"Prom is, like, a right of passage!" Jacob argued with me as we walked from the Rabbit to my door.
"I went to prom last year," I pointed out, taking his hand and pulling him closer to me. He smiled and kissed my nose. I loved when he did that.
"Well I didn't."
"You kind of did," I giggled, remembering him crashing my prom the year before. I didn't let myself think about anything else that night.
"Doesn't count," he chuckled, stopping at my front door. "Is Charlie home yet?" I hesitated before answering. For the past couple of months, whenever things began to get heated between Jacob and me I would stop it inexplicably. He thought I was protecting my virtue. In truth, I was protecting my heart. As much as I loved Jake – and I did love him – I loved Edward still, too. I would let nothing of consequence happen between Jacob and I until I was over Edward completely. It wouldn't be fair to any of us otherwise.
"No," I finally said. "He'll be gone until tomorrow afternoon." He waited for the invitation. I didn't give him one. "I love you," I offered with a smile I knew he couldn't resist. He stared at my face a moment and right on queue he sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Love you, too, Bells," he whispered, kissing my lips soundlessly. He smiled as I opened the door, but the smile didn't last long. He pulled the door shut and brought me to his chest, looking around frantically over my head.
"Jake, what's wrong?" I whispered into his neck.
"A vampire," he whispered back. I sucked in a breath. There hadn't been a vampire around Forks since Jacob's pack killed Victoria in February. It was almost May. I had to stop myself from hoping it was…him. He wasn't coming back.
"Let's go," he said, giving me no chance to object as he pulled me towards the Rabbit. It was then that a silver Volvo caught my eye around the corner of my house.
"No – Jake…" I stopped him. His eyes followed my stare and he tensed up immediately.
"I thought they weren't coming back," he growled. No shit, I thought that too. I wriggled out of Jacob's arms and he reluctantly let me go. I walked inside and felt Jacob follow after me. It took all of four seconds for Edward to show himself. I didn't see where he came from, but all of the sudden he was next to me and it was easy to breathe again. Jacob grabbed my hand and pulled me back towards him before I could argue. My eyes did not leave Edward's.
"Bella…" he breathed.
"Edward," I exhaled back. It didn't take long for me to become acutely aware of the awkward situation.
"May I speak with you alone?" Edward begged quietly. His eyes flickered to Jacob's momentarily. Edward winced slightly.
"Yes." I didn't hesitate. Jacob eyes shot to me. I immediately felt guilty for hurting Jacob like I knew I was. Edward looked between us.
"I'll wait in your room," he offered. Jacob growled. "Perhaps the kitchen would be more appropriate," he reconsidered. Before I could blink he was out of my sight again.
"Do you want me to wait?" Jacob asked. I knew what he wanted me to say. I closed my eyes as I said the words that I knew would hurt him almost as badly as Edward had hurt me.
"No. This could be a while." He kissed my forehead and whispered in my ear before taking off.
"I love you. Don't forget that. And don't forget that you love me too." I took a human minute for myself before entering the kitchen.
"Bella," he whispered in a tone that I had never heard him use before. "God, I missed you… I just… May I…?" He asked, coming closer with each word. I didn't answer him, but instead I closed the space between us and leapt into his arms. He caught me effortlessly and squeezed me tight. I couldn't help it when the tears escaped my eyes. After a few minutes, he let my feet touch the ground but didn't further the distance between us. His cold hand brushed the bangs away from my eyes before stopping at my cheek.
"What are you doing here?" I managed.
"I tried… so hard, Bella. Truly I did. I tried to keep you safe, to stay away. But I can't do it. I won't. I can't live without you." His thumbs were tracing my lips softly as he talked. "I'm so sorry, Bella. For everything. For leaving, for coming back. But if you'll let me, I'll spend the rest of your life making it up to you. I love you," he added in a whisper. Our faces were so close that our noses were touching. He began leaning in, but before I could feel his chilled lips on mine, I turned my head to the side, my cheek catching the kiss. This didn't stop him, however. He lightly kissed his way across my jaw line and around my forehead. I let it happen. I hadn't felt that good since my birthday in September. He was just about to kiss the tip of my nose when suddenly Jacob's picture popped into my mind. I pushed Edward back and he went along with my motions, both of us knowing that I could never actually push him away
"You left, Edward. You didn't want me."
"Lies," he explained. "And you believed me so easily, despite the countless times that I told you the truth… that I told you how much I loved you."
"You left me broken. And you didn't come back."
"I'm back now," he pleaded. "Let me put you back together."
"I don't need you…" I began. His eyes widened. "…to put me back together. You left. You were gone. And I… moved on," I desperately lied like he had done to me, apparently.
"Jacob Black?" He guessed quietly. "I suppose this is good. What I had hoped for anyway."
"I apologize, sincerely, for coming back. The least I could have done was keep my promise to stay away." He began to walk towards the front door.