How mad are you all at me? I hope you will be somewhat forgiving and let me offer this update as a peace offering. You name it and it's pretty much happened for me over the past few months and something always kept getting in the way of an update. But I promise, and hope I'm able to keep it, that there will be updates to all of my stories coming out much more timely now. Thank you to everyone who has kept up with my stories and hasn't given up on them or me. And to all those of you who have asked for an update, it was those sweet messages that kept me going. You are all great!

Chapter Eighteen

I Swear To You

The house was dark and felt so empty when we got home. After all that had happened earlier, I still felt confused and a little uncertain about what was happening with me and Jake. I lay across my bed while Charlie took a shower and let my finger trace the spine of the Quileute book as I rested my chin on my fist and thought over everything Jake had told me earlier.

It seemed so unfair to know that I had just gotten back into his world but that could all change with one look at another girl. Someone better than me and prettier than me, because she would be his soul mate. The thought hurt and it cut deep, but then I began to think about it from a different prospective.

Jake and I had something special. We had grown to love each other out of our friendship with each other and that in itself was special and something that he did not and possibly could not have with another girl. Then there was the fact that Jake had chosen me. He had actually decided on me before I would even let him in or give him a chance and he didn't give up. That says so much about how much he cared for me.

So I became determined. Even more determined than I had been while at Jake's that I would stand firm in my feelings for him and fight for him if necessary because he cared so much for me, not out of obligation or natural mandates, but because he wanted me. He wanted me, no one else.

I sat up on the edge of my bed and opened the book. I had forgotten about the page hidden inside the spine of the book, until then. Maybe Jake was right and it was the book held the key to keeping us together.

I slid my fingernail between the spine and the back cover of the book carefully prying the old yellowed page out and smoothed it against the front cover of the book as I closed it on my lap. It was a handwritten page and the writing was difficult to make out.

I moved closer to the light and began reading. It appeared to be written by one of the ancient members of the Quileute Tribe and I wondered if it had been written by the young warrior, Nashoba. As I read, I thought about the stories and legends, but soon they all became more focused in my mind intertwining together as they became more and more real.

The nights were long and I could not sleep. My mind was tormented by the thought of losing Amitola or the thought of being forced to love someone other than her. But I was relieved when the Great Spirit offered us a way to join together and remain that way until death became the thief that stole us from one another.

I watched and listened carefully as I was given a vision and instructions on how to bind ourselves to one another. We would meet under the next full moon and the others would gather round us, protecting us and shielding us from the outside world while we began the blood pledge.

Amitola and I would kneel down facing each other and I would take the ceremonial knife of my ancestors, the one that had been used by my grandfather and his grandfather in many ceremonies. I was instructed that I must take her hand and cut it along the line of life then make a similar cut just above my left breast moving in the opposite direction. Once her hand was placed over my breast, the mark that we would make together would be like this X. When the blood had spilled out and mingled upon my breast, drying in the night air, I would then take and wipe it off of both our bodies and burn the cloth on which the blood remained.

I was then to take the ashes from our blood fire and place them into two small clay vials that were to be worn around our necks as a reminder of the commitment we had made to each other. This would bind us, blood to blood, and the pull of the imprint would not plague us again. I would be casting it out of my life forever.

"The blood pledge. The forming of an X over his heart. Blood spilling out and mingling—burning—vial," I whispered into the stillness of my room, my heart pounding as I thought about Nashoba and Amiola's love.

It sounded so strange, so ritualistic and almost barbaric and ancient. Blood. I knew that spilled blood and the name Bella Swan did not go well together. I wondered if I could even bring myself to do such a thing.

Then I remembered how Jake made me feel. How long I had waited to hear from him and how much it had hurt being away from him. The minor pain, discomfort, and possible fainting in front of everyone would be worth it in the end. And I would know that once again he had chosen me above anyone else, above the one that nature had destined for him—his perfect soul mate.

But would I be satisfied knowing that I was not what the fates and forces of nature had planned for him? Could I live with myself knowing I had kept him from absolute, utter, bliss and happiness? It all seemed rather selfish to want him that much—to need him that much.

