Chapter 2

Disclaimer: - Huh. This is where I tell you that the characters aren't mine. Bu… but… Navy SEAL Jake is mine. LOL! (Oops… sorry SM!)

A/N: - Wow. I can't believe I've finally managed to finish this. Whew! It's been a long, arduous journey guys. I've been meaning to do this forever but, somehow, I haven't found the inspiration to do so until now. I'm aware of how long all of you have waited for this. I hope this lives up to your expectations.

If not, I apologize in advance…

Oh God, oh God, Oh God… what have I done? I'm a sick, sick, sick person.

The feverish glint in my eyes; the reddish hue of my cheeks; the wetness between my thighs all indicate what even my reflection seems to know. I'm screwed… both literally and figuratively.

There's no way I can go back to the table and go on with the dinner; pretending that I'm not a lying, cheating slut who just fucked her best friend while her fiancé was waiting for her at the dinner table.

And not just 'fucked' fucked but the kind of 'fucked' where your legs give out on you and your entire body tingles and your eyes roll back into your head in pleasure.

The kind of 'fucked' that is a once in a lifetime experience.

The kind of 'fucked' that is a far cry from anything Edward and I have ever done.

Oh God!

I frantically tell myself that it didn't mean anything… that we just got carried away… that everything that went on between Jacob and me tonight is a one-time thing that will never ever happen again.

It's no use. Even I know I'm lying.

What happened back in the alley is the single most spectacular event of my life so far. And I can't bring myself to regret any of it even though every part of me knows that I absolutely should.

But, I also can't go back and just carry on with the dinner like nothing happened. I can't face him. I just can't!

I need some time to compose myself, to rationalize my actions, to get back on an even keel.

Unfortunately, time is a luxury I don't have.

I can't just run away like I want to. Edward will never forgive me if I do. In his eyes, running away from your own party is the ultimate faux pas… something a Cullen or a soon-to-be Cullen can never do.

So, I have to suck it up and face them.

I splash some cold water on my face hoping to cool myself down and walk back to the table where everyone is impatiently waiting for me.

The closer I get, the faster my heart beats; until I'm convinced that it wants to burst out of my chest and make a run for it.

Edward springs up from the table the moment he sees me.

"Isabella, are you alright?" He sounds concerned. "Jacob said that you weren't feeling well. Do you need to see a doctor?"

His concern makes me feel sick. I know I don't deserve it.

My unwilling gaze clashes with Jake's smoldering one. His eyes are daring me to deny it… to come clean.

'Go on…' He seems to say. 'Tell him what really happened. Tell him how you fell apart in my arms. Tell him how you screamed my name. Tell him how much you wanted me; still want me. I dare you.'

I hastily pull my eyes away from his. "Uh…no… I'm fine." I answer Edward's question.

"Are you sure? You look a little flushed." His words make me blush even harder. Against my will, I sneak another glance towards Jake. There is a sardonic expression on his face. "If you're not feeling well Isabella, maybe we could leave. I'm sure your friends won't mind, will they?" Edward aims a pointed look at Jake and Leah.

"Nope… You go on home if you have to Bells. I'm not going anywhere. I'm sure we'll have another opportunity to do this soon. In fact, I'll even drop by later to see how you're doing and to finalize the plans." Now Jake's expressive eyes are telling me that he wants me to leave.

"Get rid of your fiancé. Leave your window open. I'll come by as soon as I've dropped Leah home."

I shiver as I remember the words he whispered to me earlier. He wants me to leave so that he and I can be together again. He's clearly impatient to be alone with me.

A violent shudder runs through me as I imagine it – Jake; in my bed… lying on top of me; his naked body glistening in the moonlight… his hands all over me; doing insane, wild things to me…

And I realize in a rush of heat that I want it too… all of it.

How did this happen? Just yesterday this man was nothing more than my best friend and today I'm more aware of him than I am of my own body. What in the world is happening to me?

"Isabella, are you sure you're feeling alright?" Edward's concerned question comes to me as if from a distance.

"Huh…?" I question; distracted by the fact that I can't seem to escape Jake's eyes no matter how hard I try.

"You're shivering. Are you absolutely sure you're okay?" Edward questions impatiently.

"Su… sure, sure" I stutter. "I'm fine." I reiterate with what I hope is confidence.

Meanwhile, all I can think about is Jake… inside me!

No! I have a fiancé for heaven's sake! I'm getting married in a couple of months! I can't be thinking such thoughts about someone else. Especially not about my best friend…not even if his touch sets me on fire!

I obviously can't be alone with him right now. I can't! I don't trust him to behave himself. Moreover, I don't trust myself.

"Come on. You're obviously coming down with something. I'm taking you home." Edward declares impatiently.

"No!" I exclaim loudly; careful not to look Jake in the eyes lest I get sucked into them again. "No, I don't want to go home!" Jake's lips tighten momentarily. He's clearly displeased with my answer. I try not to let it bother me. "Let's just…" I implore Edward, "please… let's continue."

"Are you sure?" Edward questions further.

No I'm not sure! God! Can't he just take this at face value? Does he have to make a big deal out of Every. Single. Thing?

"Oh relax, Eddie boy!" Jake drawls laughingly before I have a chance to say anything in response. Apparently he's over his brief fit of pique. "She's fine now. She just needed to let off some steam. Her 'walk' helped clear her head, didn't it Isabella?" He challenges, his voice filled with insinuations.

My gaze snaps to him in horror. Oh God, what is he doing?

"What walk?" Edward asks in confusion. "Weren't you in the restroom Isabella?"

I panic.

"Uh… er…" I stutter. Leah and Edward eye me expectantly. Jake just looks at me with the most innocent expression he can muster. OH GOD, I'm going to kill him! "Er… yes… restroom! That's where I was. Of course I was in the restroom…but then I wasn't feeling too well and I went for a walk and Jake was there and we both walked and I feel much better now…"

Great, now I'm babbling incoherently! Way to avoid suspicion, Bella! Can I be any more obvious right now? God, somebody please, slap me! Sometimes, I'm such a moron!

Thankfully, Edward pays no attention to my flustered ramblings. He buys my halfhearted explanation blindly. After all, he has no reason to distrust me.

Leah is another matter altogether. She eyes me warily.

I look away from her hastily. I've been told that I'm incapable of lying. I figure now is not a good time to test the merits of that theory.

Unconsciously I sneak another glance in Jake's direction… His eyes gleam with barely suppressed amusement. The bastard knows exactly what's happening and he's taking great amusement in my misery.

I glare at him. He just grins back at me unrepentantly.

I feel the snap and sizzle of my temper rising to the fore. I want to give him a nice, well placed kick in his balls for doing this to me.

