32: Doubt

….

Previously: EPOV

I could feel my insides clench along with my fists, I felt so angry it was making me feel sick. Without even thinking I whipped out my phone and called Jasper, not even bothering to explain to Bella when she asked what I was doing or when she told me it was nothing and I needed to calm down. It just made me angrier. It wasn't 'nothing.' What the fuck? He threatened to hurt her! Jasper answered and I quickly told him where I was and to meet me here immediately. Within seconds he was barging into the bathroom asking what had happened. His eyes growing wide when he took in Bella's upset demeanor and the hole in the wall.

"Where is he?" he asked, anger rolling off him in waves. I shook my head and indicated to Bella.

"You stay here with her," I muttered. "I think it's about time Hunter and I had a talk."

"Let me come…."

"No, look after her," I growled. "Please." Jasper nodded solemnly, indicating he understood and giving one last look at a bewildered and distraught Bella, I pushed past Jasper and out the door, ignoring Bella's cries to stop.

I'm sorry Bella, I thought silently. But I just can't let him do this to you anymore.

For some stupid reason it had taken me this long to do something about that piece of shit coward, it was a mistake letting it get this far. I had to fix that mistake before anything else happened. I had let Bella have her way initially, but that obviously wasn't going to work. Now, it was my turn. I just had to hope she wouldn't hate me for it.

….

Now: BPOV

….

"EDWARD!" I screamed for the umpteenth time. Come back, I pleaded silently, hopelessly. But like all the other times I called his name, he didn't come back, he didn't listen.

Resentfully, I turned to face Jasper, my captor, who looked at me with a mixture of pity, sorrow, and anguish.

"Please Jazz," I begged. "Stop him, make him come back." I almost screamed the last part of those words, throwing my arms in the direction of the door, as if showing Jasper the way out would make him realize what he had to do. But instead he continued to ignore my efforts. Timidly, I made an attempt to stand and go after Edward, but I was rooted to the bathroom floor by fear and shock. My legs were numb and refused to obey, useless props attached to the rest of my useless body.

Seeing my struggle, Jasper came to kneel beside me, slinging an arm around my shoulders in what I'm sure was meant to be an act of comfort but only made me feel even worse, even more pathetic. "I'm sorry Bella," he whispered. He sounded so remorseful that I couldn't be sure what he was sorry for. Was it because he wasn't doing what I asked? Or was it something else?

"Go after him," I cried, pointing toward the door, breaking out of his grip. I might not have been physically able to go after Edward or stop him, but Jasper could.

Jasper shook his head. "He wants me to stay here and look after you."

At his words I gritted my teeth and folded my arms across my chest. Why was everyone always deciding what to do with me, what was best for me, and how to handle me? It was annoying! Everyone, from Jake to Edward and now Jasper were treating me like a fragile little child, and it was starting to get on my nerves.

"And I want you to go out there and make sure he's okay, he's going after James, and he could get hurt out there." I was two seconds away from hysteria and all I could do was sit there while it rendered me helpless.

"Emmett will probably be there, he'll be fine and besides, Bella, James deserves what he gets," Jasper said quietly, his jaw clenched.

"Huh?"I grunted confused. What would Jasper know about what James deserved?

"Bella," Jasper responded in a condescending tone. It was that type of tone that parents used when you try act oblivious to something they've basically caught you red handed doing. Jasper was looking directly at me with a pointed expression. I shifted uncomfortably under his gaze the hysteria burning in my throat.

He knows, I thought, hanging my head in shame. Again, I tried to get my pathetic limbs to work; I needed to get out of here. And again my efforts didn't go unnoticed and I felt Jasper's hold on me tighten in an attempt to get me to stop moving, he probably thought I was going to hurt myself. It most certainly looked like I was having a fit. After a few seconds I was resigned to the fact that I wasn't going anywhere.

