Disclaimer: i do not own twilight or these characters.

The whole place was bathed in the soft romantic glow of twinkling lights, the large round tables adorned with crisp white linen and red rose petals littered the tables as well as the floor. The conversation around me was a gentle hum, as I watched the dancers on the dance floor swing and sway to the music. The music slowed, the crowd parted, and I was completely captivated by the sight of the couple in front of me. Her milky white dress was sleeveless with a sweetheart neckline; the bodice was beaded and clung tightly to her curves. The skirt flared out just below her hips, the beautiful layers of taffeta and lace just barely touching the floor. The beads on her dress shimmered and sparkled in the dim lighting, and her tan skin looked glowing and flawless. But what struck me most, besides her obvious beauty, was the love that shone in her dark eyes, the venerability in her face, and the softness in her features. She didn't cling to him like a life raft, but they held on to each other like a promise. I had never seen Leah so at peace. I was shocked when she invited me to her wedding. It has been ten years since I set foot in Forks, and Leah and I had never been close. But a few weeks ago, I got a thick envelope in the mail, her invitation and a letter. And now, watching them twirl around the dance floor, completely lost in their moment, the outside world disappeared around them as if it was only them, I was so glad I came. It was beautiful and mesmerizing. I could feel the tears prick the back of my eyes, as a rush of memories flooded my mind. And that's when I saw him.

Standing against a wall across the room, surrounded by a group of people, looking better and more mouth-watering than I remember, was Jacob Black. His shock of black hair hung in his face, his jaw tightly clenched. He was wearing a white button down shirt, the sleeves undone and rolled up to his elbows, exposing his russet skin, the top button of his collar undone as well, his black tie hung loosely around his neck. He had a beer in his hand, and his eyes were locked on mine. There were a million emotions flickering across their dark depths, and they were darker than I remember, glassy in the dim light. The last time I saw him flashed through my head.

"Jake," I began, my voice trembling and quiet. He reached a gentle hand up to my face and turned me towards him. I still couldn't meet his eyes, although I could feel him staring at me. I was so close to tears I didn't think I'd be able to get through this. He grabbed me around the waist and pulled me to his good side. Instinctively, I immediately snuggled to his side; his warmth was so enticing and irresistible.

"You want to know the worst part?" He looked down at me, waiting for a response, but continued after I didn't give one. "I'm exactly right for you, Bella. It would have been effortless for us- comfortable, easy as breathing…" His voice trailed off wistfully, like he was seeing it all before his eyes. And I could see it, too. Jacob's love didn't ask me to sacrifice or change; instead it just added warmth and joy, sunshine to my life. But I had been so destroyed by Edward's departure from my life before; I didn't think I could live without him. But saying goodbye to Jacob was almost unbearable.

"Jake, I love you. But I gave my heart to Edward. I just can't live without him." I tried to keep the uncertainty out of my voice. I knew if he could detect it, he wouldn't give up. My resolve wasn't strong enough to resist him this time.

"I know, honey. He's like a drug for you, Bella." His sighed as his rough fingers stroked my hair. "I would have been healthy for you. I would have been the air, the sun." I smiled, knowing this is exactly how I used to see him. He had balanced out the clouds nicely for me.