The sparkle in his eyes tells me that he knows exactly what I'm thinking about.

Unfortunately, he doesn't seem overly concerned about my tilt towards violence. In fact, he seems rather… pleased by it.

And why wouldn't he be? He knows that he's turned my entire life upside down and he's loving every moment of it, damn him!

God, I need a drink!

I pick up the bottle of Champagne and top off my glass.

One glass turns into two. Two into three…

For someone whose only association with alcohol is limited to parties and the occasional glass of wine at Thanksgiving and Christmas; three glasses of Champagne in a single night is a big deal.

So, it's no surprise then that I'm drunk. What is surprising is the way it feels. I feel like I'm floating in the air… flying. It's exhilarating and liberating and strangely giddy. It feels nice. I feel… free.

I feel Edward's disapproving gaze on me. I know this – getting drunk in a social setting – is something that a 'Cullen' isn't supposed to do either. All Cullen's – present and future – are to be mild mannered, well behaved, gracious and kind… in short; paragons of virtue. Seriously, it's almost an unwritten rule or something.

Well, boo-fucking-hoo! For once, I don't give a damn! The Cullens can stuff their rules and their annoyingly perfect manners and their irritatingly impeccable social etiquette, you know where!

"Isabella, I think you've had enough." Edward voices his displeasure; interrupting my brief mental rebellion. His hand covers the top of my glass authoritatively; his body language, his very behavior indicates that he's well within his rights to do so.

Is he fucking kidding me? He's going to order me to stop drinking? Where does he get off…?

I'm incensed.

Have I had enough? Probably. Do I intend to stop just because Edward Cullen says that I have to? Hell no!

Besides, I still can't stop thinking about him. I can almost feel his hands on me… taste his lips on mine. If I close my eyes, I can still feel him moving inside of me…

Ergo, I'm not drunk enough.

And I fully intend to keep at it till I forget the feel of him in me or till I pass out; whichever happens first.

What's happening to me? Why am I feeling this way?

Why doesn't it matter that I'm in love with another man…? That I'm engaged to him…? Why is Jake all I can think about?

I have never been as aware of another human being as I am of him right now.

I can sense his every movement… feel his every breath!

Every time he moves; I feel the heat radiating off of him.

Every time he leans forward; I freeze in anticipation of his touch.

When he reaches for his glass I stop breathing; thinking… praying that he's reaching for me.

God, I'm going crazy!

He's not making it easier either.

Every time I meet his gaze; he looks at me like he's never looked at me before. Possessive. Demanding. Predatory. His eyes tell me that he'd like nothing better than to bend me over the table and take me from behind; our audience be damned. He can't of course. God, but how I wish he would!

Wrong as it is… horrible as it is; the thought turns me on no end. A heretofore unknown, submissive part of me is dying for him to exert his dominance over me… to make me beg for mercy…

It is torture. It is sheer, unadulterated torture.

Holy God, where is all of this coming from? I feel completely out of control… like I'm being possessed somehow.

I can't focus on anything. Not on the dinner. Not on Edward – the man I love… the man I'm going to marry in a couple of months! And not on Jacob – the best friend who I haven't seen in ages!

I feel achy, flushed… needy.

Maybe I am coming down with something, because I've never felt this out of breath before.

The walls close in around me, suffocating me… God, I can't breathe!

"…don't you think, Isabella?" Edward looks at me inquiringly.

"What…?" I ask stupidly.

I have no idea what the question is, of course. How could I, when I haven't been listening to a single word he's said? My mortification knows no bounds.

Jake's eyes light up in a devilish smirk. "Edward was wondering if the quality of food here has deteriorated since you guys last came here." He enunciates loudly, haltingly. He finds my obvious confusion amusing; revels in being the cause of my distraction.

Jerk! Can I smack him?

Vowing to ignore him, I force my attention back to Edward where he is busy reprimanding the chef.

Now, I honestly don't give a damn about the food… have hardly tasted it in fact. But I highly doubt it's anything short of fantastic. This restaurant is one of the best in the city… is known for its fine cuisine and impeccable service. It's definitely beyond anything Leah, Jake and I are normally used to. But Edward… he's in a league of his own. And sometimes, he's too finicky and overly particular about… things. It's not exactly his fault. It's the way he's been raised, after all. But that doesn't change the fact that sometimes he can be… well… a snob.

The mild sneer on Jake's face reveals his disgust at the attitude. I can't blame him either. His life has never been a bed of roses. And despite everything he's made of himself; despite his success… a part of him will always be the poor, motherless boy from the reservation who worked two jobs most of his school life just to be able to afford healthcare for his physically challenged father.

Edward's never worried about such things. He and his siblings got everything they wanted on a silver platter. Ivy League colleges, sports cars, fancy vacations…such luxuries are par for the course.

And yet, for a guy with so much money, he's remarkably down to earth. It is what attracted me to him in the first place… his utter lack of concern about wealth. But now, when I see him through Jake's eyes, it all seems like so much fancy, glittery packaging…

After all, why would anyone be concerned about money when they have enough of it to last several lifetimes?

But, for all his faults, he is my fiancé. He deserves at least some of my consideration.

So I ignore the flush of shame I feel at his behavior, pat his hand and try to soothe his ruffled feathers. And feel horrible as I see how much that simple act pleases him.

My actions smack of trying to placate a willful child by giving in to all his demands, no matter how outrageous.

The thought sickens me.

Have we always been like this with each other?

And why am I thinking of such things now, when until a few days ago I was sure that I'd found the love of my life… my soul mate?

Almost as if in direct reaction to my thoughts, Jake's fingers skate briefly over my arm. "He's got a point, you know…" He whispers huskily, his warm breathe brushing against the shell of my ear. My breath catches in my throat. He's so close. Too close.

Edward. Leah. It's like being doused by ice cold water. The champagne I've just sipped goes down the wrong way, causing me to break out into a coughing fit.

"Easy there tiger…" He thumps my back diligently; appearing every inch the concerned best friend. Except… the bastard knows I'm not really in any danger of choking. The teasing glint in his eyes reveals as much. He's just using this as an excuse to cop a feel… in front of my fiancé, no less!

Dear God, is there no limit to his insolence?

The glare I aim at him makes no difference. "You okay Bells?" He continues, tongue in cheek. "You know maybe Gayward's right after all. No more champagne for you!"

I gasp. This is all a joke to him… a great, big joke!

"What the hell are you doing? Are you trying to get us caught?" I whisper yell at him.

"What're you talking about Bells?" He actually has the nerve to grin at me. Argh!

Will it be considered murder if I tie him up, blindfold him and throw him off a cliff in the middle of a class 4 hurricane? Probably. Dammit! But then, anyone who knows the full story will be able to see that there are extenuating circumstances involved and they'll let me go, right…?