"H-he told you?" I croaked quietly after an eternity of what felt like silence. There was a small amount of hurt in my tone which Jasper didn't miss at all--he knew what I was getting at. It had to have been Edward, no one else knew, except for Doctor Cullen and he was under oath.

"He didn't have a choice Bella, the circumstances were –"

"Who else knows?" I asked, interrupting him, trying to keep my tone even while I simultaneously tried desperately to remain calm.

What if everybody knows? What if they are all looking at me? What if they think I'm crazy? What if…I shook my head softly I didn't want to think about it.

It was Jasper's turn to look upset. "Bella, he didn't want to-"

"Who else?" I asked again, my tone raising an octave cracking at the end as I spoke. I stared Jasper right in the eye, daring him to lie to me. I needed to know how far this had gotten so I could work on damage control.

"Just me and Alice," Jasper replied quietly, his shoulders slumping in defeat.

"Oh." My voice was barely audible as I dropped my gaze to the tiled floor. It wasn't as bad as I had thought, but still…

I had trusted him.

"Bella he didn't want to tell us, we kind of extracted it from him. He was going to…." The rest of Jasper's words were lost on me as my own thoughts began to drown out everything around me.

It had happened again. I must have a sign on my forehead that says "I'm a stupid idiot, I'm gullible, please take me for a ride." Because that's what keeps happening; I believe in someone, I trust them, I let them in and then it all comes crashing down. The funny thing is, I never expected it from Edward, which shows you just how stupid I am. I hardly know him, he hasn't been in my life more than a few weeks and I believed, stupidly, that I could trust him, that I could tell him my secrets. I just felt so safe around him; he has this way of making everything disappear, of making me calm. The only other person who came close to having that effect on me was Jake and he let me down too.

Edward promised he wouldn't tell anyone, he promised he would let it go, and he wouldn't do anything stupid by going after James, and he broke both of those pledges as if what I wanted and how it would affect me didn't matter.

It didn't matter to me why he told them, because nothing in my mind could have warranted that. And the fact that he was going after James really hurt, because above everything else, I just want everything to go away. I want to ignore the past, even though James was making it rather hard for me to push past what had happened. I had counted on Edward to help me let it go because that's what I really wanted and I thought he understood that. Doing this, going after him, was going to make matters worse and I had no doubt about that. You couldn't just make beef with James and then expect him to let it go, things were going to become bad, or they were going to get more than bad.

Throughout my entire inner monologue, Jasper comforted me by talking in soothing tones and rubbing circles on my back, something that reminded me of Edward and made me feel instantly sick. My eyes began to burn but the tears never came, my eyes were dry and red and felt like sand paper when I blinked. Rounding my shoulders I shrugged out of Jaspers half hold on me and turned to face him.

"Um do you think we could go out now?" I asked quietly, careful not to look at him directly so he wouldn't be able to make out my wavering resolve.

"I'm not sure that's wise, maybe would should wait a –"

"Please," I begged. He sighed and began to stand, holding his hand out to help me up too.

"Bella, you do know that Edward is just trying to help. Maybe he shouldn't have told us, but he didn't really have a choice –"

"I don't want to talk about this," I interrupted, pressing my fingers to his lips. Jasper's brow furrowed and he removed my fingers taking my hand in his.

"Just know that we are here for you Bells, all of us. You can talk to us, you should." His expression was serious and he didn't drop my gaze, every word was sincere. In that moment I wanted to share with him, I wanted to believe that I could tell Jasper and Alice, I wanted to believe that they would be there for me. But I didn't know who or what to believe in anymore.

"I know, I just…." I hesitated before I sighed.

Protectively, Jasper wrapped his arm around me as he we left the bathroom. I was rather grateful for the gesture since my legs were rather dead from sitting on the cold bathroom floor for so long. I tucked my head into his shoulder and braced myself against his side as we made our way down the hall and outside into the car park.

Suspiciously, Jasper took a detour around the backside of the student parking lot but I didn't argue, sensing that my emotional state probably wouldn't handle the reason why. Although subconsciously, I knew that we were avoiding the main parking block and that it might have something to do with either Edward or James or both.

