Author's Note: So freaking busy. My fingers hurt from playing guitar. Can't type. Can't get on the internet much. I want to get in my bed and type . . . if only my fingers didn't hurt so much. Damn. I miss you guys and love you all! I hope you enjoy.

Oh, I absolutley love the chemistry between Seth and Nessie.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.

31. Bonfire

Every time I look at you, baby, I see something new
That takes me higher than before and makes me want you more
I don't wanna sleep tonight, dreaming's just a waste of time
When I look at what my life's been comin' to
I'm all about lovin' you

Bon Jovi,All about loving you

"Don't get too near it, Nessie," Jacob ordered for the millionth time as I rubbed my palms together and reached out to warm them by the flames of the bonfire. It's scorching heat melting the almost frozen blood in my veins.

The warmth snaked throughout my body like relaxing beneath a sprinkle of hot shower. It eased away the pricking cold.

"Jesus. I'm not," I breathed in annoyance as Jake wrapped his fingers around my elbow to restrain me from leaning further into the fire—even if it was probably around a meter away, completely out of my reach. Did Jacob think I was suicidal? "I'm freezing. I'm not even that close to it really," I said with a hint of humor, letting him know how overly protective he was acting.

Not that I minded even a tiny bit. In fact, I was somewhat fond of being kept under careful scrutiny by Jacob. It was rather adorable of him to be behaving that way.

Jacob slowly exhaled a warm, sultry breath behind me, fanning it against the nape of my neck. I shivered with cold despite its balminess.

"Come here. Lean into me." Relinquishing my elbow, he grasped my shoulders and heaved me backwards, inducing me to recline against his blistering, solid chest. "I'll keep you warm. Put my body to good use, you know," he murmured in my ear, and I repressed another shiver as his tender gasps blew in my sensitive spots.

He wrapped his bulging arms around my chest and stooped frontward to place his chin on my shoulder, scraping his cheek against mine.

I sighed mentally.

There was no doubt he'd have no difficulty keeping me warm . . . and extremely aroused if Jacob kept his sensual activities up. Regardless how wintry the weather was on the outside, my entire body was already burning inside in need and desire.

Needs and desires that were difficult to accomplish were we both sat.

We were both sprawled on a silky-soft woven blanket by the burning wood along with friends and the pack, their girls, if any, in their possessive arms. The heaven above us was pitch-dark yet brilliant with stars, some shining red, some blue like diamantine. La Push was abnormally cloudless, which might be the reason why the pack had selected tonight for a small fun get-together by bonfire on the First Beach.

Sam and Emily were here, too. With kind-hearted Emily enveloped in the heat of his arms, Sam was resting on a blanket of his own. They were right across from us, on the opposite side of the bonfire, though still clear for my sight.

I tried not to invade their privacy by gawking, but the way Sam rubbed the lightly swelled belly through the sweater of his wife was hard to disregard. Through my peripheral vision, I saw him mumbling in Emily's ear, his large hands gentle and extremely cautious on her dwarfed body. She was chuckling and nodding. I gave them what privacy I could by not listening to their obviously private conversation.

Dropping my eyes, I stared at the base of the brilliant orange fire.

Only twelve more long and excruciating days to go then that'd be it, the wait would finally be over. In every way possible, Jacob and I would completely be each other's. The way we were destined to be. Then soon, with luck, a hope of future life we both will create together would grow large and round under my heart.

What a wonderful panorama that was.

I suppressed gliding my own hand to my belly. No need to embarrass myself at how eager I was. Only twelve more days, then we would get married. Maybe a few months after, hopefully, I can run my hands all over my stomach if I wished.

The past nine days have been torturous really. With Aunt Alice dragging me around in circles throughout the state of Washington—Port Angles, Bremerton, Redmond, Edmonds, Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Auburn and many other cities I didn't know the name of for I was a walking dead—simply for a wedding gown, it was deadening. It was a miracle if I could walk by the time we got back to the main house.

Aunt Alice along with Aunt Rose had been all around the house with Grandma and mom as assistance. She'd sent out dad and Uncle Emmett to Lakewood to arrange and organize for the flowers, tables, other essentials and seating she herself had selected. The invitations had already been sent out—mostly to people I don't even recognize. Grandma Esme had offered to bake the wedding cake, so that, too, was taken care of.