It is a testament to my self control that I manage to hold onto my temper. "Edward! Leah!"

"What about them?" He's still completely and utterly relaxed. But then, why shouldn't he be? I'm the one who stands to lose everything, not him. He doesn't have a fiancée!

"Dammit Jake, they're right here!" Ugh! Why is he being so difficult?

"Are they?" He doesn't even try to hide his amusement.

I swear to God, I will gladly… wait, what is he talking about…?

I glance over towards Edward and Leah's chairs. They're empty.

Where the…? What the…? I could've sworn they were right there a few moments ago! God, was I so out of it that I didn't even notice two people; one of whom is my fiancé; leaving the table…?

"Where'd they go?" I question dazedly.

"Leah needed to 'freshen up'...whatever the hell that means. And Eddie… well, he was so vehement in his criticisms that the chef fobbed him off onto the overzealous maitre d' right there." He points to where Edward is busy having an intense discussion with the man in question. Oh God, what the hell is Edward doing?

Jake gives a melodramatic sigh. "Now honestly, I don't know which one of them to pity more." He's trying his best to act nonchalantly, but I know better. The twinkle in his eye is a dead giveaway. All he's trying to do is to stave off the laughter.

"Go ahead Black…laugh it up!" I grumble at him but my heart isn't in it.

He knows it. And presses in his advantage. "Is he always like this?" He questions laughingly.

I know what he's asking. Is Edward always this snobbish…this entitled…? Honestly, yes. But it isn't deliberate, it really isn't. He isn't trying to be mean or obnoxious. It's just that, he doesn't know how to be anything else. I can't say any of this to Jake, of course. I can just imagine how he'd react if I did. Ugh!

I decide to keep my mouth shut. Yep… silence is golden and all that.

Jake knows I'm evading the question. For some reason, he decides to let it slide. He invades my personal space; giving me a wolfish grin. "Never mind. So, where was I…? Oh yeah… I was saying that Edward is right. The food isn't exactly up to standard."

He's just messing with me, right? He doesn't really think that way, I know he doesn't! Besides, I can't see him agreeing with something Edward said, ever. So, what is he playing at?

"What do you mean?" I give in to my curiosity.

"This restaurant is supposed to be one of the best in the city." His voice is like rich, dark, decadent chocolate; soothing me and making me squirm all at the same time. "The chef is one of the leading chef's in the business. And yet, the food doesn't taste half as delicious as you do…"

His meaning is unmistakable. It brings vivid images to mind. Images of me spread out on the table, with him making a meal out of me…

I squirm around uncomfortably; trying desperately to relieve the sudden, desperate ache between my legs. I'm so wet my juices are dripping out of me and onto the rich upholstery.

Jake makes a sound that's halfway between a sigh and a groan.

"I can smell you, you know." He declares hoarsely, "The thought of you, sitting there, with no barrier between your naked pussy and my fingers is torture as it is, but knowing that you're so turned on… that you want me just as much as I want you… its killing me! Fuck, Bells, I'm so goddamn hard right now, I hurt!"

His words have a potent effect on me. My heart takes off on a wild, erratic gallop in my chest. My breath becomes choppy. I'm trembling all over.

It only gets worse when his hand reaches for mine. And yet, the thought of denying him doesn't even enter my mind. I'm too far gone for that.

Without any warning, he guides my hand to his lap and wraps it around his engorged length.

"Jake!" His name is nothing but a shocked, breathy cry that escapes my lips.

"That's what you do to me Bells. That's how much I want you. Right now, I can't think of anything else except slamming you down on my cock and burying myself deep within you." His voice is hoarse with need. "Would you ride me hard and fast or would you prefer a slower, gentler approach? Personally, I'd prefer hard and fast. Mmm… there's something about imagining you, riding my cock… sweat dripping off your naked, glistening body… that makes me go a little insane, you know?"

I'm at the point where I'm willing to beg; literally; and feel absolutely no shame in doing so. Damn him to hell, he's successfully reduced me to a panting, quivering mess, and he's done so without laying a single finger on me! I hate him! I hate his guts! But mostly, I hate myself for allowing him to affect me this way!

God, he's too much of a temptation. And it's getting harder and harder to resist to resist him.

Giving into the need running rampant through me, I allow my hand to close over Jake's hardened length and give him an experimental squeeze.

His breath hisses out from between his lips.

I imagine what it would be like to take him in my mouth; to lick every glorious inch of him; to suck him … to keep sucking him till he comes in my mouth. I imagine how he'll taste… how his pulsing length will feel inside the very depths of my mouth. I lick my lips unconsciously at the thought.

For a brief, insane moment, I think of just ducking underneath the table, unzipping his jeans and carrying out every sick, twisted fantasy my mind has concocted in the last couple of minutes. How would he react if I actually did? Would he go completely crazy? Would he try to stop me or would he actually encourage me in this madness? Damn, I feel so dirty and naughty and yet… so, so good.

Our eyes lock onto one another. He doesn't even try to hide the naked longing in his. And I have absolutely no doubt that he can see an echo of it reflected back in mine.

Neither of us says a word. We don't have to. If I didn't know any better I'd say he's privy to all my private thoughts.

"What?" He questions softly. "What're you thinking right now…?"

I blush wildly.

He groans; his face a study in unadulterated, undisguised lust.

Every particle within me is on fire for him. If he asks me, right now, to go somewhere with him, I know I will, no questions asked.

Every instinct in my body warns me not to. But it's not like I have a choice anymore. It's gone beyond that. It's become a need… an obsession. And he knows it.

His penis swells within my grip...throbs in sync with my crazily thumping heart.

I wait in breathless anticipation. The pressure builds.

It isn't a question of whether one of us will make a move towards the other anymore. It's a question of who will.

I can't deny that allowing a repeat of 'the alley' will be a monumentally stupid thing to do. Reckless. Careless. Risky. I know it. I just can't bring myself to care.

I want him. He wants me. It's as simple and as basic as that.

In my mind, I'm desperately willing him to reach for me. I'm pretty sure he's waiting for me to do the same.

His fingers touch my hand – the one that's wrapped over his straining erection. My heart goes into overdrive.

Ohmigosh… it's really happening. I'm lost in a cloud of anticipation. What will he do? Will he drop his fly and actually allow me to touch him for real… skin on fiery skin? Or will he…

Before I know what's happening, he tears my hand away from his length and deposits it firmly back in my lap.

What the…?

I can't come to terms with the abruptness of his actions. One moment he's right there, as caught up in the moment as I am and the next; he turns away, his eyes shuttered.

It's a deliberate snub – that move.