I shuddered inwardly at the thought.

I know that only moments earlier I had almost fought my way, despite my emotionally paralyzed state, to get to Edward to try and protect him. But now, all I could think about was hiding, getting home and stripping my bed of all my blankets so I could take them and crawl up into the cubby space above my cupboard and hide, like I used to when I was small.

I wanted to hide from everything, everyone, and the disaster that was my life.

I kept my eyes on the ground for good measure; I didn't want to trip and take Jasper to the concrete with me. I didn't need another reason for everyone to be treating me like a fragile, breakable child they seemed to think I was. I needed them to believe I was strong, that's what I wanted James to believe. I didn't like the feeling that he might just be enjoying the fact that he could scare me, make me feel vulnerable and weak, so I didn't need anyone else thinking that I was in fact those things.

On the way over to my car, I felt Jasper stiffen at my side. Feeling confused, I glanced up at him in order to figure out what his problem was. He was looking straight ahead of us, his eyes narrowed and I followed his gaze and stopped when I saw what he was looking at.

"J-Jake?" I stuttered, confused at his presence as he leaned against my truck. He stood upright at my voice and glanced between Jasper and I, his gaze resting on the closeness and Jaspers hold on me, his eyes narrowing. Self consciously, I shrugged my way out of Jaspers grasp and took a few tentative steps towards my estranged best friend.

"Bell? What happened are you okay?" Jake asked, obviously noticing my red rimmed eyes and solemn expression, he took his eyes off of me to glare at Jasper in accusation.

I shrugged indifferently and gave Jasper a pointed glare as his hands balled into fists at Jakes silent allegation.

"Jake, what are you doing here?" I asked quietly, dodging his question. His anger dissipated at my words and he shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, glancing downwards.

"I uh-uh, came to…." He trailed off and glared at Jasper again. "Can we have a minute?" he asked, acid lacing his words. I had never known Jake to be rude to someone he barely knew. He and Jasper had met on occasion once or twice, I was sure of it and I began to wonder if something had happened between them to cause this kind of reaction or if he was just being a dick for the sake of it.

"Jake!" I growled incredulously. He ignored my angered reaction and continued to look in Jasper's direction quirking an eyebrow.

"Well?" he asked, crossing his arms across his chest.

Jasper turned in my direction, asking me silently whether or not I was okay with this. Truthfully, I had no idea. I wasn't ready for anymore drama or confrontations today and something was telling me that Jake being here wasn't for the scenery that was Forks High.

"It's okay Jasper," I said dismissively, waving my hand at him indicating that he could leave.

"Are you sure?" he asked quietly.

No.

"Yeah, um go find Edward would you," I added hastily, hoping that he would leave before I changed my mind. I didn't bother to look in his direction; I was too busy giving Jake death glares.

"Kay," Jasper muttered before hesitantly turning and leaving me with my ex-best friend who I really wanted to punch and kick at this point. Jake watched Jasper leave, not taking his eyes off Jasper's back until he was no longer within earshot.

"So what's his deal," Jake growled, nodding in Jasper's direction. I huffed and crossed my arms across my chest.

"He was walking me to my car because I was upset, he was being a friend unlike someone I know," I seethed through clenched teeth.

Jake laughed it sounded cruel, so unlike the warm chuckle I was used to. "Yeah, I'm sure he was just being a friend," he muttered sarcastically. I rolled my eyes and chose to ignore his bitter, twisted mood and his words that didn't make any sense. It was Jasper for fucks sake, not Tyler or Eric or something. Jazz just wasn't like that. Plus, he had Alice and I knew he was hopelessly devoted to her.

"What are you doing here Jake?" I asked again, my tone sharp. He flinched slightly at my anger, obviously just noticing now how pissed off he was really making me. He started to look nervous again and began to fiddle with the tie on his hooded jacket.

