Story Recap: Renesmee found out that Jacob was not only in love with her mother at one point, but that he also tried to kill her when she was a baby. Hurt and confused, Ness runs away to Alaska. She ends up at the Denali coven's house. After being shown to her room, she decides to take a nap.


Part II

Renesmee's POV

I had the dream again.

"Take the baby." I knew now that it was my father's voice speaking.

I heard Jacob's cruel response. "Throw it out the window."

The dream shifted and I saw the dark figure standing in the shadows, trembling in his rage. He took a step forward and this time I saw him enter the light of the room. I saw Jacob's beautiful face masked in murderous hatred.

And I woke up screaming. Kate flew into the bedroom, alarm written all over her face. When she realized it was just me in the room and that I wasn't in danger, she quickly came over to me and sat down, pulling me into her arms as I sobbed.

"Shh…it's okay," she murmured. "You're safe. Nothing's going to hurt you."

When I eventually calmed down, she got up and grabbed a washcloth from the bathroom and wet it. Bringing it back to me, she wiped the tears from my face.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked. I shook my head.

She reached up and tucked my hair behind my ear. "Did it have something to do with your wolf?"

My chin wobbled, but I slowly nodded.

"I see," she said, handing me the washcloth. I brought it to my face and pressed it against my burning eyes.

"Renesmee, I don't know much about Jacob Black, and I have no reason to speak highly of the wolf pack…after all, if it hadn't been for their actions, my sister Irina would still be here."

I peeked at Kate from beneath the washcloth. She gave me a gentle smile as she said, "I do know that he cares very much about you. Do you remember when your family asked us to witness your growth before the Volturi visit a few years ago? Your house had been full of vampires and he wouldn't let any of us get too close to you. He was so very protective of you. And when the Volturi finally arrived, he stayed right by your side, regardless of the danger."

She got up from the bed and made her way to the door. Looking back at me, she added, "He's a good man, Renesmee, and you've always seemed to care for him very much. I don't know what happened between you two, but I do know people don't change overnight. The man you thought you knew might be a little more flawed than he was before, but he's still the same person you've always loved."

She gave me another smile and left. I glanced at the clock next to my bed and saw it was almost 4 PM. Sighing, I grabbed my cell phone and dialed my dad's number. He answered after the first ring.

"Renesmee," he said, his voice both relieved and furious. "Would you care to explain yourself?"

"I think my note said it all," I replied.

"Your note didn't explain a dammed thing!" my father snapped. I was suddenly thankful that we had so many miles separating us. I had never heard my dad so angry.

I said rigidly, "I would have thought Jacob would have told you. Doesn't he usually run to Mom about everything?"

"Watch your tone, little girl," he warned. "And I want to hear it from you."

"Fine," I replied angrily. "In a nutshell, I found out Jacob was in love with Mom and they kissed. I also found out he tried to kill me. And none of you thought that it was important enough to tell me. You let me socialize with that sociopath for years!"

"Do you really think I haven't read every single thought in Jacob's head?" my father questioned coldly. "Do you honestly believe I would let him anywhere near you if I thought he'd hurt you? That I'd let you go off to La Push to meet him whenever you felt like it if I didn't know Jacob would sacrifice his own life before letting any harm come to you?" He was getting angrier the longer he spoke, but I couldn't deny the truth in his words.

"Why didn't you tell me then?" I whispered.

"Because there was no point!" he retorted furiously. "From the moment Jacob saw you, he's only wanted to cherish you. That's all you needed to know."

I shook my head—not that he could see it. "I…I need some time. I need to think."

"Renesmee, I want you home in two weeks, do you hear me? If you aren't back by then, I'm coming after you. And trust me, you won't like the consequences if you try to run again because I would find you."

I felt a chill go down my spine at that threat but I remained firm. "I'm sorry, Dad. I'm not coming home. You can come and get me, but I'll only run away again. And the next time, I'll go straight to the Volturi."

I heard him suck in an angry breath and I switched tactics. "Please Dad. I need this time to myself. I understand what you're saying. But I…" It hurt my heart too much. I couldn't face Jacob knowing he loved my mom, that he might still love her—because why else would he willingly hang out with vampires? It hurt so much knowing he'd never love me. "I-I just need some space."