The withdrawal hits me hard, hurting all the way down to my bones. It feels like someone reached inside me and yanked my heart out. Physically, he hasn't moved an inch. Emotionally, he's a whole continent away. I feel every inch of the distance… it's like a bleeding wound inside me.

I want to reach out to him… to question him about his sudden change of heart… to beg for his forgiveness without even know why…

But before I can do any of those things; Edward flops down in the chair beside me.

Holy Crap! His sudden appearance almost causes me to go into cardiac arrest.

I can't believe I forgot my own fiancé for heaven's sake. I'm so stupid, so oblivious. Thank god for Jake's quick reflexes or this would've turned into a disaster of epic proportions.

Shit! What was I thinking? How could I have let things go this far? I'd been flirting with my best friend while my fiancé stood on the other side of the room for heaven's sake! And what was worse, I'd completely forgotten his existence! Shit! What if Edward had seen what was going on, for God's sake? How would I have explained my actions? The plain and simple truth is, I hadn't given it any thought. In fact, none of this had even entered my mind! I'd been too caught up in Jake… in the feelings he evoked in me to give any thought to anything else.

And just like that, the answer to my previous musings is blindingly obvious. It's him – Jake. He's the reason I'm having all these thoughts… these doubts.

He's what has changed. He's changed everything.

Even as I acknowledge this, a sudden rush of anger overwhelms me. What is wrong with me? I should pay attention to my fiancé but I'm not. Instead, I'm paying way too much attention to the illicit actions of my best friend! Why am I encouraging him? I should just shut him down. Immediately.

Whatever happens with Jake, it has no relevance in the larger scheme of things. My future is with Edward. I know that. And Jake… Jake is and always will be my best friend. That's all. Nothing more.

So, why can't I stop thinking of him and what happened in the alley?

Why is this happening now? I want to cry.

Jacob and I have known each other for our whole lives.

We laughed together; cried together… practically grew up together. Ever since I can remember he's been my best friend. And I his.

I helped him deal with the death of his mom. He helped me deal with the loss of mine (divorce is nowhere near as final as death but in so many, many ways, it is just as devastating).

We dealt with teenage awkwardness and hormones and painfully embarrassing growth spurts together… simply by being there for each other.

I talked him through his first heartbreak… and he talked me through mine.

We defied rules, bore punishments, broke curfews just to see each other.

I can't imagine my life without him in it.

And yet, through all of that, I never, ever looked at him this way before.

I've been with him in intimate circumstances before.

We've spent many a night together… in his backyard, in his garage; trying to scare each other silly with ghost stories. And then, when he succeeded; as he invariably did; he'd sneak into my bed and hold me through the night just so I could sleep without having nightmares.

We've gone camping endless times; both with our dad's on one of their fishing trips and alone. We even shared sleeping bags (granted we were kids then, but still…)

He taught me how to swim. And gave me CPR the one time when I almost drowned.

Heck, we've even gone skinny dipping together… on a dare.

He's seen me in my PJ's at slumber parties and in bikini's at beach parties. Yet, there was none of this awareness before.

So, why now, after I decide to make a life with someone else do I have to have these feelings?

And what about him? He never exhibited this interest in me earlier either!

Ugh! It isn't fair!

He's driving me crazy!

The flirty little touches, the smoldering looks, the innuendos; they're all cleverly disguised to appear innocent.

I know better.

There's nothing innocent about Jacob… nothing at all.

I should know.

For the past hour and a half he's played my body like a finely tuned instrument; keeping me in a state of almost constant arousal. He's teased me and tormented me to the point where I'm about to explode!

God, he's good – too good – at this.

Idly, I wonder if he's done this kind of a thing before. Then I scoff at my own naivety. Of course he has! No one gets to be this good without practice. Lots and lots of practice.

That thought spawns a whole new line of questions about who he's done this with. One of his old high school girlfriends…? Leah…? Or is it someone else; some beautiful, exotic girl from some other country; someone he met on one of his missions?

How many 'others' have there been? 2? 5? 10?

Oh please, what the hell am I thinking…? No guy who looks good enough to be every woman's wet dream and who can do all of the things Jake's done to me tonight can possibly have been with only 10 women! Add in the fact that he's all mysterious and sensitive and in the Special Forces and… pfft! Every woman from eight to eighty is a goner.

Also, let's not forget the uniform! God, the uniform! Grown women have wept tears of joy at seeing Jacob Black in his uniform… God that man is a health and safety hazard whenever he wears it! In fact, I'm of the firm opinion that he be declared illegal in all fifty states and locked away… if only for the good of mankind all over the world…

All things considered, he's probably been with hundreds of women, if not more! For some reason, the thought makes me want to cry…

A hot, ugly feeling boils over inside me.

Thoughts of him entangled in satin sheets with myriad faceless, nameless sluts take hold of me and refuse to let go.

In the middle of; what feels like my own private hell; Leah pouts prettily at Jake.

Wait, when did she get back? Huh. Nevermind…

Apparently, she wants to dance! I have a sneaking suspicion that she's using the term dance in its loosest known definition. Basically, she just wants an excuse to paw at him, the bitch! The rage that runs through me shocks me in its intensity. I want to slap her in her un-freaking-believably perfect face; tear off her endless black locks and claw at her eyes.

Until he politely, but firmly, declines…

Then, I'm doing cartwheels and back flips in my mind. It's all I can do to keep the smile off my face. I'm afraid I can't explain away the tiny thrill running through me at the thought; so I don't even try.

Leah isn't too happy about it though.

I can't exactly blame her. He isn't going out of his way to be the perfect date.

Clearly pissed off, she turns to Edward. Ever the gentleman, he can't refuse.

I want to scream out my protest, beg him not to leave me alone with Jake without the buffer of his presence but I can't; not without raising his suspicions. I can't have that. He'll ask questions, demand an explanation. And what possible explanation can I possibly give him for not wanting to be alone with my best friend.

So, I watch in silent disbelief as he leads her away; leaving Jake and me alone at the table.

Fate is screwing with me, right? It has to be. There's no other explanation for it.

Silence descends upon us. For the first time in my life I feel awkward around Jacob. It's unnerving. Unnatural.

He's my best friend. I can usually talk to him for hours on end! Yet here we are… going out of our way to avoid looking at each other…? It's so weird!

"Bells…" He calls softly. Is it just me or is there an amused tenderness in his voice?

Huh… so maybe I'm the only one feeling awkward here. Whatever. I still can't look at him.

"Why now?" I blurt out instead. "Why after all this time?"

I don't mean to. It just comes out unintended.

The moment it registers, I'm horrified at myself. Thank God Leah and Edward aren't around! Besides, why am I talking about it? Doing so just lends it more credence. I should try my level best to forget it and move on.

