Stephanie Meyer owns Twilight. I just play with Bella, Edward and company. Story is told from Bella POV. Takes place after New Moon but before Eclipse. Definite AU. The Volturi are not a part of this equation. Edward just decided to come home after Alice's vision of the cliff diving proved to be false.

Something Real

I rode silently in the car beside Edward fighting the fatigue that threatened to set in behind my eyelids. He was driving me home from the Cullen homestead back to my more humble accommodations with Charlie. Planning this wedding with Alice was only in the beginning stages and already starting to take its toll on me. Instead of being excited about my engagement and upcoming marriage, I found myself wishing it could be over. I am definitely not the kind of girl who worried about seating arrangements and fussed over bridesmaids' dresses, so all this preparation seemed far too elaborate for me. I spared a glance at Edward, and instantly felt my heart accelerate. I couldn't help but wonder if he would affect me so profoundly for the rest of my existence. I studied his chiseled profile taking in his perfect alabaster skin and full pouty lips. I couldn't see his eyes in the darkness, but when I closed my own I could picture them. Clear amber pools that looked like liquid fire and sparkled when he was amused. I swallowed the lump that was forming in my throat. It was getting harder and harder to fight my attraction to him. Because of my delicate human condition, he could only get so close before he inevitably pulled away. I wanted nothing more than to be changed, to become a vampire, but Edward was insisting that we wait. It would be at least after the wedding before he would even consider it. Of course all that meant to me was that I had to remain frustrated. I let out an audible sigh and Edward looked at me with worry temporarily marring his perfect face.

"A penny for your thoughts, my love", he said looking at me with concern.

I faked a smile. "I'm just tired", I lied, glad for once that my thoughts were shielded from him. "This wedding planning stuff is overwhelming."

His face relaxed again, and I knew that I had been able to avoid giving myself away. I felt like I had to walk on eggshells lately with Edward. I didn't want to admit this, but I was afraid that any little thing might make him leave again. Despite his constant reassurance to the contrary, his prior abandonment had left me permanently scared of a repeat performance. My mind flashed briefly to the time when he was gone, and for a moment, the pain felt fresh. It had literally felt like I was a mere animated corpse in his absence. If it hadn't been for Jakeā€¦.I stopped that train of thought right there swallowing another lump that formed in my throat for an entirely different reason.

Jacob Black had been my best friend since, well forever. We had been constant playmates as little kids, but we had lost touch after I moved to Arizona. When I came back to Forks, we had easily rekindled that kinship from so long ago. I didn't see Jake very much, but after Edward left, he was like my lifeboat in a storm tossed sea. I was so lost, but he helped me to find a piece of myself that hadn't been completely broken. On some level, I was aware that he had developed feelings for me, but I just wanted to keep him. I needed to hold on to the sunshine that he brought to my otherwise dark days. Jake was familiar and dependable and then in a blink, everything changed. Yep, my best friend was a werewolf. So along with the easy smiles and jokes I had come to love, I was now caught in a maelstrom of intense emotions. Jake was still Jake, but with an undercurrent that hummed beneath every conversation we had or glance we shared. He was not as secretive as Edward had been, but there was still a lot about the pack I didn't know. Things had really come to a head when Edward returned. Jacob declared his feelings and I was forced to choose. I had chosen Edward and Jake had been heartbroken. We hadn't had any contact for about three weeks. I missed him like crazy, but I wasn't sure he even wanted to see me. I would never admit this to Edward, but I kind of missed the physical closeness I shared with Jake. Where I was nearly starved for Edward's physical attention, Jake very generously shared his personal space. Often with me having to pull away to keep from taking our relationship into even more ambiguous territory.

I was so lost in my thoughts that I missed the remainder of the drive and looked around to see my familiar front yard. Edward switched off the car and walked me to the door. The light was still on in the living room so I knew that Charlie was waiting up. With his supernatural senses, I knew that Edward could already tell. His steps faltered at the door and I felt a fleeting amusement that a vampire was afraid of my dad.

"Are you sure you are okay," he asked tilting my chin up towards his to stare into my eyes. "Perfect," I sighed , standing on tiptoe for a kiss. He returned my embrace and I deepened the kiss eagerly. I could feel my pulse gallop and I pressed myself closer to him. As was his custom, he pulled away, turning his head to avoid my mouth. I put my palms on his chest and counted to ten. I had gone most of my life without any male attention at all, but since turning eighteen, I was like a walking hormone bomb. "I should go inside before Charlie comes out here looking for me," I said regretfully turning away from him. "Leave your window open," he said "and I'll be back as soon as I think Charlie's asleep." I nodded and turned my key in the lock. When I looked up to wave goodbye for now, Edward was gone.

I said hello and goodnight to Charlie and quickly ran upstairs to get ready for bed. He had taken to lecturing me about the time I was spending with Edward at the cost of ignoring all the friendships I had rekindled in his absence. He was pretty transparent though. The only thing that bothered him is the lack of time I spent with Jake nowadays. Charlie and Jake's dad, Billy, were the best of friends and I think they held out hope that they could play matchmaker. I reached my room and quickly stripped out of my jeans and long-sleeved shirt. Finding some black satin tap pants and matching button down shirt, I dressed for bed and slid between the covers. I reached over to my nightstand to turn off the lamp and I familiar scrawl caught my attention. There was an envelope addressed to me in Jake's handwriting. I sat up in bed and opened it as a million butterflies took flight in my abdomen.

Hey Bells, I'm sorry that I haven't called or been around. I needed some time to think about things. You know how I feel about you and how much it hurt me to have you choose to be with him after what he did to you. I wish things were different, but I love you too much not to have you in my life at all. I heard you are getting married, and I'm trying to be okay with that. For now, I'm staying away until things aren't so fresh anymore. I thought of leaving town, but I promised never to leave you. See Bells, some men can keep their promises. Maybe when you are ready, you can find me. You know where I'll be.

Miss you madly,

Jake

I exhaled a breath that I didn't know I had been holding. I was torn between several emotions. Relief that I hadn't lost Jake forever. Shame that I had been so selfish and caused him so much pain. And something else that I could not name that tugged at my belly and sent the butterflies into hyper drive. I was too tired to puzzle it out tonight. I placed Jake's letter carefully in the top drawer of my nightstand. Something told me that Edward wouldn't understand and I didn't want to upset him. I turned out the light and laid in the darkness. I tried to wait up for Edward, but I was asleep within minutes.