"Not A Date"

Disclaimer: Not SM. We just play with her characters.

A/N: Happy New Year! First of all, happy belated birthday suzmac33! Sorry this took so long, but we finally got our asses in gear and finished this up. As requested, here is Jake's POV of the bachelor/bachelorette party from "Losing Control".

This is technically an outtake from "Losing Control" chapters 27/28, but being the wordy plot h00rs that we are, we added a bit more. So even though technically it's an outtake, it's also a little bit of a teaser/prologue for our next story in the "Let Love In" series, "Drawn To You", which is Jake/Ness. Please note, this isn't beta'd, so any mistakes are our own. Don't judge.

As an update on "Drawn To You", we have ten chapters written so far, which was our goal before we started posting. Chapter one is with the second beta now and we are HOPING to start posting ASAP.

Jacob's POV

-0-

"Hello dear brother." Rachel's voice is sugary sweet, which can only mean one thing. She wants something.

Taking a deep breath, I find a nearby tree to lean against, preparing myself for whatever she's about to guilt me into doing for her. "What's up, Rach?"

She huffs, but I don't apologize for my tone. I've been on edge since Saturday, ever since Ness received a mysterious text during the family dinner. It bothered me that she wouldn't tell me who it was from. It sent me straight into panic mode when Quil suggested she has a boyfriend.

I was on my way to talk to Edward, to find out if he knows anything about the text she received, when my phone rang. It's not Rachel's fault she caught me at a bad time, but I have too many things on my mind right now to worry about hurting her feelings.

"I need to know if you and Ness are available on Saturday. I'm planning something for the wedding and need both of you there since you are both in the wedding. Together."

Digging my thumb and forefinger into my eye sockets, I try my best to remain calm. Rachel just announced the date for her wedding a few nights ago, but already this thing is going to be the death of me. I'm doing my best to hide this secret from Ness so I can keep her around, but Rachel is determined to make us a couple, at least for the wedding. Not that I mind being a couple with Ness, but it's a problem when she can't know she's my imprint for another year.

"As far as I know, we are both available." I am so fucking available. Ness is my life, my imprint. Even though she doesn't know she's my imprint, I have no interest in being with anyone other than her. Which means, absolutely no social life for me.

I can hear Rachel's squeal of delight on the other end of the phone.I pull the phone as far away from my ear as possible, shouting to speak over her, "But I'll have to check with Edward and Bella to see if they have any plans for her."

"GREAT! You two are going out with us."

I shake my head and squint my eyes, like Rachel can even see me. Leave it to my sister to plan something for me and my imprint without asking. "I thought this was for the wedding, what do you mean going out?"

Rachel's laugh tells me I'm not going to like her answer before she even speaks, "Paul and I decided to do a joint bachelor slash bachelorette thing. We're going out for dinner then dancing!"

I cringe at the idea of having to go dancing. Rachel loves going to clubs and bars; I swear she would dance all night if someone didn't pull her away. "Rach, Ness doesn't look old enough to get into a bar."

"Well, duh, baby brother. I wouldn't choose a place that wouldn't allow her inside. It's this awesome little spot in Port Angeles. It's usually not overly crowded and the music is great. Don't even think about trying to back out. You and Ness are going out with us."

Grinding my teeth, I growl out, "When you say "us" you mean-."

"Me, Paul, Emily, Sam, Lillah, Embry, Kim, and Jared... everyone, Jacob."

Everyone. Great. All couples.

While I don't mind my pack mates and their imprints, being around them with Ness is difficult. Recently I've noticed she's a little more hesitant around the other couples. My guess is she is noticing we are the only "non-couple" among them. Even though we are best friends, that is very different from the relationships the other wolves have with their imprints. As much as I want to have that type of relationship with Ness, right now, it isn't possible. Thanks to Edward.

Rachel screams my name to get my attention. Knowing better than to argue with my sister I tell her that I'll try my best to be there. I'll have to talk to Ness first. Then Edward. I wouldn't want to take her somewhere like that without him knowing the plan exactly. He'd probably flip if he found out after the fact. That is, if he'll even 'allow' Ness to go. You never know what is going on in Edward's head when he gets in one of his moods. Some days he's fine with Ness hanging out with me. Others, he acts like I'm trying to run off with her. Not that I haven't considered that before. It's frustrating that I can't spend time with my best friend when I want to. It's almost like Edward doesn't trust me. That thought makes me grin as I phase back and head toward my original destination; the cottage.

