AN: usual disclaimer apply, I don't own anything but the plot. I would like to really thank Georgia Dawgette for the amazing job of betaing this chapter and making it so much better than I could ever do.
It was yet another cloudy day that was well on its way to being rainy when Bella woke up that morning, nothing new there. Sunny days in Forks were few and far between, and before she met Edward she had welcomed each one, but now she preferred the rainy days so that she could spend her time with him. It was well known to everyone that the Cullen's went 'hiking' on sunny days and then, of course, Bella would find herself alone at school. Or rather alone would have been better than being swamped with Jessica's constant gossip and Mike futile attempts to catch her attention. Her heart belonged to Edward, she wished she could say solely, but fate had decided it was not to be the case.
At least finally, Bella had made peace with herself. She had chosen her path and a life with Edward over one with Jacob. The decision had been difficult, and even though she felt sorry for the pain she knew it caused her best friend, she didn't regret her choice. The plans for their marriage were coming along well, thanks to Alice who was the queen of party arrangements.
Bella sighed, in less than two months she was going to be Mrs. Edward Cullen, and honestly she couldn't wait. Well, she would be Mrs. Edward Cullen provided they managed to kill Victoria.
Her phone rang just as she turned it on pulling her from those musings, "Hello."
"Bells?" said a gruff voice.
"Jake?" asked Bella. Her heart was beating wildly, and she worried that once again he was going to try and change her mind.
The silence was deafening.
"Has something happened?" Bella asked fearfully.
"Yes, it's ... Kim... she's disappeared." Jake finally managed to choke out.
"Disappeared how? I mean how can someone just disappear? Oh God! No, please Jake... no..." said Bella.
"We think that Victoria got her. Jared is... out of his mind." He replied sounding defeated.
"What can I do? I...this is all my fault! Victoria is after me, I brought her here and now everyone I care about is in danger!" cried out Bella.
"No Bella, this is that damn leech's fault; not yours." Jake spat angrily. "Actually, if you want to put the blame on someone, maybe you should look at your beloved fiancée."
"It's not Edward's fault, he saved me from James and now he is protecting me from Victoria along with you." said Bella. "Where is Jared?" she added hoping to change the topic of their talk.
"He is at Emily and Sam's, but it would be better to let him be. We don't know what losing an imprint can do, not that we are completely sure that he has lost her but...the alternative..." whispered Jake.
And that was the moment that Bella, for the first time, doubted that becoming a vampire was a good choice. She closed her eyes and felt grief overcome her. "If she was ... turned... what... what will you do?"
"I... we will do what must be done, Bells." said Jake.
Bella felt a squeeze in her heart; if Kim had been turned, then she was Jared's enemy. How can you think of killing the woman you love? "But maybe…maybe I can talk with the Cullen's, and they can find her and maybe help her become a vegetarian and..."
"Stop there Bella, not everyone wants that half-life! Beside, how could Jared live knowing that she is a leech? What would he do?" Jake snarled. "It's better if she is dead."
"Is ... is this what you think about me too?" she asked quietly.
"I told you Bells, I'll fight for you until your last breath, but not further than that. Believe me when I say, that I would rather see you dead than as a vampire. We all agree on this, Jared won't be asked to participate in the killing, but he will have to stand aside and let it happen." said Jake resolutely.
"I have to go Jake" she said softly. "I need a bit of time to think about all this. I'll call you later ok?"
"Ok Bells, and be safe. Oh, and just one more thing, you can't tell the Cullen's that Kim was Jared's imprint, or for that matter anything about imprinting." Jake said seriously.
Bella was surprised. "What? Why not?"
Jake sighed. "Well, because it's one of the tribe legends that must remain a secret. Nobody can know outside the pack. Actually, have you ever talked to them about it? Because, since it's a pack secret, you should have been prevented by magic from saying anything about it to them at all."
Bella bit her lip, "It never came out in any discussion. Actually, I don't think I've ever even thought about it when I was with them."
