This is the final chapter for this story, but don't assume that means it's a dull "tying of loose ends." Many things happen, some of it pivotal to the future of Jacob and Bella's relationship.

Many thanks to my beta from Project Team Beta: Love of Escapism who came through even though she had to endure all sorts of RL calamities.

Huge bundles of appreciation also to ShadowPast620 who pre-read this chapter for me, and answered an extremely long barrage of anxiety ridden craziness type questions on my part.


Chapter 15 - Escaping Destiny

The summer came and passed quickly, but it was far from uneventful. I graduated from High School, along with Edward and Alice. It was an understated day, but Charlie was there, beaming. Jacob and Billy were there as well to show their support. Having all three of them made it a real event for me. I was no longer the lone child of a lone parent; instead, I was with family.

Rosalie recovered faster than predicted, even though Billy wasn't allowed to donate blood after all. Initially, I was concerned his blood would be too similar to Jacob's, but he had never phased so that wasn't the issue. The problem was that his diabetes was not managed well enough. Billy and I were both disappointed, but in the end Rosalie did get a second "live" donor.

Jake's sister Rachel returned to La Push about the time I graduated. At first things were pleasant and uncomplicated, but that didn't last long. Two days after her arrival, Paul imprinted on her. It meant Jacob and Billy didn't have to keep secrets from her anymore, but things were now tense in the Black household. Rachel took a week to digest and accept the barrage of information, but once she did, her relationship with Paul took off immediately.

Jacob was already upset that another pack member had imprinted. The fact that it was Paul who had imprinted on his sister made it that much worse. They were constantly bickering. They had even resorted to fist fights a few times which Rachel, Billy or I had to break up. The animosity between Paul and Jake became worse when Rachel found out about Rosalie and wanted to donate blood as well. Paul was livid and did everything he could to keep Rachel from doing it. Somehow, she found a way to convince Jacob to take her, without Paul's knowledge. Of course, secrets were difficult to keep in the pack, especially since Quil and Seth had accompanied the Blacks.

The tension between Paul and Jacob only added to the division that was now apparent in the pack. I found out Jacob had begun to exert some of his authority as the born Alpha during my absence. He had many disagreements with Sam during those three days, and although Sam was still technically the pack's leader, Jacob did as he pleased and Sam didn't order him otherwise. Quil and Embry stood by their friend through everything, their existing bond strengthening. I found out later from Embry that Jacob and Sam almost fought physically over the Alpha position, but stopped at everyone's urging. They put their differences aside to face the Volturi, and now, they avoided each other.

There were two distinct groups now. Jacob, Quil, Embry, Seth, and Leah gathered together often, either at the Black or Clearwater homes, while Sam, Jared, Paul, Collin, and Brady hung out at Emily's. They patrolled at different times to avoid being phased together and sent messages to each other, but only for scheduling purposes. Embry told me there couldn't be two Alphas and things were going to come to a head at one point. No one knew when that would be, or what would happen, but everyone was worried about it.

The summer wasn't all bad though. Jacob and I had a magical two months together. We saw each other practically every day. He worked with Quil and Embry out at a nearby lumber yard, while I was at Newton's working the summer rush. Afterwards, we met up for dinner, movie nights, or just to hang out. Our relationship blossomed, and I was a permanent part of his life, just as he had become a permanent part of mine. Even Charlie finally forgave me, and he absolutely loved Jacob. It was too good to be true.

On August 13th I woke up feeling out of sorts. There appeared to be nothing different about this day from any other day, but it felt as though something was off. It began when I stepped out of the shower, walked into my room, and glanced at myself in the mirror. I had a white towel wrapped around my body and another one on my head in a make-shift turban. I looked at myself covered in white and couldn't stop staring. I didn't know what I was staring at or why, but I couldn't move away. It wasn't until Charlie passed by my open door and cleared his throat that I was jolted out of my trance.