-0-

I can hear Bella humming away as I approach. I quickly dress and open the door, peeking my head inside. Ness is sitting on the couch with a book on her lap and her fingers twisting around one of those beautiful curls.

Knowing I'm walking into a house with two vampires and a vampire hybrid, I don't bother announcing myself. Instead, I flop down on the couch next to Ness. "Whatcha reading?"

She closes the book and shows me the cover. "'Gone With The Wind'? Isn't that the one where the chick makes the dress out of curtains?"

Ness laughs softly, "Something like that."

"Jake," Bella calls before she walks into the living room. Even though I promised not to tell Ness anything before her next birthday, Bella has been giving us more space lately. For that, I am appreciative.

"Hey Bells." When I twist my head around I'm surprised to find she's alone. Usually Edward is hovering right behind her, his eyes locked on my every move. "Where's your other half?"

Bella gives me a smile very similar to Ness'. "He's up at the house with Jasper and Emmett. They are going on a guys only hunting trip tonight."

I nod, but don't say anything more. Bella glances down at her hands, wringing them for just a second before looking back up at me. She has a slight frown on her face and I know she is about to apologize for something, but I'm not sure what.

"How's Embry doing?"

It takes me a second to realize what she's talking about. Ness must have told her what happened after she left Ness at Lillah's house on Sunday. Lifting an eyebrow, I twist back to Ness. She places her hand to my cheek and gives me a quick debrief on what she shared with Bella, which was pretty much everything that happened.

Once Ness removes her hand from my face, Bella is speaking, "Jake, I'm so sorry. I really didn't mean to upset Embry. I understand Lillah is his imprint and what that means. I would never hurt her or him, in any way. I just wanted to meet Lillah. Ness has told me so many great things about her."

Waving my hand I do my best to stop Bella from speaking. Once she quiets I explain, "Embry freaked out, but it's fine. He's just a little extra paranoid right now because of his own dumbass mistakes."

"Still, I shouldn't have touched her, and for that, I'm sorry. She truly is an amazing woman. Embry is very lucky. Would you please let Embry know that?"

"Sure sure," I wave her off, hoping this is the end of her apology because I still have stuff to take care of with her husband. Bella gives me a soft smile before leaving the room.

Now that it's just Ness and me, I'm torn. I'll need to head up to the house shortly to catch Edward before he takes off, but I don't want to leave Ness just yet.

A soft hand against my cheek grabs my attention. As I turn to face her I hear her voice in my mind, "Something wrong?"

It takes all of my will power not to lean my head into her hand. Her soft touch, though innocent, comforts me in a way nothing else can. As much as I want to linger, I know I need to run up and talk to Edward. Exhaling, I give her my best reassuring smile, "Nothing wrong. I just need to run and talk to your dad."

"About what?" she asks, her tiny hand still resting against my cheek.

When my cheek lifts a little with my broadening smile, her thumb naturally follows the path of my skin. Her unintentional caress thrills me, but I force myself to tap down that feeling to stay focused. Fighting my natural reaction to her is a battle I have with myself every moment of every day. As much as I want to return the gesture, show her what her touch means to me, for now, I can only be her best friend.

"Taking you dancing on Saturday."

She twists her head in confusion and I explain Rachel's plans for the evening. Her face lights up as she again speaks in my mind, "That sounds like fun!"

"Yeah. Fun." I try to mimic her excitement, but as much as I'm thrilled about time with Ness, the idea of watching her dance around scares the living shit out of me. Swaying hips, sheen of sweat on flushed skin. I'm not sure how I'll survive, but if it makes her happy, I'll do it. "But first, I have to get your dad's permission to take you. I'll be right back, ok?"

"Sure." I stand to leave, but before I hit the door she calls out my name. I turn back to her and she's practically bouncing on the couch, "Make sure you tell him I really want to go. I want to try out dancing. Plus, I really like Lillah. She's sweet. And it's Rachel's wedding."

