"So it's true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love."

― E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

To make one person the center of your world is bound to end in disaster. There are too many factors outside of your control.

As I sit on top of a leather bar stool and watch Jake play pool with the guys my heart thumps a loud and erratic beat. A part of me feels if he were to find love in someone else I wouldn't be able to recover from the pain .I love Jacob. No, I'm more than that. I'm totally and irrevocably in love with Jacob Black. When did this happen? How did this happen? Didn't I once make myself a promise to never repeat that mistake? C'mon Bella, at the end of the day love is nothing more than a kind of slow torturous pain, I know that. I learned that lesson the brutal way. Yet here I am again. How stupid of me.

Something in the way he moves takes my breath away. Jacob looks up and meets my gaze with a smirk. He caught me staring. I blush. I can't help it. He's so confident it's almost intimidating but definitely thrilling too. Here he is, this beautiful creature who can have any one of these pretty girls in the club but all he seems to see is me. I'll never understand it. Both Emily and Leah insist what Jake feels for me is not just some teenage crush. I know its way more than that, the enormity of his feelings for me takes my breath away sometimes. And I have to remember those feelings can vanish in a nanosecond .In the end it will be just me that will be the heartbroken crumpled shadow of a person crying in the corner of my room while Jacob will be newly imprinted on some ,no doubt, beautiful girl. He will be full of joy, love, and lust and I will be full of sorrow, pain, and heartbreak. This time I'll end up broken permanently, I'm sure of it. I brake away from the heat of his stare and gaze down at the crowd dancing below. People are really enjoying themselves dancing laughing and drinking. Some are nestled in dark corners obviously making out. Are any of those peoples love lives as complicated as mine? They can't be, that's impossible. Why was I cursed to love not one but two perfect immortal creatures?

The way Jake and I danced earlier was so… HOT. I find myself attracted to him more and more each day. His russet skin is all satin and heat and I wonder how it would taste like under my tongue. We were enveloped together on the dance floor earlier, practically cocooned together but in that moment I craved more .I can't believe I tried to kiss him ! What is wrong with you Bella? Have you lost all sense of self preservation? This will only end in pain. A part of me is hurt, no, PISSED that I'm not Jake's imprint. I mean were best friends. We can talk about anything, I'm perfectly fine with the supernatural. He loves me and wants me, and who am I kidding? I want him and I want him badly. So why the hell am I not his imprint ! She's out there somewhere in this very moment, totally oblivious, but WHAM ! Jake will take one glance at her and it will be rainbows, and butterflies, and lots and lots of hot sex. Ugh. It's killing me. I wonder what it would be like to be with him in that way. Secretly I'm happy he's a virgin too. Does he fantasize about me? Something tells me the answer is yes. For now.

Outside in the alley I came so close to telling him the truth to telling him everything. I love you Jacob, but I can't allow myself to act on those feelings because I'm not your imprint and it's just a matter of what? Days? Weeks? Before he stumbles on his soul mate. I'm sorry I know your hurting and frustrated with me now but in the long run I'm doing what's best for both of us. Don't you see? I WILL end up heartbroken beyond repair, and you would walk around tortured by guilt forever. This way if I pretend I'm not madly in love with you and that I don't want you desperately, when you do imprint you will not be wrecked by guilt in having broken me. I was so close to just releasing the truth, to unloading all of it, but now I'm glad Leah came and got me when she did. Oh Jacob. I could feel the waterworks approaching .I slide off the barstool and start to make my way downstairs.

" Bells?", Jake gently grabs my elbow and looks at me imploringly.

" It's ok." I half smile. " I'll be only a minute. I need to use the washroom."

The washroom looks like a disaster zone. Wet floors , napkins clogged in the sinks, foggy greasy mirrors. Some poor soul is throwing up in the corner stall. A group of girls are checking themselves out and gossiping along the wall of full length mirrors. I splash my cheeks with cold water and look myself over. Although my skin is flushed from the drinks, and Jake no doubt, I still look cute. My hair is still smooth but I decide my makeup needs a little fixing. I reapply some lip gloss and dab perfume on my wrists and neck. I dig out my charcoal eyeliner and try to steady my hand so I don't end up looking like a raccoon. My hands are trembling a little bit but I should be fine I decide. Swirling the tip in the little eyeliner jar I look up and gasp, dropping the brush. Out of the corner of my eye I see a stunning strawberry blonde swing the bathroom door wide and disappear into the throng of people. She was unnaturally beautiful. Although I only saw her profile I could tell her skin was white porcelain. Is she a vampire? I had little doubt.

