A/N: I started this last week. It is a WIP and I have only a vague idea where I'm going with it. But I had to get this first chapter out before tomorrow. Before IT premieres here in the U.S. and tries to crush our dreams of how it should have ended. Maybe like this:
Just keep moving.
If she forced her legs to keep propelling her forward, she couldn't feel her knees knocking together underneath the opulent white gown.
Now that death was imminent, her body's survival instincts kept shooting huge doses of adrenaline through her tiny form, causing her to tremble and shake and her heart to race.
"What's the matter, love?"
"It's excitement," she lied to her new husband, with the biggest forced smile she could manage. Concern was etched across his handsome features. Problem was, she was a lousy liar.
Half of the people in the large reception hall were capable of hearing her accelerated pulse rate. For all she knew, they could smell her fear as well. She swore she could see them exchanging knowing glances as she swept past them. Was that a smirk on Tanya Denali's face? Or was Bella imagining things in her panicked state?
This was surreal. All these people who meant so much to her, all gathered in one room. Her father and her mother, both on their best behavior, were putting up a united front for her special day. They even sat side by side, at the parent's table. Her stepfather, Phil, who sat on her mother's opposite side, smiled happily at Bella, grateful that she'd found happiness after generously leaving her mother's home so he and his new wife could start their new life without a teenager in the way.
Her classmates were having the time of their lives; sneaking champagne, dancing and getting rowdy at their own private table close to the wedding party.
And then there was the group who clung to the shadows on the windowless side of the room, She would be joining their circle very soon. The pale, beautiful ones with venom coursing through their veins, who no longer required oxygen to fill their lungs, no blood to pump their deceased hearts as they no longer had a pulse.
They're beautiful, she told herself, trying to stop her trembling.
They're dead, a voice inside her whispered.
The words echoed in her brain as Edward approached her with a radiant smile. "I have something that will cheer you up." He kissed Bella's forehead, taking her arm and twirling her in a dance spin toward the exit doors.
"Edward, what are you doing?"
"A surprise wedding gift," he grinned. He waltzed her onto the darkened lawn and toward the trees. What in the world?
Suddenly he stopped, and spoke into the blackness. "Thank you. This is very… kind of you."
A familiar husky voice answered back. "Kind is my middle name."
Her trembling knees buckled and Edward caught her, keeping her upright as he passed her over to a set of strong coppery hands.
She lost focus for a moment in her light-headedness. Edward excused himself and the next thing she knew, she was clinging to Jacob. He held her tight against him, partly because he was so happy to see her and partly because he was afraid she would fall to the ground if he loosened his hold.
She felt clammy to him, and her heart was hammering. There had been a panicked edge to her eyes just before he'd grabbed her. This was not how he'd expected to find her. She was radiant, yes. Even more beautiful than he'd remembered. More beautiful than he'd ever seen her, in fact. But something wasn't right.
"You okay, Bells?"
When she didn't answer, he took the liberty of pulling her even tighter. They were supposed to be dancing, so he swayed her gently, moving his weight from one foot to the other.
She was cold, her hands like lumps of ice against the back of his neck. Maybe that's why she was shivering.
He lowered his cheek against the top of her head, her hair tickling his nose. He was afraid to move, afraid to speak. This moment would be over much too soon, and he knew this was the last time he would ever see her. This way. His Bells. Soft. Flushed. Clumsy. Alive.
He needed to say something. Anything to mark the moment, and hope she'd remember it once her life was stamped out and the supernatural jumpstarted her corpse, making her one of them.
"You'd think I'd be used to telling you goodbye," he said softly. "This is – "
"Jacob," she interrupted. She pulled back, keeping her gaze level to his chest, avoiding his eyes. "Would you do something for me? No questions asked."
He studied her, unsure. She was so serious. She'd seemed agitated from the moment Edward had danced her outside.
He nodded. "Sure."
She looked over his shoulder into the distance for a moment, before returning her gaze to his chest. "Two things, really," she murmured.
He watched her take a deep breath, and she finally raised her eyes to meet his. "Will you do two things for me? Please? Without asking me any questions?"
He paused. For some reason, her request combined with the look on her face made him nervous.
"Sure," he smiled, trying to lighten the mood. "I mean, it's not like you're gonna, make me go hug it out with him, are you?" He nodded his head in Edward's direction.
She didn't crack a smile. The determination in her eyes worried him. But this was Bella, and he could see this was something serious. Something important to her.
"I'll do it for you."
He felt her muscles relax and lose some of their rigidness. He was happy that he'd apparently given her the answer she needed from him.
He made a slow half-circle as he danced her awkwardly in his arms. He wanted to keep his eyes trained on any bloodsuckers should they come out from the shadows surrounding the reception hall. He didn't care how much Bella, and even his wolf-brother, Seth, trusted them. They were killers. It was their nature.
What could she possibly be requesting of him, anyway? She probably wanted him to keep an eye on Charlie for her. Of course he would – he'd planned to do that already. Or she probably wanted him to promise to be nice to the Cullens today or something. But hell, he'd already decided he was going to play nice.
His grip tightened around her tiny waist and he pulled back to meet her eyes.
"What do you need me to do, Bells?"
Her answer almost sent him reeling over backwards.
She made a choking sound. "Get me the hell out of here. Now."
His eyes widened in surprise, but he held it together.
"Okay," he told her calmly. Hell yeah, he'd be happy to get her out of there. He'd wanted to do that from the very beginning.
"What's the other thing?"
She flushed and blinked, looking down.
"Later," she told him. "Just get me far away from here right now."
He looked at her face again to see if she was kidding. She wasn't holding back a grin, there was no twinkle in her eye underneath her serious expression. All he could see was grim determination.
He stepped back. "Let's go."