"I will." I do my best to take a mental picture of her, remember her words verbatim so I can play them back for Edward. Hearing how excited his daughter is over this might improve my chances of getting to take her with me.

-0-

"No."

"Come on, Edward. It's one night. She really wants to go. She's part of this wedding, she should enjoy the party leading up to it."

As soon as I walked in the door of the huge white house, Edward's mind was made up. He didn't even give me a chance to argue my case before he denied the request. I play back my conversation with Ness in my mind for Edward, hoping it will influence him to change his mind.

"If she wants to try out dance, she can take lessons. She doesn't need to go to some dive club. I've seen those places. Nothing good happens there."

"She'll be there with me and four other wolves, she'll be safe. You know I won't let anything happen to her. Ever." This isn't just a promise to her father, this is the absolute truth. I would give up my own life to protect Ness.

Edward sighs, "I know you'll protect her, Jacob, but I don't think it's good for her to be out in places like that. Besides, how are you going to get her in? She doesn't look twenty-one."

"She doesn't have to look twenty-one," Emmett laughs before elbowing me. "She just needs an I.D. that says she's twenty-one. Jasper can make that happen."

Edward's face goes hard at this idea. "Absolutely not, Emmett." Edward turns back to me, "She will not have identification that says she's twenty-one."

"She doesn't have to be twenty-one, they allow eighteen and up in." I try not to think about how I'm hoping like hell my sister actually did pick a place that allows eighteen and up. If not, then this argument is a waste.

Edward gives me a sly grin, like he thinks he has me trapped, "She doesn't have any identification that says she's eighteen."

Jasper lifts his head, "Actually, Bella picked up new I.D.'s last week. She wanted to be prepared-." Jasper stops himself.

"Prepared for what?" I ask, suddenly afraid. My eyes are locked on the three vampires, reading their every moves for a hint at what they aren't telling me.

Emmett's hands are stuffed in his pockets while he inspects the floor. Jasper shuffles his feet and glances at Edward. Edward gives him a small shake of his head, which makes me suspicious.

Jasper tilts his head back to me, "No need to be so suspicious, Jacob. Bella was just getting prepared now that Ness' growth has slowed down. She just went ahead and upped her age to eighteen so she doesn't have to get a new I.D. for a couple of years."

In my mind I'm still suspicious, but I feel Jasper's weird calming thing ease the tension in my body. As much as I want to be pissed he's playing with my emotions, I can't be right now because of his stupid emotional shit. Ass.

In this moment of fake peace, I wait patiently as Edward paces around the room. Finally he stops in front of me. "I don't like this idea. However, I'll agree to letting her go if we are there as well."

"We?" I ask, narrowing my eyes.

Edward crosses his arms over his chest, leaning back slightly, "I would prefer if Jasper and Emmett were there too, but I'll agree if Bella and I are there."

"I can't do that." I'm calm, but I'm still well aware of the danger in this idea.

"Danger?" Edward asks, obviously monitoring my every thought.

"Seriously?" Rolling my eyes I shake my head at his cluelessness. "How would you feel if you were out with your family and sensed a couple of us around?"

Edward doesn't say anything, but I do see him lower his head slightly. "Look, Embry is already on edge about Lillah. He flipped his shit over Bella being near her. I can't guarantee he won't attack. Whether he accepts her or not, he imprinted, he won't hesitate to protect her from any threat."

"You just said there will be four other wolves there. Can you not stop him?"

I hate the Edward knows so much about the tribe and our traditions, but that is a reality with his daughter being a part of the tribe through my imprint. Sighing I explain, "Our imprints are protected by all of us. If Embry feels his imprint is threatened, we will all take a defensive position to protect not only his imprint, but the others too."

With Jasper's emotional-mojo crap, I'm not angry, but my words are true. If one wolf feels his imprint is threatened, we will all fight against the enemy, even if the enemy is my imprint's father and mother.

Edward's jaw clenches tight. He glances over at Jasper who nods, obviously checking if he's still putting the whamo on me. Finally Edward speaks, "Have her home by midnight. I'll stay out of town, but I will be a few miles away monitoring you and Renesmee. I will intervene if anything happens to my daughter."

