Silence of the Wolves Contest

Title: Beauty Killed The Beast

Author: TwilightMomofTwo & Confetti Rainfall

Authors' homepages: http : / www(.)fanfiction(.)net/~twilightmomoftwo

http : / www(.)fanfiction(.)net/u/2108409/

Main Players: Edward, Bella, Jacob, the Cullens, the Wolfpack

Disclaimer: All things Twilight are exclusively owned by Stephenie Meyer and no copyright infringement is intended. No actual wolves were hurt during the writing of this story. Please don't sic PETA on us.

TMoT and CR each own a paid for copy of the Twilight Saga books, but that's about it. Oh, and the DVDs too.

To see other Contest entries, please visit the Contest's FanFiction page:

http:/www(.)fanfiction(.)net/u/2269000/Silence_of_the_Wolves

Summary: Jacob does a bad, bad thing. What happens to a rabid dog when he meets his executioner?


BPOV

Edward had just left a few minutes ago. I was sitting at the kitchen table in front of a bowl of cereal, reliving our early morning activities with a very wide smile on my face.

It was barely morning when I'd woken up, roused from sleep by a cool finger gently stroking my cheek.

"Sorry," Edward whispered. "I didn't mean to wake you."

I smiled. Any morning waking up with Edward at my side was a good morning in my book.

"Sure you didn't," I teased, pushing my blanket down, stretching my arms over my head and moaning a little. I grinned internally when I heard Edward take in a sharp breath. My pajama top was over my head and joined Edward's shirt on the floor before I could blink.

Edward's long fingers danced across my neck and collarbone, his head leaning down to blow gentle kisses against the sensitive spot behind my ear.

"Hmmm, Bella..."

"Charlie?" I asked, already out of breath.

"Left before dawn," he mumbled into my ear, his sweet breath tickling my skin.

My hands fisted in his hair, I pulled myself closer to him, and his arms encircled me immediately. His smile melted my heart, as I leaned into him, kissing the silent heart in his cold chest before making my way to his mouth. His lips caressed mine softly before he deepened the kiss. After a moment, his icy tongue peeked out, and I eagerly met it with my own. I was still not used to the taste of him, the sweet flavor of his venom making my mouth tingle. Moaning against his lips, I crawled into his lap as he sat back against the headboard of my bed, my overheated skin pressed against the cool marble of his chest.

Edward had only recently relaxed his strict boundaries. To get him to even this point had required a lot of cajoling, explaining and hours of discussion, even going so far as to checking with Carlisle in regards to the possible effects of Edward's venom on my skin, but he had finally conceded my argument that we needed to practice our intimacy before the big night.

I had also never been quite as red-faced in my entire life as when I'd secretly visited and talked to Carlisle about Edward's and my intimacy. Not even when I stammeringly told Edward about that conversation and shared with him Carlisle's go-ahead in regards to our concerns about his venom.

I was still okay with Edward's condition that we wouldn't fully consummate our relationship until after we were married, keeping that as our wedding gift to each other, but even he had to agree that two virgins, one a perpetual teenager, the other riddled with hormones, and both of us eager and willing, could come up with plenty of extended foreplay to explore.

After quietly mulling things over for a day or two, he had laid down some ground rules, such as having to take turns, meaning I couldn't touch him when he was touching me, and vice versa, but he'd begun to initiate our practice sessions, as he called them, always careful to hunt beforehand, always hesitant and cautious.

While both of us were somewhat embarrassed initially and rather shy in our mutual explorations, we had made great strides in our intimate relationship. For me, there was nothing more exciting and exhilarating than Edward's cold hands on my overheated body. The pleasures we found in each other had been mind-blowing.

In the last week or so, he had slowly taken more risks. I supposed he had realized that he could trust himself as much as I trusted him not to hurt me. Case in point – he no longer felt the need to hunt as extensively as he had in the early stages, and he had also been a bit more adventurous and forward in his chosen locations and practice times.

It seemed that once he'd let go a little, Edward was a tad – well, insatiable. For the past few days, I hadn't seen the rest of the Cullens for more than a few minutes at at time, just enough for a quick hello until Edward would drag me either into his room, or into the woods for more practice, a wicked, panty-dropping grin on his face every time he slung me onto his back.

I wasn't complaining. Not at all.

Emmett had shown great restraint with his teasing comments after I had flown in his face and yelled at him, scared that he would cause Edward to retreat again if the brotherly ribbing became too much. Esme's stern warning certainly had helped, too. Perhaps Rosalie smacking his head repeatedly had also driven the point home.

The catcalls that followed us up the stairs had died down, partially because the novelty wore off, I supposed. I wasn't sure if Emmett's thoughts were within the limits as well, but Edward hadn't said anything to me, and during the few occasions we'd been around Emmett, his facial expressions had also not given me cause to suspect anything untoward.

One unexpected benefit of the loosened boundaries – Edward no longer wore a shirt when he spent the night in my room. I had spent countless hours ogling and touching the perfect planes of his chest, the solid muscles of his abs, and the soft trail of hair that led to the promised land.

Which I had not yet laid eyes on. That was still one of his firm lines – in all of our explorations of each other, he kept his pants on, though to his initial mortification, Edward hadn't been able to hide the evidence of his arousal from me. Thus, I was allowed to touch it, albeit only while it stayed covered. It didn't matter, though, because the first time I put my hand on him, and he gently showed me how to move my fingers around it, I had made him climax nonetheless.

The sight of Edward in the throes of passion had been breathtaking, and I had wanted to see it again and again. He had never looked more beautiful to me than in that moment, the wild intensity of his eyes locked on mine, surrendering himself to me, with pure bliss sweeping across his handsome features, as he'd throatily snarled out his pleasure and convulsed under my hands.

Said bliss was quickly replaced by utter shame and embarrassment on his part, and it had taken me raising my voice in near anger to finally convince him that I had very much liked this particular reaction from him.

Needless to say, we'd ruined quite a few of Edward's pants since then, and with a rather sheepish grin, he'd gone to keeping spares in my closet, changing and cleaning up in my bathroom after we finished our nocturnal activities. That part no longer fazed me at all, I was simply too excited to get to this point to care much about the necessary clean-up afterwards.

And somehow, Alice had managed to put clothes for me in Edward's closet, especially a drawer that contained a large collection of naughty underthings that had caused me to blush profusely when I first saw them. I was long past the embarrassment now, instead feeling rather guilty that they usually didn't make it through the practice sessions in one piece.

I giggled just thinking of how he would rip the tiny nothings off me, his eyes darkening with desire, as soon as he saw them come to light.

"What's funny, sweetheart?" Edward raised his head and looked at me, his head cocked to one side.

I blushed. "Nothing, I just thought of something but it's not important. Carry on..."