He didn't say anything for a moment and I tried again. "Please Dad."

"You'll stay with Tanya?"

"Yes," I replied in relief.

"I want you to check in with us every week."

"Fine."

"Renesmee, don't make me regret this."

"I won't. I give you my word."

"I'm only giving you this because I know you're in shock right now and you need time to process everything."

"Thank you," I told him cordially.

He sighed again. "All right then. Here's your mother."

"No!" I snapped instantly. "I…I have to go. Goodbye."

I hung up before he could stop me and threw my phone on the bed, staring at it as though it had turned into a poisonous snake. A few minutes later, I heard a phone ring in the house and Tanya's voice as she answered it.

"Yes," she said. "That's fine, Edward. Don't worry about it…okay…goodbye."

There was a knock on my door and I went to open it. Expecting Tanya, I was surprised to see Carmen on the other side.

"Hello, mi querida," she said, pulling me in for a hug. She stepped back and made a tsking noise as she looked at me. "You need to hunt. Come."

Carmen had been the first one outside of my immediate family and the pack to show me any kind of compassion when I was a baby. I had always had a soft spot for her. And the best part about Carmen was that she never pressed me for anything. We went into the woods behind their house and hunted elk. She kept the conversation light and for that I was grateful.

Over the next few weeks, I settled into a routine. I slept most of the time. My depression was so overwhelming I welcomed the darkness sleep offered my brain. Most nights I dreamt of Jacob—not the monstrous Jake from my nightmares—but the one I'd loved since I was a little girl. The one who had treated me like a princess all my life. More often than not, I woke up aching to see him again—which pissed me right the hell off.

When I was awake, I still felt drowsy. I couldn't seem to concentrate and more often than not, I would disappear into the forest, find a place to sit down, and I'd cry until my head ached.

My mother tried calling me a few times, but I wouldn't talk to her. She had become the other woman in my mind. I also received worried calls from my aunts and uncles until I finally pleaded with my dad to have them leave me alone. My father was the only one I'd speak to. Our conversations were usually terse, always ending with him asking me when I was coming home. I never had an answer for him.

The only one I didn't hear from was the one I secretly wanted to hear from the most…Jacob. I saw his lack of communication as a sign that he genuinely didn't care about me. And every time I allowed myself that treacherous thought, my heart would break all over again.

After I had been with the Denali coven for almost two months, Tanya decided to take me shopping one weekend. Kate and her husband Garrett had gone off on their own for the week, and Eleazar and Carmen had decided they didn't want to shop, so it was just the two of us. I figured Tanya was lonely. It must have been hard for her to be surrounded by couples so in love while she had no mate.

"I think you've hit another growth spurt since you've been here," she told me as we entered the first shop. "Your face looks more mature."

"Does it?" I replied.

"Yes," Tanya said, shaking her head as she examined me. "I can't believe how quickly you grow. And on that note, let's get shopping."

A few hours later, we pulled into the driveway. I was exhausted—vampires certainly took "power-shopping" to a whole new level. I wanted nothing more than the comforts of my bed. As soon as I stepped outside the car, I smelled something foreign in the air. Tanya was by my side in a second, looking around the yard warily. The front door to the house opened and Eleazar walked out with a handsome man I hadn't seen in years.

"Nahuel?" I asked hesitantly.

He smiled brightly at me. "Hello Renesmee. It's been a long time."

I went over to him quickly and gave him a hug. "It's so good to see you. What are you doing here?"

"I invited him," Eleazar said. "We've been in contact since the Volturi visit. I've been interested in studying what powers half breeds might possess, and we've been trying to establish a network for all of you—"

"And when I heard you were up here," Nahuel interrupted. "I decided to mix business with pleasure. It's been years since we last met. You've certainly grown up."

"Well, I'm glad you're here," I told him even as I felt my cheeks warm at the way Nahuel was looking at me.

"Renesmee," Tanya intruded, stepping between Nahuel and I. "Why don't we go unpack our new clothes?"