We lay there silently, his fingers in my air, my head against his chest. His steady heart and rhythmic beating reminders of the unfailing, stable, unwavering love he offered. When the last of the day's sunlight disappeared, I knew it was time to go. I sat up, finally meeting his eyes. I almost lost it then. The utter defeat was so evident in his dark eyes; it knocked the breath out of me like a punch to the gut. Something in my expression must have changed; maybe he could sense my reluctance to go, or the doubt that clouded my eyes, because he reached for me, pulling me down on top of him and brushed his lips gently across mine. The feeble hold I had on control dissolved the moment his passion and heat invaded my mouth. I kissed him back hungrily with a mix of desperation and need. His hands slipped under my shirt, caressing my skin. My body was suddenly flushing hot and achy, burning with desire. His kiss was gentle at first, but its intensity and urgency increased the more I pressed myself against his warm chest. Craving and lust burned in the pit of my stomach. I couldn't seem to pull away, to stop, and he clearly hand no intention of doing so as he raked his fingers through my hair. I knew he had to be in pain, but he didn't show it. Suddenly any anxiety or insecurity I felt melted away. For one breathless moment, it was just us, the world seemed to fade away and everything revolved around our stolen moment. My whole body was trembling, quivering as I flung my shirt off and against his dresser. His eyes were wide with surprise and disbelief. But I knew he wouldn't question me, wouldn't stop this. I felt an intense stabbing animalistic need to be with him, as I slide off my jeans, tossing them to the floor. I hadn't realized until then, when I reached down, that under that thin sheet he had only been wearing a thin piece of cotton boxers. His woodsy, earthy aroma surrounded me, beckoning me, turning my brain into mush. The intense pressure and desire that was burning through my limbs, cleared my mind of everything but him.

There were no werewolves or vampires, no vendettas or mythical creatures, no lifelong duties or promises broken, no unwanted weddings or love triangles, no thoughts about repercussions or consequences of my actions, no voice screaming at me to stop and no images of Edward to interrupt. It was only Jake. I made love to him that night, the moonlight dancing on my pale skin, bathing us in a romantic glow. He didn't ask me any questions we both knew I didn't have the answers to. The need I felt from him echoed my own as he made love to me, gently, tenderly, urgently. In those brief hours before dawn, the whole world seemed to fade away. I forgot my worries, my conflicted decisions, and my promises. When he huskily whispered his beautiful native language into my ear, I forgot my own name. For a moment, it seemed, as if all the world was right. I could easily forget the monsters that sought me, the soulless eternity that beckoned me, the threat of the unknown that frightened me. In Jacob's warm embrace, all I could feel was happy and content; basking in the glow of my personal sun.

"I love you," He whispered low and husky. A mixture of emotion in his voice as it cracked at the end. I snuggled closer, the tears toppling over, as we gave into sleep. There were no promises made, no plea to stay. We just basked in our stolen embrace, knowing reality would come crashing down again.

It was way past midnight when I snuck out of Jake's room. I barely made it outside, much less to my truck, before the tears started falling. Every step forward, every step that took me away from him, from Jacob, felt like a betrayal, it felt like another lie. But, I had already made this decision, long before there was anything to decide. It's always been him. It's always been Edward. The stubborn voice in my head kept reminding me this, repeating itself like a mantra, like a prayer. But with every fiber in my being, every tortured breath I took, every uneven heartbeat that I felt pounding against my chest, with every part of me that signified life, my body was screaming in protest.

My breathing was fast and labored and it felt like something was crushing down on my chest. Seeing Jake broken and bruised and then breaking his heart the way I did, was the worst thing I had ever done. I felt nauseous and conflicted as I pulled over just before I reached the treaty line. I sat sideways in my seat, bent over clutching the open door; Jake's word's pounding in my ears. 'I am exactly right for you, Bella.' He was right. I had never felt more complete, more right the way he held me that night. But it was too late. Edward was my whole world, my future, my eternity. How could I turn my back on him now?

'He's like a drug for you Bella.' It's true that from the moment I met Edward, from the day he said he loved me, I had been entranced. I was irrevocably changed from the moment I met Edward Cullen. The hatred, the murderous rage that darkened his hypnotic eyes stab at me, broke through every wall I had built around myself to keep others out. The mystery, the romance, and later his devotion and even the rejection had held me captive. His intense topaz eyes and unwavering devotion was intoxicating. Every great novel I had ever loved was centered around a man like him. Dashing, romantic, selfless, and perfect. Edward was like Prince Charming. Jacob was arrogant, over-confident, obnoxious even. But Jake was also warm and generous and honest. His love was pure and raw and beautiful. He made Edward's demeanor seem cold, aloof, and inhuman in the worst way.

Jacob's words kept repeating themselves like bad song lyrics. His husky voice was clear and beautiful, warm and inviting. I don't know how long I sat there retching and crying, unable to control the pain or make sense of the jumble of emotions that flowed through me. It was dark, darker than usual; the moon had become hidden beneath a blanket of clouds. The wind picked up, viciously whipping my hair across my wet face, heightening the misery I was wallowing in.

