Obsession One-Shot Contest

Title: Marrow

Your pen name: PortiaKhalo

Characters: Jacob and Bella (with a side of Charlie, Billy, and a few of the pack members)

Disclaimer: As with many obsessions, this one is dark and driven by desired violence. You've been warned.

Lyrics that inspired you: Sarah Mclachlan, Possession: "You speak to me in riddles and you speak to me in rhyme. My body aches to breathe your breath. Your words keep me alive. And I would be the one to hold you down. Kiss you so hard, I'll take your breath away."

A/N: The same people are to blame for this crazy story. Aleighy is my Beta-Goddess, and fixes my words when I forget how to spell. She also kept me together through a very tough time recently, whether she knows it or not :). Yellowglue was my muse and pre-reader. Every time she speaks to my story, it pours out more freely. Thank you for loving this little tale. UU girls, I couldn't put this out there if I didn't know you would be reading it and keeping me safe. Thank you...

We were fishing with our fathers the first time I heard it. She was swinging her fourth grade feet in the water when a sound like velvet-coated popcorn plunked to the surface.

"What was that?" I asked aloud.

"Umm, my toe? I think it popped. How could you even hear that Jake? I barely felt it."

A chord had been struck deep in my belly. Something hummed through me, only just faintly. Then she made that sound again, with her other foot.

I shouldn't have been able to hear that either, or identify which toe on her foot had crackled black-pepper straight into my guts.

"Bella, are you hungry?"

"No, but we stopped and got fried chicken on our way here. It's in the picnic basket."

I was starving, more hungry than I could ever remember being. But the meat off the chicken leg I'd chosen from the basket wasn't cutting it. My hunger was like an unscratchable itch that requires you to gnaw on your own finger to make it stop.

When I reached the bone my body knew what it needed.

"Jacob Black! Why are you sucking on a chicken bone?" She was appalled.

"Why not? Did you know some people suck the brains out of mud minnows?"

"You're so gross."


After she'd turned her head toward the water again, I tested the bone against my teeth. The sharp, splintering sound it made when I crunched it in two was a magnified version of Bella toes in the water.

The hunger inside me came alive then. Eating through to the core of each piece of chicken I felt like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood.

"My, what big TEETH you haveā€¦" my child's-mind said.

By the time I got to the last two chicken wings, I was hiding the flesh in the sand for the seagulls to find later.

I gathered up my bones and told Bella I was going for a walk. When I was a few yards away, I devoured each calcified crumb, hearing the kettle-corn, sweet sounds of Bella's watery feet with each bite.

During our next forced fishing excursion, Bella got bored. My entire afternoon had been filled with premonition. I waited to hear her precious pops again, but she never gave them to me.

"Let's play a game." she said.

I grabbed her right foot without hesitation and tickled her sole.

"This little piggy went to market." I cooed.

The big toe made the loudest sound when I pulled it.

"Ahh! Jake! That tickles! What are you doing to me?" She laughed.

"This little piggy stayed home." The second one gave up nothing.

"This little piggy had roast beef." A small, half-pop came from the third digit.

"This little piggy had none." Fourth down and a double-whammy. She looked at me with a surprised smile that made my heart leap.

"And this little piggy cried 'Wee wee wee all the way home'." No snaps, crackles, or pops. The hunger was rising anyhow.

"No, Jacob! Not that kind of game!" She giggle-gasped.

She told me they had a call-my-bluff type competition at her school in Phoenix to help everyone get to know each other.

"We've known each other forever, Bella, why do we need to play some stupid game?"

She pouted, and wiggled her feet in the sand, finally releasing a gentle crack in her second right toe.

"Alright. Whatever. I'll play." I'd do anything for her juicy joints.

We were supposed to list four things about ourselves, and make one of them something untrue. I knew as soon as she said the word "false" that I would win the first round.

"Number one: My Dad is in a wheel chair. Number two: I love Billy's fish fry. Number three: My family is descended from wolves. Number four: I like... muffins!"

The implied hesitation was all part of my ruse.

"You tried to make me pick number two, but you hate that stuff. And you are totally not descended from wolves, Jacob Black. Maybe possums, but definitely not wolves." She sassed back at me.

