made love for the first time; but a feeling I had known deep-down, ever since the first time we hung-out at our spot: the tree stump on La Push beach.
It was a devastating moment, saying goodbye to Edward, my first love. He told me he and his family were leaving Forks for good, so that Jacob would be free to live as fully human once again. He suggested that this was the only solution that would prevent Jacob from potentially imprinting on somebody else. It was the most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me, and I would forever remember Edward Cullen as the one who made that sacrifice for me and Jacob.
I just hope it's not too late.
* * *
I stopped my run through nothingness at the edge of the cliff, my paws less than a foot from the drop. It was almost unsettling to be there, looking out over the big blue endless nothing; knowing that I was alone.
Knowing that it might not feel so bad to just…slip off the edge.
No, I said firmly in my head. That was not an option. Even if Bella didn't love me, I couldn't bear to put her through any more trauma. She had had enough for a lifetime.
So I sat on that edge, waiting for nothing and wondering where to go from here...
"What do you mean Jacob's not here!?" I pleaded with Billy as I stood helplessly on the Blacks' front steps, massive teardrops already forming in my eyes.
Billy's features were heavy, burdened.
"Bella, I'm so sorry… he's gone."
My heart stopped; my body numb. He's gone. That familiar high-pitched sound was ringing in my ears; loss of oxygen.
The last sound I heard was a the slam of a nearby screen door.
* * *
It usually sucks being a wolf. Everything is more instinctual, rather than emotional. You really miss those human feelings of love and happiness.
But not today. Today, I consider animalism a blessing, because I don't have to bear the terrible human burdens: rejection, betrayal, devastation, unrequited love. Today, I was thankful for my curse.
I heard a distant thumping on the forest floor: paws. Then, a voice followed.
What to do… what to do…
A familiar voice.
Fuck, what am I going to say? the voice murmured.
Leah? I asked, communicating through my thoughts.
Yep, it's me. You should phase, now. Leah responded calmly. I had no idea what she was doing there. Rubbing it in, I assumed.
No, I'm not phasing. I replyed sadly. I don't want to be human. It's too fucking hard.
What the hell, Jake… So, you're planning to stay a wolf until your little heart mends itself? Jesus Christ, that's really pathetic, she mocked.
I couldn't take her ridicule right now, I was too vulnerable.
Leah, I urged, please… I can't do this right now. I'm begging you to leave me alone just this once…
She suddenly turned soft, her tough exterior falling away as she became vulnerable too.
Jake, I can't leave you alone. You know how I feel about you… You can hear it in my thoughts all the time. That my harshness towards you is just to make it all easier…
I sighed deeply. I did know. How Leah has had feelings for me for as long as I could remember. And of course I felt sympathetic… I knew how she felt.
Leah, listen… I said softly. I know how it feels to love someone with all your heart and them not to want you back, trust me. And I really do respect your feelings and, of course, you're one of my 'brothers,' but, I'm so, so, sorry... I just can't help my own feelings towards Bella. I will never stop loving her for as long as my stupid wasted wolf-heart lives on. She's the one, even though she'll never pick me…
Leah sighed and looked at me with genuine eyes, You're wrong, Jacob.
I sensed something hidden in her voice. What do you mean? She continued,
You're wrong about Bella not picking you…
My stomach felt like it leapt up into my throat. It was a good feeling, albeit premature. I kept silent but motioned for Leah to continue.
I just came from your house, and Bella was there, searching frantically for you. She was afraid that you were gone for good. She was crying in Billy's arms when I dashed out the back door to find you.
I held my breath and waited for the final confirmation.
She chose you, Jake. Edward's gone.
It was as if all the colour had flooded back into the world. Bella came after me. She chose me…
Leah, if this is a trick, I swear… I said frantically, but she cut me off.
No, Jacob, I care about you too much to go that far. I heard Bella telling your Dad that she pretended to cast you aside as a ploy to calm Edward down and keep him from killing the person that she truly loves… you.
It was finally happening. The stars were lining up. Bella truly loved me; enough to send away the guy she's been yearning after for two years.