Seemingly, to Aunt Alice, no dress did me justice. She'd disapproved of all hundreds—possibly thousands—I'd tried on, not even asking for my opinions. She disregarded all my grunts of protest in the boutiques.

Therefore, she had planned on taking a flight to Paris first thing tomorrow morning with Uncle Jasper to do god-knows-what-business with the designer she'd been speaking on the phone with this yesterday. I suspected the business included bribery. She was somehow to return couple of days after with the dress.

At first, she'd insisted me to depart with her. That was until I'd begged and cried like a stubborn child.

To no degree did I intent to leave Jacob, even for a few days.

Jacob's been behaving a little strange recently. Not with ruefulness, though. It wasn't awkward, uncertain, getting cold feet type of strange. As a matter of fact, he'd had his mind pretty damn set on marriage. He appeared very joyous and perky about the whole thing. But ever since Rebecca had returned after she'd discovered from Billy that her little brother was getting married, Jacob had been spending quite some time with both of his sisters in La Push.

It was out of ordinary. He typically didn't speak of them, much less spend time with them. Since Jacob had been spending a little less time with me from the past couple of days to see his sisters, it seemed as if he was planning something with his family. I didn't question it, however.

Believing it might be a family matter, I didn't attempt interrogating him about the odd situation like a dubious fiancée. I'd decided upon giving him some solitude. After all, I trusted him, even when I knew he was upto something.

I huffed. I shouldn't even be astonished. He was simply spending time with his family. He had every right to. Nevertheless, I still sensed as though I was being left out on something.

Only time would tell . . . If it was something to be told, he would not keep secrets from me.

The soft breeze drifted my hair back and I shifted my eyes to the flickering dark shadows beside the fire, controlling an excitement quiver.

I could only wait few more days. How I was going to survive these twelve days was beyond my imagination.

Aunt Alice, like her usual self, was attempting her hardest to make it a big thing. I wouldn't have chosen it to be. Firstly, because being the talk of the town wasn't my goal. I loathed receiving unwanted attention. Secondly, with the whole big thing, my family was catching Fork's eye. I had no desire of jeopardizing them and their peaceful life. Regardless how much they consoled me I won't.

My family was already falling over the edge—with my parents, aunts and uncles appearing as young as ever with not a single winkle on their beautiful faces. Not to mention my grandparents. They didn't even appear old enough to be parents of married children, much less grandparents.

I was very willing to go to the court to simply sign papers and get on with our secretive life, but Aunt Alice was not going to allow that to happen. Obviously. I didn't even question her about it. I kept it to myself.

It slightly startled me when I felt Jacob's cheek rub against mine once more. I realized him and the pack were laughing—most likely at something Jared just said. He was the comical one. Always had been.

It was pathetic but I managed to feign a smile, meaning to accord with everyone. Jacob's laughter still boomed in my ear. I tried to ignore the way his chest resonated and throbbed against my body. It was very, very hard . . .

I sucked my bottom lip in my mouth, struggling to contain my body's reaction. Nothing would be more discomforting than the whole pack smelling my arousal.

Jacob's arms tightened around me when his laughter faded. He turned his head just-so to kiss my jaw with his warm lips. "Are you alright?" he asked me.

"Mmhm." I nodded, and then frowned. "Why wouldn't I be?"

"You're blushing."

Nothing out of ordinary. I blush stupidly at all times. "Ah." Putting my hands against my cheeks, I rubbed in a circular motion. "Must be the cold," I lied.

"What were you thinking about earlier? You seemed pretty deep in thoughts. I didn't want to disturb you."

"Nothing." Sighing in attempt to seem apathetic, I scooted further back in between Jacob's legs and perched my hands on his massive, muscular thighs.

The heat emitting from him was so pleasant. It was as if sitting cocooned in an over.

Jacob shot me by surprise then. A gasp caught my breath when he grasped me by waist and settled me on his lap effortlessly. Wiggling close to become comfortable and chuckling when Jacob uttered a throaty groan, I draped an arm around his neck.