"I'm sorry Bella, I didn't come here to fight with you. I j-just I came here to apologize for my actions and…." He stopped talking taking a deep breath and a step closer to me. I tensed slightly at the closeness and I wasn't sure if it was because I was uncomfortable with the prospect of him touching me or if it was because I had missed him so much that all I really wanted was for him to hold me and make everything that hurt disappear just like he used to.

"J-Jake?" I stuttered, not sure how to react, confused at what he was telling me.

"Bells," he breathed. "I'm so sorry; I should never have pushed you like that. I should never have kissed you; I shouldn't have touched you without your permission. Bella, I'm so fucking sorry and I can't stand this." He indicated between us. "This… this awkwardness is unbearable and I can't do it. I love you, you are my best friend and I can't lose you, not for some stupid fucking feelings that I have and you don't. I just can't…I can't be without you." He paused for a moment and so quietly I couldn't be sure I heard he muttered, "I'd rather be dead."

"Jake-" I started but he held up a hand indicating to me that he wasn't finished.

"Bells, I need you back. Please I'm begging you to forgive me for being such a dog. I promise I will never, ever do something like that again…not without your permission." He winked playfully, lightening the mood somewhat.

Typical Jake cockiness.

"I can deal with this, I promise. You don't have to worry, I won't let it get in the way of us being friends. I will never allow it," he added seriously. When I didn't answer immediately he got down on one knee and brought his hands to his lips, clasped together in the form of a prayer.

"Please Bells. I'm begging you," he whined. I stared at him blankly not sure what to say to his confession. I mean, my best friend had just admitted he had feelings for me that he knew I didn't reciprocate but it didn't matter to him, because our friendship mattered to him more. What does one say to that?

Jakes face fell as I stood there immobile, my expression blank and unresponsive. Sullenly, he started to get to his feet but stopped when I growled.

"Jacob Black," I seethed, my expression serious before my lips turned upward into a traitorous grin. I had been planning on making him sweat a little. I kind of liked him on his knees begging but I was a terrible actress and truthfully, I just missed him too damn much.

"Come here," I laughed playfully, causing his sad expression turn to one of confusion. Stunned, he got to his feet and closed the distance between us. Feeling ecstatic at having something return to normal in my life, I took the final step to close the gap completely, throwing my arms around his neck and planting a chivalrous kiss on his cheek. Not even thinking that it was inappropriate considering his feelings, and my lack thereof.

"I miss you too," I whispered weakly, tears stinging my raw eyes once again. Immediately, I felt Jake's tense form relax as he wrapped his arms around my waist in a tight squeeze.

"Thank-god," he moaned, pressing his lips to my hair as he squeezed me tighter to him.

"Uh, J-Jake c-cant breath," I stuttered, his hold restricting much needed oxygen. He chuckled quietly and released me back to my feet but not before placing a chastised kiss on my forehead beaming down at me. I stole a quick breath as I had forgotten how Jake could warm me with just that smile before I beamed back at him.

"Hey best friend," he said warmly, smiling down at me, his eyes crinkling in the corners.

"Hey back," I returned, pressing myself into his warm chest, forgetting for a moment the hell that was my life.

….

EPOV

….

"Are you fucking blind or what Cullen," James growled, throwing his hands in the air. "Take a fucking look. Fucking best friend my ass," he muttered, glowering over my shoulder.

Confused and worried for a second that following his gaze would leave me open for attack, I ignored James' comment, balling my fists and clenching my jaw shut.

"Nice try," I spat.

"Fuck, you are pathetic Cullen! Jesus, turn the fuck around, would you!" James said exasperatedly, rolling his eyes at me.

For some reason, I did what he said and the sight that had befallen me, confused me at first not before nearly knocking me to my knees. Had I not been so taken aback at what I had seen, James's hand clasping down on my shoulder would never have gone without reciprocation in a much more unpleasant and violent manner.

