—This story has mature content and deals with rape.
—Not for Team Jacob fans.
—Post-Eclipse (sort of - some AU):
—Major events of Eclipse (ie. the newborn battle, E/B's engagement, etc) have happened, BUT...
—1) Bella & Edward are still in their last year of high school (beginning of May instead of end of June).
—2) Jacob was never more than Bella's friend. Remember how at the end of Eclipse, she suddenly realizes she's in love with him too, just not as much as Edward? Yeah, it didn't quite happen that way in my universe, so keep that in mind.
It should all make sense once you start reading, but if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Disclaimer: Everything twilight related belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I own the original content, ideas and intellectual property of this story. No copyright infringement is intended.
I awoke to the incessant buzzing of my alarm. With a groan, my hand flew out automatically to hit the snooze button before I resumed my position with my face burrowing deeper against the rock-solid chest that was my assuming pillow. Said pillow vibrated beneath me with a deep chuckle—no doubt at my markedly human-like antics. Stone arms pressed me just a little bit closer, and I felt the whisper of lips against my hair, cool and barely there. "Morning," came the murmur just above my ear, his amusement discernible.
Perhaps awakening in the arms of a vampire wasn't high up on your average person's desirable fantasy list, but to me it was my very own personal heaven. It was still surreal in every sense of the word that this perfect creature could be mine.
Twisting in his arms, my lips found his. His response was immediate, his lips molding softly to mine. No matter how many times he kissed me, the effect was always the same—heart thumping wildly in my chest, insides turning to mush…
And it was never enough. I wanted all of him.
His hand moved to cradle the back of my head, pulling me closer at first, then settling in my hair gently when indulgence gave way to caution. As usual, he had to break it off before I got too carried away.
I sighed and let my head fall back against his chest. "Practice makes perfect, remember?"
Edward and I had made a compromise. Before he changed me into a vampire I would marry him, and he in turn had agreed to push the rigid physical boundaries he'd set once we were husband and wife.
I wasn't keen on the idea of marriage. Not because I was unsure that Edward was what I wanted (I was more sure of that than anything else). No, it was because eighteen years old was young—in a marriage sense, that is. The thought of it still made me break out in a sweat.
Thus, we had made the compromise, and I was officially engaged, though nobody except Edward's family knew yet. Still, Edward was reluctant to hold up his side of the compromise. He was annoyingly overcautious when it came to physical boundaries, always reminding me how 'breakable' I was to him.
"Do you realize what time it is?" He arched a brow at me and pointed to my alarm clock on my bedside table.
I pushed myself abruptly upright. Crap. Less than twenty minutes to get ready for school. "Why didn't you wake me sooner?" I wailed as I struggled from the bed.
He laughed quietly, and despite the fact that it was at my expense, my stomach gave a little lurch at the sound. He looked the picture of ease there on my bed with his arms folded loosely across his chest. Not to mention much too perfect than should be legal this early in the morning. I don't think I'd ever be immune.
He seemed to catch my momentary distraction, awarding me with a knowing smile that had my face flushing crimson.
I grabbed a pillow and threw it at him, but his hand moved at lighting speed and caught it just before it hit him in the face.
"Ugh, no fair!"
He laughed again. "I'll let you get ready. Meet me out front when you're…"
As he was talking, I was making a dash for the bathroom, but of course, I tripped over the shoes that I had left near the exit to my bedroom. Fortunately, before I could fall flat on my face, Edward was beside me, catching me in his arms. "…ready," he finished. Having a vampire for a boyfriend…no scratch that…fiancé (I was still getting use to that) definitely had its advantages.
He sighed. "What am I going to do with you?"
He rolled his eyes. "You're already late as it is."
He chuckled, but leaned down and touched his lips to mine much too briefly before disappearing to wait for me out front.