He palmed my cheek in his large hand when I ensconced. His eyes dilated dark as night the next moment. A shudder sprinted along my spine and settled in my belly when he gently traced my bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. Inattentively, lost in the deeply passionate gaze of his eyes, I drew my tongue out to get a smack of his virility and saltiness. Jacob had a unique tang of his own. Very potent to my bodily response.

The line of his sight traveled to my mouth when I cornered the tip of his thumb in my lips and sucked for a tiny instant before releasing just as quickly. Heat flooded my cheeks before I snapped my eyes from Jacob and looked around. Hopefully no one saw what a wanton I'd become from the past month.

Everybody around us seemed in their own private world fortunately, and I let a breath out in relief.

Jacob smiled in response to my flushed face when I looked back at him. He slithered his hand with a feather-light touch to my nape, his moistened thumb trailing the dampness from my jaw to the skin behind my ear. I felt him enlace his fingers through the roots of my hair.

My heartbeat was banging against my ribcage out of eagerness when he pulled my mouth close to his. Already each wayward cell in my body commenced acting up in excitement—as if it were going to get what it needed the most. Already the knots in my stomach tightened repeatedly. Already I had to clamp my thighs together when he placed his lips in my parted ones.

His lips parted and I felt the warm slickness burn into my skin in a divine manner when Jacob tongued along my nether lip. In spite of my comfort, I prayed no one was watching us . . .

And I prayed my disobedient hips wouldn't soon begin moving on his lap. Hopefully. Figures it was a good thing I wasn't sitting astride on Jacob otherwise the mortifying humping session would have started a long time ago.

With the tip of his tongue, Jacob rimmed my lips. If one could just devour him whole, I would. How badly my body craved to.

His other hand was situated on my waist, rubbing small, absent circles through my sweatshirt. Parting my lips further against Jacob's mouth, I reached my tongue out only to collide with his. The tender muscles in my belly contracted at the impact and the zing meandered through me.

With the hand resting on my nape, he pulled me harder against him. He pressed my tongue back into my mouth, along with his own. I complied with his silent plea and sucked, sliding my hand to the back of his neck and into the collar of his t-shirt to set it over his bulgy shoulder.

I converted a moan into a sigh lest someone hearing when he laved the roof of my mouth. My body trembled and jerked.

Enough, Jacob! I withdrew quickly but reluctantly and licked my lips to savor his taste.

Casing my eyes down, I glided the tip of my tongue across my jaws, not willing to look around in case someone saw. I was very aware of the fact the people around us wouldn't mind, but I'd never intentionally kissed in front of anyone and it seemed sort of . . . unconventional.

I'm very close to exploding – thanks to you. Don't blame me if I have to drag you down somewhere secluded to make you finish what you started.

Jacob laughed. "I'd happily do it," he whispered in my ear. "Now?"

I lifted my gaze and narrowed my eyes at him. Not that I mind . . . but why are you so keen to make me finish all the time?

"'Cause I love touching you there. So smooth. I like that you let me do it," Jacob breathed, unashamed. He freed my hair from his loose grip and skated his hand down the length of my body to lay it on my thigh. "You make the most gorgeous face and sounds when I make you . . . you know what. And the way you curse. It's so sexy, Ness. You're so sexy. Someday I'm gonna do it in front of a mirror only so you can see your face when —"

Shut up! I shivered and cut him off before my arousal could spread and effuse. It was beneficial that he censored it somewhat. You have the dirtiest mind, Jake. Seriously. I never would have dreamt up that you had a mind like this when we were only friends.

"I tried to control myself back then, thinking you might feel disgusted. I don't have to now. Not that I would do anything that repels you. Deliberately." He shrugged, and then a hint of crooked smirk played across his lips. "But you're not any different, missy. Tell me how appropriate your thoughts are."

I bit my lip and frowned, lowering my face in an attempt to hide my embarrassment.

I couldn't argue with Jacob. It was the truth. My thoughts weren't any different. As a matter of fact, they were very dishonorable. Maybe even more dishonorable that Jacob's. In spite of everything, I still tried to conceal them, make them unknown, whereas Jacob didn't. He said what he wanted, got what he wanted, where he wished.

"Hey, now," Jacob spoke in a low voice and tapped below my chin, drawing me into looking up at him smiling in assurance. "It's normal. No need to be embarrassed. Not in front of your husband-to-be."

