Disclaimer: The characters of Twilight are owned by Stephenie Meyer. All other characters, settings, lyrics, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Original content, ideas and intellectual property of this story are owned by Virginia May, ©2010.

Note: This is a lost conversation between Edward and Bella in which she recounts more of her relationship with Jacob Black. I know there are a lot of people who don't give a rat's patootie about what went down between the two of them, so I've glossed over it in the main chapters of What Drives Her. Nevertheless, I had to hash it out a little to get a timeline, and surprisingly, once I got started, it was very easy to write. Just remember that this is AU from early on in Twilight. Edward left before Bella could really fall for him and before she discovered the Cullens secret. If you really, really hate reading about Bella with Jacob, it's not going to be your cup of tea. Still, I hope you'll give it a chance. I'm a wee bit fond of this glimpse into Bella's past.

PS: If you are reading this a second time, well. . . thank you. Also, you might notice I've updated the timing of Jacob's birthday to agree with the one given in the official guide. This required a few other minor timeline changes. The rest has simply been cleaned up. Let me know if I missed anything.


"The Way They Were"

BPOV-

"Are you really going to watch me sleep all night?" I asked.

"Yes."

"And you do this every night?"

"Yes."

"And you're really not bored out of your mind?"

"No. You're quite fascinating to watch."

I snorted. "I bet."

Edward chuckled and placed a chaste kiss on my forehead. "You are."

"Well, in case you do get bored just make yourself at home. You're more than welcome to read whatever's on my shelves, or listen to my music, or use the laptop you loaned me. It is yours after all," I persisted.

"Mm-hmm," he hummed, obviously pacifying me as he pressed another chaste kiss to the top of my head.

I rolled my eyes at the gesture. He'd been so affectionate all day while visiting his family at their home in Cedar Falls, but now that we were back here in my little apartment, he was keeping me at arm's length.

Well, maybe not exactly arm's length, I thought as he suddenly brushed his thumb over my bottom lip and moistened his own perfect pair.

"You should sleep," he whispered.

"Stop bossing me around," I whispered back, staring at his cool, moist mouth as it curved into a smile.

"I could say the same thing to you," he chuckled, moving his face closer.

I closed my eyes and lifted my chin, hoping to press my lips against his. My heart quickened when I got my wish, but it was over far too soon. Still, Edward's kiss left me feeling as though I were floating. I was pretty sure that was his intention all along. My eyes fluttered closed as he touched his forehead to mine. We were as physically close together as we'd ever been in that brief moment. I could smell his sweet, cool breath as we seemed to breathe in time together. It wasn't long before I felt the effects of his vampire nature on my weak little human body and furrowed my brow, keeping my eyes closed.

"You're not playing fair," I said drowsily.

Edward chuckled. "Sleep, my Bella. I'll be here when you wake."

I think I said something else to him that made him laugh again before sleep finally overtook me. I slept long and hard, worn out from what was probably the most important day of my life next to moving to Forks.

True to his word, Edward was the first thing I laid eyes on when I woke in the morning.

"Sleep well?" his velvet voice greeted me.

I smiled and nodded, taking my time to yawn, stretch, and sigh before I tried talking. Edward's eyes danced in amusement as he took in my morning antics.

"Good morning," I croaked, when I was more fully awake.

"Good morning," he answered, smiling down on me with a mischievous glint in his eye.

I lifted a single brow. "You're in a good mood this morning."

"I am."

"Why? Was I dreaming in rhyme or something?"

Edward laughed. "No. I'd very much like to hear that though. Is that something you've been known to do?"

I smirked. "Not that I'm aware of."

Edward chuckled and played with my hair, but gave no other clue to the source of his jovial mood.

"Are you going to tell me what's so funny, if it's not my sleep-talking?" I asked gazing up at his perfect angel's face.

Edward seemed to consider something for a moment before smiling roguishly. "To be honest, you were unusually quiet last night, so I took your suggestion."

"My suggestion?"

"Mmm," he hummed. "I decided to take another look at your CD collection."

"Oh," I said, still not understanding. "Okay . . ."

He lifted a clear jewel case up and flipped it between his fingers with a grace and fluidity that only a vampire could manage. "I found it very enlightening."

"What did you find?" I asked, reaching for the case with my curiosity piqued and my heart beating a little too fast. Edward handed it to me and as soon as I read the hand-written label on the homemade disc, my cheeks flamed and I groaned.

Edward started laughing while I covered my face. "'Jacob Sucks', huh?"

I shook my head, fighting a smile. "It was a gift."

"A gift? From whom?" Edward asked. His smile was beaming when I peeked out at him.

"Jessica," I answered, dropping my hands.

"I take it she and Jacob weren't friendly then?"

I shook my head and giggled. "She didn't really know him, to be honest. She just made that for me after Jake broke up with me the second time."

"The second time?" Edward asked, sitting up a little.

I laughed and pushed myself up to sit as well. "Yes, the second time. We broke up and got back together three or four times over the years," I explained when his face grew perplexed.

Edward still looked confused. "And he broke up with you?"

"He did," I answered cautiously, unsure of what Edward was thinking. "But I was the one that ended it for good. He wasn't the one for me, Edward."

My words earned me a smile, but it didn't reach his eyes. "I believe you, but the other night. . . Jacob was, well. . . he was heartbroken." Edward frowned. "I guess I don't understand."

I took a deep breath and looked away as the pain of hurting Jake sliced through me anew. "It's a long story."

Edward touched my face and turned it back to him, smiling sadly. "If there's one thing I've got, it's lots of time."

I smiled. "Yeah . . . I guess you do."

"Of course, you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to."

"No . . . no, I don't mind. I just don't know if you really want to hear all about it. I know you're curious, but we both have regrets about the past that we're just pushing past. On the other hand, I don't want you to have any wrong ideas about the kind of relationship that Jacob and I had. It hurts that I caused him pain, but it's probably not what you're thinking."

Edward stayed silent while I took my time deciding. I played with his hair, running my fingers through the soft strands and down the back of his neck. His eyes fluttered closed and I could have sworn I heard him purring at one point. I watched him for a while before crawling into his lap and resting my head in the crook of his neck.

"Bella?" he asked, going rigid at my rather reckless change in position.

"If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right. Can you hold me?"

He adjusted his arms around me and leaned back against the headboard. "Of course, but I'm not trying to push you."