"Possums, Bella? Really? And I do love my Dad's fish fry...when you cook with it! Now, let me tell you a story, little girl."

I sat down Indian-style and gave her my best Chief-know-it-all look.

"Oh wise Jacob Black, please enlighten me." She thought I was joking.

I scratched the crown of my head thoughtfully.

"Well, I don't really understand the whole thing yet. But, from what we've been talking about in school? My great-grandfather was some sort of spirit warrior who turned into a wolf!"

"Yeah right, Jake. Does Billy know their teaching you this crap at school?"

"Does Charlie know you say 'crap'?"

That shut her up quick.

There was some game on TV that the Dads wanted to watch the next weekend, so we came to Bella's house for dinner. She'd been cooking full meals for Charlie since second grade. Slowly, she'd increased her skills from sandwiches to full Sunday suppers. She was pretty good at it too.

Charlie would drive her to the grocery store and push the cart for her. She called him her Basket Boy. She still needed help reaching things sometimes, and Charlie always made sure to set the oven for her, but other than that she was on her own.

That night she decided to braise ribs. Food Network was the only thing Charlie let her watch unsupervised besides the awful tween shows on Nickelodeon and Disney channel, and she'd found a new recipe that week.

She needed her biggest pot though, for the recipe to work. Not wanting to bother Charlie, she tried to pull the giant vessel down herself.

It slipped. She screamed and the huge, heavy pot fell on her left big toe.

Sparkling diamonds exploded in my ears and my gut roared. Charlie ran into the room and she fell against him limply. Her toe was broken.

The guilt I felt for the joy that snap of bone brought me was excruciating.

We met her and her Dad at the hospital and sat in the waiting room while the ER doc set her biggest toe against it's smaller sisters and calmed her nerves.

I wanted those ribs so badly now. I needed to bite against their hard insides and ease the rawness in my stomach. I would've blown the whole hospital down, bricks and all, to hear that break again.

"What did you say, son?" Billy pondered.

I hadn't realized I was talking.

"Why are you chanting about lettin' pigs in boy? You really must be hungry tonight." he chuckled.

They wheeled her out then and she gave me a sad smile.

"I'm sorry I couldn't finish dinner. I know you must be starving." she said.

"Don't worry about it Bells. Dad and I will just pick up a burger or something. Maybe MickeyD's is still serving the McRib!" That conjured a small laugh from her.

We rode back to Bella's house behind Charlie and waved as we made our way toward the reservation. Wee, wee, wee all the way home.

She couldn't walk for a few days after that without pain, so Charlie called off any fishing trips planned for the last weeks of summer. He didn't want her trying to walk through the sand or getting salt water into her wound where the pan that fell gouged her tiny big-toe.

Instead, Charlie drove them out to our small house on the reservation to spend the afternoon with us. It was the first time I recall being motivated to clean my room. Billy will never let me live that down.

After our fancy pizza and pop lunch, there were still hours of the daylight left to kill. We couldn't leave the house without causing Bella pain. Even talking was done in hushed tones; our house was so small every sound carried.

"Do you know any of those hand-slapping-game things?" Bella asked with a hesitant look on her face.

"Yeah, sure. Why?"

"Well, the girls back in Phoenix know tons of them and they're such show offs! I'm too clumsy to keep up with them and they make fun of me."

I was immediately furious with those stupid girls. They didn't know a thing about the treasures buried under Bella's skin. Touching her hands over and over again was a reverent gift. Who cared how fast she was?

"I know a good one Bells. I'll teach it to you slowly, okay? We've got all day to practice. Then you can stick it to those dumb girls at school next year."

"Thanks, Jacob..."

"No problem. Leah made all of us learn them during recess last year anyway."

So I taught her how to play Double Double Ice Cream. We tapped fists, slapped palms, and bumped the back of our hands together with each line of the silly rhyme.

With every smack of our knuckles, there was a small spark of the hunger. An internal match struck against my belly repeatedly, but never caught. It was as if the hunger had been there all along, and then snuffed out from misuse.

But she was still worried about recess. One slap-happy child's poem wasn't enough.