I'm careful not to change my facial expression as I give Edward a slight nod. Not wanting to chance him changing his mind, I rush for the door. Just as my hand reaches for the handle, he speaks again.

"Oh, and Jacob." When I turn to face him, he continues, "This is in no way a date. Our deal is still in place, you can tell her about your imprint on her next birthday. Until then, be careful not to slip up."

I manage to get out of the house before my anger at Edward takes over my body. I can feel the moment Jasper lifts his emo-tractor beam. The shaking takes over and within seconds my clothes are shredding around me as the wolf explodes out of me.

As I run through the woods, I'm snarling out as I curse Edward in my mind. I know I'm still close enough that he can hear my thoughts but I don't care. This situation just keeps getting shittier. I know the agreement we made, but I'm sick and tired of him rubbing it in.

I'm also pissed because I forgot to ask him about the text message. Knowing him, he probably has introduced her to some vampire that he's really hoping she'll fall for. Because he'd rather have his daughter be with a blood sucker with no heartbeat than me, the one fate paired her with.

Fucking asshole.

-0-

After running for an hour, I manage to calm down enough to phase back to human. I pull on the shorts from my pouch and head for the cottage. Normally I try to be full clothed around Ness, including a shirt, but I don't carry a spare shirt in my pouch to keep it as light as possible. Most times, I'm able to control my temper and not shred my clothes. Unfortunately, Edward just knows how to piss me off.

When I walk back in she has a smile on her face, but it quickly disappears when she sees what I'm wearing.

"He's not going to let me go."

Her crestfallen face has me running to her side. My hand caresses her cheek as I lift her face to look into her eyes. "No, it's not that. He agreed to let you go."

Her large eyes dart down to my chest then back up. I can see color flooding her cheeks before she whispers, "But something did happen. You lost your clothes because you phased."

My best friend knows me so well. "Just a disagreement on the terms." She frowns as soon as the words are out of my mouth. I know she is confused by my statement, but I can't go into any more details.

"But I can go?" She bites her lip.

Grinning wide at her I lean back against the couch, "Yep. You are clear to go dance the night away. Or, at least, dance until about eleven so I can have you home by midnight."

She launches herself against me, her arms wrapping tight around my neck as I hear her whispered sigh, "Thank you, Jake. I'm so excited."

As much as I want to know who she was texting the other night, having her in my arms trumps any worry I might have. Whoever he is, he won't be dancing with her on Saturday. I'll be the lucky bastard that gets that pleasure.

-0-

The door to the cottage opens before I can knock. "Before you come in, Jacob," Edward walks out, waving me away from the cottage, "I wanted to speak with you about something."

"I heard you, Edward. This isn't a date, that's why I made sure Ness and I are riding to Port Angeles with Jared and Kim. Absolutely no chance for us to be alone."

I want to punch something. Hard. Like Edward. In the face. I'm frustrated by this whole situation. To make things worse, apparently Lillah and Embry are now officially "dating", which means Ness and I will truly be the only non-couple at this thing tonight. Not only is it awkward for me, I know it'll be awkward for Ness, which upsets me. I don't like her feeling awkward. I want her to be comfortable with the pack and imprints; they are just as much her family as the vampires she's always around.

Edward doesn't speak as he walks away from the house. When he reaches a small clearing nearly a mile away, he turns back to me, speaking softly. "I appreciate that Jacob. Actually I wanted to answer a question I heard you had for me."

"Question?" I ask, not sure what he's talking about.

He crosses his arms, narrowing his eyes at me, "When you left the other day, amongst the foul names you called me," I don't bother to apologize or even flinch at his words, "you mentioned something about a text message Renesmee received."

I flinch, my hand jerking up to clutch the back of my neck. "Yeah. She got a text last weekend during the family dinner. I thought it was you, but she said it wasn't. She also didn't mention who it was from."

"Unfortunately, I don't know who it could be," Edward sighs, obviously just as concerned as I am. "While I know you think poorly of me, I do understand the bond of imprinting. I would never try to go behind your back and set her up with someone else. It's not personal, Jacob. I don't want her dating anyone right now. She has the whole world open to her, I don't want her to feel like she's trapped."