"Uh, Bells? Is everything all right?" I turned to look at him as my foggy thoughts started to fade.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I was just…thinking. I'm going to get dressed now. I'll see you downstairs, Dad." I smiled at him and gently closed my door.

I slowly got dressed, combed my wet hair, and was about to head downstairs when the phone rang. I looked at it curiously wondering who would be calling at eight o'clock on a Sunday morning. I reached over to my night table and picked up the hand set.

"Hello?"

"Bella, it's Rosalie."

"Oh, hi, Rosalie." I felt suddenly uncomfortable. She had made a point of avoiding me the two times I donated blood, so I hadn't seen or talked to her since early June.

"Edward would like to meet with you, to talk. Do you remember? You said you'd do it after the…requisite time Jacob had asked for. It's been almost seven months since January. Is that okay with you?" I had forgotten all about it. Edward was never around, and my feelings for him had faded into the background. Now that Rosalie mentioned all this, a wave of emotions overtook my senses. It seemed strange, and not quite in line with what I knew in my heart.

"Umm, yeah. I promised him we'd talk, but why are you calling about it?"

"Oh, he thought it would be less awkward if someone else made the arrangements. Would tomorrow evening work for you? Perhaps right after you've finished dinner?"

"Sure. Where did he want to meet?"

"I'll come pick you up. See you at seven." Before I could answer, Rosalie hung up.

I did the best I could to shake the unusual barrage of emotions and nagging uncertainty as I went downstairs, grabbed a cold pop tart and made my way to La Push.

Jacob and I had planned an entire day together. We were going to start off on our own and then meet up with Quil and Embry at the beach. I did the best I could to have a good time, but I felt lackluster. Jake noticed my melancholy state, too. We were at the beach waiting for the others, sitting on the sand. I was leaning into Jacob's chest, and his arms were wrapped around me.

"Bells, are you going to tell me what's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong."

"Okay, are you going to tell me what's got you…perplexed?"

"Edward wants to meet with me tomorrow, to talk. Remember, you wanted me to wait a few months first…"

"Yeah, I remember." Jacob let out a loud sigh. "I guess I can't deny him a conversation, unless you don't want to?" Jacob eyed me with doubtful hope.

"I think I owe him at least that much." Jacob didn't say anything, so I asked, "Are you okay with it?"

"I guess as okay as I can be." He reached down and kissed the top of my head. "Can I see you afterwards, no matter how late it is?"

"Of course, Jake."

"You promise? No matter what happens, or what time it is, you'll come see me? Right after?" I turned and looked up at him.

"What exactly do you think is going to happen?"

"Just promise me, please?" Jacob spoke very quietly and looked out into the ocean, avoiding my eyes.

"I promise."

The rest of the day passed with an unspoken distance between us. By the time I got home that night I felt more alone than I had in a long time. It took me a while to get to sleep, and when I finally did, it was anything but restful. I tossed and turned, waking often from nightmares I couldn't remember.

Morning finally came, and I headed to Newton's, eager for a distraction. I had a long shift that day, which I made longer by doing some grocery shopping on the way home. Once home, I cooked, Charlie and I ate, and then I cleaned up. The last dish was dried and put away when Rosalie arrived to pick me up in Emmett's jeep. I said my goodbyes to Charlie and followed her out to the car. I was feeling both nervous and idiotic. While I was certainly apprehensive about my meeting with Edward, I was even more terrified of being alone in the car with Rosalie; thus, the reason for feeling idiotic.

"So, where are we going?" I asked.

"Our house. We're all going hunting, except for Edward. The two of you will have privacy to talk freely." I nodded, not knowing what to say. Rosalie looked over at me, contemplating something before speaking again. "Bella, you'll use your head, won't you?"

"I'm not sure what you're asking me."

