DISCLAIMER: I don't own the characters, they all belong to Stephenie Meyer.
AN: This story is set at the end of Eclipse.
"…I believe that we can achieve
The love that we need
I believe, call me naïve
Love is for free…"
(Love etc. by Pet Shop Boys)
Forever is never enough.
1. The beginning.
It was so difficult to let Jacob go. There were no words anyone could say that would make me feel better about leaving him in that bed, hurt more for my choice than his undeniable injuries. His eyes full of tears and pain were haunting my nights and Edward's patience and understanding were driving me crazy with guilt.
Guilt that I couldn't just love him, guilt that I had to break Jacob's heart. How was I ever going to face my change if I was so torn? It was true what I told Edward in the clearing; it was a choice between who I was and who I was destined to be. But lately, as the wedding was approaching, I was having doubts, not about my love for Edward but about whom I wanted to be.
Jacob told me that he would have been the natural choice if vampires and werewolves did not exist. I'm not so sure about it though. I only went to him with the motorbikes because of my stupid attempt to hear Edward's voice. Would I have reconnected with Jacob otherwise? I'm don't know; but our fathers were friends and I always liked Jacob's sunny personality. Even when we were kids his smile could light my world up. Sometimes I wondered what would have happened if I had spent more time with Jacob before getting involved with Edward. Maybe I would have fallen for his pure nature and genuine character.
Right at the moment I was very confused and nothing was making sense anymore. There were times when the only thing I wanted was to be held in Jacob's arms; then a smile from Edward would melt and enchant me.
How was it possible to love two different men so much?
My phone rang and it scared me to death. How odd, the identity wasn't displayed. "Hello?" I said.
"Isabella." Aro Volturi's unmistakable voice replied. "How nice to finally speak with you with no filter between us."
I shuddered. Why was he calling me? Hadn't we already told Jane that the date was set? "Aro, it's... why are you calling me?"
"Straight to the point." He chuckled. "I like people who don't beat around the bush. I want to meet with you. Just the two of us, we need to discuss a few things. Do not worry. I assure you that I will not try to kidnap or change you. You will be perfectly safe and you will be back home unharmed. You have my word on it. Do you think you can meet me without anyone knowing?"
I sighed, this was so strange, but what options did I have? "What about Alice's gift? If I decide to meet you, she'll see it. Besides why can't you tell me what you want by phone?"
"You're such a smart girl. I'm sure you know that I collect gifted vampires." Aro said seriously. "Well, one of my newest additions can block Alice's gift, at least for a limited amount of time. We have half a day, if you get to Port Angeles now, we will have a few hours in which she will not be able to see you."
"I suppose I don't really have a choice. Do I?" I asked hoping that I could still escape his clutches.
"You are correct in that assumption my dear. Half an hour, I will meet you at pier number 5." He put down the phone before I could say anything else.
I really had to go, looking at my reflection in the mirror I just saw a sad and broken girl. Why was the supernatural world so interested in me? Vampires found me edible. Werewolves wanted to protect me from everything, even from myself.
There have been moments since I chose to be with Edward that I didn't even want to see my reflection. I felt shame because I broke Jacob's heart. At the same time the guilt tore at me because I did love Jake, a lot. Edward's forgiving nature was constantly reminding me how perfect he was and how flawed I was in comparison.
I descended the stairs and my dad was watching one of the many sport's games on TV. "Dad? I'm going out for a drive; I'll probably be back for dinner. If anyone calls… can you take a message and tell them I'll call back later?"
He spared me a glance and nodded. "Sure Bells, are you okay?"
Charlie was short with words, but always tried his best to be a good father. "Kind of, there are a few problems that I am trying to solve. I'll be okay eventually."
Charlie eyed me seriously. "Bells, I know you don't want to hear it, but Jacob is hurting. I don't know what happened but he could use a friend right now."
I swallowed down the pain that was trying to submerge me. How could I tell my dad that Jacob was hurting because of me? How could I tell him that his pain was also my pain? "I'll think about it. Thanks Dad." I ran out before I started to cry.
The drive to Port Angeles was quiet, surprisingly I never had the radio reinstalled, music was not my cup of tea anymore. It either reminded me of Edward or Jacob and I didn't want to run the risk of thinking about all the pain that I have caused them. It was so difficult and frustrating to know that although I had made my choice I was still full of doubts. My heart ached for Jacob.
Pier number 5 was easy to find. I parked at the entrance of the docks and walked there slowly.