He seems sincere, but I'm still suspicious. After his non-verbal communication with Jasper the other day I'm honestly beginning to think he has something up his sleeve. I don't know what, but knowing Edward, it's something big that will completely throw me for a loop.

However, I can't worry about that right now. I'll have to take him at face value. For now. "Fine. If you find out anything, please let me know. I'm not beyond getting into her phone to check."

"It's just one message so far, right?" I nod, but I'm not completely sure. It's one message, as far as I know. Sadly, I'm not glued to her hip at all times. "Let's not invade her privacy just yet over one message. Bella and I will monitor and see if we need to intervene. Besides, who could it be? She doesn't go anywhere alone."

Knowing this is about the best I'll get out of Edward, I agree. Pointing over my shoulder toward the cottage, I change the subject, "You think she's ready? I don't want to keep Jared and Kim waiting."

"Sure." Edward leads me back to the cottage. I see Ness as soon as I walk in. She's standing in the middle of the living room talking with Bella. Even if she wasn't my imprint, I wouldn't be able to tear my eyes away from her. The dress she has on is beautiful, flowing over her tiny body loosely. While everything "important" is covered up, the dress is one shouldered, exposing the creamy skin of her neck and collarbone.

Holy shit she's growing up fast!

Obviously, I know this is a fact, Ness growing up fast, but this is so different. She is truly becoming a woman and everything within me knows it. She pulls me toward her with the invisible strings of the bond between us. I'm fighting to keep my hand down by my side instead of lifting it to glide it up her bare arm to her shoulder like I want to. As I get closer, she spins around as if she just became aware of my presence. Her face breaks out into a huge smile and my heart clinches.

Before I can pull myself together, she's in my arms, hugging me tight. Without thought, I pull her closer, her chest flush against mine. My lips lower to place a soft kiss on the top of her head then I tuck her head under my chin. I lose the battle with my hand; I feel the soft skin of her arm under my fingers as I make my way up to her shoulder. Feels like silk.

As Ness relaxes into me, I hear her softly sigh my name. I don't want to share her tonight. I suddenly want to be alone with my imprint all night; take her on a date, just the two of us. I'm just about to reach for my phone, tell my sister we won't be able to make it, when a throat clears behind me.

"Jacob, you mentioned you didn't want to keep Jared and Kim waiting."

Keeping my growl in takes all my effort. Fucking Edward. He must have heard my plans. God forbid I have a night alone with my imprint.

Ness leans back out of my arms and gives me a smile. "I'm ready."

As much as I want to argue, the look of excitement on her face moves me forward. We give our farewells and head for Jared and Kim's house. They are waiting for us when we arrive and I quickly help Ness into the backseat before folding my body in as well. Kim offers to sit in the back, but I decline. I'd rather be stuffed in with Ness than separated from her by being in the front.

We arrive at Paul and Rachel's house just as we see them exiting the house, along with Sam, Emily, Embry, and Lillah. As I get out of the car, I realize I forgot to tell Ness about Embry and Lillah now officially dating. Offering my hand to Ness, I help her out, quickly whispering to her the update on our friend's relationship status. She seems excited when I tell her, but something tells me that isn't the full story.

She runs over to Lillah, hugging her and congratulating her on the news. They talk for a few minutes before Paul shouts we need to get going. Climbing back into the car, I try to prepare myself for the long drive with my knees up to my chin. At least I'll have my imprint by my side.

-0-

Dinner isn't as painful as I thought it would be. For the most part, everyone behaves and the coupling off isn't too bad. Of course, watching Embry practically drool all over Lillah is disturbing. While Lillah is attractive, she doesn't do anything for me. What bugs me is watching Embry deny himself his imprint when he can freely have her. I would give anything to be able to have my imprint be mine, no strings attached, or conditions placed on our relationship by her father. Embry doesn't know how very lucky he is.

If I could be honest with Ness, if she knew about my imprinting on her, tonight would be the beginning of a transition for us. I would start to show her she is so much more than my best friend. But I can't. Instead I have to sit here and watch Embry give Lillah a hickey.