"Yes, you are," I teased. He chuckled and kissed my forehead as I took a deep breath and used his scent to calm myself. "So . . . the summer after you moved away was one of the longest and most dismal of my life. It spent most of my time working at Newton's Sporting Goods store, which left much to be desired even in the busy season. I somehow kept getting pulled into the middle of Mike and Jessica's on again-off again romance, as well as other small-town dramas. It totally sucked.

"The only points of light were the weeks I spent visiting my mom in Florida, and the days I spent hanging out with Jake and his buddies in La Push. I felt a little like a tag-along most of the time, but Jacob made it fun even when all we did was work on his car or my truck. He was like a walking ray of sunshine back then; just a happy, carefree kid who could make anyone smile or laugh." I smiled at the thought of him back then. "Of course, I didn't see him much after school started up again but we passed notes through our dads. I mean, literally . . . we'd send these juvenile pieces of folded up notebook paper back and forth because neither of us had a cell phone at the time." Edward chuckled lightly. "You laugh, but it's true."

He nuzzled his nose in my hair. "I believe it."

I smiled and buried myself deeper in his embrace. "Over time, Jacob became more affectionate in his notes. I thought of him like a brother back then, but then all of a sudden he was turning sixteen and everything kind of changed for us. . . "

~(~)~ ~(~)~ ~(~)~

"Bella!" Jacob yelled as he ran out the front door and scooped me up in his arms.

"Hey, Jake."

"I missed you, chica."

I laughed. "It's only been three weeks."

"I know! Where have you been? What have you been up to?"

I giggled at his enthusiasm. "I've been at school, and I've been up to homework. What about you?"

"Eh, not much. Rebuilding the Rabbit . . . hanging out with the guys. We go to school sometimes."

"Sometimes?"

He laughed and grabbed my hand. "I'm just kidding. My life is boring. School is easy, so I don't have homework. I work on my car when I can, but money's tight. I think it'll be finished soon though."

I smiled. "That's great, Jake."

"I know, I can't wait," he answered, leading me away from his house and across the road toward the beach.

"Where are we going?" I asked, not that it was unusual for us to take a walk together on the odd day I got a chance to visit.

"I thought I'd take you someplace special. Is that okay?"

"Yeah, I guess. Is it very far, or wet?"

"A little . . . but you'll be okay."

"A little far, or a little wet?"

Jacob laughed. "Come on, you'll see when we get there."

As it turned out, our destination wasn't far, but it was pretty wet. Fifteen minutes after we'd left his house, we were making our way up a trail that was slippery and treacherous for someone like me. I nearly wiped out more times than I could count, but Jake was there behind me to keep me from falling almost every time. At one point I managed to trip both of us and I scraped my palms pretty good, but we eventually made it to the top in one piece. When we stepped out of the trees and onto the rocks, I gasped.

"How did you find this place?" I asked, creeping as close to the edge of the rock face as I dared. It wasn't exactly a cliff, but it was close enough considering the ocean was right below us. It crashed and sprayed up over the ledge every so often, misting us with salt water that flew on the wind.

"My dad showed me how to get here a few years ago. Some of the kids on the reservation come up here to cliff dive."

"Cliff dive?"

Jake laughed and nodded. "Yep. The show-offs jump from up there."

"So why did you bring me up here? It's the middle of January. We are not jumping."

"Yeah, I know. I just thought it would be a nice place to come," he said, looking away.

"It's freezing up here, Jacob," I laughed.

"Yeah . . . I guess I forgot about that part."

"That's okay. Is there anywhere we can go to get out of the wind a little though?"

Jake nodded. "Sure, sure."

We found a fallen log closer to the trees and sat close together. It was still cold, but mostly out of the wind and the view was nice.

"So my birthday is tomorrow," Jake said after we'd been watching the ocean for a while.

"Yeah, happy birthday," I smiled, leaning against him a little more.

He turned his head so he was looking down at me. "You told me last time you were here to think about what I wanted."

I blinked. "Oh yeah. Um, okay. . . it's kinda short notice, but what is it?"

He smiled and looked out at the water. "You."

My forehead scrunched up in confusion. "Huh?"

Jake laughed and wrapped his arm around my shoulders. "I said I want you. I want to take you out on a date after I get my driver's license. That's what I want for my birthday."

I stared up at the long line of his jaw and watched his throat bob. The corner of his mouth quirked up and then he grinned down at me.

"Weren't expecting that, were you?"

I took a deep breath and let it out. "Uh, no. Not at all." I laughed nervously.

He chuckled. "It's okay if you don't want to go out with me. You don't have to just because it's what I want for my birthday. I know I'm younger than you and we go to different schools. I'd understand."

"Jake," I started. "I don't care that you're younger than me. And different schools or no, I like hanging out with you more than I do anyone else."

"I like hanging out with you, too."

I sighed and looked out at the water again. "So why . . ."

"Because I really like you, Bells. You're my best friend, but you're also smart, and sweet, and funny, and did I mention beautiful? 'Cause you are. You're gorgeous. And . . . I love being with you. It just seems natural to want to spend more time with you."

My cheeks burned at his words and my heart started pounding irrationally. His remarks made me more nervous than they should have. Jacob was just Jacob. He'd never said things like that to me before. I didn't know what to do with it.

"You know, if you want to spend more time with me, you can just come over for dinner or bring your dad up to the house for more games. There's something on almost every night and I'm sure he and Charlie would love to hang out too."

Jacob laughed loudly. "Don't worry about it, Bells. I told you, it's okay if you don't want to."

"I didn't say I don't want to. It's just . . . a little weird."

"It doesn't have to be," he said softly.

I thought about it. "But, what if it is? What if we both feel awkward about the whole thing? Or it goes badly and then you don't want to hang out anymore?"

He laughed again. "Too late for that, don't you think? The awkward part, I mean."

I smiled. "Yeah, maybe."

We sat quietly while the wind picked up and the spray of the water on the rocks below flew up to mist my cheeks every so often. I shivered and Jake held me closer.

"You ready to get out of here?" he murmured, his voice soft and right next to my ear. It caused me to shiver again, but he mistook it for the cold. "You still have too much Arizona left in you, don't you?"

"I guess so," I said, unsuccessfully trying to turn off the thoughts that his birthday wish had inspired.

Could I do it? Could I go out with him on a date? Did I even see Jake like that?

While I was pondering that, he stood up and pulled me to my feet. His smile was as warm as ever, his eyes dark and adoring. I felt myself blush when he tucked a piece of my hair that had blown in my eyes behind my ear. His own hair whipped around below the elastic tie at the nape of his neck and I noticed how defined his shoulders were. He'd grown a lot in the last few months. Just in these past few weeks since I'd seen him last, he seemed to have grown another two inches and gained about ten pounds of pure muscle.