Maybe it's the alcohol. It has certainly lowered my inhibitions. Or maybe it's just that a part of me desperately needs to know… to find someone or something to blame for my out of character behavior.

I'm disgusted with myself.

"S.. sorry!" I backtrack immediately. "Forget I said anything."

I can feel his gaze on me, like a physical presence. "Bella, look at me." He commands.

I try to defy it… to defy him.

In the brief battle of wills; he emerges the winner. My gaze is drawn to him compulsively.

"Do you remember the night of your eighteenth birthday?" He questions, eyeing me dispassionately.

"What?" The change of topic is completely unexpected. He wants to reminisce? Now?

"The night of your eighteenth birthday…" He reiterates patiently. "Do you remember it?"

"Uh… yeah, I guess." Vaguely.

"I remember it so vividly. You were wearing that little red dress with those flimsy spaghetti straps. It was so tight; it hugged your body. Every dip, every curve of your body was displayed for everyone to see. You might as well have been naked!" His gaze is unfocused; his voice harsh. "Your hair was down, curled into these sexy ringlets. You looked… fuck… your tits and your ass looked good enough to eat."

I gawk at him in wide-eyed shock.

Such language. No one has ever spoken to me this way before. It's dirty and filthy and vulgar…and… God, it's hot.

I feel a gush of moisture run between my thighs.

A ghost of a smile crosses his lips. He knows… he just knows what he does to me.

"And when I wished you happy birthday, you clung to me so tightly… every inch of you was plastered to me." His voice has taken on a low, gravelly quality that is sexy as hell. I am mesmerized. "I was so hard that I wanted to pick you up, right then and there and bury myself in your tight, wet, glorious sheath... to fuck you till neither of us could walk straight!"

I gasp. "Bu… but… You were with Leah at the time…" I stutter.

He grins crookedly. "Yes I was dating Leah. But she wasn't you."

"I had no idea!" I breathe in a shell shocked whisper.

"Of course you didn't!" A humorless laugh escapes him. "You were eighteen… eight-fucking-teen! And I was twenty one. You might've loved to tease but you were an innocent in all the ways that mattered. And my intentions were as far from innocent as they could be! I had no business even thinking those things about you!"

I feel lightheaded.

"You thought of me as a best friend… as a surrogate brother, for fuck's sake! You trusted me. I knew I couldn't touch you; not the way I wanted to; without becoming the worst kind of lowlife ever!" His voice is tortured; as if he's spent enough time thinking about it and beating himself up over it.

He snaps out of it. "Besides, you were dating that asshole Mike Newton at the time! So instead of touching you, the way I wanted to, I had to sit back and watch that shitty little prick feel you up!" His voice deepens to a growl. "And Bells…? I've never hated someone so much as I hated Newton that night! I wanted to kill him for no other reason than that you were mine and that he put his hands all over you!"

The barely restrained violence in his voice is so new to me. I've never seen this side of Jacob before… this wild, untamed, dangerous side. Yet, I know that it's always been there…just beneath the surface, hidden from view. It's what's made him so successful in the Special Forces.

Commanding, clearly in control; he's fierce… almost feral. Vibrant sensuality oozes out of his pores.

This isn't my fun-loving, affable best friend. This is him; every inch the commanding Navy Seal.

He's never shown me this side of him before… always kept it tightly under wraps. And no wonder. This one glimpse is damn near irresistible. I can't think. I can't breathe. The darkness in him makes him more attractive, God help me! As if I need to be any more attracted to him!

Yup. That confirms it. I'm certifiably insane. Really, I need therapy.

But he's not done yet. Even as I'm busy melting into a puddle of goo, he carries on. "So don't make the mistake of thinking that this is something new… or that it's just a passing thing. I've always wanted you. I'll always want you. Right until I stop breathing. Maybe even then…"

Oh God, oh god, oh god… I have to get out of here. I have to get some air. Or water. Or something… anything.

He reaches for my hand.

"No, don't!" The sharp cry is almost involuntary. I can't allow him to touch me right now. If he does, I won't be responsible for my actions. I don't know what I'll do but I have a feeling it'll be something devastating. I want so badly to kiss him… and the only way to resist is to keep my hands off of him and his off me.

Pushing away from the table, I stumble back blindly.

"Bells…?" He questions soothingly. I think he senses that I'm getting ready to bolt and he's using his best 'calm down' voice. I have a feeling he's soothed a lot of skittish people in his time. No surprise, actually, given that he's the head of a team of Navy Seal's who make it their life's work to walk into hair raising, life threatening situations.

There's an air of calm competence around him that makes me want to leave all of my problems in his oh so capable hands, (like I usually do) never mind that he IS my problem at the moment.

God, how did life get so fucked up?

"I – I need to be alone right now." Not waiting for an answer, I turn around sharply and practically make a run for it.

I don't know where I'm going.

I don't particularly care. I figure, as long as it's far, far away from him, I'm good.

I come across a door marked 'Authorized Personnel only'. I'm definitely not authorized. Fuck it, it's perfect! No one will dream to look for me here.

I push in without a second thought.

It's a locker cum changing room and it's deserted. It suits my needs nicely. I cross over to a corner and sink to the ground weakly.

Dear God in heaven, what am I going to do?

I want so badly to forget the last few hours of my life.

I don't recognize this person I've become. I never lie. I never cheat.

Yet, in the last few hours, I've done nothing but that.

And all because I'm suddenly thinking of my best friend in ways I never have before.

Hell yeah, I so want to forget all of it.

But I can't.

No matter how hard I try, I can't escape his words, his actions… him. It's like he's stamped himself on me somehow.

I bury my face in my hands desolately.

I'm so fucked!

What am I doing? I love Edward, I do! He's been so good to me. And I want to marry him. I want it so much to be Carlisle and Esme's daughter-in-law; to be Alice and Emmett's sister… to be included along with Rosalie and Jasper in the very small and exclusive group of honorary Cullens.

All of us together… one big, happy family. It's everything I've ever wanted.

So, why can't I forget Jake's confession? Why can't I forget the look on his face; the passion in his eyes…? Why can't I forget the way I feel when he touches me; kisses me…? And why does all of it affect me so much?

"Bells" He whispers; his hand drifting over my hair gently.

I freeze.

When did…? How did…? Goddammit, he's here! And I'm too immersed in my tortured thoughts to notice… and now it's too late!

He's close enough to touch and it takes everything in me to resist the instinct to pull him closer.

I take refuge in righteous anger…misplaced though it is. "Jake, NO! I told you I want to be alone! Why did you have to follow me? Why couldn't you have left me alone?" I scream incoherently.