"Think about what you feel and know in your heart right now. Don't get overwhelmed. Our kind…we have a way of clouding a human's judgement." Rosalie's words reminded me of Edward's from so long ago. I was reminded of that first time in the meadow, when he had told me about all the attributes vampires had to lure their prey, attributes they didn't need.

"Thanks, but I know what I'm doing…" I was still a little confused about why she was telling me this, or why she was the one picking me up.

"I know you think that now, but Edward will be using everything he's got tonight." She paused, making a turn. "I insisted I had to be the one to pick you up. I told them I wanted to thank you properly. They were afraid your blood would be too tempting, but Alice saw that the outcome of our trip would be fine."

"Didn't Alice already see how my 'talk' with Edward would end? Did she see something happen? Is that what all this is about?"

"She wasn't able to see the final outcome…just some bits and pieces." Rosalie sounded like the vision was displeasing to her.

"Why are you doing this, Rose?"

"Bella, you have a chance to have this blessed life with someone you love."

"Don't you have that too?"

"What I have is an existence of frozen monotony. It's not a life, not like the one you can have. I'm going to tell you something, and I want you to remember it, always. No matter how seductive our existence might seem, none of us would choose it over what you have."

I nodded, and we drove the rest of the way in silence.

When we arrived, Rosalie said her goodbyes to me on the front steps and left.

I walked into the house alone and found Edward waiting for me in the living room. He looked as beautiful as ever standing in the white room smiling at me crookedly as the golden glow coming from the raging fireplace warmed his usually pale complexion. He met me as I made my way in and took my hand. The minute his hand touched mine something happened. I was instantly drawn to him and swept up by a need to touch him. It was magnetic and didn't coincide with what I knew was true in my heart. Something unknown was pulling me to him.

"Hi," I whispered hesitantly.

"Thank you for coming here tonight, Bella," Edward replied. "Please, let's sit down." He led me to the living room and gently guided me to the couch. I sat at one end, and he sat next to me, still holding my hand. My head told me to keep a safe distance between us but my body moved closer to his. I leaned into him and rested my head on his shoulder as his arm draped over me. I felt his cool body next to mine. The heat of the fireplace warmed to enough to enjoy his icy touch.

"I don't know what to say…" I looked down at our clasped hands.

"Perhaps, you will allow me to explain why I left you last fall?" Edward asked tentatively.

"Of course, Edward."

"We've certainly had our fair share of…misunderstandings, haven't we?" I nodded in agreement. "Bella, I love you. I left you because I thought a life with me was no life at all." I opened my mouth to speak but he put a finger to my lips, silencing me. I decided he deserved a chance to have his say, without interruptions. "I believe this…existence I have right now is my eternity. I feel there is nothing for me after this. As far as I know, my soul was sacrificed when I cheated death. I loved you so much, and I still love you as much, if not more… It was because of this love that I didn't want to—actually couldn't—take your life and soul away from you. I realize now that it was not my decision to make. I never gave you a chance to decide for yourself what you wanted with your life. Instead, I imposed what I wanted for you, and I am truly sorry for that. I would like to give you the chance to make those decisions I had taken away from you before. Come back to me, Bella. Come back to all of us. I will do whatever you want of me. I will change you myself for a chance at forever with you."

"Edward, I've made my decision. I'm with Jacob…and I love him."

"I know, Bella, but you love me, as well. I understand why you've chosen a life with Jacob, and ten months ago, I would have encouraged you to choose that life, a human life, but I've learned that I cannot bear to be without you. When I thought you had died, I wanted to fall in front of Aro and beg him to kill me. I realized then that I could not exist in a world without you. I'm willing to give you anything, Bella, and to do anything you ask, if you will have me again."

"Edward, please…" I struggled to hold them back tears, wanting to be strong for my own sanity, for Jake. I was afraid if I cried, I'd change my mind.

"Bella, I know you feel you've made a choice, but think about everything. You know I love you as much as Jacob does, if not more. And I know you love me, too. I know there are things you cannot have with me, but there are things you cannot have with Jacob, either. Let me show you the world and experience things you've only read about in books."