"It's part of the power surrounding imprinting, you can tell them that Jared's girl has been abducted, but that's as much as you can reveal."
Bella sighed. "Ok Jake. If I won't be able to talk about it then I won't tell them anything I shouldn't. I'll talk to you soon then. Bye." she put down the phone without waiting for a reply.
She sat heavily on the bed. This was a mess! Poor Jared must be suffering so much, and despite what Jake said about it not being her fault, she felt so guilty. She shuddered at the thought of the wolves having to face Kim and kill her as a newborn.
Bella almost had a heart attack when she heard a knock at her window. She turned and saw her fiancée smiling at her. "Edward, you scared me to death!" As usual his appearance caused her heart to race, his golden eyes were soft and caring, his crooked smile gave her butterflies and his usual pristine smart clothes brought a wave of envy for his grace. How was it that he could be outside running and hunting in the forest, and he still looked like a model out of a magazine?
He entered and took her in his arms. "Sorry love, I didn't mean to scare you." He kissed her, but his kiss just didn't feel the same, for once there was no comfort in it, she just didn't feel connected to him. He looked at her and asked. "Is something wrong love?"
She felt tears stream down her cheeks. "Kim, Jared's girlfriend, has disappeared. The pack thinks that she has been taken by Victoria." she tried to tell Edward about imprinting, but she found herself unable to say a word about it. Jake had been right, it was apparently a secret that no vampire could know. "I feel so guilty. This is all my fault!"
Edward held her tightly. "Shush love, it's not. It's Victoria's fault, and when we get her she will pay. This I promise you. Now do you want to come to my house with me for the night or should we stay here?"
Bella bit her lip again. "Actually, I was hoping for some alone time, if you don't mind. I really need to study, and do some house chores. Can you come back later or maybe tomorrow?"
Edward seemed surprised and a bit upset, but nodded. "Okay, love. I'll go hunting. Till tomorrow then." He leaned down to kiss her forehead and left.
Bella didn't know why she pushed Edward away, but at the moment vampires in general weren't really her favorite people. She was so sad; she closed her eyes and pictured Jared smiling softly at Kim. He was always the lighthearted, funny wolf, and he was completely devoted to his the other hand, Kim was shy and serious, and Bella always thought that her calm demeanor counterbalanced his more impetuous one.
Probably it was the nature of imprinting to provide that balance, she knew that the imprintee was what grounded the wolf to the world, and only she could provide what he really needed. It was difficult being a shape-shifter, and she didn't envy the life of the 'wolf girls'. Being a werewolf was a full-time job, protecting the tribe and hunting vampires were their main tasks, and both duties were extremely dangerous. The girls never knew if their mates would be back, and even the thought of losing the ones she lovedscared Bella so very much. However, despite the drawbacks the devotion and the love between the wolf and his imprint greatly appealed to her.
Thinking about imprinting led her mind back to Jared. She felt desperate; she wanted to go to him, and try to reassure him that no matter what, he would survive this. But could she? Would he ever be okay? When Edward left she had been devastated, and he wasn't even her imprint.
Throughout her entire relationship with Edward, Bella's desire to be changed had never wavered, she had always known that they belonged together and had desperately wanted to spend eternity with him. However, after talking with Jake, for the first time she was feelings uneasy about having made such a monumental decision without really considering how much it involved. Obviously, it would be different for her than for Kim, most importantly it was her choice and she had the Cullen's and Edward to support her during her first year, but because of Kim's situation she couldn't stop thinking about the pain she would cause those who loved her the most.
Though the worst thought was that the pack would see her being changed as a betrayal; poor Kim didn't have a choice, but she did. Choosing consciously to be a vampire would be like kicking them when they were already down. She shuddered at the thought of how much Jake would hate her, would he go after her like Jared had to do with Kim?
She sat heavily on the bed, and didn't feel like doing anything. A knock at the window made her jump again. This time it was Jake, she sighed and opened the window. "What is it with my guys always entering from the window? I have a door downstairs. You could use it Jake!"