"You okay?" Jacob asked and I realized I hadn't moved at all.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"Are you sure? You were looking at me kinda funny."

I glanced away. "The wind was in my eyes."

"Okay," he answered, and I could tell from his expression that he didn't believe me.

We walked in silence toward the trail that would lead us back down to the beach. I stopped to make sure my shoes were tied before we worked our way back down, but when I stood up again, Jacob was staring at me.

"What?"

"I. . . " He stopped suddenly, his voice catching in his throat.

"What's wrong, Jake?"

He sighed and shook his head. "I was going to ask you for something else. For my birthday, you know? But I chickened out."

"What was it?" I asked quietly.

He frowned for a moment, looking at the ground and shrugging.

"Jake come on. Why'd you bring it up if you're not going to tell me what it was?"

Suddenly he raised his head with determination. "Because it was this," he said. He took two purposeful strides and slid his hand around my waist and the other into my hair.

"Jac—"

A surprised noise, possibly a protest, caught in my throat as warm, moist lips pressed to my own. My hands laid flat against his chest which rose and fell heavily against me. Jacob leaned into our embrace and pulled me further into his arms as his mouth stayed firmly in place, only beginning to move slightly when I tried to say something. It was of course to tell him to stop, but as my lips parted, his softened and then coaxed a response from me.

And then, all of a sudden, I was kissing him back. It took my stunned mind a few moments to comprehend that—for reasons I couldn't even identify— I was kissing Jacob Black. I almost wanted to laugh at the thought. The kiss was wet and sloppy, and I panicked a little when I felt his tongue swipe my bottom lip and push over the threshold of my mouth for a brief moment, but I could have imagined worse first kisses. Much worse. Especially when Jacob pulled back and breathed my name only to merge his lips with mine once more.

The second time he caressed my lips with a tenderness that felt more like my Jacob than the bold version of him that had begun this moments ago. I relaxed and then smiled against his mouth, surprised by my own actions just as much as I'd been surprised by his.

"Happy Birthday?" I asked playfully when he pulled away.

Jake chuckled, cheeks red. "Yep. The happiest ever."

I flexed my fingers against his chest. "I'm not so cold anymore."

"Me either."

"Should we get out of here anyway?"

He nodded. "Yeah . . . just"—he leaned close and pulled me against his long body before lowering his head to mine—"thank you for that, Bella."

"You're welcome?" I said, unsure those were the right words.

He smiled. "That was my first kiss. I loved it. And I love you." He kissed me once quickly, his lips still moist from before. "I love you, Bella. I love you so much."

I gasped. "Jake . . ."

~(~)~

For a couple of days after that first kiss, I was a mess. To use one of Jake's own catch phrases, it freaked me the hell out. And it wasn't that we'd kissed—that I could deal with—it was what he'd declared so fervently to me right after we'd kissed. The look on his face when he uttered those words had me all twisted up in knots. So I did the only thing I could do. I avoided him.

Jacob called me every day that next week just to say hello, but I wouldn't take his calls. Every time I thought about him, or La Push, or Billy, or even Charlie, I got butterflies in my stomach that brought me to the brink of nausea. The one time I'd actually tried to talk to him I ended up running to the bathroom, with a stunned Charlie left holding the phone.

By the fourth day, I was sitting at the kitchen table with a bowlful of uneaten Cheerios when Jacob's words suddenly flashed through my mind again and I groaned.

"What's up, Bells?" Charlie looked over his paper at me. "You sick again?"

I shook my head and picked up my spoon. It took me three attempts to get a bite in.

"Are you sure you're feelin' okay, kiddo?"

I dropped my spoon back in the bowl and covered my face. God help me, the words were going to spill out whether I wanted them to or not. And I really didn't want them to.

"Bella?"

"Jacob told me he loves me."

Charlie put the paper down. "Okay . . ."

"Okay? Your best friend's son told me he loves me," I said indignantly.

Charlie chuckled. "That's no big surprise. He's been head over heels for you for months. I thought you two were sort of a thing."

"What! Where did you get that idea!?"

Charlie turned a little red at my reaction and messed with his paper. "Well I, uh, I just thought . . . you guys seem pretty close."

"Yeah, but . . . we don't . . . we're not . . . I mean we weren't," I stuttered.

"You weren't?" my father asked, clearly curious.

I, on the other hand, was mortified. "No."

"No? No what?"

"Nothing," I said. "He just told me he loves me."

Charlie looked far too amused for my liking. "Bella. You do realize you've told that boy you loved him before too, right?"

I just stared at him.

"What's the big deal, Bells? What's going on?" he asked, a frown beginning to form on his face.

"I . . ." I honestly couldn't remember all of a sudden.

Charlie was right of course. Jacob and I had been saying 'I love you' since the summertime. It had been over casual stuff at first, like handing him the exact wrench he needed before he had to ask. "This is why I love you," he would say. "Love you too, Jake," I would respond.

Eventually, over time, our sentiments grew more sincere. In fact, now that I thought about it, I could see why Charlie may have been under a false assumption. Jacob and I had hugged, held hands, seen each other half dressed at the beach, and even cuddled under the same blanket while watching a movie. I'd always seen it as mere friendship, but to the outside world, it must have seemed we were a couple. And I did care for him. A lot. I trusted him and he was my closest friend in all of Washington.

Suddenly, I felt a little ashamed of myself. What had happened to me that as soon as Jacob kissed me, I got some kind of amnesia? Of course he told me he loved me . . . because it was the truth. He may have meant a little more by it than I did at that moment, but there was no denying how much I cared for Jacob. I did love him, so wasn't it okay for him to love me back?

I smiled and let out a huge breath I hadn't realized I was holding.

"Bells?"

I looked up at my dad who was apparently still waiting for me to answer him.

"Sorry. I just . . . I think I need to talk to him."

Charlie nodded thoughtfully. "You know? Jake's growing up a lot now, Bells. I'm sure that changes things between you two, but he's a good kid and he really cares about you. I'm sure you two can figure it out."

"Yeah. I think we can. Can I, um . . . do you mind if I go to La Push today after school?"

Charlie smiled and lifted his paper up. "That'd be fine."

"Thanks, Ch— , Dad."

"Yeah, yeah. Now go to school, Bella. You don't want to be late."