"Edward, you know I don't care about material things like that…" He placed his palm on my cheek.

"It's easy to say you don't care about things you have never had or experienced. Life with Jacob can be…content, but it will never go beyond La Push." I opened my mouth to speak, but Edward silenced me with his finger to my lips. "It doesn't have to be now. I'll be waiting for you, Bella…always. Remember what I told you. I don't care what you do from now until that time. It doesn't matter what life you have led, what baggage you think you carry, or how old you have become. No matter what the circumstance, I will be waiting for you. Even if it is because Jacob has imprinted, and I am second choice, I'll accept that with joy. Even if everyone you know has died, and you fear your own mortality, I will take that with relish, if it means you will join me."

"Edward…"

"Shhh… Bella, if it is not yes, please don't say anything right now." Edward looked away for a moment. I sat silently and sadness crept over his face. "May I give you a gift?"

I nodded.

Edward pressed a small metal object into my hand. It was a silvery square, that looked like a miniature compact mirror. "It's for you to contact me, wherever, whenever." I opened it up, and engraved on one side were two telephone numbers, an address to a P.O. Box, and an email address. On the other side it simply read,

Anytime, anywhere, under any circumstance.

"And if, for some unfathomable reason, none of that works, drive a distance away from the wolves and start calling for Alice."

"And exactly how would I go about doing that? Should I hold a séance?" I asked with a smile.

"Does that mean you're considering my proposal?" He returned with a quiet chuckle.

"I hadn't realized that's what this was."

"It's anything you want it to be, Bella." There was a pause. It only lasted a few seconds, but it seemed much longer. Finally, Edward broke the silence. "I'm sure if you are away from the wolves, and you start to write Alice's name over and over again, she will see you soon enough."

"Where are you moving to? I'd still like to visit, to see Alice, and the rest…"

Edward looked sad to hear me say that. "No, Bella, it can never be that way. We will be watched closely. The Volturi do not like how large and powerful our coven has become, and Aro wants me and Alice, badly. You can never make contact with us, unless you are ready to be changed. You heard Aro; we can never have any…relationships with humans ever again. It wasn't a suggestion."

Edward moved to get up, but I stopped him, grabbing his arm. He sat back down and took my hand in both of his.

"Edward, what would happen, if I chose you?"

"We would live happily ever after, forever."

"Just the two of us?"

Edward raised an eyebrow, questioningly. Then he looked distant, as understanding set in.

"Yes, Bella, just the two of us and my family. If you should choose to join us, you too must leave your human ties behind, forever. But you don't have to give up all of your human experiences. You can wait until Charlie and Renee have lived a long, full life before joining me. I will wait for you for the rest of your life, but you cannot have a human life, and us, at the same time. It can only be one or the other. Bella, I know what your choice is, right now, and I know there's nothing more I can do to change your mind. I know this is goodbye, for a while, perhaps forever… May I ask for something?"

"Yes."

"Will you let me kiss you one last time? Because you once loved me most? Because I thought you were dead but now you're alive? Because this may be the last time I hold you in my arms?"

How could I deny him this? He hadn't discarded me and left like I thought. As misguided as he was, everything he did was done out of love, for me. I couldn't deny him this one last request. I looked at his eyes searching for…myself. I wanted to know if the life I had longed for with him once was still there.

Edward moved closer to me and stroked my cheek with the back of his hand. I leaned into it, closing my eyes, and breathing in his intoxicating aroma. At that moment, while my eyes were closed, I felt cold marble lips touch mine. I jerked back slightly, startled, but Edward persisted and eventually I leaned in to kiss him back. All the old feelings came rushing in as I was enveloped by the taste, smell, and feel of my angel. His hands moved gently around my body, holding me closely. My own arms betrayed me as they crept around his shoulders and embraced him. I was overwhelmed by the moment and the rush of sensations.