"That is so disgusting. Get a room, Embry," I growl out. When he glances up at me I can tell he's pissed, but I don't care.

I feel a small hand smack my arm just as Ness admonishes me, "That wasn't polite dinner talk, Jacob Black."

Good thing she didn't hear that thought about the hickey, she's probably smack me upside the head. The idea of Ness beating up on me for bad manners makes me grin. When I turn to apologize to her, she squints her eyes at me but I can tell I'm forgiven.

Ness joins in on the occasional conversation with Lillah, Kim, Emily, and Rachel as the dinner finishes up. When Embry jumps, causing the table to shake, it doesn't take much to figure out why given the angle of Lillah's arm. Ness seems confused but I'm laughing too hard to explain.

As we walk out of the restaurant, I feel her hand press against my cheek and I see the image of Lillah's hand obviously angled toward Embry's lap. There is a question in the image from Ness and all I can do is choke out a laugh as I nod my head.

Before I can say any more, the girls grab Ness and run ahead of us. We walk a few blocks until the girls stop in front of a jewelry store to admire the window display. While the other guys hang back, I run up to Ness. Since she's in flats, it's easy to just rest my chin on her head. Her hand reaches up to my cheek. What she shares with me isn't a picture or words but a feeling. She's happy, having a good time with the girls - and with me.

Soon enough, we are moving along again, but this time the couples are back together. My hand naturally finds the dip in her back as I lead her away from the store. As much as I want to be like the other couples, I know I can't be. Dropping my hand back down to my side, I do my best not to be frustrated and just enjoy the evening.

We don't have a problem getting into the place Rachel picked, Ness showing her new I.D. that says she's eighteen. Along with the other imprintees, she runs straight for the dance floor. I want to stand at the edge of the floor and just watch her move, but I'm dragged away by Paul.

I stay seated at the table sipping a beer, but my eyes are locked on my girl. The graceful movements of her body intrigue me. She doesn't have the overtly sexual moves like my sister, instead she dances around the floor lightly, every muscle moving in time to the beat.

I'm barely aware of the conversation, though I know the guys are giving Embry shit. When he stalks off to the dance floor I don't pay much attention until I feel his eyes on me. I feel the threat before I even set eyes on the problem. I'm standing as my eyes land on the guy approaching Ness.

Protect what's mine. That is all I can think of as I move as quickly as my body will allow me to get to Ness. The girls are waving at Embry as Lillah shouts about him being her boyfriend. This gives the guy approaching Ness pause. I manage to reach him before he can breathe on her. Grabbing his arm, I pull him as far away as possible.

"Tell your friends," I growl as I push him up against the railing surrounding the dance floor, "hands off those women."

The guy looks a little shocked, but still determined. "Says who?"

A body being slammed into the rail causes the guy I have pinned there to jump. His friend is next to him now, with Paul crushing his wind pipe.

"Says me," Paul roars.

"Paul," I hear Sam warn behind me. When I glance at him over my shoulder I notice he has the other two men. While he isn't touching them, he's staring them down, his eyes not even blinking. The death stare.

Sam speaks in the tone of the Alpha, though it has no effect on me or the men, "Like my friends said, hands off those five women out there. Tell your friends and every other idiot in this bar. They are protected by us and we will not hesitate to hurt anyone that touches them."

Against my better judgment, I release my guy when the other two agree to Sam's terms. I can hear them whispering as they walk away, confused about what is so special about our imprintees. "A scar face, two sex pots, a chubby, and jail bait. I seriously don't get it."

"That sex pot is mine and I will kill you if you even look at her," Paul shouts across the bar.

Jail bait. Shit.

Paul, Sam and I return to the table. Jared stayed behind, ready to work with Embry to take the women out of the bar if needed. He hands us all beers as we sit. The mood at the table is somber to say the least.

Twisting back to look at Ness I know that jerk was right, she is jail bait. She's gorgeous, and I know the time is getting close, but she isn't ready yet. She's still too young. Even if I could tell her about the imprint, she isn't ready for the next step in our relationship.