"Let's try a harder one then! This one has more complicated claps too. The song goes like this: Miss Mary Mack..."

"Hey!" she squealed before I could finish. "I know that song!" And she began to sing, tossing her head back and forth like a pendulum, her collarbones playing hide and seek with my eyes through her shirt.

"Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack

All dressed in black, black, black

With silver buttons, buttons, buttons

All down her back, back, back.

She asked her mother, mother, mother

For fifty cents, cents, cents

To see the elephant, elephant, elephant

Jump over the fence, fence, fence.

He jumped so high, high, high

He reached the sky, sky, sky

He never came back, back back

'Til the 4th of July, ly, ly! "

I laughed. She was so cute when she was excited.

"That's the nice version Bella-beans. Is that what they sing at school?" She nodded her head with saucer eyes.

"This is the one we sing at our school out here:

Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack

All dressed in black, black, black

she had a knife, knife, knife

sticking out her back, back, back

she could not shout, shout, shout

she could not cry, cry, cry

so she begs, begs, begs

she begs to die, die, die "

"Jeez, Jake! Don't you think that's kind of morbid?" she asked.

"It's supposed to be Bella. Do you think those brainless girlies will bother you again if you sing that during their game-time?"

"You have a good point, Mr. Black. Thanks!"

I could tell her legs were getting stiff from sitting cross-legged for so long. We'd been going over the patterns for both clapping games for a couple of hours.

I wasn't prepared, however, for Bella to twist herself suddenly and release every ache contained in her back directly into my eardrums. She was percussive, and I was tipping off an unimaginable ledge.

A bad habit followed Bella back from Phoenix the summer after sixth grade. It made Charlie cringe and snort with disgust, huffing under his mustache, while Bella unconsciously drove him crazy.

She popped her knuckles. Her fingers cracked regularly, a xylophone of bone, sometimes twenty notes at a time.

After seeing her on the beach only once that summer, she'd done it so much I was humming with hunger and intuiting when her hands would burst again.

"Bells, are we doing movie night tonight or what?" I'd called as soon as I knew she'd be home at Charlie's.

"Yeah, Jake! It's so good to be back! And I'm so glad we got the fishing over with. I really missed you this year..." She said into my ear.

It was the first time she'd ever admitted to thinking of me when she was away. She was all I thought about every single second.

"Awww, thanks Bella-beans. I missed you too! So, are we doing funny or are we going for scary tonight?"

"Let's do funny. I think we need to laugh tonight." She said. I could almost feel all her china-doll teeth gleaming in her face.

So we stuck in Drop Dead Fred after I arrived, and scarfed down the t-bones and baked sweet potatoes Bella had prepared. It was one of our favorite films. This time, knowing she remembered me in her other life, I felt less imaginary.

While Wynona whined on the screen, I picked up her very real hands when my inner-beast told me it was time. Carefully, with light pressure, I pushed each joint in both hands down until they released the sounds that were my only reality.

She was a regenerating wishbone, and I always got the biggest piece.

The fishing trips with my Dad and Charlie were in full swing by summer's end.

For our final visit with the ocean before Bella went back to Renee, I convinced Billy that we should pack a real picnic lunch for the four of us.

He was doubtful that I could put together a full meal, but I did pretty good for a boy so dependent on his best friend's bread-of-life.

I made my favorite sandwiches: roast beef and potato chips with mayo and pickles. Carrots and crackerjacks completed the meal, with some bottled water thrown in for us to drink.

"Alright, Cap'n Crunch, are you trying to break my teeth or something?" She joked when she peeked in the basket.

She was right, everything I'd packed was an audibly eaten food, an echo of the crunching under her skin that I longed for. And although it hadn't occurred to me to want such a thing, the thought of even the most petite pearl in her mouth cracking sent cymbals crashing through my chest.

"Sorry, Bella, I didn't even realize. Is it okay? I can probably have Billy go back and pick up something else."

I felt ashamed of my hidden desires for her sounds for the first time.

"No, silly, this is perfect. Thank you for packing lunch for everyone, Jake. It was very sweet of you."