He swiftly entered and took her in his arms. It didn't go unnoticed that as usual he was wearing only his cut-off jeans. Her stomach was full of butterflies again, Jake didn't posses Edward's grace or beauty, but his roughness and warmth always had the same effect on her. His dark eyes were shining brightly at her, his smile was sunny, and his comfort and love warmed Bella's heart. "Sorry Bells, as one of your guys I feel entitled to enter from wherever I see fit."
Bella, now enveloped in his warmth, felt her heart settle a bit. Jake was what she needed right now. She snuggled closer. "What are you doing here?"
He sighed and hugged her even tighter. "I knew that my phone-call upset you, so I decided to come and see how you were doing. I thought you were overanalyzing everything, and I didn't want you to go crazy, well I mean crazier than you already are."
She smiled softly, her Jake always made her feel better. He knew her inside out, and always had funny words that helped her. "Geesh, don't I feel loved here!"
Jake murmured. "You are more than loved Bells. You must know by now that I simply adore you."
Bella blushed and let him go. Their relationship was on shaky ground as it was, and it didn't help that she had recently realized that she was in love with him too. "You shouldn't say such things Jake, I'm going to marry Edward. You should really try to move on."
Jake turned away from her. "I won't give up on you Bells, not until your last breath."
Again Bella felt tears in her eyes. Sometimes it felt so easy with Jake, she could almost imagine the peacefulness and the happiness they could have together. Jacob Black had been the reason she didn't fall to pieces when Edward had left her, he had been there through thick and thin. Bella always felt a kinship with Jacob and his warmth, that she didn't have even with Edward.
She shook her head, these thoughts weren't healthy, she had made her choice and now she needed to stick with it. "Have you seen Jared?" she asked to change the topic.
Jake turned back to look at her, and then sat heavily on her bed. "I went to see him, but I left again as soon as I could. It's awful Bells, I can't even imagine what will happen when he phases. I fear for our sanity. He looked like a man who lost the will to live; it was like there was nothing anymore that meant anything to him. I think the only thing that is keeping him alive is the desire to avenge her."
Bella sat down next to Jake and put a hand on his warm leg. "You were right about the imprinting; I couldn't talk with Edward about it. I feel like I'm split into two, because there are things I can't tell him and others that I can't tell you. I'm so frustrated and now I feel like Kim's abduction has just been the last blow."
Jake sighed. "I'm sorry Bells if being in my life makes you so uncomfortable."
Bella shook her head. "No Jake! It's not being in your life, it's the situation. I have one foot in the vampire world, and the other in the werewolf one. It's just that I love both worlds so much. I thought that I was sure of my choice, but now I'm not."
Jake turned to look at her with the most marvelous smile. "Are you really considering remaining human?"
Bella looked down, his happiness and hope were a jab right through her heart, it was all so confusing! One moment she was sure and now, that she was here with her Jake nothing seemed certain once again. She sighed. "I've been thinking, and Kim's accident kind of put a more realistic perspective on the whole thing. It's like I finally see what you've been saying. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that Jared is going through, and I'm not sure I can hurt you and my family that way."
Jake jumped up and then knelt in front of her. "Bells, all I'm asking is that you think about it. Me and you, we can make it work, and even if you don't want me I'll just be your friend, but I want you human."
A lone howl broke the moment and Jake stood up. He leaned towards her and kissed her on the forehead. "I love you Bells, I'll talk to you later."
While Jake was on his way out of her window she said. "Jake, please send my love to Jared…tell him that…if he needs to talk, I'm here."
He smiled softly at her. "Thank you. I'll pass the message along. Love you!"
After Jake left she sat heavily on her bed again and cried. It was an awful situation and regardless of whether or not anyone was blaming her, she still felt responsible.
AN: A small note about imprinting, it is the same as in the books, but I might change a few things for the story's benefit.