"Hmm...is that so? That's quite a blow to my ego, love...I must not be doing this well enough..." he trailed off, a teasing glint in his eyes as he lowered his mouth to my collarbone again. I wiggled my hips against his cloth-covered groin, eliciting a rumbled groan from him that vibrated against my skin. I smiled to myself, proud of how I could make him feel.

The large size of what lay hidden behind the fabric of his pants could not be denied, and it both excited me to no end and scared me nearly witless, whenever I thought of where this rather rigid appendage would need to fit.

I usually pushed those fears to the very back of my mind and focused on the mind-boggling sensations that Edward's cool touch evoked in me.

"God, Bella, you drive me absolutely crazy," he whispered, his voice rough, as he lowered his head to wrap his lips around my left nipple. My back arched my breast further into his mouth, and his icy tongue flickered across the hardened bud. I couldn't help but let the loud moan escape when he gently suckled on it, causing a gush of moisture in my groin.

"Oooh...Edward...hmmm..."

One of his hands trailed down my naked back, slipping underneath the waistband of my pajama pants, cupping the bare cheek. My fingers buried in his hair, I tugged hard on the strands. In the blink of an eye, I was on my back with Edward hovering between my legs, both hands on my waist, slowly ripping the pants at the seam.

"I'll buy you a new set," he mumbled as he laid a trail of kisses down my stomach, blowing cool air against my skin, dipping his tongue into my bellybutton. I was writhing under him, but his hands firmly held me in position.

I was past the point of caring about destroyed pajama pants, thoroughly lost in the fiery burn of pleasure he was giving me.

"Your scent right here, Bella, it's positively delectable...very different and yet pure you..." he muttered as he slid even lower, his fingers brushing gently through the curls, dipping deeper and stroking my wet folds. As if on cue, I blushed profusely at his words and I could hear him chuckle into my skin.

"Oh, my sweet Bella...I love you, so much..."

"I love you, too..." My voice was embarrassingly husky, but he didn't seem to mind.

I raised my head and watched his tongue peek out from his mouth, but lost all strength in any of my limbs when he touched it carefully to the sensitive nub at the apex of my thighs. My head fell back as a whimpered moan tore out of my throat.

"Edward..."

I lost all sense of time as the pleasure overwhelmed me and afterwards, it took quite a while for me to come back from my Edward-induced high.

He held me cradled in his arms, as my breathing slowly returned to normal and the rapid staccato of my heartbeat slowed down.

"What time is it?" I asked him after I had sufficiently calmed down.

"Nearly nine," he answered, kissing my hair. "I know I'm supposed to meet with Emmett and Jasper, but I'd much rather stay here with you."

"I know, but you have to go. You promised," I said with a heavy heart. "I'll miss you."

Edward sighed. "I will miss you, too. We won't go far," he said reassuringly. "We'll be back in a few hours. Perhaps after your shopping trip, Alice could take you directly to the house and you could wait for me there."

I groaned. "Ugh...I almost forgot about that. More wedding shopping. Can't we just run off to Vegas instead?"

I knew I was whining rather ungratefully, and didn't really mean what I was saying. Seeing the flash of disappointment in Edward's eyes, I felt instantly guilty.

"Don't mind me," I assured him quickly. "I'm just a little overwhelmed with it all. Flowers, dresses, food choices, the cake..."

"I will speak to Alice, sweetheart," Edward answered, "I'll let her know that you need some room to breathe, alright? She can be rather exhausting, I know."

"No, it's okay, don't worry about it," I said quickly, smiling at him. "I'll be fine. It's the end result that counts, right?"

"Yes," he whispered reverently, "I believe you are correct. I cannot wait to call you my wife."

He dipped his head down and captured my lips with another searing kiss.

Reluctantly, I'd forced Edward to leave. He needed to go hunt. And, besides, if he hadn't left when he did, Emmett would have come and physically removed Edward from my room. As I sat at the kitchen table, pushing the cereal around my bowl, I realized I had only taken a few bites. Thinking about Edward had caused my attention to focus on something other than breakfast.

I was brought out of my musings when I heard a knock at the door. For a moment I thought it was Alice. I looked at the clock, but she wasn't due to pick me up for at least another hour.

"Bells, open up."

"Jake?"

"Yeah, it's me," he chuckled. "Your long-lost friend. Come on…let me in."

I couldn't believe he was here. I missed seeing him, but Jacob had wanted more than I could give, refusing to accept the fact that Edward and I were getting married, and that it was my intention to join Edward and his family fully and completely. Jacob had told me he would have preferred that I died.

I sighed.

As I reached for the knob, a voice rang out from deep inside my head, insisting that I immediately call Alice because something was very wrong. I hesitated for a moment, but then shook it off. Jacob was my friend and I was just over-reacting.

I should have listened to the voice.

Jacob was smiling, but his eyes appeared wild. A chill ran down my spine and I took an involuntary step back.

"So," he said sinisterly, waving around an envelope. "Looks like the date's been set."

The playful tone was gone, causing the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. I watched as Jacob took in a deep breath and sniffed me.

"Yes," I replied hesitantly. "I hadn't realized you'd received an invitation."

I was instantly angry. I had told Edward and Alice not to send one to the Blacks. I knew Jacob would take it the wrong way and get royally pissed off. Why couldn't they do what I'd asked just this once? I could feel my heart racing the moment I felt his very warm hand on my arm.

"I'm not letting you go through with this!" Jake shouted. "He thinks you're his, but he's wrong. I'll show that leech. You belong to me!"

Suddenly I felt myself being pulled out of the house. Jacob was walking so fast he was almost dragging me. He opened the door to his VW Rabbit and shoved me inside, but I slipped. The last thing I remembered was hitting my head on something hard. Then everything went dark.

After an indeterminable amount of time, I woke up again. As I opened my eyes, I looked around, trying to get my bearings. I blinked several times, trying to adjust to the semi-darkness. I seemed to be lying on a dirty floor in a wooden one-room cabin, a small window on one side of the room looking rather grimy and letting in very little light. There was a filthy cot in one corner, and a small table against another wall.

I searched for the door in the dim light, desperately trying to figure out where the hell I was. When my eyes finally focused completely, I recognized Jacob leaning against a wall, glaring at me angrily. My head was pounding, a throbbing pain radiating up from my eyes. I raised my hand to my forehead.

"Ow!" I moaned, feeling a huge lump. I squeezed my eyes shut. This had to be a bad dream. I waited for a moment and then opened my eyes again, but the scene hadn't changed.

"Jake, where are we?" I asked, my voice quivering.

My question was met with silence, except for the wind blowing outside, sounding like a freight train. I shivered. It might have been summer, but wherever we were, it was cold and Jacob hadn't even seen fit to toss a blanket on me. I waited another minute or two before attempting to stand up. I dizzily staggered a bit, trying to steady myself.

"Damn it, Jacob. Where are we?" I shouted.

Before I realized what was happening, he had moved across the room and was now standing in front of me, our faces only inches apart.

"Where we are doesn't concern you," he answered through clenched teeth, the heat of his breath rolling over my face. "The only thing that matters is that we're together."