Paul elbows me, pointing out at Embry and Lillah on the dance floor, "You see that idiot?"

Glancing up, I see Embry and Lillah making out. Shaking my head, I can't help but to laugh when he finally manages to pull himself away from Lillah and make his way back to the table. "He really is an idiot," I agree with Paul.

As Embry approaches, I see Lillah give Ness a big hug and start dancing with her. Even though Lillah is drunk, Ness laughs along with her and starts following Lillah's moves.

"Nice moves," I hear Paul say. I'm ready to punch when I realize he's giving Embry shit, not watching Ness like I assumed. Trying my best to keep the wolf in check, I try to focus on the conversation.

As he fills his beer from the pitcher, Embry sighs, "Whatever man, I suck, but I'd do anything she wanted me to if it would put that smile on her face."

I don't have to look at the other guys to know we all feel the exact same way about our imprints. They are the world to us and we would do anything, even make an ass of ourselves on the dance floor, to make them happy.

The table goes quiet as we all focus our attention on the five women on the dance floor. I hear a sound next to me but I don't bother to look away from the dance floor. "You're growling again, dude," I say to Embry without breaking my eyes away from Ness.

"You ready to tell her?"

Running a hand over my face, I do my best to focus on how to respond to Embry. The truth is I'm dying to tell her. Embry knows this, we've talked about it before. The difference between him and I is that he's keeping the secret because of his stubbornness, I'm keeping the secret to keep my imprintee close.

"Some days are harder than others. She's been acting kind of weird lately." Boy is that an understatement. The text message is still throwing me off. "I don't know if she is keeping something from me or if she suspects I'm keeping something from her."

Shaking my head I do my best to clear my thoughts. I know based on the other wolves that the imprintees feel the connection as strongly as we do. A change in one of us sparks that same change in the other, but I really don't know what sparked the change for Ness and I to keep secrets from one another. I just hope I can make it until her next birthday, otherwise, the consequences of telling the truth are worse than the pain of the secrets right now. "As well as I know Ness, it's still hard to guess what she's thinking."

Jared jumps in before Embry can reply, "That's because she's a female. Half vampire or not, that doesn't change."

"It's true," Sam laughs, "females are a complicated breed."

Embry looks around the table, confused, "I don't know. Lillah is pretty straight forward most of the time."

I open my mouth to tell Embry how lucky he is, but Ness, with her flushed cheeks comes over and stands next to me and downs a bottle of water quickly. Any thoughts I might have had before are erased as my eyes follow the line of her neck.

"You guys don't want to come dance with us?" she asks, her eyes darting over to me. She looks hopeful. I really don't think it's a good idea for me to dance with Ness. Being that close, her body moving against mine cannot end well for me.

When I glance over at Embry he has a smirk on his face. Asshole. He thinks he understands just because we are technically in the same boat right now. What he doesn't get is that I'm bound by a promise that I can't break. A promise I'd give anything to break.

However, that pleading look in her eyes is my undoing. "Uh, yeah, I'll go," I finally give in. Sam and Jared follow Ness and I out to the dance floor. Thankfully a slow song starts as soon as we approach the dance floor.

Sam and Jared easily pull Emily and Kim into their arms. Rachel starts laughing hard as she grabs Lillah and spins her around the dance floor. The two drunks giggle as they do an over-exaggerated waltz.

Ness stops in the middle of the dance floor, looking around at the couples moving slowly. She turns to me, placing her hand against my cheek as she speaks into my mind, "Sorry, it's a slow song. We can wait until something faster comes on."

I take a step forward so that we are close. Pulling her hand from my face, I place it against my neck. I hold her gently in my arms and start swaying, hoping I'm moving in time to the beat. "It's fine, Ness. I don't mind a slow song."

She sighs softly and leans her head against my chest, her ear against my heart. Her breathing slows down, evening out. Having her so close, I can smell her sweet skin. That bare shoulder teasing my lips.

I do my best to push those thought aside, grabbing at the first question I think of, "Are you getting tired?"

"A little," she sighs, "but I don't want this night to end."

"I take it you've had fun?" I chuckle.

She leans her head back and smiles at me, "I have. Did you have any fun?"