"How am I supposed to leave you alone Bella, when you look so hopeless, so lost?" He murmurs.

Oh God… there he goes again. Seducing me with just his voice!

I jump violently. The movement is sudden, abrupt. He obviously didn't expect it. His hand falls away.

I find I can breathe easier… think better when he's not touching me. I begin pacing the length of the room.

"I can't do this Jake… I can't! I… I'm getting married. And I can't have you just saying whatever you want or touching me whenever and however you want. It's not right! Only Edward should be touching me like that. You have to stop!"

He looks like I just pulled a dagger out of my pocket and stabbed him with it.

I groan. "And don't look at me like that!"


"No! Jake, listen to me…" I go on urgently, "I care about you. You're my best friend! I don't want to lose you, I don't. So please… don't do this to me, to us!" I beg.

"Don't do what Bella?" He questions harshly. "Think about you every single minute of every single day? Want you? Miss you? Need you?"

I suck in a sharp breath.

"Well, you're too fucking late Bella. I already do!" Oh God! "Maybe if you'd told me when we were making mud pies together, I could've stopped. Or maybe you should've said something when my mom died. Or you could've told me right after you told Paul that you were my girlfriend to get him to stop teasing me in sixth grade that they were just words… that you didn't mean them…" Belying his words, his voice is completely devoid of emotion and its killing me.

His hands clamp onto both my arms urgently. Hot, firm, territorial…they brand my skin.

My eyes jump to his automatically. Laser sharp, penetrating; I can't escape the feeling that they can see all the way into my soul.

I'm trapped in his gaze, unable to look away.

"Besides, how can I stop feeling this way when I can clearly see in your eyes that you feel the same?" His voice turns whiskey smooth; seductive, alluring. A liquid heat enters his eyes. It reaches out across the space between us, searing me. "You want me too Bella. You need me too." He sounds utterly confident… to the point of being arrogant. And yet, on him, the arrogance sits well.

God, is there anything about this man that isn't sexy?

I can't deny his words. I don't even try. He knows me better than anyone else in the world. He can tell when I'm lying. "You're right. I feel something for you too."

Triumph dances into his gaze. And something else. A relieved yearning. His arms reach for me.

I step back hastily. "But Jake… we have to stop! We… I can't feel this way. You see that right?"

The light in him dims noticeably.

"You mean so much to me! I can't lose you… I can't lose your friendship!" I want… need him to understand. "If you continue to force the issue, I'd have no choice but to stay away from you."

His face hardens into a cold mask; angry and forbidding. "So what…? I'm supposed to be your friend and watch you be with someone else; marry someone else while it slowly kills me inside…?" His voice shakes with anger.

My heart sinks. "Don't you see…? I'd rather have you in my life as my friend than not have you at all! Please Jake…" I'm begging. And I don't even care. I'm desperate. I sense that he's trying to close himself off from me and I'll do anything, anything to prevent that.

He doesn't relent. His usual warmth is gone…leaving him hard.

I can't bear to see him like this… can't live with the knowledge that I'm responsible for it.

Tears cloud my eyes.

I avert my gaze… try to gain some semblance of control over my emotions.

Suddenly, his hand closes around my wrist in a firm grip. I open my mouth to protest but before I can get a word in edgewise, he whips me around and into his chest.

His arms close around me in a tight, unbreakable band. My eyes fly to his. They are filled with a look of sheer determination interspersed with naked, desperate longing. The protest I'm about to utter dies on my lips.

He inches me closer till we are plastered together; head to toe. The contact fires up all my nerve endings; brings me slowly, blazingly to life.

I'm struggling with my roiling emotions; trying to find the strength to push him away… Before I can, his lips descend to mine forcefully.

It is not a gentle kiss. It isn't about love or even want. Fiery. Possessive. Demanding. It is a kiss that speaks of ownership and belonging and hunger. Expertly he teases me; pushing me closer and closer to the very brink of insanity. His tongue laps at my lips; seeking entrance. My mouth opens beneath the urgent demands. He tastes like the champagne we consumed with dinner and is just as intoxicating. My body clamors for more.

It is overwhelming… this need I have for him. It eclipses everything else…my conscience, my reason, even my love for Edward.

And that scares the shit out of me.

Edward, Edward, Edward… I chant the name like a mantra; hoping that it would help snap me out of whatever spell Jake's put on me.

No such luck. Dammit! I'm going to have to do this the hard way.

"No!" I have to put a stop to this madness. I have to push him away… move back… anything

He's like an immovable force and he is not letting go!

"Yes." He pulls me even closer… forceful; insistent.

Either he didn't hear me or he just doesn't care. Either way, he's not giving up. And I'm afraid, no… I'm terrified, that my newfound resolve will crumble spectacularly in the face of his persistence. In fact, I'm so sure it will; I don't want to put it to the test.

"I said no!" I screech loudly. This time when I push him away, he lets me go. I scramble back, putting as much distance between us as the close quarters allow. "I don't want this. I don't want you." I hope to God I sound at least remotely convincing. Because I sure as hell don't believe myself right now.

His only response to my statement is an annoyingly skeptical smirk coupled with an eyebrow raised in question. His entire expression is screaming disbelief. My heart sinks. He smiles seductively even as he takes a deliberate, purposeful step towards me. His expressive eyes leave me in no doubt about his intentions.

Inexplicably, I find myself short of breath and I take an involuntary step backwards.

His gaze turns predatory.

"You can run from me, sweetheart" he croons stepping closer, "but how long can you hide from yourself…?"

Oh holy God! He's turned this into a game of cat and mouse. Sleek, lithe, predatory – he's stalking his prey – me. There's beauty and grace in every single line of his body. Power radiates off him in waves. Simply put, he's magnificent.

My mouth runs dry.

Another step and I'm backed up against a cool, solid surface. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit… I've backed myself into a corner! And his triumphant smile leaves me in no doubt that he's glaringly aware of the fact.

Before I can even begin to formulate an escape he whips me around so that my back is pressed into his chest. His arm circles my waist, holding me in place. His fiery eyes collide with mine in the full length mirror in front of us. I am seared by their molten heat.

Run, run, run… my head screams at me.

Don't. Just stay… my heart says. This is Jake. You have nothing to be afraid of. He'd never hurt you.

Even as I hesitate, I feel him lean over and breathe in the lingering aroma of my hair. A noticeable shiver runs through him. And it's too late. The knowledge of how deeply I affect him robs me of all coherent thought.

His lips brush my cheek briefly in a fleeting caress. He's not kissing me, not really. Instead, he glides; slowly, excruciatingly; down my cheek… to the edge of my jaw… onto the crook of my neck. His moist breath blows against my sensitive skin.