I gasped. I felt tears well up in my eyes, my words flying out of my mouth before I had a chance to think.

"Do you really think you can keep me here? I'm not a possession you can own, Jacob," I spat bitterly.

Instantly I fell backward, stumbling as I tried to regain my balance, but my feet wouldn't find traction on the ground. I continued spiraling downward, solidly landing on my back. I was stunned. Sluggishly, I sat up and touched my burning cheek, slowly comprehending that Jacob had slapped me. With my other hand, I reached for the back of my head and cringed. Another lump was already forming and there was something else – a sticky dampness. Immediately I began breathing through my mouth, knowing that I couldn't afford to pass out from the smell of the blood.

"Aw, Bells, what did ya have to go and do that for? I don't want to hurt you, but you can't say stuff like that. We're s'posed to be together," Jacob whined, attempting to appear apologetic. I wasn't buying it.

"Uh, sure, Jake. Have you forgotten about that little imprinting thing?" I asked snidely.

"No!" he shouted, his fists clenched, his eyes slammed shut. "Not everyone imprints, but it doesn't matter anyway. I have imprinted … on you. He's got your head all messed up … you just don't realize it. You just need some time alone with me. You'll see."

I knew this was complete bullshit. If he had imprinted on me, it would have happened the first time he saw me after his first change. And I knew just as well as he did that it hadn't happened.

"Jake, you're not thinking clearly," I disagreed cautiously. "If you had truly imprinted it would have happened while Edward was . . . gone." I closed my eyes, rubbing my chest as the anxiety of being away from Edward began to take hold once more.

"That doesn't count," he shouted again. "You were all confused by him leaving. If he had stayed away, everything would've been fine."

Jacob was twisting all the facts to suit his little delusion. Somehow I had to find a way out of this mess. I knew Alice couldn't see me while Jacob was around, so I needed to figure out a reason for him to leave, even if only temporarily.

"I don't know about you," I said quietly, "But I'm hungry. Is there anything to eat?"

Jacob looked annoyed and shook his head.

"Could you maybe go to a store and get us something? Please?" I asked nicely.

For one split-second he smiled and then, it was gone. Fury filled his face as he dropped down in front of me. He grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me so hard I thought my head would snap right off.

"You think you can trick me. Make me leave so your little bloodsucker can see where you are! Do you think I'm stupid?"

"Jake, stop! You're hurting me," I cried.

Between the lump on my forehead, the egg-shaped bump on the back of my head and the way my brain was banging around in my skull, by the time Jacob was finished with me, I'd be lucky to remember my own name. I sunk down to the floor the moment he let go and burst into hot, desperate tears, pulling my knees to my chest, curled in on my side.

If he thought that somehow I'd get over this, he was sadly mistaken. I'd already forgiven him for so many things. I had allowed him to manipulate me and, in doing so, I had hurt Edward more times than I cared to remember. But I would never forgive Jacob for this insanity.

The room was quiet except for my cries. I refused to look up when I heard the floorboards creak. I knew if Jacob saw my tear-filled eyes, he would try to apologize again and I didn't want to hear it. Being in the same room with him repulsed me. I was angry, furious with hatred toward my former best friend. He was filled with rage because of what Edward had done to me when he left, however, what Jacob was doing was so much worse.

At least Edward had left because he loved me – he hadn't wanted to hurt me. He understood how dangerous his world was for me as a human. He had hoped by removing himself from me, he was removing the danger.

Jacob was doing the exact opposite. He was hurting me both physically and emotionally. He knew that he could hurt me, kill me even, in a fit of rage, yet he kept me close. Where Edward had been selfless, Jacob was selfish. If he loved me like he claimed, he would let me go. He knew I wanted to be with Edward – I had told him so myself, more than once.

When the floor creaked again, I finally looked up and saw that Jacob had taken a few steps back, away from me. I started to settle my breathing, but just as I thought, when he looked at me and saw my tear-stained face, he quickly came over to me and dropped to his knees.

"Bella, oh Bella, I'm so sorry," he said, reaching for me.

I instantly recoiled, scooting myself as far away from him as I could.

"Leave me alone!" I shrieked angrily.

He didn't listen, continuing toward me. I was too weak to stop him as he pulled me against him, standing us up, his arms wrapped around me.

"Jake, please let me go," I begged, struggling to get away from him. I was nauseated by the heat and musky smell emanating off his body, but he refused to release me. He forced my face up, moving closer. I turned my head, as his lips landed on my cheek. I felt him shake as his rage overtook him again.

"Bella," he warned. "Stop pulling away. I don't want to hurt you."

"I think it's a little too late for that," I replied spitefully, using every bit of strength I had to push him away. Not surprisingly, I was unsuccessful.

"Stop fighting me," Jacob yelled, his hot breath forcing me to swallow back bile that had risen in my throat.

"No!" I screamed. "I don't love you, I never will. I love Edward!"

Jacob's fury intensified as his grip around me tightened.

I could barely breathe. My throat was closing and I was gasping for air. I tried to make Jacob see reason, but he seemed beyond rational thinking. I wouldn't give him what he wanted, even if my life depended on it. I belonged to Edward – mind, body and soul. Jacob could force himself on me, but he would never have me willingly. I just hoped there was a small amount of reason left in him.

My sobbing began again in earnest as I pleaded with him to let me go.

"It's not too late," I cried. "I promise I'll make everyone understand, Sam, Billy. Even Charlie. Please stop this before it's too late."

"Shut up! Just shut up!" he shouted angrily.

Jacob pushed me away, throwing me into a wall. I flew across the room with such force that I twisted my ankle as I fell back to the ground. The pain was so intense the I cried out, unable to muffle my agonized moans.

Jacob's fury finally got the better of him and he phased. Luckily for me, he was on the opposite side of the small room.

The pain in my ankle was excruciating. Cursing under my breath, I sincerely hoped that one of the wolves would now see our location. Of course, Jacob realized his mistake immediately and within seconds, he turned back into a sorry excuse for a human.

Holy, shit, he was naked. I instantly closed my eyes.

"Son of a bitch!" he yelled. "We have to leave. Now. Get up. They know where we are," he said frantically, approaching me.

"Don't. Touch. Me!" I spat at him. "Put some clothes on, you idiot. I'm not moving! I can't walk. I can barely see and you probably fractured one of my ribs."

"Uh...sorry...I didn't mean to..."

I heard him rustle in the corner, the sound of jeans scraping over skin and a zipper being pulled. I cautiously opened one eye, then the other when I saw that he was covered.

"Yeah, whatever, Jacob. You've done enough damage to last me a lifetime. I'm staying here. I'm not going anywhere with you," I wailed.

"Shit," he mumbled. "I'm sorry, Bells."

"Don't, just don't," I said, turning my face away from him. " If you were really sorry you'd take me home. At the very least you'd get food, pain medication and bandages. Maybe even a splint for my ankle."

