I felt his arms wind around me, and I leaned against his chest, still sniffling. skip big chunk of useless stuff by SM Jacob freed one arm so that he could cup his big brown hand under my chin and make me look at him. "I was easier when we were both human, wasn't it?"

I sighed.

We stared at each other for a long moment. His hand smoldered against my skin. In my face, I knew there was nothing but wistful sadness – I didn't want to have to say goodbye now, no matter for how short a time. At first his face reflected mine, but then, as neither of us looked away, his expression changed.

He released me, lifting his other hand to brush his fingertips along my cheek, trailing them down to my jaw. I could feel his fingers tremble – not with anger this time.

"Bella," he whispered.

I was frozen.

His fingers continued their trek down my jaw and to my neck. A trail of cool air followed wherever he touched. I shivered, but it wasn't from the cold. Painfully slow, he continued until he reached my shoulder. His eyes left mine to watch the progression of his touch.

A small smile softened his face and he licked his lips before allowing his fingers to drop to my collarbone.

I sat, still frozen, transfixed by the emotions playing across his face. I gripped the edge of the counter but didn't move away when his fingers moved across my chest, tracing the neckline of my shirt.

Jacob lifted his hand to my lips, which I hadn't realized were parted. His finger swept across my lower lip and the desire to pull it into my mouth was so overwhelming I pulled away for fear I might actually do it.

His eyes returned to mine. He pulled his hands away from my face. I was cold without the contact and suddenly I was gripped with the fear that he might move away.

Instead he stepped closer, dropping his right hand to my thigh. Jacob had never done that before. He'd never touched me like this, so intimately, before. Usually he pushed up against my comfort zone and stopped. But I guess that's not how it happened. He always challenged me, pushing me to accept my feelings for him, until I told him to stop. This time I hadn't said anything, and so he continued. Each moment it went on the hope in his eyes grew.

I should have said something, but I found I could barely breathe as he licked his lips again and bent his head down toward mine. Anticipating his kiss I wanted to turn away, to keep the lines of our friendship from being forever destroyed, but instead I swallowed and closed my eyes.

Jacob's warmth pressed against me, his hand gripping my thigh, massaging it as his thumb swept against my inner thigh. I was sitting on the counter with a hormonal teenage werewolf between my legs. I should move away.

His breath greeted my lips. "Bella," he whispered again.

My breath sped up and I tried to tell myself I was still undecided, that I didn't know what I wanted. Inside I knew that what I wanted was right in front of me. Edward was never coming back. There was no fairy tale ending for the two of us, was it wrong to create a new story? One where the person I was with loved me and wanted me? One where I could live a life in the sun and still see my father? Was it wrong to admit that there was a part of me that wanted that life?

Alice would think so. An image of her disapproving frown flashed across my closed eyes and I sighed.

Jacob smiled against my lips but still didn't kiss me. He was waiting for me, forever waiting for me. It was so unfair of me to sit here and do nothing. But still, I was trapped inside the dream I had created and hoped was real.

Instead of closing the millimeters between us Jacob pulled away, but he didn't go far. The heat of his body radiated between us, thawing me.

With my eyes still closed I felt his breath as he brought his nose to my ear. He inhaled my scent deeply, drawing a breeze across my flesh and leaving goose bumps in its wake. He rubbed his nose softly against my neck as his right hand moved higher up my leg.

"Bella," he whispered and I cocked my head, giving him access to more of my throat. A soft growl came from him; perhaps it was the wolf within. He dragged his nose against the length of my neck and dipped his knees so he could access my throat.

His left hand wrapped around behind me and gripped my lower back. He inhaled deeply again. It was an out of body experience, I could watch us from afar, shocked and appalled that I was allowing things to go so far, but at the same time my breathing sped up as I longed for him to finally take the next step.

Jacob reached out with his tongue and slowly licked the length of my neck before nipping at my jaw. I shuddered. The warmth of him seeped into my flesh thawing, finally bringing me back to life. It wasn't his kiss I needed to save me, it was the intimacy of his animal side allowing me to see who he truly was.

Jacob was the wolf. They weren't separate things. I could see that now and I could feel how difficult it was for him to restrain from allowing the wolf to claim me, take what it wanted. He loved me, I knew it. I'd known how he felt for a long time, but how deep that ran overwhelmed me now that I allowed myself to really see it. I opened my eyes, still gripping the counter, unsure of what I should do now.

One minute we were fighting about Alice visiting me and the next…

Jake's hand was on my hip, his thumb running along the front of my jeans and the shivers running through me terrified me with their intensity. His eyes locked on mine again and instead of pulling away, I smiled.

I felt whole again, no longer a Band-Aid ineptly placed on the wound in my chest Edward had left behind but truly whole. It was as if I had never been hurt, like none of it had ever happened. As I looked at Jacob it was as if the whole world faded away and there was nothing and no one else that mattered. It was him, it had always been him, and now that I had accepted it the ties that pulled us together tightened.