In my head, I felt the pang of guilt as thoughts led to Jacob, but my body wouldn't stop. My body and my brain no longer seemed connected, but were instead acting independently from each other. Edward's hands creep down to the bottom of my shirt, lifting it slightly as his fingers grazed my bare skin. His mouth coaxed mine as our kiss moved to territories that had previously been forbidden. My head was sounding alarms telling to me to stop, but my body responded to Edward, ignoring what my mind was screaming. The struggle was tearing me up inside, and I couldn't understand what was happening. What was this lure that had taken over?

I was now laying on the couch, on my back, with Edward on top of me. He was touching me, kissing me, and breathing in my scent. I felt his legs twine with mine and my hands moved in front of him, unbuttoning his shirt. My head filled with pain, and tears formed beneath my closed eyelids. The screaming in my mind demanded I stop, but my body struggled to do just the opposite. Eventually, my mind won out. My hands finally froze. I turned my head to the side and Edward stopped his caresses. He lifted himself off of me and helped me up into a sitting position.

"I'm sorry, Bella."

"You don't need to apologize, Edward. You did nothing wrong. It was what I had always wanted when we were together."

"But not now?"

"Not enough to risk what I already have." The pain and loss in his face almost broke me again

"My thoughts will always be of you, Bella. I'm glad you have found happiness, even if it is not with me." He leaned over and kissed my forehead.

I was overcome by an intense feeling of loss. I didn't understand why this was happening. Before coming here, I was already aware that I couldn't be without Jacob. Losing Edward had broken me, but losing Jacob would leave me beyond repair. What was most confusing to me now was that I couldn't pinpoint what I had lost to make me feel so hollow inside. I wasn't overwhelmed by a need to see or hear Edward like I had been six months ago. I didn't ache for the company of Alice, or the rest of the Cullens. It was an emptiness for something I couldn't define, or even be sure of. All I knew was that there was a void inside me that begged to be filled.

I turned away quickly before my body was again possessed by a will of its own. "I have to go, Edward."

"May I drive you home?" I began to shake my head, but Edward suddenly pushed me down on to the couch and stood in front of it. His back was to me, and he was in what appeared to be an attack stance. I was confused, but never got a chance to ask what was happening. Before I could make sense of the situation a giant, russet wolf came crashing through the front door. A split second later, four other wolves followed. They were chocolate brown, grey with black spots, sandy and a smaller, leaner grey wolf, who was first to arrive.

Jacob's wolf leaped for Edward, but before he landed, the smaller grey wolf cut him off. She went flying to the side of the room, crashing into the wall, while Jacob merely lost his footing, landing off to one side of Edward. The russet wolf made efforts again to attack, but the other three brought him down. Edward now crouched over me, using his body as a shield from the conflict.

What was happening? Why were Jacob's friends attacking him? And what was he doing here in the first place? I wanted to get up and do something, but I couldn't move. I did the only thing left in my power; I spoke.

"Everyone stop, stop everything! I don't want anyone to get hurt. I'll do everything to try and stop you from getting hurt, even if it kills me!" The room stilled instantly, but no one replied. Well, the wolves couldn't in their current form, so I looked to Edward for answers.

"What's going on, Edward?"

"Jacob has completely lost control of himself! He is a danger to you, his family, his friends, and to himself!" The rest of the pack growled and bared their teeth at Edward. The russet wolf stood alone on the other side of room, behind the four that formed a wall between him and us. He paced back and forth, his eyes never leaving Edward. He was a predator stalking his prey. "They followed Jacob here to stop him. They were unable to reason with him because his mind was not responsive to human thoughts. He has finally turned into the animal I always knew him to be!" Edward hissed.

The wolves snarled and snapped in Edward's direction. They looked ready to attack him, but as they crouched to pounce the brown, sandy, and grey spotted wolves turned around, their backs to me, as the smaller grey one stepped forward.