I looked at her, surprised at her abruptness, but she was too busy giving Eleazar a dirty look to notice me.

"Sure," I said, going back to the car and grabbing my shopping bags.

"Let me help you," Nahuel offered, taking them from me.

"Thanks," I replied. "So how long are you planning on visiting?"

"Two weeks," he said as we went indoors.

"I'll have to show you all the best places I've found to hunt," I started to say, but then I looked at him cautiously. "That is…if you feed from animals."

"I haven't fed from a human since I discovered your family's way of eating," he assured me. "Truth be told, it's been a relief. Feeding from humans has always felt too cannibalistic for my tastes, and I was happy to discover I could survive off animals."

I flashed him a relieved grin. "Good. Well, maybe we can go out hunting later."

"It's a date," he replied as we walked to my room and he handed me my bags.

My stomach twisted at the idea of going out on a date, but I wasn't sure if I was excited, nervous…or unhappy. I entered my room and placed my new clothes in my closest before lying tiredly on my bed. I tried to picture Nahuel's face and the possible outcomes of our date, but all I saw was Jacob. Rolling over on my side, I fell into a troubled sleep waking up hours later from my normal nightmare.

I went into my private bath and washed the tears from my face before throwing my long curly hair into a ponytail. Going over to my closest, I picked out a form fitting t-shirt, some jeans that shaped my butt, and my favorite tennis shoes. I walked downstairs and saw Nahuel and Eleazar sitting on the couch, paperwork sprawled out on the table in front of them. Nahuel's eyes lit up when he saw me.

"Are you ready?" he asked as he walked over to me. I nodded just as Tanya came out of the kitchen.

"Are you going out?" she asked, looking from me to Nahuel.

"I thought I'd take him out hunting," I said.

"Great," she replied. "Let me just change into something more casual."

"That's okay," I told her, already walking toward the backdoor of the house. "I know my way around here."

"But…" Tanya started to say but Eleazar interrupted.

"They'll be fine, Tanya."

Nahuel and I were out the door before she could say anything else. I thought I heard her mutter something about "her parents are going to kill me," but I stopped paying attention as Nahuel reached over and lightly squeezed my hand.

"All right, missy, show me your favorite places to hunt."

Grinning at him, I took off running. For the first time since I left home, I felt…carefree. Nahuel easily kept up with me as we came to a meadow. He sniffed the air and his face broke out into an appreciative grin.

"Is that wolf I smell?" he asked, his eyes turning predatorial.

I latched onto his arm and stopped him before he could move. "No. Hunt anything you want. But leave the wolves alone."

In my mind, I saw Jacob and his pack. The image of Jake sent my spirits crashing. Nahuel's face pulled into a frown and I realized I'd transferred my thoughts to him through my touch. I quickly let him go.

"All right," he agreed softly. "No wolves."

After searching the area, he came across a bear which he drank dry. I settled for a deer, my heart not really into it after thinking of Jacob. After I finished feeding, Nahuel came over to me just as I was throwing the carcass to the side. He reached for a stray tendril of my hair that had slipped out of my ponytail and wrapped it around his finger before letting the strand go.

"You've been unhappy," Nahuel stated as his fingers lightly caressed my cheek. I shrugged, not willing to discuss it. As if he could read me, his hand dropped to his side and he said, "Okay. We don't have to talk about it."

We started to walk back to the house. Nahuel kept me entertained, telling me what the Amazon coven had been up to since I last saw them. He and his aunt had moved near the others after the Volturi visit. Later that night, he continued to keep my mind busy as we sat down to watch a marathon of Harry Potter movies.

And over the next couples of weeks, Nahuel and I grew extremely close. He quickly became a necessary fixture in my life. When he was around, he kept me so occupied I didn't have time to think about my broken heart. I almost forgot that his visit was temporary.

We were out in the forest one day lying on a stretch of grass when he said, "I'm leaving tomorrow."

I jerked into a sitting position and looked at him. He had his hands behind his head as he stared up at the canopy of trees above us.