"Sorry, Bells, but I don't trust you. If I'm going out and leaving you here, I've got to tie you up. I can't take a chance that you'll try to leave me."

"Please, Jacob. I can't go anywhere. I truly can't walk. Where am I going to go? I don't have any idea where I am," I pleaded.

I was already in such agony. I couldn't believe he wanted to inflict additional torture on my already bloodied and broken body. It was painfully obvious. Jacob just didn't care. Any honest feelings of friendship I might have had for him were gone. He had deluded himself into thinking that I belonged to him and he'd do anything and everything to keep me with him, regardless of the effects on me. The only hope I could hold onto was that the wolves would tell the Cullens where we were. I was too afraid to believe that Alice could see me and recognize the location, even with Jacob gone.

But hope was all I had left.

EPOV

After an absolutely wonderful morning with Bella, I was reluctant to leave her, but I needed to hunt. It had been quite some time since I last hunted with my brothers, and Emmett had been adamant about going. We wouldn't be far away, but our trip would take up the better part of the day. Alice had taken this opportunity to persuade Bella of the importance of yet another wedding shopping excursion. I felt bad for my sweet girl, but she had, after all, given Alice free rein so there wasn't much to be done except go along with the plan. It was certainly easier than arguing and Bella knew that in the end Alice would get her way in any case.

I knew all about the power of surrender these days. Nothing had ever felt so right than giving in to Bella's requests for greater intimacy. I had her stubborn persistence to thank for the recent developments, her unerring pursuit of what she knew to be right. She had single-handedly convinced me that slowly easing into a physical relationship would be most beneficial to the end goal – to make love with her without killing her in the process.

Despite my initial fears and multiple misgivings, I had agreed to her request. I could deny her nothing, after all, it seemed, not when she put her mind to it and wielded the power only she had over me. All it took was a simple 'please' and I was lost. I had surrendered again.

And after the first practice, as she called them, taking every possible precaution beforehand, including glutting myself on animal blood to the point of feeling so full that I thought I might burst, well – after that first time, I hadn't looked back. At this point, I couldn't quite remember why I had denied her and myself these deeper levels of our connection for so long, but I was done with chaste, for good.

I knew Bella was pleased with the great strides we had made in our intimate relationship, and it was largely thanks to her level-headed acceptance that I had gotten over my initial mortified embarrassment. After the last few weeks of explorations, I was no longer panicked about losing control – not even during my own climax. Occasionally, I felt a bit ashamed that I had seemingly overnight turned into an insatiable Bella-addict, but she didn't seem to mind. Hell, she even encouraged it.

I had never felt such immense pleasures as she evoked in me whenever she touched me, her hot little hands and her soft lips guiding me to heights I never imagined possible. Certainly, the thought of immersing myself within her womanly folds and taking her virginity still loomed like a daunting task on the not-so-distant horizon, but as long as we proceeded slowly, I was fairly confident that we would be alright.

I could hardly wait.

For the first time in my existence, I fit the profile of the perpetually horny teenager, and the feeling was so exhilarating and freeing, I hadn't quite wrapped my head around it.

From the corner of my eye, I saw Jasper smirking at me.

"Is that deer turning you on, Edward?" he snickered in his head. I scowled at him.

"Just be glad Emmett can't feel this..." He waggled his eyebrows as he sprinted ahead.

I groaned. "Hilarious, Jasper."

My brother's good-natured ribbing was almost like a badge of honor to me, another proof that stuck-up, prudish Edward – Emmett's words – was a thing of the past. Occasionally, Emmett took the teasing a step too far, but he'd been fairly restrained after Bella had nearly ripped his head off. Well, virtually of course, but the point had been made. And to my utter surprise, Rosalie had been on Bella's and my side, smacking Emmett whenever he opened his big mouth.

Unfortunately, she had no way of controlling his thoughts, but I had gotten used to it by now. I didn't let it bother me, too busy keeping my libido somewhat in check, and failing miserably most of the time.

I had already taken down another buck and was in search of one more when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. As soon as I saw that Alice was calling, I immediately became apprehensive. She wasn't planning on picking up Bella for at least another hour. My chest tightened.

"I'm so sorry, Edward. I can't see her anymore. I honestly don't know what happened, but she's gone!" Like a bullet from a gun, Alice's frantic voice rapidly echoed through the phone.

"What do you mean – she's gone? Bella's gone? Alice, slow down, please. What happened?" Deep inside, I could feel the panic rising. There was only one reason Bella would suddenly disappear from Alice's visions, and that was if one or more of the wolves were around her.

"Her future just vanished. I ran straight to Charlie's house. Edward, she's not here! The front door is wide open and I can smell him."

I didn't need Alice to elaborate. I knew precisely who the him was – Jacob Black.

"What else, Alice?" I asked, trying to control my rising fury.

"He had a car, but it's gone, too. And I can't see where he's taken her because he's obviously with her. I'm so, so sorry."

I could almost feel her anguish through the phone, the pain evident in her voice.

"Was there anything else?" I asked hesitantly.

"There's a small drop of Bella's blood on the ground, in the driveway. I don't think she went willingly."

I fell to my knees. "What? He abducted her? He hurt her?"

"It seems that way. Come home, Edward, come quickly."

I was instantly on my feet and already running, past Jasper and his kill, past Emmett playing with a bear. They both saw the frantic look in my eyes and dropped what they were doing to fall in line with me.

Their minds were full of questions, but I couldn't answer them yet.

"I'm going to kill him myself for hurting her. What else, Alice?" I hissed into the phone. "Did you see anything else at the house?"

"Yes. The wedding invitation you sent to the Blacks was on the floor in the hallway," Alice said quietly.

"No!" I barked as a growl erupted from my chest. "Damn it! This is my fault. She told me not to send it, but I didn't listen. How could I have been such a fool?"

"Alice," I said into the phone. "We're on our way. Please stay at Charlie's. We'll meet you there and try to pick up the scent together. It has to lead somewhere and I don't want you to go alone. If he's taken her, there's no way of knowing what he's told the pack. I still can't believe they would permit such an atrocity."

I wondered if Jacob had in fact kept his plans to himself. If the pack knew and had tolerated such depraved behavior, I would kill them all.

My feet moved of their own accord, moving me faster than I thought possible, so fast, in fact, that Emmett and Jasper fell further and further behind.

"Dude, slow down," Emmett thought. I knew I should wait for them, but I couldn't stop. As I approached Bella's home I spotted Alice, pacing in the backyard. I came to a stop in front of her.

"Show me," I ground out between gritted teeth and followed her to the driveway. She didn't need to point out the blood – I could smell it as soon as we rounded the corner of the house. Venom flooded my mouth, the fury roared in my ears. One drop of her precious life fluid sat on the concrete drive, nearly dry.

Alice's thoughts were full of guilt and regret. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry."