I also wondered if I would trace the scar that he had placed himself in the palm of my hand and feel guilty for keeping him from her. The woman, unknown for now, that could complete him mind, body, heart, and soul.

These were questions I could not answer right then. I was too tired and emotionally drained to think about them any further. So I got up from my bed and lay the book and paper down where I had been sitting. I needed to get a shower and get some sleep. The things that had just been revealed to me would have to wait until tomorrow. Then, maybe Jake and I would figure it all out together.

The water was hot as it trickled down my naked back and over my face. I wanted it to wash away the guilty feelings I was having and bathe myself in the hope that Jake and I had a chance at being together. I just didn't know if my wanting to be with him so much would be good for him or if it would eventually turn him away from me if the yearning were to surface to find her—his true mate.

Confused and exhausted, I made my way back to my bed. I carefully folded the old paper and lay it among the first two pages of the book, closing it and placing it carefully on my night stand. Then I pulled back the comforter and sheet, settling down in between them, pulling them up over me, and turning over to turn out my night light.

It was then that I caught a glimpse of my lone guardian, the wolf staring at me. My heart ached for Jake and I wished more than anything he could be there with me to hold me and tell me that everything would be all right, but he wasn't and I rested there in my bed alone in the dark closing my eyes waiting for sleep to take me.

I hadn't slept well and the pounding in my head was making me very agitated. I rolled over and covered my head with my pillow, but the banging got louder. I rose up and looked at my clock only to see that it was almost nine o'clock a.m. Then things began to come back to me in flashes.

Wolves. Mates. Nature. Book. Blood pledge. Heart. Jake. I sat straight up in the bed and remembered Jake had promised he would come up and spend the day with me. Then two and two started to dawn on me and I realized the pounding must be him knocking on the door.

I jumped up out of bed. I felt my heart racing as I ran downstairs and stumbled breathlessly to the door. I opened it, just as I heard Jake calling my name. There he stood, leaning against the door frame with the screen door to his back, arms crossed over his chest, with a cocky look on his face.

"I never knew you could be any more beautiful," he said, as he took a deep breath and smiled at me.

"What? I just got up. I didn't...I didn't know you'd be here so early or either I've overslept one and I'm a mess," I replied, trying to pull the tank top of my pajamas down and hide some very obvious points with my arms.

"Precisely. It's not often a guy gets to see his girl as she climbs right out of bed. Today must be my lucky day," he said, moving forward as he started coming into the house.

"No. No, you don't," I said, holding my hand up over my mouth. "I haven't even brushed yet. I'll be right back," I said, as I practically ran up the stairs.

I didn't even hear him follow me and had no clue that he was anywhere in the same proximity until I looked up, toothpaste dribbling down my chin, and saw him watching me in the mirror. I was getting embarrassed and flustered to say the least and my hair was getting in my toothpaste.

Jake, however, had a remedy for my problem. He wrapped one arm around my waist and took my hair in his other hand, holding it up out of the way, while I tried to finish as gracefully as possible. If I hadn't had my mouth full, I'm sure I would have given him a piece of my mind.

But that was out of the question and by the time I had rinsed and looked back up at him, I was glad I hadn't scolded him. He brushed my hair away from my face and turned me around so I was looking at him.

Without a word, he slid both of his hands up to my cheeks and held me as he tilted his head and brought his lips down to meet mine. For that brief moment, everything bad that had ever happened to us was gone and we were free from it all, if only it could remain like that.

I sighed as his lips moved away from mine and felt a little off balance. He must have noticed because his arms were quick to wrap around me, holding me in a way that felt more and more natural every time he did it.

"I couldn't get you off of my mind last night. I almost came up here to see you several times," he said, looking deep into my eyes.

"I wish you had. I had a hard time going to sleep," I confessed.

"What were you thinking about?" he inquired.

"Everything. It's all so much."

"Not really. I want to be with you. Period," he said.

"I know that's what you say, but..., um, you better let me get dressed," I said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. I wanted to talk with him, but I also wanted to be dressed.

"Why? I happen to like this look and besides, there's even less between us," he teased, dipping a finger down the front of my tank top and brushing across my bare chest.

"I said out," I told him, pushing against him to move him out of the bathroom. I knew I could probably have this discussion a lot better if I was out of my pajamas.