My heart is galloping inside my chest but outwardly, I force myself to appear calm. It's not an easy feat to pull off but I don't have a choice. I can't let him see how much he affects me… not when I'm trying my best to convince him that I don't want him.

But, if I think that this little act of defiance on my part will make him give up his quest, I'm woefully mistaken. Smiling slightly, he tips his head to the side; conceding a point. Then, with renewed determination, he continues his assault on my senses.

The tips of his fingers ghost over my collarbone and down the strap of my dress leaving trails of fire in their wake. This time, it's even more difficult to pretend indifference. All I want to do is turn around and throw myself at him. Yet, somehow, I refrain from doing so. "I… I…I… you should l..let me go…" I stutter unconvincingly.

"Are you sure sweetheart? Is that what you really want?" He whispers in my ear. His lips brush against the shell of my ear creating a delicious friction that is almost impossible to ignore. "I don't buy it." He declares in a tantalizing whisper. "You might say you don't want me but your body knows better. See how it yearns for my touch…?"

As if to prove his point, his hand drifts down my side; his thumb coming in brief contact with the curve of my breast; before coming to rest on my waist.

Despite my best efforts, a shudder escapes me. My body tingles with electricity. I want…no, scratch that… I need his hands on me! I moan; subconsciously swaying towards his touch.

Pleased with my reaction, he gives me a slow, sexy, satisfied smile. "You were saying…?"

My eyes meet his in the mirror once again.

This time, there is no pretending. No excuses. No lies. Just the naked, unvarnished truth. And the truth is, I want him badly. Very badly.

His eyes flare in shock. He's not stupid, my Jake. He realizes the gravity of the situation, of course. He understands that I'm on the verge of surrender. What is less clear is what he intends to do about it.

Touch me, touch me, touch memy eyes urge him desperately. Just. Touch. Me!

Responding to the wordless plea in my eyes, he allows his hand to lightly cup my breast.

I whimper. God! I can feel his heat all the way through the layers of clothing between us.

"Is this what you want, Bells?" He questions gruffly. "Or do you want more? Do you want me to squeeze you? Or maybe you'd like it more if I brushed my thumb over your nipple. What should I do, Bella? Tell me! Tell me what you need." He urges hypnotically.

I'm speechless.

"Come on Bells, don't be shy! Tell me what's going on in that wonderful mind of yours. Are you thinking of all the things you'd like me to do to you right now?" He continues tormenting me.

Grr! He's toying with me, despite my obvious need. Despite his own.

"No…?" He sounds almost disappointed. "Alright then, should I go ahead and tell you what I'd like to do to you?" Without bothering to wait for a response, he goes on seductively. "Would you like to know how much I want to take your nipple between my thumb and my forefinger and pinch it, hard…?" He demonstrates briefly, eliciting a shocked cry from my lips. I can feel the touch all the way down to my core. All too soon, his grip loosens. I almost cry out in loss.

"I want to lick your erect nipple… to suck it…" He goes on devastatingly. "I want everyone to see the wet spot I leave behind on your dress and know exactly what you and I did…"

This time, there isn't a demonstration. Just his words and the image they evoke in my mind.

Not that it matters. The image is almost as potent as his touch.

Oh Jesus God… he's trying to kill me!

"Or maybe that's too tame for you and you're more interested in the fact that right this minute, I'm fighting the desperate urge to turn you around, pick you up, slam you against the wall and eat out your scrumptious pussy…"

A powerful wave of lust slams into me making me go weak in the knees. I sob out my desperation… too turned on to give a damn about anything except having him extinguish the blaze he's set off within me.

That's it! No more games! I don't want to play anymore. I've had enough!

Twisting around to face him over my shoulder, I give him a blistering glare. "Quit jerking me around!" I growl.

"Sorry…?" For once, Jake sounds flustered.

Ha! I seem to have thrown him for a loop. He clearly didn't expect me to react this way. Well, too damn bad! I don't care about anything right now except getting what I want… which is him.

"I said, quit jerking me around!" I enunciate clearly through gritted teeth. I elbow him back till his hold on me loosens a little. Finally able to move freely, I turn around within the circle of his arms.

He shows no visible reaction to any of my movements.

"Quit playing games and just touch me dammit!" I yell, at the end of my rope.

A helpless groan escapes him as he gathers me close and kisses me desperately.

Yes, yes! Finally! A liquid heat floods me; filling me with intense, burning want. I almost sob in relief. My arms crawl up his neck under their own volition. The moment he senses my surrender, he takes control with ruthless abandon.

Before I can even catch my breath, he thrusts his body against mine. There's barely an inch of space between us. I can feel every ridge, every plane of his body… but it still isn't enough. I want more. I moan in desperation.

That small, barely audible sound shatters the last of his control.

There's a desperate fervency to his kisses, his touches. He can't seem to decide what he wants to do first. One moment he's cupping my cheeks, the next; he's molding my breasts. The moment after that, his hands are squeezing my ass, raising me up and into his body.

His movements are frantic... almost frenzied. It's like he can't get enough of me. It's a heady feeling.

Through the haze clouding my mind, I sense that he's walking me backward. "Jake…? Wh…?"

He smothers the rest of the inquiry with his mouth.

The back of my thighs hit a wooden horizontal surface. A table…? Ahhh… now I see where this is going. Clever, clever boy.

The next instant, he picks me up and dumps me unceremoniously on it.

What the hell…? I'm justifiably outraged at being manhandled. I have a good mind to give him a nice, long lecture on how to treat a lady.

But before I can even open my mouth, his hands lock on my ankles and pull me to the very edge of the table. Panic stricken at the sudden motion, I clasp his neck to steady myself.

"Hold on" He urges gruffly. Idiot! As if I can do anything else.

In a blur of motion, he unbuckles and unzips his jeans and lowers them to the ground along with his boxers. The next moment, he throws the skirt of my dress up over my thighs, exposing me to his hungry gaze. Then, without any preamble or warning of any kind, he thrusts his hot, pulsing length into me.

I can't say I'm not shocked. I don't know what I expected from him, but it sure isn't this. To be frank, I think I expected some more foreplay, more teasing.

What happens instead – the instantaneous, almost violent penetration – is as sudden as it is unexpected. And despite the suddenness… or maybe because of it, it is incredibly arousing.

Besides, who needs foreplay? Honestly, hasn't the whole evening been a long, extended, torturous foreplay? I'm so wet; I've been so wet for so long that he slips right in.

The shock fades. Other emotions, other feelings soon take precedence. Like the sensation of being full of him. And the feeling of his hard length throbbing inside me. And the certainty that he is so deep inside of me that I can no longer discern where he ends and where I begin.