Aro's distinguished figure appeared out of nowhere. "Isabella, we meet again." He took my hand in his and after a moment shook his head. "Such an amazing power, if you were a vampire your gift would be even more enhanced. Now, I'm sure you are wondering why I called you here. Let's take a walk."
He took my hand and put it in the crook of his arm. "Jane came back from Forks with interesting news. Apparently the Cullen's single-handedly defeated an entire army of newborns and came out unscathed. I find it hard to believe, don't you?"
"I'm not a vampire so I can't really judge the strength of any of you." Well it was partially true and I was sure Aro wasn't really thinking that I would give away any secret.
"Ah, Isabella. I'm starting to see what is so fascinating about you. It's not just your amazing scent, or your gift, I see you are smart. I always enjoyed women with wits. Now, we both know that you are lying. But I'll forgive you just this once. I have done some research about this area." Aro said. "And do you know what my spies found?"
I gulped, this wasn't good. I shook my head trying to calm my frantic heart knowing well that he could hear it anyway. "There are shifters nearby."
I tried not to do any movement that could betray my knowledge of the pack. "Really?"
His cold hand was on mine before I had time to take it away and he squeezed it, not strong enough to hurt... yet. "Isabella, Jane was positive that you reeked of dog when she met you in the clearing. Considering that you don't have one and neither the Cullen's... that leaves me with just one conclusion. That you know them. And I think they worked with your precious vampire family because of you. You are a magnet for supernatural beings."
I didn't know what to say. "What's your point Aro?"
"I want to know who they are and how I can find them." Aro said easily.
Yeah, sure as if I would ever tell him. "I know how to keep my mouth shut Aro. I haven't told anyone about vampires, I'm not going to tell anything I swore to keep secret. You might as well just kill me now if that is what you wanted."
He laughed. "Oh Isabella! That's not what I want at all. I was anticipating that you would answer the way you did. I know now that we can find a way to settle things the way I want."
I watched him in surprise, so he was here for something specific. "What do you really want?"
He stopped and turned to look at the Ocean. "I want Edward and Alice." He paused for a moment. Letting me digest the information. "They do not want to join my court. But I believe that if you were out of the picture they just might. Edward will not have anything tying him here."
"He'll never leave me and I'll never break up with him, everyone knows how much we love each other." I replied, I could never leave Edward. Even though a big chunk of my heart belonged to someone else.
"I have more information gathered than you think, Isabella. I know that you had been close to another boy. Your father, such a nice man, isn't he? Seems convinced that you love him too. If I remember correctly, Jacob is the name of the boy." Aro turned to look at me then and smirked when he saw my shocked expression.
"You talked with my dad?" I took a deep breath, at least Aro didn't hurt my father but the thought that he had been near him had me terrified. I would do anything to protect him and Jacob from vampires.
He nodded. "Such a nice man, he cares dearly for his only daughter. The other interesting piece of information that was brought to me is there are legends with the Quileutes about Cold Ones and Spirits of Wolves."
I wasn't sure I could breath, he couldn't know about them. "Lots of Native Americans have legends, what's different with theirs?"
Aro was close to my face in a matter of seconds. "Stupidity does not become you, Isabella. I let you play your little game, but I grow tired of your impertinence. I am not known for my patience. You would do well to remember that."
"Then tell me what you want and let's get this over with." I seethed. "I want to go back home."
"Very well." He took my hand and put it back on his arm. "You will break up with Edward, and you will make it believable. I think it would be best if you tell him you are going to be with Jacob the werewolf. Yes, I did know what he and the other Quileutes are. No human man could ever reach your little heart Isabella. We both know that to be true. I had one of my vampires check the bond between you and Edward and it seems that it lacks the strength it had when you were in Italy."
I hesitated in answering him, I was shocked that my feelings for Jacob had somehow damaged my bond with Edward. And if that was true, could I really decide to be with Edward while I really had such strong feelings for Jake? Then I thought about his words and it hit me hard that he wanted me to break up with my fiancée. "Why would I break up with Edward?" I would not give in to his games.
"I will spare the lives of the werewolves and the remaining Cullen's. If you do not comply with my request I will be forced to kill them all. And it will not be a quick death. I thought that I could let Jane and Alec have the honor of disposing of them. I would recommend that they begin with Jacob. Your father would be next and so on. I know what I want Isabella and I will have it." He said menacingly.
I didn't have any doubt his threat, Aro was used to getting what he wanted and he wasn't opposed to go to any length to get it. "What about my change? You'll have to kill me if I don't become a vampire."