I smiled and got up from the table, shoveling bites of cereal into my mouth as I walked to the sink.

~(~)~

The next couple weeks passed quickly. Not surprisingly, Jacob and I started seeing more of each other on the weekends and some weekdays too. Whereas we'd only ever hung out once or twice a month before, since his birthday we'd made plans more frequently. We weren't exactly a couple yet, but we'd kissed a few more times and things were headed in that general direction.

Before I knew it, it was February and Jacob and I were sprawled out on Charlie's living room floor supposedly studying for the first big test he'd had since before Winter Break.

"Bella, it's Saturday. Can't we just leave the homework alone for now?"

"No."

"Why?"

"Because we can't have Billy thinking I'm a bad influence on you."

"That's ridiculous. If either of us is the bad influence, it's me."

I giggled. "Probably true. But school wise, I'm older . . . I would be remiss to let you get behind because you're spending all this time with me."

"Speaking of behinds . . . close that book and get yours over here," Jacob said, sliding his hand up my calf to the spot behind my knee.

"Jacob . . ." I warned, shooting a look over my shoulder. He smirked at me and wiggled his fingers. "Jake, stop. You have a test." He just smiled wider and lifted his hand closer to the back of my knee. "Jacob, no," I warned him again.

The look in his eye told me my words were falling on deaf ears. Squealing, I jerked upright and squirmed and twisted futilely to try and get away in time. Unfortunately, I was too slow and a huge paw of a hand clamped down on my leg, allowing Jacob to pull me back until I was pinned beneath him as he tickled me in earnest.

"Jacob! Let . . . me . . . go . . ."

"Not happening, baby."

"Ahh!" I shrieked. "Stop! What did I do to you? Stop!"

"No more studying, Bella," he laughed. "Say it. No. More. Study-ing." He punctuated each syllable with a new assault on another sensitive spot of my body.

"No!" I squealed. "Never!" I kicked and continued trying to twist my way out of his arms.

"I'll give you never," he teased back, tickling a new spot near my hip.

"Ahh!" I screamed again, laughing so hard that tears were starting to pool in my eyes.

"Give in!" Jacob laughed. "No more studying until tomorrow!"

"Nooo! Stop it . . . Jacob . . . STOP!"

"Come on, Bella. Just give it up! You know you want to!"

We were both laughing as Jacob let up tickling me a little and grabbed my wrists in his hands before pinning them over my head. Our bodies were hopelessly tangled up together and I could feel the mood between us start to shift from completely playful and innocent, to slightly charged. He lowered his head toward me a bit and waggled his eyebrows just as an enormous crash rang through the living room and the unmistakable cock of a shotgun stopped both of us in our tracks.

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN HERE!"

Instantly, Jacob was nearly as white as me with eyes the size of silver dollars. I too felt myself pale and my heart jumped almost out of my chest when I heard Charlie's voice at a level I'd never experienced before. It was terrifying, and even though I knew what he must have thought he had walked in on, I couldn't find the strength in me to move.

"Get off of her now!" Charlie yelled again.

Jacob's hands went limp and he tried desperately to get up without touching me.

"Dad . . . it's . . . not . . . what it looks like," I said, sputtering and struggling just to sit up. Between Jacob's tickling and Charlie giving me a coronary when he slammed the door open and pulled a gun on us, it was quite the challenge not to hyperventilate. Jacob reached out to help me, but then suddenly backed up with his arms in the air.

"That's right. Hands to yourself, Jacob Nathaniel Black. Your father might be a little angry with me if I have to kill you."

"Dad!" I screamed, fear now turning to humiliation.

"Bella, you were screaming at the top of your lungs. What the heck was I supposed to think?"

"Put your gun away!" I yelled.

"What were you two doing!?" he boomed back.

"Charlie," I said, standing up. "I'm not talking to you until you drop the gun. You're scaring me and frankly I think you're lucky we aren't doing CPR on my boyfriend."

"Your boyfriend?" he asked, echoing the same words that were in my own head. Where did that just come from? Charlie lowered the shotgun and held up a hand. "First of all, when the hell did that happen? And second of all, what about your father, Isabella Marie? I nearly had a heart attack when I heard you screaming!" Charlie's eyes remained heated and fixed as they flickered back and forth between me and Jacob. I was relieved when I heard him exhale and he lowered his gun.

"Are you okay?" I whispered to Jacob.

He smiled halfway and nodded. "I'm so sorry, Bells," he whispered back.

"It's not your fault," I answered, reaching over to take his hand.

Charlie snorted and crossed his arms over his chest. "I'd say it was all his fault. You ever heard the phrase, 'No means no', Jacob?"

"Dad!"

"We were just fooling around, Charlie."

"Just what every father wants to hear."

"That's not what I meant," Jacob said quickly. "I was tickling her. She was . . . she . . ."

"I was laughing. He was just playing. It was innocent. I swear, Dad."

"It sounded like he was murdering you, Bella. I came home for lunch to check on you two, well . . . just because. Anyway, I get out of the car and can hear you screaming for him to stop doing whatever the hell he was doing. Do you have any idea how that sounded to me?"

My face flamed red and Jake's hold on my hand became so tight it was painful.

"Not to mention what I saw when I walked in the door," Charlie continued.

I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me whole.

"Charlie . . ." Jacob stuttered. "We haven't . . . I mean, I would never . . . at least not on the living room floor—"

"Jacob, stop talking now," Charlie growled. "I don't need to know the details, okay? I just don't want to hear my daughter screaming like that ever again. And if I ever catch you two in a position similar to what I just saw? I don't care what you claim you were doing . . . I can, and will, have a warrant issued for your arrest. Do we understand each other?"

"Yes, sir."

"Charlie!"

"Bella . . . I love you both very much, but you're my daughter. Now . . . I have to go get my keys out of the cruiser and then I'm going to come inside, take the rest of the day off, have a beer, and pretend this whole thing never happened. You two clean up your books and then I think it's time for Jacob to go home."

Jacob and I didn't see each other, or touch, for an entire week after that.

~(~)~

"Do you think Charlie will follow us?" Jake asked in my truck on the way to the movies. It was Valentine's Day and he'd just finished the Rabbit, so he should have been in a celebratory mood. Instead he was brooding in his seat.

I couldn't help but laugh at him a little. "No, I don't think so. It's not his style. Why? Did he say something to you about respecting me again?"

"No," Jake shook his head. "I just still feel . . . weird about being alone with you. I keep thinking he's going to pop out from behind the nearest tree or something."