Jacob's eyes widened as he looked at me, surprise in his features. I smiled back at him and lifted my hands to his chest, scooting forward on the counter. The planes of his chest were broad and warmth spread from where I touched him up my arms and into my heart.

Again, he lowered his face to mine, but this time I met him half way and wrapped my arms up around his neck. He groaned and pressed against me, the hand on my back dropping to my ass and the hand on my hip moving up my back, under my shirt.

The jump from friend to the amount of me he was touching felt natural. I moved my lips against his and pressed my chest against him, wanting him to envelop me.

I ran the fingers of my hand up into his shaggy hair and opened my mouth, finally, truly kissing him.

He tasted like sunshine and freedom. I submitted to my feeling for him, allowing his love to fill me and I was happy. We kissed and held each other tightly, wanting no space between our bodies. He gripped my ass tighter and pulled me closer to him. I gasped as he pressed himself against me. He was standing between my legs and there was no mistaking what was between us.

The me still standing on the other side of the room with her arms crossed shook her head in disapproval.

I ignored her and wrapped my legs around him, pulling him closer. Our kiss moved to a rhythm I'd never heard before, his hips grinding against me in perfect syncopation. The onslaught of sensations crashed over me and every inch of my skin felt as if it were on fire. It was Jacob, he was everywhere. His hands kneaded my back and gripped my legs, he pressed into me and loomed over me.

I leaned back, hitching my legs higher on his hips, eliciting a growl as he lost himself in me. Jacob pushed me back on the counter, his mouth exploring my neck with his tongue and teeth, pulling on the flesh. His arms were wrapped under me, supporting my weight as he ground against me. If it wasn't for his height he would have had to crawl up onto the counter with me to maintain our position. But he was so tall… so strong… so perfect.

Somewhere in the distance a phone rang. But I didn't care. I clung to Jacob, letting go of everything but him.

The love I felt for him overwhelmed me. How could I have thought him just a conciliatory prize, compared him to Paris and doubted if I could be happy with him? How could I have missed what was right before my eyes?

Jake changed his position and pulled away from me, looking down directly into my eyes. His erection pressed against the seam in my jeans as he moved against me, drawing a hidden secret out from deep within me. I held his gaze, knowing now that I had only been afraid before. I'd always loved him. I needed him. It was the fear of losing control that kept me from submitting to the truth of us.

My body pulsed, every nerve and muscle contracting as I arched my back. Jacob's hold on me was tight. The world constricted until we were the only two people in it and the only thing that mattered was that he never stop touching me. I shook with release as a light sparked behind my eyes and passion rippled through my body.

I knew I'd have bruises in the morning, finger print impressions of Jacob's passion. What was happening? We'd gone from friends, to kissing, to an explosion of perfection in a matter of minutes. But it felt so completely right I couldn't begin to argue.

Jacob leaned down, his face inches from mine, his breathing heavy. Looking past him I saw the top of the cabinets and smiled. If this was what losing control felt like, I wanted to do it again and again.

"Bella," he whispered.

But this time, when he said my name I wasn't frozen. I was free.

He kissed me softly and pulled away from me, a sly smile on his face. He took my hand and helped me sit up. I pulled my shirt back into place. I was amazed to find we were both still fully dressed. It didn't seem possible.

"Ah… I should go clean up," Jake said, a blush spreading across his perfect skin making me laugh. I laughed without restraint for the first time since I'd come to Forks. I was laughing when he glared at me and walked out of the kitchen toward the bathroom. I was laughing when I hopped off the counter. I was laughing when I heard the back door open. I was still laughing when Alice walked into view.

"So I guess this is goodbye," she said, not looking me in the eye.

"No! Alice, I don't want you to go."

"Bella, you've made your choice and I can't see you any more. Your future is gone. I guess we all have to accept that you really aren't going to be with us."

"No, she's not." Jacob's gravely voice came from behind her. When he walked into view my focus shrunk until it was just the two of us again. Instinctively I reached my hand out for him, unable to bear him being in the same room and not touching him. His smile was full of love as he came to stand behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. The warmth of him reminding me of how cold I'd always been.

"Okay…" Alice sighed and I looked over to her, remembering she was in the room.

"Alice, you don't have to go. I still want you to be my friend." I said but the words hung hallow in the air between us.

"I don't think so," she said, eyeing Jacob. "I can't imagine it would be safe for me to spend too much time around the dog's imprint."

"Imprint?" I asked, turning to Jacob, forgetting Alice's presence.

His smile told me everything I needed to know before his lips came back to mine, soft and slow. As we kissed I heard the front door open and close but couldn't bring myself to care. Everything was finally the way it was always supposed to be.