"Bella, come on. Let's talk..." he protested, as he was scooted into the hallway.

"Shhh. We can finish this in the bedroom, when I get my clothes changed," I said, pushing past him in the hall and going to my bedroom to get my clothes.

"I get the picture. You just want me in your bedroom. I have no problem with that you know," he said, under his breath.

I tried to ignore him, but couldn't hold back the blush that I'm sure was very apparent as I grabbed a pair of shorts, a T-shirt, and my bra, then turned to go back to the bathroom so I could change.

"Make yourself at home and I'll be right back," I assured him, closing the door behind me to the bathroom.

It did feel good to have him there with me, but I didn't want to spend the day worrying about things, even though I knew I would. I also didn't know how to break the news of what I had learned from the old page hidden in the Quileute book.

I mean how do you say, 'will you slice your chest and my hand and burn our blood so that we can be together and I won't have to worry about anyone stealing you from me,' without it sounding completely morbid? That was the problem, you don't. And I didn't want to make Jake do something that he didn't want to do.

But, I didn't have to worry about how to tell him for long. When I went back to the bedroom, Jake was sitting on the edge of my bed, the book in his lap, and the old piece of paper was in his hands as he read what it said.

He looked up at me with a glint of hope in his eyes and if I didn't know better, I'd say he even seemed excited about what he had just learned.

"Where did you get this, Bella?"

"Last night when I dropped the book at your house, it broke the spine of the book and I didn't realize what was hidden in there until I got home. I...Jake, I would never ask you to..."

"Bells, honey, don't you know what this is? This is it. This is the answer we were looking for. It's so easy and this, this is something that we can do, something that we have control over. My dad was supposed to talk with Quil's grandfather to see if he knew of anything that could be done, but after you left, I didn't talk with him, I just went to bed. Maybe he knows more about this or maybe one of the other old ones does."

I was relieved that Jake knew, but now it was time for me to plead my case about what was best for him. I hoped, deep down, that it would be a losing argument, but for his sake, I had to try. So I sat down on my bed, turning sideways and crossing my legs, letting them rest against his outer thigh as I prepared my thoughts. He turned slightly to look at me.

"It does seem simple, maybe too easy. And I still have my doubts about it, after all it's just an old piece of paper in a book of legends and stories. But I know that is all we have to go on right now," is said, looking down at my sheet that was now being twisted around my finger nervously by my own hands. "What worries me most though is you. Jake, you're a great guy and you deserve the best in life. I meant what I said last night about wanting you to be happy. You deserve to be happy and how do I know that you wouldn't be happier if you...if you found her?"

"Don't," he said softly.

"Don't what?" I asked looking up at him as he lifted my face to meet his.

"Don't talk to me about something I don't want. I could be in a room with five hundred imprints, all mine, of varying ages, body shapes, hair and eye color, but there would only be one person I'd be thinking about and that would be you. Can't I just say 'I want you,' and that be enough?"

"But does that make me selfish and greedy? That I would want you to say that and want you to want me above any other girl or woman? Jake, do you understand what I'm saying?" I asked raising my voice a bit trying to get through to him. "This is about the person who was put on this earth to complete you and make you happy. I'm not that person or you would would have imprinted on me."

That was putting it harshly and the moment I said the words a part of me wished that I hadn't, but at least now the cards were all on the table. He knew how I felt and it wasn't bottled up inside of me anymore. But that didn't make the tear that was quickly forming inside of my heart feel any better. I was afraid of his answer.

And it took him long enough to respond. He sat there looking at me, then at the cover of the book in his hands, then back at me. I think I had stopped breathing and he must have noticed because he gently blew into my face making me catch my breath, much like a mother does when she's trying to get her little one to take medicine.

"Bella Swan, be greedy with me. Be selfish and hoard me away, keeping me to yourself, because I swear to you that is all I've ever wanted and that is all I ever will want. I. Want. To. Be. Yours," he said each word slowly, pausing between each one.

He meant what he said, I could feel it and I could see it in his eyes. He'd never looked at me that way before, but I knew. I just knew and I believed him. He leaned into me and kissed me, lowering me back against my bed.