"Dude, I'm sorry for whatever she did to make you think that you had some sort of chance. And I'm sorry for being right, for your sake, brother, but that's some fucking obvious shit going over there. You can't even deny me that you still can't see it." Even though James tried to sound sincere in his apologies, I knew it wasn't even close to how he really felt. He loved it, he was making me look like a fool in front of his friends and he was gloating at the fact that he was clearly right.

I could hear James chuckle briefly and mention something about 'lost cause' before he left me standing stock still as I watched Bella and Jacob hug and place kisses on one another. Even though I knew my eyes couldn't betray me, I refused to believe that she had played me, that she didn't at all reciprocate how I felt. It wasn't possible, I knew there was something between us, there had to be.

They are friends, that is all.

Friends that kiss and hug, my subconscious warned.

There's nothing wrong with that, girls do it all the time. I argued pathetically.

Yeah, but he's no girl.

So…

And she's Bella.

Your point being?

They all want her.

It was blindingly obvious, my confrontation with James and his words repeated over and over in my head.

I pressed my arm into James's neck as my fist tightening around his shirt while he leaned back into his car behind him.

"You are going to fucking pay!" I spat, my voice shaking in rage. James eyed me curiously, acting unfazed by my sudden and unexpected attack. It was rather impressive, considering I had caught him off guard as I stormed up behind him, grabbed him, and threw him into his prized mustang. Laurent and some other guy I didn't know made a move toward me but James stopped them in their tracks with one look in their direction

"And by what do I owe this honor?" he drawled lazily, throwing his friends a grin and an eye-roll. Casually, he drew a cigarette from his pack, oblivious or uncaring that we were still on school property. I hadn't even known he smoked. Artfully, he withdrew a cigarette and strategically placed it between his lips as he patted himself down, probably looking for a lighter.

Cocky prick. I'm going to wipe the floor with you, I thought sadistically.

"I've seen what you've done," I growled, shaking him a little in the process. I smiled to myself as the cigarette fell from his mouth and dropped to the ground. James let out an exaggerated sigh and as he fumbled for his packet once again. I should have just knocked him flat the moment I saw him, but for some stupid reason, I felt like I needed to have a rant at him first so he knew why I was going to mess up his pretty face.

"What are you talking about?" he mumbled, not making eye contact with me as he tried to grab another cigarette and light it. For the fun of it, I shook him again and miraculously through sheer stupidity James let it drop to the ground as well.

"Fuck, Cullen, this is really starting to piss me off," he seethed, his face turning red.

"The bruises, I saw them," I continued, my explanation ignoring his now agitated demeanor. Instantly, James's eyes meet mine and I watched as some emotion flashed across his eyes.

Understanding? Fear?

Whatever it was, James realized pretty quickly that I wasn't here to fuck around anymore, that I was serious. He gave Laurent and his friend a look, and said quietly, "I've got this," causing them to give us some privacy. Once they were out of earshot he turned to me, his expression incredulous.

"Oh, dude, you are delusional, I have no idea what you're rambling on about. But whatever little story she's spun to have you spouting shit like this, I can tell you it isn't true." I could almost detect a certain level of panic as he spoke and it spurred me on, knowing I caught him out.

"So what, she did that to herself then?" I asked sarcastically, throwing my weight into him a little, causing his face to redden more.

"Probably, haven't you noticed she's a hazard to herself? Girl can't walk two feet without tripping." James wasn't looking me in the eye anymore and I was starting to lose my footing. I had expected rage and anger, something to keep me going. I needed him to retaliate so I could fuck him up.

"She didn't get those injuries from falling," I growled, shoving him harder into his car hoping to get a rise out of him. It worked.

"Whatever, Eddie boy, until you have some hard proof I think you should back the fuck off," he seethed, shoving me back. I loosened my grip on him and took a step back, keeping my feet shoulder-width-apart. I needed him to take the first swing. I didn't want to start the fight--I only wanted to finish it. I was definitely counting on antagonizing him into it.