It was the strangest and most magical sight. In the span of one or two seconds, the wolf blurred and heat emanated from it as it appeared to implode. Colors converged together and swirled in a maelstrom of energy and light. Before I knew what had happened, the wolf was gone and a naked Leah Clearwater stood before us. Ah, that would be why the "boys" had turned their backs.

Without saying a word, or making any attempts at modesty, she reached down, untied a pouch from her ankle and slipped on a tank top and shorts.

"You, Mr. Sucks-a-lot, are a crappy interpreter!" Leah announced, then looked at me, ignoring Edward's scowl. "Jake changed without knowing it. I was on patrol when it happened, and I didn't 'feel' him like I normally do. Something took over, like he knew you were in danger. Are you in danger?"

"N-no. Not that I know of…"

Leah looked at Edward suspiciously. "Was he up to something? Did anything happen that was…unexpected?"

I felt the red, hot flush take over my face, but I still made an effort to lie. I couldn't say in front of all these people that Edward had finally let me go beyond first base! "No." Leah saw right through me. She gave me a doubtful look and raised an eyebrow at me.

"Okay, if you say so. Jacob's calming down, now that he sees you're okay. We're going to go. Where's your car? We didn't see it outside."

"Rosalie drove me here," I answered as Edward handed me a set of car keys.

"You are welcome to borrow my car, Bella, as long as Jacob is not in there with you."

"I'll go with her." Leah wasn't asking. She took the keys from my hand.

The other wolves made their way out of the house, the three smaller ones nudging the russet wolf to move. They ran into the woods, disappearing into the night. Leah put her arm around me and led me out the door. I looked back at Edward. He was looked at me with regret and longing.

"Goodbye, Bella. Remember, what I have told you tonight," he said as we left.

I directed Leah into the garage, where she clicked the key and slid into the driver's seat of the Volvo. I didn't bother asking to drive. It would have been a wasted effort. I noticed she didn't have a seatbelt on. I sighed and strapped myself in.

That's when she took me by surprise. She leaned over and put her nose to my mouth, inhaling. Next, her hands grazed my body, not quite touching. I was stunned and froze, unable to react. "You two were making out, and he felt you up. I wonder if that's why…" She wasn't talking to me, but I replied anyway.

"That's none of your business. I've respected your privacy when you've asked for it. I'd appreciate it if you would return the favor."

"It is my business when Jake's actions make my damn head explode! Do you know what it's like to have a feral animal that you can 'hear' explode in your head? That happened because of you. Jake felt like something was going to happen that would change everything. Not just to his life, but all of our lives. What the hell were the two of you going to do? What could the two of you do that would affect all of us?" I shrugged. As devastating as it would have been for me and Edward to have kept going, I couldn't imagine it would change the lives of anyone other than Jacob, myself, and Edward.

"So, what was it that Sam said to you over at the Cullens' house that day we went over the Volturi conditions?" I asked, throwing the ball in her court. We'd see how much she enjoyed having others in her love life. Leah raised an eyebrow at me, but she answered.

"He apologized, again. Like that makes any difference at this point. Sometimes I wish he'd do something dick headed, so I can belt him already." Leah began driving down the main road, speeding like the Cullens usually did. "Don't get off topic. We were talking about you."

"There's nothing more to say. You guessed correctly, but I stopped it before it went any further. Before all of you arrived, I might add."

"Well, aren't you just the angel of restraint." Leah made a fast, quick turn forcing me to grab hold of the dashboard. "I still don't get it. Are they leaving?"

"Yes. He asked me to come with them, and reminded me that I can change my mind anytime I wanted to." No answer. "Aren't you going to ask me what I said?"

"I don't need to. You're here, aren't you?"

"What's happening to Jake?"