"This is not your fault, Alice," I assured her quickly as Jasper and Emmett broke out of the trees by the side of the house. Jasper immediately went to Alice and embraced her.

The stench of dog was nearly overwhelming as I followed it to the still open door. It didn't seem to be in the house so I pulled the door closed, and with my nostrils flaring, I followed the scent back to the driveway where it disappeared. Based on smell alone, it seemed as if Bella had opened the door for him, and he simply dragged her away.

"He took her in a car, most likely that little bucket of rust he drives," I spat. "I can smell the exhaust and the rubber of the tires. He must have peeled out of here in a hurry."

I pointed to the faint outlines of tires in the road. Alice nodded.

"How likely is it that he took her to his house? To the reservation?" I asked Alice. "Thinking we can't cross the line because of the treaty."

"It's possible," Alice answered.

"Fucking mutt," Emmett cussed. "What are we going to do?"

"Call Carlisle," Jasper suggested. "Perhaps if we contact the Alpha, he will prove himself reasonable. I cannot imagine him condoning a kidnapping."

"There's no time," I hissed. "She's injured. I'm going after them. Now."

"You can't, Edward," Jasper argued. "Would you start a war?"

I glared at him. "Would you if it were Alice who was missing? Who'd been abducted?"

His thoughts gave him away and he acquiesced. "Okay. But I won't let you go alone. That's sheer insanity. Suicide."

"I'm coming, too," Emmett shouted. "Bella is family."

"Let's go." I dashed back into the woods, my siblings following in my footsteps. It didn't take us long to reach the boundary line.

"Edward, wait!" Alice's thought reached my frenzied mind. "What if he took her elsewhere?"

"I suppose it's possible," I agreed. "But even so, there's no way for us to make sure unless we go onto the reservation and to his house."

I took a step forward towards the line, a part of me reluctant to step over the invisible boundary, but the larger, more dominant part was worried nearly out of my mind for the safety of my mate, my Bella.

There was no doubt that I would cross onto the reservation if she was there. I hesitated for only a moment, just long enough for me to hear Alice.

"Call Seth."

Seth was one of the more recent additions to the pack, a young boy of not quite sixteen. He was also less hateful towards us, more inquisitive and quicker to trust. His mind was a rather peaceful place, and he had been an invaluable ally during our fight with the newborns, instrumental in the killing of Victoria. And out of our forced alliance against the revengeful and now very dead redheaded vampire, we had forged a tentative friendship. We had even exchanged phone numbers.

I suppressed a shudder. It still was not a comfortable feeling to have an amicable relationship with a werewolf, but if I had to choose one of them, I'd choose Seth any day and twice on Sundays. I took a deep breath, knowing the longer I waited the further away Bella would be if she was not, in fact, on the reservation.

I dialed the phone.

"Hello?"

"Seth, this is Edward Cullen," I said anxiously.

"Hey, Cullen, fancy hearing from you. What's up?" Seth asked happily.

In my anguished state, I didn't waste time on pleasantries.

"Seth, listen to me. Jacob has abducted Bella. Do you have any idea where they are?"

"Say what? You're kidding, right? Jake wouldn't do that." The boy's incredulous voice was evidence that he had no idea what that despicable mongrel had done.

"I assure you that he has. His scent is all over the front of her house and ends abruptly in her driveway. Bella is missing."

"I can't believe he'd go that far. What an idiot."

"Yes, clearly," I said through gritted teeth.

"How can I help?" The offer was instant and I breathed a small sigh of relief.

"Where would he have taken her? I'm stuck at the treaty line, as you can imagine. Can you check at his house, perhaps?" I asked nervously.

"Yes. Absolutely," Seth replied immediately. There was no hesitation in his voice. "I'm going to Jake's now. I'll call you after that."

"Thank you," I breathed as he hung up.

I waited impatiently, pacing, phone in hand, as Emmett, Jasper and Alice stood along the line, staring out into the woods. I was so lost in my agony that I almost didn't hear them. The phone rang a short while later.

I could hear the strain in Seth's voice. "The Rabbit's gone."

It was as I'd almost suspected. Bella was not at Jacob's house. That would have been far too easy.

"Edward, I'm going to phase. If Jacob is in wolf form we'll know what he's thinking and we should be able to find him. I'll also check with Sam. I'll call back in a few."

The phone was silent again, but the minds of my siblings were anything but. Alice was distraught, blaming herself. Jasper was upset because Alice was in pain and he wasn't able to comfort her. Emmett was seething, furious that the mutt had taken his little sister and possibly injured her. Well, he wouldn't get a chance to kill Jacob – I would.

"Looks like Seth's going to call in a second," Alice guessed, looking at me, her mind a vast darkness where my future was concerned.

"Anything, Seth?" I answered just as the phone rang.

"Edward, I've alerted Sam to the situation, but Jacob hasn't phased in a while. He didn't show up for his patrol this morning. Now we know why. Sam's furious at what he's done. No one ever suspected Jacob would go so far. Sam's ordered that at least one of us remain in our wolf form in case Jake should do anything which would cause him to phase…" Seth paused. "I don't think he'll really hurt her," he whispered.

"I hope not, at least for his sake," I seethed, unable to control my rage. "If he does, I will destroy him and there won't be anything anyone can do about it. The killing will be justified. The treaty will be considered broken. He took a member of my family."

"Hey, man, calm down. I'm on your side, remember?" Seth stated, suddenly sounding older than his years.

"I know. Sorry," I muttered. I should not have taken my fury out on Seth who was only trying to help.

"Sam wants to meet at the treaty line to talk, make a plan, try to figure out how we can work together. He doesn't want Bella harmed either. You've got to believe me."

"We're already here. Is he on his way?" I asked.

"Yes. He should be there any minute. I'm coming as soon as we hang up."

"Okay, I'll see you shortly. And, thanks, Seth."

I closed the phone and waited. After a few minutes had passed, during which I'd resumed my pacing, I could hear Sam's inner voice. He was in wolf form.

"Cullen, if you can hear me already, we're almost there. I've got Jared, Paul, Quil, Embry and Seth with me. You'll understand if we approach as wolves, I'm sure."

"Stay calm," I said in way of a warning. "They are coming as wolves. Six of them."

I glanced over at my siblings. Alice was rubbing her head. I knew she couldn't see what would happen – the wolves were too near. Jasper's thoughts were full of military tactics, interventions and Emmett was doing his best to control his agitation. He was angry, but even though he tried, the thought slipped through.

"If something happens to her, we'll lose Edward, too. That will destroy this family."

I knew he didn't mean for me to hear him, but I couldn't stop myself as I cringed at his words.

Emmett looked over before whispering, "Sorry."

I nodded and returned my focus to the tree-line as the wolves emerged, Sam in front. They stopped a few feet away from us. All of them smelled horrendously bad, and I saw Alice wrinkle her nose behind her hand. Sam gave a command and they all sat on their haunches. He looked straight at me.