I sighed and rubbed his arm. "I guess having a gun pulled on you will do that. But you know he still adores you right? And he's apologized more than once."

Jacob just shrugged.

"Are you still mad at him?"

"Honestly, I don't know how I'm feeling," he grumbled. He sighed and gave me a half smile. "I'm sorry, Bells. It's just that between your father and Sam Uley eyeing me all the time, I feel like my every move is being watched."

I frowned. "Sam's still bothering you?"

"Not really. He's just always there. Like he's waiting on something. At least with your dad I know what he's waiting for."

"And what's that?"

"For me to touch you."

"Oh, Jake . . . try not to worry so much. It's not like we do anything criminal when we're alone together anyway."

He shot me a longsuffering look and mumbled something that sounded like "we don't do anything at all".

I sighed and looked out the window. I'd been affected by my dad's trigger-happy outburst too. Not that I'd been in any great hurry to have a physical relationship with Jacob, but after that day I was afraid of getting caught just sitting too close to him, let alone anything else that could get us in trouble. Of course when we were alone, it was easy to forget about my fears. Jacob however, didn't seem to have that same ability.

I looked back at him and wished there was something I could do to help him feel better. More confident. I thought of one thing that I knew would make him happier, but it was also the basic root of the problem. Not to mention, I'd never, ever, been the one to initiate anything physical with him. As soon as we parked in the parking lot of the movie theater in Port Angeles, though, I took off my seatbelt and turned to face him. The still troubled expression on his face made my decision for me.

"Okay, look," I said. "Let's just try to forget about everything else going on for tonight. I'm sorry you've been unable to relax when we're together, but I don't want to lose you because one or both of us is scared."

"I'm not scared," he said, shaking his head.

"Well, I am," I responded. "I'm scared that you're not going to get over this. And I'm scared to do what I'm about to do, but I will because I want you to know that it's still okay."

"What are you talking about, Bel—"

He didn't have a chance to finish his words, because I'd already leaned over and grabbed his neck, pulling—really hard, I might add—down until his mouth crashed into mine. It took him a minute to respond, but just as I was about to give up, his hands came up to grip my face and he opened his mouth. Before long, we were making out like the high school kids that we were, steaming up the windows and mussing up each other's hair. I giggled when he finally sat back in his seat, looking like he might pass out.

"We better go inside before we get carried away," he muttered, a small smile on his face. It wasn't his normal Jake smile, but it was close.

"Carried away, or caught?" I asked, mostly teasing.

"Either one. I'm not taking any chances," he said, opening his door. "Besides, we'll miss the movie if we don't go in now."

He gave me a playful wink, but I sighed as I opened my door. I met him in front of the car. He stuck his hand out and I took it, but not before rising up on my toes and reaching to kiss him again.

"It's okay for you to kiss your girlfriend."

"I know," he said, sounding conflicted.

"Jake, kiss your girlfriend."

He smiled and kissed me quickly, mumbling about missing the movie again.

I fell into step beside him as we headed toward the box office. I was a little disappointed by how nervous he still was, but it was chilly outside and Jake was nice and warm, so I ignored his mood and snuggled in closer to him.

"What are you doing, Bells?"

"Staying warm," I said innocently.

He chuckled. "I thought you didn't do the whole PDA thing."

I shrugged. "People can change. And we're not doing anything wrong if you have your arms around me."

Jacob smiled and let go of my hand to wrap his arm around my shoulders. "Better?" he asked, kissing my temple and grinning down at me.

"Yeah," I answered, smiling back up at him. For the first time that night, I saw my Jacob when I looked at him.

After we'd bought our tickets and stood in line for a drink to share, Jake and I filed into the theater and found two seats in the last row, slightly off to one side. It wasn't a deliberate choice. Because it was Valentine's Day, the place was packed and they were the best seats available.

"This is so cliché," I laughed when we were seated.

"Yeah, it is," Jake agreed. He was quiet another minute. "Are you sure you don't want to see the romantic comedy next door instead?"

"No, this is fine. I prefer my romances in print." Truthfully, I didn't have anything against the occasional rom-com, it was the idea of watching one with Jacob. Specifically, one with a bunch of steamy love scenes that I'd overheard girls at school talking about.

Unfortunately, an action flick wasn't necessarily a safe bet either. Toward the end of the film, Jacob and I were sitting side by side and ramrod straight thanks to a love scene that came out of nowhere. One minute cars were flying through the air and the hero and heroine were dodging bullets, the next minute clothes were flying through the air and the on-screen couple was tumbling into bed.

I squirmed in my chair and held my breath to see if Jacob would say or do anything. I was surprised when I noticed he was sort of just slumped down in his seat.

"Hey, are you okay?" I whispered, despite my own personal embarrassment.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Jacob answered, sitting up a bit.

"Are you sure? We can go."

He shook his head. "No, it's fine. I'm fine."

"You said that already," I said, scrutinizing his expression the best I could in the dark.

"That's because I am fine."

"Jake . . ."

"Will you just leave it alone!?" he practically shouted, his voice all but menacing. Several people turned and stared or shushed him which only made my face burn red in humiliation. I had to bat away hurt and angry tears even as I turned to face the screen again.

"Dammit . . ." I heard Jacob mutter. "Bella, I'm sorry."

I tensed and bit down on my lip to keep it from trembling at his words. I wouldn't face him however. What the hell had I done to deserve him yelling at me like that? Nothing, that's what.

"Bells, please . . ." Jacob whispered urgently, leaning over the seat a little. "I'm sorry. Please don't be mad at me. I don't know what came over me."

He sounded scared and desperate, but I refused to acknowledge him. I sat staring straight ahead while his ongoing pleas for me to look at him resulted in more shushing. I was half tempted to get up and walk out on him when he reached over and touched my cheek. My eyes fluttered closed at the heat of his touch.

"Bella, look at me." He started to turn my face toward him and cup my cheek when I gasped. My eyes flew open and I grabbed his hand.

"Oh my God, Jake. You're burning up!"

My words were too loud and we were once again shushed by other movie-goers. I ignored them and put my hand to Jacob's forehead.

"Jacob, I think you have a fever."

He frowned and nodded his head slightly. "I do feel a little funny. I'm sorry I yelled at you."

I sighed and let go of him only to reach down and grab my purse. "I believe you, but we should go."

"What? Why?"

"I'm taking you home. You're sick, Jake."