She smiled a blushy smile, running her tongue along her teeth to catch a stray fleck of chip.

We sat quietly as we ate, her thinking her own thoughts, and me listening to the sounds inside her mouth.

"Crackerjacks have always been one of my favorite treats. I know it's stupid, but I still like getting the sticker or whatever's inside the box." She admitted sheepishly.

I smiled my brightest smile for her and watched her jaw as she munch through her dessert. It was humming, and at my very center I felt something shift.

With a metallic snap, her jawbone popped. "Goodness! That was weird." She said, shifting her lower jaw back and forth.

"It felt really good though! Man, it must have needed to pop for a long time..." She rubbed her fingers over the bone under her cheek.

Her mouth had never mattered as much as it did in that moment. I wanted inside. Not just to kiss, but to feel the spaces around her teeth and taste the only visible bones she owned.

Digging in her box, she clapped her hands and pulled out a small temporary tattoo. She ran to the water to wet it against her arm.

I won the true prize, though. The hunger in my belly turned hot. From somewhere down in my darkest depths came an ancient, panting breath.

The unexplainable warmth in my belly wasn't the only thing that changed through the summers.

Bella became entranced with baseball during her eighth grade, Phoenix, school term. Thanks to Renee's dual obsession with the local team, she was also dragging me along for the ride. Charlie was so happy he'd even forgotten about the knuckle popping.

She was wired about the All Star game. It was fine by me though. The tension of every play soaked into her skin, sweetening her bones and the sponge-cake inside them until she erupted at the end of each inning in a chorus of joyful pops.

As the broadcast neared the end, she was so anxious she couldn't even sit down on the couch.

Under the disguise of being nearer to the screen to better judge the pitches, I convinced her to sit between my legs on the floor. Even with her back to me I could hear her teeth grinding and her jaw clenching as she awaited the final outcome of the game.

With slow hands I grabbed her head at her temples and gently rolled it around. I was reveling in the quiet sounds her mandible made, but I didn't want her so anxious over something like baseball. As I moved her head to the right, and then the left, I felt her relax subtly and let out a small sigh of relief.

Eventually her neck was like a rag doll, loose and free, the soft grinding of her atlas bone lulling me into a stupor. She held up my entire world.

I was almost asleep, my hands resting lightly on Bella's shoulders, when she shot up from the floor in a tizzy.

"Ugh! I just can't handle this any more, Jacob. Extra innings? This is just too much stress for one night. Let's go find something else to do until someone scores a run, okay?"

She stomped up the stairs to her room. Her status as a hormonal teenager was almost full blown, and it made me laugh till my ribs hurt.

She was digging through the game closet, snickering to herself. when I caught up to her. Bella was not a regular snicker-er, so I knew she's found something good.

"Oh Jakey-poo? Are we ready to get our scary on yet, because I found something awesome! I think my Mom must have left it here when she moved out."

It was a Ouija board.

We sat criss-cross applesauce on the floor of Bella's room and placed our hands on the game piece. The tiny magnifying glass wasn't moving though, and Bella was getting huffy again.

I tried to make a joke.

"Hey! Maybe our ghost is downstairs watching the game right now!"

But she just rolled her eyes and hunkered down closer to the board, her spine arching forward so far I could see her vertebrae at the back of her neck sneaking out.

Without further warning, the piece began to move. Shifting quickly between letters, Bella called each one out as words took shape.

"M I S S M...ARY M A C? Miss Mary Mac!" she laughed and cracked her knuckles.

"Do you remember when you taught me the gruesome version of that song to keep those girls from picking on me? It worked you know."

She began singing the very words I'd taught her. For her, this was all done in jest, but I was shaking with repressed need, imagining the bumpy buttons of Bella's spinal column snapping under my fingers like typewriter keys.

I placed my fingers back against the little looking glass and felt Bella's rest against mine. With my eyes closed, I gave the glass the slightest push, hoping she wouldn't catch on.

Looking down at the letters I continued to guide our "ghost", willing Bella's hands to follow mine without question.

"M A... This ghost must really go for M words" She giggled.

"R R O W." I finished for her.

"Marrow." she said softly.