"Not until you get what you deserve Hunter," I whispered almost inaudibly, glaring at him. Anger was rolling off me in waves. I could feel the heat in my face as it reddened with rage. My fists hurt from being clenched so hard. I wanted to kill him.

Let him hit me first.

"You are pathetic, you know that? Can't you see what she's doing?" James folded his arms across his chest and leaned against his passenger door.

"And what is that?" I asked, deciding to entertain his delusion.

"Typical Bella," he muttered, feigning indifference.

"What about her," I questioned, losing my patience.

"Why don't you ask some of the boys around here what's she's like. You're new here so I can forgive your ignorance but Bella is a modern day player."

I almost choked at the absurdity of his words. Bella? Innocent, shy, little Bella, a player? The idea was ludicrous.

"Okay, I've heard some shit come out your mouth but this is fucking…" I started but was interrupted by James, his expression dark and suddenly scarily serious only an inch from mine.

"I caught her Edward, that's why we aren't together anymore. I caught her and that dog," He spat, keeping his voice low. As he said the last word his mouth turned up in a sneer. He took a step back and leant against his car again.

"What the fuck are you going on about?" I asked, momentarily distracted.

"Her and her so called best friend, I caught them getting busy at her house." It took me a moment to figure he was talking about Jacob Black and then I balked. What he was saying was bullshit.

"Bullshit, they're just friends," I reiterated out loud.

"Really can you honestly say that? Can a guy and a girl be that close and not have something going on?"

"I'm not listening to this shit anymore," I sneered, shoving him in the chest. I was trying to ignore his words but what he had said nagged at me. Ever since I first saw them together it had bugged me. I could see it in Black's eyes that he felt something for her. I never once considered the feelings mutual. James obviously noticed the flicker of doubt that crossed my features and took it as an opportunity to continue spinning his shit.

"See, you know it's true. Dude, I'm just trying to watch out for you man. She's a man eater. She uses guys as a cover for her relationship with Black; if you don't believe me ask Eric, or Tyler, or even Mike for that matter. She did it to them too."

That confused me Eric, Tyler and Mike? She went out with them? She had never mentioned that, although we had never really discussed our past hook ups.

"And why would she need to cover her relationship up?" I questioned, trying to maintain an air of indifference, hoping he wouldn't realize how much what he was saying was affecting me.

"I don't know, maybe because he's younger, maybe Charlie is a racist?" he muttered, shrugging his shoulders as he bent to pick up one of the cigarettes he had dropped.

"Her father and his are best friends," I contradicted skeptically.

"Haven't you ever heard the saying what's good enough for… oh I forget. But it doesn't matter, you get the idea. And I don't fucking know, Cullen, all I know is that I caught them getting it on and that's all the proof I need. Seriously, Edward, she'll just use you like she did me. She acts all innocent, fragile and clueless but she knows exactly what's going on. She pretends to be weak; plays the victim makes you think she needs saving. She's a grade A bitch. Don't say I didn't warn you," he spouted casually as he lit his smoke taking a long drag as he finished.

"Fuck off James. You didn't catch shit," I muttered. I shook my head in an effort to dispel some the crap he just filled it with as I tried to remember why I had approached him in the first place.

That's when he convinced me to turn around, witnessed what was possibly the truth in his words.

There definitely was more to Jacob Black and Bella Swan than mere friendship.

AN: So I'm terribly sorry this took so long, and I have a million and one excuses as to why it did but it doesn't really matter. I'm also sorry that you didn't get your previews but the reason for that is the stupid effing internet, my lack of having it and the fact that when I do it sucks ass and takes soo long to load a page.

So anyhoo, thanks for putting up with me.

Thanks D you're my angel, and a wonderful beta and I love u, like a fat kid loves cake

Recommended reading: (What Im reading now – should be on my faves)

This is not my life. (very very angsty and awesome!!)

The Red Line. (o dare god you will love whore Edward, well at least I do.)