"I guess I knew that you'd be leaving soon," I said with a sigh. "But I'm going to miss you."

"I'll miss you, too," he said as he also sat up. "I've really enjoyed getting to know the woman you've become."

With my heart fluttering, Nahuel reached out and cupped my cheek. He scooted next to me until our sides were touching, and then he gently lowered his mouth until it brushed mine. When I didn't resist, he did it again, this time deepening the kiss. I felt a slight tingle go down my spine and I slowly moved my arms so that they went around his neck. That encouraged him even further and I felt his lips part mine. His tongue dipped inside my mouth.

And I instantly froze. I was suddenly feeling guilty and ashamed. Pushing against his shoulders, I broke away.

"I'm sorry," I whispered. "I can't do this."

"It's okay," he replied, resting his forehead against mine. Even that small gesture of companionable comfort made me tense. Nahuel felt my rejection and let me go. Moving completely away from me, he said, "He's a lucky man."

"Who?" I asked in confusion.

"The wolf you love so much."

I felt myself pale. "I-I don't love anyone," I tried to deny.

His lips moved into a sad smile. "Your gift is amazing. It reveals a lot of what's going on inside your head. I knew the moment you started to feel guilty. I also knew why. Your heart belongs to Jacob Black."

I looked at my friend for a second and then covered my face with my hands in anguish. He was by my side in a second, wrapping his arm around me.

"Renesmee, I don't know what he's done to hurt you so much, but perhaps it's time you went home and faced him."

"I-I can't," I said. "And he doesn't care about me anyway. He hasn't even tried to call me."

"Have you given him any reason to think you'd be receptive to his call?"

When I didn't say anything, Nahuel gave me a knowing look. "Go see him. You'll only be miserable until you do."

Moving his hand to my chin, he held my face in place as he gave me another kiss, this time completely platonic. Chuckling lightly, he said, "Of course, if you do confront him and decide you're not in love with him after all, perhaps you can give me another chance."

I wrapped my arms around Nahuel and hugged him close. "I wish I could love you. It'd be so much easier."

"Ah, if only life were that simple," he replied somewhat sadly as he patted my back in comfort.

"Thank you, Nahuel," I whispered.

"For what?"

"For being a good friend to me," I said as I pulled away and stood up. I gave him an impish smile as I added, "And for giving me my first kiss."

Nahuel stood up as well. He picked up my hand and pressed his lips against it. "It was my pleasure. Now, we should probably get back before Tanya comes looking for us."

"Yeah, what's her deal anyway?" Tanya had been hounding us almost the entire duration of Nahuel's visit.

"She probably thinks I'm a threat to your virtue," Nahuel replied, wiggling his eyebrows at me and I giggled. My heart was sad though as I said goodbye to Nahuel the following morning.

"I'm always there for you if you need me," he whispered as he hugged me goodbye.

"Thanks again…for everything," I said. He kissed my forehead and got into the car so Eleazar could take him to the airport.

Without Nahuel's presence to distract me, I drifted for the next few weeks. I felt as though a veil had fallen over my eyes and I was seeing everything through a cloudy haze. I woke up one morning feeling restless and decided to go for a walk. No matter how hard I tried to fight it, I kept thinking about Jacob. It had been almost three months since I last saw him.

I missed him. I longed for him in a way I didn't understand. I felt like my mind was being pulled in one direction, while my heart was being pulled firmly in the direction of La Push.

So I allowed myself the luxury of thinking about him. For the first time since I left home, I really thought back to the Jacob I knew. Not the nightmare…but the man. I thought of when I was little and he'd ripped off Emmett's hand because my uncle had destroyed my teddy bear. I thought of my first Christmas and Jacob's insistence that I watch Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer like other kids my age. I remembered when he gave me my promise bracelet and how he told me he'd always be there for me. I thought back to when Jake begged my parents to let me have a sleepover with Claire Young so I could have a normal childhood experience. I thought of how he'd comforted me after I got older and Brady broke my heart. I remembered how pained he'd looked as I cried my heartache out on his shoulder.