With a shaky chuckle, I inclined further toward him and posed my cheek against his chest. The incessant thuds of his calming heartbeat synchronized with mine in a singsong, producing the world's best lullaby.

I clasped my hands together and fit them in between my thighs to keep them warm as they already were.

Firmly, Jacob wrapped his arms around me, tugging and squeezing me into him. He kissed the top of my head when I nuzzled his chest and inhaled deeply. He smelled really, really good—of rain and wet timber with a hint of floral detergent.

"Nessie, very soon, we're going to become husband and wife," Jacob stared as he stroked my back. "The entire relationship is based on being honest. And trust. You don't ever have to be ashamed. Of anything. Don't ever lie to me. Ness, always tell me what's on your mind so I can fulfill your needs and wishes . . . and protect you like a good husband is supposed to. Now I can't do that if you're keeping things from me only 'cause they're embarrassing, can I?"

I closed my eyes and shook my head.

"What were you thinking about earlier?"

"Us." I sighed. "Um, about the wedding and all."

Jacob tensed slightly under my cheek, his soothing hands on my back halted. "Nessie, it's perfectly normal to get cold feet days before the wedding. It usually goes away . . ."

"No, no, no. No second thoughts." My eyelids snapped open and I shook my head to emphasize the statement and wrapped my arms around his sides. I pressed a light, assuring peck on his chest and cuddled. "I love you very much. And when I said yes, I really meant it, Jacob."

He blew out a long lungful of air and put his chin on my head. "I love you, too, sweetheart. I also want you to be certain, though. I don't want you to feel obliged."

"I don't feel obliged. I want to marry you. I don't care if I'm too young. I just – I know what I want. And I want you." I tilted my face up and placed a tender kiss against the pulsing vein in his neck. "Do you want me?"

"For a smart missy, you ask some damn fool questions, Ness." He sniggered.

"Still, it won't hurt to hear it."

"I want you so damn much it hurts."

I laughed and grazed the tip of my finger along his carved side, sensing Jacob's muscles twitch and convulse beneath. Along with his other body parts. I tried not to smile. "I'll be all yours soon – to do whatever you please. Are you excited?"

He groaned low in his throat. "Very."

"I'm very excited, too. We won't ever have to separate, even at nighttime." It took me a while to grow in a habit of sleeping without Jacob over again. I loathed it, though. I missed having Jacob's burning body sleeping alongside me during night.

"Particularly at nighttime."

"Mmm . . ." I nuzzled his chest with my cheek, containing a shudder at lovely images of the prospect that flooded my head. "Uh-huh."

"Sorry to disturb you two lovebirds there, but, Jake, you coming, bro?" Embry sounded from behind, and I immediately extracted my face from Jacob's chest to look at him. I noticed he was bouncing a football back and forth in his hands.

"Where?" Jacob questioned with slight annoyance clueing his tone.

"The pack's decided to play some football. I'm sure we don't need alpha's permission to do that." Embry snorted.

Looking about the brawny men of the pack that had gathered near menacingly in front of us, I detected Seth standing a few steps behind Embry with his arms folded across his bare, rugged chest. His dark, shaggy hair blew sideways and onto his forehead charmingly with the wind. Seth grinned and nodded once when he noticed me looking. I smiled in return and waved at him.

Jacob exhale sharply and growl then. That wasn't anything out of ordinary. I didn't pay attention.

"Hey, Seth, I called you the other day. Your mom picked up and told me you weren't home. I figured you must be . . . in the woods." I said to him.

Seth began to answer but Jacob broke him with his thundering voice. "No. You guys go ahead without me and leave us alone."

"You guys won't be alone. Leah will be here. And the girls are staying by the fire to keep warm," Quil replied.

"I don't want to play football."

"Why? You love football."

Jacob sighed and I looked at him in time to see him rolling his eyes. His arms wrapped tighter around me. "Have you considered the fact that maybe I just don't want to leave my fiancée alone?"

"Nessie won't be alone – the girls are here," Paul told him as he walked forward. He smirked. "You aren't married yet, Jake. Once you're married, you'd have plenty of time to be alone with her. And slavery," he murmured the last sentence, nodding toward Jared and bumping shoulder with him.