He chuckled. "That's where the real deal will come into play. You leave Edward and the news will eventually make its way to Volterra. In exchange for your life, I take him and Alice. He would relinquish his freedom for you. I have read his mind and he wants what he believes is best for you."
I felt cornered. I didn't have any chance to get out of this. I would willingly give my life for Jacob and my dad. "You thought of everything."
Aro nodded. "Isabella, you must know that my brother Caius would enjoy tearing apart the Children of the Moon. The shifters would suffer a horrible death. Caius would destroy them; shifters, Children of the Moon, it is of no consequence to him what they are. I am sure you love them enough to spare their lives."
He had me there, exactly where he wanted me. "How... how do I know that you'll keep your part of the bargain?" I asked, because there was no chance that I would give Edward up just to have the wolves slaughtered.
"I'll write our agreement down with my blood. If I broke our contract, I would be punished in the most awful way. Our blood is magical and binds us. I might be a monster but I am an honorable one. What is your final decision?" he asked already sure of the answer.
I took a moment to think it through; he wanted Edward and Alice so much that he was striking a bargain with me. I could negotiate with him and try to lessen the blow for the Cullen's. "If I agree to go along with what you want, you'll have to let me add my own clauses to the contract."
"What would they be?" Aro watched me with an intrigued expression.
"First, no one will ever know about werewolves or where to find them. You'll sweep anyone's memory clean of this knowledge. And before you say anything, I'm sure you have a gifted vampire of that kind. Second, you'll take with you Edward and Alice, but you'll consent to Jasper coming with her. Thirdly, you'll let them follow their vegetarian diet; you'll never tempt any of the three with human blood. It'll have to be their choice. Fourthly, they won't have to stay indefinitely. You'll state the time that they are going to serve you, after that if they want to leave they are free. Fifth, you'll let the other Cullen's see them or visit whenever they want. Finally, you'll promise me that no vampire will contact, try to hurt or look for me and my family ever again. I want the memory of me erased from your world. Do we have a deal?" I said, surprised by my boldness, but this was a matter of life and death for so many.
Aro seemed a bit shocked, and I was sure it was one of the few times he had been. After all he couldn't read my mind and it was one of the few advantages I had on him. "Isabella, I agree to your conditions. I must admit I am impressed and surprised. Perhaps I could convince you to join me, you could come later to be with Edward if you so wished."
I thought it over, if I broke up with Edward and begged Jake to give me a real chance, I could never leave him. It wasn't a matter of what I wanted anymore, I could not hurt Jacob any more than I already did. I knew deep down in my heart that Edward would take me back, but honestly I could not fathom leaving Jacob behind once again.
My heart throbbed painfully, could I live a life without my Edward? Could I really go to Jacob and be his? I didn't have any choice, no more eternal life, just one simple normal one. Strangely the blow Aro had inflicted on me was hurting but not crippling. I had already lived without Edward and in this way my family and the Quileutes were safe and protected. "Thank you but no. It'll be a clean cut for everyone involved. May I ask how do you plan to keep this secret from Edward?" I blurted out, remembering that my love was a mind-reader.
"I'm good at shielding, do not worry Isabella. I want them and I will do everything to ensure the success of my plan. Come now, I want to sign our contract and let you go back home." He took me swiftly into one of the containers where I found a paper that looked ancient already laid out. Near it was a dagger, a basin and a fountain pen.
I watched Aro cutting his wrist and let the blood fall into the basin. The mere sight was making me dizzy and I sat on the floor. He laughed at my discomfort, but then proceeded to put down all we discussed into the paper. "It is done, read if you wish and then sign it."
I re-read everything three times, I couldn't risk him tricking me. When I found no foul play I took the pen in my trembling hands and signed. With Aro's blood I just gave up Edward and my love for him.
I took a deep breath; the hole in my heart that had scarred was now threatening to burst open, but I couldn't afford to show him how much he hurt me. Aro pulled me up from the floor. "Isabella, you'll have to be convincing."
I nodded with tears in my eyes, finally I managed to choke. "It'll take a bit of time before..."
"Isabella..." his cold hand caressed my face and I took a step back. "You'll do it when they return from their hunting trip. Are we clear?"
I nodded, I had one day to think of a way to convince Edward that I wanted to be with Jacob.