I grab my purse and bolt after her. I burst out of the bathroom and immediately have to steady myself with a hand against the wall. The darkness combined with the green lasers making me dizzy. It takes a few seconds for my vision to adjust and I desperately try to scan around for any sign of strawberry blonde hair .Dammit! Where did she go ? It's too dark to make much of anything out. Frustrated, I begin to push my way through the crowd rudely, shoving and elbowing as I go but I'm too desperate to care. I need to find her ! I need to know why she is here, if she knows the Cull.., them. Did she come to Forks in hopes of visiting them only to find their house abandoned? Or is this just a random vampire? And why is she in this club? They always stayed clear of huge crowds.

" Bartender!," I call out and wave my hand in the air stupidly but manage to get his attention. He comes by and smiles.

" Another comfortable screw?", he asks with a wink. I blush and nod my head. Why not? The fact that I'm trying to track down a vampire fully hit me and I need to calm my nerves. Were her eyes red? I wasn't able to see. I look down at my hands. They're shaking uncontrollably now.

A few seconds later the bartender is back with my shot. I drink it quickly. When he attempts to pocket the money I left him on the bar I place my hand on his, startling him.

"Please," I lean in and whisper quickly. "Did you see a stunning tall blonde?" He chuckles and raises an eyebrow but doesn't say anything. " Please" I continue, "she has strawberry blonde hair and is wearing a red mini dress."

" Sorry sweetheart, I don..," I push off the bar not waiting for him to finish. Where the hell is she? I stand on my toes trying to look over the crowd but there's just too many people dancing. I glance up to the second floor and squint, trying to make out people. I see a group of what appears like guys playing pool. It must be the pack. How long has it been since I told Jake I'm going to the washroom? Surely he will come looking for me soon. C'mon!

I know I don't have much time and I'm frantic. I edge around the right side of the club, one hand dragging along the wall to steady me. I don't see the blonde immortal anywhere. I lean against the wall closing my eyes . I feel a sob building up in my throat. Who is she? Why is she here? It can't just be a coincidence can it? I feel a rush of cold air hit my face. My eyes snap open and I see that the backdoor of the club is slightly ajar. I step outside into the dimly lit alley. It got much colder since I was out here with Jacob earlier. A shiver runs through me and I can see my breath. I look around but don't see anyone.

"Hello?" I whisper quietly. I know a vampire will be able to hear me.

Silence. But why does it feel like someone is watching me? I take a few steps forward. I'm in the middle of the alley now.

" I know what you are. Please show yourself", I barely breathe out. My entire body is trembling out of fear or cold I don't know. There's still only silence.

" Are you a friend of the Cullens ?" I try again. I ignore the gut wrenching pain at having mentioned them. There's no sound but that of the wind howling down the alley and knocking over a garbage bin somewhere in the distance. But how come I can feel someone watching, NO,studying me? I can practically feel them leaving a trail of sparks all over my body as they study me. Please I know you're out here!

" Hey! You're not supposed to be out here!" The loud deep voice startles me and I spin around my hand at my throat in surprise.

" I'm sorry. I was hot." I mumble and walk past the bouncer and back into the club. Dammit.

Wanting to get away from the bouncer I quickly melt into the dancing crowd. I allow myself to be bumped and shoved until I end up in the middle of the dance floor. I'm so upset. I can't believe I allowed strawberry blonde to slip away from me. Was she out in that alley or did I just imagine someone watching me? No, I'm almost positive someone was out there.

How long has it been since I told Jake I was going to the washroom ? I estimate it's been about fifteen minutes. I glance up at the balconies but there's too much smoke for me to make out how many people are around the pool table. I'm sure the pack will be checking on me any second. Will I be able to look calm and collected? They can't know about blondie. There's too much prejudice in them and Jacob would never allow me anywhere near a vampire. He would be furious if he knew I tried to follow one tonight. I glance down at my hands and see that they're still trembling violently. Crap. I can't rejoin everyone like this. They will know something is not right. I decide it's better if someone comes looking for me and finds me sweaty and tired on the dance floor. They'll assume I was out here all this time and think nothing of my trembling hands. I raise my hands above my head and closing my eyes, begin to sway to the beat of the music.

" Hey slut!", yells Leah loudly. " We checked the bathroom, you weren't there anymore."

I smile widely but don't say anything. I'm sweaty and tired. It's been at least five very upbeat songs since I started dancing. I really assumed someone would come looking for me sooner.