"I am very sorry, Cullen. Jacob knows what he's doing. He's foolish, self-centered and he's totally lost his mind, but he's not stupid. All we can hope for at this point is that he'll eventually make a mistake and phase. If and when he does, we can pinpoint their location and we'll find her. Again, on behalf of myself and my pack, I apologize for what he has done."

I nodded to acknowledge his words. I didn't need his thoughts to know that if Jacob Black were to phase and happened to stand too close to Bella, she could be injured further, or – much worse – killed. Sam still carried much guilt in his heart for phasing too close to his own beloved and damaging her permanently in the process.

"Give me a moment." Sam barked another command and disappeared behind his pack brothers. A few steps into the woods, I could hear him phase to human form. He stepped back out in front, dressed in a ragged pair of jeans.

We stood across from each other, both of our parties toeing the line. These were our natural enemies, and one of them had taken my bride. Instinct alone demanded that we tear them apart, but this day I didn't care. If they could help me find Bella, today they would be friends. I closed my eyes for one brief second. As I opened them again, I heard Alice.

"We'll find her, Edward."

"I hope so," I replied, knowing that I would find Bella one way or the other.

I couldn't imagine being without her. Why had I resisted changing her? Perhaps Bella was right again. Maybe she wasn't meant to be human. There seemed to be too many obstacles in our way, mocking us at every turn. Were the Fates trying to send me a message?

I was brought out of my contemplations upon hearing Sam's voice.

"Look, Edward, we're all very sorry for what's happened. Jacob never had any thoughts of doing anything so foolish … we were all aware of his opinions on the matter of your marriage, but we never suspected he'd – "

Sam was unable to finish his sentence, but I heard the conclusion in his mind. His words were sincere and his thoughts mirrored his spoken words. I looked over at Jasper who nodded.

"Sam's emotions are in line with what he's saying. He is sorry. You know how they value their role as human protectors. The fact that one of their own has betrayed that trust is almost more than he can handle."

"We won't know for sure where Jacob is unless he phases," Sam said.

"Or unless he leaves Bella alone," Alice stated. "I should be able to see her then."

"I don't think he's going to do that. Not if he's gone to all this trouble. However, there's a small cabin hidden deep within the Mt. Rainier National Park, away from all public venues. We go there from time to time and it's the only place I can imagine Jacob taking Bella," Sam stated.

"What are we waiting for?" Emmett asked.

"This cabin is not reachable by car. It might be best to check the public parking lots, as well as the roads leading to that area. He would have had to leave his car behind somewhere, if he is in fact at the cabin. Other than that possibility, I'm afraid there's no telling where he'd go," Sam explained.

"We know he took her in his car," I stated. "Her scent disappears right in front of her house, as does his, and there are tire marks on the pavement consistent with the kind of rubber tires he has on his car."

Sam nodded. "Good to know. That information might be helpful."

I didn't see how that would help us, other than what we already knew.

"Let's say he took her to this cabin. How long would that have taken?" Jasper inquired.

"Several hours, since he'd have to go part of the way on foot. I don't think he planned this very well."

Sam's mind was running through various possibilities, discarding some, pondering over others, but he seemed fairly certain his initial guess was correct. None of the other Quileutes had any ideas and were diverting to Sam.

In an attempt to show good faith and to hopefully get us all on the same page, I asked, "What do you have in mind?"

Sam sighed before answering, looking only at me. "Under normal circumstances, I would never make such an offer and even in this dire situation, I hesitate to do so, but if you'd like to come with us to the Clearwaters' house, perhaps you and Seth can work together. He'll be able to stay in touch with us and you can stay in touch with your … family," Sam replied warily.

It was clear that this tentative and grudging invitation onto their land was meant solely for me.

"You're not going there alone," both Jasper and Emmett thought at the same time. "It's too dangerous."

Ignoring them, I nodded my head at Sam. "Alright," I agreed, looking at my siblings with an air of finality.

"I don't like this, Edward," Alice thought. "I can't see what's going to happen."

"Alice, if Jacob leaves Bella alone for whatever reason, you won't be able to see things properly if you come with me. You need to go home. I'll be fine," I replied reassuringly. "I'll call you when we have more information. Of course, you'll do the same."

"Bella's smart," Seth stated quietly in his head. "She'll figure out a way to convince Jacob to leave her alone, even if it's only for a few minutes."

The other wolves nodded their agreement, all of them utterly repulsed by what their friend had done.

Alice, Jasper and Emmett returned home, after promising to discuss everything with the rest of the family while I was escorted onto the reservation. I wasn't sure the elders or Carlisle would be thrilled with the idea, but I felt compelled to take Sam up on his offer.

Upon arriving at Seth's home, Sam and some of the wolves phased back to their human forms and invited me in. The rest of them remained as wolves, in case Jacob phased. As we entered the humble home, Seth's mother stared at me in shock and suspicion, but was quickly filled in, and to my great astonishment, she offered me her hand.

"I am sorry about what happened, Edward. We will do what we can to help."

"Thank you, ma'am," I replied quietly as I gently shook hands with her, grateful for the offer and for the strength of the only recently forged alliance, and the tentative bonds that had followed. It was rather disturbing to think that my presence in this house was largely thanks to Victoria and the threat she had created, forcing us to work with the wolves to eliminate her and her minions.

It was quite apparent that everyone was anxious. While most thoughts were focused on their disbelief at Jacob's actions, it was obvious that my presence was causing a fair degree of apprehension as well.

Hours passed. Each minute seemed to last forever. While all the humans around me paced and milled about in agitation, I stood stock still in a corner, out of the way. However, after four hours of nothing, even I could no longer remain immobile. I was about to suggest that Seth accompany me to the house, when he quietly approached me.

"I've been trying to figure out what made him snap today, but nothing I can think of could make me understand what he's done. There's no reason, no excuse, no explanation," Seth said with disgust.

"Seth, I know how I would have felt if Bella had chosen Jacob. I would have been devastated," I replied, trying to reassure the young boy.

"No!" he shouted as those in the room glanced over in our direction. "There's no excuse. Would you have stolen her away?"

"Of course not," I replied, repulsed by the thought. "I would never hurt her that way. But Jacob is still young, and perhaps prone to rash decisions."

"Don't make excuses for him," Seth seethed angrily. "Jacob knows better. I don't doubt that he thinks he loves her, but he hasn't imprinted on Bella. We all know this, including him."

"Jacob is in pain," I stated gently, "that much is clear. Strong emotions will make people do things they wouldn't normally do."

I wasn't quite sure why I was making excuses for the deranged dog that had taken my Bella, but part of me understood his desperation, though his methods were insane.

"I'm just trying to make sense of what he's thinking," Seth muttered, looking down at the floor.

"Go on," I replied.

"If he ever imprinted, he'd leave Bella. No. Matter. What. He wouldn't have a choice. So what he's doing makes absolutely no sense," Seth stated with a beleaguered sigh.