"I don't know, but I have a couple of theories." I waited, giving her one of her own signature "well, spit it out already" looks. "I think the Alpha in him is itching to get out and it doesn't like being repressed. I also think maybe Jake might have some sort of special ability, like the leeches. Maybe it's because he's Alpha, although there're no legends about that… It's like he's got this sixth sense about you. I get that you stopped whatever was happening between you and Cullen but Jake, man. He was fine with you going over there. Well, as fine as he was ever going to be about it, but then he got so ansty. He was all pent up to the point where he had to get out and phase. Luckily, Quil and Seth went with him. Embry and I were on patrol but we were in his mind once it happened. It was fucking freaky!

"You know, the whole time he was running over here, we couldn't read his thoughts. I mean, we could hear them, but not decipher them. It was like he didn't know where he was running to. He was just…running. There was something pulling him here. Anyhow, the feeling went away once we got to the house, then Jake wanted to kill your ex for the usual jealous boyfriend reasons. Whatever it was, it went away. There's something about Cullen that pushes Jake. It's more than him being a leech, or your ex. It's like Cullen wielded the power to ruin Jake's life, somehow make him unable to do what he wanted with it. Do you think Eddie can project things into people's minds, not just read them?"

"No. I mean, none of the Cullens ever mentioned that, and I don't think it's something he, or any of them, would keep from me. They've been together for a long time. If he had more abilities, they'd know by now." I looked out the window at the scenery flashing past us. I was envious that Leah knew Jacob so well, maybe better than I did. "I wish I could be in Jake's head. It would be nice to feel what he feels, so I'd know what to do to make everything okay."

"Trust me, you don't want to be in anyone's head, especially his. He screams when he thinks, and he has this way of dwelling on all the angst he can think up. He's a close second to me when it comes to annoying-people-to-share-your-thoughts-with. And I'm the bitter chick whose fiancé dumped her for her cousin! Okay, this is where we part ways," Leah announced. I looked around and noticed we were at Jake's house, parked outside his makeshift garage.

"Where are you going?"

"I'm going back home. Jake's waiting for you in there," she answered, nodding towards the garage. "Don't worry, he's calmed down. Go, he's being a whiny pathetic sap again." She gave me a little nudge and reached across me, opening my door. I got out of the car the same time she did. Leah waved goodbye and ran across the yard, disappearing into the forest on the other side. From my side, I heard Jacob calling me.

"Bells?"

I peered into the darkness and saw a tall figure standing in the doorway. "Jake?" The moment the word left my lips I was engulfed in a warm embrace. "Are you okay?" I asked into his chest.

"I'm okay now. I needed to hold you."

He kissed the top of my head then lifted me up in his arms, pulling me toward the garage where we had once spent so many hours together. At first I felt warm and happy, but then I recalled some of the painful moments during my time "on the lam" and frowned as I looked around.

"I already know. I found out a long time ago from Leah." I looked away. I knew he'd find out, but I was still ashamed. "It's okay, Bells. You were in a dark place back then. Leah understands, too. She didn't even wait until we were phased. She came right out and told me. She was kind of worried about you. I think she likes you." I looked over, surprised. Jacob chuckled. "You should feel privileged. She doesn't like anyone other than Seth, and he's her brother. You can't tell her I said that. Even though she'll find out I told you, you still can't say it out loud. She'll beat me up, and you too. Here, we'll go for a walk along the trail instead."

We made our way into the tree line, hand in hand. A few minutes passed before I brought up the topic I'd been waiting to find answers for tonight.

"Leah told me about what happened tonight…" I began hesitantly.

"Yeah, that."

"She didn't understand. Can you tell me more?"

"I don't know, Bells. I just started getting so anxious. I paced and sweat up a storm at about half past seven." That was when Rosalie had picked me up. "I got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was wrong, and that at any minute events would occur that would change things, forever. It was so bad that I decided to go for a run to let off some steam. Lucky for me, Seth and Quil insisted on coming along. I was going to circle around La Push, but as soon as I phased, somehow I lost track of everything and ended up in Forks. I didn't even hear Seth and Quil calling me. It was like the wolf took over. I felt like I wasn't human anymore. It was like…" Jacob stopped and ran his hands through his hair nervously.