" Who's that?, " she asks. She's pointing at the pervy guy. The one who's tried to dance with me several times. I giggle.

" I think he likes me" , I mouth. That or he's just looking for an easy lay. Sorry buddy you picked the wrong girl, I think to myself. Just then pervy guy grins and proceeds to scoot towards me while eyeing my breasts. Leah flicks him off and pulls me off the dance floor. I'm glad.

"Here's your girl," she says and I look up confused and then proceed to blush. Jacob is standing right in front of me. He doesn't look happy. He gently puts his arm around my waist and proceeds to scoot me out of the club. We step outside and walk briskly towards the parking lot. The cool air is refreshing.

When we reach Paul's jeep he spins me around and presses me against the car. I'm too startled to say anything.

" You made me jealous." Jake's voice is cold and detached.

" Huh?" I'm confused. Wasn't I chasing a vampire while they all thought I was in the washroom? How did I make him jealous?

" I saw him. He brushed up against your butt."

I open and close my mouth. I 'm too shocked to say anything. What is he talking about?

" That asshole on the dance floor. He was panting all over you."

" Jacob stop it!," I push my hands against his chest but he doesn't budge an inch. " Why are you getting upset about some douchebag?"

" Bella, " he whispers and punches Paul's car door. The window rattles loudly. " You don't let me caress you but you'll let some ass brush up against you ?!"

" Stop it Jake! Ok stop it !" I whisper frantically. " I didn't let anyone touch me! It's not my fault that the dance floor is so crowded!"

" You like making me jealous don't you ?" , he accuses. I try to move away from him but he doesn't allow it. Slowly he puts his hands on either side of my face and leans in.

" It drives me crazy Bells, absolutely crazy to see other guys all over you."

" Jacob please. I'm not yours." I glance up at him. His face is serious. He doesn't respond. After a few seconds he lets out a long breath and leans back, crossing his arms.

"I'm sorry Bella."

" Jacob I don't want to fight."

" Me neither honey. I'm sorry, please forgive me ?" He caresses my cheek with his thumb and I involuntarily lean into his palm. He smiles.

" I enjoyed dancing with you tonight," he says. I blush and he grins. " Bells you're so beautiful you don't even realize."

Exasperated I put my arms around his waist. Oh Jake what am I going to do with you? After a long beat he snakes his large arms around my waist and pulls me in close. A shiver runs through him.

I'm too tired to fight his advances tonight. When I wobble in my heels he immediately scoops me up into his arms.

" Jake," I protest weakly but who am I kidding ? It feels wonderful to be off my feet. My ankles are tender and swollen from my black pumps.

Seconds later the pack and Emily emerge from the club. Almost instantly they appraise me in Jake's arms and proceed to grin cheekily. I close my eyes trying hard to ignore them. I'm beyond tired. There's so much I need to process tonight when I get home. Everything from Jacob to blondie.

I feel Jacob shift. Seconds later a door slams shut. I slowly open my eyes and see Jacob smiling down at me.

" It's ok honey, sleep," he murmurs sweetly and I blush, aware that everyone in the car can hear him.

I hear his soft chuckle followed by the softest brush of his lips on my nose and I shut my eyes, my face and neck warm with another blush. The entire car is silent.

" Bella? Bella baby you're home."

" Jacob she's beyond exhausted. I think you need to carry her to bed." Somewhere in the distance I hear Emily's soft voice but I'm too tired to open my eyes.

" Ok. Wait for me here."

Seconds later I'm being tucked under my covers. I manage to open my eyes groggily.

" Hey beautiful" I look up and see Jake's beautiful face smiling down at me.

" Hi. Sorry did I fall asleep?"

" It's ok honey." His sweet breath sweeps across my face making my lips tingle.

" Thank you Jacob."

" Oh? For what?" He leans in closer and raises one perfect eyebrow. He's dangerously close.

" I dunno for everything. For a fun time tonight."

" It was my pleasure Bells. And you looked stunning tonight by the way." I turn scarlet and he chuckles and gets up from the bed and walks towards the open window. I know I'll miss him terribly.

" Goodnight Jacob"

" Goodnight honey. Oh and Bella?" I lift my head off the pillow at his tone and look him dead in the eye.


" I don't understand why you're afraid to admit that you love me too, but I swear to you I will figure it out." He catches me so off guard I don't know what to respond and instead just gape at him for a few seconds before he proceeds to lithely jump out my window. A few seconds later I hear Paul's jeep start and pull away.

I let out a shaky breath and allow sleep to take me.