As I remembered him, I finally began to understand. Kate was right. Jacob hadn't changed. He had fallen off the pedestal I'd unfairly placed him on. He was now horribly flawed—but he was still the man I loved. And the man I loved would never hurt me.

Deciding it was time to go home and have it out with my entire family, I headed back to the house. As soon as I got close to the property, I froze as I picked up a familiar scent. My mom approached me from the side of the house a few seconds later.

"What are you doing here?" I asked in surprise.

"Oh, it's definitely time for you and I to have a little chat," she said. "I've given you more than enough time to get over whatever it is that's bothering you. You've refused to talk to me. You won't listen to your father. You won't have any contact with Jacob. So you've lost your opportunity to speak your mind. I'm going to talk now and you're going to listen. Understand?"

I crossed my arms over my chest and gave her a defiant look. She glared back at me before saying, "Let's start with number one. Yes, when you were born, Jacob thought briefly of killing you. He didn't know what you were and he thought I'd died. He was irrational—"

"Because he loved you so much he would have killed for you," I interjected.

My mom ignored my interruption. "But as soon as he saw you—as soon as he looked in your eyes—you became his number one priority. He could have cared less about me in that moment. Which brings me to point number two. You seem to be under the delusion that Jacob is in love with me. Once upon a time when we were teenagers, yes, Jacob thought he loved me. And in my way, I loved him back. But I'll remind you that at one point you thought you were in love with Brady, and it turned out to be nothing but a silly crush. Same thing with Jacob and I. Nothing happened between us except for a couple of chaste kisses because I was, and still am, deeply in love with your father. As for Jacob, he eventually realized he was only drawn to me because…"

She paused for so long I finally asked, "Because?"

My mom bit her lip and then shook her head. "No. That's Jacob's story to tell."

"And you think I should give him a chance to explain it?" I asked coolly, conveniently forgetting I was planning on going home anyway.

"Renesmee…" Suddenly my mother sounded exhausted. "Jacob's not doing well."

My stomach dropped at that announcement. "What do you mean?"

She hesitated before saying, "He hasn't been right since you ran off. He doesn't sleep. He doesn't eat. He recently locked himself away in his house and no one can get him to come out. Sam Uley finally came to see us about it. He let your dad and I go to La Push to see if we could talk sense into Jacob, but he just told us to get the hell out. I think the only one he'll listen to is you."

"Why would I make a difference?" I asked.

"You have no idea how much you mean to him, do you?" my mom stated sadly. "I'm so sorry, baby. I'm sorry that you seem to doubt your self-worth so much. You mean so much to all of us. But Jacob, honey…he needs you. Please. Just let him explain things to you. Give him that chance. I know you think he's some kind of monster, but think back to all the wonderful things he's done for you over the years and hear him out."

I looked at her and then I slowly nodded. I wanted to go home anyway. But knowing something was wrong with Jacob, I felt an urgent need to get back home.

"Let's go," I told her and she hugged me. At first, I was resistant. And then I threw my arms around her and hugged her back. "I'm sorry, Mom. I'm so sorry."

"It's okay," she replied, kissing my cheek. "You were hurt. We understood that. We didn't tell you everything because it was the past. There was no point of even bringing it up. Do you understand?"

"I…I just need to talk to Jacob," I said, my urgency increasing. "I should go pack."

Tanya opened the backdoor to the house and had my suitcase in her hand. Giving me a wink, she said, "You're all set."

"Eager to get rid of me?" I joked.

Tanya laughed. "What can I say? My life will be much more peaceful once Edward isn't calling here every two minutes for a status update."

"Speaking of," my mom said. "What's this we heard about you and Nahuel?"

I groaned as I took my suitcase from Tanya and headed to the front of the house where my mom's rental car was waiting. I said goodbye to the Denali coven and we were off. My mother and I had a long chat as we headed to the airport. By the time we landed in Port Angeles hours later, our relationship was back on firm ground. She drove me to La Push, looking around wistfully as we approached Jacob's house.

"I always loved it here," she remarked. "I probably won't be welcome back after you make Jacob see sense."

She pulled into the driveway of Jacob's rental house. Even though it was evening, there weren't any lights on. I wondered if he was home.