"It was like what, Jake?"

"It was just like that day I hit him…"

"When you hit Edward? I don't understand." I had almost forgotten about that hit he got in. So much had happened since that night. Jacob got a frantic, worried look on his face.

"Yeah. I didn't want to tell you because it kind of scared me. The reason why Edward couldn't read my mind was because there was nothing to read. I wasn't thinking at all. The wolf completely took over and acted out of instinct. I didn't even know what had happened until after the fact. I guess it's sort of like blinking. We all do it, but no one thinks about doing it." Jacob grabbed me and held me closely. "Sometimes, Bells, it feels like my body finds it easier to be a wolf than human." I pushed myself away enough to look up at Jacob's face and stroked his cheek.

"I'll never let that happen to you. You'll never let that happen to you. Jake, you're so full of love. There's no way you could ever lose your humanity." Jacob leaned down and kissed me gently. We parted but remained with our faces so close they almost touched.

"It's okay, Jake. Everything's okay."

"You make everything okay," he replied. "The minute I saw you in that house, Bells, it was like I finally knew where I was going." Jacob let go of me and peered over my shoulder. He walked over to a flat spot in front of a tree and sat down, pulling me down with him. "Everything feels better now. It's weird. When this was happening I felt powerless, but now I feel like I have complete control over everything. It's like I've been released from shackles and chains."

I found my place on his lap, leaning back onto his bare chest. He wrapped his arms around me and we sat in silence, enjoying each others' company. Jacob's hands were moving slowly, up and down my arms. I felt that hollow void inside me again, and my body yearned for closeness. Again—just as it had with Edward earlier—my body moved with a will of its own. I turned until I was wrapped around Jacob, my face so close to his that I could feel his breath. We kissed as my legs wound around his waist, and my arms embraced him.

"Bella, I love you," Jacob whispered against my neck, before he kissed it.

"Jacob, I want you," I whispered back, as I became besieged by desire.

Jacob stopped and put both hands on either side of my face, so I was forced to look right at him.

"Bells, what are you saying to me?"

"I want you, Jacob—right now." I put my palm flat on his chest and slowly glided it down his abdomen to the waistline of his shorts. Jacob's breath hitched, and he grabbed my wrist, stopping my descent.

"I don't know if this is the right time, right after…" I was close enough to see him gulp, even in the darkness.

"Well, I know it's right." And I did know because this time it wasn't just my body yearning. All my thoughts were working with every movement my body made. My head didn't ache and no voice screamed at me to stop. Everything seemed right, except for the concerned look on Jacob's face. I smiled as I reached up to touch his cheek.

"Jake, I'm alright now. You don't have to worry about me anymore. I know who am and what I want. What I want right now, and always, is you. Only you." I leaned forward and kissed Jacob. He moved with me as he leaned back. We slowly descended together onto the garage floor.

As I lay on top of Jacob, I could smell his musky scent that always reminded me of the fresh Washington breeze. We were together and everything was right. The emptiness was gone, and I was finally whole.


Okay, Journey to a New Day ends here; however, there is a sequel.

Why a sequel you ask? Because, the story of Jacob and Bella within this universe is not finished; however, I couldn't lengthen this story. Bella had made her choice, and the confrontation with the Volturi over her existence has come to a conclusion. That was what this story was about. Everything else will - along with a few new developments - be addressed in the next story.

The sequel is called: Every Rose has its Thorn and is also posted here.

Thanks everyone for reading my fic, and a special thanks to all those who left reviews! This, my first fiction writing experience, has been great, and now I'm a certifiable fanfic writing addict!

I would LOVE to hear from you. Reviews have been pretty scarce for this story, and it's not a very nice thing for a writer. :(

I reply to all reviews!