Jared laughed. I blushed. Jacob groaned out of frustration.

"I don't see how being Nessie's slave is a bad thing."

"You'll see."

I frowned and shook my head. "I won't ever treat Jacob that way. We are equals."

"We know, Nessie." Seth flashed a smile with a wink. "We're only joking around."

"Okay. Can you leave us alone now? Or do I have to order you guys?" Jacob questioned.

"Jacob, go. Have some fun. I'll be fine here," I assured and nodded, running a hand over his bicep.

"Yeah. What're you gonna do sitting between girls like some pansy anyway?" Jared hollered with a wolfish grin.

The pack laughed along with the women who were trying to ignore the verbal conflicts between them and Jacob. I disguised my snigger as a cough and snapped my mouth shut by covering it with a hand. Jacob didn't conceal his growl with anything.

"I swear, Jared, if Nessie wasn't sitting on my lap, you would've been falling right into my fist again and again by now," Jacob warned, the strictness right on the surface of his tone.

I groaned, loathing the thought of Jacob hitting somebody, fighting with one of the members of his pack. They were funny, and I loved them. I detested violence, however.

"Jake, just go, okay? I want you to go. I want you to go play football with your brothers." I released myself from his tight grip and sat on the blanket, allowing him to stand. "Go have fun."

"Are you sure?"

It was my turn to be irritated now. "Yes," I uttered calmly, repressing rolling my eyes. His possessiveness could be annoying sometimes. "I'm so sure, Jacob. Please, go."

Jacob nodded and leaned forward to kiss my cheek before he reluctantly stood up. Embry tossed him the football and he caught it naturally, muttering something incoherent under his breath. They began to walk away but stopped when Paul spoke to me.

"Congratulations, Nessie, about getting married. We're so glad Jake finally got the guts to ask."

"Oh." I smiled, not certain about what to say.

"Yeah," Quil spoke next. "He was exhausting our heads off. Once we were done with our usual shifts with him, we couldn't wait to phase back and get him out of our heads."

I laughed. "I'm sorry."

"Okay, let's get going," Jacob scoffed and snarled at Quil. I smiled when I saw a hint of redness taking over his cheeks

"Tell her what you were like, Jake," Paul said and laughed. "'Maybe I should ask her today.'"

"Nah, nah, nah." Jared shook his head and said more to Paul, "'maybe I should ask Nessie tonight.'"

"'I'm definitely gonna ask her tomorrow.'" Bradley interjected with a grin as huge as his other pack members' "Then when the day came, 'I'll positively ask her this afternoon. No, this evening, maybe? Nah, I'll ask her tomorrow.'"

"'I hope she likes the ring.'"

"'I hope she doesn't throw it back in my face.'"

"'I hope she says yes.'"

"'I hope she doesn't say no.'"

"'I'm gonna put the ring on first and then ask.'" Embry joined.

"'Nah, maybe I should ask first in case she says no and uses the ring as some sort of a weapon.'"

"'Maybe I shouldn't ask her at all and just drag her to the church.'" Paul's laughter roared.

"This is the best one." Jared shook his head, laughing boisterously as if he was about to collapse any minute. "'Or maybe I should drag her to the church, put the ring on, marry her and then ask.'"

By the time everyone finished stating what Jacob thought and began guffawing, my face was almost certainly crimson as I attempted very arduously not to laugh in fear of hurting Jacob's feelings.

Bright scarlet was spread all across his handsome, olive-toned face—throughout his neck and hairline. I'd not ever seen him flush to this degree in my life, or amusingly enraged. It was very endearing. If there weren't so many people present around us, I'd have jumped, kissed and sucked the whole embarrassment out of him.

When a snort escaped, I secured my mouth shut and covered it with my hand, making a pathetic effort to smother it by clearing my throat.

Jacob dashed his gaze toward me and scowled.

Instantly, I turned to the pack and shook my head with feigned shock. "Boys, those were the meanest things you just said there. Leave Jacob alone."

"They were funny," Jared boomed in between the burst of his deep, loud hearty laughter. "Wanna hear what he thought before he was gonna take you camping —? Ah, crap!"