I had to get back to her.
Leah, I said with complete sincerity, thank you. You don't understand how much it means to me that you would come tell me this, especially considering your own feelings. I owe you for the rest of my life.
She smiled, Okay, Jake. It's just nice to see you happy. Now get out of here...
And with that, I bolted as fast as I have ever run back through the forest, towards the only place I knew she'd be waiting.
* * *
Jeez, why does it have to start pouring rain all of a sudden? Oh yeah, because it's the end of a love story, that's why.
My heart raced as my paws pounded across the forest floor, my instincts guiding me to my Bells. Time seemed to be running backwards, every second stretching out past the next. C'mon, c'mon, I chanted hurriedly, willing my legs to move faster. And then I finally saw it: the edge of the forest, the sandy beach, the raindrops rippling across the water …
… and Bella.
I couldn't think. I couldn't feel. The realization that Jacob was gone caused the gaping hole in my chest to rip violently open once again. I collapsed against the tree stump on the beach, the spot where Jacob and I had had our first real conversation. I had been crying non-stop for the past hour; ever since I pulled into Jake's driveway, knowing deep-down in the pit of my stomach that he wouldn't be there. And now, broken and alone, I huddled against the tree trunk, trying to hold onto the memory of us, and hoping that the rain wouldn't wash it away.
He was gone.
I heard a soft rustle in the forest behind me. I hoped it was some sort of hungry wild animal; I doubt I would feel much if it ripped me to shreds… if I disappeared forever.
The rustling was getting closer. But I didn't care. I couldn't even bring myself to look up.
The noise was right behind me. All I could think was… Jacob, Jacob, Jacob… I would die thinking of him. Jacob... I love you.
And then I was wrenched to my feet by two large, warm hands. A familiar warmth, a sunshine. All of a sudden, his lips were on mine, kissing me with love and urgency. And I kissed him back…hard. Because I knew that kiss… those lips…
"Bella," he breathed as our lips broke apart.
"Jake!" I cried (literally). It was him. I stared up into those dark brown eyes as he held me close in a bone-crushing hug.
After a very long and reassuring hug, we pulled away and he held my face in his hands.
"I love you, Bella," he said softly. It was finally time; the moment that would change everything.
"I love you too, Jake… I always have…"
And with that, he smiled and kissed me passionately once again, lifting me up into his arms. It was our most incredible kiss yet, because everything had finally fallen into place. Me... and Jacob... together. For good.
After several more minutes of passion, we sat down on the wet beach against our stump, Jacob cradling me in his lap. I wanted to make sure he knew the whole truth.
"Jacob," I hummed against his neck, where I was nuzzled, "I want you to know that Edward is gone. He left because I told him I loved you more than anything, and that I could never turn away from you ever again. I'm just so sorry about deceiving you earlier… it was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I had to do it in order to protect you from Edward. I just hope you can forgive me…"
Jake smiled and squeezed me tight.
"Of course," he murmured softly and then kissed my forehead. "But did you seriously think that Edward could hurt me? Sheesh Bells, that's a little bit insulting…"
"Sorry," I laughed. God, it was nice to have my Jacob back…
"Bella," he asked sincerely, "why did you pick me?"
I looked up into his eyes and grazed his cheek with my thumb. "Because… it's always been you, Jake. I just didn't realize it…"
"I love you, Bells."
"I love you too… with all of my heart."
He scooped me up into another enormous bear hug, and I wrapped my arms tightly around his neck, never wanting to let go. I felt him smile.
"Okay," he asked with a grin, "but why did you really pick me…?"
I released my arms, looked him square in the eye, and smiled,
"Hmmm… because you look so darn cute in those cut-off jean shorts…"
He smiled, "I knew it…"
And we kissed and held each other on the beach all night long, in the light of the moonfire…
Thank you to all of my wonderful loyal fans who have inspired me to keep Moonfire alive. I hope you have enjoyed reading my story as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I hope to someday be back with another story, but for now... thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. May your love of Jacob and Bella live on forever...
Love always, wolfgirl89.