My heart was breaking, but after the harsh time I spent without Edward, I did have more strength and I wasn't that breakable girl anymore. The sad thing was that I now knew that I could live without Edward, it wouldn't be easy and I would have done anything to be with him but the life of the pack, of my Jacob and of the Cullen's meant more to me than my own happiness.
"I'll walk you back to your car after you change your clothes, we wouldn't want anyone smelling me on you." Aro said, and handed me a bag with a jumper and a pair of jeans. I looked at him with uncertainty. "Don't worry Isabella; they are going to fit you." I nodded and he was looking at me expectantly.
"Errr… can you wait for me outside?" I asked feeling a blush spreading on my cheeks.
He chuckled and while he was going out I thought I heard him say something about silly humans with morals.
I changed into the new clothes, and they just as he said, they fit me perfectly. When I got out he made a gesture for me to follow him and then he led me back to my car. Without any more words he swiftly disappeared. I felt then my heart sink. How was I ever going to go through with his plan? Yes I could live without Edward, but did I want to?
I sat in my truck and closed my eyes; images of the afternoons spent in La Push invaded my mind. Jacob's smile, so kind and heartwarming. His eyes darkening before the kiss that changed everything for me. My heart exploded with love for him, I was giving Edward up but for a good reason. I was saving the people that I loved.
Would Jacob take me back after all the heartache I put him through?
I sighed, there was only one way to find out. I turned on my truck and slowly drove back towards Forks. I needed time to plan my breakup...
In a way I almost felt relieved, the choice had been taken from me and for once in my life I was almost glad.
Then guilt took my heart in a vice grip, maybe I hadn't realized until now that I was never going to see my Edward again. I pulled over on the side of the road and lay down in the truck. It hurt too much. I felt guilty as well because part of me, the part that loved Jacob was actually doing a happy dance at the prospect of being in his warm arms again.
I didn't react when I heard the door opening, but then a scorching hand took my arm and I gasped. I could recognize his touch even in the darkness.
"Bells?" his gruff voice whispered. "I saw you pull over and then you disappeared. What happened?"
I felt tears in my eyes; I was going to deceive him and all the people that loved me. How could I tell him that I choose him and live with this lie for the rest of my life? And was it really true? Could I honestly say that I didn't love him? I stayed there with his hand on my arm and I realized that this was my chance to put the plan into motion.
I raised my head and I met the concerned eyes of my best friend, my sun, my sanity. "I... Jacob... I want to be with you." I blurted out before my mind registered it.
His eyes widened slightly, but he didn't react in any other way. He was probably disillusioned, he didn't believe that I would chose to be his. "What? I don't understand."
I pulled myself up and threw my arms around his neck. "I chose wrong Jake. I... can you consider taking me back? I promise I'll be only yours."
Jacob was stiff until he heard my words, then he relaxed of a fraction and his arms circled my waist. He pulled me closer, crushing me against his chest. "Bells, is this real? Are you really changing your mind for good?"
In his warm embrace, the loss of Edward didn't hurt as much as I thought. I knew I would have to suffer later when I was alone, but right now it felt good to be with Jacob. "Yes. I'll break up with Edward when he comes back tomorrow... even if you won't have me... I can't stay with him anymore."
He moved one of his hands and took my chin. He slowly pulled it up and his eyes searched mine to verify the truth of my words. "Do you really mean it Bells? Because this is the last time I'll ever forgive you. If you don't mean it with all of your heart just let me go." He whispered.
I knew I had put him through hell, and this was my chance to make it better. I smiled at him, and I nodded. "I really mean it Jake."
His eyes darkened, a single tear run down his cheek and then he crushed his mouth on mine. There was nothing soft or sweet about this kiss, it spoke of pain, anger, hope, love, need, lust... I lost myself in his arms, for a moment I really believed that he was who I've always wanted, the man I was destined to be with. I was lost in his encompassing love and passion, I felt cherished and wanted like never before.
Jacob moved away and placed butterfly kisses all over my face. "Oh, Bells, you have no idea how happy you just made me. I knew it; I knew that eventually you would see it too. We are meant to be, me and you for always."
Tears threatened to fall down from my eyes, I didn't like starting our relationship with a lie. But I didn't want to shed even one more tear in front of him, no more hurting him. "I'll tell Edward tomorrow... after that can I come and stay with you?"
His smile widened and his eyes shone with love and happiness. "You don't even have to ask Bells. I'll be waiting for you."
I smiled back. "Okay."
"Okay." He repeated.
It was that easy. It was always easy as breathing with Jacob.
I wished I could say the same about Edward, but I knew that I couldn't.