With a weary sigh, I padded barefoot to the bathroom. It was Friday, I realized with disappointment. Edward was going hunting tonight with Alice and Jasper and wouldn't be back until Sunday afternoon. He was hunting further away this time because, first of all, he and his family couldn't hunt in the same place all the time (the depleting animal population would attract attention), and second, because he was trying to give me space so that I could spend some time with Jacob. He never said as much to me, but I knew that although he and Jacob loathed each other, he was trying to be as civilized as possible because he knew I cared for Jacob, and as usual, he would do anything to make me happy. He also felt that he owed Jacob for being there for me when—well, I preferred not to think of that particular time in my life if I could avoid it.
But…Jacob. Every time my thoughts strayed to my best friend, I felt a stab of guilt for the pain I was causing him. I loved him like a brother, but he was in love with me. He was still trying to win me over, but I would never feel the same way about him. Edward was everything to me.
I knew I was being selfish by continuing to be friends with Jacob, that I should try harder to push him away. Holding onto any kind of relationship with him wasn't fair on him when it would only continue to cause him more pain. But it wasn't as if I hadn't tried. I'd told him many times that I didn't feel more than friendship toward him. Despite this, he still wanted to see me. I guess maybe he was hoping I would change my mind.
I sighed again. I'd rehashed this over and over in my mind many times. I'd known for a while now what I had to do, but a part of me just hadn't been ready to accept it yet. I had to face it now, I reminded myself. I could no longer allow things to go on as they were. I could no longer hurt them both like this.
I needed to tell Jacob we shouldn't see each other anymore.
My heart felt heavy as I finally admitted this to myself and set my resolve, but I knew it was the right thing to do. For Jacob's sake. And for Edward's.
Later that evening, I was preparing dinner while Edward quizzed me in preparation of my History test on Monday. I was trying to dig through my brain for the correct answer to the question he'd just asked when the phone rang. "Saved by the bell," I mumbled under my breath, reaching for the receiver over the stove, but of course, Edward still heard me.
"Hi, Bells," Charlie greeted.
"What's up, Dad?"
"Just wanted to let you know that I have to work late tonight. Not sure when I'll be home, but don't worry about me for dinner. I'll grab something here."
"Okay. Nothing bad, I hope?" Charlie was the police chief and if he was working late it often meant bad news.
"No, no, nothing like that. I just have a lot of paperwork to catch up on." He didn't sound like he was looking forward to it. Then his voice perked up and he said, "By the way, have fun with Jake tonight."
Charlie much preferred Jacob to Edward, and he was always trying to push me in that direction.
I let out a breath through my teeth but decided not to start anything with him now, especially after taking note of the way Edward stiffened at the mention of Jacob. Though he was attempting to feign nonchalance by flipping through my History book, he didn't fool me. "I will, thanks, Dad," was all I said. I didn't bother to tell him of my plans to distance myself from Jacob. I would worry about that later.
After exchanging brief goodbyes we rung off.
"So…?" Edward prompted after I'd hung up, "what's your answer?" He was graciously avoiding the Jacob subject, but the elephant was still in the room, so to speak. I wished Charlie would just learn to keep his mouth shut. He may not have said it outwardly this time, but Edward and I both knew he liked Jacob for me far more than he did Edward.
I sighed. "I can't remember."
He took in my indignant expression and raised his brow quizzically. "This was your idea, remember?"
"I know. I'm not annoyed with the History. I'm annoyed that Charlie always wants me to choose Jacob over you." I opened the freezer and rummaged around for something simpler to make for myself, since Charlie wouldn't be there for dinner.
"He just wants what's best for you. Are you sure you made the right choice?" He asked the last part so softly that I barely heard it.
I pulled my head out of the freezer to look at him. His stance was tense and expectant, as if bracing himself for my reaction, but his eyes seemed suddenly duller, almost in resignation.
I straightened abruptly. "Of course I'm sure. I've never been so sure of anything in my life. How can you ask such a stupid question?" My eyes bore into his as I spoke.
A smile ghosted across his lips at my answer, and his eyes seemed to brighten infinitesimally. "I just want you to be sure, and for you to know that I would not stand in your way if you chose him. Your happiness is more important to me than anything else."