He tried to argue with me and once again we had to deal with the ire of the people seated around us. At this point, I could have cared less, but it was still embarrassing as we made our way out of the crowded theater. We were more than halfway back to the car when Jacob finally spoke again.

"Bells, I'm so sorry I ruined Valentine's Day. And I'm really sorry for snapping at you back there."

I sighed. "Don't worry about it. Men are always crabby when they're sick. It's not your fault you were born with a Y chromosome."

"I don't really feel sick though. I just don't feel like myself. Not that that excuses making you cry," he said, his voice far off.

I took a deep breath, determined not to show him how upset I was by his earlier outburst. "Let's not talk about that right now. Let's just get you home. You're seriously burning up."

He smiled wearily and got in the car. I tried to convince him to let me drive, but he was insistent that he was fine. We made it back to Forks in one piece, so he really must not have been too bad. Still, when he walked me to the door and kissed me goodnight, he was much too warm.

"Call me when you get home, okay? And take some Tylenol; it will help with the fever."

With a quick kiss to my forehead, Jacob promised me he would do both and then ran back to the Rabbit to get back to La Push. It was the last time I saw him for nearly three weeks.

~(~)~

When I called to check on him, Billy told me it was serious and that I couldn't visit. So I worried. A lot. I worried so much that by the third week, my worry was lined with fear and doubt. Something wasn't adding up down in La Push and Billy's insistence that I stay from Jacob, along with Jacob's continued silence on the issue, only made me more suspicious. Charlie encouraged me to be patient and trust Billy, but the day that my father told me he'd seen Jake out and about on the Rez with friends was the last straw. I got in my truck, determined to get some answers.

Before I knew it I was pulling onto the Black's property. As luck would have it, Jacob appeared a moment later, running across the lawn without a shirt on. The sight of him shocked me. I hardly recognized him with short hair and a tattoo on one arm, and I went from worried-afraid, to worried-pissed, in less than a second. Slamming the door to my truck behind me, I ran after him.

"Jacob!" He didn't react so I yelled again. "Jake!"

"Bella?" he yelled, turning around.

"I thought you were sick! What are you doing out in the rain?"

"I could ask you the same thing," he said, crossing the lawn to meet me. Following closely behind him were Sam Uley and his lackeys. I was surprised, if somewhat relieved to see Embry with them. He eyed me cautiously while Jacob himself seemed reluctant to even meet my gaze.

"What do you want?" Jacob demanded eventually, breaking the tense silence. I started and snapped my eyes back to his face. What I saw shocked me even more than his appearance. I'd never seen him look so harshly at me, not even that night at the theater.

"I wanted to talk to you," I whispered, not knowing why he was so angry with me. I wasn't the one that had disappeared for three weeks. Or the one who pulled a gun on him.

Jake never answered me, but instead looked over his shoulder at Sam. Sam nodded once at Jacob and then turned away, the others following behind him until they'd disappeared inside the house. Embry's apologetic smile did little to ease the sense of dread I felt.

When they were gone, Jacob stared at me for a long time, the expression on his face indecipherable to me in my confusion.

"Where have you been?" I asked finally. "Why haven't you returned any of my calls? I've called every day. I thought you were supposed to be sick."

"I was," he replied coldly.

"Well, you're obviously better now. Why didn't you call me?" I asked.

"I've been busy."

"Busy? Too busy to call your girlfriend?"

He didn't answer.

"What about your best friend? Before we were anything else, we were friends, Jake."

"We were."

"Were? What does that mean?"

He didn't answer.

"Do you know how worried I've been?" I asked, trying a new tactic.

"Well, I'm fine now. You can stop worrying."

"Jacob! Why are you being like this? Is it because of my Dad? Or Sam?"

He stood still, looking at the ground for a long time. "Don't blame Sam. I was wrong about him. He's helping me."

"Helping you? You were afraid of him."

He looked up sharply. "I was wrong about everything, okay. I have to go. Be careful driving home."

My mouth fell open. "What? I'm not leaving here without some answers, Jacob."

"I can't do that."

"Why not? Is Sam holding you prisoner? Is Billy keeping you here?"

Jacob laughed darkly. "Like he could. What do you want from me anyway, Bella?"

I struggled just to form words. This conversation was far too familiar.

What do you want from me, Bella?

I want to know the truth . . .

I pushed the memory of hospitals and bronze-haired immortals away in order to find something to say. I thought furiously for anything that would keep Jacob talking. To stop him from shutting me out the same way I'd been shut out before.

"Why, Jake? Why, if you were so sick, are you suddenly better now? And for that matter, why didn't I get sick the same way? You supposedly had mono and we were kissing the night your fever came on. I should have it too, Jake. But I don't."

"No, you don't."

"Why?"

"Maybe you just have a resilient immune system, Bella. Not that it matters anyway."

"What?" I asked, tears starting to prick my eyes. "How can you say that it doesn't matter?"

"Because I can't see you anymore! Okay? I can't be with you! So go home."

"Wh . . . What? Why?!"

"I can't do this anymore . . ."

"What are you talking about?" I cried. "Did I do something wrong? I thought that—"

"You didn't do anything. It's me. It's all me. I'm no good for you. I can't be with you."

"Because of Sam?"

"No, it's not his fault. I'm just not good anymore."

"Don't say that! You're good. You're my Jacob."

"I'm not, Bella. Not anymore. Can't you just believe me and let it go?"

The tears fell over my rain soaked cheeks as I sucked in a harsh breath. Jacob's words stung. They mocked me in their cold familiarity.

Can't you just thank me and get over it?

Thank you.

You're not going to let this go, are you?

No.

Stupid memories mocked me as I shook from the cold and the anger and the humiliation.

"Just tell me what I did wrong," I said, refusing to give up so easily this time.

"I told you. You didn't do anything."

"Did you say that to Quil, too?"

Jacob's face contorted in pain before he managed to wipe all the emotion away.

"He's terrified, you know," I continued. "He's really worried about you. He's worried he's next. Whatever that means."

"He won't be next," Jacob sighed, shaking his head. "He can't be. It's over now. This shouldn't even still be happening."

I just stared at him. I had no idea what he was talking about. I tried to make sense of his babbling, but then he looked up suddenly as if he'd forgotten that I was there.

"You have to go." He started to open the door to my truck. I put my hands up and pushed back.

"No, I'm not leaving! I'm not going to let you do this."

Jake's head jerked a little to the right suddenly and he glanced back over his shoulder toward the house. When he looked back at me he reached up and touched my cheek. For just a moment, I saw a glimmer of the Jacob I once knew. Then in a flash, my Jacob was gone again.