She glanced up to my fretful face and shrugged lightly. The rise and fall of those balls and sockets brought me quickly back to the present.

We raced each other back down the stairs to see who had won her game.

"Hi, My Jacob!" she said when I called. It was the summer after her freshman year and I was boiling over with the all encompassing need to see her.

"I asked Charlie if he would just drive me out to your place so we could walk to the beach together, is that okay? I really don't want to go on the traditional Father-Daughter fishing trip this year, but I want to see you."

"Of course!" I hollered into the phone, my excitement unconfined by the headset attached to my ear.

We walked to the water when she arrived. I gave her the most awkward, brotherly, one-armed hug I could manage. I was scared to death that my desire to touch her and be near her would leak out if I got any closer.

She giggled and grabbed my hand, swinging our arms back and forth.

She was less bone and more curves since last summer. And although I missed the easy eye-candy of her middle school body, I appreciated the way the swells under her clothes stretched across her hard inner-core.

At the water's edge she took off running, splashing water up and around her. Dew-like droplets settled into her hair and landed on my nose; I was right behind her.

She caught her foot on a small, partially sand-hidden rock, and began to fall forward. With one giant step I had her in my arms, wrapping her middle in safety and straightening her against my chest.

Without pulling from my grasp, she turned against me, her broad, beaming face shining up at mine.

"Thanks, Jake." she blushed. "I guess I'm still just as clumsy as I was when we were kids."

Leaning down cautiously, I rested my forehead against hers, breathing in her exhales, taking them down into my bones.

She cackled, suddenly, and I scooped her up off the ground. If there was ever a time in our history when a bear hug was appropriate, it was now.

I squeezed her, testing how the fleshiness of her body bent around her solid interior. Spinning her, I pressed her harder still into my chest. The column of her back responded gleefully, crackling from bottom to top like an exaggerated piano scale.

It had been too many months without her, and the delirium of such a giant explosion of bone had me dizzy.

I lurched forward, hanging on to Bella with too much of my weight. She pushed me back up, giving me enough of her strength to hold steady.

"Well, I was going to thank you for your accidental chiropractic services, but then you just about toppled us over! What the hell, Jake?"

I shook my head.

Finally relinquishing my hold on her, I tried to distract her from my dizzy-spell. Bringing my arm up, I pushed my elbow parallel to the top of my head and popped my shoulder.

I knew the muscles of my arms were nothing special, but they were a lot bigger than the last time Bella had seen me. I repeated the action, slowly, with my other arm. Her eyes were wide and her blush was back.

"My, what big arms you have, Jacob Black." She said, jokingly.

"The better to squeeze you with, my dear." I said in my deepest, wolfy-voice.

She giggled and placed her hand against her chin, cracking her neck on both sides while I tried to remember to keep my mouth from falling open.

I mirrored her noises with my own neck, just to see what would happen.

Smirking, she raised her elbow up close to her face and pulled it behind her head. Her arm, at that unnatural angle, made my stomach growl. She did the same with the other side, her shoulder joint slipping just enough to emit a small snap.

I looked down, trying to hide the hunger on my face and glimpsed the meat of her hipbone. With her arm over her head, her tank top rode up just enough to allow that knobby morsel free.

Clearing my throat to dispel the eternal desire toward her crunchiest pieces, I squatted down in the sand. I'd hoped to redirect my body away from the visions racking my brain, but she bent her legs as mine had done and met me face to face. The smooth shells became dust in my hand before I'd even realized it.

Standing and turning, simply to remove her knees from my line of vision, I brushed my hands on the backside of my board shorts. There was a muffled sigh from her direction, but when I faced her she was looking out to the sea, the stain of a sudden blush on her cheekbones.

She knew. She had to know what she did to me. The devious pleasure I felt knowing I did something to her too expanded inside me until my whole body was hot with hope.

The weekend before Bella was set to fly back to Renee, Charlie had to be out of town. It was a conference or something that he had to attend as Chief of Police, and he asked Billy if Bella could stay with us while he was away.

The strange shift that took place between Bella and me on the beach remained. We were closer than we'd ever been right as she had to leave. Our fathers knew nothing of the attraction we seemed to be fanning, as I fought to keep the flaming heat within myself from consuming both of us.