"I've got to get going, hon. I don't want to push my luck by being here too long," my mom said before looking pointedly at my car door. I grabbed the handle and got out. "Good luck," she called out before she put the vehicle in reverse and left.

Taking a nervous breath, I made my way into the house. I flicked on a light and wrinkled my nose in disgust. The air smelled like stale alcohol and food that had gone bad. There was a trail of empty beer bottles lining the hallway. Pizza boxes and trash filled the living room tables and floor. I didn't think anyone was home, but something was instinctively telling me to go to the bedroom. I turned on the hallway light and cracked open the door. I almost screamed out in fright as I saw a body lying lifelessly on the bed.

"Jacob!" I hurried over to him, but he didn't respond. His eyes were closed, his mouth slightly open. I saw in surprise that one of my shirts was clutched in his hand. I had left it at his house on a day I'd worn my bikini. It had been a vain attempt to get him to notice me…an attempt that failed. I ripped it away from him and grabbed his hand, bringing it to my chest.

Suddenly all the pain I'd been experiencing the last few months disappeared as I made contact with his skin. I felt like an invisible weight I didn't even know I was carrying had been lifted from me. But I was also worried. His hand was warm, but it wasn't as hot as it normally was.

"Jacob, please don't die," I begged as a tear spilled down my cheek. His eyes flickered open and I sighed in relief before whispering, "Hey."

"Nessie?" he croaked, his voice sounding as if he hadn't used it in years. He whispered, "Am I dead? I can see you and I know you won't come near me anymore because I'm a monster. But if I'm dead that must mean you are too."

He looked panicked at that idea and he started to plead with me like I was an apparition. "No, go away. I don't want Ness to be dead. I can't…I can't live if she's dead. And I think I'm still alive so get the fuck out of here."

"Oh Jacob," I said. I lied down next to him and touched his face. "Look at me, Jacob. I'm here."

He turned his head to stare at the ceiling vacantly as he mumbled incoherently, "I should have told her…I should have…the imprint…"

"Jacob, I don't understand what you're saying," I said nervously. He responded by closing his eyes.

Frustrated, I got off the bed and hit the light switch. He groaned and threw his arm over his face. I looked around the room and saw more beer bottles and dirty laundry on the floor surrounding his bed. I almost threw up though as I got a good look at Jake. He didn't look like my Jacob at all. He looked like a skeleton covered in a thin layer of skin. I felt so helpless as he continued to lie there. Needing to do something, I began to gather up his dirty clothes.

"This place is a pigsty," I complained as I threw his laundry in the hamper. "And when was the last time you ate? You're way too thin. Grandfather Carlisle would have a conniption if he saw how unhealthy you've let yourself become."

I was about to head to the kitchen to see if I could find him some food when surprisingly strong arms wrapped around me from behind. I was lifted off my feet and soon felt the mattress against my back. Jacob moved his arms so that they were on either side of me, caging me in.

"You're really here, aren't you?" he questioned, staring down at me as if he half expected me to vanish.

"I'm here," I assured him, reaching up to caress his cheekbone which stood out prominently on his sickly looking face. He closed his eyes at my touch.

"But why?" he finally asked. "I thought you hated me."

"I…" I swallowed as I tried to form my words. "I thought I did, too, but I-I realized I didn't. And then my mom came and she said you were sick…"

"Oh…" Jacob moved back so he was no longer hovering over me. I watched his shoulders slump as he sat next to me. "So you felt bad for me and decided to check up on your would-be assassin, right? You're taking Stockholm Syndrome to a whole new level."

"Stockholm Syndrome is when a hostage falls in love with their captor," I pointed out.

"But didn't I do that to you?" he asked. "I kept you close for years, even when I knew about your nightmares. I knew that I was the monster you dreamt about for so long, and I never had the balls to tell you the truth. How can you even look at me?"

I hesitated before saying slowly, "Do you plan to kill me still?"

He looked at me like I was crazy. "I'd rather kill myself than let anything happen to you."

"And I know that now. I just needed time to realize it." I sat up and brought my knees to my chest so I could hug them. "Jacob…why didn't you go through with killing me when I was little?"