Eventually, I made it back home. Charlie was already asleep, his snores echoing down the hall. I closed my window that night. I couldn't bear to face Edward, to lie to him about what happened that night. I didn't know if he would sense the change I felt inside me, but I didn't want to see the pain in his face if he could or the pain in his eyes were he to watch me cry and fall apart over Jacob. But even more than that, I didn't want his too-patient, too-cold arms comforting me. Not tonight.

I cried for hours, long into the night and early morning. Jacob's words kept repeating themselves in my head, over and over again. I was begging for the images of his broken body, the pain that emanated from his eyes to stop. But when they did, my heart only conjured up different memories. Memories of his husky voice in my ear, rough with desire, memories of his warm capable hands eliciting tingles on my skin as they skimmed my sides, resting on the small of my back, and pushing me against him. Memories of his warm pliable lips as they hungrily searched mine, memories of his heat invading my senses, memories of the images I saw of the life I knew he could give me while he kissed me. New tears came, welling up in my tired eyes, spilling over my already stained cheeks and soaking the pillow I clutched in my hands. I tried to shake my mind of those memories too, and only more assaulted my feeble mind. Memories of afternoons in his make-shift garage, his warm hand wrapped around mine, not possessively, but with all the love and friendship he had offered me, that had held me together, that kept the pieces Edward had left behind from disappearing altogether. Memories of bonfires on the beach, of our warm and easy banter.

I grieved for what could never be, I grieved for what I had denied but could no longer hide from, I grieved for what had been all too real, for the friendship, for the love, for the man I could never have. I grieved for myself, as I felt a part of myself slowly dying. I grieved for Jacob, leaving him broken and lonely, the way Edward had left me. I even grieved for Edward. He loved me beyond all reason, and even now, knowing I was grieving for another he would love me still.

Drowning. That's how I felt when I woke up the next morning. The dark waters of heartache and regret crashing down on me. At some point in the night, fatigue set in and I fell asleep. Unconsciousness, however, did not bring relief. I dreamt of Jake; our last several months replaying like an old family video in my mind. That night before, his words echoing and reverberating in my skull. Images of what our life could be flooded my dreams. Just before I woke up, the last image I saw was Jake's hungry kiss. It was so vivid, the heat and passion wrapped around me. When my eyes fluttered open I was clutching a tear soaked pillow, my face hot and sticky from dried tears.

That's when I decided. I was leaving. I had to get as far away from this place, from Jacob and Edward as possible. The thought of leaving Edward, of living without Edward, had me clutching my chest, the old wound ripping open, the pain almost swallowing me whole. I already felt broken from leaving Jake, broken from Edward leaving me. The longer I laid there, the warm rays of the sun flittering in, images of Jake and Edward swirling around in my mind, the more I knew I had to leave. I couldn't make this decision. Choosing Edward meant giving up everything; my family, my life, my humanity. And after last night in Jacob's arms, I couldn't just throw away my humanity. It suddenly seemed too important, seemed more beautiful than I had ever realized. Choosing Jake, meant letting go of Edward. Something I had never even tried to do. Even when he was gone, I had spent all my energy holding onto him. Choosing Jake meant I had to be able to give him all of me….something I couldn't do. Not yet.

Before I could change my mind, I had packed up as much of my stuff as I could fit in two over stuffed suitcases, called my mom, and talked to Charlie. I told Charlie that day as much as I could without mentioning any of the supernatural elements. It was awkward. Charlie wasn't use to talking about such complicated emotions, but he listened, he understood, and he let me go. Edward, on the other hand, was more difficult to say goodbye to. I wasn't even sure I could at first. The pain in his eyes was almost unbearable. At first, he tried to convince me to stay, confessing his undying love, making promises, holding me, kissing me, and pleading with me. My resolve was feeble, my self-control crumbling, but the moment his cold un-yielding lips touched mine, all I could think about was Jake, all I could feel was his kiss burning my lips, his skin on mine.