We spent the day that Charlie left eating ice cream and wandering around the reservation. There were tons of people Bella wanted to visit while she had the chance, and they, in turn, were ecstatic to see her before she flew back to Phoenix.

My friends and I swapped times during the summer manning a small ice cream stand. It wasn't much, but it gave the little kids something to look forward to when school ended. Paul and Embry were working when Bella and I walked up.

"Triple scoops boys. And I'm paying Belly-beans so don't even try." I pushed her ribs gently with my elbow.

"What are you getting, Jake? I haven't decided yet."

Pushing herself up on the counter ledge, she peered into the freezer, biting her cheeks while her arms shook with the effort of holding herself up.

Without any conscious thought I moved behind her and picked her up around the waist.

"There, now you can actually see!"

Her hair was pulled up into a messy bun, allowing me to see each individual serving of spine her tank top exposed, waiting to be lapped at, like a dog with a rawhide bone.

She leaned back against me and hummed in response, the vibrations rattling my insides.

"Cherry, Raspberry Chocolate, and Strawberry Shortcake, please. With rainbow sprinkles on the top."

She turned her face to mine behind her before I set her down. "Thanks, Jacob."

I could feel her cheek arch around a smile against the side of my mouth.

"Sure, Sure." I said, giving her a small squeeze before I set her down.

"I want the usual boys, stack em high!"

My friends rolled their eyes at me and set to work on my monochromatic ice cream tower. I always got the same thing: vanilla, cookies and cream, and white chocolate macadamia. The flavors reminded me of Bella, and the nuts crushed against my molars enough to ease my missing her when she was gone.

"But I want rainbow sprinkles this time too, okay?"

They shook their heads at me and readied our order.

Emily and Sam were especially happy to see us together, or so I gathered from the smirk on Sam's face when our hands touched accidentally, on purpose.

We sat in their kitchen to finish the last of our rapidly melting treats.

There was something about knowing I'd procured all of the calcium now seeping into Bella's bones that was fascinating. Even as she sat there, sucking the last sugary drips from her teeth, her bones were growing stronger.

"So Bella, I was thinking we might head down to the beach tonight for the bonfire. Are you up for something like that? Sam and Emily are coming too."

I'd asked in front of them to ease the pressure building steadily at my center.

"Yes! That sounds great. I'm so happy to be spending my last weekend here with you guys instead of couped up in Charlie's house all alone."

Her grin spread wide, her sweet mouth glowing with renewed fortitude.

We arrived at the bonfire just in time for the drum circle to start warming up. I usually participated, but wanted to watch Bella watch tonight.

It was a primal beat, one that I'd heard from birth, and it called to me now more than ever.

As we sat together in the sand, my mind latched on to the old wolf myths of my tribe. With Bella here and so very close they felt alive.

Pictures I'd never seen before filled the space behind my eyes. Bella stroking the fur of a rust colored wolf with my eyes. Bella, with hungry eyes, a wolf's coat draped around her like a carnivorous Little Red Riding Hood gone wrong.

Shaking my head to loosen the paintings in my mind I focused everything I had on my Bella.

As the beats filled us both we grew into our own rhythm of stares, hand brushes, and popping needy joints. We cracked in tandem and in echo, watching the palms of my friends and fellow tribe members slap the drums.

Bella moved to sit against my legs and I tapped the beat dancing through my fingertips gently against her temples. Shadows from the fire highlighted the contours of her face as she turned to look at me. She tilted her head to rest against my knee, and I pieced together the delicate framework of her face resting beneath her skin. Twisting herself perpendicular to my legs, she hugged my knees tightly.

"Thank you, Jacob. This is what magic sounds like, I think."

I folded myself in half to reach her, wrapping my long arms around her torso. My body was a cage of solid bone, made to protect the bone-china the held her up.

Bella made herself a palette on my bedroom floor when we finally got home.

Once I had my Dad settled in his room I collapsed on my almost-too-small bed. My left shoe popped off when it collided with my foot-board and Bella got the giggles.