"You don't have a choice, Bella. I'm sorry."

"No, wait!" I cried desperately. "Jake, please. Tell me what's going on. Tell me what's wrong."

"I can't. I'm sorry. Goodbye," he said, turning his back and walking away from me.

"Jacob!" I called after him. He didn't stop. He didn't even slow down. He just left me standing there in the rain.

~(~)~

Later that night I woke from the most horrific dream I'd had in a long time. After crying myself to sleep over him, Jacob, my Jacob, was at my side just walking on the beach with me. We were happy and I could feel his footfalls next to mine like it was my own heartbeat. And then suddenly, he was gone. No, not gone. Just wrong, all wrong.

I looked at him again and saw only hard features, shorn hair, and angry eyes that morphed from brown to red, and then gold. Jacob's russet skin went deathly pale and he disappeared only to be replaced by an apparition so beautiful, it would have made me cry had I been awake. Edward Cullen stood there in Jacob's place, his eerie presence all consuming. He seemed mournful as he whispered words I could not hear. I wondered if it was an apology. Maybe an explanation. Or was it a warning?

Over the next few nights, the same dream plagued me. I woke up shaken every time. Each night I tried to hold on to it longer. On the fourth night, I stayed in the dream long enough to try and decipher Edward's message, but his voice was not the lovely and musical sound it should have been, it was Jacob's voice. "Bella . . ."

I cringed away from the sound that didn't match the image. Then Edward was walking away. I screamed after him, begged him not to leave me there again. But unlike all the other times he'd disappeared into the darkness of my dreams, this time I was able to chase after him. I ran and ran until I fell. I got up and fell again. And again. The sound of my knees hitting the hard ground finally startled me awake.

Lying in my room, heart pounding and staring at the ceiling, I tried to shake off the dream. I didn't want to think again about the meaning behind it. Why had Jacob turned into Edward Cullen, and what was Edward trying to say? More upsetting was not being able to recall the sound of Edward's voice as he called my name, and how Jacob's harsh voice had replaced it. I turned over in my covers and closed my eyes tight, letting out a frustrated breath into my pillow.

Suddenly, I heard my name again, just like in my dream. Bolting up in my bed, my heart started pounding. Then the sound of my name came again, this time followed by a noise from my window, like the scratching of stone on glass.

What the . . .?

I practically fell out of bed and tippy-toed toward the glass. I thought I might have been imaging a dark form hovering just out of my view on the other side, but I couldn't be sure. My eyes widened and struggled to focus on the shape, to see any details that might give me a clue as to whether or not I ought to be screaming.

The glass scratched again and I jumped, opening my mouth to let loose a bellow worthy of my fear but the scream caught in my throat as my name came again from outside.

"Bella! Open the window! It's me!"

I blinked twice and let out the breath I'd been holding. "Jacob?"

"Yeah, let me in!" he whispered harshly. I tried to open the lock on the window, but it was tight from non-use.

"Jacob," I hissed through the glass. "It's stuck."

"Get a screwdriver or something!"

"I'll wake Charlie. Just meet me downstairs," I whispered.

"Bella . . . I . . . Ow, shit!"

"Are you okay?"

"Fine," he said. "Front or back?"

"What? Oh, um . . ." Charlie's room faced the back of the house. "The front."

"Okay, see you downstairs."

I turned and grabbed the first long sleeved shirt I saw before opening my door and listening for Charlie. Hearing only his snores, I crept down the stairs and flew to the front door without stopping to think about why Jacob was showing up here in the middle of the night. As soon he was there in front of me however, the memories of earlier in the day came back quickly.

"What are you doing here" I asked, upset now that I had a chance to absorb his presence.

"I'm here to apologize."

"I don't accept," I said, moving to close the door.

"Bella, wait," he demanded, sticking his hand in the way.

I pulled the door back slightly. "What do you want?"

"I . . . I know I hurt you today, but I couldn't just leave things like that between us." He looked down, breathing deeply.

I sighed. "Jake, first you break up with me and leave me crying in the rain. Now you show up here in the middle of the freakin' night and scare the ever-lovin' tar out of me! You have about two seconds to tell me the truth about what's going on with you or I'm slamming this door on your arm and waking Charlie up."

He sighed and ran a hand through his too short hair. I choked back the lump that suddenly appeared in my throat.

"Bella, I'm so, so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I never wanted to have to say those things to you."

"Then why did you?" I yelled, too loud.

We both stood still and listened to see if I had woken my father in my outrage. After a moment of silence, Jake spoke quietly.

"I wish I could tell you why I did it, Bella. But I can't. I want to, but I can't explain myself." He struggled with something; a wide range of emotions warred for dominance in his expression before he grew angry again. "Damn it!"

I jumped a little and took a step back.

"I'm sorry, Bella. Please don't be scared. Just . . ."

"What, Jake?" I asked when he'd been quiet too long. My eyes were growing watery again.

"Have you ever had a secret that you couldn't tell anyone? Not me, or your mom, or anyone? I mean a real secret. Something you were bound to keep silent about forever."

"Bound how?" I asked, intrigued as much as scared by his question. Of course I had a secret. But did he know the legends of his people were true? Did he know that I knew the legends were true? Or was he talking about some other huge secret he was bound to keep? And what did that have to do with him breaking up with me anyway?

"Bella . . ." he sighed. "I have . . . something." He swallowed a sound that seemed like he was about to choke on his own tongue. "There's something I can't tell you. Like, I physically cannot tell you. But I want you to know! Hell . . . I already told you about it once before! You already know. I just can't tell you now!"

I swallowed hard and searched his eyes as they bore into me with desperate intensity. "Jake . . . I don't understand," I whispered.

"I know, Bells . . ." He reached for me as though he were going to take my face between his hands once more. Inches away, he stopped and dropped his arms to his sides. I reached out for him and grabbed one of his hands to pull it my face for him. I was shocked by the heat of his skin. His whole arm felt like he was still sick with a fever.

"Jacob, you're so hot. Are you still sick?"

He pulled his hand from my grip abruptly. "No. I'm fine."

"But –"

He shook his head, his face agonized. "I shouldn't have come. I'm so sorry. I just wanted you to know that I wish with all my heart that things were different. I wish you could understand and I could trust myself to be with you, but I can't."

I shook my head not understanding. "Why?"

He didn't answer my question. "Bella . . . do something for me?"

"What?" I asked, wiping away a tear that threatened to escape.