I was about to answer when Sam burst through the door.

"He phased. I was right. They are at the cabin, but we've got to move quickly. He'll know that we know. He's going to want to move her. Let's go," Sam shouted, running back out before phasing himself.

Sam thought about where Jacob was with Bella and the best way to get there. Then, without warning, thoughts of Bella bound and beaten clouded Sam's mind.

A loud snarl escaped from my chest as my frozen heart constricted in excruciating pain. Fury at seeing Bella bloodied and bruised rippled through me. My legs refused to function as I stumbled from the overwhelming grief and agony.

At that moment, my phone rang. It was Alice.

"Edward, somehow Bella convinced Jacob to leave her alone. I've seen her, but –" Alice paused as I interrupted her.

"I know. I saw her through Sam. They're at the cabin Sam spoke of. I'm going to kill him," I shouted. "Get the family together and meet us there."

I snapped the phone shut and kept running.

"Edward, we'll handle him. There's no need for that," Sam thought. "He'll suffer the consequences of his actions. You have my word."

"I'm sorry, but that is not good enough," I spat bitterly. "You all should have known how unstable he was and yet his thoughts and actions were ignored. You're supposed to protect human life. Ha! That's quite a joke," I said angrily.

"Killing Jacob won't undo what he's done. It will be the easy way out for him. Don't you think he'll suffer more living, knowing that he wasn't enough for her? Knowing that she's with you?" Sam almost choked as he pondered the words he shared with me.

He had a point. I could rub it in Jacob's face. I could hope he'd never imprint, that he'd always suffer the way Bella was suffering now at his hands. I really wanted to end his miserable existence, but if living would be more painful, perhaps I'd permit it.

And Carlisle wouldn't want me to take a life. But, oh how my fingers itched to tear that dog into small pieces and scatter them into the wind.

"Fine," I replied bitterly. "But he won't get another chance. If he even so much as thinks about coming within five miles of Bella, I will rip him apart."

Sam nodded his acquiescence even though he wondered if I was really serious.

A moment later my phone rang again. I quickly checked the caller ID before answering.

"Carlisle, now is not a good time. We're on the move, we've located where he's hiding her. I suppose Alice filled you in?"

"Yes, she did. Son, are you alright?" Carlisle asked wearily.

"No. No, I'm not. But I'm going to get her back so I will be okay," I said fiercely. I wanted Sam to hear every word.

"Esme and I are on our way in the Mercedes," he said. "Alice thought it would be better for Bella to ride home in a car. She didn't think Bella would be up for you running her back," he stated quietly before continuing. "Everyone else left on foot. Alice should be calling you soon. She wants to make sure you and the wolf pack get there before they do. Although Emmett is ready for a fight, he understands any decision regarding Jacob's fate is up to you. We all know that. He took your mate. You get to decide how this plays out."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Carlisle was allowing me to handle Jacob in any manner I saw fit, and I had just agreed to let the mutt live. I wished he would have called before I made that commitment to Sam. Nothing would have made me happier than to remove Jacob Black from the face of the earth.

Sam's thoughts were harried as he pondered over how best to handle the situation. He was fairly certain that Jacob would not detect my presence as I was being accompanied by six wolves. He was concerned about Jacob's behavior once we arrived. He tried very hard to keep thoughts of Bella from his mind, but it was irrelevant. The images of her injuries were forever branded in my memory.

The longer we ran, the more frenzied I became. Fury blazed through me. Until I had Bella safely in my arms, I would be unable to regain any sort of control. I could not hear my families' thoughts, so I was unsure how far away they were and how long it would take them to reach me. I wondered how much further we had to travel.

"Edward, we're only about ten miles away. We will handle Jacob. You only need to concern yourself with Bella. You have my word that Jacob will no longer pose a threat to you, your family or the Swans."

Sam meant well, but I had little confidence in the pack's or tribe's ability to control their rogue member. Bella would never leave my side even if I had to move into Charlie's house. Suddenly I wondered if Charlie even knew what had occurred.

"Sam, has anyone advised Charlie?" I asked guardedly.

"Billy contacted him. Of course we didn't want him to search for Bella, so Billy provided false information that wouldn't get him suspicious. There's no need to involve Charlie in the rescue. He doesn't need to learn of the existence of your kind or ours. As soon as Bella is safe, we'll let Billy know and he'll find a way to advise Charlie. It was the best we could do in the circumstances."

A short while later, we came upon a small, dilapidated shack. I couldn't hear Jacob's thoughts, but I heard Bella's heartbeat, weak but steady, and immediately felt relief. Without stopping, I burst through the door and found her tied to a flimsy wooden bed. I inhaled her intoxicating scent, instantly smelling the dried blood at the back of her head. Nearly unrestricted, fiery rage burned inside me as my eyes took in the broken and battered form of my beloved, bruises and dirt covering her pale skin, the thin ropes the mutt had used to bind her with cutting into her fragile flesh. With a flick of my fingers, the bindings were gone as I gently lifted my Bella into my arms.

She burst into hot tears as I held her cradled to my chest and her fingers clung to my shirt as if she would never let go.

I made a silent vow – that fucking flea-bag would die for the atrocities he had committed against her. He didn't deserve to live.

BPOV

I was weak, dehydrated and utterly exhausted. When I saw an apparition of Edward burst through the door, I was sure I was hallucinating. I was afraid to believe he had truly found me. It wasn't until after he lifted me into his arms that I allowed myself to cry as all the built up fear and despair that I had experienced since Jacob had abducted me, released in a torrent of tears.

"Shh, sweetheart. I'm here now. I'm so sorry I wasn't there to protect you. I will never let you out of my sight again," Edward vowed as he kissed my head.

I knew he was being careful with me, but I was in so much pain from the torture Jacob had inflicted on me that even his gentlest touch hurt me. Edward gasped as I flinched and shivered in his arms. His nose skimmed across my neck, a small sob escaping from his lips.

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, Bella. Where do you hurt? What can I do?"

He would begin a tirade of self-loathing if I didn't stop him first. Before I was able to gather my thoughts, he began to put me down.

"No, don't. Please. I need you to hold me. You haven't hurt me. Please don't let me go," I begged.

"Never," he promised, so quietly I barely heard him.

I felt myself relax a bit, leaning further into Edward's chest when I heard yelling. I wasn't able to distinguish the voices, but I was certain Jacob had returned when I felt Edward tense.

"Please stay with me," I cried. "Is Sam here?"

Edward nodded.

"He can take care of . . ." I was unable to say Jacob's name out loud. My throat started to close as I gasped for air, the panic of knowing that my tormentor had returned overwhelming me.

"He won't hurt you any more, Bella," Edward vowed. His voice was cold and hard.

I knew Jacob would start a fight if he came anywhere near us and although I was angry and hurt beyond belief, both physically and mentally, I didn't want anything to happen to Edward. Seconds later, I was looking at Edward's back when he spun around just as Jacob crashed through the door, his eyes wild and dilated.