"What's so funny down there, Little Missy? I'm tired..." I asked, peering down at her.

"You look like Diddle Diddle Dumpling! One shoe off and one shoe on. Sorry, it was just funny."

She touched my arm that was hanging off the bed with the back of her hand.

"I'm not sleepy yet, Jake. Can I sit up there with you for a while?"

"I guess so, Bella, but we'll barely fit!" I laughed. I could never refuse her.

Sitting down next to me she crossed her legs over mine and leaned against the headboard. I yawned, my mouth stretching into an enormous "O", which made Bella chuckle again.

"I don't think you want to sit with me, you just want to laugh at me." I pouted.

She rubbed the blunt ends of my fingernails with the pillowed tips of her fingers and looked at me sadly.

"No, really. I just needed to talk to someone before I have to go back to Phoenix."

She rested her head on my arm and revealed to me that her Mom had met someone. A guy named Phil, who apparently played baseball or something. Even though she thought he was a decent enough person, she was still upset that someone could come between her and Renee so quickly. She wanted to be happy for her Mom, but really just wanted her mother back.

"Is that selfish, you think? To want the people you love to love only you?" She asked.

"No, I don't think so at all. Especially when it's someone you've loved your whole life."

That seemed to make her feel a little better and she took a deep breath that forced her body even closer to mine.

"Jacob, do you ever think about me when I'm gone?"

"Do you think about me?" I asked immediately.

"Of course I do." she said, hugging her arms around the one she leaned on.

"I do too." I lay my head against hers, cranium to cranium, wishing I knew more of what was happening inside both our brains.

After a short silence her feet got fidgety on my shins and I leaned forward to capture them. Pressing my thumb from her heels to under her toes made her gasp and try to wiggle away from me.

"You know", I said in my most put-on, charming voice.

"They say that you can tell how stressed a person is by how easily you can pop their toes."

Waggling my eyebrows for the full comic effect I started with her right big toe, pulling at the joint and waiting for it to release into my thumb and forefinger.

"Where do you come up with this stuff, Jacob Black? Are you sure y'all only sell ice cream from that little cart?"

"In health class!" I laughed.

"Something about cortisol build-up or whatever."

I shrugged, it didn't matter where I'd heard it, as long as I had my paws on Bella.

"Does Billy know they're teaching you how to pop peoples toes over there when you should be learning algebra? Or better yet, can I come to school with you this year instead?"

I knew she was only kidding, but that hunger, deep inside me, flashed the image of her dancing in the wolf skins again and I had to get away from her before I cracked her toe too violently and hurt her for the diamond treasures she could give me in return.

"Potty break!" I jumped up from the bed, bouncing her and pulling even more laughter from her chest.

"Jesus, Jake, I almost fell off the bed!"

"It's just Jacob, actually, and your nest of covers would've broken your fall!"

I ran down the hall, heat pooling low in my belly and a growl trying desperately to escape my locked jaw.

I did everything I could think of in the bathroom before I went back to bed. I brushed my teeth, I flossed, I clipped my nails.

She was mercifully asleep when I came back, curled like a radiant roly-poly in her sleeping bag.

I was almost unconscious when she started to move in her sleep. Her feet rubbed against the silky sleeping bag in a soothing pattern until she curled all her toes, most of them quietly bursting against my dream-heavy heart.

I barely slept that night. Instead, I listened for her cracks and crinkles as she dreamed a few feet away from me, wondering if she was dancing to the drums in her sleep. Her nighttime bone-song was like a symphony.

She called two weeks after school started. We had never spoken to each other during our time apart.

"Jacob? I'm not coming home this summer."

Her voice sounded too happy to deliver such devastating news.

"Ummm, ok..."

It was all I could force from my voice box. I sunk to the floor, a marionette who'd lost his strings. Caving in on myself, I couldn't hear the rest of her words.

Another stupid nursery rhyme clanged through my mind, a similar reaction to the first time I'd ever felt my hunger for Bella.

"The wheelbarrow broke. My wife had a fall. Down came the wheelbarrow, little wife and all."

-Thanks for reading! Any rhymes I didn't know by heart I wikied. There is much, much more to this story ;).