"Remember? Please? Remember back to that first time we saw each other after you moved in with Charlie. Do you know the day I'm talking about? That day on First Beach? Remember, Bella. I told you everything you need to know. You just have to remember."

"Jake . . ."

"Please, Bells . . . I love you. I need you to try. I need you."

And it was suddenly too much. I couldn't deal with his pleading and the big, sad eyes.

"You broke up with me, Jacob," I sobbed. "You said all those hurtful things. You left me standing there like an idiot."

"I know, I'm so sorry."

I nodded and stepped back. "Yeah, so am I."

"I'll never stop loving you, Bells."

I closed myself off to his words even as he spoke them. I wouldn't bear the hurt anymore.

"Goodbye, Jacob."

"Bella . . ."

"Goodbye."

~(~)~ ~(~)~ ~(~)~

Edward was unnaturally still after I told him how I shut the door in Jacob's face. The question that he was constantly asking me was burning on my own tongue and I fought from asking my vampire just what he was thinking. Instead I finished my tale.

"Things were never the same between us after that. Jacob was like two different people once he started phasing. Not that I knew he was turning into a werewolf at night or whatever. At that point all I knew was that he was sunshine one minute and a thunderstorm the next. I didn't understand it of course. I did try to figure out what it was he wanted me to remember though, but I couldn't get past the legend of the Cold-Ones. I thought maybe what he was going through had something to do with vampires, but you guys weren't around and I never really stopped to think that there could be others out there."

Edward seemed to thaw out at that and moved me so that we were facing each other. "He was trying to protect you. That's why he pushed you away."

I nodded. "Exactly. Only he changed his mind and confused me even more."

"He tried to find a way around Sam's order."

"Yeah. At the time I had no idea what was going on, though."

"But you did give him another chance at some point," Edward asked, looking down at our hands tangled together.

"I tried. Around the time I graduated from high school, we attempted to work things out. We hung out around La Push a little, and he helped me tune up the truck and stuff, but I was never able to let myself get too close to him again. Not only was he still unable to give me any real answers about our break-up, but I was going away to college in the fall. Between all of that and the fact that Jessica and Mike were basically living out an ABC After-School Special right before my eyes, saving our romantic relationship wasn't really high on my list of priorities.

"By the time I finally found out the truth of what Jacob was, it had been more than a year since we last broke up and it seemed our moment had passed. I had a life in Seattle and a job, Jacob was still finishing high school. Even though he seemed to think that we could pick up where we left off once everything was out in the open, I didn't really feel the same way. Too much had changed. I gave it one more shot when he turned eighteen, but it didn't work out in the long run."

"That must have been difficult for you," Edward whispered, his eyes still trained on our hands.

"It was difficult losing the friend I thought I knew," I answered. "It was difficult being lied to. It was just plain horrible realizing that, even though I loved him, I didn't love him the same way he loved me and I probably never had. That's what hurts the most now. Knowing that I hurt him . . . despite whatever he did in the name of protecting me."

"You're so very forgiving."

"I'm not. Not really anyway." I smiled when he looked at me seeming so surprised. "I still have issues with trust and honesty, don't I?"

Edward nodded once and then leaned forward, kissing me softly. "I'm so sorry for my part in that," he whispered. "Though I wish it had all been me. Not all the arguing and the breaking up of course, but everything else."

"How do you mean?" I asked.

He sighed. "Jacob got your first kiss, your first date . . .. he was your first real love."

I sighed and lifted my hands to his face. "I might have loved Jacob, but I was never in love with him. And he may have had been my first kiss, but you will by my last."

"Bella . . ." Edward sighed, lowering his forehead to mine.

"Edward, I'm yours. Yours forever."

"As I'm yours." He kissed again. "Forever. There will only ever be you."

Tears pricked my eyes, but unlike those I'd fought off while recounting my history with Jacob, they were tears of bliss. I snuggled back into his embrace as much as he would allow it. He held me fast and spoke softly in my ear.

"Thank you for sharing your story with me, Bella. I want to know every part of you. Even the parts that are difficult to hear."

"I want to know you, too. So, you're welcome," I whispered, never moving from his embrace.

"Bella?"

"Mmm?"

"I won't repeat his mistakes. You need to forgive me right now, because I'm far too selfish to ever live without you again."

"There's nothing to forgive," I sighed and kissed his neck. He still seemed a bit tense, though I wasn't sure how I knew the difference considering his body was always rock hard to me. I poked his ribs playfully and growled in his ear. "Now stop worrying."

He chuckled and grabbed my fingers before I could hurt myself. "Can you blame me for not wanting to end up on a break-up CD of my own one day?"

I laughed and pulled back to see his face. "Edward Sucks . . . huh?" I laughed again. "Very ironic."

He shook his head, but smiled. "Vampire humor, lovely."

"You know you love it," I teased, squirming out of his arms and grabbing the CD that started this whole conversation.

"I know I love you. And where are you going?"

I bit my lip and slid the CD into the CD-ROM on Edward's laptop. "I haven't listened to this in a while. Care for some whiny girl rock this morning?"

Edward cringed. "Please tell me it's not all Alanis Morrisette."

"Close, but no, not all Alanis . . ." The opening chords sounded and Edward may have groaned, though I couldn't be sure.

"Kelly Clarkson? Really?" I laughed as he went on. "Yes, this is so much better than Alanis."

"Hey now, don't knock the original American Idol. Besides this is her best track."

Edward rolled his eyes. "Do I even want to know what else is on there?"

"Given that Jessica Stanley made this, probably not. Maybe you should leave now and save your sensitive ears."

He grinned and shook his head. "Nice try. It's your day off and I already have to share you with Alice. You're not getting rid of me that easily."

"I'm glad to hear it," I said, and truly I was.

Now . . . if I could only remember what I did with the CD he could have found, the one I put together myself—a little playlist I had titled, "Indulging the Delusions".

Heaven have mercy on me if I ever have to explain that one.


~(~)~

Here is the "Jacob Sucks!" track list, according to Jessica Stanley.

1. "He Wasn't" - Avril Lavigne
2. "Happy Ending"- Avril Lavigne
3. "Since You've Been Gone"- Kelly Clarkson
4. "Gone"- Kelly Clarkson
5. "You Outta Know"- Alanis Morissette
6. "You Learn" – Alanis Morissette
7. "You Don't Own Me"- Joan Jett
8. "Insensitive"- Jann Arden
9. "I will Survive"- Gloria Gaynor
10. "Strong Enough"- Cher