I did not tell Jacob goodbye.

"Bella!" Quil's familiar voice broke through my reverie, causing me to turn around, breaking my eye-contact with Jacob.

"Quil!" I jumped up, and was scooped up into a warm bone-crushing bear hug.

"How the hell are you?" His voice was loud and booming.

"Good, good! How are you? How's Claire?"

"She's good. She's here somewhere," His voice dropped low, almost a whisper, and he leaned down before he spoke again. "Seen Jake yet?"

I could feel the familiar heartache that I had been living with for the last ten tears, and the nervousness I had felt since arriving in Forks yesterday. I shook my head, unable to speak around the lump forming in my throat. Quil just smiled, a knowing sort of smile, and leaned in closer to whisper in my ear.

"Don't worry, he's always close by." Something in his words sent a shiver down my spine. "Come on, let's dance!" He began tugging on my hand, leading me out to the dance floor.

"Oh no! You know I can't dance!" I protested.

"Don't worry so much, I'll lead." It was pointless to fight, so I let him lead me out on the dance floor. He spun and twirled me around the dance floor, while I stepped on his toes and missed the steps several times.

"I'd be careful, that's your Alpha's girl," Embry jokingly warned as he and a beautiful young girl came dancing by us. I blushed, and they both laughed.

"May I cut in?" A familiar husky voice murmured in my ear, sending waves of nervous pleasure coursing through me. And before I could reply, Quil handed me off, Jake's warm hand wrapping around mine, intertwining our fingers, and bringing it to rest against his chest, where I could feel his steady heart beating. His other arm snaked around my waist, pulling me impossibly close, flush against his trembling muscles. My eyes slowly traced up his body, his strong jaw, finally daring to meet his eyes. They were almost pitch black, and suspiciously bright. His fingers purposefully grazed across my bare left ring finger, and a small smirk lifted at the corners of his lips. "Hi," He whispered, leaning in, his nose grazed the skin just below my ear, inhaling through his nose deeply, like he was taking his first breath. I gulped, and he chuckled pulling back to meet my eyes again, a familiar grin firmly in place.

"Still human, I see." And even though his eyes were soft, his voice held an edge. I nodded. I didn't trust myself to speak. I had tried to rehearse what I would say to him when I saw him, if he would even talk to me, but now all those words escaped me. Now, in his arms, I was overcome with emotions. I tried to will the tears away that I could feel burning in my eyes, but two traitorous tears escaped, sliding down my cheeks slowly, painfully. He released my hand, and brought his up to cup my cheek, wiping away the tear with his thumb, and then he leaned forward, his soft warm lips brushing across my cheek, kissing away the other tear. My breathing stopped, my eyes closed, my heart threatening to beat out of my chest at the feeling of lips on my skin. I felt him pull back, just a fraction of an inch, his warm breath fanning my face, his lips only a breath away from mine. We were still moving, swaying slowly to the music, completely out of step with the music. Then, he laid his forehead against mine for the briefest of moments, and I could feel a tear trickle down, landing on my cheek, before he pulled away, placing a tender kiss on my forehead. I didn't open my eyes. I was too terrified to see the pain in his eyes, or to let my pain overwhelm me leaving me a sobbing mess in the middle of Leah's wedding. So I just laid my head against his chest, my hand still clutching the fabric of his shirt, the other hand open against his arm. For one breathless moment he didn't move, and then just as my nervousness began again, both his arms wrapped around me, crushing me to him, his face buried in my long brown waves. We weren't even moving anymore, just standing there, clinging to each other, our shoulders shaking with silent sobs, the whole world disappearing around us. Ten years. Ten years of heartache, indecision, hurt and pain, all faded away. The myths and the monsters, the eclipse that blocked him from me, the fear of losing, all melted away leaving only us. Only Jake and Bells.