I pushed the freezer door shut and closed the distance between us, wrapping my arms around his waist and gazing up at him. "It has always been and always will be you. There was never any choice to be made."
His mouth tipped into my favorite crooked smile, and I felt the familiar surge of electricity pass through me. He never ceased to dazzle me. Stretching up on my tiptoes, I threw my arms around his neck, trying to pull him down to my level. He wound his arms around me in response and lifted me off the ground so that he wouldn't have to bend down. That was fine with me; it gave me better access. I was five-foot four inches, while Edward was around six-foot two; my head just barely cleared his shoulders. His cool lips gently met mine, and his scent surrounded me. All other thoughts fled my mind.
He allowed the kiss to last longer than usual, and finally, I had to break away to take a breath. When I took a large gulp of air, I felt lightheaded—whether from the lack of air or just the passionate kiss, I didn't know. Probably a bit of both, I decided.
He set me back on my feet as I collapsed against his chest, and if his arms hadn't still been around me, holding me up, I was pretty sure my knees would have buckled beneath me. Chuckling, he pulled me tighter against him and planted a tender kiss atop my head. "See what happens when I try to throw caution to the wind? You forget to breathe!"
I ignored his comment. "I love you," I said simply, tilting my head back to look up at him.
His eyes went soft. Touching my cheek with his fingertips, he said, "And I you."
I pressed my face against his chest again, wanting…no, needing to hold onto this moment, to his words, but not knowing why. It wasn't as if this was the first time I'd heard him say the words.
Finally, he broke the silence. "You should eat something," he said softy, loosening his hold on me.
I shook my head and wrapped my arms tighter around his waist, but my stomach answered for me when it rumbled lightly. I sighed as he pulled away and gently pushed me toward the fridge. I decided to keep it very simple and make myself a sandwich.
"Is there a reason why you're studying History on a Friday night?" Edward asked casually.
I paused slightly before resuming my task of spreading mayonnaise on a piece of bread. "Um, I can never get any homework done while I'm with Jacob," I answered carefully. This was a subject to be broached with extreme caution. I had been dreading bringing it up, but if I didn't tell him of my extended plans for the weekend he may very well come running back prematurely from his trip after hearing it from Alice, likely with the intention of crossing the treaty line in search of me. He knew about tonight's plans, but I hadn't yet told him of my plans for tomorrow, the most consequential of which was they also involved Jacob.
I heard his intake of breath before he spoke, and the sudden tension surrounding him was almost palpable. "You're spending tomorrow in La Push." It wasn't a question, but I knew he was not happy with the idea, to say the least.
I debated whether or not to tell him this would be the last time he would have to worry about me visiting Jacob, but decided to wait until after he returned on Sunday. Telling him that I would be discussing a subject with Jacob that was bound to make said werewolf angry was probably not a wise idea; he didn't share my confidence in Jacob's self-control. "Jacob's not going to hurt me, Edward," I told him for what was probably the millionth time, trying to ease his worry, but his expression told me I hadn't succeeded in the slightest. I opened my mouth to try again, but he held up his hand to silence me.
"It's okay, Bella," he said. "You don't have to convince me. I may not trust him, but I do trust you. If you want to visit him, I won't interfere. You have my word on that." His voice had gone quiet, and his eyes shifted away from me briefly. "It was wrong of me to attempt to stop you seeing him before, I know that now."
Something in his tone had me wanting to comfort him, but before I could act on it, his eyes were steady on me again and he grinned lightly. "But that doesn't mean I'll stop worrying about you."
I rolled my eyes. "You worry too much."
His answering smile was softer, wistful almost, and my heart did a little flip when he reached out to gingerly brush the back of his fingers from my cheek down to my jaw. "Perhaps," he agreed, his voice soft as velvet. "But it cannot be helped. You're too important to me. If anything were to happen to you…" He trailed off.
I caught his hand in my own. "Nothing's going to happen to me," I assured him.