His hand reached around my waist and he pulled me possessively toward him so that there wasn't a space between us. When he pulled away, he stayed just inches from my lips and rested on one elbow letting his hand stroke my cheek and neck while he looked down at me, his eyes still burning with the same answer.

"Do you know what you do to me?" I breathed against his lips.

"No. Tell me, very slowly, what I do to you Bells. Give me every little detail and don't leave anything out," he said, in a husky voice. A tone that he had never used with me before and it made me shiver under him.

"I...I'm very hungry right now...and I can't concentrate when I'm hungry. Are you hungry, Jake?" I began to babble as my face filled with bright red coloring.

"I'm hungry too and you know that're going to have to discuss this hunger of yours with me further?" he said, giving me a cocky little grin that melted my insides.

I knew that was my cue to try and escape this snare he had me in, before things got carried away, even if it was like giving up that last sweet piece of pie at the family reunion. Now that Jake and I had come to this understanding about where we stood, I knew that these quiet moments would soon become much more heated and the thought not only frightened me, but made me want to experience them even more.

"Um, let's go downstairs for a nice cold glass of orange juice and I'll make you some eggs and sausage," I suggested, knowing that he probably couldn't turn down a meal.

I started wiggling out from under his grasp and knew that he had let me go on purpose. Otherwise, I would still have been wedged up next to him. I immediately missed the warmth he offered as I stood up and walked toward the door.

Jake just stayed there with his head propped up on his elbow, watching me as I walked out of the room and went downstairs. I thought he might be thinking of how we would complete the blood pledge, but then it dawned on me that maybe I had caused a certain effect on him and he just needed a moment to calm down. The thought had me blushing again.

He came downstairs when he smelled the sausage I was cooking and leaned against the cabinet while watching me crack eggs into a bowl. I couldn't help but have a quick daydream of this being us someday, married and living in the world we had created for ourselves.

"Your juice is on the counter behind you," I said, looking in his direction.

He just smiled and turned to the side, taking the glass in his hand and beginning to drink from it. It amazed me that he still took my breath away, when I got to see him like this, unguarded and almost vulnerable.

We didn't talk much while I was making breakfast, I suppose we were both in a reflective mood. I had just sat down by Jake at the table, when there was a knock at the door. I excused myself and got up quickly going to see who was there.

When I opened the door, I was surprised to see Quil. He looked a little apprehensive. "Hey. I just wanted to come by and make sure you were okay," he said, as I motioned for him to come inside.

"It's good to see you. I'm sorry about everything that happened last night..." I said, but before I could say anything further, he had his arms around me giving me a hug.

But that soon ended when I heard the rumble coming from deep in Jake's chest as he walked over and slid his hand up my arm causing Quil to release me.

"I knew you were here. I just wanted to see if you acting the way you should be toward her," Quil said, shooting Jake a narrowed eye look.

Jake's hand quickly slid down my back and around my waist as he pulled me against his side. I just stood there silently, trying to figure out what was going on between the two of them, looking from one to the other.

"You know I am. And she wants me, no ifs, ands, or buts, and has even promised to be greedy with me," Jake said, loosening up some and giving me a sexy look that had me get lost in his eyes for a few moments.

" were just eating. Quil, um, would you like to join us?" I asked trying to be hospitable.

"Jake?" he asked looking to him for approval.

"Sure. But you have to get your own plate. What she made for me is mine," he said, and clasped his hand on Quil's shoulder as we turned and went back into the kitchen. This told me that they were working through anything that might be going on between them.

I quickly made more food for Quil, while he and Jake sat at the table and began talking. The tone of the conversation was now much more serious and not nearly as dangerous sounding as Jake began telling Quil about the old piece of paper in the Quileute book.

"So, let me get this straight. You think you can undo the imprinting call by taking part in this blood pledge thing? How do you know it will work? Is there anything to tell what happened, or if they actually went through with the pledge?" he asked taking a drink of his juice.

For the next hour we all sat at the table eating and discussing the topic. Quil had a point when he brought up that nothing told whether or not the blood pledge was actually carried out or not and I kept trying to remember if any of the stories from the book had ever mentioned Nashoba and Amiola's fate. But right off hand, nothing came to mind.