Jacob didn't allow Jared to finish. In conjunction with a deafening roar made more ominous blended with the crashing waves, Jacob lunged at his friend.

Not from behind—Jake would certainly never make that sort of move. Rather from the side.

Imperceptible vibrations shook his body throughout, though I knew Jacob had more self-control than that. He was not about to transform. The battering of both strong males was half-hearted. They were simply frolicking.

Although it was entertaining to watch, I couldn't help feel frightened for the both of them. The pack withdrew from the gamboling pair of males to give them more space. No one attempted to stop them. I wanted to, that was if Jacob and Jared would be able to hear me over their snarls of foiling and grunts of effort with each playful blow.

The pack members along with some of the girls had already commenced placing bets, nobody ever taking their amazed eyes from the action.

I covered my agape mouth with my hand and swallowed both, a chuckle and a gasp. Jared stooped in an effort to grasp Jacob's leg and topple him down. Jacob had acquired too much preparation for that. He grasped his brother's shoulders and shoved with enough force to collapse Jared on the sand beneath.

My belly trembled as I clamped my mouth and drank the growing laughter.

"Stay out of my head at all times." Jacob glowered.

Regardless of his defeat, Jared grinned and arose on his feet with a swift motion. "It's hard when you're shouting in your head about what things you're gonna do with your mate. 'I'm going to rid her of her clothes . . .'" His voice faded as he was already running a football field away.

"You lying bastard. I never . . ." Jacob's groan trailed as he followed Jared along the descending waves and to the dark undergrowth and trees by the beach.

The pack wasted no time in following those two, adrenaline in response to excitement taking over them.

I rolled my eyes. Boys.

The pack brothers were in no rush to grow up. Not ever growing, that definitely had to be one of the perks they reveled in of being a werewolf. They weren't even maturing for crying out loud. The only thing growing were the muscles roping their bodies. I wondered when that would stop.

Not ever.

No matter. The girls loved their sturdy and strong chests, and they loved showing it off.

Hot blush stained my cheeks as I recalled what Jared had said. Did Jacob think those things? Really? Out loud? I'd known how his mind functioned, but I didn't like that the pack knew what Jake and I were occupied with . . . most of the times.

Jacob was not a saint; he was yet a teenager, but still . . .

Perhaps Jared was only joking. He gags around a lot. Wildly. So he had to be.

Since Jacob was excellent with concealing his thought from dad who'd been reading people's mind from ages effortlessly—excluding mom—, maintaining his thoughts from the pack must be easy.

Unless he wanted them to know, that was.

He wouldn't, though. Jacob wouldn't humiliate me like that. I hoped not.

I took a deep, long breath and exhaled. Looking about, I found that some of the women had gathered into few small groups, chattering in general with each other. To my right, from the corner of my eyes, I observed Leah.

She sat staring at the fire, hugging her knees. Her eyes never wavered. Although I was familiar with the fact the she liked to be left alone, my heart clinched seeing her that way. Everyone needed friends, someone to talk to. She didn't have a very friendly relationship with anyone, not with anyone I knew of.

I turned my head to her direction and prevented my heart from shattering into millions. The look on her face all but made me cry in grief. She appeared melancholy, as she most of the times does. It was worse tonight.

I frowned when I noticed her eyes flicker toward Emily for a short instant. The anger, woe and envious in her eyes was conspicuous.

Leah's demeanor was constantly like that—a mixture between raging and . . . heartbroken—around her cousin and her husband. I had always questioned why, but seeing as it seemed nosy of me, I aimed to overlook her secretive issues. And I under no circumstances dared ask her, either. We've never been on good terms. I was aware she didn't hate me. But she didn't like me, either.

With the way she treated my family, the feeling was mutual.

Warm embarrassment colored in my cheeks when she abruptly turned her head my way and caught my stare. I lowered my eyes immediately. Then from my peripheral vision, I viewed her smiling. Probably at my uneasy gaffe act.

Gulping down my surprised gasp, I looked at her once more and smiled in return.

That was new. I'd not ever seen her smile. It was broken, hinted with sadness that never seemed to leave her eyes. Still, it was so lovely.

Why hadn't she ever smiled? Certainly she'd have half of the La Push's men falling to her feet if she frequently did. Perhaps that was the reason.