It is overwhelming. Indescribable. All encompassing.

"Fuck Bells…" He groans. "This…This is exactly where I belong, don't you see?"

I do, I do… I want to scream. How can I not, when right now, nothing else matters but the feel of him inside of me? But this isn't just about right now, is it? He's asking for a hell of a lot more than just this moment in time. Can I give him what he wants? Can I not? The answer proves elusive.

Fortunately, he isn't expecting a response. He's too focused on his goal which, right now, consists of finding newer, better ways to drive me insane. To that end, he dips his head and takes my nipple in his mouth; dress and all; like he said he would. The action, the feelings it generates… drive me wild.

Unable to contain myself, I wrap my legs around him and pull him into me. My nails dig into his back as I urge him on.

More… Faster… harder… I can't get enough of him.

Fortunately for me, he's on the same page. He crashes into me; his thrusts hard and deep; his pace grueling. He leans down over me, and urges me to place one of my legs over his shoulder. The resultant angle, the insanely deep penetration; threaten to send me soaring into orbit.

He's right there with me; as drunk on me as I am on him. I can see it in his eyes; in the dilated pupils, gone hazy with pleasure; in the look of fierce, intense concentration on his face; in the taut, jerky movements. I can feel it in the sweat dripping steadily off his brow and the way he clings to me so urgently, like I'm essential to his very survival. He's lost in me. Completely, totally immersed in me. And I can't help but feel a little overwhelmed by the feelings radiating off of him.

Displeased over my slight distraction his hand slips between us, flicking over the nub between my legs. Undiluted sensation rocks through me. Unchecked, it runs wild throughout my whole body. I claw at him in ecstasy; nearly mindless with pleasure.

His thrusts increase in intensity; he's reaching deep inside me, reaching places no one has ever reached. His movements are uncoordinated, uncontrolled. He's close, I can sense it. Well, so am I. Just a little more. Yes! Right there… yes, yes…

His teeth clamp down on my nipple in a bite that sends agony and rapture trailing through me in equal quantities. "Come for me, Bells, please…I can't hold on much longer." He begs me through gritted teeth.

It's too much. It's all too much. Arching into him… gasping his name… I shatter into a million tiny pieces.

The feel of my muscles contracting around him proves too much for him. With a muffled exclamation, he spills his essence into me before coming to rest, breathless and completely spent, on top of me.

He burrows his head in the crook of my neck, placing random, spontaneous kisses there. There is a tenderness to the gesture that overwhelms me… makes me feel soft inside. My fingers comb through the soft tendrils of his hair as I let myself sink into him.

High as I still am, in the aftermath of his lovemaking, it is almost impossible not to notice the infinite difference between this and the wild, frantic way he took me just now. Not that I'll ever have a problem with him being wild and frantic, far from it. But there's just something about this gentleness that I like. A lot. It brings me a sense of peace and comfort. Of warmth

Uncomfortable with the direction of my thoughts, I push them to the back of my mind.

A few moments of silence pass before he levers himself up. The loss of his weight isn't a pleasant feeling. It leaves me feeling strangely empty…cold. Determined not to give anything away, I school my features into a mask of indifference. After all, the last thing I need to do right now is make a fool of myself.

But, when have I ever been a good actor? Never, that's when. He takes in my countenance; an enigmatic, thoughtful look passing over his face. Well shit! The look clearly indicates that he knows exactly what's going on in my mind. Thankfully, he chooses not to comment on it, at least for the time being. "Come on…we have to get back." He says instead, with a distasteful frown. "We've been gone for a long time. They'll both be wondering where we are…"

His words reverberate in my mind.

Oh my God, Edward!

The last of the glow fades as the reality of the situation sinks in. Shocked, horrified, infinitely ashamed at my behavior… I shy away from him. Unable to meet his gaze; for fear of falling apart completely; I fix my attention on straightening up my appearance.

Tears of mortification gather in my eyes, threaten to overflow unchecked. I can't believe I'm here, in this position, again. Once can be attributed to bad judgment and lack of control. When it happens twice… and in the same night, there's no excuse… no fathomable reason left.

"Bells…" He begins haltingly.

"Don't!" I plead in a voice clogged with regret. "Please don't…"

Unable to face him… or my own infidelity for even a second longer, I make a mad dash for the safety of the crowded restaurant.

Behind me, I can hear his struggle as he tries to pull up his jeans and chase after me at the same time. A muffled curse escapes his lips as he stumbles over the task.

I speed up, dreading the confrontation that is sure to follow a conversation with him. No, I can't talk to him, not now. Not when my emotions are roiling so tumultuously throughout me.

In my haste to escape, I run smack dab into Edward before I'm even aware of his presence. "Isabella…?" Shit! He sounds royally peeved, and who can blame him.

His hands close around my arms like steel bands. It could be an innocent gesture. He could be trying to steady me, to prevent me from ricocheting off him. But I have a sinking feeling in my gut that somehow, there's more to this than that.

His next words confirm my worst fears.

"Where the hell have you been Isabella?" His voice is curt…almost clipped. I get the uncomfortable feeling that he's fighting the urge to shake me.

"We've been looking for both of you for the last five minutes" Leah butts in angrily, "but you seemed to have vanished into thin air."

I run hot and cold… "Uh… no… w..we were around…" I'm trying desperately to fight off debilitating panic.

"No you weren't!" She scoffs. "Trust me, we looked everywhere!"

Oh Shit! Now, what the fuck am I supposed to do?

A/N: - So…? Was Jake bad enough to suit all of your needs? ;) Let me know or I won't know if I should continue or not…

I'd like to thank Ashley, for co-writing chapter 1 with me. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get in touch with her in regards to this chapter, but I do still hold out hope that she'll once again agree to collaborate with me for the rest of the story.

I'd like to thank my beautiful, wonderful soulmate Erin without whom, none of this would've been possible. And I mean that quite literally. She's always been a strong proponent of this story and has been urging me for more than a year now to extend it. And when I decided to do so, she readily agreed to come onboard as consultant and beta, not knowing what a mammoth task it's going to be. She's literally gone through each and every word, multiple times and strived to make the chapter better in every way. Thank you honey. You're the best! Love ya!

And last but not the least, I want to warn you that I don't really know how long this story will be; I'm essentially taking it one chapter at a time; but I do know it won't be as long as my other story, Unforgettable. It probably won't be more than 6-8 chapters. But, let's see how it goes, huh?

Also, I'll update as soon as I can, but it's only fair to warn all of you that Unforgettable will always be my first priority. :) But hey, you know you can always speed up the process, right? Just send me lots of reviews and I might just be inspired to write sooner… ;) See…? So simple... right? So what're you waiting for? Go ahead, you know what to do! :P