I cried out, fearful of what would happen, when Sam ran in behind Jacob, ordering him not to phase, grabbing his arms. Jared and Paul followed, running into the room, tackling Jacob and pulling him back outside, thus allowing Edward a free path to exit the cabin, just as the Cullens' black Mercedes pulled up.

Wolves and vampires surrounded us in seconds, shielding us from the wild and crazed thing that was my former best friend. He was shouting at the top of his lungs, straining against Jared and Paul's arms.

"Alice," Edward said as she ran up to us, "please take Bella to the car."

He kissed my hair and released me from his grasp. I found myself in Alice's arms as she and Esme quickly walked away from the mayhem, Carlisle following closely behind us. Turning my head, my eyes scoured the crowd. I could no longer see Edward.

I started to panic.

"Alice, let me down," I weakly demanded. "Where's Edward?"

Alice started to put me down and I tried to stand, but didn't have the strength. I slumped forward, unable to stay upright as Alice held me, not saying a word, but I could guess at what she was thinking.

Esme held on to my other side, as Carlisle quickly examined me. "Oh, you poor thing," Esme cried. "Let's get you in the car."

"Ice for her ankle, I think," Carlisle said as he carefully touched the swollen skin. "I don't believe it's broken, thankfully. Esme, dear, it's in the trunk."

"I'm so sorry, Bella," Alice said, her eyes red-rimmed from tears she couldn't shed. "We came as soon as I could see you. You look terrible. Come on, sit in the car. You need to drink something."

I knew how horrendous I looked. Jacob, in his raging lunacy, had beaten me within inches of my life. I was battered and bruised nearly beyond recognition. But none of that mattered to me. I had to find Edward.

"Please. Edward. I need him," was all I managed to say, my throat sore and parched.

Alice sighed. "Okay. Fine. But he'll be yelling at you, not me, for your stubbornness."

I smiled weakly. "Okay."

Alice supported me as I attempted to walk back toward the tiny shack, when all of a sudden I heard roaring, raging animalistic fury from somewhere behind it. My heart started racing, and I simply knew that Jacob had gotten loose and was now attacking Edward.

I had to get to Edward. I couldn't allow Jacob to hurt him. I never thought I could truly hate anyone, but after what Jake had done to me, just the simple thought of him nauseated me. And the possibility that he actually could harm Edward only made me despise Jacob that much more.

When I was finally able to stand without falling, I began moving toward the sounds. As I reached the back of the tiny wooden hut that had been my temporary shelter, I abruptly stopped. I watched as the chaos before me unfolded, my brain unable to comprehend the magnitude of the situation. The scene was blurry, pale-white marble skin moving rapidly around russet-colored fur, snarling and growling and screaming.

Vampire against werewolf.

A fight to the death, that much was clear.

I caught glimpses of Edward as he smashed into Jacob over and over again, throwing him against the trees, tossing him to the ground. Again and again, Jacob flew back at Edward, trying to find purchase with his claws, growling like the deranged beast that he was, and each time, it seemed as if Edward simply ducked out of the way, and as Jacob passed him, Edward would apply yet another blow.

I mentally cheered each time Edward inflicted more pain on Jacob, smiled at each howl of agony he emitted, and I hoped that this moronic, obnoxious dog would suffer as I had suffered.

The others stood in a half-circle, vampires and wolves mixed together, all watching the fight with scowls of disgust and anger on their faces. Edward was defending my honor and claiming me as his, and they all seemed to understand that they were not to interfere.

And yet, this was not a fight that Edward should have to fight for me. He didn't need and shouldn't have another death on his conscience. He may not have believed he had a soul, but I surely knew differently, and I was determined that Edward would not have another blemish on his record.

I had created this mess and I would clean it up. Once and for all.

The anger and hatred I was harboring against Jacob overpowered me. He'd promised to never hurt me, but he had done so anyway, without regard for me and my feelings. And he wasn't even sorry. He actually had the audacity to put the blame on me.

A red haze tinted my vision. All I could feel was the fury inside me, consuming me. All I could think of was that Jacob had to die.

And I would become his executioner.

The adrenaline must have given me strength. Without further thought, I dashed into the rickety shack, grabbed the gun I'd seen leaning in a corner and ran back outside. Quickly, I ensured it was loaded.

I wasn't a cop's daughter for nothing.

I stood still for a moment, trying to determine who was who, but they were moving so fast that my human eyes nearly couldn't distinguish one from the other. I had to go by color alone.

The fact that my lids were nearly swollen shut didn't help much either.

I knew that a bullet wouldn't hurt Edward, but I still didn't actually want to shoot him. Yet, time was running out. One way or the other, this would end. Right now. I had started this mess and I would finish it.

Aiming the weapon as best as I could for the russet color of Jacob's fur, I prepared myself for the recoil and pulled the trigger, squeezing my eyes shut as the gunshot thundered in my ears and echoed off the mountains.

The fighting stopped.

There was an eerie silence. Nothing moved. No one spoke a word.

My fingers were still clutched tightly around the gun. I felt a pair of cold, hard hands grasp my shoulders. I hadn't heard him move.

Then I heard his melodic voice, soothingly talking to me.

"Bella, sweetheart, open your eyes and give me the gun."

"Edward?" I whispered as my eyes remained closed.

"Yes, love?"

I could hear the tension in his voice and felt the raw fury radiating off him, even as he tried to calm himself. I was still afraid to open my eyes to see the carnage around me. I had done my best to keep myself together during this madness, but now the tiny bit of composure I had left was slipping away.

My legs gave out. The gun slipped from my hands and I felt myself falling, but never hit the ground. Strong arms carried me away. I heard hysterical sobbing, but I wasn't sure where it was coming from.

"Shh, Bella, it's over. It's going to be okay," Edward said calmly as he secured my body to his. I realized that I was the one crying. My fingers dug into his shirt.

"Are you okay?" I asked him frantically. "Tell me, Edward...are you hurt?"

"No, love," he answered. "I'm perfectly fine."

When I dared to open my eyes, I was sitting on Edward's lap in the front seat of Carlisle's Mercedes. I lifted my head off his chest, partially able to see his beautiful face through my swollen eyelids.

"Jacob?"

"It's over," Edward stated again. His voice was hard.

"B…but...did I..."

"He won't be interfering in our lives anymore," Edward replied through clenched teeth, trying to rein in his anger as he gently took my face in his hands, staring deeply into my eyes.

I saw and felt the magnitude of his love and devotion with one look. Edward would always be there to protect me. He remained quiet because saying the words out loud wasn't necessary. He knew what I'd done, as did I.

It was over.

I felt no remorse. And though I had known for a long time that I couldn't live without Edward, that fact had never been clearer to me than it was in the moment I picked up the rifle.

I finally put Edward first.

I finally made the right choice.

And I killed Jacob Black.

Good riddance.