"I'm having fun right now," I wink at her.

She laughs the returns her head to it's resting spot, "Me too, Jacob."

As much as I try to ignore the wolf, he is noticing every inch of where our bodies are touching. Though the dress she's wearing is loose, this close, I can feel the swell of her breasts against my chest and her hips under my hands. It would be so easy to lift her up or pull her closer to me. Then kiss her.

Edward's warning replaying in my mind stops my thoughts before I get carried away. I remind myself that even though I want to kiss her, and she hopefully wants to kiss me, it isn't the right time. She doesn't know about the imprinting and, as I was reminded just a short time ago, she's still young, no matter how much she's still growing.

"Growling," I hear Rachel whisper and I jerk my head up to look at her. She and Lillah are still dancing around dramatically and she winks at me as she moves away quickly.

"Is something wrong?" Ness asks softly. "Your sister is right, you were growling."

"No, nothing wrong. In fact, everything is pretty perfect right now." I grin down at her. Even though I can't tell her for a while yet, I can tell her how much I've enjoyed tonight, especially this dance with her.

Just as I'm about to open my mouth, the alarm on my phone goes off. When I open it up to turn the alarm off I realize my time with Ness is up.

I wave my phone at Jared and he nods. Turning back to Ness, I give her a sad smile. "Time to get you home."

"Already?" she pouts. "Nothing will happen if we are a few minutes late."

As much as I want to give in to her, I don't want to deal with Edward's wrath. "Oh, something will happen. I'm pretty sure you're father will turn me into a pumpkin, somehow, if I don't have you there by midnight."

"You're probably right," she sighs.

After quick goodbyes, I lead her out, following Jared and Kim to their car. We don't make it very far when Jared pauses to pick Kim up. Before I can ask he turns back to me, "She was falling asleep on the dance floor."

Ness' hand brushes my face, "Must be the baby."

"I guess," I whisper. I don't know much about what happens when a woman is pregnant, other than what Bella went through when she was pregnant with Ness. "Is being tired normal?"

Jared answers my question, "Kim swears it's normal but I'm not sure. She's been falling asleep during dinner lately."

"It's normal," Kim whispers, "stop worrying, Jared."

Ness giggles but nothing else is said as we get settled in the car. We are quiet as Jared drives us back to his house. Once there, Ness and I quickly get in my car and I take her to the cottage. I pull up to the cottage with a minute to spare.

"Guess Dad won't be changing you into a pumpkin tonight," Ness laughs as we exit the car.

"Not tonight," Edward says from the front door.

Sighing, I know I have to leave Ness now. The night is officially over. As much as I would like to give her a proper goodbye, with Edward standing there, I don't even feel comfortable hugging her. He's watching, ready to separate us at the smallest hint of impropriety. After the way I clung to her when I picked her up, I'm afraid to push the limits.

Ness' hand moves over my face and I hear her soft whisper, "I had a blast tonight, Jacob. Thanks for taking me. And tell Rachel thanks for inviting me. I'm really excited to be a part of her wedding."

"Sure sure." I'm fighting myself but after holding her earlier on the dance floor, I want to feel that one more time. I pull her against my chest anyway, tucking her head under my chin as I whisper, "Goodnight, Ness. I had a 'blast' tonight too."

When I release my arms from around her, I don't look at her or Edward. Instead, I turn around and aim for my car. I drive straight home but don't bother going inside. Instead I phase and go for a run. I need to clear my mind. Give my body a way to rid itself of the energy flowing through it.

As I'm running I start doing some quick math in my head. Ness' birthday was just over a month ago. Three hundred and sixty-five days in a year minus the number of days since her last birthday means...

Only three hundred and twenty-eight more days until I can finally tell Ness she is my imprint. Less than a year and I can finally show her how I feel about her, what she means to me.

Three hundred and twenty-eight days. I can do that.

I hope.

-0-

A/N: Hope you enjoyed the story, suzmac33! We adore you, along with all of our readers. We write because we love these characters, our readers loving them too is such a lovely bonus. Make sure you have us on alert so you can find out first when we post "Drawn To You". Should be very soon! (Soon = this month.)