He reached over and grabbed my hand. "What's your first memory of me—your first good memory. Not the one of me about to attack you."

I frowned. "I don't know. I guess I remember you and Aunt Rosalie fighting over who would get to feed me."

He looked defeated again. "That's it? You don't remember the first time we looked at each other…I mean really looked at each other. It was right after I was going to attack you."

I stiffened as I thought back to that moment and Jacob remorsefully pulled my hand to his mouth and kissed it. An electric charge shot over my entire body. Funny. When Nahuel had done the same thing, I hadn't felt anything at all.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you," Jacob said. "I guess I can understand why you'd want to block that moment out. But you see…the single greatest moment of my life happened when I looked into your eyes that first time." He paused before he stated, "It was the moment I imprinted on you."

"I'm sorry?" I said in confusion.

Jacob sounded tired as he muttered, "I was going to tell you about this when you were older—" I almost smiled at that. It was so Jacob to say he'd tell me something…when I was older—"But I think you need to know now. You see, there's this thing that some of the wolves do. It's called imprinting. It's our way of finding our soul mate. When we look into the eyes of the one we're destined to be with, our entire world shifts and that person becomes everything to the wolf. When I saw you for the first time, you became the very center of my world and that hasn't changed once since then. When I'm around you, everything makes sense. Being away from you these last few months…it's been like I've been severed in half."

I understood exactly what he meant. "Is that why you've let yourself get the way you have?"

He shrugged. "It's been hard to function. I feel you…your emotions. Being the cause of your pain has been crippling." He looked at our joined hands as he said, "But now that you're back, I don't hurt as bad. Things are becoming clear again."

"So…" I said slowly. "I'm your soul mate?"

"Yeah." He sounded relieved that I appeared to be taking everything so well.

The truth was that I was a little freaked out. "You were in love with me when I was a baby?" I asked weakly.

Jacob's eyes went wide. "No! Imprinting doesn't work that way. When you were a baby, all I thought about was protecting you. And as you got older my feelings changed and you became my best friend."

"And…" I was suddenly nervous. "Are you in love with me now?"

Jacob hesitated before he said, "No." I started to pull away from him but he held onto my hand. "Nessie, please understand. You're only fifteen. I just don't see you romantically…though you look older since I last saw you." He looked baffled as his eyes wandered over my face. "I think you're beautiful—the most beautiful girl I've ever seen…but you're still too young for me."

I nodded slowly and then I remembered something. "My mom said she didn't think you were ever truly in love with her, but that you were drawn to her for another reason."

"Imprinting is a funny thing," Jacob said, giving me a half smile that filled my stomach with butterflies. "Sam dated Leah for awhile. You knew about that, right?" I nodded and he said, "But as soon as he saw Emily after he phased for the first time, he imprinted on her."

"Poor Leah," I said. "That must have been hard."

"It was, but she's found peace. She's in love with Dylan and I think he's really good for her," Jacob told me as he laced his fingers with mine. "Some theorize that we're drawn to the family members of our imprints. Sam might have been drawn to Leah because she shares DNA with Emily. Same with me. I think I was drawn to Bella because she shares your DNA. As soon as you were born and I imprinted, any romantic feelings I had for Bella disappeared completely and we became the good friends we were always meant to be."

"But there's a chance you'll fall in love with me someday?" I asked, trying to hide my hope. Imprinting seemed like such an unbelievable concept, but I knew Jacob spoke the truth. Now that we were together again, I felt like I was finally awake after being asleep for months.

"I don't know if I'll ever love you like that, Ness," Jake replied truthfully. "That's the way imprinting is supposed to work. I just don't see you that way yet. But be patient with me, okay?"

I could barely hold back my smile. If Jake needed time for me to grow up some more, I was willing to give him that. "Okay Jacob."

"And you won't run off again, right?" He sounded panicked at the idea.

"I won't leave you again." I had too much reason to stay.

"You promise?" he asked. This time I didn't hold back my smile and Jake relaxed as soon as he saw it.

"I promise."

THE END


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