I own nothing. All belongs to SM.


Bella's POV:

Edward's words, spoken only in my mind – Be happy – were what made up my mind. I forced my brain to shut down and acted before I could change my mind. I pressed my lips to Jacob's shoulder. It was swift and light, but I felt his body tense.

Jake's long fingers took hold of my chin and tilted my face up to his. His dark brows were knitted, his deep-set eyes surprised and wary. "Bella?" He didn't need to say anything else. I felt his unasked question reverberate through my body, stirring the area where my heart should have been.

The blush stole over my cheeks as our eyes stayed locked. I did not want him to ask questions; I just wanted him to react, so I could give this a try and hope that I didn't end up hurting myself or Jake even more. Since he wasn't reacting – he was frozen in fact – I decided to make another move before I could lose my nerve. I gave a slight nod and leaned forward and touched my lips to his neck. I felt the muscles tighten against them. His long fingers moved slowly up my back, to tangle in the knotted mass of sea and salt-encrusted hair. He gently tugged my head back, and I briefly saw his dark eyes burning with intent just before he leaned down to touch his lips to mine.

I didn't realize I was so cold until I felt the heat of Jacob's lips against mine. A small whimper escaped from my sore throat, and that was all the encouragement that was needed. I wrapped my arms around his neck, my fingers grazing the edge of his slightly shaggy hair. It felt like silk under my fingertips. His lips moved softly over mine, kissing first my upper lip, then my bottom lip. His lips quickly became more urgent. His tongue stroked over my lips, causing me to part them on a gasp. I felt the touch of his tongue against mine – a very new and overwhelming feeling – and reacted instinctively. I slid my tongue against his. We both began to breathe heavier; our teeth clicked together, our noses bumped as we tried to overcome the awkwardness of something that was new to the both of us.

I felt a fissure of heat slide up my spine, warming me completely as we both seemed to find the rhythm at the same time.

How more in tune could we be?

I lost myself for a moment in the slide of our tongues, the gasping breaths, and the feel of his one hand tangled in my hair while the other set a blazing trail down my back. Suddenly I remembered. Edward.

I pulled back quickly, gasping, the tears beginning to burn behind my eyelids.

"Jake…" I gasped. "I-I-I have to go," I managed to stutter, my face averted, as I managed to shove the door of my truck open and stumble up to the steps of my house.

I felt his warm hand touch my shoulder as I pushed the door open. "Bella? What's going on? You can't just run off on me here."

When I faced him, I could see the fire in his eyes, and the smile that was threatening to bloom into full-fledged happiness. That nearly did me in. "I'm sorry, Jake. I probably shouldn't have done that… I thought it was a good idea at the time…" I muttered, still trying to will the tears back.

His face sobered. "Why did you do it then?"

I leaned against the kitchen counter, my hands fluttering around, not sure what to do. "I, um… I thought maybe we could try…" I trailed off, not sure what I was trying to say exactly.

As usual, Jacob read my expression. "You wanted to see if we could try a relationship?" he guessed. His expression hardened a little. "But then you felt as if you were betraying him?"

I began shredding a napkin. "Yes," I whispered.

"Bella, he's not here, and he's not going to come back." Jake's voice was harsh. I flinched and my arms reflexively wrapped around my stomach to try and control the gaping hole that Edward had left.

Immediately, his expression softened. He leaned against the counter next to me and wrapped me in his very warm embrace.

"I'm sorry, Bells," he murmured. "I shouldn't have said that." I rested my head on the broad expanse of his chest, his skin soft and smelling faintly of sea water.

"You know I'm willing, Bella, you know that I love you. If it's what you want, we'll give it a try. If you need to wait, I'll wait. I'll always wait for you."

I snuggled even closer to him, winding my arms around his back. "I do want to, Jake. But… bear with me, okay?" A few tears leaked out and slid down my cheek.

Jake leaned back a little and gently brushed his finger over the tears. "Your dad will be home soon, Bells. He's going to be upset about Harry and you should probably shower so he doesn't worry when he gets a look at you. Why don't I head out, and we'll talk tomorrow?" His dark eyes were soft as they held mine. I nodded in acquiescence. He leaned down and gently pressed his lips to mine. His heat invaded me again as he kissed me slow and sweet. Then he was gone.

I dragged myself upstairs to the bathroom. As I threw my clothes in the hamper, I caught my reflection in the mirror. My eyes were bloodshot from the salt water – and the tears – and my hair was curling in all directions. I examined my eyes a bit more closely, surprised to see even just the tiniest bit of life. Maybe this thing with Jake could really help. I stepped into the shower, letting the hot water pound against my sore muscles as I washed my hair with my strawberry shampoo.

After my shower, I dressed in sweats and a flannel shirt and went downstairs to start dinner for Charlie. I put together a salad and was boiling the water for pasta when I heard the door slam shut. "Bells?" he called out. His voice was more subdued than usual.

"In here," I called. He came into the kitchen. His eyes looked so lost and sad. I went over and wrapped my arms around him. "I'm so sorry about Harry, Dad."

He hugged me back; I could feel his arms tighten around me as if he was afraid I would disappear. The pain in his eyes twisted vines in my stomach, squeezing, making me ache for him. We held onto each other a little longer.

I felt horribly guilty about what I had done today.

What would it have done to Charlie if Jacob hadn't been there to pull me out? If Victoria had gotten to me first?

A solitary tear slid down my cheek to rest in the corner of my mouth. "Is Sue okay?" I whispered.

"She's trying to handle it, but she's hurting and overwhelmed. I'll be helping her get the funeral arrangements in order, Bells, so I probably won't be around much the next couple days." He swiped his eyes wearily.

"That's fine, Dad. Do what you have to do."

I turned to dump the spaghetti into the boiling water. "It'll be ready in a few minutes," I told him softly. He nodded and disappeared into the living room.

"With Jake today?" Charlie asked as we sat down to eat dinner. I knew he was just trying to appear as normal as possible. He wasn't eating with his usual gusto.

"Yeah, I was… at the beach with Jake." This was partially true. Obviously, I couldn't tell him the truth. I jumped off a cliff and nearly drowned, but was rescued by my werewolf friend – who by the way might be something more – before the vampire stalking me could make me her snack.

"You okay, Bella? You sound pretty hoarse." Charlie eyed me with as much concern as he could muster.

"I'm fine. Just tired."

I poked at my food and managed to choke some of it down my still aching throat. I cleared off the table when Charlie was done, dumping my uneaten portion into the trash. I washed everything methodically and then poked my head into the living room.

"Dad, I'm going up to bed."

Charlie turned from the baseball game. "Okay. You sure you're all right?"

I nodded and trudged back up to my room. I turned the computer on and let it hum its slow way to life as I popped in a CD that was all music and no words. I pulled my hair up into a ponytail and sat down to check my email. I sent a brief one to my mother who was wondering what I was up to. I knew she was just checking up on me because of the tantrum I threw when my parents tried to ship me off to Jacksonville to live with my mom and Phil. I told her about hanging out at the beach with Jake. I didn't tell her I apparently had no common sense when attempting a cliff dive. That was something she would try; not me.

I turned the computer off, changed into a tank top and shorts and crawled into bed. I tossed and turned for awhile, the rain drumming softly on the roof as I tried not to think about werewolves and vampires. I finally drifted off into a restless sleep.