Before I knew what was happening, we were moving and the whispering and the music was all becoming distant. I could taste the salty air when we stepped outside, the summer sun warm on my legs, the wind still a little chilly. I wrapped my arms around his neck, his arms loosened, and one hand skimmed down my back, cupping my backside and hitching me to him, as I instinctively wrapped my legs around his waist. I pulled back from him, and the look in his eyes took my breath away. They were dark with desire, but more open and venerable than I'd ever seen. There were fresh tear tracks on his tan cheeks, and new ones glistening in his eyes. There was a violent mixture of love and pain that flickered there and a fire that burned, that danced across the deep pools of black.

For me.

Always for me.

In an instant his lips were on mine. His tongue glided along the edge of my bottom lips, seeking entrance, my lips parted before I could even think or process what was happening. His tongue tangled with mine, dancing, tasting. I felt us moving again, and then my back pressed up against something cold and hard. A car? I didn't look, couldn't break away from his kiss. I merely whimpered with the force. Jacob' hands traveled down my sides, gently caressing. I could feel his heat seep through the thin fabric of my dress, causing a pooling warmth to gather between my legs. His lips left mine, I whimpered in protest and he chuckled as he kissed his way across my jawline, up towards my ear, breathing in deeply through his nose.

"Damn, Bells. I missed you," He murmured huskily causing more warmth, more pleasurable shivers, more desire, more need to erupt within my overheated body. He inhaled deeply again, grabbing my hips with his hands and grinding me against him. A moan escaped my lips. "You missed me too," It was more of a statement than a question. I just nodded, as his nose grazed across my jawline, dipping his head he started placing soft wet kisses down the slope of my neck, coming to a stop just above the plunging neckline of my dress. He looked up at me, with heavy-lidded eyes, and then slowly, without breaking our connection, pulled down the front of my dress and my bra, exposing my breast. He quickly took it in his mouth, nipping lightly with his teeth, and then soothing with his tongue. My head tilted back, another moan escaping my lips before I could bite down on my lower lip to keep the noises inside. Just as Jake's warm fingers glided up the smooth skin at the back of my thigh, cupping my butt, gasping, as his fingers felt the thin piece of lace separating us, his fingers moving along the sides, more heat, more flooded warmth, his fingers finally reaching in to touch the moist—

"Whoooooo! Jake!" I froze at the sound of Embry's voice cat-calling Jake and some other familiar voices shouting and howling. Un phased, Jake quickly pulled up my dress, his perfect fingers leaving my skin, setting my feet on the ground, and bringing his eyes up to meet mine. He smirked, an amused glint in his eyes, and brought his lips back to mine for one long, soft kiss.

"I missed this," He brought his hand up to cup my face, his thumb stroking my cheek where my face burned a deep crimson. I was lost again in his eyes. The guilt and pain from so many years of indecision, so many lost moments boiling up inside me, and a few new tears I couldn't contain slide lazily down my flushed cheeks. Jake caught them with his thumb, softy kissing each cheek, and then my nose, then fitting his lips to mine once more. In a split second, He scooped me up, one arm behind my knee, the other supporting my back, never breaking the kiss. Jake started walking, and I had almost forgot about his pack mates who stood silently on the front steps of the reception hall, watching Jake carry me to where I wasn't sure, until they erupted into more howling, screeching, applause and cheers.

In a matter minutes, or seconds, or hours maybe…time had stopped anyways….we were walking through a door, Jake closing it behind us with his foot. I felt us going up some stairs, turning a corner and then I felt the soft mattress beneath me, as he gently laid me down. He pulled away from me again, our breathing rough and ragged. He brought his hand up to cup my face again, his eyes shone with unshed tears, a sad smile played on his lips.

"Please, Bella. Don't leave me again," He said in a broken whisper. More salty tears spilled over my already red eyes, and I just nodded, unable to speak. I brought my hands up to his face, pulling him down, my lips meeting his. I kissed him with all the love and desire and need I had, trying to erase the pain I had inflicted, trying to promise my love and devotion, desperately trying to tell him to trust me. Without hesitation, like he understood my silent promise like he always understood me, he kissed me back just as eagerly, mixed with is own desperation and need.

With the soft glow of twilight filtering in through the large bay window, Jacob claimed what was his, what should have always belonged to him…my heart.